Remedy for Our Democracy

 

IS OUR DEMOCRACY SUFFERING FROM ELECTILE DYSFUNCTION?


VERIFYGRA is the answer---Election transparency and FAIL-SAFE VOTING standards.

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INDICATIONS:  Partisan election officials, voter suppression, irregularities and even the possibility of fraud can lead to a lack of voter confidence, and may result in diminished electile function.

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ACTIVE INGREDIENTS:  Precinct Counting with "Consilience." 

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DIRECTIONS FOR USE:  Any electronic touch-screen voting system which tallies votes (DRE) in an election must be supplemented by or combined with other verifiable, archival, and physically auditable technologies which are ultimately susceptible to content recognition for vote counting purposes by a human being through the use of ordinary human physical senses, such as PAPER ballots marked and verified by the voter (e.g., by hand, or via a ballot printer/marker or other assistive device). The paper ballot shall constitute THE legal instrument and ballot of record. (Tangible Ballot Definition.)


Combining independent voting technologies (multi-channel) provides cross-checks needed to boost “electile” performance (e.g.):

    Channel/Cross-check #1 (HAND-MARKED BALLOT, BALLOT MARKING DEVICE or PRINTOUT)---Voter marks by hand, or 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.

    Channel/Cross-check #2 (OPTICAL SCAN)---All PAPER ballots are counted by independently-programmed optical scanning systems at the close of polls in each precinct (before chain of custody issues arise).

    Channel/Cross-check #3 (HANDCOUNT)---In each precinct at the close of polls, an adequate (prescribed percentage) sampling of the PAPER ballots are selected at random and hand-counted to provide a cross-check of all machine tallies. If warranted, or preferred, a 100% handcount is conducted.



A POSITIVE PROGNOSIS: When voters can hand-mark, print out, or otherwise complete and VERIFY their PAPER ballots on-the-spot in the voting booth using a hybrid system providing all the advantages of state-of-the-art technology like

       • ballots presented in voter’s native language,

       • privacy and assistance for voters with disabilities,

       • elimination of overvotes, notification of undervotes,

       • fast, accurate vote tabulation of current (Plurality) or alternative election systems (IRV, Approval, Range, Pairwise, etc.) in the local precinct


but none of the disadvantages of DREs like

       • secret, proprietary software, possibly containing programming errors (or untraceable, malicious code)

       • vulnerable to vote-flipping hacks,

       • risk of lost votes due to malfunctions,

       • unverifiable final tallies


we will see our democracy rise up again--never more to be diminished!


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DISCLAIMER: Admittedly VERIFYGRA as a “remedy” is an attention-getter, but lets push this "prescription for electile dysfunction" analogy a little further to make a crucial point about a real danger---we need quality (if not emergency) healthcare for our democracy. 


No one can deny that listening to the will of the people is the heart of our system of government (of, by, and for the people).  Yet the failure to adopt stringent, irrefutable election standards for conducting and certifying the votes is equivalent to ignoring your doctor’s orders.


THE HYBRID REMEDY: Our survival as a democracy requires commitment to a vigorous, proactive strategy---we need to adopt preventive, remedial, and health maintenance measures for our elections.  We need to change our lifestyle as it were in a number of areas, including campaign finance, voter registration, fair redistricting, and preferential voting to name a few.  But the most important area, and first priority, must be the implementation of a system for casting each voter's ballot in a humanly readable and verified manner so the final tallies can be trusted; that is, there are no discrepancies and where there are, an adequate audit or recount can be performed to determine where any problems originated.


SATISFACTION GUARANTEED: A bullet-proof system of redundant cross-checks may incur additional expenses and inconvenience.  But, when you're life depends on it, you don't go into open-heart surgery by negotiating the costs, or asking how long it’s going to take.  Indeed there are far more costs to be born when our government is controlled by a minority whose interests are at odds with those of the citizens.


ACT NOW: Now is the time for Congress to enact new voting standards which use Verifygra’s powerful "combination of ingredients" to insure:

• Fast, reliable action---human and machine readable votes will be counted, and tallies cross-checked quickly by at least two independent, open source (or disclosed source) computerized systems, AND an adequate and efficient hand-audit procedure, AND if need be, a 100% hand recount

• Effective relief---all the advantages of state-of-the-art electronic balloting, i.e., multiple languages, preferential voting, disability access, intuitive interface design, etc.

• No hazardous side-effects---in case of power failure, battery-powered backup machines can generate emergency ballots which voters can mark by hand

• Secure diagnostics---any DRE or optically-scanned discrepancies detected are reliably scrutinized by recounting the voter-verified paper ballots, through a second independent optical scanning procedure, and/or by hand-audit

• Indisputable voter confidence---transparency of citizen-monitored election process achieves revived trust in results of voting through:

            (a) open (or disclosed) source software, checked by any party or citizen group,

            (b) direct observation of the vote count at each precinct by citizens at close of polls,

            (c) final results publicly posted at each precinct,

            (d) cross-checking of tallies by independently-programmed optical scan, and/or random, hand-counted sampling of a prescribed percentage of the votes cast in each precinct, and

            (e) full funding for a full hand recount if a discrepancy in tallies for any race exceeds a prescribed percentage.



FAIL-SAFE VOTING STANDARDS---America should (and can) be a role model for the world in setting powerful standards that will restore democracy's vitality---and extend its life expectancy.


page last updated or revised: 18 January 2010