Verified Voting on a mission to secure elections

by | Feb 4, 2020 | Elections | Comments

Verified Voting is a “non-partisan non-profit organization that advocates for legislation and regulation that promotes accuracy, transparency, and verifiability of elections.” Its primary concern is ensuring that the means for verifying election outcomes are in place and used for that purpose. To address this component of voting rights, Verified Voting bridges key stakeholder groups such as election officials, voter advocates, lawmakers, technologists, researchers, and the media. 

Verified Voting was founded in 2003 by David L. Dill, and has since generated national attention and brought measurable results. Verified Voting encourages jurisdictions to enact requirements for voters, including the ability to verify their vote on a paper record, as well as assisting states with post-election audit provisions. For example, the city of Fairfax in Virginia recently piloted a risk-limiting audit, designed to provide strong statistical evidence that the election results are accurate.

As a designated 501(c)(4) civic organization, Verified Voting is permitted under the IRS code to engage in unlimited lobbying, unlike a 501(c)(3) charity with tax-deductible donations. Taking advantage of this designation, the organization has urged Congress to pass comprehensive, bipartisan election security funding as recently as September 30, 2019. 

“Congress has the obligation to protect the country from threats to national security and has the opportunity to act on this nonpartisan issue,” argues Verified Voting President Marian K. Schneider. She also claims that federal funds would be beneficial for securing our elections because they could be used to replace insecure voting equipment and implement modern security measures, such as paper ballots. 

Election security officials, such as a bipartisan group of twenty-one state attorneys general, have pushed Congress for additional funding, particularly after the threats to our election integrity became apparent in 2016. 

Verified Voting lays out 10 principles for new voting systems. According to these principles, paper ballots should be easy to audit, usable, and accessible to all voters. The website also addresses vote verification, voter anonymity, and ballot machines. The organization also rates each state and county, assessing multiple factors, such as polling place equipment, accessible equipment, early voting equipment, and absentee ballot tabulation. In the rating system, using paper ballots and ballot marking devices, as well as early and absentee voting in place is ideal. 

Not everyone is on board with the voter-verified paper audit trail advocated for by Verified Voting.  The Wisconsin Grassroots Network argues that the paper trail won’t actually be counted, and even if they are, a hacker could flip votes in the paper trail as well as the digital record without being noticed.  

While a hacker’s ability to affect an election unnoticed is a concern that may need to be addressed, the mission of Verified Voting calls for the use of the best technology available to ensure free and fair elections.  If protecting election integrity is a priority in the next election, then Verified Voting may play a role in setting the reform agenda to come.