Re: Not your ordinary barcode

From: Teresa Hommel <tahommel_at_earthlink_dot_net>
Date: Sun Apr 18 2004 - 14:09:02 CDT

> Some very smart people including Doug Jones have suggested that the barcode
> also be human readable. I think it's a very bad idea. Most people will
> have difficulty figuring out how to read the barcode and correlate that with
> selections made. This involves extra steps and confusion for the voter.
> It's unnecessary.

Beware of forcing voters into dependency on "trust-me" technology (can't read
the barcode? Trust us, it says the same thing as this small print where you can
directly read your ballot choices) As a voter I would prefer that everything on
my ballot be somehow readable to me, even if most other voters will not attempt
to read the barcode.

Teresa Hommel

Alan Dechert wrote:

> > This barcode can subsequently be used for machine counting
> > the ballots . . . but it is very difficult for the voter to verify that
> > the barcode actually encodes the votes he or she intends . . .
> > and there lies the problem! ..........
> >
> I don't think it will be much of a problem. In our full study, we'll find
> out.
>
> Our plan has a verification station with a scanner at each polling place.
> This is required to enable a reading impaired voter to verify their ballot.
> But it can also be used by a sighted voter (and able to read) to verify that
> the barcode matches the text. Only a small percentage of people will
> actually use the verification station but the verification station will give
> a very high level of confidence that it is correct.
>
> For one thing, the error rate on the barcode will be very very small. For
> the demo, we are encoding a 40-digit decimal number. We have error
> detection code that exploits the fact that there are a very large number of
> possible 40-digit numbers while only a small percentage of them can
> represent valid ballots. So the odds are very very high that any read error
> will also result in detection of an impossible ballot.
>
> Another thing: the ballot reconciliation procedure verifies that the data
> encoded in the barcode matches what's in the corresponding electronic ballot
> image from the voting machine.
>
> While these things don't make it trivial for the voter to directly verify
> the accuracy of the barcode, any suspicion they have can be dispelled pretty
> readily with the architecture we've described. I doubt seriously that
> anyone will have any problem with it. Of course, we won't really know until
> we do some testing.
>
> Some very smart people including Doug Jones have suggested that the barcode
> also be human readable. I think it's a very bad idea. Most people will
> have difficulty figuring out how to read the barcode and correlate that with
> selections made. This involves extra steps and confusion for the voter.
> It's unnecessary.
>
> Finally, it should be understood that the system's ability to allow a
> reading impaired voter to vote privately and unassisted is an ABSOLUTE
> REQUIREMENT. A human readable barcode creates a problem there. You can't
> ask a blind person to expose their ballot to get it verified.
>
> I don't claim to have the final answer on that. The real answer will come
> when we have the funding to do a real R&D project that will include tons of
> Human Factors testing to explore these kinds of issues.
>
> In the mean time, I find your argument unconvincing. It would help everyone
> if newcomers would read what has already been said on this list regarding
> the particular issue they want to discuss. This is a constant problem we've
> had for many months. We had this problem when our archive had less than
> 1,000 messages. Now it's more than 2,000 messages. We've always said that
> it would be much easier once we have the FAQ in place. now the FAQ is there
> but it's 26 pages. Now I have to say that a more complete and better
> indexed FAQ will help newcomers.
>
> Alan D.
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Received on Fri Apr 30 23:17:11 2004

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