Everyone seems to be wanting to find a good solution to how to count ballots honestly these days.
It kinda baffles me why this should be a hard problem. The solution to me seems based in the basic premise: Don’t trust anybody.
So here’s how I would do it:
Create a scanner that counts filled in boxes along the right-hand half of a page of paper. It expects only one box of several in a row to be dark and flags an error if more than one is found to be dark. It also reads a barcode in the upper-left corner to identify the ballot page. The scanner outputs its results to an LCD display for each row – outputing a series of numbers showing the running sum of all the votes plus a number for invalid entries read plus a summary of the last ballot read. That’s all it does and we make millions of them composed of a single PC card with PROM memory – everything soldered in place. No jacks, no inputs, no outputs, no changes allowed.
Then we create a website where voters can check off their votes and print out a page of their votes to be counted along with the barcode for a unique random number generated by the website. Voters can go to the site at anytime, make their votes and print out the page.
Voters take the page to their local precinct polling place on the day of the election. No mail ballots allowed! You can have a neighbor or someone bring your ballot for you provided they have a power of attorney from you for them to deliver it. The same website would provide this form for absentee voters to use.
At the polling place the person checks in as usual and turn in the ballot. Any voter can test any scanning machine they like by scanning their ballot and looking at the last ballot read results.
Once the polls close, election judges then go to the election website and have it generate roughly the same number of ballots cast at the precinct that have random valid votes cast. These pages are of a different color than the real ballots so they can’t get confused.
The judges then each do the following procedure by at least three separate judges each with at least two witnesses:
1) for each scanning machine
a) Reset the machine and Scan the real ballots and record the sums.
b) Reset the machine and Scan the pile of fake random ballots and record the sums.
c) Shuffle the fake and real ballots together and count them all and record the sums.
The sum of the good and bad ballots should equal the value of the mixed set.
2) compare the results from all scanning machines – they should all be equal. If they are you are good. Bundle the real ballots together along with the sums from the scanning machine on the bundle signed by all judges and witnesses.
Each judge and witness gets a copy to take home with them.
The Sums are then entered into a secure website (maybe just an excell spreadsheet) where they can be added and seen by all.
Send the real ballots and the signed sum to the county by currior for secure keeping for recounts.
By allowing everyone to see the numbers comming from the precincts and seeing the sums right there, we have lots of eyes validating the additon and witnesses that see any wrong numbers can immediately report the problems.
That’s how I would do it.