Questions from election officials

From: charlie strauss <cems_at_earthlink_dot_net>
Date: Mon May 03 2004 - 13:07:17 CDT

I just had a long conversation with our state elections director who also happens to be head of the NASED. (I spearhead the paper trails advocacy in my state). In this case I was not arguing any case at all with her but mainly just listening trying to understand her concerns on this issue. We spoke mainly about why ADA issues were compelling the rush to adopt current non-paper trails systems. Her feeling seemed to be that even if paper trail systems were federally certified some time next year, that they would have no track record in use and thus she would still avoid them. Waiting beyond next year, given hava deadline and ADA lawsuit threats appeared to be a non-starter. Outside of this she had some strawman arguments about concerns she has about paper based systems. I thought I'd mention a few of these and see if any OVC folks had some comments. I'll admit that some of these sound like red herrings to me, but since I have to argue these points I want to try having more than a dismssive response at
 the ready when I talk to legislators. (and yes I have read the FAQs)

1) records retention.
One of the reasons states currently using DREs are averse to returning to paper based systems is that new standards make paper more of a hassle than it once was. In particular places like Los Angeles would have to retain millions of paper ballots for 22 months. They did not have this issue to contend with in the past.

2) paper quality.
If non-card stock is used then recounts become problematic. The claim is that paper ballots on ordinary paper jam more frequently on each pass through a recounting scan. In new mexico substandard paper was a contributing factor in a problem that was only resolved when 60,000 ballots were literally hand tallied.

3) recounting
if OVC's answer to the above issue is simply that counts are done by hand anyhow (currently with a wand), this requires a lot of people: that'll work on election day when the election judges are plentiful but then how are recounts to be done after election day?

4) ballot size
this has already been a point of discussion on OVC recently, but she wanted to know how her typical 70 position ballot would be come out on paper and if it would be readable.

5) precint/county level manipulation
paper is more susceptible to manipulation by the same low tech means they have problems with now.

6) machine sealing
Apparently machines get sealed for some period before and after elections. What parts of the OVC machine would need to be sealed? Just the live CD? The ballot image data output? It turns out that machine sealing is a major hassle because it means machines cannot be used for multiple purposes during an election period. FOr example you have to have different machines to count absentee ballots because the precint level ones are sealed during the same election period.
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Received on Mon May 31 23:17:04 2004

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