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CA Elections - Better Accurate than Fast!

By       Message Tom Courbat       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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Here's the problem.  Many counties across CA will likely shut down their precincts after the polls close on Feb 5th, bundle up their paper ballots and drive them to the central tabulator for counting (those without precinct-based scanners).  This means there is no counting at the individual precincts, thus no posting of results at the precincts, thus no check and balance on the report from the central tabulator that the votes CAST in precinct "x" are the votes REPORTED for precinct "x".


This is a perfect way to ensure the public cannot verify the legitimacy of the votes. 

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Hand-counting at the polls is the traditional and historical way used in America to minimize the likelihood of vote-count tampering.  It is not that difficult to obtain four to eight individuals to come in fresh at the close of polls (generally at least half would be provided by the Democratic and Republican parties) and hand-count the ballots.  If the Registrar were to embrace this approach, the political parties and the election integrity community would work with her to recruit the volunteers to make it happen.


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With the February '08 ballot being especially light (a vote for president and a vote for each of six statewide initiatives), this election will be the perfect opportunity to test the return to hand-counting in the precincts.  It has been done for two centuries BEFORE e-voting came in around the year 2000, so it can certainly be easily reintroduced in the upcoming light election where there will be no e-voting machines (except for disabled voters). 


Here are some likely numbers. Each precinct is limited by law to 1,000 registered voters.  About half of those who cast ballots do so via vote-by-mail (absentee). Turnout in the primaries is usually light - say 35%.  If the typical precinct is 1,000 registered voters and half are absentee, then only 500 are registered to vote at the poll.  So 35% turnout of 500 voters would be only 175 ballots.  And many precincts will have even considerably fewer voters. 


Any county that doesn’t have precinct-based scanners should be actively embracing this concept. And it can/should be used in counties with precinct-based scanners as well, where the hand count is performed first, and then the ballots are run through the scanner at the precinct to confirm the hand count.  Hand counts are done in 95% of the democracies in the world – there is no reason it can’t be done again here, in America.


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People who care and are dedicated to preserving democracy and the transparent counting of our votes will be advocating this approach assertively.  Carrying all ballots and electronic data to the central tabulator location, and counting it once and only once at that location, defies the basic principle of checks and balances. 


No bank manager would ever propose his/her tellers simply dump their cash drawers into the vault (without accounting for every penny) and “trust” him to count it up by himself.  Think about that analogy – and we are only talking about money in that case.  So why would American voters just allow their votes to be dumped into truck and driven to the main office without them first being counted at the site where they cast their vote???

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