Requirements for Secure Elections


The following are some necessary elements of observed, secure hand-counted paper ballots (HCPB) elections

Sheila Parks

January 26, 2012

The vote counting process must meet strict standards for transparency and accountability:

  • Hand-counting is done for all races and initiatives, not only federal.
  • The hand-counting process will be easily understood by a fifth grade student.
  • No precinct is larger than 1000 registered voters.
  • Hand-counting is done at each precinct, immediately after the polls close.
  • Poll books of voters checking in and poll books of voters checking out must exactly match.
  • Get rid of all e-poll books.
  • The number of ballots counted must exactly match the number of ballots distributed.
  • The number of ballots printed must match the number of ballots distributed, voted, and not voted.
  • No absentee ballots will be allowed, except for people in dire need and these ballots must be accounted for, managed, and counted in a procedure that is yet to be written.
  • Hand-counting is done by teams of opposing parties on the ballot, chosen by the parties themselves.
  • Other smaller parties can also be on hand-counting teams, in addition to those opposing parties on the ballots — e.g. Greens.
  • Hand-counting is done by new people coming in to count, not those who have been working at the polls all day.
  • Hand-counters are paid a very good hourly rate. This not only pays for one of the most important jobs in a democracy, but also keeps the money in the community and is far less expensive than buying, maintaining, upgrading and storing electronic voting machines.
  • Hand-counting is done in full view of the public.
  • Hand-counting is done twice and the results must match.
  • Hand-counting is videotaped in real time by any member of the public who wants to do so, and also by official videographers, one from all opposing parties on the ballot.
  • All movements of ballots and ballot boxes are videotaped in real time by any member of the public who wants to do so, and also by official videographers, one from all opposing parties on the ballot.
  • The entire hand-counting process is livestreamed by election officials and by members of the public who wish to do so.
  • Hand-counting results are posted at the precinct, in the windows, after the counting so that all can see easily after polls close.
  • No electronic voting machines, computers, or modems of any kind are allowed in any part of the hand-count or the vote tabulation.
  • The Vote-PAD provides a means for people with disabilities to mark a ballot without requiring the use of electronic voting machines. It is essential to the enfranchisement of people with disabilities, that they do not use electronic ballot marking devices (such as the AutoMARK) which are frequently marketed to assist people with disabilities. The AutoMark can steal votes just like any other electronic voting machine. In personal correspondence with Ellen Theisen, on May 1 and 2, 2011, Theisen said, "Vote-PAD is no longer available, except in the 22 WI municipalities that purchased it and are currently using it?.It provides the same paper ballot for people with disabilities as the ballot for others, and then all [ballots] are hand-counted together." See Vote-PAD rocks the disabled vote.
  • The hand-count, which has been done twice, will be the official count of the election from each precinct.
  • This section on chain of custody and security of the ballots and ballot boxes is a work in progress.
  • The last two sections (Ballot and Ballot Box Transportation & Ballot Storage) of this article by Douglas W. Jones (University of Iowa Department of Computer Science) about Australian hand-counted paper ballot elections gives many details of how to secure the ballots and their boxes.
  • See more details of security of ballots and their boxes in this article by Sheila Parks. Scroll down to the third paragraph from the end.
  • Ballot boxes will be of clear plastic with a lock on each of the four corners. These boxes will be kept in full view of the election officials and the public at all times, from before the official opening time of the polls until the official election results are posted in the windows of each precinct.
  • The locks on the ballot boxes will have two keys only, that is, one key will open two of the locks and another key will open the other two locks.
  • There will be only one key for each of the two locks above. There will be no copies of keys.
  • Election officials holding the keys must not be from the same political party.
  • The ballot boxes will not be opened until all votes have been cast and the polls are closed.
  • The ballot boxes will be opened in full view of the public.
  • After the votes are hand-counted, the ballots will be placed in steel containers with seals on them.
  • A secure chain of custody for the ballots and ballot boxes must be written from the precinct level to where they will be stored.

  • Furthermore, there are several problems with our voting process, not only that our votes are not counted as cast, because of the fraud and error associated with all electronic voting machines, but also, that even if these problems were all fixed, the electronic voting machines would continue to rig our elections. And even if we had secure hand-counted paper ballots (HCPB) elections, the problems listed below would still exist. Our voting system is a hydra-headed weapon of mass destruction:

  • Suppression of the votes of students, low income people, African Americans, Latinas, elders.
  • A whiteout of the news from any candidates the corporate media does not want to be elected.
  • A whiteout of the news from the corporate media of any of the fraud and rigging that voting rights activists have been pointing out and writing about at least since Florida 2000 presidential race.
  • Corrupt election officials who run our elections and have strong past and present ties to the right wing of the Republican Party.
  • Corrupt and/or incompetent voting election officials from both Democratic and Republican parties, and most likely all the other parties too.
  • Endless corporate money into coffers of candidates.
  • Requiring of voter ID photos, which are issued only by the state, e.g., Department of Motor Vehicles, in order to vote.
  • Absentee ballots, with both parties increasingly calling for more.
  • Mail-in voting.
  • The election of two senators from each state means, e.g., that the voters in North Dakota and Vermont have an influence that is hugely disproportionate to voters in California.
  • Those conducting exit polls now adjust their exit polls to make them conform to the (corrupt) official counts, thus making the illusion of an honest election no matter how corrupt the election is.