EVN 2017 Conference


The Election Verification Network 2017 Annual Conference, REFOCUS. RENEW. RE-INSPIRE. will be held March 15-17 in Washington, DC at the GWU School of Engineering & Applied Science, 800 22nd St. NW

Preliminary Agenda (as of 3/13/2017  – subject to change)
Attendance at EVN 2017 is by invitation. Please contact us for more information.

The conference follows the public symposium Improving Election Security: How to Anchor the Cornerstone of Democracy held on March 15 in the same location.

Join us on Twitter at #EVN17

Wednesday, March 15

5pm  –  Opening Reception

Thursday, March 16

8am – Breakfast and networking

8:30 – Conference opening – Join us  for words of welcome from Eddie Hailes, Advancement Project and to to meet the EVN 2017 attendees with Keneta Anderson

9:30 Election 2016 from inside the polling place – The 2016 presidential election was widely anticipated and endlessly discussed – and as usual, election administration was a hot topic, with hurricanes, legal battles and allegations of “hacking” and “rigging” in the run-up to November 8. But what happened when the talking stopped and the voting started? Join a panel of practitioners and scholars to review Election 2016 and discuss what went right, what went wrong – and what it means for elections in 2017 and beyond.

Moderator: Doug Chapin
Speakers: Tammy Patrick, Bipartisan Policy Center;  Alysoun McLaughin, Montgomery County, MD; Edgardo Cortés, Virginia Department of Elections

11am – Recounts and audits – The 2016 difficulties in triggering and conducting recounts sparks this part of the program.  Walter Mebane will provide a systematic assessment of how States are structuring recounts (and to some degree, post-election audits) to help identify good, better, and best approaches that States and advocates can seek.  Then, because Federal constitutional litigation has sometimes produced judicial corrections to State legislative or administrative inaction, we turn to skilled lawyers to answer 2 questions.  Can audits or recounts:  (1) be required as a civil right of voters? or (2) be required under a cybersecurity or national security approach?  While we seek to learn from 2016 events, this session also aims to equip EVNers and their allies to move forward proactively.
Moderator: Douglas Kellner
Speakers: Walter R. Mebane, Jr., University of Michigan; Ilann M. Maazel, Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP

12:30 – Awards Ceremony – Honoring the election verification heroes of 2016. Lunch will be served in the gallery following the awards ceremony

  • The Presidential Commission on Election Administration (PCEA)  – for Public Service for Improved Elections
  • Ron Rivest – Election Integrity Research Excellence Award
  • Poorvi Vora – Public Engagement Award
  • John McCarthy – Full Tilt Advocacy Achievement Award
  • Barbara Simons – Trailblazer Award
  • Mark Halvorson – John Gideon Memorial Award

2pm-3:15 – Parallel Sessions – Choose from these workshops to build and sharpen your advocacy toolkit. Come to learn, and share your insights.

Option 1. How to run effective nonpartisan recount and audit observations
Lessons from the 2016 recount front lines and nine other statewide recounts and audits. Non-partisan observers are in a unique position to advocate for accurate elections and transparent procedures. Participants will receive a recount observer packet.
Led by Mark Halvorson, Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota
With Rebecca Wilson, and others

Option 2: How to develop excellent relations with the media
Having a voice in the media is an excellent, and economical way to get one’s message out. This workshop will provide essential tips for how to develop excellent relations with the media, including how to cultivate relationships over time; utilizing social media as a tool for building relations; preparing for and giving great interviews; and the value of accuracy and nonpartisanship. It will include a “hands-on” session for participants to practice developing and delivering talking points.
Led by Kim Alexander, California Voter Foundation
With Larry Norden, The Brennan Center; Pam Smith, Verified Voting Foundation

California Voter Foundation Media Tips – Kim Alexander

Option 3. How risk-limiting audits help in the presence of elections with adversaries
Come participate in a mock election, but watch out for a powerful adversary (another attendee complete with optional Putin mask!), who will try to manipulate your vote.  In the first half of the session, attendees will learn about the pros and cons of different technologies and mitigations used to run elections, rotating through the roles of voter, election official, or adversary.  Then, after the mock election is closed, we learn the basics of Risk-Limiting Audits (RLAs), and we will run an RLA together, to directly and concretely help participants understand RLAs. We will compare and contrast them to the current recount laws in the USA as well as to other forms of post-election audits based upon evidence.
Led by Joe Kiniry, Dan Zimmerman, and Stephanie Singer from Free & Fair, with other EVN auditing experts

Option 4. Planning a polling place that runs smoothly
Traffic flow can make a difference in how well the polling place runs. It’s important for people with disabilities, too.  A recent project identified guidelines for polling places that run smoothly and make it easy for people with disabilities to vote. Come see how many barriers you can spot and learn how to make your polling place easier for all voters.
Led by  Gretchen Knauff, Connecticut Protection & Advocacy; Michelle Bishop, National Disability Rights Network

Polling Place Barriers – Summary of the exercise (pdf)


3:45pm-5pm – Parallel Sessions – Choose from these options to build and sharpen your advocacy toolkit. Come to learn, and share your insights.

Option 1. Statewide Risk Limiting Audits – Rules for Colorado
A group of auditing experts is working with Colorado state and county election officials to specify implementation rules for the first regular state-wide risk-limiting audits, using ballot-level comparisons in many counties. Join us to hear about this project and dig into issues including how to audit multi-county contests, auditing most if not all contests to some degree, targeting ballots based on mark density data, auditing signature verification and chain of custody, how to report audit results, and even Bayesian audits.
Led by John McCarthy, Neal McBurnett, Harvie Branscomb
With: Gary VanDeStouwe, Jefferson County; Gail Maxwell, Gilpin County; Philip Stark; Mark Lindeman,

Option 2. Using data to boost election transparency
Election officials can use their data to improve voting processes and engage the public. The data, and tools that are powered by it, also pose security and privacy challenges. In this session, we’ll discuss data tools and how they can help inform decisions in election offices and support election transparency.
Whitney May and Tiana Epps-Johnson, Center for Technology and Civic Life, with Kenneth Bennett, Los Angeles County, CA; Jennifer Morrell, Arapahoe County, CO

All presentations from this presentation on Dropbox (pptx and pdf)

Option 3. “You can’t count paper ballots.” (Want to bet?)
Strange but true: the word is, even among election administrators, that you “can’t” count paper ballots. But Columbia County has been doing just that since 2010, when optical scanners were introduced in New York State. It isn’t that hard, it doesn’t take that long, and it doesn’t cost that much. It is a little tedious (but so is democracy). It does involve recruiting some people to do it (but so does democracy). It does require scrupulous attention to detail (see prior comment). In this session you’ll learn how this county’s election commissioners successfully conduct “modified 100% hand counts” after every election. The local popularity of their process continues to grow. And it’s put the county on the map as a model of election integrity.
Virginia Martin, Election Commissioner, Columbia County NY

You can’t count paper ballots. Want to bet? – Virginia Martin (pptx – updated to add sample document – April 21, 2017)

Friday, March 17

8am – Breakfast and networking

8:30- Election systems of the (near) future – What’s on the horizon for election administration and voting systems? We will look at administrative  trends like the rapid adoption of automatic voter registration and the move towards public or non-profit ownership of election systems. And, we’ll hear how projects like Travis County’s Star-Vote, Los Angeles’ VSAP, and OSET’s Trust the Vote are moving towards implementation, incorporating new features for election integrity. from the use of cryptography to verify elections to interactive sample ballots that help voters make more informed choices (and reduce lines in polling places).
Speakers: Dana Debeauvoir, Travis County; Kenneth Bennett, Los Angeles County; Greg Miller, OSET Institute; Roy Saltman


10:30am – Elections as critical infrastructure – What does it mean to say that elections are “critical infrastructure”?  A panel of experts in technology and policy will discuss where this leads us for the future.
Moderator: Susannah Goodman
Speakers: Doug Kellner, NY State Board of Elections; Geoff Hale, Department of Homeland Security; Tom Hicks, Election Assistance Commission 

Lunch on your own

1:30-2:45 – Parallel Sessions – Choose from these working sessions to further work in election verification. Come to learn, and share your insights.

Option 1. How to reduce risks and maximize benefits of voting by mail
Many states have seen an increase in the percentage of voters casting absentee, or “vote-by-mail” ballots. Whether returned via USPS or at drop-off locations, this method of “convenience voting” comes with benefits for voters but also risks. This working session will explore the challenges voters face and mistakes voters make when voting by mail, resulting in rejected ballots leaving voters disenfranchised. We will work to identify solutions to these challenges, especially in the area of information design, postage & handling, signature verification procedures, and administrative failsafes that can be put in place to ensure mail ballot voters’ ballots are counted.
Led by Kim Alexander with Tammy Patrick

Option 2. Cybersecurity principles and requirements for voting systems
Many members of EVN also participate in the EAC-NIST Cybersecurity Working Group, developing input to work on the next version of the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG). This session will be an opportunity to review work to date and make progress on current discussions face-to-face.

Cyber Security Public Working Group

Option 3. Ranked Choice Voting
Led by Chris Hughes and George Gilbert

Ranked Choice Voting Resource Center

Option 4. Elections forensics in Wisconsin
Led by Walter Mebane and Mark Halvorson

3:00 – Conference closing We will end the conference with the EVN tradition of a toast and send-off by Eddie Hailes.