After reading over H.22 and S.86, which could take the decision about whether or not to use electronic vote tabulators away from individual citizens without implementing safeguards to ensure their correct operation, I put the two of them together, grabbed a copy of Title 17 (Elections) of the Vermont Statutes Annotated, and after a bunch of research put together some amendments that:
- Require “ballot-polling risk-limiting audits” for statewide elections – these are highly effective at detecting issues with tabulation. Here’s a paper (warning: statistics!) that goes into some more detail about how it works. In 2012, we could have audited most of the statewide races in half the number of ballots that were hand-counted in the Secretary of State’s 4-town audit (which is not mandatory by state law).
- Sets a requirement in State law that all voting machines must be audited at least once every two years by an independent impartial auditor. Vendors that choose to publish all their source code and configuration data are exempt from this requirement.
- Requires a tabulator and memory card used in a recount to be different from those used in the initial count.
- Creates a public access period to view cast ballots.
- Requires public notice and explicitly allows public observation for any recount or audit.
Here they are: H22 and S86 Amendments (updated 21 Feb 2013)
I am by no means a lawyer, so I recognize that what I have put together is not rock-solid legalese. I think, though, that I have captured the spirit of those elements missing from current Vermont law. I will be testifying to the Senate Government Operations Committee tomorrow and will offer these to them for review.
Any feedback is welcome!