Tips to protect your vote and voter registration against glitches and hacking in the midterms!

By Jennifer Cohn
@jennycohn1 #ProtectOurVotes
Updated October 9, 2018

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Protect your Voter Registration — applicable to all voters

  • Expect these types of problems with your voter registration: (a) long lines due to voter registration issues, (b) widespread failure of electronic poll books, (c) being told at the polls that you aren’t registered at all, (d) being given a paper or electronic (touchscreen) ballot putting you into the wrong political Party or listing House races for the wrong voting District.

Protect your vote — applicable to all voters

  • Bring the right type of ID to the polls: Check with your Secretary of State’s office or County Election Board to make sure you know what type of ID to bring.

Protect your vote — additional tips for voters in counties that use Touchscreens at the polls.

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  • Touchscreen voting machines & touchscreen ballot markers can cause many problems, including vote flipping, programming issues, widespread failures, long lines, and paper printouts that are too difficult to verify and audit (if paper printouts are provided at all).
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* If you vote by mail/absentee, make sure to follow the instructions exactly, including as to signing the envelope and including your birth date on the envelope (if required per the instructions). Failure to do so will cause your ballot to be rejected.

* Make and keep a copy of your signed mail/absentee application and signed ballot envelope for your records.

* Make sure your mail/absentee ballot will be received by Election Day. If your County allows it (you must check), consider personally delivering it to the precinct or election office (you must ask your County which) on Election Day to avoid mail service and chain of custody problems.

* Keep track of the status of your mail/absentee application via your state or county election office. Some counties have been known to delay processing applications until after Election Day! Don’t let this happen to you.

* Keep track of the status of your completed & submitted mail/absentee ballot via your State or county election office. If it is rejected, find out why and see if you can cure the alleged problem in time to have your vote counted.

If you must use a touchscreen, here is what you should do:

  • Vote early if you can: If you must use a touchscreen, vote early. That way, if the touchscreens fail, you will still have another chance to vote. Again, you can consult the above website and map to see if your state allows early voting. But make sure to check with your County Election Board for the applicable dates and deadlines!

Before Election Day, demand that state and county election officials remove/disable cellular modems.

In the last few years, Florida, Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and Rhode Island began using cellular modems to transmit election returns. Thirty election experts and election integrity groups recently sent a letter condemning this practice and recommending that the modems be removed/disabled before November.

The Department of Homeland Security has apparently been corrupted, as it has already advised that it will not help convey this message to the states and counties. Thus, it is up to us.

If you live in one of referenced states, please email the letter linked above to your State and county election officials and demand that they remove/disable the modems before Election Day. Contact local media if they will not.

Before Election Day, micromanage state and county election officials about emergency preparedness.

In the weeks leading up to Election Day, ask your State and county election officials to confirm in writing (email is fine) that they are doing all of the things recommended in this excellent handout by the Brennan Center:

If they are not doing these things, please let me know. I can be contacted at @jennycohn1 on Twitter. I will try to help you apply pressure via social media.

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Screenshot results as they come in on Election Night

Watch & record results on the Secretary of State or County websites throughout the night. “Take screenshots [about every 5 minutes], save them as you go, and include a timestamp in the filename when you do. Those web results also have a way of changing, sometimes in the wrong direction, throughout the night. Your evidence could help save an election.” via

If vote totals go down (which should never happen) and you catch this on your screen shots, this is an anomaly that can provide the basis for an election challenge. Please let me know if you notice something like this and I will help you get the information to the right people.

Photograph voting machine results tapes at the precincts and see if they match later reported totals.

Most counties print voting machine results tapes aka “poll tapes” at the precincts. The totals reflected on these tapes can provide the basis for an election challenge if they differ from the reported totals because any such difference would suggest an error or hack involving the central tabulators or reporting system.

The results tapes can also show us if machines were maliciously or negligently programmed to omit certain races entirely. Although you can request the tapes after an election, counties may delay providing them until after the election challenge period has expired and they may also charge you an exorbitant amount of money for the effort. (Johnson County, Kansas wanted to charge me more than $3,000.)

Some counties post the results tapes outside the precincts on Election Night. If yours does that (you will have to call), you can photograph the tapes without formally volunteering as an election worker or poll observer.

Otherwise, you will need to formally volunteer as an election worker or poll observer to have the access necessary to photograph the tapes when the polls close. Contact your state party to inquire about volunteering as an election worker or poll monitor.

See if you can get your favorite candidates to organize supporters to photograph the results tapes. You and they can focus just on problem-plagued counties and/or the most populous counties in the state.

Campaigns should be doing this, but most don’t realize it. You may also want to ask your local ACLU if they will help organize it.

But even if you go it alone and can photograph only a few tapes, it is still worth it. A single tape may suffice to demonstrate a problem, as recently occurred in Georgia where one of the tapes at a single precinct (in a notoriously suspect County) was discovered to have omitted a down-ballot race entirely. Poll workers didn’t notice this problem but a party election official did and he photographed and reported it.

Here are links to more election security resources:

Written by

Attorney and Election Integrity Advocate #ProtectOurVotes #PaperBallotsNow @jennycohn1

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