Re: Ballot box stuffing prevention

From: Ed Kennedy <ekennedyx_at_yahoo_dot_com>
Date: Sat May 15 2004 - 18:37:24 CDT

Hello Alan:

    I think we've identified the weak point in the system as now imagined.
The whole problem is about ballot box stuffing and one person/one vote. I
feel strongly that we are at a standstill if we cannot solve the problem of
how much should we trust the voter. The democratic system is built on
trust. Admittedly this trust is sometimes misplaced but that's NOT the
problem the OVC has set itself to solve.

    I agree that tokens (smart card/pin) are something of a problem. I had
already proposed that the voter be escorted to their polling place by a poll
worker. The poll worker would enter some combination into an on screen
keyboard and then go the next voter in line and let the voter do their
thing. Arthur was apparently horrified about this idea as he felt it would
require too many poll workers or too much work for a typical poll.
Personally I view it as just one more step in the voting process. Rather
than hand the voter a votomatic ballot or a Diebold style smart card the
polling place worker just strolls over to the voting machine of the voter's
choice and initializes it. The number of steps are effectively the same. I
think this is more feasible than smart cards or voter pin numbers. Yes,
this is a pin number solution, but the pin number is in the hands of one or
more power users and it doesn't change during the polling day. The primary
would be handled by one pin number per party. The pin number would be the
same in all the machines, but it wouldn't be known to the voter hence little
chance of ballot box stuffing or other malicious actions. This shifts the
responsibility for the prevention of ballot box stuffing from the voter to
the administrator.

    I'd also like to borrow a little from David's referenced article about
the Indian elections. What caught my attention was the fact that the Indian
dre's were set up so that only a maximum number of votes could be made
during an hour. If a typical voting station is expected to be used 10-12
time an hour, then we would want to set it up so that the machines couldn't
be voted more than say, 20 times an hour on the outside. Yes, it's another
complication but it could even be used to eliminate the administrator token
approach during the general elections although not the primaries.

    For the primaries, we have to have certain confidence building measures
built into the software. Once the administrator enders the code for the
"Little Endian," party (see Gulliver's Travels for the reference) and walks
away, the screen has to clearly say, "You have declared that you wish to
vote for the primaries of the Little Endian party, please push here to
confirm or else call over a poll worker for assistance." After the voter
has made all choices but before he presses something like, "Done, print my
ballot," the screen has to say, "You have now voted for all the candidates
running in the Little Endian party, please confirm that this was the party
you wished to vote for by pressing here. Otherwise please press here to
blank the screen and call a poll worker over for assistance." Once that is
done, the next message is, "Thanks for voting today, please wait for your
ballot to be printed. Remember to put your ballot in the privacy folder
like this [a graphic] and bring it to the ballot box to complete the voting
process. You may confirm your vote by placing the bar code under the
scanner at the BVA." By the way, I think BVA should be changed to, "Ballot
verification application," from "Ballot vocalization application".

Thanks, Ed Kennedy

----- Original Message -----
From: "Alan Dechert" <>
To: <>
Sent: Saturday, May 15, 2004 12:17 PM
Subject: Re: [voting-project] Polling Place conditions, reframing the issue.
Thumb drives and CD's

> Ed,
> > 4. The next voter arrives and the voting cycle is either initialized by
> > smart card or a pin number (tbd)
> >
> I want to make this point clear: This is not the original design that I
> been selling for 3.5 years. I do not agree with it. I think it is very
> The design for this system is that the voter goes to the voting station
> no such smartcard or PIN. We're adding steps and complexity for voters
> election administrators. It solves a non-existent problem.
> The EAC has said something important: they want to see "user-centered"
> voting system.
> The PIN/smartcard "solution" is for an administrator-centered voting
> system--not a user-centered voting system. I understand why a few members
> are pushing for the PIN/smartcard. The reasoning has to do with perceived
> marketability of the OVC system. We are marketing to election
> administrators. So we need to give something with cya appeal and is best
> from the administrator's point of view. This reasoning is incorrect. The
> system is really being purchased by the users--not the administrators.
> Having said all that, I've said it's okay for now to include this option
> study and marketing purposes. I fully expect the system to be ultimately
> deployed as originally conceived. You go to the voting station (after
> checking in), make your selections and print your ballot. Put that in the
> privacy folder and go to the ballot box to cast the ballot. Simple as
> This is the user-centered idea. In a primary--depending on state and
> procedures--you may give the voter a "dumb card" (card with a number
> corresponding to party).
> So, be sure to include "dumb card or nothing" to the PIN and smartcard
> options tbd.
> Alan D.
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Received on Mon May 31 23:17:44 2004

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