Election Integrity Principles

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Developed initially by Gail Work in San Mateo County,  refined by a  group of CA election integrity acitvists of which Eva Waskell is a part. Date of information: 8 November 2011


  1. Transparency: The voting public must be assured the right and ability to see and hear how elections are conducted, and to track votes by observing operations and accessing electronic or paper records to reconcile the tally and witness all aspects of elections. There must be no obscuring of data by any means, such as naming it differently to hide access; there must be strong enforcement of election laws to provide for timely, fast access to documents before chain of custody is broken or documents can be altered; there must be no acceptance of security gaps that allow for fraud capacity, all security gaps must be closed to provide true election protection to assure the safety of our democracy. This requires expedited amendment of current election laws to provide for faster access to critical documents (for example audit logs) to allow analysis in a timely manner and far tighter election security to protect the citizens’ votes. This transparency principle is embedded in all the other principles that follow and provides the foundation for integrity of our elections.
  2. Chain of Custody: The voting public’s ability to easily, clearly and accurately track every vote through the election process through more than one set of data; use of the two person rule (two people doing tasks at the same time as a check and balance during the chain of custody); show security access logs; allow observer access; insure that no gaps in custody exist when no visibility is permitted to the public; conduct no activity after hours when observers are sent home.
  3. Observer Access: The voting public has the right, as codified in CA Elections Code, to observe all aspects of elections, to ask questions and understand what they are observing (and receive accurate, understandable answers), take notes and get immediate access to supporting documents to monitor election operations. There are to be no secret documents, no secret meetings, no changes to an audit behind closed doors or after hours when observers are sent home, no secret ballot experiments, no important decisions made without public hearings, no technology that hides information beyond voter privacy (for example the Hart InterCivic, Inc. unique identifier bar codes on ballot envelopes that links the ballot to the vote and would allow insiders to track voting patterns with voters); no evasive answers to questions.
  4. Checks & Balances: Voters must have the protected right to have full access to, at a minimum, a second independent set of data for election tallies to verify the numbers and provide a check against electronic and paper tallies. For example, implement the Humboldt Election Transparency Project to scan ballots and tally against an electronic system.
  5. Enforcement of Election Laws: Put those persons with malicious intent on notice that in California there will be state oversight and enforcement of the law. Strengthen existing laws to reflect the current times. This includes: investigations, prosecutions, and also showcasing of examples of good compliance with the law. Work with the Attorney General and Secretary of State to get them to enforce laws on behalf of the citizens, not just provide legal defense on behalf of the elections officials. Establish an independent oversight commission at the state level with hearings to address the multitude of issues that are raised by citizens with officials doing nothing about the complaints. Acknowledge that counties historically will not prosecute their own people, thus, enforcement must also come from the state.
  6. The Voter’s right to use a paper ballot and not have the tally subject to proprietary software or software that cannot be monitored independently without many, many thousands of volunteers. Prohibit ballot shortages and forced use of DREs, touch-screens, or optical scanners – all of which have proven to be vulnerable to hacking which can alter the tally. Utilize the paper ballot, counted at the polls on election night at the precinct in the presence of multiple poll workers and observers. This method is the international gold standard as defined by the United Nations. Bring this democratic standard back to the United States.
  7. The Voter’s right to polls and poll workers must be protected, rather than vote by mail or forced all mail-in elections. As a country our history and tradition is based on voting at the polls with the use of poll workers to monitor the integrity of the process. This fundamental right must be upheld, with polls available and accessible to the handicapped, elderly, those without cars, and spread out geographically to make voting convenient and very localized. Reduction of the number of polls violates this principal and makes voting more difficult especially for people in our most vulnerable communities.
  8. The Voter’s right to photograph and videotape election operations as long as it doesn’t directly interfere with operations (i.e. film from the side rather than in front of operations to allow enough room for work to proceed) or voter privacy. Enforce reasonable distances from operations to areas where observers observe; do not allow any officials to establish cordoned-off area that restricts the ability to film, see or hear the proceedings. This is codified in the California state elections code. However, it’s not enforced and some counties ban all photography and videotaping at the door, leaving the observer with no ability to enforce the elections code correctly. Educate our judicial and enforcements systems on these rights: judges, sheriffs, county counsel, police about these rights so that they may learn to become advocates for the voters rather than enforcers of selective, and sometimes arbitrary, legal interpretation of the law.
  9. The Voter’s right to have full education from the elections office on how operations work, without having to know the key words to ask. Full disclosure of chain of custody and full disclosure of any broken chain of custody or other violations of these principles.
  10. The Voters right to full disclosure of the assumptions that underpin any numbers or assertions. For example, a claim that Vote By Mail is so much cheaper must include detailed “homework” calculations so they may be double checked by the voters for accuracy. Show the work.
  11. The Voter’s right to review the raw data files from where the tally originates. This is essential to prevent privatization of the elections. These files do not contain either software code (they shouldn’t, otherwise they need certification which they do not have) nor do they violate voter privacy therefore they must be immediately disclosed for analysis."