Re: dumb scanners?

From: charlie strauss <cems_at_earthlink_dot_net>
Date: Tue Dec 05 2006 - 17:54:54 CST

-----Original Message-----
>From: Jerry Lobdill <>
>Sent: Dec 5, 2006 6:03 PM
>To: Open Voting Consortium List <>
>Subject: [OVC-discuss] dumb scanners?
>Marc Baber has proposed a voting system at
> that has an interesting feature I've not seen
>elsewhere. (I don't like several things about the total system, but
>that's another story.) It proposes that COTS dumb scanners be used to
>tally paper ballots.

Hart(of the hart intercivic) is marketing a scanner based paper ballot reader. The non-dumb element comes in the software that reads the ballot image files.

>These "dumb" scanners can be had for as little
>as about $55, and as much as about $2K. They are said to be
>"unprogrammable", but they can detect colored-in circles at certain
>x-y positions and output a file that tallies multiple ballots for
>these x-y positions. The scanners do not know what candidate or race
>is represented by the x-y positions but it produces the tallies for
>all races and issues on the ballot without need for any ballot
>definition programming.

I have not yet read his proposal but there would need to be some means of discriminating totals for different ballot styles (i.e. different legislative districts). It's a non-trivial issue so I assume he may have addressed it. In precint voting one could possibly get away with one scanner per style as in most locale's a precint only has a few styles (usually 4 or less during primaries) In early voting there can be hundreds of styles. Bernallillo county had to used 43 opscans for each polloing station, each programmed for multiple styles, to accomodate early voting, and bernalillo county would be podunk comapred to precints in major cities.

At the end of election day the election
>administration publishes an XML file that correlates x-y positions
>with candidates and issues.
>Not being a hardware person I can't evaluate this proposal. My
>inclination is to doubt that such COTS systems exist. Seems to me
>that numbers and dimensions of the circles and their locations on the
>ballot would not necessarily be constant from election from election,
>and what sort of COTS firmware could handle all this?

It sounds to me to be a lot like the scanners that read punch cards. It also has the simmilar functionality as those that read things like gel plates in molecular biology--but those are not handled in firmware.

>Would some of you hardware folks educate me on this?
>Jerry Lobdill
>OVC-discuss mailing list

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Received on Sun Dec 31 23:17:06 2006

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