The Paper Ballot is the Vote of Record

The lifeblood of our American Republic is free and fair elections, and right now we’re hemorrhaging profusely due to illegal elections by far-left fascists, but we can stop the bleeding of our rights and freedoms by restoring legal integrity into state and federal elections.  The validity of elections depends on the legal vote counts; sounds simple enough, right?  To get a legal vote count, election officials need to count the legal version of a voter’s vote.  The legal version of the vote is what it is…it is the “vote of record.”  The vote of record in elections will always be the historical document kept on file of a voter’s original intent — the paper ballot.

If you follow simple logic and the codified law enforced in state and federal elections, counting the vote of record seems to make sense.  However, state, and federal elections have become needlessly complex due to the implementation of electronic voting systems into the voting process.  Somewhere along the way of adding hardware, software, and election night reporting into the electoral process, officials have decided not to count the official valid vote of record, and elections are therefore not accurate or certifiable.  Simplifying the process by returning to counting the paper ballots can help our elections get back on track, and by hand-counting the voter’s original ballot as the “vote of record” we can restore fairness and transparency to the sacred voting process.

This argument is advanced by a simple question: What is the “vote of record?”  Simply stated, the vote of record is the official public record of the voter’s vote, cast as the official paper ballot.  If this is the official vote of record, and the ballots are digitally archived as “back up” then why are we not counting the originals instead of the computerized versions?  If the ultimate version of the voter’s votes are paper ballots archived in each states’ historical records, and these ballots become the official public record of the vote, why are we not counting them?

Counting paper ballots by hand is simple, time-effective, and cost-effective; yet, setting up the electoral process to accommodate electronic voting computers is complex.  For example, election forensic experts have observed that electronic voting systems produce multiple digital copies of a single paper ballot, beginning initially with the voter placing their marked ballot into a scanning device (Tip o’ the hat to Publius 2.0).  How is it possible for an election official to keep track of the different versions to arrive at an accurate vote count?

What does the law say? The question becomes, “Which version of the cast vote does the law prescribe be counted?”  In Loudoun County, Virginia elections for example, we could not find one reference in the law that clearly states what the “official vote of record” is, nor could we find an easy-to-read law prescribing which version of the vote is official in the certified counts.  We have three main versions of the voter’s vote:

1) The “official paper ballot” (Virginia Code 24.2-644).

2) The scanned image of the official paper ballot.

3) A data file representing the scanned ballot image of the official paper ballot, stored in a computer database.

Virginia Code § 24.2-101, seems to clarify that the paper ballot is “a tangible ballot that is marked by a voter and then manually counted.”  Further, § 24.2-646.1. Permitted use of paper ballots states, “The official paper ballot shall be used by a voter to cast his vote” in certain circumstances.

Obliquely, the Virginia Code states that the “official paper ballot” is the vote that “shall be counted.”  Elsewhere, in § 24.2-665 How paper ballots counted, “The votes on all ballots for all offices and questions shall be counted.”  Also, “Only an official ballot prepared as provided for in this title shall be counted.”

This reading would suggest the paper ballot is the vote of record, because it refers to the “official paper ballot” that comes from the voter’s own hand. Yet the expanse of Virginia Code 24.2 does not attach the term “official” to a definitive “vote of record.”  The time has come, past time, to nail this issue and finish it: declare the “official paper ballot” as the “vote of record.”

An interesting breakthrough came via an email FOIA to the Vital Records Archives in Virginia, the agency that stores the paper ballots as the historical “public record” of elections.  The Archives deems all electronic versions of the vote as “non-record duplicative.”  In other words, the official explained that electronic versions of paper ballots are considered duplicative of the ballots themselves.  He described the paper ballots as the “preserved” artifact.  The official explained in a March 23, 2023 email to our team that, “duplicative records are ‘non-records’ per the Virginia Public Records Act, Code of Virginia § 42.1-77 which reads: 

For purposes of this chapter, ‘public record’ does not include (i) non-record materials, meaning…extra copies of documents preserved only for convenience or reference,…or (ii) records that are not related to or affect the carrying out of the constitutional, statutory, or other official ceremonial duties of a public official… 

The Virginia official continued, “Because the [electronic] data is ‘non-record,’ and the official public record, which in this case, is the ballots themselves.”  So why are we not counting the “official paper ballots” instead of the one of the five electronic versions which are by law defined as a “non-record?”  And why are election officials destroying the electronic versions? 

This should be a short conversation that the voter has with their local board of elections.  The citizens must insist that the “official paper ballot” be tabulated as the “official vote of record.”  Using electronic voting systems in elections overwrites a voter’s true intent by converting the paper ballot to computerized data.  How can the voter trust their vote data was converted correctly to become a legal vote for their candidate?  This vote of record issue is likely the root cause of voters losing trust in election outcomes because there are no receipts.

Thus, it is time for all voters to insist that the vote of record is the official paper ballot and the voter’s original and true intent is tallied.  A call to action is to raise this problem to every local election official, so we can restore validity into elections.  To conform with the law, elections must be accurate, verifiable, and certifiable.  So, it makes sense to reestablish the “official public record” as the “vote of record” and elections can once again be lawfully certified as valid.

Thomas Kasperek is a citizen of Loudoun County, Virginia, with no agenda or ax to grind except one: Give me elections with validity, where my legally cast vote is counted toward my candidates of choice, and you can prove it with receipts. The author can be reached at (202) 957-8454.

Image: Free image, Pixabay license, no attribution required.

If you experience technical problems, please write to