Re: Ballot Validation

From: Ken Pugh <kpughmisc_at_pughkilleen_dot_com>
Date: Sat Dec 11 2004 - 13:21:00 CST

It appears that there are two basic approaches to electronic voting system.

1.) The printed ballot is supreme.
     Ballot may be filled in manually
     Ballot may be filled in by computer
     Ballot is tallied by scanner.

2.) The printed ballot is a receipt
     Ballot is filled in and tabulated on the computer
     Printed ballot is used for verification

I'd like to propose a slight variation on the printed ballot approach to
voting. Some people have made analogies to electronic gaming. I'd like
to make an analogy to airline tickets. In the not too distant past,
airline tickets were only accepted if they were printed on official airline
ticket stock. Any ticket that was printed on such stock was
accepted. Travel agents carefully guarded their ticket stock – it
represented real money. Today you can print your boarding pass
on-line.. A fraudulent boarding pass is detected by a non-matchup to the
ticket database.

In many voting systems today, the printed ballot represents the equivalent
of the airline ticket stock. Ballots should be carefully guarded and
handed out only with safeguards. If that safeguard is removed, then an
alternate safeguard needs to be in place.

I propose that the actual ballot be validated by a separate piece of paper
that represents the right of the voter to cast that ballot
("VoteValidator"). The ballot itself can then be printed or marked by any
variety of means. It must be accompanied by a VoteValidator in order to be

The VoteValidator is a specially printed document that is non-reproducible
by ordinary means. It is marked only with the precinct. It represents
that the ballot that accompanies it has been cast by an individual who
is a registered voter.

Let me give an example of how this would work. An individual can create a
ballot by using a Markomatic machine, by manually marking a preprinted
ballot (printed by a laser printer), or by using an online program to
create and printout a ballot. In any event, the voter can create as many
ballots as desired until one is created that represents the voter's

The voter then walks into the polling place, is identified as a registered
voter, and receives a VoteValidator. If the voter does not already have a
ballot, a Markomatic or a pre-printed ballot can be used. The voter
carries the VoteValidator along with the ballot to the scanner. The
VoteValidator is inserted into the scanner. Since it identifies the
precinct, it knows what the following ballot should look like. The voter
then inserts the ballot. If the ballot cannot be read (e.g. the printed
ballot is too far from the ballot specifications) or if it does not agree
with the precinct denoted by the VoteValidator, then the ballot is rejected
along with the VoteValidator. The voter has the opportunity to correct the
ballot. Any ballot that is not preceded by a VoteValidator is rejected.

An absentee voter receives the VoteValidator in the mail. The voter can
use an enclosed ballot or create one on-line and print it out. The
VoteValidator is returned along with the ballot. The VoteValidator may be
made part of the return envelope, so that it would not be forgotten.

I'm sure there are some issues with this proposal. One I can think of is
that there are two pieces of paper that need to be tied together in order
to have a legal vote. The two pieces of paper allow for a multitude of
methods for creating a ballot. The only system that needs to be verified
is the scanning system itself, which resides in the polling place.

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Received on Fri Dec 31 23:17:10 2004

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