Re: Re: Emergency Measures To Protect The 2004 Vote Count (EM2004)

From: Ellen Theisen <ellent_at_olympus_dot_net>
Date: Fri Sep 10 2004 - 09:17:35 CDT

Here is an explanation of how this plan could be implemented. Perhaps it is
optimistic, but it is also feasible and a very preferable alternative to a
crisis of confidence in November and beyond.

Of course, it has to be mandated on the federal level to supersede various
state laws. Since it would be mandated only for this November to reduce the
problems of holding a federal election while our election reform process is
still in the chaotic midst of transition, it is a matter of national
security. Our election is vulnerable not only to rampant doubt in the
outcome (which would make our nation very vulnerable), but also hacking by
external parties, power outages, hurricanes, and the like. I believe there
is Constitutional justification for a federal law to protect the nation from
the train-wreck that growing numbers of people -- including those on Capitol
Hill -- foresee.

You can find a copy of the following information at Comment are,
of course, encouraged. While this plan is a long-shot, the chances of
accomplishing it are much greater if we work together. BTW, don't forget
that the masses of poll watchers now being organized throughout the country
would be of even more value on election day if they had something
transparent to watch.

The proposed legislation is here:

Actions to take and materials to use are here:


The EAC is warning election officials to prepare for recounts, and both
parties are preparing to challenge election outcomes. These burdens born by
the states after the election could be significantly reduced by spending the
minimal time and money before and during the election to implement this

What votes would be counted by hand?

Only the votes for President, Vice President, U.S. Senator, and U.S.
Representative would be counted by hand. This would entail counting three
races in each precinct of states where a Senator is running for re-election,
two races in each precinct of other states.

How would the federal paper ballots be provided in punch card and optical
scan counties?

Standard ballots could be used. No pre-election changes or voter education
would be needed.

How would they be provided in lever and DRE (paperless electronic voting
machine) counties?

The two or three federal races would simply not be included on lever
machines. The federal races would be removed from the electronic ballot
definitions of DRE machines. Changes to electronic ballots can be done at
the county level; they require little effort and can be done on short
notice. In the recent Georgia primary, an error printed on absentee ballots
was corrected on the electronic ballot shortly before early voting began.

The two or three federal races would be printed on paper ballots. In DRE
counties, it is likely that the ballots will already be designed and
residing in the computer. Since the ballots would not be scanned, the text
would not have to be carefully aligned and could be printed on any paper
allowed by state law. In many states, ballots could be printed on 8-1/2 x 11
white paper at any local printer for less than 10 cents per ballot.

Voters would be assigned to a lever or DRE machine and would also be given a
paper ballot for federal races. The ballot might be clipped to a clipboard
which has a pencil attached, so the voter could easily mark the ballot in
the privacy of the standard voting booth.

Note: Combining electronic and paper ballots in the same election has been
done successfully in the past. In Pompano Beach, Florida in March 2004, one
issue was on a paper ballot, the rest of the races were on the electronic
voting machines. According to a Travis County, Texas election judge, May
Schmidt, paper and electronic ballots have also been combined in several
elections she conducted. In all cases, neither voters nor poll workers found
it confusing.

How would the paper ballots be hand counted?

At the polling places, poll workers would tally the two or three federal
votes by hand. Templates could easily be made that would help the readers
focus on the races to be counted, hiding the others from view. Estimates
obtained from experienced counters for the time required to count two to
three votes on 500 ballots vary from two hours to four hours.

In states that allow it, such as Idaho and Texas, the tallying process would
start before the polls close and be completed by the sequestered counters
shortly after the polls close. In other states, the votes would be tallied
by hand during the two to four hours after the polls close.

Precinct results would be prominently posted at the polling sites. A second
copy would be taken to the central tabulating facility. Publicizing the
results before the ballots were transported to the central office would
reduce paper ballot fraud significantly. Precinct results would be used to
tabulate the results outside any election management system provided by
vendors, in order to provide full transparency and guard against errors and
vulnerabilities in those systems.

Standards detailing what constitutes a valid paper-ballot vote are available
from the Secretary of State's office in states that use hand-counted paper
ballots in some counties. Handbooks explaining the hand-tallying process are
also available. States without such standards and procedures in place could
easily obtain appropriate guidelines from sister states.

How much time would be required to prepare for this change?

Ballot printing. Federal paper ballots could be printed by the DRE and lever
counties in less than two weeks. Some printers require only a week lead
time, less for an important rush job.

Ballot certification. In DRE and lever counties, county officials would need
to design the ballots and, in some states, get them certified. Since the
ballots would be simple, this could be accomplished very quickly. DRE
counties could use the computerized templates they have already prepared for
the election, including rotation and language differences, to complete the
ballot designs with little notice.

Poll worker training. Election officials we have consulted declare that
training poll workers to hand count ballots is very easy and quick. The
training could easily be included as part of the standard training, or it
could be accomplished in a brief additional training session before the

Additional poll workers. In some counties, additional poll workers might be
required. Much of the difficulty of recruiting poll workers is caused by the
use of high-tech equipment. Since it requires no technical knowledge to
count paper ballots, recruitment would be much simpler. Increasing numbers
of citizens are expressing interest in participating in the election
process, and they could be easily recruited to count paper ballots.

Voter education. Virtually no voter education would be required. Every
citizen who has taken a test in school knows how to mark their choice on a
piece of paper. The only education needed could be done in minutes at the
precinct by the poll workers when they hand the voter the paper ballot.

Overall estimate. These changes could be implemented in two weeks, possibly
less. Since early voting begins on DREs in mid-October in three states, if
the law were in place by October 1 (as late as October 7 if necessary), this
is feasible.

What additional costs would be incurred and who would pay?

Funds could be appropriated within the legislation. Additional costs would
include printing ballots, additional poll worker time, poll-worker hand book
supplements, tally sheets, employee time for ballot revisions and
certification. Estimates below are deliberately high.

      200,000 polling places, each with an average of 4 people spending 4
hours to hand count at $12 per hour.[1]

      Supplemental paper ballots for 50 million voters (DRE and lever only)
at 10 cents per ballot.

      Hand book supplements. 10 pages - 1 per polling place. (2,000,000
sheets at 10 cents per sheet)

      Tally sheets - 4 pages per polling place

      Additional employee or consultant time for training and ballot
revisions. 3200 counties, 40 hours, $75 per hour.

      Estimated total


[1] According to Doug Lewis, Executive Director of the Election Center, the
United States has nearly 200,000 polling places and 800,000 voting machines.
There are also 1.4 million poll workers and 20,000 full-time election
officials who administer elections.,2645,64781,00.html?tw=wn_tophead_1
Estimates based on 100 million voters, 30 million voting on DREs, 20 million
voting on levers.
Ellen Theisen
Avoid a national crisis in November!
Hand counted paper ballots for federal offices.
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Received on Thu Sep 30 23:17:04 2004

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