Voting Rights Forum Participant
Post Number: 22
Best of Black Box?
|Posted on Tuesday, August 8, 2006 - 11:15 pm: |
Follow the paper! The first thing to do is visit the polling locations after the election and record photograph or videotape the closing tape that should be posted at each location. You only need to get the numbers for your own precinct but if you can easily visit other precincts do that too (just don't waste too much $3 gas driving all over town). Ideally you should be at your own polling location at the time the polls close to witness the closing procedures. Even better, talk to your party or candidates about becoming an election judge or poll watcher.
(BTW, The poll workers are not the place to complain about general election issues. They are just another eligible voter like yourself but they have committed their time so that you and I can vote.)
Next, check with your local elections department to see where they post the precinct summaries for all the precincts within your county. It should be online but if not you may need to call or visit in person. You want to check that what is reported in the county summary matches what was printed in the precinct. If you are up to it, you can also check that the counties numbers add up properly. Then with the county totals, do the same check at the state level. This is the way any concerned citizen can verify the tallies in an open election. If you cannot follow these procedures because the numbers are not made available to the public you do not have an open election.
If you follow these procedures and you find a discrepancy, don't go to the elections department, you may not have standing to file a complaint. Contact the campaign staff of the candidate that was adversely affected (or the issue advocacy group) to bring the discrepancy to their attention. The group will have the resources and incentive to verify your findings and the legal console to guide the next step. Then let us know what you found.
The above steps will catch the problems with central tabulation software (except in locations that don't have open elections). But you asked specifically about the optical scanner. The only way to verify the integrity of the scanners is through random audits (or better, to hand count every vote and use the machines to do the audit).
Fortunately you are in a location that has paper ballots that can be counted. Not every voter is so blessed. And Michigan law allows candidates to request recounts (but it is up to the elections commission as to wether the count will be by hand or again by machine).