Crowdsourcing Election Verification
I take it as accepted fact at this point that the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election would have gone to John Kerry if everyone who attempted to vote that day were able to and all the votes were counted correctly. Here’s the the Wikipedia entry on the subject and here’s a documentary to get you started.
Regardless of your political leanings or party affiliations, there’s hardly a more important issue if you believe in some form of democracy. As we run up to the 2008 elections, you should be very concerned that the problems have not been adequately addressed, despite all the various voting reform and voting rights initiatives.
While there may be nothing you can do do assure that your vote is counted properly in 2008, there are some ways you can keep a verified record of your vote, which is a necessary precondition for fixing the broken system:
- Vote absentee. Not only does this eliminate a whole set of irregularities having to do with polling places, registration and voting machines, it also allows you to make copies of your ballot at your leisure. Use certified mail if allowed. Also, mail a postmarked copy to yourself before election day and keep it sealed.
- Take a photo of yourself voting. If you do go into polling booth, bring a digital camera or cell phone camera and photograph your ballot with a government issued photo ID in the frame.
- Send proof to the candidate you voted for. Ideally do this for all candidates you vote for (e.g. House, Senate, state elections, etc) not just for the presidency. The smaller the election, the more important each vote is and the more likely the candidate will be to want and appreciate the proof you send.
If you are not concerned about keeping your vote private, why not post your proof to various web sites, blogs and social networks (like your Facebook profile)? Once everyone’s votes are indexed by Google, it shouldn’t be hard at all to reconstruct the actual election results. Although you may have personal privacy concerns about revealing your votes, your rights as a citizen of a democracy (not just your right to privacy) are under siege. Exercise your choice to reveal now, so that you will maintain your right to conceal in the future.