How to Monitor the Honesty of the Vote Count Anywhere in America This Election

Updated on June 8, 2018

#BallotImages

With the US presidential election approaching, people are more interested than ever in getting involved as election integrity activists. An election activist may count the number of voters as they enter a precinct, take exit polls, engage officials in public meetings, or take legal action when necessary to verify some aspect of an election.

What almost no one knows in the United States, except election officials, is that there is a simple means of verifying a vote count in nearly half of the precincts in the country, if that precinct uses paper ballots that are then fed into what's called an "optical scanner." An optical scanner reads and "counts" the vote electronically, without any human ever actually looking at the ballot.

As you might imagine, there is room for mischief there. What if the machine is programmed to throw in an extra vote here or take away a vote there? As it so happens, this is exactly what is possible. The HBO documentary "Hacking Democracy" illustrates it well, when it shows how a computer hacker could easily program such instructions into a machine's memory card, or even hack in from afar and do it.

Image from scene from Hacking Democracy
Image from scene from Hacking Democracy

This election season, with all the talk about "rigging" by Donald Trump, who blames it on the Democrats, and by the Democrats, who blame it on the Russians, it is important to understand what "rigging" is. There are different kinds of rigging. One main kind is voter fraud, where people who shouldn't be voting try to vote, or people vote more than once, by hook or crook. Such as looking up the names of dead people and casting fraudulent votes.

Voter fraud hardly ever happens on a scale that can swing an election. It is risky, with a high chance of getting caught.

The other main kind of fraud, and much more worrisome, is election fraud. This includes fraud which occurs at the vote-counting level which is run by election authorities. Marxist dictator Josef Stalin once said famously, "Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything."

When the paper ballot votes are counted incorrectly by the machine, accidentally or by design, a very large number of votes can be added or subtracted from any candidate to "flip" the vote count, and the election. Voter fraud is for amateurs. Electronic ballot box stuffing is how the pros do it.

Now here is where you are not going to believe your good fortune, as a person concerned for fair elections. When those paper ballot vote-counting machines were installed, between 2000 and 2010 with the passage of HAVA - the Help America Vote Act - politicians with cheating on their minds must not have known that three of the most popular models of paper ballot vote-counting machines automatically make digital images of the ballots, at lighting speed, as the ballots are fed into the machine. These images are then stored in a file like you see on your Windows Explorer.

Yes, a pdf digital image of every ballot fed into that precinct vote-counting machine should exist, and is stored for anyone to examine and count who gets access to them.

The point was to have a back-up to the paper ballots inside the ballot receptacle, and it was brilliantly conceived. And most people don't even know about it.

What this means is, you can ask your election department, or any election department, to provide you with copies of these files, which after all are as easy to copy as doing a "cut-and-paste" to a thumb drive. Each machine, usually one per precinct, makes a folder.

Example of digital ballot image in precinct folder
Example of digital ballot image in precinct folder

No one needs to handle the paper ballots, which has been one objection by election officials to citizens doing their own recount. No election officials need to get paid overtime for doing the counting.

In other words, a powerful oversight tool has been right under our noses all along. It took a bunch of election integrity activists working tirelessly to understand their elections processes to discover it.

The first step to becoming an election integrity activist who monitors voting results by examining the images of the paper ballots, is to find out if the precincts you are interested in use the right kind of machines, which are in use in about half of US voting districts. These are machines manufactured by Election Systems & Software (ES&S,) and the ImageCast Precinct made by Dominion Systems.

Go here for a step-by-step guide using software created by the nonprofit VerifiedVoting.org.

As stated, about half of jurisdictions won't have these kind of machines, but half do. That is a lot of jurisdictions and a lot of accountability. (edit update: updated estimates is that a majority of US precincts have ballot images.

You can do this whether you support Jill Stein, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, or someone else, to verify how many votes your candidate got. Everyone should be interested in fair elections. Have fun!

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, soapboxie.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://soapboxie.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)