Re: Proposed Electronic Ballot Image Format for

From: David Mertz <voting-project_at_gnosis_dot_cx>
Date: Sun Aug 24 2003 - 17:33:55 CDT

"Douglas W. Jones" <jones@cs.uiowa.edu> wrote:
|> STCOPRECTXXXXYCCCCCCCCCC, 02 MY WRITE-IN FOR SENATE, 05 MY WRITE-IN FOR
|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

I think Doug and Alan might be talking past each other a bit. I
certainly agree with Doug that the STORED ballot format should be
something a little more self-explanatory and expansible, like the XML
Doug proposes (I think I floated a similar sample layout in an earlier
post). This is what gets stored on the CD, or transmitted over the
wire, etc (or posted on a public website, to my preference). FWIW, I
happen to be a big name in the little field of specialized XML
compression.

But what Alan is trying to do is encode something concisely enough to
represent on the edge barcode. I'm not sure the mixed ASCII/binary is
optimal (plain ASCII all the way would be fine by me, and we seem to
have enough bits available)--but I don't really care about this issue.
Now admittedly, I saw Doug's other note expressing reservation about the
use of such non-human-readable barcodes at all.

But I'm with Alan here. Even though those codes look mysterious to
voters, a sufficient explanation and means can be provided to lend faith
to their accuracy. Specifically, sighted voters--just like blind
ones--have the *option* of walking to a separate machine that reads the
bar code into headphones. Given that the voter can independently verify
that the scanner can only "see" the barcode portion (because of the
envelope), that provides pretty good assurance to the voter that nothing
hinky is going on with the encoding. Moreover, if elections post the
fact that a random selection of ballots *will* be cross-checked to make
sure barcodes match human-readable printouts, that lets voters know that,
as a process, the barcodes are guaranteed accurate (presumably, informed
observers from various interested parties are present for the checks,
and so on... just as with counts of traditional paper ballots).

Yours, David...

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Received on Sun Aug 31 23:17:15 2003

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