(M)achine (C)ounted (P)aper (B)allots
The use of machines to count paper ballots is the most common form of vote counting in use today in the modern world. It’s also the most controversial, maligned, distrusted, expensive and error prone method ever devised in the history of voting. Not a great track record.
Machines in use today suffer from one glaring problem, and that is a poor specification for their functionality.
Had a proper vote counting protocol been put in place in the first place, we wouldn’t have any problems with machines
As we have pointed out several times on this website - it’s not the machines, stupid. It’s the specification. Simply put, the existing requirements are insufficient. Machines only do what they are told to do. If they aren't told to do enough to ensure free and fair elections, then they won’t. Machines aren't needed just to count votes, they also need to provide away for the voter to track their vote throughout the process so the voter can make sure all the votes are counted correctly.
How is that accomplished? You guessed it - With a vote tracking number!
Ensuring Vendor Compliance
Whether you agree with the assessment or not, the vast majority of Americans believe that multiple election cycles have been compromised to the point where the outcome was incorrect. The number one culprit blamed for this travesty of justice is a large election provider. Again, whether or not you believe this company or any other company committed or enabled vote fraud, wouldn’t it be better to put a specification in place that would make it impossible for any company to do so in the future? Yes, it would.
In other words, you can make a dishonest machine honest!
Most vote counting machines today, including tabulators and scanners, produce a record for each vote cast. It’s called a Cast Vote Record (CVR). So if you can think of a spreadsheet, every row has a single cast vote record in it, and so this makes it easy to count the votes, and to also properly associate them with their ballot options.
EIP requires these machines to do four things
- Produce a CVR list if they don’t already
- Attach a VTN to each CVR in that list
- Count the votes accurately, and associate each vote choice with the intended ballot option
- All without associating the identity of the voter with their vote in any manner, including any derived manner
This is not really a big ask because all of these machines purportedly already perform items 3 and 4, most already perform item 1 - and so what’s really new is item 2. These requirements need to be levied on every vendor, and if that is accomplished, then we can have free and fair elections again, even though we are using the same old machines. Here is a visualization of that process.
Will there still be issues with these types of machines? Yes, there will. But those issues will be mechanical. All other issues will be remedied because a VTN exists to allow such remedy.
A better approach, and in fact the best approach of all is to use a purely software solution. That’s what EIP–T* provides.