Barcode -- printed ballot

From: Alan Dechert <adechert_at_earthlink_dot_net>
Date: Fri Aug 29 2003 - 19:23:43 CDT

Yesterday, along with David Dill and Arthur Keller, I met with the folks at
Benetech Inc.( http://www.benetech.org ). They are interested in getting
involved in the our voting modernization project. They have some good
standing in the disabled community due to the Good Works they have done in
the past. This is important because we need to convince the disabled
community that the voter verified printed ballot will not compromise their
right to vote privately and unassisted. David Dill confirmed the problem
they (the disabled community) are having with his initiative.

All of this confirms to me what I have been saying about #7 of the list of
things we need to demonstrate. This is an absolute requirement. We have to
get this right. I showed them this dummy printout along with the cut down
"privacy folder" (a manilla folder cut to about 12 in. X 7.8 in). Here's a
picture of the printout:

http://home.earthlink.net/~adechert/printed-ballot.gif

Note these features:

  - heading

  - Selections in fixed-width font, easy to read and easy to scan.

  - Barcode duplicated on the long edge.

  - Ballot number in each corner but not exposed when in the privacy folder

  - arrows pointing to selections in bold

I showed these things (with a privacy folder) to the group at the meeting
and I think they all liked it.

It is imperative that we demonstrate the ballot verification procedure with
the visually impaired voter in such a way that the voter never has to remove
the ballot from the privacy folder until it goes into the ballot box. Some
have suggested a procedure where the ballot is removed to be placed into a
scanner. This will not be acceptable to these people (disabled community).
Don't even think about it! Keep it in the folder and run the barcode under
the scanner. In the production system, the scanner will likely be
hands-free and mounted. For the demo, this type of scanner is probably too
expensive so we will likely use a hand-held dirt cheap scanner.

We need to keep the string of characters containing the encoded selections
down to a minimum to ensure accuracy and keep the system very cheap.
Despite previous postings on this subject, I recommend for the demo only
encoding the ballot number -- say using two 7-bit characters along with
however many characters are need to encode the 116 bit string. Keep it
simple -- don't barcode the write-ins (for the demo anyway).

We also need to find some free barcode software. I found this but I'm not
sure it will work for us since it seems to need a Postscript printer, which
may be too expensive for the demo.

http://user.it.uu.se/~jan/barfonts/

BTW, on the printout, I have the barcode duplicated on the long edges so
that it can be read either way it's inserted.

The ballot numbers are replicated on each corner. The thought here is that
when a ballot is brought to the pollworker for destruction, the pollworker
can cut any corner off the ballot to have a record of the destroyed ballot
without having to look at the printed side to locate the number. This may
help facilitate reconciliation of the printed and electronic record.
Actually, I'm not sure it will be used that way since the procedure to
reconcile ballot numbers of submited ballots might involve other techniques.
Anyway, having the numbers printed this way also means that, if necessary,
the ballot number could be manually viewed by turning over any corner
without exposing ballot content.

I did not show any security features like watermarks or hashes that would
guard against counterfeits.

There is some work to do to get this right but I hope this helps to point in
the right direction.

-- Alan Dechert

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Received on Sun Aug 31 23:17:17 2003

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