The sanctity of democratic processes hinges on the confidence of the electorate in the voting system. Over the years, faith in the electoral process has been eroded due to allegations of fraud, manipulation, and hacking. To restore faith in politics, it is essential to restore faith in elections, ensuring a transparent and verifiable system that holds up to scrutiny. A proposed system that addresses these concerns involves the use of machine-readable paper ballots, multiple vendor participation, and public access to digital ballot images.
The Multi Vendor Paper Ballot System
In the Multi Vendor Paper Ballot System, a voter creates a machine-readable paper ballot. The voter receives two copies of their ballot, one for validation and signature, and the other as a reference. The voter’s photograph is taken with their signed ballot, after which the ballot is placed in the voting machine. Behind the scenes, three or more voting machines made by different vendors scan the signed ballot. If the results from all machines match, the ballot is approved, and all vendors receive credit for successfully tabulating the vote. If the machines disagree, the ballot is manually read, and vendors who accurately read the ballot receive credit. Vendors are paid based on their accuracy post-election.
Digital Access and Verification
Digital images of each ballot are stored online, allowing voters to remotely access and revalidate their ballots. These images are also available to the public, enabling anyone with the technological capacity to rerun the election results independently. This promotes transparency and empowers the public to scrutinize the electoral process.
The Physical Record
All paper ballots are stored to maintain a physical record in case a voter claims a discrepancy between their vote’s digital count and their original paper ballot. This provision creates a verifiable trail, enhancing the credibility of the electoral process.
The Hursti Hack and the Importance of Multiple Vendors
In 2005 Finnish computer security expert Harri Hursti was able to demonstrate that he could hack a voting machine very easily. This was seen on camera in the HBO film “Hacking Democracy.” Having multiple machines reading ballots prevents the hacking of any one machine from causing an election to be inaccurately totaled. And of course all ballots should be abler to be run through multiple machines, with each generating the same response.
The Ease of Rerunning Elections
In a transparent electoral system, rerunning elections should yield the same results consistently. The multi-vendor paper ballot system enables this by providing digital ballot images that can be analyzed by different programs and machines. This capability instills confidence in the electoral process, dispelling notions of fraudulent elections. Groups who claim that the election was stolen or ballot were added or miscounted would have the ability to prove their claims because they would have access to the data. There would be no more specter of stolen elections. Results could be recalculated and validated by anyone.
Of course there are some wrinkles with how to accomplish mail in voting, absentee voting over seas military voting and other one-offs. Those issues can all be addressed so long as the ballots are all scanned by multiple machine.
Restoring faith in politics necessitates restoring faith in elections. The Multi Vendor Paper Ballot System, coupled with digital access and verification, and physical record maintenance, offers a transparent and verifiable voting process. By addressing concerns of election fraud, manipulation, and hacking, this system strengthens the foundation of democracy and fosters renewed trust in political institutions.
If you like this article make sure you read our earlier post on how to improve elections with the Write In Only Election Model.