Spoiled ballots, forged ballots, destroyed ballots

From: David Mertz <voting-project_at_gnosis_dot_cx>
Date: Fri Jun 11 2004 - 18:18:45 CDT

On Jun 11, 2004, at 6:56 PM, John Payson wrote:
> If they were spoiled by an election official's sleight-of-hand, then
> they should be counted

You are not using the phrase "spoiled ballot" the way elections people
use it. This sows confusion and ambiguity about your remarks.

A spoiled ballot is one that is recognized as erroneous before it is
cast, and marked as such by elections workers. Under the OVC system,
this will include a ballot that a voter examines and determines not to
match her intended vote. It might also include one where the printer
jammed, or where something was spilled on the paper, or similar
physical problems with the paper.

A spoiled ballot should be marked as such--perhaps stamped or
hole-punched to mark it as such and/or perhaps put in a separate box
for later reconciliation. We may (or may not) also record a spoiled
ballot on an election station, and in EBIs, that a ballot was marked

Sleight-of-hand might produce a FORGED ballot, or a DESTROYED (or
HIDDEN) ballot. These are different concepts.

The OVC design protects against forgery extremely well. We (will)
incorporate cryptographic signatures onto paper ballots that make it
mathematically implausible to create a false ballot outside of a
genuine voting station. These cryptographic signatures may or may not
be checked during every canvassing; but they will certainly be
available in the case of challenges or recounts.

Preventing the destruction of valid ballots is a different matter.
Generally, that must be assured through physical procedures and
chain-of-custody, not through computer programming. Of course, a voter
herself has every right not to cast her ballot; so it is always
possible that a certain percentage of ballots recorded as EBIs on
voting stations will not have accompanying official (paper) ballots.
Hopefully, voter education, prominent notice, and physical layout of
polling places will minimize unintended loss of ballots (i.e. by voters
who mistakenly walk out with a ballot rather than cast it).

There are a lot of features of OVC, John, and of voting
procedures/terminology in general, that you seem to misunderstand. I
would strongly recommend studying the FAQ and other documentation
(including list archives) for a while, before posting further off-mark
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Received on Wed Jun 30 23:17:12 2004

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