The Wisconsin 2016 recount in Brown County Dec. 2, 2016. (credit: Lulu Friesdat)


SMART Elections is collaborating with other organizations to establish a corps of trained volunteers to help ensure a secure and accurate vote count. We're using the hashtag #CountTheVote.

To join the project, send an email to To join the mailing list, click below. 

Count the vote

Monitoring & Assessing the Accuracy of Election Results

The #CountTheVote project is training volunteers: 

  1. To understand what makes an election secure, accurate, accessible and verifiable.
  2. How to advocate for those conditions in their own local elections. 
  3. How to work with local security experts, media, local election officials, legislators, and others who are concerned to help put those conditions in place. 
  4. How to: 

  • Take video and photographs of poll tapes. We're working with a pilot project called Democracy Counts on this. 
  • Do public records requests for digital ballot images, audit tapes and other election data.
  • Be aware of and utilize data science projects that exist and are emerging.
  • Write and pass legislation when existing statutes are problematic.
  • Pursue other means such as filing law suits when other measures fail.


can we trust election results?

Public Confidence in U.S. Elections is Low

According to a C-SPAN/Ipsos poll in the fall of 2019, "only half of Americans say they believe the vote will be conducted openly and fairly." The Hill reports this "reveals a growing mistrust in the U.S. electoral system."

A 2016 AP-NORC poll found that "most Americans think there is at least some fraud in elections ... Forty-one percent are very concerned and 35 percent are somewhat concerned about how susceptible the country’s election system is to hacking." AP-NORC also found that "nine in ten Americans lack confidence in the country's political system."

Levels of trust, and reasons for distrust vary greatly depending on political ideology, but neither political party's members retain strong levels of trust currently. "Only 29 percent of Democrats and just 16 percent of Republicans have a great deal of confidence in their party." 


Early voting at a polling place in Charlotte, N.C., October 20, 2016. (Reuters photo: Chris Keane)

WHAT do fair elections look like?


Elections are best run by neutral administrators.

Elections are better run by neutral administrators than partisan officials. Pippa Norris of Harvard, said in an email to us: political parties running U.S. Elections is a “pure conflict of interest.” Adding that, “In established democracies there are normally ... election commissions,” with, “neutral and impartial professional civil servants.” She cites the UK, Norway and Germany as examples. According to their website, the Australian Electoral Commission, “places special emphasis on political neutrality” to provide Australians with “an independent electoral service.”  

Elections and post-election audits need to be transparent and easy for the public to understand.

Many factors can create a lack of transparency.

  1. Voting machines with hidden technologies such as proprietary software.
  2. Voting machine vendors who are privately owned and may have their own agendas.
  3. Complex counting rules like those in some party primaries and caucuses.
  4. Inability of the public or media to observe (and if appropriate photograph of video) voting, counting, and audits.
  5. Inability of the public to access records of the vote such as ballots, poll tapes, election data and digital ballot images.
  6. We support robust audits, but some audits, such as risk-limiting audits may add a layer of complexity that keeps voters from completely understanding and having confidence in the results of elections.

Elections need to be secure and accessible.

Security experts recommend that as many voters as possible use durable hand-marked paper ballots. They recommend voters with disabilities use secure ballot-marking devices that offer them privacy and independence but do not tabulate votes. Many voting systems in the U.S. have serious security vulnerabilities and many are also old and past their normal period of use. SMART Elections has highly-qualified advisory teams and we follow their recommendations. We also work closely with the disability community to ensure that their needs are articulated and met. 

The need for independent audits and oversight.

We can no longer trust that our election results are accurate. We must verify every race, every election. One major component of verification is robust audits, conducted by independent auditors. The principal of neutral oversight of election audits was established by the 2007 Post-Election Audit Summit, which stated, The authority and regulation of post-election audits should be independent of officials who conduct the elections."

In addition to advocating for audits, #Count the Vote is training volunteers in other ways to monitor and assess the accuracy of the vote. 

All eligible voters need to be allowed to vote.

There can be no fair elections in an environment where any eligible voters is discouraged, or not given equal access to the ballot. 

SMART stands for:

  • Secure
  • Marked* & Audited by Hand
  • Accessible & Accurate
  • Registration for all eligible voters
  • Transparent
  • *(for those who are able)