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Voting Booth Special Report: The Future of Vote Count-Verifying Technologies

Voting Booth senior writing fellow Steven Rosenfeld’s latest article looks at election protection technology.

Why Election Officials Are Pinning Their Hopes on Different Vote Count-Verifying Technologies

But will states and counties check results based on estimates or accounting?

By Steven Rosenfeld

December 17, 2018

In early December, the county officials running Florida’s elections unanimously endorsed a new way to recount ballots and more precisely verify votes before winners are certified.

The Florida State Association of Supervisors of Elections wanted to avoid complications seen in November’s multiple statewide recounts. They are urging their legislature to sanction a process pioneered in a half-dozen of its 67 counties. That auditing technique involves using a second independent system to rescan all of the paper ballots to double-check the initial count using powerful software that analyzes all of the ink marks. That accounting-based process also creates a library of ballots with digital images of every ballot card and vote, should manual examination of problematic ballots be needed.

Yet a few days later at a Massachusetts Institute of Technology Election Audit Summit, this emerging approach in the specialized world of making vote counting more accurate and trustable was not part of any presentation. Instead, state election directors, county officials and technicians, top academics in election science and law, technologists and activists were shown a competing approach with differing goals and procedures.

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