Re: draft of text for new OVC-sponsored bill

From: Ronald Crane <voting_at_lastland_dot_net>
Date: Mon Jan 26 2009 - 15:25:00 CST

Alan Dechert wrote:
> Kaj wrote,
>> Brent Turner wrote:
>>> One Lizard person is too many
>> You would still end up with Lizard people using an OVC touch-screen
>> system, since he wrote "Lizard People" for most of the write-in spots.
> Well, not quite. Two things. 1) Where the guy wrote in Lizard
> People, he also sometimes forgot to fill in the bubble. This is a
> very bad flaw for hand marked ballots.
This is a flaw in elections law and/or ballot design and/or ballot
instructions. It is not endemic to hand-filled paper.
> We had a mayoral race in San Diego go to a candidate that clearly had
> fewer people wanting to vote for him. He won because the write-in
> candidate had many votes where the voter wrote her name in but did not
> fill in the bubble (those votes were not allowed). This is a system
> that allows for a winner that clearly does not reflect the will of the
> electorate. It's wrong, and the system deserves to be deep-sixed on
> that basis alone.
The requirement that the bubble has to be filled in, in addition to the
write-in field, is what needs to be deep-sixed. This requirement
presumably was intended to make scanner vendors' jobs a little easier.
There is, however, no good reason that a scanner cannot determine
whether there are some threshold number of non-white pixels in the
"write in" field, and flag the ballot for hand tabulation. There'll be a
few false positives from the sloppy, and perhaps a very few false
negatives from people whose pens run out and who can't find another one.

On a related theme, I'd like to dispel the idea that ballot printers
eliminate voter error. A voter using hand-filled paper might mark the
wrong candidate (or accidentally overvote by being sloppy), and fail to
catch the error. Similarly, a voter using a ballot printer might select
the wrong candidate, then impatiently hit next/next/cast ballot, and put
the ballot in the box without discovering the error. A voter might keep
her finger on the "next" button too long, and skip a page, then ignore
the "you undervoted" warning, or be confused about how to fix her error,
become flustered, and vote other than she had intended.

Or (and this is much less likely with hand-filled paper) the printer
might malfunction (e.g., run out of toner, start streaking, feed two
pieces of paper instead of one, feed only the first page of a multi-page
ballot, print garbage) and produce ballots that don't reflect the
voter's selections.
> 2) Ultimately, I see the OVC system making it impossible to write in a
> candidate incorrectly. Under current state law (true in CA and many
> other states), only qualified write-ins can receive votes. However,
> the system allows the voter to write in anything. We could make it so
> that when the voter selects the write-in entryfield, a list of
> qualified write-in candidates appears. If there is no qualified
> write-in (this is often the case) there would be no write-in
> entryfield. State law would need some adjustments, but nothing
> major. Right now, the list of qualified write-ins becomes avalable 14
> days before Election Day. So, we would need to make it so the
> beginning of early voting coincides with the release of the qualified
> write-ins ... maybe the day or so after so qualified write-ins can be
> included in the ballot definition files.
This creates yet another vector for presentation attack: doctor the
qualified write-in list.


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Received on Thu Jan 7 00:09:52 2010

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