DemLabs blog

Take photos of poll tapes to make sure vote counts add up correctly.

"Photograph poll tapes at the polling place on election night and check the vote totals against the official vote totals to catch erroneous election results." - Scrutineers

"At the close of polls on election night, poll workers have a long list of things to do to close down a polling site. One of those is to print out poll tapes or election results from each voting machine. Poll tapes usually look like cash register receipts and contain the vote tallies for every candidate in every race, and for the votes on ballot initiatives.

In some states, these poll tapes (or votes cast forms) must be posted for the public outside the polling place. Errors and manipulation of results can happen later in the process, when the votes from the polling location are transferred to an election management system that tallies totals, or when the results are posted to a website. Taking photos of the poll tapes outside polling places is a really important tool in election protection. The data on these tapes can be compared to official results to see if any numbers change. If no discrepancies are found, the public can have greater confidence that there are no errors in this part of the election results." - Smart Elections

What you can do

Scrutineers is a nonpartisan, online community for the fairness and accuracy of US elections and ending voter suppression. They recommend:

* Find out where one or more polling places are that will be posting poll tapes outside the polling place after the election ends. Posting of poll tapes is required in most states. Note you’ll be outside of a closed building, so social distancing should not be a problem.
* Go to a polling place – or more than one, if you’re able – late at night on November 3 and take photos or video.
* Share your photos/video with one of the groups involved in this project. You also have the option to find the county results when they’re announced and compare the totals on your own.

Scrutineers video training on election protection by taking photos of poll tapes on election night.
The video explains why taking photos of poll tapes is so vital. (Minutes 9-22)

Volunteer groups

For help connecting with a poll tape photography project that may be working in your area, complete the volunteer form at ValidateTheVoteUSA.
To sign up to image poll tapes, analyze poll tapes, or both, complete the volunteer form at Protect Our Votes - Photo Finish. Volunteers with this group use their phone’s camera app to take images, then use a web-based tool to upload the images.
If you’re part of a local group – whether it’s a group of friends or a community organization – and would like support to do your own poll tapes project, SMARTElections' #CountTheVote project can help.
Confirm that every vote is counted as the voter intended by working with elections officials to ensure that elections are transparent, audited, and publicly verified. - Transparent Elections NC

Photograph and upload poll tapes on your own (without signing up with a particular group) use SeeSay2020, which you can access from your smartphone or computer without downloading an app.

Collect poll tape photos with SeeSay2020

SeeSay2020 is a free web app that enables voters to report voting obstacles they face, as well as uploading photos of poll tapes. Volunteers take photos and upload them with the app. The photos are mapped immediately by precinct and also uploaded to a public drive (like Box) where the poll tape photos can be tabulated to check the vote count results. All the photos are tagged with the location, time where the photo was taken and details on the volunteer who took the photo. This helps establish an audit trail which can be helpful in case of a recount appeal.

How to photograph a poll tape and upload it with SeeSay2020
How to photograph a poll tape and upload it with SeeSay2020

Poll tape photos are placed on a map and also uploaded to a public drive for volunteers to tablulate.
Poll tape photos are mapped by precinct and saved for tabulation.

Protecting democracy

Democracy is not a spectator sport. Watch Protecting Democracy, a 21 min video with clips from Susan Pynchon about poll tapes she found in the garbage and a demonstration of how vote totals can be changed in the voting system. Learn about other election protection resources here and groups working for fair elections.

Take Away: 'Trust but verify' as President Reagan advised. Take photos of poll tapes to enhance election count integrity.


Share this Newsletter:

Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on facebook

DemLabs applies innovative technology and storytelling tools in service of democratic values. It lowers the barrier of funding for worthy candidates and non-profits by applying existing free/affordable solutions.