Massachusetts Citizens Launch Drive to Require Hand-Count of Ballots in Elections

Updated on May 11, 2017
Four-person teams of ballot hand -counters in Wilton, NH.
Four-person teams of ballot hand -counters in Wilton, NH.

Kicking off a lobbying campaign of their state legislators to rewrite the state's election laws, the group Hand-Count the Ballots - MA has emailed an initial polling questionnaire to all Massachusetts state representatives and state senators regarding their positions on a proposed law to require that all ballots in all future elections be counted and tabulated by hand.

The group provides a "blueprint" for citizens in other states, detailing proposed legislation and a formal hand-counting protocol for polling stations.

Countries which now employ systems of 100% hand-counted paper ballots include Germany, Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, Denmark, Finland, and 53 other countries.

Laws governing the actual conduct of elections, both primary and general, are written at the state house level and vary from state to state. Laws at the federal level which impact elections include those regarding prohibitions against certain kinds of discrimination, voter registration, and the funding mechanism of the 2002 Help America Vote Act (HAVA.)

The 2016 primary and general elections in the US were riddled with controversy over the integrity of the vote count in many states, partly as a result of the widespread use of optical scanner vote-counting machines, which have been shown to be prone to hacking. During the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, at least two statistics professors and experts in elections identified abnormal voting patterns which they said were indicative of election fraud against Bernie Sanders. And in the general election, similar patterns were identified which pointed to the same form of fraud, at times favoring Trump, and at others favoring Hillary Clinton.

At the root of these controversies is the resistance of election authorities to the actual hand-counting of paper ballots, in order to verify the machine counts. In lawsuits across the nation, state and local election authorities have fought the public counting of ballots, raising suspicions that they fear the discovery of major discrepancies, with the state courts often siding with election departments. Election integrity activists maintain that there is no good reason for the paper record of ballots to be kept secret.

In Massachusetts and other states, election authorities have opposed a public counting of the ballots for verification purposes. And most recently, election authorities bitterly fought efforts by Green party presidential candidate Jill Stein to hand-count ballots in the key states of Michigan and Wisconsin. Both hand recounts were incomplete and inconclusive.

Jill Stein revealed her larger reasoning for requesting hand-counts of key presidential states in the general election when she said in an interview to Real News Network:

"this is a time-sensitive opportunity right now to ensure that we have integrity in the votes. And you cannot tell whether or not there has been tampering or problems with the vote, unless you actually count the paper ballots."

The strategy of Hand-Count the Ballots - MA is described in an email to supporters. From the email:

"- Poll our state legislators on their initial stance on our proposed hand-counted voting process which we should implement in Massachusetts, in order to ensure transparency and honesty in our elections. Will they sign as co-sponsors to our draft legislation? In general it can be assumed that legislators who co-sponsor a bill will vote for it.

- Post the results of our initial poll of legislators, to identify which ones to lobby. We will continue to write letters/emails, make office visits, and publicize the hold-outs to having honest elections, to their constituents. In some cases, some of us may decide to make a challenge for the seat.

- Call for a vote to be taken in the State House of Representatives when we think we have enough votes to pass the law, to be followed by a vote in the State Senate."

The end goal of Hand-Count the Ballots - MA is to have "publicly observed hand-counted paper ballots (HCPB) elections with a secure chain of custody," as the non-profit has summarized, in all Massachusetts elections.

The Twitter hashtag for Hand-Count the Ballots - MA is #HandCountMA. The group hopes to spread the hashtag convention, for example #HandCountNH, #HandCountWI.

In February, the Netherlands announced that it would convert to all hand-counted paper ballots for its future elections. A recent series of nationwide conferences has highlighted a call from election experts to election authorities to switch over to a system of hand-counted paper ballots, with other features such as ensuring the "secure chain of custody," which means officials must account for the storage and movement of ballots at all times. Surveillance cameras would be installed in sensitive rooms where ballots are stored.

In recent Dutch elections under the new system, the Green Party quadrupled its MP seats in Parliament.

The Hand-Count the Ballots - MA's proposed legislation in the group's Poll to Legislators. page HERE. HCTB - MA can be reached at handcounttheballots AT gmail DOT com. HCTB - MA welcomes inquiries from other states on how to start your own initiative. Google Group is

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      Wellington Hill 

      3 years ago

      This is a most necessary thing to ensure that the future will not be like our dismal past elections. Especially the presidential elections of G.W. Bush and D. Trump.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, 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:

    Show Details
    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 or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    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)
    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.
    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)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)