SMART Elections is
aggregating data from
poll tapes & comparing it
to election results.
Please join us to help with this critical part of the process.
A project to monitor, protect & verify election results.
The work is done by volunteers - like you!
One important way to monitor the accuracy of the vote is to take photos or videos of poll tapes on Election Night.
THIS PART OF THE PROCESS IS COMPLETE.
ON ELECTION NIGHT
INDIVIDUALS & TEAMS CAPTURED IMAGES OF POLL TAPES.
THEY UPLOADED THEM ONLINE.
NOW WE ARE COMPARING THEM TO RESULTS.
LEARN MORE BELOW -
THEN YOU CAN DO THIS FOR THE NEXT ELECTION.
TO HELP US USE THE IMAGES
TO CHECK THAT ELECTION RESULTS ARE CORRECT.
WATCH BOTH OUR POLL TAPE FORUMS FOR MORE DETAILS.
WHY ARE POLL TAPES IMPORTANT?
TIPS & TOOLS FOR CAPTURING POLL TAPE PHOTOS SUCCESSFULLY.
What are poll tapes?
At the close of polls on election night, poll workers have a long list of things to do to close down a polling site. One of those is to print out poll tapes or election results from each voting machine.
Poll tapes usually look like cash register receipts. Sometimes, like in CA, they might be called a "votes cast form." They contain the vote tallies for every candidate in every race, and for the votes on ballot initiatives. Sometimes there is a tape for each voting machine. Sometimes there is just one tape for all the votes in a location.
In some states, these poll tapes (or votes cast forms) must be posted for the public outside the polling place. (In California, for example, they are required to be posted for 48 hours following an election. See P. 48 of the 2020 Elections Officers Digest.) See laws on poll tapes by state here.
Errors and manipulation of results can happen later in the process, when the votes from the polling location are transferred to an election management system that tallies totals, or when the results are posted to a website.
In 2015, Bennie Smith took a photo of a poll tape in Shelby County Tennessee. When the results were announced, he found that 40% of the votes in this predominantly Black precinct had disappeared. This had occurred in other predominantly Black precincts as well. Read more about it in the Bloomberg investigation that followed. Because there was a photo of the poll tape, the votes were restored, and the election administration changed.
So taking photos or videos of the poll tapes at polling places is a really important tool in election protection. The data on these tapes can be compared to official results to see if any numbers change.
If no discrepancies are found, the public can have greater confidence that there are no errors in this part of the election results.
Volunteers can look up polling locations, take photos and video of poll tapes and also help process and analyze the data.
If you would like to know more, please attend our upcoming #ElectionProtection forum on Monday Nov 2nd at 7pm ET.
There is also a lot of information about this in #ElectionProtection Episode 8 - What Can I Do?
There are many groups participating in this effort and it may seem confusing. But it doesn't have to be. To document poll tapes on election night, there are 2 simple ways to participate. Whether you do it on your own, or with a group you can use either method.
1. Take still photographs of the poll tapes and upload them to SeeSay2020.com. Fill out the information in the form. It is important. SeeSay is a website. You do not need to download anything to use it.
Laws regarding poll tapes (or "results tapes") vary by state.
In some states, like Florida, they are required to be posted on Election Night, and anyone may take photos or video of them. In other states, like Texas, they are produced but cannot be photographed.
It's important to know the statutes in your state, so that you can make sure to follow the laws correctly.
Here are the poll tape laws in some states. If you know the statutes in your state, and they are not listed here, please send them to us at contact@SMARTelections.us. We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of ValidateTheVoteUSA.org in collecting some of this information.
To join a group that is already participating,
contact one of our regional partners.
If there is not currently a group in your area,
you can form one and partner with us.
Alternately, read the instructions on
head for you local polling location to get it done!
If your group would like to partner with us, send an email to contact@SMARTelections.us
with #CountTheVote Partner Request in the subject line.
We will help you understand what the laws are in your state, how to collect the data, and why it's important. Groups that partner with us are welcome to use the #CountTheVote hashtag & logo. We list your information on this page, to help you attract more volunteers.
Individuals can also take photos or video of poll tapes.
See our SIMPLE INSTRUCTIONS ABOVE.
Thanks for all you are doing to protect your vote!
Groups that are taking the photos and videos and doing other monitoring of election results include
Another way to check election results is to review the hand-marked paper ballots themselves and compare them to the results of a voting machine. That is called a post-election audit. But many states are not doing post-election audits, and if they are, often security experts say the audits are not comprehensive enough to discover mistakes and fraud.
Many of today's voting machines take a photo of the ballot when it is scanned. That is called a digital ballot image. One way to do an audit, even if you don't have access to the hand-marked paper ballots, is to do a public records request for digital ballot images of the ballots. These images can be tallied, like ballots and compared to election results. Other information such as whether or not the number of voters and ballots match can also be requested.
#CountTheVote is a pilot project in beta. Because we are partnering with groups that have deep technology resources - we are hoping to scale up and make a real impact! Be a part of this important effort to monitor, verify and protect election results.
Some of the technologies we are using are new and we will ask volunteers to try them out and report back about how they are working. Other techniques we are employing, such as doing public records requests, have been used for decades.
We believe it is absolutely necessary for the public to begin seriously evaluating the security and accuracy of election results. This can provide evidence if there are discrepancies with reported results and add confidence if evidence suggests that official results are accurate.
Even if we are only able to evaluate a small portion of election results, it is important to do it and see what we discover. As we gain experience, we may be able to monitor more elections, more conclusively.
Members of SMART Elections have done public records requests in Florida, Massachusetts, New York and Wisconsin. These public records requests have discovered issues. In Broward County Florida, we discovered serious discrepancies in the election resutls. The Supervisor of Elections there was eventually fired.
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)
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.”
Many factors can create a lack of transparency.
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. Voters with disabilities want to vote in a way that is accessible, private and independent, and they also deserve to have their votes counted accurately and securely.
The National Election Defense Coalition estimates that "Less than a quarter of states do a post-election audit that manually examines the paper ballots which could catch an error in the election results."
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.
There can be no fair elections in an environment where any eligible voters is discouraged, or not given equal access to the ballot.
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