Do you believe in secret vote counting?
No? If instead, you believe votes ought to be cast in private but counted in public, this Handbook is for you.
Computerized voting equipment has been used in America's elections since the mid-1960s. With computerization came privatization as well. Our votes -- by which all other rights are secured -- have been claimed as private property by the voting machine vendors, who count them in secret, tell us what the results are, then lock away the records, denying the citizens access to inspect and verify our own votes.
We all know that secret vote counting doesn't belong in a democracy. The only legitimate elections are those that are conducted in full public view, with transparent, publicly accountable procedures for counting, reporting, auditing and preserving the votes.
We owe it to our country, ourselves, and future generations, to protect the foundation and ensure the integrity of our democratic process.
Fortunately for us, it turns out this is easy to do.Hand counting is simple, accurate, auditable, cost effective, and eminently do-able in every polling place in the country -- and the new Hampshire experience provides the proof.
Nationally, the average number of ballots processed in any polling place in the country is under 1000. But New Hampshire towns hand count up to 3,600 ballots on any given Election Night -- and at less cost than it takes to operate a single voting machine. The costs of printing paper ballots, hiring local community hand counters, and even bringing in a specialized manager, if need be, are much lower than the investment in computerized voting equipment requiring continual upgrades, maintenance, and specialized storage space.
New Hampshire's ballots are among the most complex ballots in the nation, because we have the largest citizen legislature and many multi-member districts. But we still manage to hand count 3 to 4 times the national average of ballots in any given polling place, and wrap up the counting to announce our results on Election Night.
If New Hampshire can do this, with our large polling places and our complex ballots, then any place can.
Hands-On Elections provides all the information needed to establish hand count elections, including cost and staffing guidance and estimates, and methodologies for counting and for reconciliation of ballots, voters, and votes.
In New Hampshire, we're counting the votes. With the information provided in this Handbook, you can too.
This Handbook is available in two forms:
1. Full version: with background information
Hands-on Elections: An Informational Handbook for Running Real Elections, Using Real Paper Ballots, Counted by Real People
Hands-on Elections: (Condensed Version) Instructions for Hand Counting
Real Paper Ballots