Count Every Legally-Cast Ballot by Hand!
Is it possible? Yes, of course. Ballots were counted by hand for decades before vulnerable election systems were introduced to our nation. In fact, many European countries still count ballots by hand because they understood from the get-go that election systems are a matter of national security.
In 2010, a professor from the University of Michigan exposed the flaws of voting systems and the ease with which they can be hacked. Yet, most polling locations across America continue to use vulnerable tabulator machines which pose a threat to the security and survivability of our nation.
Unity4MRP, a statewide team of grassroots activists developed a secure, transparent ballot hand count process for state party conventions, and now they have customized this system for use in every polling location across Michigan – and America.
Ballot Processing System Requirements
Efficiency: Easily completed within a few hours of polls closing
Full Transparency: Performed in full view of all poll challengers desiring to watch
Multiple Crosscheck Verifications: Occurring at each stage of counting and aggregation
Ballot Chain of Custody: Visually verifiable by precinct voters and poll challengers desiring to watch
Party-Appointed Poll Challengers: Present at all credentialing table, counting tables and vote aggregation table
Step 1: Credentialing & Voting
Ballots shall be sequentially numbered for each precinct. A lot of 50 ballots shall be considered a batch. (Example: A precinct has 1000 ballots, numbered 1 to 1000. Ballots numbered 1 through 50 shall be a batch, ballots numbered 51 through 100 shall be a batch, etc.)
A clear ballot box shall be available for each ballot batch, labeled with the range of ballot numbers to be deposited within the box.
Election inspectors shall check in voters, compare IDs to the Qualified Voter File, and hand a ballot to each voter. After voters have completed their ballot, they shall place their ballot face-down into the clear ballot box displaying the ballot number-range including their ballot number. (Example: Voter has Ballot #73. They shall place face-down in the clear ballot box labeled “Ballots #51 – 100”.
Step 2: Ballot Deposit & Transfer of Ballots from Voting Area to Counting Tables
There shall be a Tracking Sheet for each batch of 50 ballots.
One person shall be a Ballot Runner. The runner is responsible for assisting voters with the deposit of their ballots, and the runner shall highlight each ballot number on the tracking sheet as the ballot is deposited. After all 50 ballot numbers on the tracking sheet have been highlighted, the runner shall deposit the tracking sheet face-up into the clear ballot box and then carry the box to Teller #1 at the counting table(s). After arriving at the counting table, the runner shall open the lid of the ballot box. Then, Teller #1 shall remove the 50 ballots and place them immediately to the left of Teller #1 for processing. Runner shall close the lid, quickly return the empty ballot box to the voting area, and relabel the box with the next range of ballot numbers to be deposited within the box.
Step 3: Counting Table Setup
There shall be a roped-off “counting area” at the precinct polling location for the sole purpose of counting ballots by hand. One rectangular counting table per 600 active registered voters shall exist for ballot processing. Michigan election law defines a precinct as no more than 2,999 active registered voters: so, a maximum of 5 counting tables would be required in the largest precinct.
Three persons shall be tellers at each counting table: Tellers #1, #2 and #3.
There shall be no tablecloths, table skirts or anything else present in the counting area which could be used to conceal ballots.
Step 4: Batch Tally & Cross-Check Verification
Teller #1 shall have a Tally Sheet, tally each ballot, and pass the ballot to Teller #2. Teller #2 shall have an identical Tally Sheet and tally each ballot for the second time. This process shall continue until an entire batch of 50 has been counted. Write-in candidates shall be written on the tally sheet with one tally mark per vote next to the written name.
Tellers #1 and 2 shall total their tally marks for the batch of 50: then, they shall compare Tally Sheet results to ensure matching results. If the Tally Sheet results do not match, tellers shall recheck their own tally mark count first. If a discrepancy is found in actual tally marks (rather than the counting of the tally marks), a recount of the batch of 50 is needed. Upon verification that tally sheets match, Tellers #1 and 2 shall sign each Tally Sheet.
Teller #2 shall transfer the Tracking Sheet, Tally Sheets and ballots to Teller #3, at which point the counting process for a new batch of 50 may begin.
Step 5: Table Vote Aggregation & Cross-Check Verification
Teller #3 shall transfer totals from the Tally Sheets to the Table Aggregation Sheet for each batch of 50, and write their initials below the batch totals. Teller #3 shall transfer name and totals for write-in candidates to the office-specific Table Write-In Sheet for the office they are being voted for, and write their initials below the batch totals. Then, Teller #3 will clip both batch Tally Sheets and the Tracking Sheet onto the 50-ballot batch with a binder clip to create a Batch Stack. After transfer of totals for each batch, Teller #3 from another counting table shall cross-check the Table Aggregation Sheet and each Table Write-In Sheet for accuracy, and write their initials below the verified batch. (When only one counting table is used, an Election Inspector shall perform cross-check verifications.)
When all batches have been tallied and totals transferred to the aggregation sheets, Teller #3 shall add together the batch totals for each candidate on the Table Aggregation Sheet and each Table Write-In Sheet. Teller #3 from another counting table shall verify the totals on the Table Aggregation Sheet and each Table Write-In Sheets for accuracy and write their signature at the bottom of each sheet.
Teller #3 shall transfer the final totals from the Table Aggregation Sheet to the Table Total Sheet. Teller #3 shall transfer the names and totals of write-in candidates from each office-specific Table Write-In Sheet to the Table Total Write-In Sheet, placing them in the same order as offices are listed on the ballot. Teller #3 from another counting table shall verify the totals on the Table Total Sheet and Table Total Write-In Sheet for accuracy and write their signature at the bottom of each sheet.
Step 6: Transfer of Ballots & Table Count Data from Counting Tables to Precinct Vote Aggregatioon Table
Teller #3 shall place the Table Aggregation Sheet and each Table Write-In Sheet on top of all the Batch Stacks, insert all into a manilla envelope, and deposit the envelope at the Final Data Records Box at the Precinct Vote Aggregation Table. Then, Teller #3 shall place the Table Total Sheet and Table Total Write-In Sheet on the Precinct Vote Aggregation Table for processing.
Step 7: Precinct Vote Aggregation Table Setup
There shall be a Precinct Vote Aggregation Table within the “counting area” for the purpose of receiving and totaling the Table Total Sheets and Table Total Write-In Sheets and providing final results. A laptop shall be at this table. The laptop shall have a Digital Precinct Aggregation Sheet for entering the totals from each Table Total Sheet. The laptop shall also have a Digital Precinct Write-In Aggregation Sheet containing the names of all official write-in candidates from the county clerk.
After all counting tables have completed Step #6, tellers shall choose three persons from amongst themselves to calculate the final precinct totals at the Precinct Vote Aggregation Table: Precinct Count Manager, Precinct Count Manager Assistant and Precinct Count Verifier.
The Digital Precinct Write-In Aggregation Sheet shall be updated with the names of any write-in candidates who submitted a declaration of intent at the polling location with an election inspector acting as their notary.
Step 8: Precinct Vote Aggregation & Cross-Check Verification
The Precinct Count Manager shall enter the totals from each Table Total Sheet into the Digital Precinct Aggregation Sheet. The Precinct Count Manager shall enter the totals for all official write-in candidates from each Table Total Write-In Sheet into the Digital Precinct Write-In Aggregation Sheet. The Precinct Count Verifier shall verify that each number was entered correctly.
The Precinct Count Manager Assistant shall transfer the totals from each Table Total Sheet to the Physical Precinct Aggregation Sheet to keep a written version of the Digital Precinct Aggregation Sheet. The Precinct Count Manager Assistant shall transfer the totals for all official write-in candidates from each Table Total Write-In Sheet to the Physical Precinct Write-In Aggregation Sheet. The Precinct Count Verifier shall verify that the totals were copied correctly and write their initials below the verified table totals.
The Precinct Count Manager Assistant shall calculate the final precinct totals on both the Physical Precinct Aggregation Sheet and the Physical Precinct Write-In Aggregation Sheet. The Precinct Count Verifier shall verify that these totals match the Digital Precinct Aggregation Sheet and Digital Precinct Write-In Aggregation Sheet and write their signature at the bottom of each sheet.
Step 9: Presentation of Results
The Precinct Count Manager shall send the Digital Precinct Aggregation Sheet and the Digital Precinct Write-In Aggregation Sheet to the Jurisdiction Clerk.
The Precinct Count Manager Assistant shall clip the Physical Precinct Aggregation Sheet and Physical Precinct Write-In Aggregation Sheet on top of the Table Total Sheets and Table Total Write-In Sheets with a binder clip and deposit all into the Final Data Records Box.
Step 10: Other Necessary Security & Efficiency Requirements
The Floor Manager shall be a trained Election Inspector. Ballot Processors (Tellers and Ballot Runners) shall be hired in the same manner as Election Inspectors and shall attend a training session(s) where they are trained to fill each role defined in this process.
Each major party shall have the opportunity to appoint one poll challenger per counting table, each to challenge real-time as necessary, including but not limited to, the ballots themselves, the hand count of the ballots, the reading of the voting results, and other procedures and methods defining the process. All challenges shall be presented to the Floor Manager and addressed without delay.
“Line spacing” shall be identical across ballots, tally sheets, table aggregation sheets, table total sheets and precinct aggregation sheets to increase efficiency and reduce error rate.