Public Oversight Over Elections

The public can help to ensure the integrity of elections and audits and prevent voter disenfranchisement only if the public has access to detailed election data and access to all election records necessary to verify election data.

Election officials must make publicly available in original paper and electronic form all election data and election records that could reveal fraud or errors in elections, verify voter service reports, reveal voter disenfranchisement and verify manual audits, prior to certification of election results.

Jurisdictions must allow citizens to observe all aspects of elections and publicly display auditable, audit, and voter service reports on the Internet.

How to Make Election Records Public

Rapid access to public records related to elections is vital for citizen oversight of election integrity, voter registration accuracy, and manual audits. Adequate records must be produced and retained, and records needed to canvass the election must be made available to the public before the election is certified. Information must not be removed from public oversight by placing it outside governmental custody or allowing proprietary rights to be ceded to private parties.

A printout of each voting machine’s vote totals must be posted immediately and made available to the public and to certified tabulation observers at the polling place at poll closing to be compared to centrally tabulated totals for the corresponding polling place to be displayed on the Internet. We need a federal statute requiring public access to election records that is similar either to the Freedom of Information Act, or to the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) Sec. 1973gg-6 (i) “Public disclosure of voter registration activities”. I.e. we need federal legislation that states something like the following:

“Each State shall maintain for at least 2 years and shall make available for public inspection and, where available in electronic format, provided on a public web site or by photocopying at a reasonable cost, all records concerning the implementation of elections. Beginning with 2008 federal elections, all electronic logs, data files and reports which can be produced in electronic form by election systems currently in use should be made available before election results are made official , and the public should be allowed reasonable examination of relevant paper documents before the election is certified. Beginning with 2010 federal elections, scanned copies of relevant paper records should made available at least one week before the time period to contest the election has expired, with originals available for authentication if requested;”

Funds for Scanners: Approximately $3.3 Million to $29.9 Million would be needed to supply approximately 3300 jurisdictions with special scanners, costing approximately $1,000 to $9,000 each, to make the job of scanning paper election records efficient. Allow ample time to sufficiently reduce or eliminate, where necessary, the particular constraints and parameters of current election administration systems (as defined below).

Records which need to be created, retained, and made publicly available in addition to voter-authenticated ballots, include incident, troubleshooting, and problem logs from elections workers, vendors and help desks; ballot accounting and reconciliation forms; assignment logs for voting equipment (including peripherals) serial numbers and locations where equipment has been deployed throughout the election cycle; security area access logs, keycard logs, and videotapes; all computer and voting system audit logs, event logs, error logs, network event and status logs, and process reports, ballot definition files and databases; results tapes and reports including the interim tallies; voter registration lists, records of voters who requested, mailed, and returned mail-in or provisional ballots, voters who signed in at the polls on Election Day and during early voting; certification reports, contracts of sale for voting systems, technical support, maintenance, and repair logs, and all billings, invoices, adjustments and written communications with vendors, and electronic vote count data on central tabulation, voting system printouts, certification and testing reports. All records which are available in electronic format shall be made publicly available on the Internet.