Re: [OVC-discuss] Privately and independently -- how will OVC dealwiththis?

From: Alan Dechert <dechert_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Sun Jun 28 2009 - 15:31:48 CDT

Thanks, Nancy.

Along the lines of reasonable accommodations ... to elaborate on a point I was trying to make with Jim...

Here are a few simplistic calculations based on information I know from my own county (Placer, CA). We have about 225 poll sites.

Each has a Diebold touch screen DRE (with VVPAT). These machines run about $4,000 ea.

That would mean we spent around $900,000 on these machines. If we amortize the cost per ballot over an expected life of 10 years, it's pretty astounding. McCauley told me 9 people used them in the primary last year. If it was a similar number in the general, and we had a similar number every year (18 per year), which is probably high because they get less usage in off year and odd year elections, that would total 180 over their life. $900,000 / 180 equals $5,000 per ballot cast. This does not count training, set up, maintenance, cost of the money and all the other costs -- just depreciation.

Does $5,000 per ballot sound like "reasonable accommodation?"

Now, Holt wants to replace all these machines with even more expensive ones. So, our present accessible machines would last even less than 10 years. Unless there is some evidence that usage will increase, the cost per ballot would go even higher.

I think much more information is needed before piling on additional requirements.


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Nancy Tobi
  To: Open Voting Consortium discussion list
  Sent: Sunday, June 28, 2009 7:36 AM
  Subject: Re: [OVC-discuss] Privately and independently -- how will OVC dealwiththis?

  This October our friends at NIST are hosting a conference to discuss what they like to call "end to end voting systems". This is the vision articulated in the "voluntary" (until Holt succeeds in legislating them) voting guidelines put forth by the EAC.

  The "end to end" approach underlies Holt's latest V VSG-sponsored hands-free ballot box technology. It underlies his ballot readback technology, which was in the 2005 V VSG. The end to end approach says - as articulated in the EAC guidelines - that it is not enough to have multilingual ballots (as mandated in the VRA), it is not enough to have "accessible" ballots, but rather the entire voting system must meet technology-based accessibility requirements.

  Holt's legislation is ensuring that the morphing of HAVA accessibility standards meets this new definition: the end to end definition - or actually ANY definition that the kooks at the EAC-TGDC happen to come up with.

  9 adopting any voluntary guidance under subtitle B of title
  10 III of the Help America Vote Act with respect to the ac11
  cessibility of the paper ballot verification requirements for
  12 individuals with disabilities, the Election Assistance Com13
  mission shall include and apply the same accessibility
  14 standards applicable under the voluntary guidance adopt15
  ed for accessible voting systems under such subtitle.

  My professional responsibilities include defining software requirements so my company's technology product meets accessibility standards (as codified in Section 508 of the Disabilities Act in federal law). This is a broad and deep field. Nevertheless, I am unaware of any software producer who is endeavoring to create an "end to end" product in order to meet accessibility standards. There are many practical reasons for this, not the least of which is that it is cost-prohibitive. But more importantly, it is also not necessary.

  We design sidewalks now with built in ramps to make them wheelchair accessible. We do not design automated sidewalks to march over to any person in a wheelchair, speak to them in their language of choice, and then pick them up and carry them to the ramp.

  Such a design exceeds practical necessities and the legal bounds of "reasonable accomodations" as defined in the ADA.

  Anyone who has sat through the EAC-TGDC discussions knows that these people are happily and irresponsibly designing pie in the sky technological concepts that make them giggle deleriously at the possibilities before them (ah yes, the deep taxpayer pockets), but which in fact have nothing to do with voting rights, disability rights as commonly accepted and understood both legally and practically, or with the realities of election system management and administration.

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Received on Tue Jun 30 23:17:18 2009

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