Re: 7000 Orange County voters given bad ballots

From: Alan Dechert <alan_at_openvotingconsortium_dot_org>
Date: Wed Mar 10 2004 - 17:40:43 CST

Jeff,

> Not to mention that the overwhelming majority of election volunteers I've
met -- in
> addition to being insufficiently trained, underpaid, and well-meaning, are
typically
> elderly ladies with little interest or acumen regarding computer
technology. That's
> a problem that will cure itself in 35-50 YEARS, .....
>
Sooner, with luck.

> ... but in the interim we need to have a user-administration interface
> that someone who doesn't know a mouse from a microphone
> (a la Mr. Scott in Star Trek IV) could use...! :)
>
This implies a lot of Human Factors testing. We intend to do that when we
get funding.

In the mean time, here is what Henry Brady wrote to me just now in response
to my comments about the voting system.

From: "Henry E. Brady" <hbrady@csm.Berkeley.EDU>
To: "'Alan Dechert'" <alan@openvotingconsortium.org>
Subject: RE: [voting-project] 7000 Orange County voters given bad ballots
Date: Wed, 10 Mar 2004 15:33:54 -0800

Yes, feel free to post. And now that I've seen the article, the quotation
from me (reproduced below) does seem to capture most of what I was trying to
say (especially with the last part which says that "this one wasn't
foolproof" by which I clearly meant that "this one wasn't foolproof."). By
the standards of how the news media typically quotes people, I would give
this one relatively high marks. And, I do believe that procedures are part
of the voting system, but given that electronic systems can be reprogrammed
and reformated, my suspicion is that the problem here was mostly very poor
programming. That may be an endemic problem with this particular system,
but it may be simply a problem with the way it was programmed.

"This is a procedures problem more than anything else. It's not a problem
with a new kind of voting system," said Brady, the UC Berkeley voting
systems expert. "Every system is prone to this.. Poll workers are typically
amateurs - well-meaning and hard-working, but amateurs - and they mess up
unless the system is absolutely foolproof. And this one wasn't foolproof."

-----Original Message-----
From: Alan Dechert [mailto:alan@openvotingconsortium.org]
Sent: Wednesday, March 10, 2004 1:59 PM
To: Henry E. Brady
Subject: Re: [voting-project] 7000 Orange County voters given bad ballots

Thanks for the quick response, Henry. Here's the article

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/latimests/20040309/ts_latimes
/7000orangecountyvotersweregivenbadballots

Is it okay to post your comments to our voting-project list?

Alan

>

----- Original Message -----
From: "Henry E. Brady" <hbrady@csm.Berkeley.EDU>
To: "'Alan Dechert'" <alan@openvotingconsortium.org>
Sent: Wednesday, March 10, 2004 1:47 PM
Subject: RE: [voting-project] 7000 Orange County voters given bad ballots

> Alan:
>
> Thanks for your note.
>
> What I said was four things:
>
> First, this problem can (and does) occur with any kind of voting system --
> the difficulties of multiple ballots in the same precinct are notorious
> among voting officials. My feeling is that every effort should be made to
> minimize the distinct ballots whenever possible.
>
> Second, the problem is not a generic problem of electronic versus other
> kinds of voting systems.
>
> Third, it appears that this particular electronic system did a poor job
> implementing procedures for dealing with the problem -- hence it IS a
> problem for this particular system. (I was quite emphatic about this.)
>
> Fourth, it appears that the poll-workers were also poorly trained which is
a
> standard problem with any system.
>
> Better training might have overcome the specific flaws in the voting
system;
> and a better designed system might have overcome poor training. Both poor
> training and a poorly designed system really lead to problems.
>
> I haven't seen the article, but the correspondent seems to have focused on
> my first, second, and fourth points, and not my third point.
>
> Henry
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Alan Dechert [mailto:alan@openvotingconsortium.org]
> Sent: Wednesday, March 10, 2004 1:14 PM
> To: Henry Brady
> Subject: Fw: [voting-project] 7000 Orange County voters given bad ballots
>
> Henry,
>
> FYI, some feedback (posted to the voting-project email list) on what you
> said (what they said you said, anyway) in the LA Times.
>
> Alan
>
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Alan Dechert" <alan@openvotingconsortium.org>
> To: <voting-project@lists.sonic.net>
> Sent: Wednesday, March 10, 2004 1:09 PM
> Subject: Re: [voting-project] 7000 Orange County voters given bad ballots
>
>
> > RE: [voting-project] 7000 Orange County voters given bad ballotsLaird,
> >
> > > That being said, I don't think that this article showed any
> > > particular flaw of the eVoting system used -- any similar
> > > system would have to have registrars set up the equipment
> > > properly. Given that registrars will always be underpaid,
> > > well-meaning volunteers with insufficient training, this article
> > > tells me that we need to be careful to address the human
> > > issues, and it's not clear to me how to avoid this issue. Am
> > > I missing something?
> > >
> >
> > Yes, I think you are missing something. I gave part of the answer,
imho,
> in
> > a follow up response. I said,
> >
> > *******
> > One other thing about this article. I have to disagree with what my
> friend
> > Henry Brady said here:
> >
> > > "This is a procedures problem more than anything else.
> > > It's not a problem with a new kind of voting system,"
> > > said Brady, the UC Berkeley voting systems expert.
> > >
> > I think (and I believe Roy Saltman would agree) that the procedures are
> part
> > of the voting system.
> > ******
> > To support my claim regarding what Saltman would say, try this page,
> >
> >
http://vote.nist.gov/pospapers/Saltman-AuditabilityofDREs(Revised)2003.pdf
> >
> > where you can find in the first paragraph, "The voting process as a
human
> > system involving people, procedures and activities as well as machines
is
> > stressed."
> >
> > The complete answer will only be seen when we conduct our full scale
> > scientific study of the voting system, which will include Human Factors
> > testing covering all aspects of election administration. The
> draft/template
> > of our HAVA proposal to be done in all the states explicitly mentions
> Human
> > Factors testing to include pollworker instructions and training. Our
> > recently submitted National Science Foundation proposal discusses Human
> > Factors quite a bit.
> >
> > A comprehensive scientific study of the whole voting system has never
been
> > done. Luckily, it appears that this is about to change.
> >
> > Alan D.
> >
> >
>
>
>

==================================================================
= The content of this message, with the exception of any external
= quotations under fair use, are released to the Public Domain
==================================================================
Received on Wed Mar 31 23:17:05 2004

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Wed Mar 31 2004 - 23:17:12 CST