Re: Accuracy and repeatability in optical ballotscanners.

From: charlie strauss <cems_at_earthlink_dot_net>
Date: Wed Feb 02 2005 - 20:32:04 CST

My modest proposal is that all election returns that lie within a specificed difference are declared ties and settled by a game of chance. The logic here is that in addition to machine accuracy there is a more fundmental limit. A perfect machine can tell you precisely how all the voters voted. But it cant tell you the uncertainty in assessing either the voter's intent or the intent of the large citizenry. Voter intent gets screwed up because voters make mistakes when they vote. Judging from the only measure we have, undervote rates, this is possibly as high as 1% per question on the ballot. Citizen intent measurement gets screwed up because things like long lines, snow, traffic, flu, polling place locations, election judge stupidity..., greatly influence outcomes in pathological ways that sometimes are reflected in the people who were prevented from voting not those who voted.

At some point any election is a tie in the sense that both candidates are equally qualified and desired in the eyes of the voters. That is a large fraction voted for each so by definition they are qualified regradless of other measures of their intellect and ability. Thus selecting one of them by a game of chance is not an affront to democracy.

Since this would eliminate almost all challenges to an election and elminate any need to recount on suffieintly accurate machines it solves a heck of a lot of issues in voting and promotes public confidence that no swindle took place.

-----Original Message-----
From: Joseph Lorenzo Hall <>
Sent: Feb 2, 2005 5:45 PM
To: Open Voting Consortium discussion list <>
Subject: Re: [OVC-discuss] Accuracy and repeatability in optical ballot scanners.

On Wed, 2 Feb 2005 15:53:00 -0800 (PST), Edmund R. Kennedy
<> wrote:
> I'm thinking that whatever the error rate is
> discovered for optical ballot scanners that these be
> used as the threshold numbers for setting accuracy
> standards for voting equipment and for recounts. I
> know that there was a discussion on this a month or
> two ago but I think that there was always the problem
> of how to set a numerical base level of error
> tolerance. Seeing as optical scan equipment seems to
> be the best pragmatic standard hardware I could see
> this as a good point to nail down error tolerance.
> Does anybody have any comments or ideas about this?

There are some documents that have come to light in FOIA requests that
the BlackBoxVoting crew have made... let me see if I can find them:

Here we go... there's some indication of error rates with Diebold OS
machines here:

Joseph Lorenzo Hall
UC Berkeley, SIMS PhD Student
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Received on Sun Feb 27 17:17:02 2005

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