Re: Ballot Validation

From: Ken Pugh <kpughmisc_at_pughkilleen_dot_com>
Date: Mon Dec 13 2004 - 10:56:37 CST

At 10:36 PM 12/11/2004, you wrote:

>Hello Ken:
>Pre-voting?, voting validators?, sounds a little more complicated than it
>should be. I've been a poll worker and I can tell you that complicated =
>misunderstanding = disenfranchisement and incorrect votes.

I was looking at this from a different view. Let's assume that a goal is
to have as universal voting as possible. One approach would be to
distribute ballots as widely as possible and make it as easy as possible to
complete the ballots.

For example, Oregon has an all-mail voting system that works. Their one
requirement under HAVA is to have one DRE in each county to help disabled

My proposal was a different slant on this idea. People could vote at home
using paper or computer-aided systems. They could use programs that
checked for overvotes and undervotes, if they so desired. They could
rework their ballot as much as desired. There would be no need to
invalidate overvoted ballots, as another ballot could be printed and marked
(or marked and printed).

The amount of time spent at the polls would be reduced to identifying
yourself and to slipping the ballot into the scanner. The "VoteValidator"
is simply the mechanism to denote that accompanying ballot has been cast by
an identified voter. It's the equivalent of the signed envelope for the
Oregon mail ballot.

For voters who haven't filled out a ballot, they would do so at the polls,
just like they do now. However there would not be a need for controls on
the Markomatic machines. They would simply be producing the same style
ballot as any of the other mechanisms.

The controls would be on the distribution of the VoteValidator cards and on
the scanner/vote box itself. The VoteValidator doesn't appear to be much
different in terms of paperwork than the slip of paper that I get when I
sign in and which I then turn over to another person to get my actual ballot.

The scanner/vote box should have at least two people manning it. The
VoteValidator would go in first. This is the equivalent of a poll worker
having to reset a voting machine for the next voter. However, since it's
pretty tangible, it would be easier to understand. Then the voter would
put their ballot in.

I haven't worked as a poll worker. A representative group should be
included in the design of any system that is developed to insure that the
system works easily.

>I expect the scanable ballot to be printed up on the spot after the voter
>tells the Markamatic that they are done voting. Yes, special paper might
>be a good idea. As an aside, to make it reliably through a scanner, even
>once, it's going to have to be card stock or similar. I don't know about
>other States, but we had 15 races and 25 propositions this November which
>ended up being printed on both sides of one piece of legal size paper.

So the Markamatic may have to print up to three pages for a ballot.

>And of course, Doug hits the nail on the head about applying good sense
>when working through voting problems.
>Thanks, Ed Kennedy
>Douglas W. Jones wrote:
>>On Dec 11, 2004, at 1:21 PM, Ken Pugh wrote:
>>>It appears that there are two basic approaches to electronic voting
>>>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
>>There's another position that I think is superior to these two:
>>The electronic record and the printed record are both viewed as
>>fallible and subject to subversion. A hacker can hack into a
>>computer and corrupt data. A counterfeiter can print up counterfeit
>>ballots and swap them for the real ones. We can adopt technical
>>means to defend against either attack, but if we adopt laws that
>> In the event of a disagreement, the paper dominates.
>>Then all you need is a good counterfeiter, while if your rules say
>> In the event of a disagreement, the electronic copy dominates.
>>Then, all you need is a good hacker. The rule I would prefer to
>>see says:
>> In the event of a disagreement, an investigation must be initiated
>> in order to determine which copy is most likely to be correct...
>>The rules could go on at length about what other things to
>>examine, such as pollbooks, event logs, exit polls, and other
>>evidence that could serve to corraborate one or the other copy.
>>Doug Jones
>>OVC discuss mailing lists
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Received on Fri Dec 31 23:17:11 2004

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