Re: [OVC-discuss] write-ins by anarchists

From: Alan Dechert <dechert_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Tue Jan 27 2009 - 13:58:03 CST

From: "Arthur Keller"

> An anarchist could certainly still scribble lizard people on the
> Dechert-style ballot before placing it in the privacy sleeve and sliding
> it into the ballot box or precinct-count optical scanner. As long as they
> didn't wrote over the barcode or the selections, the scanner might not
> care. But the ballot might be voided upon recount depending on the rules
> of stray marks and the rules on ballot anonymity.
>
Like other technologies before it (lever machines, punch cards, opt scan,
and so on), the "Dechert-style" ballot would inspire some new election code
as well.

I've always thought that one rule that would go with our ballot would be
that hand marks are always ignored, unless they identify the voter.
California law currently says that identifying marks void the whole ballot.
I would not expect that to change.

The identifying marks rule is not quite so cut-and-dried. After observing
the count for our congressional race, I posted the guidelines used by Placer
County. I was somewhat surprised that initials are allowed -- at least in
some cases.
http://gnosis.python-hosting.com/voting-project/November.2008/0015.html

For our system (I know you like to say, "Dechert-style" ballot so people
know their could be more than one OVC system ... but right now, that's what
we've got), if a voter wants to change their vote, they simply spoil the
ballot they made, and print another. There would be some voter training
involved, as with any system.

PDF417 barcodes are robust enough that scribbles through them don't matter.
As part of my demo, I often punch a hole through the barcode and show it
still reads fine. Your friends in the Santa Clara office spent quite a bit
of time and experimentation to figure out how to spoil the ballot. It
wasn't until they got out a Sharpee and completely blacked out both barcodes
before they were satisfied the bar code would not scan.

AD

> With respect problems with counting hand-marked paper ballots via optical
> scan (i.e., mark sense), please see
> http://www.cs.uiowa.edu/~jones/voting/optical/
>
> Best regards,
> Arthur
>
> At 1:49 PM -0500 1/27/09, David Mertz wrote:
>>I think there is a mixed story here on write-ins.
>>
>>I would personally prefer that election laws/regulations allowed
>>counting every write-in vote, without restriction to "registered"
>>candidates. That's my own political opinion though, jurisdictions
>>need to make this decision, not me. Certainly, however, it should not
>>be a restriction of OVC systems to disallow this at a technical level.
>>
>>However, in jurisdictions where only pre-determined candidates are
>>even counted as write-ins, there's really no "anarchist" purpose
>>served by enabling voters to cast uncounted votes. As someone else
>>commented, a "protest" vote stuck on a local bulletin board means more
>>than an unrecorded write-in. For those cases, voters should best be
>>shown a list of candidates whose vote will at least be counted.
>>
>>There's no reason this difference need be "deep" though. Software
>>could easily have a binary switch for "allow free-form write-ins".
>>For jurisdictions that at least count that, enable the switch;
>>otherwise, show voters what votes might actually count.
>
> --
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Arthur M. Keller, Ph.D., 3881 Corina Way, Palo Alto, CA 94303-4507
> tel +1(650)424-0202, fax +1(650)424-0424
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Received on Thu Jan 7 00:09:53 2010

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