Re: Not your ordinary barcode

From: Nathan L. Adams <adamsn79_at_bellsouth_dot_net>
Date: Sun Apr 18 2004 - 21:56:03 CDT

I think there is one misunderstanding floating around about the printed ballot
that is leading to this discussion. My understanding is this (please correct
me if I'm wrong):

The printed ballot consists of two parts.
Part 1: A plain text print out of your vote. THIS is the legally binding part.
It is concealed by the privacy folder while you traverse the polling station.
Part 2: Encoded symbology (the barcode). This is used at the verification
station primarily by blind voters, but optionally by others. It is also used
to assist the count. The barcode sticks out of the privacy folder, so it
SHOULD NOT be human readable.

If a voter doesn't trust the verification software or the bar code, she can
discretely pull her ballot out of the privacy folder and verify her choices
the old fashioned way. If a candidate doesn't trust the counting software,
the procedures allow her to send a representative as a witness (who can then
correlate the plain text votes with the barcode results). Note that the
privacy folder is used to separate you from your vote, not your vote from the
barcode.

Nathan

On Sunday 18 April 2004 03:09 pm, Teresa Hommel wrote:
> > 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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