Re: Hand-marked ballots [Re: OVC-discuss Digest, Vol 28, Issue 26]

From: Ronald Crane <voting_at_lastland_dot_net>
Date: Thu Feb 15 2007 - 15:31:59 CST
Hand-marked ballots are not a panacea, just more transparent and more secure -- overall -- than machine-marked ballots. While both HMB and MMB are susceptible to local attacks, such that you describe, MMB are also susceptible to global attacks emanating from a few people at a vendor, testing lab, or state elections supervisor [1]. These attacks can affect many states at a time, instead of only a precinct or a county at a time. Some potential attacks on MMB are (1) presentation attacks (dropping candidates from ballot, rearranging ballot, modulating sensitivity of touch-screen depending on candidate, etc.); (2) denial- (or delay-) of-service attacks (which lengthen lines, causing selective vote loss); (3) ordinary misprint attacks (misprint ballot and bet on voter not verifying it, like most voters won't); and (4) ballot spoofing attacks (print ballot that looks fine to humans, but that is, e.g., registered so that it scans incorrectly).

Machines just shift the manipulation of voter intent from places that can be made relatively visible (like election judges' handling of "pregnant chads") to places that are almost entirely opaque -- the innards of the voting machines.


[1] See the Brennan Center's report on voting systems security.

Hamilton Richards wrote:
Having voters mark their ballots by hand is no panacea. For a 
comprehensive catalog of all the ways in which hand-marked ballots 
can be altered or invalidated (or both) by crooked election 
officials, see [1]. The basis for most of these attacks is the 
discretion afforded election judges in inferring the voter's intent 
from the marked ballot (optical scanning helps, but judges are still 
called upon to evaluate ballots rejected by the scanner). Most of 
these attacks are foiled by having marked ballots printed by machine.

Additional benefits of machine-printed ballots are the elimination of 
the need to print ballots with many different sets of races and 
questions, in many different languages, and to store them and 
distribute them securely.

Perhaps it should be called the VVMPPB (Voter-Verified Machine 
Printed Paper Ballot).

--Ham Richards

1. <>, in particular 
the sections under the headings "The Election Judges" and "Rules 
Governing Ballot Interpretation".

At 2:30 PM -0800 2007/2/14, wrote:
Date: Wed, 14 Feb 2007 14:13:58 -0800 (PST)
From: "Richard C. Johnson" <>
Subject: Re: [OVC-discuss] Paperless voting Re: OVC-discuss Digest,
	Vol 28,	Issue 25
To: Open Voting Consortium discussion list
Message-ID: <>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"

VVPB is simply a paper ballot, the official ballot in an election. 
At a minimum, there will be handicapped voters using touch screens 
to generate ballots, which will then be fed through precinct 
scanners.  Precinct scanners are by far the most popular means of 
voting in the US and, except for handicapped voters, all ballots 
will be marked by the voter's own hand.  Using ballot markers for 
non-handicapped voters is expensive, redundant, and rare.  I agree 
with Phil that in almost all instances the ballot should be marked 
directly by the voter.

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Received on Wed Feb 28 23:17:18 2007

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