The Audit Process
Multiple data streams are collected in a mobile app on citizen auditors’ mobile devices that encrypt their data and upload to secure distributed databases.
The app provides functions for voting, recording, counting and end-to-end verification. All data is stored transparently: It is uploaded onto both multiple servers around the world to provide redundancy; we are also planning to port the data onto a public ledger system called a blockchain, where anyone with the open-source software can examine it and where it will become permanent: Once recorded, all data, including user-verified photographs and screen shots of ballots, tallies and other evidence, cannot be deleted or lost.
We are building the system to be extremely resistant to fraud: All digital and photographic data are time and location stamped and cryptographically secured using NSA-strength algorithms. Votes are anonymized. After the election, the private key to the citizen-generated data is transmitted, allowing instantaneous display of the detailed data. Because the data is time- and location-stamped, pre- and post-election alterations are impossible to hide.
The system is absolutely neutral and impartial. It can be deployed by nonpartisan organizations, electoral authorities, independent observer missions, and activists of any persuasion.
How does it work on the ground?
It includes three principle functions at this time, all of which are used on election day (in the future we will work on the issue of how to audit mail-in ballots).
- The “data preservation” function preserves official polling place data (as well as observed behaviors and incidents). Any discrepancies between polling place and reported results will be flagged, exposing “man in the middle” attacks as well as “data entry errors” such as briefly produced a phantom 13,000 vote margin for Bush in Florida in 2000.
- The “parallel vote” function allows voters to record their vote again when leaving their polling places. This provides direct, non-probabilistic comparison tallies; evidence of discrepancies will be cognizable in court and pack a powerful political punch in public.
- The “non-voter” function allows voters who wanted to vote but couldn’t, because of partisan voter I.D. laws and other practices (such as closed polling places, long lines, caging, purging from the rolls, etc.) to record who they would have voted for had they been able to vote. This directly quantifies the effects on outcomes and produces large numbers of plaintiffs who suffered Constitutional injury, both of which are necessary to establish and maintain standing to sue. Repeated lawsuits over a period of years may generate case law establishing a Constitutional right to vote, which is nowhere guaranteed in the US Constitution.
- The “observer” function allows auditors, voters and others to document and report evidence of illegal or questionable behavior. These incidents will be sent to voter protection teams immediately.
- Security is paramount. Two-person auditor sign-in is required on election day; if auditors move more than a short distance away from their assigned locations they are automatically logged out and must have a team leader’s sign-off to log back in. All data entries and photographs are geo-located, time-stamped, encrypted using NSA-level secure hashing algorithms, and instantly uploaded to servers located in multiple countries.
- When audit data reveals significant discrepancies the evidence will be turned over immediately to injured parties who will then request a) an injunction against certification of the results and b) an order requiring investigation of the discrepancies by law enforcement. Investigations that turn up serious errors or fraud will produce pressure to correct the election results, put pro-status quo interests on the defensive, and create the political space needed for election integrity groups to push reform.
- The software is designed to allow citizens groups to set up their own audits anywhere in the country. The app contains a secure environment for audit team sign-up, organization, communication, training, supervision, and logistical coordination. Once we get the software dialed in for the US we will release it globally. People anywhere in the world will be able to set up audits, administer their local front end, and analyze the data produced, while Democracy Counts runs the back end.
On election night data is compared to official results and discrepancies are flagged for review. Evidence pointing to serious error or fraud will be provided to injured parties for action. As direct evidence it should satisfy court requirements for injunctions and to order investigations and corrective actions.
When fraud and suppression are absent the findings will help restore confidence and legitimacy where trust has been eroded.
The audit is an insurance policy for candidates challenging local interests exercising strong control over local election machinery, a tool for citizens’ groups to hold their governments accountable, a new tool for minorities to build a new voting rights movement, and a way for governments to assure citizens of their elections’ integrity.
The software is transparent and end-to-end verifiable and will compare favorably with the vulnerable systems that lend themselves to abuse. After each election we will place the data in a public data repository for scholarly use.
Click the following link to see and excerpt from our pitch deck that summarizes the audit functions and features. Democracy Counts system explanation 8-18-2018
Please support our work. Help restore integrity to elections and accountability to government. Click here to donate.