WASHINGTON, Nov. 2, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — SMART Elections, a nonpartisan organization, today announced CountTheVote.info, a central hub for their #CountTheVote initiative. The project uses crowdsourcing and new technologies to document and track the exact number of votes cast at a polling location. The collaborative effort, a partnership with election protection groups across the country, encourages volunteers to take photos and video of election night poll tapes to improve the accuracy and security of the 2020 vote.
“With a contentious race looming, the goal of #CountTheVote is to gather evidence that can locate lost votes, expose hacking, or combat false allegations of fraud,” noted Lulu Friesdat, project leader and executive director of SMART Elections. “Once the polls close, election protection advocates are in a race against time to capture these images, in case they can help verify the correct outcome of the race.”
In many states, at the close of voting, poll workers are required to print out a poll tape, similar to a cash register receipt, from each electronic voting machine or scanner. One copy of the poll tape is customarily posted for public view. A copy of the poll tape may be posted outside the polling place or might need to be requested from poll workers. The second copy is signed by poll workers, sealed in an envelope and sent to election headquarters. Images of poll tapes allow for a direct comparison of Election Night results to those posted later on official county and state websites. Members of the public are asked to take a photo or video of the publicly posted poll tapes and upload them so that data teams can make the comparison.
What’s new this election are two technology platforms that allow the public to quickly and easily capture images of poll tapes and upload them to a central location. Democracy Counts, a coalition partner, has produced an app called “Actual Vote” that takes video of the poll tapes. Those who prefer not to use an app can use a website developed by Silicon Valley veteran Deepak Puri, another coalition partner. The website, SeeSay2020.comallows poll tape photos to be manually uploaded and displayed on a map. Both platforms are sharing data, which will be available at CountTheVote.info.
Errors and anomalies in past election results have been discovered through poll tapes in Tennessee and Georgia.Marilyn Marks, is the executive director of Coalition for Good Governance, a #CountTheVote partner organization. She referenced their work in the Georgia midterms saying, “In 2018, as we investigated the loss of 130,000 plus votes in the Lt. Governor’s race, poll tape photos helped locate the precincts where the lost votes were concentrated.”
In 2015, a computer programmer named Bennie Smith took a photograph of a poll tape in Shelby County Tennessee. The poll tape showed that 548 votes had been cast at that location, a predominantly black precinct. But when the results were certified, they showed only 330 votes at that location. An investigation found at least 3 other predominantly black precincts where votes had gone missing, creating a gap of 1000 votes.
State laws on posting poll tapes and whether or not they can be photographed vary. A list of state laws on public access to poll tapes is available here.
According to a C-SPAN/Ipsos poll in the fall of 2019, “only half of Americans say they believe the vote will be conducted openly and fairly.” The Hill reports this “reveals a growing mistrust in the U.S. electoral system.” The goal of #CountTheVote is to increase Americans’ confidence in the voting process.
SMART Elections is part of a broad coalition of partners working to ensure a fair election, including AUDIT USA, CCoHOPE, Center for Common Ground, Citizens’ Audit Broward, Citizens for Voting Integrity New York, Coalition for Good Governance, Democracy Counts, Florida Fair Elections Coalition, Michigan Election Reform Alliance, National Voting Rights Task Force, People Demanding Action, Protect Our Vote Philly, Reclaim Our Vote, SeeSay2020, and Transparent Elections North Carolina.
SMART Elections will host a virtual forum on Monday, November 2, the eve of the election, for members of the public and the press who want to know more about the #CountTheVote project. The forum will be broadcast live on YouTube and can be accessed via this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ya8QzVFQrA
Media Notes: To schedule an interview with Lulu Friesdat, or coalition partners Marilyn Marks, Daniel Wolf, or Depak Puri – or or to request additional information on this initiative, please contact Jennifer Devlin at 703-966-3241 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Access footage, photos and more information about poll tapes here.
About SMART Elections and #CountTheVote
SMART Elections is a new nonpartisan project dedicated to elevating the issue of election reform to an urgent national priority. We are collaborating to make U.S. elections more secure, accessible, accurate, fair, inclusive, transparent and verifiable. #CountTheVote is a groundbreaking initiative using crowdsourcing technologies to protect and verify the results of the 2020 election. To learn more, visit us at https://smartelections.us or http://countthevote.info.