Re: Not your ordinary barcode

From: Douglas W. Jones <jones_at_cs_dot_uiowa_dot_edu>
Date: Wed Apr 21 2004 - 13:50:24 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.

What I referred to as a machine-readable dense two-dimensional
barcode can also be described as low-effort OCR. Full OCR is
something I don't want in voting systems because I want to
minimize the total size of the software that sits in the critical
path from voter to official canvass. Software outside that path
can get big, so long as there are firewalls between that software
and the critical part. If you use OCR to convert text on the
scanned ballot to vote counts, it's in the critical path and
needs to be minimized.

So, instead of full OCR that can recognize any of thousands of
fonts, use something simple. One proposal I made was for a
"dense two dimensional barcode" that would be read using exactly
barcode technology, but where the data representation used combinations
of bars or dots that were standard 7-segment numerals (3 bars high
and 2 bars wide, with each bar present or absent). The old magnetic
ink characters printed on bank checks are another example of this
idea; they're human readable, but the way a machine reads them is
more like a barcode than OCR.

                Doug Jones
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Received on Fri Apr 30 23:17:15 2004

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