Re: [OVC-discuss] draft of text for new OVC-sponsored bill

From: Edward Cherlin <echerlin_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Sat Jan 24 2009 - 04:48:41 CST

On Sat, Jan 24, 2009 at 2:06 AM, Jim March <1.jim.march@gmail.com> wrote:
> Three points here:
>
> * Bev Harris is NOT an HCPB die-hard. Never has been. She's a critic
> of the current systems for damnsure, and a lot of people paying
> attention to her went to the full-on HCPB camp. What Bev is pushing
> right now is stronger auditing tools, and "Humboldt style scanning" is
> part of that. She has in the past called for research to be done as
> how best to count the vote, including whether or not HCPB systems
> could be done with resources comparable overall to electronic voting,
> but right now her focus is on auditing as a real CPA would understand
> the term.

Good. A lot of our friends apparently have no idea how that is supposed to work.

> * Somehow you guys have to solve the question of "how do we confirm an
> OVC-based system in the field is legit?" There's a bunch of ways to
> do it, but you for damnsure have to pick one.

I was not aware that there was any confusion about this. The checksums
of the CDs to be used in voting are to be published on the Internet,
including all variations for different voting districts. Election
observers can verify the CD checksums in the polling places in a
manner that satisfies them.

> * The OVC project is also missing something: people are generally bad
> at editing and proofreading, and they're generally worse at it when
> it's their own stuff. This turns up in several fields: in writing and
> journalism it's normal for editors to go over stuff by writers, and
> let's not even start with what the programming/debugging biz has had
> to do.

We are not missing that at all. I, for example, am a professional
writer and editor, and I know a lot about these problems. I produce
pretty clean manuscripts, but I always get them checked by others.

> Right now OVC's model is that everybody enters ballot choices
> into an electronic screen and then proof-reads a piece of paper that
> comes out. This is akin for forcing everybody to use
> disability-access systems rather than just the disabled. Sighted
> voters need to be working with actual paper with an actual pen, and
> that result gets scanned. This eliminates the proofreading step.

I'm sorry, but that turns out not to be the case. People have to
proofread manually-marked ballots looking for stray marks and other
possible reasons for rejection, and to verify that they have not
overvoted or undervoted. They are fairly bad at this, resulting in the
need for human scrutiny of thousands of ballots in close races like
the Minnesota Senate contest, which has continued into this year.
Ballot marking machines do not make stray marks in normal operation,
and can prevent all overvoting and almost all unintentional
undervoting. The rate of successful and correct scanning of printed
ballots is much better than for hand-marked ballots.

But if you believe that voters should not use ballot marking machines,
what are you doing here?

> Under the current proposal, very few people are going to review the
> paper output showing their votes, esp. for down-ticket races.

This has never been tested, and I very much doubt that it will turn
out to be true. It is true that not many people check the tiny and
inconvenient tape rolls on current machines, but that says nothing
about the OVC design.

> I know
> the current "one plan for everybody" has a certain elegance to it,
> but...it doesn't match very well with how humans actually operate.

I don't believe that either you or I know enough about how humans
actually operate to make such claims without actual tests. I know that
no sane software development process lets the engineers and UI
designers decide whether real users will like or understand the
product.

> Jim
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> By sending email to the OVC-discuss list, you thereby agree to release the content of your posts to the Public Domain--with the exception of copyrighted material quoted according to fair use, including publicly archiving at http://gnosis.python-hosting.com/voting-project/

No, I don't, since it is impossible to do so. In US copyright law,
there is no such action as releasing a copyrighted document into the
Public Domain. You cannot rid yourself of your automatic copyright
ownership over any of your writings by any legal act other than
assigning it to someone else. (There are, of course, documents created
without copyright, including many government publications, and
writings that do not contain copyrightable material.) Otherwise, the
most you can do is to relinquish all rights by making a licensing
statement. I choose not to do that.

I license my portions of this post under Creative Commons Sharealike (CC-SA).

-- 
Silent Thunder (默雷/धर्ममेघशब्दगर्ज/دھرممیگھشبدگر ج) is my name
And Children are my nation.
The Cosmos is my dwelling place, The Truth my destination.
http://wiki.sugarlabs.org/go/User:Mokurai (Ed Cherlin)
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Received on Thu Jan 7 00:09:50 2010

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