A new hope -- can we audit the 2020 election results?
The internet in general appears to be treating this as a conspiracy theory. So did I, at first. I had one thing that made me look a little closer: the blue-checkmark Twitter verification on someone who claimed to be associated with Trump's 2020 campaign and an ex-intel guy. This is someone who at least claims to be in a position to know, and who Twitter has verified (which doesn't mean much, but is a step above a random conspiracy guy). Then I made the mistake of looking it up on Snopes. Snopes rates it "false". Snopes is a damn fool in this case. The link above goes to my analysis of the issue. Short version: there is a federal agency working with states on election security that can include such things as watermarks on paper ballots; its existence is confirmed by Snopes itself in the article and reinforced by a Washington Post article from the week before the election. That part is absolutely real. I don't know what specific security measures are in place in the swing states we are dealing with now, but I'm confident DHS/CISA know, and that we will find out shortly.
So, assuming there are ballot security measures, likely for the first time (since most of this work has taken place after 2018), the plan would be to wait for counting to stop. You let the states and their local electoral agencies do their thing, while of course responding to whistleblower complaints and irregularities as normal, but you let the count itself proceed however the states and localities want to do it.
Then, you have great big piles of "submitted" votes... in the recount, you check for the watermark and reject ballots without it. Maybe your ballots have a bar code with a date indicating when the ballot was printed, too. Or identifying the person who authorized that it be printed. Providing an audit trail is exactly what DHS is supposed to be doing here.
If you can somehow enforce that this procedure is used during the recounts, and CISA has been working with states on this since 2018 at least, then it might work. Large scale voter fraud operations using unofficial ballots can be halted in their tracks, and their fake ballots separated from the real ones, even after the fact.
Operations using legitimate ballots for illegal purposes can be tripped up by tracking information embedded in the ballots themselves.
For example, if you take information about the voter for whom the ballot was printed and encode a hash of that information on the ballot, you could enforce one-person-one-vote and eliminate double votes at the audit stage. Even nationally, if DHS sets a ballot standard that is widely adopted, but certainly within smaller regions.
Or... perhaps you encode the identify of the person who authorized printing the ballot, and the date it was printed, and maybe a sequence number.
If the ballot was printed after the election and shows up in the pile of votes to be counted, throw it out and arrest the person who printed it. Offer them a nice deal if they sing an opera and provide a cast list.
If a batch of absentee ballots shows up with sequence numbers like "1, 2, 3, 4..." then gosh that whole batch is suspicious. Throw out, arrest, put fat lady on stage. The people doing this have had at least 3 years to think about this and I just started.
Small scale operations that focus on harvesting legitimate ballots from the mail may survive. But large scale fraud may well be something that can be shut down completely.
None of this can happen until the counting stops and the "totals" are fixed in place.