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Answer to election deniers is on an Idaho County website

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Answer to election deniers is on an Idaho County website

“It’s very different if (an online tool) comes from an independent group, like True the Vote, that obviously has certain political leanings, and the information they provide is through one lens,” Seyler says, rather than “something like (Ballot Verifier), which is available to everyone and is truly transparent.” The data, the team says, is also private “There is nothing printed on this ballot other than the individual marks, (nothing) that links it to a. voter in particular,” Tripple says. “Voting is completely private.”

Still, some election experts have raised concerns about the possibility that systems like Ballot Verifier pose risks to voter privacy, particularly in small precincts or in cases where voters leave notes on ballots that could identify them.

“Despite the clear transparency benefits of publishing records of votes cast and images of ballots, making these records public comes with tradeoffs,” researchers at the Bipartisan Policy Center. wrote in August. “Voter privacy could be compromised, and vote buying becomes feasible when the secrecy of the vote is breached, an extreme, though less likely, potential ramification of making ballot images public.”

There have also been some previous efforts to give voters access to ballot images, as in Pueblo County in Colorado in 2021but these efforts were not as comprehensive or technically proficient as Ballot Verifier.

At the same time Tripple and Seyler were trying to come up with a better solution, Idaho had been using a tool called ElectionStats to give voters access to statistics about election results. That tool was created by Civera Software, a civic technology company that ended up working alongside Ada County election officials to develop the new Ballot Verifier tool.

And even before the system went live, Tripple invited O’Donnell and other skeptics to be among the first to test it.

“I think it’s really good. It’s more than I thought would have happened, because when we request our images now, we just get a file data dump,” O’Donnell tells WIRED, adding that the Telegram group has responded positively to the launch of Ballot Verifier.

WIRED also tested the Ballot Verifier tool, analyzing specific precincts and races, filtering votes by type (mail-in ballot, absentee ballot, etc.) and found that the system worked smoothly and instantly displayed images of each vote cast.

US elections have never been more secure, and the 2020 election was declared the “safest” by Trump’s own officials. But many people still believe in baseless conspiracies about elections, and implementing this tool in one county in one state won’t necessarily change that overnight. In fact, a review of O’Donnell’s 400-person Telegram channel by WIRED this week shows that many within the election integrity group still regularly share widely debunked conspiracies about voting.

Adam Friedman, founder of Civera, believes part of the reason for this is a lack of transparency, something Ballot Verifier can address.

“Many of the conspiracy theories, divisiveness, toxic rhetoric and distrust surrounding the US elections go hand in hand with the fact that people can’t see enough and perceive voting as a cash-in experience. black,” says Friedman. “Ballot Verifier is really a way to turn a black box into a glass box.”

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