What the voting experts think of barcodes

From: David Mertz <voting-project_at_gnosis_dot_cx>
Date: Wed Jun 02 2004 - 13:05:14 CDT

On Jun 2, 2004, at 1:34 PM, Alan Dechert wrote:
>> (1) LOTS of people who generally like the design immediately have
>> doubts about the barcode, and recommend without prompting that OCR is
>> better for transparency to voters. Almost everyone, actually.

> I'm not ready to cave in to the "no barcodes" brigade.

I am not part of such a "no barcode brigade." I am merely reporting a
surprisingly uniform reaction to a description of the demo/reference
system.

> Most of these people haven't really looked at how the barcode would
> work with our system

These people, however, are voting experts of various sorts. Pretty
much all of them can be assumed to know more about voting systems and
voting requirements than will average voters. If these people distrust
a barcode they cannot read without special equipment, such skepticism
is likely to be even more widespread among typical voters.

Btw. Absolutely no one I spoke with expressed a concern that would be
addressed by Arthur's suggestion that OCR and barcode should be
redundantly encoded on ballots. Everyone's concern was about the
presence of the barcode in the first place, not that it wasn't enough
of an information encoding.

> If a blind person has to remove the ballot from the privacy folder to
> put it in some OCR reader, this will be a big problem.

I don't believe this at all. Blind people can very easily insert a
sheet of paper into a sheet-fed scanner, or onto a flatbed scanner.
Privacy of doing so can be maintained with a curtain.

I can recognize issues with cost, reliability, and points of code
failure, of OCR vs. barcodes (barcodes doing better on each). But
proposing that blind voters cannot operate a scanner is stricto sensu a
"strawman argument."
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Received on Wed Jun 30 23:17:02 2004

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