Re: Proposed Electronic Ballot Image Format for

From: Douglas W. Jones <jones_at_cs_dot_uiowa_dot_edu>
Date: Sun Aug 24 2003 - 15:57:00 CDT

On Sunday, August 24, 2003, at 03:40 PM, Alan Dechert wrote:

> David wrote:
> It seems to me that Arthur's encoding scheme is still compatible with
> the
> table structure I suggested that goes like this:

I am extremely wary of this kind of encoding! This is typical of what
I would have designed in 1975, but I'm not sure I want 1975-style
design today.

The problem is, this is very ad-hoc, constrained to be a text file, yet
with 7-bit encodings of binary data here and plain text there.

If you're going with a plain text data format, go pure text, with
n columns reserved for the n ballot positions, X meaning vote, blank
meaning no vote, and no built-in data compression. If you're going
for a binary data format, go all the way binary and don't mix binary data
with text like this.

XML has virtues that are worth remembering, enough so that I'd suggest
producing a really obvious XML format, something like (not to imply that
I put any thought into this):

     <OFFICE>Secretary of State</OFFICE>
     <CANDIDATE>Cutby A. Thorne</CANDIDATE>
     <OFFICE>Drainage Commissioner</OFFICE>

Efficiency be damned! This format is transparent and easily audited,
with no complex understanding of data structures. If you want compact
storage or transmission, compress it using an efficient XML compressor
or write custom software to squish and de-squish files in this format
that are specific to this applications domain.

Particularly in a prototype, there's no reason to worry about compact
data formats.

                                Doug Jones
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Received on Sun Aug 31 23:17:15 2003

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