Election Reform Information Network
VIP "Best Practices" Guidelines (received 12/28/2000)
Dear VIP Supporter, We have received so many questions relating to "Best Practices" that I decided to circulate the following guidelines. (See below) We will be refining these further as time goes by. VIP needs your continued support. Won't you take a moment to make a tax-deductible on-line contribution to The Voting Integrity Project? You can do that securely and easily: AOL USERS: Click here: VIP - How Can I Help? - VIP Needs Your Financial Help! OR USE THE FOLLOWING URL: https://secure.entango.com/donate/vrzxUQwGgg8 VIP "BEST PRACTICES" GUIDELINES Every jurisdiction's elections are governed by a patchwork of law and considerations, and there is simply no "one size fits all" solution. We prefer instead to advocate "best practices." Here are VIP's "Best Practices" guidelines maximizing election integrity and public confidence in election outcomes: 1. Total Transparency & Inclusion in Election Administration -- This means, openness from acquisition of system, to employment of system, and access for citizens and campaigns to all aspects of the election and documentation relating to the election. At every turn, citizen and campaign input should be maximized (not just "invited" through an obscure public notification of a meeting, but actually solicited through an ongoing multipartisan community advisory board). Access must include actual bi-partisan pairs of election workers, full documentation of every aspect of the election, open access to preparation of equipment and ballots, transportation of equipment and ballots, counts and recounts, and storage of equipment and ballots. Under no circumstances should rules for any aspect of the election be changed once an election cycle is underway. Opportunity for arbitrary application of rules should be eliminated wherever possible. 2. Redundacy and Audit Trails -- It is very desirable to have maximum redundancy and paper audit trails in elections to maximize public confidence in election outcomes. No matter what kind of election system is employed, it is possible to create redundancy and a paper audit trail through the type of protocol employed. If paper audit trails are not possible, use a control device such as VIP's Trapdoor Protocol to ensure that no hidden program can manipulate election outcome. 3. Voter and worker education -- What a first blush often appears to be an equipment problem, almost always can be reduced to a voter/worker education problem. Thus we advocate that first priority of resources goes to voter and worker education about the system and ballot employed. 4. Sufficient number of well-trained and experienced poll workers l-- Again, this is a universal problem. That is why we advocate selecting high school seniors for training to fill these roles. In some states, that may require a waiver of the law requiring that election workers be registered voters. By using high school seniors for many of these posts, offering them community service credits in lieu of stipends, you may also engage that young person as a voter for life. 5. Make sure the system serves the community. If you are forced (for resource reasons) to use a low-tier system, then make sure sufficient workers and education are brought to bear to avoid voter problems at polls. Employ a protocol that permits the voter to tabulate their ballot immediately and "perfect" a ballot that is unreadable. 6. Make sure your voter rolls are clean! Every effort should be made on a continuous basis to ensure that legitimate voters' votes are not diluted by fraudulent registrations or fraudulent voting of invalid registrations. Due diligence should be performed in a manner which does not disenfranchise -- if a registration is identified as questionable, every possible opportunity should be given to the registrant PRIOR to the election to clarify or validate the registration. Citzens groups and partisan workers can play a big role in helping election offices with this often difficult task.