Re: Why PIN or smartcard is REQUIRED

From: David Mertz <voting-project_at_gnosis_dot_cx>
Date: Sun May 16 2004 - 00:33:06 CDT

On May 16, 2004, at 1:07 AM, Alan Dechert wrote:
>> The poll worker hands the voter a piece of paper
>> with a "3" printed in the top left corner of the paper
>> The voter can only print one ballot without getting another piece of
>> paper
>> from the poll worker

> Thanks, Ellen, for this idea. It has some real advantages. However, I
> think that asking the voter to feed a piece of paper into the printer
> will
> not give a very good success rate.

Paper feeding has some opportunities for vote failure.

But I see much more of such an opportunity for failure with Alan's
ultra-dumb token. I believe that a substantial fraction of voters will
either fail to appreciate the significance of the party/ballot number,
or just accidentally enter a wrong number. Many of these will go ahead
and vote a ballot for which they are ineligible. Catching the
discrepancy is an extra job for poll workers; either they fail to
perform the check accurately and ineligible votes are cast, or they
perform it and many (innocuous) ineligible voters are annoyed by the
process. Plus the relatively easy opportunity for fraud and procedural

I see Arthur's smartcards as having yet more failure opportunities than
this. You need a bunch of hardware devices, all fallible, all
programmed with potentially flawed or tampered-with code. Plus the
procedures are relatively difficult to carry out correctly. And even
with good training, poll workers would have an unreasonable task in
preventing theft of physical smartcards (or even just unintentional

In my own "guestimate," I naturally put my per-voter-PIN as the least
failure prone. Ellen's partially pre-printed ballots and Ed's poll
worker station activation seem like the next best choices (not sure of
the order), followed by ultradumbcards, with smartcards picking up the

Of course, this question is most certainly an empirical one. The way
to answer it is with actual test voters, and funded studies.
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Received on Mon May 31 23:17:45 2004

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