Feature how-to

We work with any and all types of organizations that run elections. But, one type of organization in particular has very strict government-imposed legislation around their elections. Those would be the unions. The government department that regulates their legislation (in the United States) is the Department of Labour. We surpass the DOL’s strict election integrity expectations with our vote verification ability via the “Vote Audit” report and the verification code.

While this most directly benefits unions who need to answer to the DOL, this is something that all organizations can get behind! Your election may not necessarily need to align with the rigorous legislature of the DOL, but you can feel good about the fact that it does anyway. In a democratic institution, observability and transparency around the voting process is always a benefit to you and your voters.

The Redesigned “Vote Audit” Report and the Verification Code

Previously, election administrators used the “Vote Audit” report. Voters could never see it; the voters have only ever been able to view the “Results” and the “Graphed Results” reports. This is now no longer the case. 

The “Vote Audit” has been redesigned to be somewhat useless for administrators, and instead is now extremely useful for voters. Also, voters can now view this report while viewing the results.

What has changed?

Election vote verification code
Verification code and the vote audit report

As mentioned, the “Vote Audit” report contained information about the IP/time stamp for each voter’s ballot submission.  Instead of listing the voter’s ballot ID and the Voter ID (a sequential number that we internally assign to each voter after they vote), the “Vote Audit” now lists something called a “Verification Code” instead:

As an election administrator, you will find this page to be unhelpful, as you do not get to know the verification codes for your voters. But, each voter will know their own verification code.

The “Voters” report now contains the information about a voter’s IP and time stamp. You will need to download the report and open it in Excel to view this information. To download the report, open the “Voters” tab and click the “Download” button.

What is a verification code?

A verification code is a fifteen-character  hash. The combination of a voters’ choices on the ballot and their Voter ID makes up the hash.

A hash: the result of a hash algorithm that maps input data to another value.

To put it simply, the hash algorithm takes the input of the voter’s ballot choices and Voter ID. Then, it translates that information into a series of numbers and letters, like the example in the picture above.

A good hash algorithm, like the one we use, does two other important things:

  1.  It is impossible to work backwards. This means that the algorithm we use to calculate the hashes doesn’t have to be a secret. You cannot turn a verification code back into the information about the voter’s ballot choices and Voter ID. 
  2. There is an extremely low chance of two voters ever being assigned the same verification code (known as collision). This would only be problematic if two voters in the same election were assigned the same verification code. The probability of it occurring with the algorithm we use is less than 1/1 000 000 000. 

The verification code is dynamic. Each time someone views the “Vote Audit” page, ElectionBuddy recalculates the code. This means that the verification code, as it sits in the “Vote Audit”, is the most current record. The hash will never change if a voter’s voting choices haven’t changed. So, if you’re playing by the rules, a voter should always be able to find their verification code in the report. 

When does the voter receive their verification code?

Verification codes are provided to voters on the “Confirmation” screen when they have finished submitting their ballot. Voters can also receive a confirmation email containing their code after they vote.

Run a transparent, observable election with ElectionBuddy

Any election can be set up to allow for a voter to verify their own votes. Check out our support article on how to build one, and surpass legislative expectations like a pro!