Re: Why PIN or smartcard is REQUIRED

From: Arthur Keller <arthur_at_kellers_dot_org>
Date: Sun May 16 2004 - 14:07:01 CDT

At 12:22 PM -0400 5/16/04, David Mertz wrote:
>>Explain how Ellen's and David's approach works for visually impaired voters.
>In Ellen's system (partially pre-printed ballots), blind voters are
>given an appropriate ballot page just like anyone else. If that
>blind voter--or ANY voter--feels they have difficulty loading the
>paper, they can request poll worker assistance. Loading paper is
>certainly not beyond the abilities of most blind people. If any
>voter needs assistance loading paper, the poll worker still leaves
>them in the private area to actually select the votes.
>Under David's system, a blind voter is told a 5-6 digit PIN
>(partially key+party). If that voter feels they can remember 6
>digits for the amount of time it takes to walk from check-in to
>voting booth, they enter it just like a sighted voter does.
>Obviously, the feedback for PIN entry will be over headphones rather
>than on screen, just like the other voting actions are presented
>(e.g. "Thank you, we will now begin marking a Republican ballot" or
>"I'm sorry, the PIN you have entered is not valid on this machine;
>please try your PIN again, or ask a poll worker for assistance").
>If a blind voter feels he cannot remember 6 digits for a minute, a
>poll worker can assist him with initialization. But this will be a
>minority of the cases. An alternative might be to have a handheld
>Braille printer (similar in size to a handheld hole punch) to create
>PIN cards with. It shouldn't take much longer to punch 6 digits
>than to write them with a pencil.

I'd like to figure out a way to make Ellen's system work. It is
cheaper than smart cards and has other benefits too. One thing that
hasn't been mentioned, I think, with Ellen's system is that it is
important to get the orientation of the ballot paper right when
depositing it into the printer. Perhaps this could be made easier by
having one corner of the paper cut (then you could also visually
check a stack of ballots was facing the right way). At additional
cost, you could have a small scanner at the paper feed to the printer
that could scan the ballot type code and/or an electric eye that
makes sure the paper is feed the right way.

>>Ed's poll worker approach is probably too labor intensive.
>Maybe. It does require a little bit of extra work. But keeping an
>eye on pocketable smartcards is probably a similar effort. Studies
>with stopwatches would give us more information here. I guess it
>depends how far the walk from a check-in desk to a vote station is.

There are two problems I see with Ed's approach (poll worker sign in
all voters). One is labor intensive. The other is the difficulty in
a busy poll location (such as before work or right after work), where
time is of the essence. If 10 voters have checked in and are waiting
to vote, but there are only 5 voting machines (or pick alternative
numbers), then things get kind of messy with Ed's approach. They can
also get problematic with David's (PIN) approach for those who pick
the wrong voting machine line to wait in. Ellen's (ballot form) and
the smart card approaches allows for a shared queue to all the
polling machines and usually without extra poll worker labor at that

Best regards,

Arthur M. Keller, Ph.D., 3881 Corina Way, Palo Alto, CA  94303-4507
tel +1(650)424-0202, fax +1(650)424-0424
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Received on Mon May 31 23:17:46 2004

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