4. Election Ballot Counting

Standardize Voting Equipment

All election ballots should be recorded using any pre-approved accurate, practical and reasonably efficient method so that votes can be recorded and counted quickly and efficiently. A political jurisdiction (such as a city, county or even perhaps even a state) should stick to only one kind of voting system throughout an election so that voter confusions about which machine or system to use or how to use them are minimized.

Each Vote Tallying System Must Have Published Error Bars

Nevertheless, regardless of which system is used, all systems should be tested and analyzed periodically by scientists, especially as a system ages or as new technologies are applied. Each system’s vote tallying accuracy rate and error bars should be made available to the public. In addition, clear rules for defining invalid ballots must be published and accepted by the governments using that system. The 99.9% confidence level should be used to determine the minimum error bars allowed for each vote counting method.

Automatic Recount If Votes Lay Within Error Bars

In elections where the margin of victory within that political jurisdiction lies within the published, scientifically-determined error bars of whatever ballot tallying system was used, an automatic recount of all the votes within that jurisdiction should be mandated using a more accurate tallying method. The most likely recount method may be a hand recount of the votes, but it is conceivable for there to be more accurate machine counts that may also successfully do the job. After a recount, if a winner is still not able to be determined due to the vote margin again falling within the error bars of the second, more precise tallying system used, then an even more accurate vote counting system (i.e., a hand recount) should automatically be mandated.

If no more accurate system exists, all remaining questionable or disputed ballots would be disqualified, and the total vote counts would be frozen at the levels determined after the last recount. These election numbers should be affirmed and the election declared over, even if the margin of victory still falls within the error bars.

No time limits or deadlines should ever be set for finalizing the counting of any ballots. Nobody should call for, or have the right to demand, a recount, because the only thing that could trigger a recount is a race in which the margin of victory is less than the statistical error bars of the vote counting method used.

There should always be a paper ballot trail for every ballot cast. Perhaps even two ballot receipts, one for the voter to take home and the other for the official record.

Slightly different rules should apply to elections (such as Presidential elections) in which multiple jurisdictions vote for one race, and the winner of that race is determined by any means other than through a popular vote. In such cases, some jurisdictions’ vote tallies may fall within the statistical error bars of the counting method used. Only in these jurisdictions should a recount using a more accurate tallying system be used. For example, the Electoral College generally awards votes to Presidential candidates based on whether or not that candidate received a plurality of the votes in that state. If a Presidential candidate is the clear winner in 49 states, but the votes in one state fall within the error bars, it should only be that one state that is required to recount the votes. If Presidents were chosen through a direct popular vote and the nationwide margin of victory fell within the error bars, then a recount of the entire national vote would be required, even if all 50 states have each chosen a candidate by a landslide.

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