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 2/7/2017  – 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.

Wednesday, March 15

3pm  – EVN Annual Meeting – Engage with the Coordinating Committee to affirm the EVN mission and set the agenda for 2017.

5pm  –  Opening Reception

Thursday, March 16

8am – Breakfast and networking


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


9am – What does 2017 hold for the state of elections – In the aftermath of the 2016 elections, what are the big issues in election verification from audits to voting rights.

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: Edgardo Cortés, Virginia Department of Elections; Alysoun McLaughin, Montgomery County, MD; Tammy Patrick, Bipartisan Policy Center; Charles Stewart III, MIT




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: Candice Hoke
Speakers: Walter Mebane, University of Michigan; others to be announced


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


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

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 and Dan Zimmerman, and Stephanie, 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 Michelle Bishop, National Disability Rights Network with members of the Connecticut project team 


Option 5: Telling your story… on video
Some people are born stars, but the rest of us have to learn to be comfortable being on camera. Journalist/videographer Mike Kiniry will coach you on how to look and sound good in a video interview as you record your story about how EVN has helped you in your efforts to promote verifiable elections. Ready for your closeup? Sign up for an appointment at the conference.
Video and coaching by Mike Kiniry




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: Dwight Shellman, Colorado Secretary of State’s office; Gary VanDeStouwe, Jefferson County; Gail Maxell, 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, Center for Technology and Civic Life with Kenneth Bennett, Los Angeles County, CA; Jennifer Morrell, Arapahoe County, CO; 

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 

Option 4. Planning a polling place that runs smoothly
The mock polling place will stay open so you can continue to try it out and see what barriers you can find.

Option 5. Telling your story…on video
Sign up for your  appointment at the conference.
Video and coaching by Mike Kiniry


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, with (invited) speakers from federal agencies and a voting rights and privacy expert.


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. This is work in progress, so we will have updates on specific topics closer to the conference dates.
Facilitators to be announced

Option 3. Unconference selection
We are holding sessions open for an unconference with topics and leaders picked at the event, so we can keep up with late-breaking news from the world of elections.

Option 4. Unconference selection
We are holding sessions open for an unconference with topics and leaders picked at the event, so we can keep up with late-breaking news from the world of elections.

Option 5. Telling your story… on video
Sign up for your closeup appointment at the conference.
Video and coaching by Mike Kiniry

3:00 – Conference closing We will end the conference with brief reports from the round-table sessions, followed by the EVN tradition of a toast and send-off by Eddie Hailes.