Part 2: Dismantle voter misperception brick by brick through election transparency

While Part 1 – Build a rock-solid election security foundation that wins voter trust, discusses  how to build a solid physical and cyber foundation for election security. However, security has many facets to it and should not be misconstrued as only being associated with physical and cybersecurity resiliency. Part 2 discusses how we can dismantle voter misperceptions about election security issues with a simple mantra ─ 

“seeing is believing”

Though the physical and cybersecurity components are the backbone that’s critical to the foundation of election security, physical and cybersecurity are specific to the actual systems and data and its integrity, protection and recovery. There are other aspects that are likely more important to the public. For the public and their perception of election integrity, seeing is believing, and security, integrity, and trust ebb and flow together as if they are all a part of the same 3-sided coin. 

The last two presidential election cycles proved our nation’s trust in democracy rests on our belief in the integrity of the electoral process by which our nation’s leaders are elected to represent their citizenry. Even though national security experts have said that the 2020 election was the most secure election in our nation’s history, and the 2022 election was even more secure, trust in our elections has continued to erode. Why? When trust in the accuracy of our elections is high, the public’s belief that they are secure and conducted with integrity increases. Therefore, if we can show our fellow citizens that our elections are secure, then we can restore trust and agreement that our elections have integrity.  

Seems simple, right? Wrong! If it were easy we wouldn’t have the narratives still swirling about today advocating for the removal of voting machines and a return to paper ballots, or that voting by mail is an unstoppable gateway to rig an election. These topics only touch the tip of the iceberg as it relates to the depths in which these narratives dive, but in the age of disinformation, these narratives are easier to believe than one might realize. Though these opinions have their own “merits” and are used to justify changes to policy, they are based on information that is contrary to what the election administrators, national security experts, and the intelligence community are saying. The simple truth is, our elections are overwhelmingly fair and legitimate.

We believe what we see. Do you remember the kid in elementary school who said he could do a flip off the swing set and land on his feet? To which you said, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” Whether we are children or adults, the statement, “I’ll believe it when I see it” rings true.

 We need to show our voters “why” our elections can be trusted.

 They need to see with their own eyes how our elections are being conducted. They need to see how our voter rolls, voting systems, ballots, election results are being made secure and protected throughout each election cycle. When these processes are not transparent, voters may start believing what they hear if it supports their hunches, suspicions, or opinions. If we as election administrators are unable to answer these questions and show the public our process, they will look elsewhere for the information and unfortunately, what is largely being heard as it relates to election integrity are a plethora of fallacies and half-truths.    

How can we “prove” that our elections can be trusted? Where do we begin? It starts with saying “yes”.

  • Yes, our machines have been tested and certified by an accredited Voting System Test Laboratory (VSTL).
  • Yes, we conducted our Logic and Accuracy (L&A) tests and each machine adjudicated with 100% accuracy.
  • Yes, we have a chain of custody log for our machines detailing each pick up and drop off.
  • Yes, we have an inventory of our ballots and chain of custody log tracking their transportation and every ballot has been accounted for.
  • Yes, we conducted a post-election audit and yes, it confirmed the official results as reported. 
  • And, finally, yes, I’d be happy to show you and talk to you about it. 

Oftentimes, big wins start from small wins. 

The ripple effect of one person who grabs ahold of the truth and spreads it to their family, friends and neighbors shouldn’t be understated or underestimated. 

You never know when saying “yes” will be the tipping point in your community for trust in your elections to become greater than the distrust. Transparency beats back deception and misperception.

There are those that will not be convinced; those that have formulated a belief about the election process that is stronger than any fact could refute. However, the large majority of individuals are open to seeing and hearing factual information when formulating their beliefs about any issue, including elections. It is to the latter that this blog will be most useful. In Parts 3 and 4 we will take a deeper dive into understanding why the testing by a Voting System Test Laboratory (VSTL),  Logic and Accuracy (L&A) Testing, and Chain of Custody are critical to the security of our elections.