Annotated Full Election Process

NOTES TO THE READER

  • The following information is provided as a basis for brain-storming and discussion.
  • These notes are not intended to reflect any particular final opinion, but are provided to catalyze thought.
  • These should be freely edited, improved, expanded, etc., until they reflect the best representation of knowledge about election processes that is appropriate for our efforts.
  • This annotated page was created separately from the primary full election process page to preserve the ability to see and edit the main process's steps easily at this early stage. If desired, all of this information can/will be merged into a final page as these discussions continue to unfold.
  • We plan to link these areas, to support discussion/comparison, to Kenneth Bennett's process modeling as soon as possible.

Pre-Election Process Functions

  1. begin Election
    • Description: a new election process begins
      1. This area should describe those actions that clearly signal the beginning of all activity for a given election and/or transition from activities that can only be performed in between elections.
  2. include Contest on Ballot
    • Description: relevant contests are identified and approved to be included on the ballot
    • Notes:
      1. Here we use contest generically to indicate any element on a ballot (in an election) wherein voters will indicate particular choices.
      2. For particular types such as referenda, particular ballot issues, etc., they may be tied to additional processes of nomination, forming a petition, gathering sufficient signatures, final qualification, etc., all by pre-established deadlines.
      3. It may also include any challenges, related judicial reviews and resolutions, so that the end result is a set of approved/certified contests for a given election.
      4. This step was intended to indicate those activities that should occur after a contest has been qualified in order to determine their ultimate information, positioning, ordering, layout, etc., on the ballot itself.
  3. register Candidate(s) for Election
    • Description: eligible candidates register
    • Notes:
      1. This step could include sub-steps such as candidate nomination, candidate qualification, etc., all by pre-established deadlines.
      2. It may also include any challenges, related judicial reviews and resolutions, so that the end result is a set of eligible/qualified candidates for a given election.
  4. include Candidate(s) on Ballot
    • Description: eligible candidates gain approval to be included on the ballot
    • Notes:
      1. This step was intended to indicate those activities that should occur after a candidate has been qualified in order to determine their ultimate information, positioning, ordering, layout, etc., on the ballot itself.
  5. register Voter
    • Description: eligible voters register so that they can access the ballot, gaining approval to vote on the ballot during the election
    • Notes:
      1. A voter may register in many ways (in person, online, via mail/fax/email/...).
      2. Implicitly, this step encapsulates all activities necessary to ensure that, prior to a given election, all voters that intend to vote in that election are registered with complete and accurate information.
      3. Thus, it encapsulates steps for routine Voter List (Voter registration system) maintenance, update, etc., which could also be broken out separately.
  6. define Election
    • Description: an election is defined by election officials for a given date, including relevant geo-political regions, and including a set of contests, each with particular rules for content, display, interpretation, and use
    • Notes:
      1. A number of processes are encapsulated within this step.
      2. It assumes that the full set of information (contests, candidates, offices, jurisdictions, election-type, election date/time, etc) is now finalized and is approved by the Secretary of State.
  7. define Ballot
    • Description: a ballot is defined by election officials for a given election date, including relevant geo-political regions, and including a set of contests, each with particular rules for content, display, interpretation, and use
    • Notes:
      1. This step seeks to define the parameters of all ballots and ballot-styles that will need to be employed for the given election.
      2. This includes considerations regarding whether or not the election is to be a primary/general, ordering/rotation considerations, etc.
  8. implement Ballot to support Voter Needs
    • Description: a ballot is implemented to serve a number of needs for presentation (audio, visual, tactile), understanding( language, size, volume ), implementation medium (electronic, paper), use (accessible, verifiable, understandable), political (primary election, general, )
    • Notes:
      1. This step encapsulates additional steps that might result from particular ballot design choices.
      2. For example, if implementing paper ballots, must they be pre-printed? By a particular printer and printing date with particular paper stock/size considerations which will influence the ballot layout? Do specific numbers of such ballots need to be pre-printed for each party? Conversely, if using Ballot-on-demand, is one prepared to print all such ballots directly?
      3. If creating an audio ballot, is everything pre-recorded in a studio or generated via text to speech (or something else)? By what processes are alternative languages addressed, etc?
  9. Election Official prepares Election Equipment for Election Process
    • Description: an election official prepares election technology to support an election process
    • Notes:
      1. Depending upon the ballot styles and ballot designs created, the number, distribution, and needs of polling stations/vote centers/early vote centers, one must perform steps to ensure sufficient equipment is available to support polling stations, that each has sufficient materials (cases, manuals, etc) and supplies (privacy guards/sleeves, ink, paper, pens/penciles, ballots) and accessories (keys, passwords, seals, etc).
      2. This step should also include general equipment/device readiness such a ensuring appropriate maintenance, upgrades, and repairs have been taken care of - such as software, firmware, and hardware upgrades.
      3. When first receiving new equipment, this may also involve steps necessary to ensure that the equipment has been appropriately certified (federal, state, etc) and has passed all necessary checkpoints (acceptance testing, etc).
      4. This step may also include ensuring that all election officials are appropriately trained for all equipment that will be used during the election.
  10. Election Official installs Ballot on Election Equipment
    • Description: an election official installs the ballot on election equipment, specifically, voting devices
    • Notes:
      1. This may involve, for a given voting system, installing a visual ballot, an audio ballot, various necessary access interfaces (sip and puff, jelly switches, headphones, as necessary, based on the requirements for each polling station)
      2. Actually installing a ballot may involve still more steps such as ensuring installation media have been prepared (usually from an EMS) and can be used to install the ballot on each device.
  11. Election Official verifies Election Equipment is ready to use Ballot
    • Description: an election official verifies that election equipment is ready to support an election process using implemented ballots
    • Notes:
      1. This often takes the form of Logic and Accuracy testing at pre-determined times before the election (including, often, testing that is done in public).
  12. Election Official delivers Election Equipment to the Polling Station
    • Description: equipment is transported and setup at the polling station
    • Notes:
      1. This includes all steps necessary to pack the equipment/materials, track that all items are included for each site, organize and carry out actual transport, unloading, and setup onsite.
      2. This should also include any final required Logical and Accuracy testing performed on-site just prior to opening the polls.

Election Process Functions

  1. open polls for Election
    • Description: an election official starts the voting process by opening the polls
    • Notes:
      1. This should also include any important steps such as printing zero-tape reports (or equivalent steps necessary to verify that everything is in working order).
      2. Appropriate attention should also be given to what constitutes opening the polls for remote voting scenarios (absentee, UOCAVA, online, etc).
  2. Election Official authenticates Voter for Election
    • Description: an election official confirms the identity and eligibility of (authentication) a voter to vote in the given election
    • Notes:
      1. This may usually be performed with the aid of Polling Station Voter Lists in the form of Pollbooks, E-Pollbooks, etc.
  3. Election Official identifies Ballot for Voter with Voter Needs
    • Description: an election official identifies a ballot that meets voter's particular voting needs
    • Notes:
      1. A given voter may need a given ballot to be provided in a particular form.
      2. This may be partly procedural - such as ensuring that a given voter of a particular affiliation is given a particular ballot style, say, in a primary election.
      3. In other cases, it may involve considering what they will need in order to best receive the ballot, use the ballot, and cast (or return) the ballot.
      4. Thus, these needs may vary not only based upon usability/accessibility needs such as font-size, color properties, etc - but may also involve details more specific to a particular voting process - be it absentee voting by mail, UOCAVA, early voting, in-person voting, voting by phone, online ballot marking, etc - each of which may involve creating, identifying, providing particular kinds of ballots for particular voters.
  4. Election Official identifies Interface for Voter with Voter Needs
    • Description: an election official identifies an interface that meets voter's particular voting needs
    • Notes:
      1. This (and related) steps involve more specific details about the specific interface(s) needed by a voter in a given voting process.
      2. These interfaces may be paper, manual (e.g., manual buttons, shapes, textures or encodings such as Braile), electronic (such as touchscreen, traditional DRE, browser, etc).
      3. They may involve considering which perceptual modalities a voter needs to work with depending on whether their preferred interface provides visual, auditory, or tactile characteristics, etc.
  5. Election Official assigns Ballot to Voter with Voter Needs
    • Description: an election official assigns a ballot to a voter that meets voter's particular voting needs
    • Notes:
      1. Ballot assignment, here, ties closely to the previous steps of identifying those needs, which may be partially supported by information, say, from various kinds of Pollbooks, but may also need to be supported by information provided by the voter themselves.
      2. That information may be provided directly - say, during in-person voting. It may be provided more indirectly, based on the kinds of voting processes a voter applies for (mail-in, UOCAVA, etc).
  6. Election Official and/or Voter select Interface meeting Voter's Voter Needs
    • Description: voter and/or election official select an interface that meets voter's particular voting needs
    • Notes:
      1. Interface selection/assignment is also closely tied to the identification (see above) of particular voter needs.
  7. connect Voter and Blank Ballot
    • Description: a voter is connected to (can access) a blank ballot enabling them to be ready to vote in an election
    • Notes:
      1. This step is intended to result in a voter having the ability to access a given blank ballot regardless of whether they are doing it directly at a Polling Station, receiving it in the mail, accessing it online, etc.
  8. Voter interacts with Ballot via Interface
    • Description: a voter can interact with the ballot via an interface
    • Notes:
      1. Once a voter can access the ballot via a particular interface, that interface is expected to support all of the interactions necessary in order for them to carry out the most essential voting tasks independently and with confidence that their actions on the interface accurately reflect their intended actions upon the ballot itself in the form of selected, verified, and cast choices.
      2. Recall that interaction is a general process that must include the specific interactions that would be necessary across any particular interface - such as in the form of visual interactions (seeing), auditory (hearing, speaking) interactions, tactile (feeling, touching, gesturing) interactions - that might be necessary to completely vote using the given interface(s).
      3. Also, if one wishes to get more detailed, nearly every modern interface involves combinations, say, providing content through a visual screen while expecting input in the form of buttons a voter must touch/press.
  9. Voter edits Ballot via Interface
    • Description: a voter edits the ballot using an interface to read, interprets, select, deselect, navigate, verify, cast or cancel the ballot
    • Notes:
      1. This involves a particular kind of action, editing, that a voter should be able to carry out through a given interface.
      2. The voter should be able to freely edit their set of choices/selections within the allowed ballot selections until they are ready to cast their final set of selections/choices.
      3. Equivalent functionality to edit a ballot should be available no matter whether the interface is predominantly visual, auditory, tactile, etc.
  10. Voter reads Ballot via Interface
    • Description: a voter reads the ballot via an interface
    • Notes:
      1. This involves a particular kind of action, reading, that a voter should be able to carry out through a given interface.
      2. The voter should be able to read their set of choices/selections via the given interface.
      3. While the act of "reading" can be experienced differently in different interfaces (i.e., auditory interfaces are more serial and visual interfaces are more parallel) regarding how a voter must use them.
      4. Equivalent functionality to read a ballot should be available no matter whether the interface is predominantly visual, auditory, tactile, etc.
  11. Voter interprets Ballot via Interface
    • Description: a voter interprets the ballot via an interface
    • Notes:
      1. A voter should be enabled, as much as possible, to understand the information provided to them via their selected interfaces.
      2. This relates to following best practices in usability and accessibility to avoid interface designs that would make the ballot, choices, operations, or other information difficult to perceive, confusing, or hard to understand.
      3. Immediate examples involve attempting to appropriately match interface capabilities with voter needs - wherein, for example, a voter is presented with information that is large enough for them to see, loud enough to hear, distinct enough to differentiate by sight/sound/touch, etc.
  12. Voter selects Contest Choices via Interface
    • Description: a voter selects contest choices via an interface
    • Notes:
      1. Each interface that enables a voter to vote should support them being able to make allowable selections regardless of whether they are doing so via a touchscreen, touchpad, online system, audio ballot, sip and puff interface, etc.
  13. Voter deselects Contest Choices via Interface
    • Description: a voter deselects contest choices via an interface
    • Notes:
      1. Each interface that enables a voter to vote should support them being able to make allowable deselections regardless of whether they are doing so via a touchscreen, touchpad, online system, audio ballot, sip and puff interface, etc.
  14. Voter navigates Contest Choices via Interface
    • Description: a voter navigates to, from, and between contest choices via an interface
    • Notes:
      1. Each interface that enables a voter to vote should support them being able to navigate to every element of the ballot and every important area (such as verification, cast, and help screens) regardless of whether they are doing so via a touchscreen, touchpad, online system, audio ballot, sip and puff interface, etc.
  15. Voter verifies Contest Choices via Interface
    • Description: a voter verifies contest choices via an interface
    • Notes:
      1. Each interface that enables a voter to vote should support them being able to verify their final/intended choices/selections/votes regardless of whether they are doing so via a touchscreen, touchpad, online system, audio ballot, sip and puff interface, etc.
  16. Voter casts Ballot as Cast Vote Record via Interface
    • Description: a voter casts ballot as a cast vote record via an interface
    • Notes:
      1. Each interface that enables a voter to vote should support them being able to cast their final/intended choices/selections/votes regardless of whether they are doing so via a touchscreen, touchpad, online system, audio ballot, sip and puff interface, etc.
      2. Casting may also include "ballot return" for remote voting scenarios (i.e., absentee, mail-in, UOCAVA, etc).
  17. Voter cancels Ballot via Interface
    • Description: a voter cancels ballot via an interface
    • Notes:
      1. Each interface that enables a voter to vote should support them being able to cancel their final/intended choices/selections/votes regardless of whether they are doing so via a touchscreen, touchpad, online system, audio ballot, sip and puff interface, etc.
      2. Cancellation might mean very different things depending upon whether one is canceling from home (say, mail-in voting) or in-person, say, when voting from a in-person polling place machine.
      3. In the traditional in-person, polling-station voting scenario, we might imagine that the process of spoiling a ballot goes here.
  18. track Election Operation Status via Election Information
    • Description: election officials and observers track the status of election operations (via logs, audit records, reports, and other election information)
    • Notes:
      1. This step is intended to encapsulate all those functions that log or track operational status, events, and/or errors that may occur in any operational component or device during the election.
      2. These logs gather important information for verifying that operations were error free or for diagnosing and correcting any errors or issues that may arise.
      3. These functions may take slightly different forms for different devices or processes in the system.
      4. These functions may be executed to monitor and log nearly any operation at any time during the election.
  19. Election Official closes polls for Election
    • Description: an election official ends the voting process by closing the polls
    • Notes:
      1. This should also include any important steps such as printing tabulator counts right after the polls close (or equivalent steps necessary to verify that everything is in working order).
      2. Appropriate attention should also be given to what constitutes closing the polls for remote voting scenarios (absentee, UOCAVA, online, etc).

Post-Election Process Functions

  1. Election Official transfers data to local election official
    • Description: election officials transfer voting data to locations for tabulation
    • Notes:
      1. This may include transmitting results via modem or other electronic link as well as steps/scenarios involving physical transportation of election results and related media.
      2. This function may also be invoked in other contexts such as when providing results to Election Results Consumers (such as the media, SoS, etc).
  2. Election Official counts Contest Choices on Cast Vote Record
    • Description: election officials count contest choices on each cast vote record
    • Notes:
      1. Very often such counting processes may take place at various intermediate or final tabulation centers (depending upon whether the voting data is aggregated regionally or not before final consolidation).
      2. This counting may take a variety of forms largely depending on the way the ballots were constructed of the particular kind of voting process that is being supported - leading to similar but different processes for counting paper ballots vs. electronic ballots, etc.
  3. Election Official consolidates Counted Vote Totals
    • Description: election officials consolidate counted vote totals
    • Notes:
      1. At one or more points in post-election processing, one may wish to aggregate counted vote totals by Polling Station, precinct, district, county, candidate, contest, etc, often for the purpose of producing the final election results reports.
  4. Election Official reports Counted Vote Totals to Election Results Consumers
    • Description: election officials report counted vote totals to election results consumers
    • Notes:
      1. This might take the form of informal reports generated at the Polling Station as a "quick check".
      2. An Election Results Consumer might be anyone who routinely requests post-election results reports be they members of a SBE, an SoS, a media outlet, etc.
      3. This may use the function Election Official transfers election data to carry out this task.
  5. Election Official reports Intermediate Election Results to Election Results Consumer
    • Description: election officials report intermediate results to election results consumers
    • Notes:
      1. Occasionally intermediate or "preliminary" results are provided to Election Results Consumers before the final results have been verified and certified.
      2. This may use the function EO transfers election data to carry out this task
  6. Election Official validates Official Election Results
    • Description: election officials validate official results
    • Notes:
      1. Election officials follow particular procedures to ensure that the given results are a complete and accurate representation of the will of participating voters.
      2. This step is usually a pre-requisite to ensuring that final/official results are certified by some pre-determined authority, such as a SoS.
  7. Election Official reports Official Election Results to Election Results Consumers
    • Description: election officials report official results to election results consumers
    • Notes:
      1. Final, validated, certified results are provided to Election Results Consumers (SBE, SoS, media, etc).
      2. This may use the function Election Official transfers election data to carry out this task
  8. Election Official corrects Election Operation Errors
    • Description: election officials correct election operation errors
    • Notes:
      1. This was intended to refer to particular errors observed/noted, say, from election operations logs, observer notes, etc.,, signifying issues in equipment, procedures, law, etc., that need to be resolved and amended.
  9. Election Official archives Election Information
    • Description: election officials archive election information
    • Notes:
      1. This refers not only to cast vote records (be they paper, electronic, etc) but also to relevant logs, observational notes, election reports, official results, etc., all of which represent information about the operations and outcome of the election.
      2. In many cases, there are explicit time-based regulations - such as the familiar 22-month rule - for retaining important records until any period where the election or its results could be called into question, challenged, etc., has reasonably passed.
  10. Election Official archives Election Equipment
    • Description: election officials archive equipment
    • Notes:
      1. Likewise, usually, election equipment and materials must be organized, inventoried, and appropriately stored in an appropriate environment until the next election.
      2. These might be said to form equipment archives for a given election, wherein the end result of this step is intended to have placed the equipment in a stored state where it is ready to be used in a subsequent election.
  11. Election Official audits Election Information
    • Description: election official audits election information
    • Notes:
      1. Various situations may trigger an election-related audit.
      2. In some cases, various forms of post-election audit may even be built in as a standard post-election check.
      3. These audits typically are intended to verify the accuracy and completeness of records and results.
      4. This may refer to a whole family of similar but different functions that could carry out auditing tasks for various kinds of voting processes and election configurations - regardless of whether or not they are applied as in-person polling place audits, absentee voting process audits, etc.
  12. Election Official audits Election Equipment
    • Description: election official audits equipment
    • Notes:
      1. An audit may also require carrying out various actions with respect to the voting systems to verify their configurations, operations, etc., have performed accurately.
  13. Election Participants accept Official Election Results
    • Description: election participants (candidates, voters, etc.) accept results as valid
    • Notes:
      1. As is the case with many steps in the election process - such as in qualifying contests, candidates, referenda, etc - there is usually an opportunity for individuals to formally file a complaint or challenge the results as well as processes for addressing and resolving those.
      2. Once the period for handling all objections has past, the election outcome and results are expected to have passed sufficient scrutiny and can be accepted as valid and final.
  14. end Election
    • Description: an election is officially ended
    • Notes:
      1. This area should describe those actions that clearly signal the end of all activity for a given election and/or transition into activities that can be performed in between elections.

This Topic Is Referenced By

FullElectionProcess
FullElectionProcessXrefToKBProcess
HistoricalElectionProcessWork
QuickReferenceGuide

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Topic revision: r3 - 2015-10-22 - BenjaminLong
 
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