Election Verification and Certification
Verification is a two-step process performed by an election manager at the conclusion of voting that demonstrates the ballots cast during an election are true, accurate and unaltered. Certification is recognition by ElectionsOnline that the verification process was performed successfully at a specific point in time.
Verification Step One
To best understand the verification process, it is necessary to first understand what happens at the moment a voter submits a ballot. At that moment, the voter’s selections are committed to an immutable, append-only ledger database that serves as the definitive system of record. This append-only behavior means it is impossible for anyone to overwrite or delete data. Instead, when data modifications occur, they are appended to the ledger and reflected in that data’s change history. Because no ballot—the data in this context—should ever be modified once committed to the system, no ballot should ever have any change history. Therefore, the first step to verifying results is to ensure the absence of any change history for all ballots.
Verification Step Two
The ledger database referred to above does not perform well for reporting. Therefore, when a ballot is committed to it, that ballot is also streamed, in near real-time, into a data store purpose-built to accommodate high-performance data analysis. The second step then to verifying results is to ensure that every ballot in the ledger database has an exact duplicate in this data store. For larger elections this can take several minutes as each ballot undergoes inspection.
An election is considered to have been verified by an election manager, and subsequently certified by ElectionsOnline, at the moment both steps are satisfied. Once verified, the ElectionsOnline certification mark, including certification date, will appear on the results page. A sample might look like:
All verification activity is timestamped. Because there are two steps to verification, the certification date is considered the most recent date associated with either of the two steps, assuming both are complete.
It is also possible to perform the verification process at any point during an election. If the verification steps were successfully performed midway through an election, it would trigger the certification mark and date to appear on the results page. Voting could continue with ballots being cast after the date of certification. This is ok, but it must be understood that any voting activity after the date of certification is not considered part of the certification. An election manager would need to again perform verification after the conclusion of all voting in order to generate a refreshed certification date that includes all voting activity. An election manager may repeatedly perform the verification with verification history viewable in a client’s account.