Re: A question about how votes are cast (protecting against multiple sheets of paper)

From: Karl Auerbach <karl_at_cavebear_dot_com>
Date: Mon Jan 19 2004 - 00:25:08 CST

On Sun, 18 Jan 2004, Rick Gideon wrote:

My concern is that we find a good way to convey these ideas without
triggering unwanted implications in the minds of our audience.

Use your definition below, we see some contradictory uses:

> ballot
>
> n.
> 1. A sheet of paper or a card used to cast or register a vote, especially
> a secret one.

This definition permits the paper to contain only and exclusively the
choices that have been made and not all the possible choices that could
have been made (but which were not.) This use is consistent with what we
are doing.

> 3. A list of candidates running for office; a ticket.

This is in conflict with the "ballot" that we produce because our ballot
does not list all the candidates but, rather, shows only the chosen few.

> The OVC system exists as a ballot marking system, same as a pencil, a
> stylus or a ballpoint pen. The paper produced by the OVC system is a
> ballot, a legal tangible document that shows the intent of the voter and
> is to be treated with the same security as traditional ballots.

My concern is about the overloaded use of the word "ballot", in particular
the common use of the word to refer to a document showing all the choices
that could potentially be made, not merely those that were actually made
by a voter.

I went back to the 12th amendment of the US Constitution (in which the
word "ballot" is used several times) and realized that I misread the
constitutional use of the word "ballot" - My re-read confirms the word in
the sense that we like - a paper containing the result of the
elector/voter's choice(s).

> Calling it something other than a ballot could confuse the issue at hand,
> lets call it what it is, a ballot.

I know and generally agree - but then again, so much of this stuff is
overloaded by local usage that I am concerned that one of the core
concepts of the OVC - that of a machine produced and machine+human
readable paper - could be lost in unintended connotations in peoples'
minds associated with the word 'ballot'.

By-the-way, in my scribblings I have taken to using the placeholder word
"ballot printer" to refer to the machine/software that presents the
contests and questions to the voter, accepts the voter's choices, and then
produces the sheet of paper that is the yet-to-be-cast ballot.

The reason that I shifted to this use is that "voting machine" tends to
give rise to many distinct mental images, many of which regard a machine
that not merely presents the contests and questions and accepts the
voter's choices, but also contains the act of making those choices
effective, i.e. of casting the vote.

(I find the term "ballot printer" to emit about as much interest and color
as did those old grey steel desks that populated aerospace companies
during the 1960's; any alternative phrase would be most welcome.)

I personally have never lived or voted in a jurisdiction that uses the
kind of machines that merge chosing with casting (e.g. lever machines) so
notion that voting consists of the distinct stages of chosing/marking and
then carrying something over to a ballot box is quite natural to me. But
for those who came out of jurisdictions in which the voter flips levers
on a machine and "casts" those choices by opening the curtain and walking
out might find the concept of a distinct ballot, particularly a ballot
that is ineffective until "cast", to be at odds with their experience.

My concern is that we find a good way to convey these ideas without
triggering unwanted implications in the minds of our audience.

                --karl--

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Received on Mon Jan 10 00:48:10 2005

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