DemLabs blog

"Democracy relies on citizens’ trust that each vote is counted as cast" - Verified Voting

Who makes the machines that count the votes? How are votes counted? This interactive map provides answers in an interactive form to query based on your interest. It shows the type of voting machine used by each precinct, county, the congressional district and rep.

Map of voting machines by district, county and congressional district.
Data courtesy: Verified Voting and ArcGIS Living Atlas.

Voting machines

"Three major election vendors in the United States - Election Systems and Software, Hart InterCivic, and Dominion Voting - are owned by private equity. Together, they account for about 80 percent of all election equipment used in the United States. This leaves the public in the dark about who owns the voting machine companies, or how much money those owners make from elections. At the very least, not knowing who is behind these companies - and if they have ties to either political party, donate to super PACs, or have a financial stake in the outcome of an election - undermines confidence in the proprietary software undergirding voting machines." - Sue Halpern, The New York Review

Election security experts recommendations

Remove connectivity. Voting machines should not be connected to the internet as it leaves them open to hacking.

Voters should be able to read their ballots. Digital “ballot-marking” voting machines that encode voters’ selections in an unreadable barcode present another vector of attack, since voters can’t know if the choices they believe they have made are the ones that actually have been recorded.

Use Hand-Marked Paper Ballots - preventing the possibility of errors due to machine malfunction, mis-calibration, or hacking.  Paper ballots are reliable and let voters vote even if power is lost and machines fail.

Optical Scanner Voting Machines (Opscans) - quickly count hand-marked paper ballots, tally election results and retain digital images of the paper ballots to facilitate recounts, audits, and adjudication.  

Resources

Verified Voting Foundation is a non-governmental, nonpartisan organization founded in 2003 by David L. Dill, a computer scientist from Stanford University, designed to preserve the democratic process with modern day voting advancements[1][2]. It seeks to represent concerned citizens who are hesitant about electronic paperless voting and promotes a secure voting environment by the means of paper voting with a tangible receipt for each vote. The Verified Voting Foundation is in charge of a database that contains "voting system information" and "best practices"; this information about the electoral process and voting equipment is available to the public online. - Wikipedia

National Election Defense Coalition "brings together national NGOs with experts in cybersecurity and elections administration, policymakers, intelligence community advisors, and concerned citizens, to build consensus on a comprehensive, cost-effective plan to protect the vote." - NEDC

Free Speech For People is a national non-partisan nonprofit that challenges big money in politics, fights for free and fair elections, and advancing a new jurisprudence grounded in the promises of political equality and democratic self-government.

Citizens For Better Elections is a non-partisan, non-profit corporation dedicated to promoting election security by working with other organizations to ensure the accuracy, verifiability and security of our elections.

The big picture

Are some voting machines more prone to hacks than others? Which counties use hand-marked paper ballots? Which machines provide an audit trail? Information is more valuable when presented in context. This map designed with ArcGIS, combines the type of voting machine, voting district boundaries (which become visible as you zoom into the map), congressional district and the congressional rep. Choose what you'd like to see by turning on that information layer.

Map of voting machines by district and congressional rep.

Takeaway

Understand voting machines, the companies that make them and support groups working for election integrity.

Deepak
DemLabs

Image credit: Michael Dziedzic on Unsplash

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.