September 6, 2006
According to a recent Zogby poll, 92% of all demographic groups in the
country support the public's right to observe vote counting and to obtain
information regarding vote counting. On this issue, the American public is
united: transparency is essential to democracy.
During this election season, Verified Voting is launching our Election
Transparency Project an ongoing non-partisan effort designed to provide
citizens with tools to evaluate existing levels of transparency and to
engage in observation of, and reporting on, every part of the electoral
process, from registration of voters to certification of the results.
With each election season, Verified Voting will add guidelines and
observation tools to build usable models for citizen oversight of the
entire process. Verified Voting will also encourage observation by the
public nationwide until such observation is recognized as a fundamental
ingredient in free and fair elections.
Through the Election Transparency Project, Verified Voting will provide
guidelines for observing various portions of the electoral process,
questionnaires to assist observers in collecting key information, and a
web tool that observers can use to enter the data that they collect. The
data gathered by observers during each election cycle will be pooled so
that stakeholders can learn more about how elections are being
administered in various parts of the country, and make recommendations
for how election management can be improved in the future.
Verified Voting supports and applauds other efforts for citizen
participation in elections, including the ongoing work of the Election
Protection Coalition and the newly-launched Pollworkers For Democracy
program. Our Election Transparency Project is designed to complement
rather than duplicate those efforts.
The success of the Election Transparency Project depends on citizen
participation. We are seeking both individuals and organizations
interested in improving our democracy by collecting information on the
voting process. Please consider signing up yourself, and also forwarding
this information to other individuals and to groups with whom you are
affiliated to request their participation as well. [There will be a sign-up
link at our front page soon, or just email email@example.com
to sign up.]
Once you have signed up to participate, all you need to do is download or
print the questionnaires from our website as they become available, which
will make clear exactly what you need to look for. After observation, you
will be able to easily enter the data that you gather into a web-based
survey form, or send in your hard copy questionnaire to us for entry. The
data you provide will be made publicly available but not your name. Data
is redacted to prevent disclosure of personally identifying information
(such as name or contact information).
The Time is Now!
For this election season, we will be focusing on several components of the
election process that occur either before or after actual Election Day
polling place hours. That means some observation will take place in
September and October, so sign up now!
Actual observation will often take only a few hours of your time, with
some observation opportunities taking place during the business day and
others in the evening; some on Election Day and others before and after.
After observing, you will need to devote a little more time to submitting
your data and notes.
We are preparing observation guidelines and questionnaires for five
different aspects of the electoral process: you can choose those that best
suit your schedule and interests. Some aspects of the election process can
be easily observed by individuals. Others are more suited for a group
effort. Please see the descriptions below for more information.
If you are a member of an organization that might be interested in this
project, please consider talking to your organization about the
possibility of signing on as a group. However, both individuals and
organizations are invited and encouraged to participate.
Choose What Interests You Most!
1) Pre-election transparency assessment: This questionnaire will assist
you in collecting information on the extent to which the elections in your
jurisdiction are, or are not, observable by the public. The information
that you collect on the laws, rules, and written procedures governing
transparency in your area will then be compared against how many of those
written rules are implemented in practice. This is your chance to "grade"
your state, county, parish or township's level of election transparency.
Completing a pre-election transparency assessment for your area can be
done over the course of several days, and can generally be undertaken
when your schedule permits (as long as you or someone in your group can
make some phone calls to offices during business hours). However, in
order to be most effective, the pre-election transparency assessment will
need to be completed as soon as possible, and well in advance of the
election. Participation in the transparency assessment can be undertaken
on either an individual or a group basis.