Re: Questions for HCPB advocates

From: Teresa Hommel <tahommel_at_earthlink_dot_net>
Date: Sun Jul 22 2007 - 22:06:39 CDT

See comments below.

The biggest challenge is to get election administrators with experience
in handling large inventories and large numbers of employees. People
manage comparable tasks in other industries, so if someone wants to do
it, they can, and if they want to cop a "Can't Do" attitude, it will be

Teresa Hommel

Alan Dechert wrote:

> Having watched a video of how they do Hand Counted Paper Ballots
> (HCPB) in New Hampshire, I know something about how they do it there.
> However, the ballots were pretty simple with few contests and fairly
> small jurisdictions. Historically, HCPB in urban areas has been
> highly corruptible (e.g., Tammany Hall). Mechanization was introduced
> to combat ballot box stuffing. The lever system was introduced in NY
> over 100 years ago and, despite various reliability issues with the
> machines (and no ballot to be counted or recounted), lever machines
> were pretty successful. They are likely to be used in NY in 2008
> because no system is ready under the new certification system there.
> HCPB advocates point to the success of HCPB systems used in sparsley
> populated jurisdictions in Maine and New Hampshire. They say the same
> system could also work in urban areas.
> I have copied below something I wrote today on another list. The
> response was not very satisfactory -- something like, "we answered
> those questions, just not the way you wanted."
> Now, thanks to the great work of OVC, San Francisco may be hand
> counting ballots (according to an article last week) in November. So,
> I have renewed curiosity about what HCPB advocates mean when they say
> "no computers."
> We have a few thoughtful HCPB advocates on this list so I wonder if
> any of them want to respond to the query below.
> HCPB advocates have avoided criticism of HCPB by not giving the
> details of how this would really work. ME or NH style HCPB simply
> doesn't scale the way you want to assume. Suggestion: describe in
> detail how HCPB will be administered in Los Angeles. If you can
> describe it in detail in a way that is convincing, you win. You
> win because LA is the worst case in the US. If it could work
> there, it can work anywhere.
> Here are some questions to answer in the description of the
> hypothetical LA HCPB:
> * How will you prepare the 6,000 or so different ballots?
The same way you do now, assuming that you have absentee, provisional,
and emergency (for when DREs fail) ballots.

> * You have to have a database that links precincts with
> districts, contests, candidates, parties, scoring methods,
> etc. Will you do this manually (like on 3x5 cards) or with
> computers? If with computers, what software will you use?
A large grid, such as any spreadsheet.

> * You also need the database mentioned in the previous
> question in order to aggregate the votes from the
> precincts. Please describe the aggregation process, whether
> your database is manual or computerized.
It should be aggregated both by hand and by computer.

> * Since, by law, you must have an accessible voting machine at
> each poll site, what will you use for this? Will this be
> computerized or not? Will you use the AutoMARK? How much
> will it cost to provide the equipment for disabled access?
Vote-PAD (cheap) or Automark (more expensive)

> * People: How many people will be required? Will they be paid
> or not? Will these people get background checks? If
> volunteer, please describe in detail how you will recruit
> the tens of thousands of volunteers that will be needed.
> Please describe the personnel management system for these
> 10s of thousands of volunteers. Will the people managing
> the volunteers be paid or volunteer? What fall-out rate
> (people that say they will be there but don't show-- "my kid
> is sick" etc) do you expect for volunteers? For hired workers?
Did you ever drive past some place that advertised that they were
hiring? Ever see the crowds?

> * High-crime areas: How many high crime precincts are there
> in LA? Will you have difficulty getting hand-counters to
> staff pollsites late into the night? Will these HCPB
> workers come from the areas they are working?
In New York we have police officers at each poll site. Does LA have
enough officers?

> * Alternate scoring methods: SoS Bowen and LA ROV McCormack
> seem supportive of IRV. What if IRV is adopted in LA
> (already in SF)? How will this impact HCPB? Given that IRV
> cannot be meaningfully counted at the precinct level, how
> will you conduct the count for IRV contests? Should a move
> to HCPB rule out IRV or should it not be a factor in whether
> or not IRV is adopted?
Apply the IRV after the counts are certified.

> Alan D.
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Received on Tue Jul 31 23:17:05 2007

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