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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:

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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.