Vote Verification Proposal for Consideration by the Utah Republican Party 2018 Nominating Convention Elections Committee

Background

In 2011, party leaders suggested that we ought to use electronic keypads at our Nominating Convention to save time and to improve accuracy.

Since the Utah County Republican Party used electronic keypads in a series of its central committee meetings in 2009, and published detailed results of each vote, I too was a proponent of their use. But my support of the idea has always hinged on transparency! Votes must be published so each delegate can confirm that his vote was received and tallied correctly.

Proposal

To that end, I suggest a system of web pages that provides this transparency. These web pages are designed simply to publish what the electronic keypad system captures, and thus enable any delegate to confirm that his vote was CAST correctly and also TALLIED correctly.

As you will see, there are 200 web pages at the "bottom" level. Each web page displays the votes of 20 delegates (one line per delegate), which I am calling a "group" of delegates. Each line shows the serial number of the voter's keypad, along with the vote that was cast by that keypad. Keypads can be traded among delegates (before voting) to preserve anonymity. This enables an interested delegate to ensure that his vote was CAST correctly.

Next, a delegate notes the totals at the bottom of the "group" page, and then clicks the "Continue" link to navigate to the next page. He verifies that the totals on the bottom of his "group" page match the numbers on the "intermediate" page. He can go back and forth between the two pages to verify that the numbers are correct. There are 10 "intermediate" web pages. Each web page displays the votes of 20 groups (one line per group), which I am calling a "cluster" of votes.

Finally, the delegate notes the totals at the bottom of the "cluster" page, and then clicks the "Continue" link to navigate to the "final results" page. He verifies that the totals on the bottom of his "cluster" page match the numbers on this "final results" page. There are 10 clusters on this "final results" page (one line per cluster). This enables an interested delegate to ensure that his vote was TALLIED correctly.

Questions and Answers

Q: Will vote verification during the convention take a lot of time?

A: Doing this the first time will (undoubtedly) take some time--just as we struggled the first time we used the clickers. But isn't a slow, verifiable system better than a fast, unverifiable system? Plus, I think delegates would quickly get the hang of the system, and thereafter vote verification would occur quickly and smoothly.

Q: Will there be some troublemakers who falsely claim that the system messed up their votes?

A: Probably. There will always be some troublemakers. But if enough delegates are able to verify their votes were CAST correctly and TALLIED correctly, they will easily silence the troublemakers.

Q: Will delegates be able to access the web from the seats in the convention hall?

A: That will depend on the wifi capabilities of the Maverik Center. I am guessing that they have a DS-3 "pipe" that is big enough to handle the traffic of 4000 users. We will need to check on this.

Summary

I believe that voting by electronic keypad could be a great step forward into the 21st century. But, to guarantee fair elections and attain the full confidence of the delegates, I believe that the system must be transparent.

Please click the Continue link below to review the proposed system.

Respectfully submitted,

Lowell Nelson
Former Vice Chair, Utah Republican Party.

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