Re: Ballot disclosure and vote anonymity/coercion

From: Douglas W. Jones <jones_at_cs_dot_uiowa_dot_edu>
Date: Sun Dec 14 2003 - 16:04:50 CST

On Dec 14, 2003, at 3:20 PM, Alan Dechert wrote:

> Doug,
>> Write-in votes are particularly effective ways of
>> revealing your vote because these are always subject to manual
>> processing.
> Always?

Pretty much always. For example, given the election laws of most
someone has to figure out if the write-in vote is for a person who's
appears on the ballot. The typical rule is:

    Write-ins for someone not already on the ballot count as votes

    Write-ins for a person already on the ballot do not count as
       overvotes if the voter cast votes for both the named candidate
       and the write-in.

    Write-ins for a person already on the ballot count as a vote for
       that candidate.

Manual processing is required because you can't rely on machine
to distinguish all the possible variant ways of presenting the name.
Is a write-in for Bush a vote for George W. Bush? How about G.W.Bush?
The answer hinges on fine points of state law,and there's plenty of
variation from state to state.

> I thought that some states don't examine write-ins unless they break
> some
> threshold condition.

That's within the range of variation between states, but problems with
overvote rules force hand examination in some of these states.

Note that there are 2 classes of thresholds. 1) there are enough
write-ins to influence the outcome of the race, and 2) there are
enough write-ins to offer some candidate a statuatory benefit. There
are statuatory benefits that accrue with as little as 5% of the vote
in some states (automatic listing of the party on the ballot, for
a benefit the Green party has been very interested in earning.)

> If the votes are written in on a DRE, it would seem
> that manual processing would almost never be needed.

But, if you want to get the totals done fast, you use the manual skills
available at the precinct before you let those folks go. Let them
process all write-ins on election night, because if you put it off until
later, you have only 10 people down at the county offices to do this
but if you do it election night, you have 1000 people to do the work.

                                Doug Jones
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Received on Wed Dec 31 23:17:11 2003

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