Re: Vote Handling

From: Douglas W. Jones <jones_at_cs_dot_uiowa_dot_edu>
Date: Sun Dec 14 2003 - 16:19:26 CST

On Dec 14, 2003, at 3:40 PM, Arthur Keller wrote:

> At 12:00 PM -0800 12/14/03, Alan Dechert wrote:
>> More generally, I'd say we should develop this ballot depositing
>> procedure
>> as necessary to ensure that only one ballot is deposited from a given
>> voter.

The procedures in place in the various states differ considerably, and
different technologies differ in how they solve this.

Optical mark-sense systems generally have a paper feed mechanism that
will
only take one page at a time (there are several solutions).

Votomatic systems generally require that the voter hand his card to the
election judge (polling place worker) who places it in the box. This
follows standard practice with hand-counted paper ballots in the 19th
century.

In many jurisdictions using optical mark-sense ballots or punched
cards, there is a tear-off stub on the ballot with a serial number
on that stub. The serial number is tied (by any of several ways)
with the voter. The stub is torn off by the poll worker and reconciled
with the records before the ballot goes in the hopper. This is
frequently
governed by state law or administrative rules.

In any system where the ballots are printed by the voting machine, you
could number the ballots as they're printed; I'd suggest assigning
random ballot numbers, not serial numbers. These can be used to prevent
bogus ballots from being accepted because the set of numbers issued by
the machine can be reconciled by the set of numbers found in the ballot
box. Doing this allows fraudulent ballots to be excluded even if they
do get into the box by accident.

(A student of mine suggested this scheme a year ago, in the context of
securing voting by ballot, in the original sense, where a ballot was a
little clay ball. To prevent fraud, he baked a serial numbered pit into
each ballot, and after the election, you'd smash all the ballots and
check that the pit numbers were legitimate numbers for the set of
ballots
issued to that precinct.)

                        Doug Jones
                        jones@cs.uiowa.edu
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Received on Wed Dec 31 23:17:11 2003

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