In the 2016 election, approximately 100 million registered voters failed to cast a ballot. In the 2020 election, some voters lost confidence in the fidelity of the election system.
We need a federal law with standard voting procedures. The law should say the following:
The intent of this federal law is that the maximum number of registered voters will vote at a local polling site. The only alternative voting procedure is to request an absentee ballot. Mail-in voting is prohibited. Ballot collection (“harvesting”) outside the voting location is prohibited.
National elections will take place beginning on the first Saturday in November and run from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Monday will be a national holiday. Early voting will begin on Oct. 20. Voters must be pre-registered.
All of the work at every voting site will be accomplished by teams. Each team will consist of persons affiliated with the major political parties plus an observer.
The executive team will oversee all operations and ensure that every procedure prescribed in this law is adhered to.
Administrative teams are responsible for in-processing voters.
Counting teams will manually count all in-person and absentee presidential ballots.
The accounting team will verify the count of each box of counted ballots, secure the counted-ballots storage room and maintain the total presidential vote count.
In order to ensure the most accurate and time-sensitive presidential results, the following procedures will be followed to the letter at every voting location:
n Each voter must produce an identification card which shows their local address and was obtained with a Social Security card as proof of who they are.
n Each voter will receive a ballot consisting of two pieces of paper. Page one contains only the names of the president/vice president candidates and, if appropriate, a national referendum issue. The second paper is for all state and local candidates.
n The voter completes the two-page ballot and presents it to the person operating the electronic tabulating machine. Both paper ballots are entered into the machine.
The tabulating machine is the primary method of counting votes for the state/local candidates. The primary counting method for the president/vice president ballot is hand counting. The tabulating machine becomes a back-up count in the event of a catastrophic loss of paper ballots by fire, flood, theft, etc.
The presidential paper ballot will be retrieved from the tabulating machine and presented to the counting team. The counting team process is as follows:
n First, number the ballot in the upper right-hand corner. If, for example, the ballot storage boxes hold 500 ballots, the numbering will continue from No. 1 through No. 500.
n Second, each counter team member will initial under the page number of every ballot and record the date and time, thereby establishing chain-of-custody during the counting process.
n Third, each counter will be associated with a particular candidate throughout the counting process and will keep a tally of the ballots for their candidate.
The counting process is so simple and quick, it can be completed in 10-15 seconds. Therefore, one counting team can process ballots from many voting booths while never jeopardizing the security of the ballots.
When the ballot box is full the accounting team will be called in and perform five functions:
n One, instruct the counters to sign and record the date and time on their individual tally sheets and place them inside the storage box with the numbered ballots.
n Two, seal the ballot box with permanent adhesive tape.
n Three, place a permanent-adhesive ballot box accounting sheet on the outside of the box. All members of the counting and accounting teams for that box will sign the sheet and record the date and time. The box will be numbered and the total votes for each candidate will be entered on that exterior box accounting sheet.
n Four, the box number and its associated votes for each candidate will be entered onto the accounting team’s official presidential vote tally document.
n Five, the box will be immediately moved to a secure storage room and logged in with accounting team signatures and date and time. That room must be off limits to all except the executive and accounting team members.
These same counting and storage procedures apply equally to absentee ballots.
When the polls close at 7 p.m. on Monday, the executive team at each voting site will verify the accounting team vote totals and fax the information to the State Election Headquarters.
Election results will be released simultaneously across the nation beginning at 10 a.m. eastern standard time on Tuesday following the Monday election holiday.
Note: the above is a brief outline of my proposed law. A more detailed accounting along with explanations as to why this law is necessary can be found online at my blog wethepeoplespeaking.com.
Lt. Gen. Marvin Covault, U.S. Army (ret.), is the author of “Vision to Execution,” a book for leaders.