The word consilience has been adapted to refer to a specific process of checks and balances in election methods that satisfy the following conditions:

    (1) At least two independent ballot

Click graphic to download hi-res .pdf (428 KB)

tabulation methods shall be relied upon to achieve the
official election tally;

    (2) Each tabulation method employed shall have separate and distinct oversight;

    (3) Neither tabulation method, nor its oversight and personnel involved, shall communicate tallies with one another during this checking process, to insure independent results;

    (4) Tallies derived from each ballot tabulation method must agree within a margin of discrepancy that would not overturn the outcome of the election;                

    (5) There must be physical (tangible) evidence of each ballot cast (e.g., at least one of the two methods employed must rely on counting paper ballots that are both optically scannable and human readable;

    (6) At least two of the tabulation methods must occur at the location where the votes are cast, e.g. the precinct, the poll site; and

    (7) The process shall commence immediately upon the close of polls and preferably shall conclude without severing the chain of custody of the ballots from the citizens conducting the process.

If the official election tally through consilience cannot be confirmed upon the first exercise of the election's checks and balances process described above (i.e., the margin of discrepancy of the ballot tallies is unacceptable), an investigation including more tabulation shall immediately ensue.


HOW TO APPLY:  Use immediately at the precinct, or poll site, upon close of polls. This practice affords public witnesses with the highest possible observable verification that the ballots tabulated are the same ballots that were cast, in their entirety and without manipulation. This practice also affords public witnesses’ confidence that the precinct tally is tabulated accurately before there is any opportunity for contamination (i.e., before the ballots are surrendered and sent on their ostensibly secure journey, to a centralized, government-controlled, vote tabulation site).



Here are four examples of LOCAL precinct tabulation methods that -- if performed with "Consilience" -- will result in satisfactory “electile function:”

Example 1—Hand + Hand: Two full hand count tabulation methods, if they are achieved by separate and distinct oversight, such as the New Hampshire's sort and stack method. 

    Example: Here's a thorough hand count method proposed by Nancy Tobi:




Caution:  Problems arise when, despite regulations to ensure their independence, communication between independent groups of hand count participants occurs prior to declaring their final tallies.  Problems also occur when the chain of custody is broken (i.e. in other countries, hand counted elections have been subverted during “cross-checking” that occurs post-election night).

Example 2—10% Hand Sample of Ballots + Optiscan: 10% hand-counted sample of paper ballots (randomly selected from each and every voting site) and optiscan-type electronic voting machines.  Caution: The 10% sample must be drawn from a pool in excess of 400,000 ballots cast in order to ensure 99% statistical accuracy.  (A larger percentage sample, or full hand-count must be performed in elections in which a small number of ballots have been cast.)

Example 3—100% Hand + Optiscan:  Hand-count ALL voter-verified optiscan paper and optiscan-type voting machines. (While transitioning to this method, surprise implementation of hand-counts at as many precincts as possible would be beneficial.) 

Example 4—Machine + Machine + % Hand:  Three cross-checks insure reliable performance:

    (1) DRE or other DEVICE: Voter inspects and confirms that the choices on their PAPER ballot are what were chosen via the touch screen, or other ballot marking device, before it is deposited in the ballot box. (and before their “electronic” vote is “officially” recorded;

    (2) OPTISCAN of HAND-MARKED OPTION: Hand-marked ballots are optically scanned to alert voter of any possible mistakes (overvotes, undervotes, etc.) before being deposited in the ballot box; at the close of polls, all ballots are optically scanned in each precinct to provide a cross-check of the hand and/or other electronic tally; and,

    (3) HAND SAMPLE: In each precinct, a statistically-adequate sampling of the paper ballots are selected at random and hand-counted to provide a crosscheck with the machine tallies and achieve consilience.

Caution: Any electronic, or other type of voting system technology must include a human-readable tangible (e.g., paper) ballot that has been verified by the voter.

page last updated or revised: 18 January 2010