Re: Hand-marked paper ballots [OVC-discuss Digest, Vol 28, Issue 32]

From: Hamilton Richards <hrichrds_at_swbell_dot_net>
Date: Sat Feb 17 2007 - 15:41:24 CST

Just to set the record straight, in my remarks about New Hampshire
villages I intended no derision, and I hereby apologize for any
offense that resulted.

As it happens, I've spent part of almost every one of my 68 summers
in New Hampshire, continuing a family tradition that dates back to
the 1880s. I'm a part owner (with my siblings and our children) of
some property there; I'm very fond of the Granite State, and
especially of the village of Center Sandwich. Unfortunately, though
we pay plenty of New Hampshire property taxes, we're not official
residents, so I'm not allowed to participate in New Hampshire
elections.

Speaking of elections, as far as I'm concerned hand counting of
ballots is absolutely NO PROBLEM. My previous communication, to which
Ms. Tobi is responding, was concerned solely with machine PRINTING of
ballots, and takes no position on how they should be counted. Could
it be that by removing the necessity for human judgment of individual
ballots' eligibility, machine printing would make hand counting not
only more reliable and trustworthy but also considerably easier?
(There'd be no need to inspect ballot counters' fingernails for
hidden fragments of pencil lead.)

The grassroots democracy of which Ms. Tobi writes is altogether
commendable. Whether its elements can, as Ms. Tobi avers, "be
replicated anywhere" has yet to be demonstrated, but that's no
argument against trying.

All the best,

--Ham

At 11:53 AM -0800 2007/2/17, ovc-discuss-request@listman.sonic.net wrote:
>
>Message: 4
>Date: Sat, 17 Feb 2007 14:53:50 -0500
>From: "Nancy Tobi" <ntobi@democracyfornewhampshire.com>
>Subject: Re: [OVC-discuss] Hand-marked ballots [OVC-discuss Digest,
> Vol 28, Issue 30]
>To: "Open Voting Consortium discussion list"
> <ovc-discuss@listman.sonic.net>
>Message-ID:
> <612c9c300702171153gd77e695tf1c94fab88a91623@mail.gmail.com>
>Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
>
>Mr Richards et al,
>
>I am quite used to this type of response. We "villagers" in New Hampshire
>conduct hand count elections in towns processing as many as 4,000 ballots.
>This is 3-4 times the national average of number of ballots processed in any
>given polling place (which is 911).
>
>Clearly not everyone knows each other in these towns. The matter of respect
>and honor in the system speaks more to the method and management than to the
>bucolic nature of NH towns to which Mr. Richards, rather derisively,
>refers.It is the method and management that engender the trust and
>respect, and not the other way around.
>
>It also speaks to NH's culture and sociopolitical and legal tradition of
>grassroots democracy, enshrined in our Constitution (which states that our
>votes shall be "sorted and counted in open meeting" - since 1784), in our
>infrastructure of checks and balances, which also Constitutionally
>requires eight
>elected election officials for every polling place, keeping watch on each
>other and beholden to the voters' will to keep them in office, and to our
>laws, which provide accessible and financially feasible recounts, all
>conducted manually, among others.
>
>It is easy to be derisive, harder to pay attention and study the elements
>that make up REAL democratic elections, which are, I believe, tied to the
>concept of community. These elements, while historically in place in New
>Hampshire, can be replicated anywhere. Every neighborhood in this country
>has a sense of community, be it in the Boys & Girls Club, the Rotary, Church
>Groups, Neighborhood Watch, PTA, or whatever.
>
>Trust and respect ARE buildable when community is acknowledged. And if you
>want real democratic elections, you would do well to consider these aspects
>of human society that support such a a thing.
>
>New Hampshire has the honor of having the longest serving Secretary of State
>in the nation. The Honorable Bill Gardner, re-elected every two years by the
>NH legislature. Coming into office at age 28, with the self-expressed goal
>of bringing more people into the political process, Secretary Gardner has
>the historical and administrative continuity of office that has allowed NH
>to develop some of the more efficient and effective methods of election
>administration. Even with our opscan cities and towns.
>
>Democratic elections do not happen by accident - they take hard work. We are
>willing to do this, and so can everyone else in the nation. Take off your
>blinders and be willing to learn.
>
>Another common misconception is that New Hampshire can hand count because we
>have simple ballots. After all, we're rural, right? We must be simple too.
>Maybe even simple minded. Who knows.
>
>But the fact of the matter is, we have some of the more complex ballots in
>the nation. With our multimember districts, and our issue-laden ballots, we
>face significant challenges in our election administration. I myself was a
>counter in a State Rep race recount. We had 26 candidates for 13 seats and
>14,000 ballots. With around 20 counters and 20 observers/challengers, it
>took us around 15 hours to count just that one race.
>
>We understand the challenges of hand counting, and we continue to study ways
>to improve and enhance our election integrity. These methods are
>translatable to other locales precisely because we have the experience
>dealing with ballot complexity and large numbers of ballots processed in any
>given polling place.
>
>Next time you think of New Hampshire's election integrity, maybe you will
>appreciate just what goes into it. We are happy to share what we have
>learned over the years. For the sake of our nation's democratic future, I
>hope you are willing to learn and share your knowledge as well.
>
>If anyone wants a copy of our "We're Counting the Votes and You Can Too"
>kit, you can download it or ask me to send you a print version.
>http://www.democracyfornewhampshire.com/node/view/2606
>
>downloadable videos here:
>http://www.democracyfornewhampshire.com/node/view/2648
>
>Nancy
>--

-- 
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Hamilton Richards, PhD           Department of Computer Sciences
Senior Lecturer (retired)        The University of Texas at Austin
ham@cs.utexas.edu                hrichrds@swbell.net
http://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/ham/richards
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Received on Wed Feb 28 23:17:21 2007

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