Re: Ballot Validation and voting machine initializtion

From: Jim March <jmarch_at_prodigy_dot_net>
Date: Wed Dec 15 2004 - 19:18:07 CST

Ken Pugh wrote:

>
> Why not have the computer eat the token (i.e. scan it into a lock
> box)? The number of tokens scanned should equal the number of votes
> cast on that machine. Any discrepancy is cause for alarm.
>
> Ken

Huh.

Two problems I can see but they may be solvable:

1) What happens if there's a read error during the "eat/scan cycle"?
Voter sticks the token in upside down would be one issue...are there any
double-sided cash register tape printers?

2) Custom hardware costs on the "token eater mechanism''. Handheld bar
code scanners are a dime a dozen even if we do custom "fixed mounts" on
the side of the monitor or on the desk or something. "Eaters" with a
mechanical paper handling mechanism are another matter...less reliable,
more costs.

Come to think...you also have a potential auditing problem in that you
have to track and link the box of expended tokens to a voting station.
That's yet more custom "hardware" if only just a box - you've got
security on it, a key, mounting, etc. And there's one per voting
machine. In the existing model, there's one lockbox with final paper
votes PER PRECINCT versus per machine which has a major impact on cost
and complexity of polling place procedures (which are handled by very
low-level users!).

Lookit: the various county elections officials have a point in one
respect: any extra complexity you add to polling place procedures
increases the odds something will go wrong purely by accident and LOOK
LIKE fraud even when there's none. All polling place processes must be
designed with this in mind...basically "keep it simple stupid BUT design
in effective auditing too!" It's a hell of a balancing act. This is
one reason even some honest elections officials were against Voter
Verified Paper Audit Trails in the first place - it's something else to
track. Add yet ANOTHER "critically tracked" bit of paper in a separate
box and...whoa. Trouble.

Overall...I suspect that electronic reading and auditing of "tokens" is
enough. Have the user stick 'em in the same place the votes go and if
they don't, no biggie.

Jim

> At 04:44 AM 12/15/2004, you wrote:
>
>
>> Well yeah, there's some basic issues here. BUT! Broaden the picture
>> out: how do you prevent duplicate voting IN GENERAL?
>>
>> OK, let's take it back to a classic paper vote. You've got people
>> filling out ballot slips and putting them in boxes. How do you keep
>> them from doing it twice?
>>
>> You make them sign in at a polling place, they get one pre-printed
>> ballot, they fill it out and then either take it back to the
>> pollworker saying "I screwed it up, can we rip this one up so I can
>> try again?" OR "here's my vote, let's stick it in the box".
>>
>> OK. Once you have a "token" that can be plugged into any voting
>> terminal, you solve a lot of problems.
>>
>> Now. Guy walks up to a voting machine, "barcode vote token" in hand.
>> The screen says "HOLD BARDCODED VOTER ID SLIP UNDER THE SCANNER TO
>> YOUR RIGHT, BARCODE SIDE UP". Scanner has the word "SCANNER" on it.
>> Backwards or forwards doesn't matter, both edges have live strips.
>>
>> Machine turns on when it reads, they vote. End of voting session,
>> the screen says "DEPOSIT BALLOT (LARGE PAPER) IN BALLOT BOX NOW - THE
>> SMALL SLIP OF PAPER YOU USED TO LOGIN TO THE VOTING MACHINE WITH CAN
>> ONLY BE USED ONCE - TOSS IT IN THE BALLOT BOX TOO." That way the
>> message the voter is a unified "chuck all the vote-related papers in
>> the ballot box" versus "ballot box for one paper, throw the other
>> away" - they might mix 'em up!
>>
>> It works, guys. Easy enough to chuck out the small papers ("tokens")
>> at the place where the ballot boxes are opened.
>>
>> Jim
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>
>
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Received on Fri Dec 31 23:17:15 2004

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