The need for digitally integrated election monitoring
Foreign governments (e.g. Russia), US state governments, and domestic organizations have used a variety of illegal or at best questionable techniques to reduce the participation of qualified adult US citizens from voting. As the federal government is not taking adequate measures to assure the integrity of our polling process, it is a certainty that the outcome of the election in November 2020 will again be tainted by malfunctioning voting machines and the disenfranchisement of qualified voters. In this environment, the best way to discourage bad actors will be to quantify and expose the extent to which individual election outcomes have been impacted by these techniques in real-time.
We have a long tradition of local poll watchers who have helped to discourage paper ballot stuffing and voter intimidation at the polls. However, traditional poll watchers are only able to provide an individual witness of election problems. Traditional poll watching does not support the integration of quantifiable structured data that can demonstrate the impact of local events on the overall outcome of an election. We propose adopting open-source software developed by the Carter Center that empowers on-site observers to report local events through structured forms to a centralized database in real-time. Reporting from the database provides data to help gauge the fairness of elections and the impact of the local improper events on the outcome.
The fielding of poll watchers armed with this tool will ensure exposure and thus discourage efforts to suppress votes. However, should large scale disenfranchisement occur, the extent and potential impact will be quantifiable and available in real-time so that pressure can be applied before results are certified by state officials.