Open Vote Count

The Idea

Background

How Open Vote Counting Works

Steps

  1. A vote is cast
  2. An image of the vote is made
  3. The image is published in an area that contains images of all ballots case in the election
  4. The counting is done from the images
  5. The voter can access the image of their vote and how it was counted

Supported Vote Casting Methods — All

  • Paper ballots — Most paper ballots are scanned into a machine that counts the votes. This scanning to count would be replaced with scanning for the sole purpose of providing an image of the ballot not to count it.
  • Electronic — These types of machines provide an electronic screen for the voter to cast their ballot. The machine then adds the vote to a count.
  • Online — Whether mobile device or blockchain or both, the complexity of online vote system are guaranteeing that this is a real vote. The actual transmission of the vote is simple in comparison. These online voting systems could transmit an image or the transmission of the vote could be converted to an image.

Vote Publishing

  • Online — most voters live in areas that have more than enough bandwidth to transmit images for all voters in the district at a low price.
  • Remote — the image does not have to be perfect. Fax machine quality would suffice.

Vote Storage

  • There are 333 million Americans, 157 million voted in 2020
  • Facebook stores 350 million photos a day and has 250 billion stored
  • This scale was once considered novel. The upper limit to the amount of photos today is limited by the amount taken not transmitting or storing them.
  • Votes can be simple black and white images of low quality to be usable

Vote Counting

  • Official count — official vote counting could be done with open source software that could be inspected by anyone
  • Public count — since the pictures are available, anyone could write their own software to perform their own personal recount. Ideally there would be a way to display which votes are different between the official count and the custom count.

Vote Verification

  • Voter — If a voter was given a serial number for their ballot, they could access it online
  • Other — having information on voting locations and voting machines would also be helpful

Benefits of Open Vote Count

Transparency

  • no “hidden code” that needs to be audited or can be hacked
  • Counting and recounting is no longer done behind closed doors, away from the general public

Cost

  • A machine that takes a picture of a ballot is cheaper than a machine that attempts to count a ballot
  • The software to count ballots is not simple however the complexity is low enough that free and open sources alternatives should be available

More

  • Counting is removed from the polling locations allowing for concentration verifying voters rather than verifying votes
  • Trust — While this does not solve the issue of whether the vote should be counted, it does remove all the mystery of how the vote is counted.

Next Steps

  • Consult with Secretaries of State, their professional organizations, and other people deeply familiar with the voting process to examine this concept
  • Start an open source project to document details and develop multiple implementations.

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