(M)achine (C)ounted (P)aper (B)allots

The use of machines to count paper ballots is the most common form of vote counting in use today in the modern world. It’s also the most controversial, maligned, distrusted, expensive and error prone method ever devised in the history of voting. Not a great track record.

Poor Secification

Machines in use today suffer from one glaring problem, and that is a poor specification for their functionality.

Had a proper vote counting protocol been put in place in the first place, we wouldn’t have any problems with machines


Had the machines been required to provide the voter with a receipt for their completed ballot, the voter could locate their ballot, count all the votes themselves and the entire process could move along a lot faster

As we have pointed out several times on this website - it’s not the machines, stupid. It’s the specification. Simply put, the existing requirements are insufficient. Machines only do what they are told to do.

If machines aren't told to do enough to ensure free and fair elections, then they won’t

Machines aren't needed just to count votes, they also need to provide a way for the voter to track their vote throughout the election process so the voter can make sure all the votes are counted correctly.

How is that accomplished? You guessed it - With a vote tracking number!

Ensuring Vendor Compliance

Whether you agree with the assessment or not, the vast majority of Americans believe that multiple election cycles have been compromised to the point where the outcome was incorrect. The number one culprit blamed for this travesty of justice is a large election provider. Again, whether or not you believe this company or any other company committed or enabled vote fraud, wouldn’t it be better to put a specification in place that would make it impossible for any company to do so in the future? Yes, it would.

In other words, you can make a dishonest machine honest!

Here’s how:

Most vote counting machines today, including tabulators and scanners, produce a record for each vote cast. It’s called a Cast Vote Record (CVR). So if you can think of a spreadsheet, every row has a single cast vote record in it, and so this makes it easy to count the votes, and to also properly associate them with their ballot options.

EIP requires all election implementations to do two things:

  1. Cast every vote accurately
  2. Count all the votes accurately

In order to accomplish these two requirements, the election must produce the following capability

  1. Produce a CVR list if they don’t already
  2. Attach a VTN to each CVR in that list to help produce a publically available and accessible EIP Cast Vote Records Ledger
  3. Count the votes accurately, and associate each vote choice with the intended ballot option
  4. All without associating the identity of the voter with their vote in any manner, including any derived manner

That’s it.

This is not really a big ask because all of these machines purportedly already perform items 3 and 4, most already perform item 1 - and so what’s really new is item 2. These requirements need to be levied on every vendor, and if that is accomplished, then we can have free and fair elections again, even though we are using the same old machines. Here is a visualization of that process when conducted in a degraded mode using absentee voting.

But there's an even easier solution. Instead of requiring vendors to comply, simply create ballots that are auditable in the first place.

Levy the requirement that a VTN must become a part of every CVR as part of a ballot marking process like EIP. Now all the vote counters (be they people or machines) don't have to modify their vote counting process at all!

Imagine that!

Will there still be issues with these types of machines? Yes, there will. But those issues will be mechanical. All other issues will be remedied because a VTN exists to allow such remedy.

A better approach, and in fact the best approach of all is to use a purely software solution operating in optimum mode. That’s what EIP–T* provides.

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