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Examples of Election Tally Sheets, for Hand-Tallying Counts and Recounts

Contents

Tally many contests on one page, to minimize flipping pages in big elections, labeled to avoid ambiguity. 1

Tally about 8 contests (25 candidates) on one page, first 100 votes, then start new page. 1

Tally 16- 32 contests on one page (50-100 candidates) , first 40 votes, then start new page. 1

Tally few contests on one page, or many contests on many pages, labeled to avoid ambiguity. 1

2 contests per page (12 candidates) 11 x 17, Cross out numbers San Diego, CA 2016. 1

Judicial recount handbook, 11 candidates per page, 250 votes, mark boxes which are numbered every 5, without ambiguity, Canada undated. 1

Recount by Senate contractors, 2 contests, 5 ballots per line, total after 50 ballots, Maricopa County, AZ 2021. 1

3 write-in candidates in 1-3 contests, 100 votes, cross out numbers, Maricopa County, AZ 2020. 1

1 contest (2 candidates), 100 votes, cross out numbers, Harris County, TX 2006. 1

1 contest (2 candidates), 825 votes, numbered groups of 5 require multiplication or lookup in a table, Indonesia 2014. 1

Tally few contests on one page, or many contests on many pages, with ambiguous labels. 1

1 contest (3 candidates), 280 votes, numbered in a way which caused confusion, Jeffersonville, IN 2016. 1

3 contests (10 candidates), 50 votes, Rhode Island test 1

2 tally pages per contest (2-6 candidates), 300 votes, Los Angeles County, CA 2020. 1

Risk-limiting Audits (RLAs) which track each ballot separately. 1

Track each ballot separately for an RLA, 5 contests (14 candidates), 20 ballots per page. Orange County, CA 2018. 1

Track each ballot separately for an RLA, 16-32 contests (50-100 candidates), 10 ballots per page, to minimize flipping pages in big elections. 1

Sort & Stack needs batch totals without tally marks. 1

Batch totals for 1 contest (3 candidates), 10 batches, from sort & stack, Georgia 2020. 1

Batch totals for 1 contest (3 candidates), 4 batches of 50 ballots, from sort & stack, New Hampshire 2007. 1

Other special purpose tally sheets. 1

Single Transferable Vote, first two rounds, 1 contest, 5 candidates, Wisconsin 1912. 1

Separate tallies of ambiguous and clear votes, 1 contest (3 candidates), unnumbered groups of 5, Bridgeport, CT 2010. 1

 

Tally many contests on one page, to minimize flipping pages in big elections, labeled to avoid ambiguity

 

Tally about 8 contests (25 candidates) on one page, first 100 votes, then start new page

This is an 11 x 8.5 page, with spaces for write-ins, overvotes, and undervotes. The image of the tally page was created and names can be entered in a spreadsheet. When more than one write-in candidate is being counted, you can add a  line for each or track them on a separate page. If you can print 11 x 17 ledger paper, you can use the extra space for more contests or more votes

When any candidate fills up all 100 tally marks, all candidates start on a new page, to minimize flipping back and forth among pages. The ballots which were tallied on the old page can be tied together in case the sheet needs to be checked later.

For contests which always appear together on a ballot sheet (e.g. state-wide and countywide contests), the space at the bottom left of each office is useful. Enter the total of all tally marks from just this page for this office. Since the tallies include undervotes, the totals in these common offices will be the same. Differences can be checked while the ballots are still close at hand.

Numbers 5, 10, etc, are at the top of each line, to remind us they reflect a full box. When there are just 2 tally marks in the box between 80 and 85, they mean 82.

 

Tally 16- 32 contests on one page (50-100 candidates) , first 40 votes, then start new page

This approach covers a lot of candidates, with as little flipping across pages as possible. Below is an 11 x 8.5 page or the left half of an 11 x 17 page. Each 11" x 4" column has room for about 8 contests, depending on the number of candidates in each, plus spaces for write-ins, overvotes, and undervotes. On 11 x 17 there would be 4 columns of names. The image of the tally page was created and can be changed in a spreadsheet. When more than one write-in candidate is being counted, you can add a line for each or put them on a separate page.

When any candidate fills up all 40 tally marks, all candidates start on a new page, to minimize flipping back and forth among pages. The ballots which were tallied on the old page can be tied together in case the sheet needs to be checked later.

For contests which always appear together on a ballot sheet (e.g. state-wide and countywide contests), the space at the bottom left of each office is useful. Enter the total of all tally marks from just this page for this office. Since the tallies include undervotes, the totals in these common offices will be the same. Differences can be checked while the ballots are still close at hand.

Numbers 5, 10, etc, are on the right edge of each space, to remind us they reflect a full box, when there are just 2 tally marks in the box marked 10, they mean 7, not 12.

 

Tally few contests on one page, or many contests on many pages, labeled to avoid ambiguity

2 contests per page (12 candidates) 11 x 17, Cross out numbers San Diego, CA 2016

1% audit by county. Includes write-in total & over & undervotes. Video shows them flipping through many pages

 

Judicial recount handbook, 11 candidates per page, 250 votes, mark boxes which are numbered every 5, without ambiguity, Canada undated.

https://www.elections.ca/content.aspx?section=res&dir=loi/jud&document=appD&lang=e

 

Recount by Senate contractors, 2 contests, 5 ballots per line, total after 50 ballots, Maricopa County, AZ 2021

It is hard to add the totals accurately after 50 ballots, since the number for each candidate on each line varies.

        "Each counter will place a single line (tally) in the Ballot column indicating that 1 ballot has been viewed.

        "Counters will view the paper ballot and place a single line in the column that corresponds to the candidate selected.

        "An image of the ballot will be displayed on the monitor above the counter’s desk area that can be used to view a larger version but must be confirmed on the paper ballot.

        "All tally marks will be made in the same row as that ballot number. After 5 ballots, the tally marks will be made in the next column down on the page." (p.4)

So: for example if first ballot is for Trump and second for Biden, second tally mark can go anywhere in Biden section , not necessarily in 1st or 2nd place within that section. If second ballot were always put in 2nd position, and 3rd ballot of each group in 3rd position etc., the sheet would display the content of each ballot, as well as being a summary. However following that strict  order would be error-prone. The examples farther below for Orange County or  for tracking 300 candidates have formats which are less error-prone.

https://web.archive.org/web/20220202104154/https:/www.cyberninjas.com/static/20210429155650/Wake-TSI-Counting-Floor-Policies.pdf 

 

3 write-in candidates in 1-3 contests, 100 votes, cross out numbers, Maricopa County, AZ 2020

Instructions are on pages 222-234. Forms are on pages A233-A248. There are tally sheets like this only for write-ins and accessible machines; otherwise staff just record final tallies for each candidate.

https://azsos.gov/sites/default/files/2019_ELECTIONS_PROCEDURES_MANUAL_APPROVED.pdf

 

1 contest (2 candidates), 100 votes, cross out numbers, Harris County, TX 2006

Recount?

 

1 contest (2 candidates), 825 votes, numbered groups of 5 require multiplication or lookup in a table, Indonesia 2014

 

 

Tally few contests on one page, or many contests on many pages, with ambiguous labels

 

1 contest (3 candidates), 280 votes, numbered in a way which caused confusion, Jeffersonville, IN 2016

Errors were 3% to 27% for various candidates in a 2016 Indiana recount in a city. Centering the 5, 10, etc. above the columns misled officials that one hash mark in the box marked 135 meant 136, while it actually meant 131. Also officials sometimes omitted absentee ballots or double-counted ballots

https://www.newsandtribune.com/news/jeffersonville-city-council-at-large-recount-tally-sheets-show-vote/article_75f432ce-cf7e-11e5-8c1a-5365ef7d3540.html

 

3 contests (10 candidates), 50 votes, Rhode Island test

Centering the 5, 10, etc. above the columns can mislead officials that two hash marks in the box marked 10 mean 12, while it actually means 7. This was the pattern in Jeffersonville above.

https://verifiedvoting.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/RI-RLA-Report-2020.pdf

 

2 tally pages per contest (2-6 candidates), 300 votes, Los Angeles County, CA 2020

With only 5 sections  per page, and 4 sections needed for write-ins, overvotes, undervotes, and signatures, each contest other than top-two primaries and yes/no (which don't allow write-ins) needs 2 pages. Staff have to flip through many dozens of pages for the many contests in LA County. Batches of ballots in LA come from the mail or vote centers (LA does not use precincts), so each batch can include any kind of ballot from all over the city, and the tally pages must cover them all. A third page, not shown, is needed when tallies exceed 300.

  

 

Risk-limiting Audits (RLAs) which track each ballot separately

 

Track each ballot separately for an RLA, 5 contests (14 candidates), 20 ballots per page. Orange County, CA 2018

This was a ballot polling risk-limiting audit (RLA) of 5 primary contests with wide margins. They did not tally write-ins, overvotes or undervotes. Report is at https://verifiedvoting.org/publication/orange-county-ca-pilot-risk-limiting-audit/

 

Track each ballot separately for an RLA, 16-32 contests (50-100 candidates), 10 ballots per page, to minimize flipping pages in big elections

Different letter for each ballot helps staff stay in the right column.

This is an 11 x 8.5 sheet or the left half of an 11 x 17 sheet. Each 11" x 4" column has room for about 8 contests, depending on the number of candidates in each, plus spaces for write-ins, overvotes, and undervotes. On 11 x 17 there would be 4 columns of names. When more than one write-in candidate is being counted, you can add a line for each or put them on a separate sheet.

A “ballot comparison” is a type of “risk-limiting audit” (RLA), where the votes need to be recorded for each ballot separately, not just added up across all ballots. The tally sheet below provides a column to keep each ballot separate, using a different letter for each column.

The tally sheet can track many candidates, since there is a proposal in arxiv.org/abs/2012.03371 for RLAs to record all candidates. (Colorado currently records all candidates, but not on paper. They enter result of each contest into software.) The image of this tally sheet was created and can be changed in a spreadsheet.

RLAs outside Colorado usually tally only 1-2 contests and their candidates, so will use only one column. With one column of contest & candidate names there will be room for about 25 ballots per tally sheet.

The alternative of entering data directly into a computer, then printing out and checking, has a different error profile and time needs. 

The above tally sheet is designed to tally ballot-comparison information for 10 ballots, with about 6 lines per inch, 60 lines in each column, 10 inches long, with two columns on 8.5 x 11 inch paper (120 lines) or five columns on 11 x 17 inch ledger paper (300 lines). If more lines are needed, tally staff are also familiar with flipping across multiple ledger size sheets when needed (https://youtu.be/lhKNS3v2fg4). 

 

Using a distinct letter for each ballot on the page lets data entry staff use one data entry column per sheet, shown here:

Table below shows number of lines on tally sheet in selected counties & elections

Tally sheet needs a line for each candidate being tallied, plus 3 extra lines per contest, for contest title, write-ins (except on yes/no) and “no vote marked.”

 

Format above can handle about 300 lines on one side of one page, ledger size, in 5 columns of 60 lines each, 6 lines per inch. This means a one-sided leger page handles most counties, and allow more space

            #

#          Contested        #

Lines   Contests          Candidates      County

1407    201                  804                  AZ_Maric_2020g~

1063    166                  565                  CA_Orang_2020g~

486      48                    342                  CA_Orang_2020p~

518      87                    257                  CA_Ventu_2020g~

134      26                    56                    CO_Adams_2020g~

134      25                    59                    CO_Arapa_2020g~

178      33                    79                    CO_Bould_2020g~

181      35                    76                    CO_Denve_2020g~

100      16                    52                    CO_Dougl_2020g~

207      37                    96                    CO_El Pa_2020g~

156      29                    69                    CO_Jeffe_2020g~

123      24                    51                    CO_Larim_2020g~

195      34                    93                    CO_Weld__2020g~

426      49                    279                  MN_Henne_2021g~

1714    141                  1291                PA_Alleg_2019g~

2406    139                  1989                PA_Alleg_2019p~

168      24                    96                    PA_Alleg_2020g~

50        6                      32                    PA_Merce_2018g~

616      13                    577                  PA_Merce_2018p~

Source: “pivot” tab of spreadsheet

 

Sort & Stack needs batch totals without tally marks

Australia uses sort & stack with single transferable vote https://aec.gov.au/Voting/counting/hor.htm

France: one person reads to 2 talliers: https://www.interieur.gouv.fr/Archives/Archives-elections/Comment-voter/Fonctionnement-d-un-bureau-de-vote

UK uses sort & stack https://theconversation.com/explainer-how-britain-counts-its-votes-41265

 

Batch totals for 1 contest (3 candidates), 10 batches, from sort & stack, Georgia 2020

Georgia hand count in 2020 used "sort & stack" method, so they only kept totals for each batch. Goggin et al had found sort & stack less accurate than tally marks

 

Batch totals for 1 contest (3 candidates), 4 batches of 50 ballots, from sort & stack, New Hampshire 2007

New Hampshire hand counts recommend "sort & stack" method for about 50 ballots at a time, to catch discrepancies early, so they keep totals for each 50 ballots. Goggin et al had found sort & stack less accurate than tally marks, but did not break it into 50 ballots at a time

https://web.archive.org/web/20080919152131/http://www.electiondefensealliance.org/files/Hand_Count_Elections_Steps_only_Sept_6_2007.pdf

 

Other special purpose tally sheets

 

Single Transferable Vote, first two rounds, 1 contest, 5 candidates, Wisconsin 1912

"Following, is the official tally sheet upon which the first and second choice votes are entered, being called off in this case: 'For Governor, Brown first, Gray second.' Supposing the ballots of one precinct have been called off, the sheet shows as follows:--

https://digicoll.library.wisc.edu/WIReader/WER1650-Chpt4.html

 

Separate tallies of ambiguous and clear votes, 1 contest (3 candidates), unnumbered groups of 5, Bridgeport, CT 2010

Recount by citizens:."One individual read each ballot, while a second individual watched the ballot to make sure the reading was accurate. Two individuals completed identical hashmark sheets for each stack - if the individuals sheets did not agree, then the team resolved the issue by recounting the ballots. Hashmarks were made for each ballot, including undervotes and overvotes, such that the number of hashmarks could be cross checked to equal the number of ballots in the stacks. Stacks were clipped with metal clips, along with one of the hashmark sheets for resealing, while the other hashmark sheet was saved for the district recount paperwork for processing by the accounting team. Special stacks such as questionable ballots (those with partially filled in bubbles), write-ins, and voter intent issues were scrutinized with the assistance of recount leaders to assure accuracy and consistency." [Pages 15-17 of the Recount Report describe the process and lessons learned.]

http://www.ctelectionaudit.org/bridgeport-recount-details/