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October 2006

A Parallel Election (PE) is one that is run by citizens, instead of public officials. The primary goal of a PE is to ascertain how a precinct voted in the official election. Every voter who leaves the polling location is asked to vote in the PE exactly as he or she officially voted.

A Parallel Election is a valid tool to uncover election fraud, if it occurs, in the precinct where the PE is held. Voter participation rates for Ohio’s PEs ranged from 25 to 50% of all voters in a precinct. This gives us a “strong sample,” according to Dr. Steve Freeman. A PE does not project how a county or district voted; information gathered can only be applied to the precinct where the PE was held.

Since March 2005, citizens in nine states have run PEs. November 2006 will mark Ohio’s fourth parallel election. We hand-count paper ballots because this type of election system is the most accurate, the easiest to protect against fraud, and is also the least expensive.

Parallel elections provide:

  • Conclusive, indisputable results by a hand count of paper ballots

  • Conclusive, indisputable results by a hand count of paper ballots

  • Openness and transparency – anyone can observe the election process

  • Non-partisan representation to protect against fraud

  • Chain of custody of the ballot box and ballots throughout the process

  • Peace of mind that the will of your neighbors is accurately known and reported

Parallel elections are run:

  • By volunteers who donate a shift of time on Election Day

  • At a minimal cost – less than $200 per precinct for materials

  • 100 feet outside an official polling site (Ohio law)

  • Rain or Shine under a tent

It takes about ten people to run an election in a precinct of 1,000 voters. Nobody has to be an expert to run a PE, but everyone does need to be diligent, nonpartisan and unbiased, as much as possible. Every voter is asked to vote parallel; and chain of custody of the ballots is maintained by people from different political parties. We do not discuss politics but can provide people with literature after they finish voting parallel.

The ballots are counted at the close of polls, at a public location, for all to observe. We use the “sort and stack” method of counting, which experts deem to be the most accurate counting method of paper.

After each PE, a report is written detailing methodology and results for that precinct. The report is disseminated far and wide, including publishing it to various websites. See http://tinyurl.com/ln9s5 (May 06 PE Report) and http://tinyurl.com/c4rk6 (Nov. 06 PE Report).

Not only are PEs the most verifiable and accurate way to ascertain how a precinct voted, they’re also fun and celebratory. PE workers are patriotic citizens who want to know how their precinct voted.

PEs build community, introducing us to our neighbors. Voters appreciate honestly-run elections, and appreciate the opportunity to cast their vote in a parallel system.

Most voters we’ve encountered aren’t even concerned with keeping their vote secret; they are more concerned that their vote is accurately counted and reported.

We can’t count electrons, but we can count paper ballots. No public official can demonstrate that our votes are counted as cast when they are counted with secret software. We simply have to trust reported results. For more information, see www.TheLandesReport.com/ParallelElections.htm and www.studycaliforniaballots.org. For a partial list of official reports condemning electronic voting, see page 10 of the How-To PE manual athttp://tinyurl.com/hrnox.

Posted at Free Press.