Re: What the voting experts think of barcodes

From: Arthur Keller <arthur_at_kellers_dot_org>
Date: Wed Jun 02 2004 - 21:33:06 CDT

Good points. All the more reason for ballots to include both OCR-A
text as well as Barcodes. We can then modularly switch to barcodes
if we wish.

You might even be able to use OCR-A gibberish instead of barcodes.

Best regards,

At 6:43 PM -0700 6/2/04, Ken Restivo wrote:
>Hash: SHA1
>Well, I'm new, but I'm going to weigh in on this one.
>In a past life, I spent 10 years in marketing technology products.
>It was ugly "work", but it paid well. I got good at it. And I
>learned a lot of unsettling things about human nature that sometimes
>I wish I hadn't.
>First of all, as much as this sucks, most people make decisions
>based on emotional considerations, not logic. This seems just as
>true of politics and governments as it is of my experience with
>consumers: all organisations and groups are, after all, made of
>I found this "emotions over logic" phenomenon to be very repeatable,
>observable, and predictable in the realm of non-technical people
>forming impressions about technology. A corrollary to this is the
>political axiom: "if you are explaining, you are losing". If you
>have to explain that barcodes really are not anything sinister, blah
>blah blah, even though of course it should be intuitively obvious to
>anyone with more than two fingers of forehead that barcodes are no
>big deal, you will have lost. I don't want that to happen.
>Also, in promoting adoption of Open Voting, you are fighting very
>marketing-savvy and cash-rich private corporations. As soon as Open
>Voting becomes a threat to their bottom line, I can see where the
>attacks will come from, and I'd really, really not like to throw
>them this raw meat.
>Based on my experience, I predict that proprietary voting-machine
>corporations will invest $$$ in focus groups of average citizens,
>government officials, or whomever they think is a potential
>"influencer" over purchasing decisions. They will pick a group that
>is representative of the general level of cluelessness "out in the
>marketplace". The report from the Harvard meeting sems to me like
>strong evidence that such focus groups will "unanimously" puke all
>over the barcodes, and Diebold's marketing department and lobbying
>groups will jump all over it like rabid dogs. It could provide a
>tool for sowing "fear, uncertainty, and doubt". If that happens,
>Diebold, etc's salespeople and lobbyists are probably experienced
>enough to use this to take deals away from Open Voting and lock them
>in for proprietary voting systems. If they execute well, we won't
>know what hit us.
>So, I agree with the technical arguments. It is silly for anyone to
>see anything wrong with barcodes. And yet ("Oppure si muove!") if a
>large majority of them do, then I advise Open Voting to accept that,
>and switch to OCR enthusiastically and with all speed. The vote you
>save may be your own.
>OK, I'm going back into my cage now. Thanks for listening.
>- -ken

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 Wed Jun 30 23:17:04 2004

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