"Actual Vote" App Takes Aim at Potential Election Fraud in Swing States

Written by stevesopinionfest   
Sunday, 14 June 2020 01:51

By Steve Schneider

Putin tested the United States when he attacked our democracy in 2016.

This year he plans to advance his plan to bury it, warns Franklin Foer in an article in The Atlantic, asserting, “ Boosting  #DemocracyRIP remains the larger objective.”


So, what are patriotic Americans to do?

We can listen to President Trump and dismiss reports from our intelligence agencies.  We can also trust that our government agencies are acting in our best interests and doing everything possible to protect our elections, even though the leader of our country  and the leader of the U.S. Senate seem uninterested in such efforts.

Or we can "raise an army of citizen auditors",  as a Harvard-trained attorney posts at the end of his emails.

Attorney Dan Wolf is also the founder and CEO of Democracy Counts, a San Diego-based nonprofit that is creating free same-day election audit apps that volunteer citizen auditors can use in the swing states.  Although the swing states are Democracy Counts targets, the apps can be used in any voting jurisdiction.

Democracy Counts has already field-tested their "Actual Vote" app in Broward County, in Florida, during the March 17 Democratic presidential primary.  This app keeps an eye on the chain of custody of data transmission from the polling station to the Supervisor of Elections office, which tabulates results. Wolf explains, The app will "take pictures of the tally results posted at polling places and upload them onto our servers. After the precinct results are released by the Secretary of State, the data on the tallies is compared with the officially released precinct data."

You can get the Actual Vote app for free at the Apple App Store.


Two other apps are in development.

The second app creates a parallel vote count. It will establish a minimum vote count for each candidate, according to Jamie Friend, a leader of a South Florida election integrity group that works with Democracy Counts. This will be compared to official results and tally tapes. Any under reports will be flagged for fraud.

The third app measures the extent and impact of voter suppression, producing evidence for lawsuits against voter suppression.

Volunteers from Citizens Audit of Broward debuted the Actual Vote app in March to record results at more than 100 polling stations.  Their work turned up additional votes for former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders.  The group is working with the Supervisor of Elections in Broward County to make sense of the discrepancies.

Biden won in a romp statewide, so the preliminary figures uncovered by Citizens Audit would not have changed the result.  But Florida is known for holding elections that lead to controversial counts, mandatory recounts and court challenges.

Disputed vote totals in Broward County, the second-most populous Florida county in the third-most populous state, can make a difference when election officials release figures that show a candidate won by a razor-thin margin.

Actual Vote can't determine whether the discrepancy comes from a foreign adversary, local human error or even election fraud from an undetermined source.  But it can set the stage for further exploration.

Wolf said the citizen watchdog approach is important because "America's 10,000 county election systems are highly variable, many are weak and vulnerable to hacking, some are highly partisan and simply not reliable."

He has been working the election integrity beat since the 1980's, when he wrote the first country-specific manual for election observers in Nicaragua. Later, in 2012, Wolf was senior advisor to  the International Election Observation Mission to Taiwan to monitor their presidential election.

His theory of the case is this:  advocates sometimes go to court when they suspect something is amiss with election totals reported by government officials to the press and public.

Judges, though, demand a certain amount of rigor in the evidence presented, something Wolf believes the Actual Vote app will supply.  He argues that citizen auditors and Democracy Counts can share their findings when figures posted at polling stations after polls close differ from numbers government officials give us.

Said Philip Rakita, a Democracy Counts board member, "Data from "Actual Vote" with time, date and location (GPS) stamps represent CPA-quality data admissible as evidence. And best of all, no one's permission is required to collect this data. Any citizen can photograph the results posted at a polling station immediately after it closes. It's citizens doing what the government won't--protecting the integrity of our election process."

Citizens Audit of Broward, the first local group to work with Democracy Counts in a battleground state, also wants the facts.

The organization was formed in a Democratic stronghold that has a history of problems counting votes accurately. Republican governors have found causes of action to remove two Democratic Supervisors of Elections in Broward County in the last two decades. All 67 counties in Florida elect Supervisors of Elections every four years; the county officials report election results to the Florida Department of State, which oversees elections statewide.

Friend, from Citizens Audit, said her organization has filed public records requests for "tapes" that are displayed at polling stations after voting ended on March 17.  The organization is comprised of local Democrats, Republicans and independents.

A couple of dozen volunteer auditors went to more than 100 polling locations in Broward County to photograph the tapes after voting stopped at 7 p.m.  The information was recorded on their cell phones and tablets.  The results were shared with Democracy Counts, which uses a backup storage system to protect the data.

Typically there are more than 400 voting sites in Broward County, which has about 1.2 million registered voters; 606,000 are registered Democrat and 252,000 are registered Republican, with many other listed as non-aligned.

Wolf is targeting the swing states or battleground states because "They are increasingly the whole game in the American system" for presidential elections.

He adds, "We are not doing random samples, we are looking for errors and crime. Vice-squad investigators don't look for vice in respectable churches, they go where they think they'll find something. That's what we're doing: looking for suspicious and weak systems."

The Coronavirus pandemic makes the job more complex for Democracy Counts.  Voters, concerned about the threat from Covid-19, may decide to stay home and apart from other voters. So Wolf is working with board members and volunteers to develop a strategy for dealing with the anticipated increase in people who vote at home with vote-by-mail ballots.

For context, election officials and political observers expect a surge in people who decide to vote-by-mail, even though we don't now know how powerful the Covid-19 virus will be when we vote for president in November.

"In the states that will likely decide the 2020 presidential election, Donald Trump has already lost his newly declared war against voting by mail," wrote Ronald Brownstein, a veteran journalist, in an April article in The Atlantic.


"All six of the swing states that both sides see as the most probable tipping points allow their residents to vote by mail for any reason, and there’s virtually no chance that any of them will retrench their existing laws this year. That means that, however much Trump rages, the legal structure is in place for a mail-voting surge in those decisive states: Florida, North Carolina, and Arizona in the Sun Belt and Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin in the Rust Belt."

The audit work requires citizen volunteers and financial support. Wolf estimates that Democracy Counts needs at least a few million dollars to expand outside of Broward County, concentrate on swing states in 2020 and keep the effort going past the next presidential election. You can go to www.democracycounts.org to learn more.

Donations will go directly to Democracy Counts, a California nonprofit which is also has federal 501c3 status. The donations are tax-deductible. Donations for Citizens Audit of Broward will be split evenly with Democracy Counts. Readers can mail a check to Democracy Counts, 2227 29 St., San Diego, CA 92104.

Wolf hopes people will overcome possible skepticism about his organizations' election integrity work and help Democracy Counts get the facts this fall.

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