Re: Ohio goes Optical scan

From: Edmund R. Kennedy <ekennedyx_at_yahoo_dot_com>
Date: Thu Jan 13 2005 - 15:15:52 CST

Hello Charley:
 
We used Diebold optical scan equipment here in San Diego County last November. These were 'loaner' units from Diebold in place of the Acuvote machines we used for the primaries. A couple of things I noticed were that the ballots had to be pre-printed in 4 different languages and were printed on card stock. I expect that was kind of expensive. The scanners wrote their results to a memory card which was about the only thing the supervisor of polling place was interested in.
 
It turned out that these ballots were a nightmare. We had a city council person running as a write candidate for the mayor, Donna Frye. Every single ballot (about 500,000 in the City of San Diego) had to be hand checked for write in status and for who was written in. While the scanner supposedly noted what ballots were write in and which were not, a 100 person team of county employees ended up checking every ballot by hand over about a two week period. However, it gets even better!
 
In terms of write ins, candidate Frye actually won the mayoral election. However, by California law, voters must mark the bubble for 'Write In' as well as precisely write out the candidates name. The registrar said that the 5,000 or so 'unbubbled' ballots could not be counted. The League Women Voters took the County Registrar to court and said that the writing of the name was a clear indication of voter intent (citing Bush vs. Gore among other precedents) and the ballot should be counted. The court disagreed and the League choose not to appeal the matter. The person with the most certified votes, Dick Murphy, was recently sworn in as mayor with perhaps 3,000 less votes than the nominal winner. However other parties with standing are still contesting the matter in the California Courts as I write this. "Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown..."
 
A bill is to be introduced into the California Legislature this session to change the bubble marking requirement. So, write in votes can prove to be problem in optical scan ballots.
 
HTH, Ed Kennedy

charlie strauss <cems@earthlink.net> wrote:

With Ohio going optical scan and the possibility New Mexico may be about to consider this too, I would like to put together a requirements reccomendation document for optical scan simmilar to the one I circulated here on electronic voting systems. This might be off-topic for ovc--though I would expect high interest--feel free to e-mail me directly with comments about suggested requirements for dealing with optical scan. Also what are its pit falls?

I've looked a little into it and there are some issues to consider. First current systems are not open source but I wonder if they could be made open source. The model 100 from ES&S for example, is based on QNX (a real-time high-relaibily unix--a choice suggesting some thought might have been put into the design phase!). QNX comes in closed source and open source versions I believe. I believe they use aproprietary version. I wonder how hard it would be to switch (probably gets ugly with device drivers).

some systems only have 3 or 4 sensors. this limits things. for example it puts some constraints on Instant Runoff Voting. But that is going to be slightly problematic to do compactly on paper anyhow. SF had to use four pages of ballots in their IRV election I am told. So maybe this is not an issue?

An issue that materialized in this election (and this affects OVC too) was that when A recount is done, you dont get to recount the whole ballot just the contested race. In Ohio this manifest itself with them having to re-program the old machines to selectively recount just the race in question. This of course led to all those rigging accusations when Triad went around and monkied with voting machines without proper supervision.

Are there other issues like that for optical scan?

if one is going to do a Targeted Recount how should this be done: would you count whole precints or count individual machines?

let me know

-----Original Message-----
From: "Edmund R. Kennedy"
Sent: Jan 13, 2005 10:51 AM
To: ovc-discuss@listman.sonic.net
Subject: [OVC-discuss] A funny thing happened on the way to the future.

http://www.cleveland.com/election/plaindealer/index.ssf?/base/news/1105612399208372.xml

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San Diego, CA 92126-2510
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-- 
10777 Bendigo Cove
San Diego, CA 92126-2510
Work for the common good.

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Received on Sat Jan 7 22:28:57 2006

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