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How Michigan Voters Can Verify the Machine-Count Vote Totals

Updated on March 10, 2020

[Updates - 1. Two hours before polls closed and media was reporting that long lines in university towns were still forming, Michigan race was already called for Biden. 2. March 9th, WFAA News: Forty four thumb drives with uncounted votes on them found in Dallas County, Texas, 10% of votes. Recount possible 3. Millions of provisional ballots still being counted in California true delegate count still not known.]


As Michigan voters go to the polls they are fortunate to live in a state where many if not most of the vote counts arrived at by the state's optical scanner vote-counting machines may be verified by citizens accessing the digital ballot images of the paper ballots generated by the machines. In most voting jurisdictions in Michigan, as paper ballots are fed into the vote-counting machine, the machine automatically generates a digital images of the ballot which is then stored into memory.

The citizen's election integrity organization Audit Elections USA calls attention to this avenue of vote-count verification.

In 2020 almost all Michigan counties, including Wayne and Kent which contain Detroit and Grand Rapids, respectively, upgraded to the Dominion Systems ImageCast Precinct and Imagecast Central vote-counting machines, both of which store a digital image of each ballot. Anyone can see what type of vote-counting machines their county uses by referring to the citizen's organization VerifiedVoting.org.

The first step is to consult the database, at VerifiedVoting.org, of counties and cities which employ vote-counting machines which generate ballot images. Any county which lists the ImageCast Central or the ImageCast Precinct is a candidate for verification through the ballot images.

The next step is to file a Freedom of Information Act request for the images, which are always by law entirely anonymous and cannot be traced to any particular voter. In some states Freedom of Information Act requests are referred to as public record requests. For help citizens can contact Audit Elections USA.

Screen shot from VerifiedVoting.org, type of vote-counting machine used in each county.
Screen shot from VerifiedVoting.org, type of vote-counting machine used in each county. | Source

The proper election officials to contact are those in possession of the vote-counting machines. The ballot images are generally stored in the machines' memory, and can be copied onto a flash drive. The cost of this should be minimal. The format is generally a familiar image format such as "jpeg" or "png" files. An entire county or large city can fit onto a flash drive.

Election integrity watchers have been pursuing this avenue of citizen verification of vote counts for some years now. In contrast to accessing the paper ballots for recount or machine vote-count verification, the digital images require no special handling or election department overtime staffing to perform a vote-count verification.

In recent years, the possibility of election hacking has been confirmed as a reality, by US intelligence agencies and computer experts. The right to verify election vote counts is emerging as a key area in ensuring the integrity of the nation's elections.

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