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It's Time to Use a New Vote Count Procedure (November 23, 2006)

Terry Hung

November 23. 2006 

There are endless controversies in all levels of elections due to faulty vote count procedure. From 2000 US presidential election to the 2006 Mexican presidential election, the faulty vote count procedure kept hurting the credibility of democracy. It’s about time that we adopt a simple and effective vote count procedure.

The problem of vote count is in the blackbox inside the election process. The votes cannot be verified by the voters themselves, and when a region reports its vote count, there are always rumors that the tallies are inaccurate, votes are secretly thrown out, or that phantom votes have been added.

The solution is very simple: we can create a voting file in the computer of each region that the voters can access. The format of each record (line) in the file is very simple: “Name: <name1> Social Security Number: <number> President: <name2> Senator: <name3> Measure A: <yes/no>. To prevent phantom votes, the social security number must be associated with an IRS record. Only the voter himself or herself can access to his or her record.  

The overall procedure involves the following steps: a voter votes with a computer that is connecting to the internet or goes to the polling place to vote. The result is added to the voting file of each region, one record for each voter. The voter at any time can examine his or her vote to make sure it is not manipulated by others, and only the voter himself or herself can be authenticated to see his/her record. Then at any given time, the central bureau can run a tally script to summarize the votes of all its subordinate regions. The script is very short and it is impossible for anyone to insert secret code to distort the result. The tally takes seconds, comparing to hours or days in our current system. 

Let’s compare this simple method with our current method: presently the vote is sitting on a voting ballot. If a voter wants to check that his or her vote is not compromised, it is next to impossible to find his or her ballot from the boxes. To count this ballot, someone has to put it into the tally machine, but there is no guarantee that someone won't throw this ballot away, and there is no guarantee that the result will be accurately reported to the central bureau who tally the vote.

It’s time to ovehaul our vote count procedure. The solution is simple. It’s just a matter of using it.  

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