Re: How dark is a mark?

From: Douglas W. Jones <jones_at_cs_dot_uiowa_dot_edu>
Date: Wed Dec 19 2007 - 13:52:56 CST

On Dec 19, 2007, at 11:17 AM, Rick Carback wrote:

> Perhaps I have misheard, but isn't one of the ideas behind the
> scanner supposed to be that it present a screen showing what the
> scanner read on the ballot?

It's clear that scanners can auto-calibrate, recognizing background
illumination levels of the paper, recognizing unmarked voting
targets, and recognizing targets that are marked. This idea is an
old one that needs to be used more frequently.

But, scanners that present a screen showing what the scanner
read on the ballot, as I understand the idea, doesn't involve showing
an image of the ballot, but rather, a summary screen saying, perhaps,
"Fred Smith for President". This has generally been seen as
having the same value as the confirmation page in a DRE voting
dialogue. It may have some value, but it does not eliminate the need
to check or audit the scanning, since we know that only a minority
of voters will notice inaccuracies in the reading of their ballots.

And there is a problem. For security reasons, you want ballot
scanners to be out in the open, in plain sight of everyone. You
don't want the scanner in a booth where someone could feed multiple
ballots into it or tamper with the machine. This issue has not been
thought through, as nearly as I can tell.

                Doug Jones
                jones@cs.uiowa.edu

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Received on Mon Dec 31 23:17:06 2007

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