1

Every time I go to vote and do my American civil duty, I've always wondered if my vote is being counted accurately.

Question: Is there any method in the United States of America for a voting citizen to validate and confirm their own one personal voter card was counted accurately?

Related sub question and concern for context if nothing else...

  • Is there any reason why if there is no way for anyone to validate individual voter accuracy, America would not allow this?
    • This seems reasonable to have since America allows electronic voting, why couldn't they validate electronically.
  • Am I allowed to take a picture in the voting booth area after I fill out my card with my cell phone?
    • This would be helpful during validation reconciliation so seems reasonable to be allowed.
  • If I voted with single check box all one party, I want to confirm no one put an explicit vote next to an otherwise empty area since I did whole card option one party.
3

Currently, no, there is no way to confirm that your ballot was counted accurately. You can validate that the state has a record that you voted but not who you voted for.

In order to have a secret ballot, the state needs to be able to guarantee voters that their spouse/ parent/ employer/ etc. cannot determine who you voted for. Thus, all current systems ensure that the actual paper/ electronic ballot is separated from the record of who the ballot was assigned to.

I don't believe there are any states which permit you to take pictures of your ballot. Generally, that is to prevent vote selling and/or pressuring a voter to vote a certain way. If you were allowed to take a photo of your ballot, an unscrupulous employer/ spouse/ parent/ vote buyer could demand you take a photo of your ballot to confirm that you voted a particular way. Of course, you could always (assuming there is no way to tie your vote to you) spoil your ballot after taking the picture. That's (a lot) more work during the voting process and it also makes the photo pointless for any sort of reconciliation process.

If society determined that counting ballots incorrectly was a greater threat to democracy than losing the secret ballot, there is nothing that prevents an electronic or physical system from giving a voter the equivalent of a voting receipt. Historically, though, vote buying and vote pressuring have been much larger concerns. I'd personally be much more concerned that a bunch of low wage workers/ elderly folks were being coerced into voting for their employer's or caretaker's favorite candidate than I am that counting errors are going to exceed the size of the victory.

Worrying that someone is going to physically tamper with your ballot after it leaves your hands seems more than a little paranoid. There are multiple layers of checks and balances to prevent that with observers from both major parties on hand to confirm that counting is being done correctly. Trying to manually alter enough ballots to swing an election without drawing the attention of busloads of observers would be highly, highly difficult. There are certainly cases where ballots aren't counted correctly but it's a lot more likely that you or the printer accidentally created a smudge that was picked up as a vote or that the electronic voting machine was slightly misaligned and you hit a button other than what you intended than that someone would manually manipulate your ballot. In all the precincts I've voted in that used pen and paper ballots, the scanner you feed your ballot into would show an error if you had an overvote (multiple selections for the same office recorded by the scanner) to give you the option of spoiling your ballot and re-voting.

  • 1
    It should also be pointed out that taking a picture of the at the ballot box does not represent that the vote was actually counted as cast as it could be rejected for certain reasons. – Joe W Mar 11 at 3:00
  • 1
    I would also like to point out that counting of the secret ballots is open to public observers by law to ensure that no votes were tampered with or adulterated and refusing to hold open counts is a good way to get at least one party upset (such as Republicans getting upset about being locked out of some recounts in Democrat strong holds in Southern Florida in the 2018 midterms, or more dramatically, in the Battle of Athens (Tennessee) in 1946, in which the challenging party resorted to armed insurrection against corrupt county officials who refused open ballot counts in a local election.). – hszmv Mar 11 at 11:04
  • 1
    @PresidentBernieSanders - There are schemes to allow you to see that your ballot was counted. But any such scheme makes elections vulnerable to vote buying and voter intimidation. If you can determine that your particular vote was counted for A, your employer/ spouse/ parent/ vote buyer can demand that you prove to them that you voted for A. While 200 year old technology does have drawbacks, from a security standpoint it is also very well understood and there are processes in place to mitigate any realistic attack vectors. Brand new technology is subject to brand new attack vectors. – Justin Cave Mar 12 at 0:18
  • 1
    Shame on "more than a little paranoid": this is the same as arguing that criminals have run out of crimes to invent. To the contrary, criminal inventors are every bit as innovative as civilian inventors. – agc Mar 12 at 16:15

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .