Re: FAQ # 5

From: Alan Dechert <alan_at_openvotingconsortium_dot_org>
Date: Fri Dec 05 2003 - 13:57:15 CST

RE: [voting-project] FAQ Process
"What are you planning to demonstrate?"

In a word, we are demonstrating "Concepts." We are doing this with software
we are building, but it's not really the software we are demonstrating --
it's just demo software we will be discarding.

Here is a slightly refined version of what Alan Dechert wrote on this in
August

WHAT THE DEMO WILL DEMONSTRATE

1. ELECTRONIC VOTING

This may seem a little obvious to people close to this project, but most
people have not witnessed electronic voting and they know very little about
it. According to Brady's Counting all the Votes paper (9/01), about 10% of
the counties in the USA used electronic voting machines, with about 12 % of
the ballots cast on such machines in 2000. These numbers were higher in
2002 and will be even higher in 2004, but still the vast majority of people
have never seen one of these new-fangled 'lectronic vote machines.

A more subtle aspect of this subject has to do with the fact that every
other voting machine also involves a certain level of electronics -- from
the way the ballots are produced and read to the way that votes are
tabulated.

2. COMMODITY PC BASED VOTING

This has been demonstrated in Australia, but only in a pilot project. The
percentage of people that have cast votes on such a system is very small in
Australia and near zero elsewhere in the world. We have to show how the CPU
will be situated so that it looks reasonably secure. For example, we don't
want the user to see the CPU and say, "I wonder what happens if I push this
button?" or "I wonder what will happen if I hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete?" We don't
want media popping out. Only the display and mouse (or stylus) should be
accessible. Most likely, the monitor will be situtated horizontally (in
some custom made wooden cradle) sitting on a table. The CPU will be under
the table securely situtated.

Most people are not aware that the touch screen DREs being sold today are
really just repackaged commodity PCs. So, our system is not really that
different. It's just that the repackaging is a lot simpler and the PCs can
go back to becoming regular PCs right after the polls close.

3. CHEAPER ELECTRONIC VOTING

DREs tend to run around $4,000. They usually charge something like $3,000
for the unit and another $1,000 or so for warranties, service, etc. We will
show that the cost of our unit could easily run less than $1,000 (on
average -- the touch screen will cost more but most machines will use a
mouse) to purchase from a vendor. We need to make a comparison chart that
we can hand out -- maybe have a large chart for display at the press
conference.

We will also explain the possibility that vendors will just rent the systems
to the counties. In this scenario, a PC remarketer could take existing PCs
from inventory -- sanitize them, test them, deliver them to the polling
places and then, after Election Day, put them back on the road to wherever
they were headed. In this case, a PC might only be used once as a voting
machine. This scheme obviates the need for counties to store (and protect)
their voting machines. We need to produce some flow chart showing how this
would work and provide some breakdown on the economics -- get some numbers
on what it costs Riverside county to store their 5,000 (whatever) DREs.

4. VOTING WITH HI-RES LARGE SCREEN

Most DREs have pretty small displays -- some older ones are monochrome. We
will utilize large hi-res color displays. At least 17 in. diagonal at 1280
x 1024 resolution. This means that voters can see more of the ballot more
clearly and they won't have as many steps or page turns as with systems that
have smaller displays. This is in accordance with new FEC guidelines for
voting equipment that calls for minimizing these steps and page turns.

5. ELECTRONIC VOTING SYSTEM THAT PRODUCES A PAPER BALLOT

This is a profound concept! Almost no one has ever seen or even thought of
such a thing (I said "almost," remember. Actually, the Populex system does
this but it has some issues -- not sure if it's used anywhere). Our system
is not just a DRE that produces a paper receipt. The official authentic
ballot will be produced by on an ordinary PC with a laser printer.

We'll probably use an inexpensive compact laser printer, like maybe an HP
LaserJet 5L that can be had on eBay for 50 bucks. The printer will have to
be situated in the voting booth so that someone walking by will not happen
to be able to view the printout.

Besides providing the paper trail that David Dill and hundreds of other
technologists demand, it eliminates the need for a pre-printed ballot. This
is a large cost savings.

The printout will only show the selections made -- not all the choices for
all the races. This improves clarity and economy. Imagine the ballots for
the runoff election we're having in California in October. If our system
was available now, the printed ballot would only show maybe 5 items (recall,
replacement candidate, and 2 or 3 ballot measures). But the printed ballots
we'll use as it is will list the names of 135 candidates -- a waste of
paper.

Overvotes will be impossible while undervotes will be highlighted with "NO
PREFERENCE INDICATED," or similar wording -- but not "none of the above"
(too controversial -- raises questions about actionable none-of-the-above
plurality).

6. ELECTRONIC SYSTEM THAT CAN RENDER LARGER TYPE ON SCREEN

Some DREs already do this, but many older machines cannot increase the font
size. Our demonstration will display a normal sized ballot on one screen in
a font size that normally sighted people will be able to read without
difficulty. But we will include a button that will increase the type size.
The re-sized on-screen ballot will have to be on multiple pages and we'll
provide a navigation button (actually 3 buttons <- prev - return to normal -
next->). We will only provide 2 sizes in the demo: nomal and large
(probably twice the size).

The production system may have more options for changing the display to
accommodate people with some vision problems. We can figure out what those
other options will be and state that we will have them in the production
system.

7. ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINE FOR THE BLIND THAT INCLUDES A PAPER PRINTOUT
BUT WILL NOT COMPROMISE SECRECY AND STILL PROVIDE VOTER VERIFICATION

The voter will hear the selection through headphones and indicate selections
with a keypad or buttons. Other DREs have this feature. Some claim that
adding a printer will compromise the blind voter's right to a secret ballot.
It's essential that we demonstrate how our system will protect voter secrecy
and still provide for voter verification of the printout.

This will be achieved by the use of a bar code on the long edge of the
printout (duplicated on opposite edges -- say within a half inch of the
edge). The blind voter will be able to take the printout, put it in a
privacy folder (a manilla file folder cut to 12 X 8 inches). This means
that the barcode (not human readable) will be exposed but the other printing
on the ballot will be covered. There will be another PC set up with a
scanner and headphones so that the voter can put on the headphones and hear
the selections read back.

8. PROCEDURE FOR DEPOSITING BALLOT IN BALLOT BOX

We will have a locked ballot box with a slot and a ledge on which the ballot
(while inside the privacy folder) will be place so that the printed side is
down (the exposed bar code also makes it easy to identify which side has
printing on it). The pollworker will then slide the ballot through the slot
in a way that the printing is never exposed to view.

9. TOUCH SCREEN VOTING WITH DENSE BALLOT AND STYLUS

Most touch screen systems literally have the voter touching the screen with
their finger. Fingers are too broad to precisely locate a position on the
screen. Fingers also transfer grease to the screen necessitating frequent
wiping. Our touch screen monitor will work with a stylus allowing for more
precise location of the touch and eliminating the need to wipe the screen.

10. VOTING UTILIZING A MOUSE

Some people don't use a mouse so we have to have the touchscreen available.
However, most people can use a mouse so it's a waste of resources to make
all the systems with the more expensive touchscreens. Our demo set up will
have at least one voting machine with a touchscreen and one with a regular
PC monitor. The application will look and work exactly the same with
either.

11. GRAPHICALLY BEAUTIFUL ON-SCREEN BALLOT

The on-screen ballot should be very pleasant to the eye. The tiles for each
contest should be clearly separated utilizing an attractive color scheme.
We also need to do some testing with a color-blind user to make sure the
colors provide acceptable shading differences for them.

12. MULTIPLE LANGUAGES

We will have a button that has a label in several languages. Selecting the
button will bring up a menu of choices for language. We only make one other
language selectable for the demo. Selecting the other language will return
the voter to the on-screen ballot but with the text in the selected language
(Spanish, probably, for the demo).

13. WRITE-IN VOTING WITH ELECTRONIC SYSTEM

Selecting "Write-in" will bring up an on-screen typewriter. A QWERTY layout
will appear on the top half of the screen (three rows plus space bar below).
Under the space bar, we'll have two (or three rows) of letters arranged
alphabetically. The string appears in large upper case type as the letters
are selected. Selecting the "DONE" button returns to the ballot with the
write-in inserted for the relevant contest.

14. SECURITY FEATURES OF OUR PRINTED BALLOT

We need to guard against counterfeit ballots -- counterfeits that could be
brought in by voters (who knows why -- maybe just to throw a monkey wrench
into the process) or counterfeits that could be substituted later.

The printout will utilize "special paper." One measure could be dipping a
corner of the ream of paper into an ink that no one would know in advance
the exact color and composition. So authentic ballots at the precinct will
all have this mark. Another feature will involve markings on the ballot
that will be unique to the PC and voting session. A sample printout would
be stored so that authentic ballots from this PC will all have these
markings (readily visible differences -- maybe a watermark or something like
that)

Probably, we'll have multiple features analogous to, say, multiple features
on printed currency.

15. ONE PERSON ONE VOTE

People often ask what's to stop a voter from printing and depositing more
than one ballot. The voter can print more than one but, in our system, the
only one that counts is the one they deposit in the ballot box. After the
ballot is deposited, they sign on the roster next to their name.

16. WEB BASED DEMO

Besides the standalone demonstration system, anyone with Internet access
will be able to try out the system. We won't be able to exactly replicate
the standalone system but should make it look and feel much the same.

We can explain that the production system would not permit remote unattended
Internet voting, but would include Remote Attended Internet Voting (RAIV)
that would look much like the Internet version seen in the demo. The voter
would proceed in a similar fashion but the printout would be placed in an
envelope and dropped in a mail slot by the "pollworker" at the remote
location (e.g., public library, court house, etc.).

17. RANKED PREFERENCE VOTING

The County Commissioner race will demonstrate ranked preference voting. We
should include an option so that all eight candidates (if write-in included)
could be ranked, or n of eight could be ranked. For example, some rules
only allow the voter to indicate their first two preferences.

18. N of M VOTING

The Cat Catcher race will allow three to be selected.

19. CONTEST DATABASE

Names of the candidates will be read from a "database." However, this
database will be trivial. A real contest database is quite complicated and
there is no way we will have time to program such a thing. The contests
will pre-determined and the number of candidates will be the same although
we will be able to change the names in the "database." The ballot measures
will be pre-determined and we won't change the text.

20. TABULATION

We will not tabulate the votes that users cast during the demo. However, we
will set up one PC with some dummy data that shows the table of ballot
images and shows how the votes get counted. The most important part of the
tabulation demo will walk through the process of ballot reconciliation from
the point of opening up the ballot box to where the precinct report is
created.

Time permitting, we will show how several scoring methods present the
results in the ranked preference contest (County Commissioner).

21. EASY TO TRANSFER FROM SAMPLE BALLOT

We should printout the ballot on tabloid paper and show how this could be
used as a sample ballot that the voter could take into the voting booth and
see the same image on the screen.
http://www.openvotingconsortium.org/ad/ballot-mockup3.gif

22. OBVIOUS VOTER INTENT

The display for a contest will change dramatically when selections are made
leaving no doubt about who was selected and who was not selected. The mock
up implies all radio buttons. Actually, I want to have boxes that will
contain a large red X when selected.
The radio buttons for the County Commissioner race should remain as radio
buttons. In this case the radio buttons would not be individually selectable
but would indicate the position of the order of selection.
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Received on Wed Dec 31 23:17:05 2003

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