EIP in a Nutshell
Anybody interested in transparent elections? How about the ability to see your ballot immediately after your vote? How about being able to download the entire election and count all the votes yourself as the election is going on? How about being notified on the progress of the election as it is occurring? In order to do any of that, you’re going to have to be able to see your ballot after you voted.
EIP supports the hand counting of paper ballots, but also by machines. Here is how an electronic EIP Election works:
- Show up in person at a precinct to vote.
- Somebody makes sure you are eligible to vote. Once that is established, you are escorted over to a token table where you are issued a vote tracking number (VTN).
- Use that VTN to vote on your phone or other device, and you are done. Now you can use your phone to not only trace your ballot, but also to follow the election results immediately.
So there you have it, Election Integrity in a nutshell!
Going Old School
The electronic ballot processed above is the fastest, most resource effective, most accurate, most likely cheapest, and least error-prone process anywhere in the world today. The second best alternative is to use the tried-and-true approach of hand counted paper ballots. That process looks like this:
- Show up in person at a precinct to vote.
- Somebody makes sure you are eligible to vote. Once that is established, you are escorted over to a ballot issuance table where you are issued a ballot with a VTN attached.
- Mark the paper ballot with your choices in private.
- Return your completed ballot to a registrar where it is placed in a queue for the teller committee to count and you are done. Now you can use the VTN locate your physical ballot should you ever wish to.
Note: Using hand counts, election results are never available immediately, only after the teller committee has completed their count. This can take some time, and it doesn’t scale well. However some people prefer to use this method, regardless. That’s fine.
As you can see, the protocol supports the processing of completed ballots either by paper or by “machine”. Voters should be able to use whichever process they choose. However, in some jurisdictions rogue legislatures have gone as far to make one of these approaches practically illegal. For example, in Colorado, hand counts of paper ballots are, believe it or not, not allowed in approximately 61 of the 64 counties in Colorado for public sector election thanks to the Democrat Party who passed this Orwellian legislation without voter approval, simply because they had the majority in all branches of government.
Nevertheless, the Election Integrity Protocol supports machines in this case if they are programmed to use the protocol. Likewise, if machines were not allowed or not preferred, then you use paper. The result will be the same in either case.
Whether a jurisdiction decides to count ballots by hand, or to run them through EIP compliant software systems, the process is the same because the machine process is derived directly from the hand count process. In fact, an EIP machine count is a hand counting of paper ballots without hand counting and without paper ballots! In other words, since both approaches adhere to the protocol, either one can be used.
Let’s dig into this process a little deeper. Suppose after you voted, you wanted to be able to look up your ballot to make sure that the candidates or issues you voted on are accurate. How would you go about doing that?
- All you would need to do is stick your name on the completed ballot. Done.
Now you can look up your ballot to see that the values haven’t changed and you can download the entire election and count the votes yourself.
In many elections, this is sufficient because you don’t care that anyone sees how you voted. In fact, congressional elections (a form of Roll Call voting) require the identity of the voter, your congressman, to be listed.
But in other types of elections, where we vote for president for example, you absolutely do not want the identity of the voter to be exposed. In these cases where there is a requirement to separate your identity from your vote, you need to replace your name with something else in order to comply with the mandate of maintaining a "secret ballot". It needs to be unique for the election, and it needs to be known to you, but nobody can trace it back to you.
- That thing is called a "token". It’s really nothing more than a vote tracking number (VTN) for your completed ballot
Let’s try to think of some examples: What about my Social Security number? Since it is unique, that would probably work - but I am uncomfortable with floating that around so let’s use something else like my phone number, my address, my driver's license number. What’s wrong with all of these? They are unique, but they can be traced back to me to identify who I am, and therefore to associate me with that ballot. So using any of those options as “tokens” for processing a VTN-enabled ballot is out of the question.
But, if we could figure out the perfect token to use and the proper manner in which to issue it, then we have solved the worlds problems with regard to elections, and we don’t have to kill each other over this. How about a randomly generated unique number? That works!
So now that you’ve been issued this token / vote tracking number, what is it used for? Two things:
- You use it to vote by either attaching it to a paper ballot or entering it into a computer application.
- Once you vote, you use it as your personal tracking number. From now until the end of time, you will always be able to go back and verify your vote - no matter where or how it was stored!
That’s what the Election Integrity Protocol (EIP) does.
Voting at Scale
Let’s take this a step further. Our token is now attached to our ballot, we can verify our vote and nobody else can trace it back to us. Assuming a machine count, the votes are being counted by a single company on a single centralized computer. Because of the VTN, this works just fine for smaller elections, but it doesn't scale well. As the electorate grows in size, wouldn’t it be better if multiple people or companies or universities or whoever could count the vote at the same time? And be able to see the same data at the same time as the election is occurring? Of course it would! That’s where distributed ledgers come in. A distributed ledger is nothing but a single ledger distributed across multiple computers. The ledger is logically a database filled with everybody’s votes. Once the votes are written to the ledger, they cannot be changed, and everybody gets to see the same data immediately at the same time. If everybody agrees that the vote totals are the same, then we have better assurance that the election totals are valid.
Finally, it would be even more reassuring if we could enhance data security as much as possible. While not entirely necessary, we can add Blockchain technology to these ledgers, in order to make them more robust. Note that neither distributed ledgers nor blockchains are required to make the protocol work, they only help with scalability and security, respectfully.
So what we have here is a bulletproof methodology that produces free and fair elections throughout the world that cannot be refuted or cheated. In fact,
if the protocol is followed, there is no way to come up with any other outcome than the truth
And when it comes to elections, what could be better than that?