We protect democracy for the future of our youth. Open free election systems not vulnerable to suspicions of fraud are the best protection of democracy. Freedom of the press, responsible press, responsible social media, observation by members of opposing parties, honest election officials are all supported by the use of step-by-step election procedure manuals and certifications. These concise election conduct manuals need to be specific to a particular state law, a particular vendor, and particular to a certain type of voting to be useful. Only recently have those manuals and certifications fallen out of use, creating vulnerabilities seen in the 2000 election.
Addressing the current problem in the elections process relates to the implementation of better standards processes. This is a new problem and needs to be addressed, it is a reflection of the success of social media, Facebook, Twitter, and the lot in influencing public opinion quickly.
We do need to secure the election process against lying and fraudulent claims of abuse. What has been the more traditional manner of challenging the outcome of an election has been to ask for a recount for a particular race, in a particular contest, and in the case of a dispute over the ballots, the case goes to court and the court decides who is the winner. That system failed to work in the 2000 election.
If we implement step-by-step procedure manuals and election official, election judges, poll worker certification for the present situation, it will go a long way toward preventing obstruction of the democratic elections process. This use of step-by-step procedure manuals and signed certifications by workers from opposing parties has been the best protection of the integrity of the process. And voting systems have always been flawed, but the best way to handle that is to make all fraud detectable, to the point, if flaws are found, they need to be exposed.
By creating a specific, short, step-by-step procedure process, and a certification to be signed by the election workers, poll workers and certified observers, it is easy for a court to track the validity of the election process. By having a signed certificate, it is easy for the court to validate the election. By keeping the signatures on the certification private, except for viewing by the court, it is possible to protect the workers from harassment by over-eager members of a party trying to overturn an election by allowing a losing candidate to bring into question the validity of the election has to be met with strong procedural integrity.
It is the watching of every step of the process by observers from opposing parties that provide the best protection of the system. No election system will ever be foolproof. It is necessary to have observers everywhere and have them be alert and trained. Step by step procedure manuals help.
One concern is to worry about overturning the election, but more importantly, not allowing a losing candidate to bring into question the validity of the election. Without sufficient proof that the election process was inviolate, little can be done to protect democracy. When observers demand a “forensic audit” of an election it is necessary to have proof that proper step-by-step procedures were followed and certified and beyond that to protect the privacy of the election official workers who signed the certification by letting only a court release of actual certification names. It is sufficient in the case of a “forensic audit” that the election paperwork was completed and stored securely in immutable storage.
With technical (and process) controls, checks, and balances at multiple points throughout the process, with dual-control/split-knowledge (and a little game theory) as part of the processes, a well-designed voting system will be beyond reproach. But a significant aspect of that process is the control of the process, making sure that poll workers and observers truly represent opposing parties.
Overview of the research to be conducted:
We propose writing election procedure manuals for each city, county and state that document the step-by-step process for the conduct of the election. There are documents from before the election starts, during the election, and after the polls close. The strongest protection to the integrity of the democratic process is a set of signed certifications from the workers and observers at the election documenting that the proper procedures were followed in every instance.