As background, Daniel Wolf is a Harvard-trained attorney with a Ph.D. (abd) in Political Science. His brainchild, Democracy Counts, is a nonpartisan hi-tech startup that has developed election watchdog apps which it will share with volunteer election auditors in the 2020 battleground states. One of three apps will be available this month.
Democracy Counts is already working with Citizens Audit of Broward, in Florida, to audit the upcoming elections, to limit or prevent possible election fraud. The email interview transcript follows:
Tell me briefly about your background.
Dan Wolf: I am an attorney with a J.D. from Harvard Law School, 1986 and a Ph.D. (abd) in Political Science (UC San Diego). I authored the world’s first country-specific manual for election monitors and was senior adviser to the International Election Observation Mission to the 2012 Taiwan elections. I am passionate about fairness and leveling the playing field.
Why is it important to confront voter suppression and election fraud?
Dan Wolf: Voter suppression and election fraud in a few swing states could very easily give President Trump an official but illegitimate victory in the Electoral College.
In this new world of computerized voting machines, partisan election administrators and outside hackers can drain votes as fast as they are poured in. Huge numbers of voters are at risk of finding themselves unregistered when they arrive at the polls. And no one can guarantee that tight elections will be counted accurately. Citizens who dismiss these possibilities are in denial.
So citizens need to be armed with independent audit data if they want to convince courts to intervene in suspicious elections and order investigations and corrective action. An independent, reliable, nonpartisan audit system is needed to do this. Democracy Counts has built this system.
Documenting significant problems will be enough to allow candidates and citizens to trigger the judicial and law enforcement systems, to stop certification, conduct investigations, and order corrective action. If fraud is involved, prosecution will heighten deterrence in the future.
Our audits will provide hard data with which to challenge suspicious elections, and thereby ensure that the declared winner of a state’s Electoral College vote is the person who genuinely won.
What can Democracy Counts offer to American citizens who want to protect our elections?
Dan Wolf: Democracy Counts’ team has developed digital tools and procedures that empower citizens to audit their polling places to combat fraud and voter suppression; hard data with which to challenge suspicious elections will be available almost immediately. We have trialed them successfully in California and Florida and are eager to protect the 2020 elections.
Tell me about the three apps that volunteer auditors can use to keep an eye on our electoral system?
Dan Wolf: Three mobile apps comprise our basic toolset. One app captures and preserves polling place data for comparison with official results, thereby exposing errors, both accidental and deliberate, in transmission. Another quantifies voter suppression and its electoral impact, opening a new avenue of legal attack on voter suppression. And the third replicates vote totals to check official polling place results. These tools will allow challenges on the basis of hard data and evidence. Other tools are in development. Our audits do not require official permission to carry out.
Why shouldn’t we just keep doing what we’ve been doing to protect our elections?
Dan Wolf: Traditional voter-protection programs are inadequate in this new world of legislated voter suppression and computerized election fraud. Even Stacey Abrams’ efforts, necessary as they are, are not sufficient to the challenge, as they concentrate on GOTV and legal challenges built on soft data and speculation. Even if new legislation is passed and signed it will be too late to have any impact on the 2020 elections.
But election officials already conduct some audits.
Dan Wolf: Non-independent official audits and recounts are no guarantee of fairness, as they can be controlled or influenced by partisans, and many voting systems cannot even be audited because they have no auditable paper trail.
I understand you are already working with Citizens Audit of Broward, in Florida. Does Democracy Counts have any other plans?
Dan Wolf: Our goal is to launch audits in any swing state exhibiting signs of chicanery, starting with Florida, where a bipartisan audit campaign using our tools and methods has already launched in Broward County. We expect to add Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, with others to follow.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Dan Wolf: We must act quickly, as the runway for recruiting and training citizen auditors is rapidly shrinking.
The alternative to collecting hard data is to risk once again the loss of the presidency while winning the popular vote — not to mention allowing possibly permanent damage to our institutions and the crippling of effective responses to the many crises we face.
The times call on us to break free of mindsets of dependence on official permission and action as prerequisites to our action. Regular people can now secure America’s elections, irrespective of Congressional inaction and local partisan officials’ resistance.
How can people reach you to volunteer or get more information?
Dan Wolf: Democracy Counts!, Inc., Mobile: 619.270.6434,
Email: [email protected]
They can also contact Anne Wayman, the COO of Democracy Counts, at 619.434.6110 or [email protected].