Re: Alternatives to a single bar code

From: Steve Chessin <steve_dot_chessin_at_sun_dot_com>
Date: Fri May 07 2004 - 18:30:15 CDT

>Date: Thu, 6 May 2004 17:42:35 -0700
>From: "Alan Dechert" <>
>Subject: Re: [voting-project] Alternatives to a single bar code
>> That's missing my point. Look at it this way: are you designing a
>> system that is going to be obsolete if/when IRV snowballs into use?
>No. There is no such danger. We'll support whatever scoring methods are in

I think it's important to separate how one counts the ballots (what you
refer to above as "scoring methods") from how one marks the ballots
(X's or equivalent vs. numbers). The marking method determines what
capabilities the voting station and the bar code must have; the scoring
method determines what capabilities the ballot counting software must

The "one X per candidate" method of marking allows for the following
scoring methods (I've placed an asterisk in front of every method used
in a public election in the United States in the past 24-month period
to date):

Majority/Plurality methods:
*First past the post (simple plurality to elect one person)
*Block vote (at-large plurality to elect more than one person)
*Two-round runoff

Semi-proportional methods:
*Limited voting
*Equal and even cumulative voting

Proportional methods:
 Party list
 Mixed-member proportional (German-style PR)

The numerical (ranking) method of marking allows for the following
scoring methods:
 Instant Runoff Voting (will be used in San Francisco this November)
 Borda (also known as weighted voting)
 Pairwise (also known as Condorcet)

*Choice Voting (also knowns as Single Transferable Vote or Preference
Voting, used in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to elect their City Council
and School Board)

There's a third method of marking, the multiple Xs per candidate
method, that allows for this scoring method:

*Free cumulative voting.

(I note that this last method was not included in your demo.)
>Here's the OVC point of view on this:
>We are committed to
>1) supporting whatever scoring methods are in use, while

Then you must support all the scoring methods that I've identified with
an asterisk above, as well as all the marking methods they require.

>2) remaining neutral on scoring methods (i.e., not promoting IRV in any of
>its flavors over any number of other scoring methods including plurality)

I'm not asking you to promote one method of /scoring/ over another; I'm
asking you to support all methods of /marking/ ballots so that
jurisdictions may decide what method of scoring they want to use based
on political, not economic, considerations.

Or at least to support all methods of marking ballots in use today,

>This is our position. Period.
>IF it's true that supporting IRV makes for a more expensive system and we
>require a barcode system that is significantly more expensive than it would
>be without IRV, then we'd somewhat jeopardize our neutral position since
>we'd be causing jurisdictions to pre-pay the higher cost for IRV before
>they've decided to go for it.

Well, as David observed elsewhere, the long Santa Monica ballot I found
for you is forcing you to go to 2-D anyway. (And I don't know that
that's the longest ballot ever; it's just one that I happened to find.
That OVC is willing to make design decisions based on hodge-podge
research like that scares me. If you're really serious, you would
survey your potential customers -- the 3000 or so election
administrators around the country -- you'll find them through The
National Association of County Recorders, Election Officials and Clerks
<>. They're the ones who will be making the
purchasing decisions. You could poll them for examples of the longest
ballots they can recall.)

>We have never said we would definitely go for 1-D over 2-D. We prefer to
>keep the system as inexpensive as possible, and we have said we'd study to
>see what the real differences are. We have no experience with 2-D and don't
>know exactly what the costs are.


>Comparisons with DREs are not quite fair since they aren't using barcodes on
>their invisible ballots.

True. But they are your competition, and they can be retrofitted to
print out a machine-readable paper ballot using, say, an OCR font, that
is also accessible to vision-impaired voters. Sequoia is already
working on a voter-verifiable paper ballot for their DREs.

>As it turns out, we have significantly more information on this than when
>this thread started. Karl Auerbach has located GPL software for the most
>widely used 2-D encoding scheme and has been able to print some barcodes.
>He has also researched scanners some and it appears that in a production
>system, the difference may not even be measurable since the more robust type
>of scanner we would use at a poll site would likely be the same one for 1-D
>or 2-D.
>So, it's looking more likely that we will wind up using a 2-D barcode for
>the production system. If Karl's findings can be confirmed, we will just
>decide on 2-D and move on.

That's good to know.

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Received on Mon May 31 23:17:24 2004

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