Re: draft of text for new OVC-sponsored bill

From: Jim Tobias <tobias_at_inclusive_dot_com>
Date: Wed Jan 21 2009 - 07:19:04 CST

We're getting into design details here, instead of crafting the legislative
language. But I can't resist a few comments, in some cases followed by
suggested wording.

Kaj wrote:

> Minnesota just did a hand count of every ballot
> in the state and they used fewer than 100,000 people. But
> it's still a big issue.

I think they just recounted the Senate race, so maybe they needed fewer
people and less time.
> 1. too few machines, leading to long lines. This bill should
> have a process that allows people to fill out their ballot by hand.

If so, and if ballots are printed locally, then some machines may need to be
reserved only for printing ballots, not for actual voting. Maybe add such
language to the bill, such as "The system must accommodate flexible local
demand for both hand-completed paper ballots and electronic voting." It's
not clear to me if we're proposing that ballots be printed on demand, or if
they can be printed in advance.

> 2. what if there's a power outage? If the default process is
> to hand count the ballots, then people can fill out their
> ballots and drop it into a ballot box. When the power is
> restored, those ballots are fed through the scanner.

Shouldn't one of the requirements be UPS for the entire Election Day? Maybe
we should add such language to the bill: "The system must provide
uninterruptible power to all its elements throughout the period of Election
Day setup, voting, and initial tabulation."
> 3. what if the touch screen is miscalibrated?

Improvements in touchscreen technology may solve this problem. But if not,
using a gesture-recognition camera system instead of a touchscreen addresses
calibration. It also would allow a screen capture of each ballot screen
*before* the voter acts upon it; this would address the concern expressed
elsewhere about "presentation hacking" -- the machine shows a ballot screen
other than the approved screen (missing contests, missing candidates, etc.).
These images would be reviewed as part of an audit.

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Received on Thu Jan 7 00:09:48 2010

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