Re: Have you ever been a poll worker?

From: Ellen Theisen <ellent_at_olympus_dot_net>
Date: Mon May 17 2004 - 02:01:19 CDT

----- Original Message -----
From: "Steve Chessin" <steve_dot_chessin_at_sun_dot_com>
To: <>
Sent: Sunday, May 16, 2004 10:18 PM
Subject: Re: Have you ever been a poll worker?
> >Ellen: Partially preprinted party-specific ballots for voters to finish
> >printing at vote station.
> Back when we used punchcards, they were a different color for each
> party. I'm assuming that this would be true in this case as well.
> They might also be card stock, so as to stand up better to handling by
> the voter. (Card stock won't crumple the way 20-lb paper would if
> someone pushes it too hard into the printer.) They could also have the
> lower left corner cut, to help especially blind people insert the paper
> correctly. (Having a lower corner cut wouldn't interfere with paper
> feeding. And "left" is as the paper is placed into the sheet feeder;
> whether that is print-side up or print-side down depends on the printer
> I suppose. You'd want all the printers in a jurisdiction to be the
> same, of course.)

I agree with having heavier stock, but not card stock because some printers
have a curved path and can choke on it if it's too heavy. Index stock is in
between. That might be good.

A number representing the ballot style, including the party, could be
printed on the top-left corner of the paper -- regardless of the
orientation, thus four places in all (front and back). Then it wouldn't
matter how they insert the paper. And the party wouldn't need to be printed
on the ballot at all, nor would color-coding be needed. The voter would
simply enter the number to display the correct ballot, and then begin

When the ballot was printed, the same number would print right beside the
one on the blank ballot, so the poll worker could simply make sure they
matched before the ballot was placed in the box. We have central-count
optical scan, and poll workers always observe the ballot in the folder
before I insert it in the box, and I think that's the point at which they
tear off a stub, so comparing the numbers wouldn't really be much additional

> Anyway, this seems workable. It seems no more difficult for the voter
> (or the poll workers) than precinct-based optical scanners, where the
> voter is also handed a piece of paper or card stock that they have to
> stick into a machine.
> For primaries, the printer would have to print the party name in the
> same strip as the bar code, so that a poll worker could verify that the
> voter selected the correct party, and void the ballot if they didn't.
> That does require an additional poll worker during primaries, and there
> will be some escapes. Most escapes would be caught during either the
> semi-official or official canvass, where each ballot would be inspected
> to make sure it matched, and any non-matches declared void (and those
> precincts recounted). (Some might escape even that check, but then no
> system is perfect.) (I'm envisioning that, during the canvass, the
> ballots for each precinct are sorted by color, and then each pile -- I
> can't think of the word for this, but it's what you do when you hold,
> say, a paper-back book in one hand and pull the pages with the thumb of
> your other hand, so that they flip back -- any mis-matched ballots will
> stand out, especially if one or two large letters are used to indicate
> the parties, and the print position varies with the party.)
> Also, voters will have to enter the correct party. Some may be tempted
> to enter the wrong party, and will be frustrated when the poll-worker
> rejects their ballot. There will definitely be confusion for the voter
> when among the chocies they see, say, "Democratic" (for registered
> Democrats), "Republican" (for registered Republicans), "NP-Democratic"
> (for Decline To State who want to vote in the Democratic primary), and
> "NP-Republican" (for Decline to State who want to vote in the
> Republican primary). They will have to be told what to enter when they
> are handed their color-coded blank ballot. (It would help if the
> color-coded blank ballot were also pre-printed with the party name, or
> NP for no party.)
> >Ed: Machines activated to party-specific ballot for each voter by poll
> >worker, using PINs.
> Using Santa Clara County as an example, the third poll worker wouldn't
> sit behind the table, but would instead escort each voter to a machine
> and activate it. Could be workable. That poll worker will get a lot
> of exercise. :-)
> >Alan: Voter given a one-digit card (maybe a color code piece of plastic
> >with a number on it), poll worker at ballot box collect card and makes
> >sure the party code on card matches that exposed on ballot.
> As with Ellen's system, an extra poll-worker would be needed during
> primaries to collect the ballot and make sure that the party code
> matches.
> Unlike Ellen's system, there is no way to catch escapes.
> >David: Each voter given unique PIN to enter on machine from randomized
> >list. PIN contains code for party specification.
> No extra poll workers needed, but does require voter to remember a
> six-digit number, or else have the poll-worker write it down on a slip
> of paper to hand to the voter (slowing down the process). Will
> frustrate voters if they enter it wrong (digit transposition or wrong
> doubling, the two most common errors made with phone numbers). (Wrong
> doubling can be eliminated by making sure each PIN doesn't use any
> digit more than once. That means 5040 unique 4-digit PINs instead
> of 10000, but that should still be enough.)
> >Arthur: Each voter given a physical smartcard that contains ballot
> >information, including party. Voter must return smartcard before
> >leaving polling place.
> Identical to current DRE procedures, including what was used in Santa
> Clara County. (BTW, each polling place was given 25 smart cards, even
> though there were only five machines, so that if a few went missing
> voting could still take place.)
> --Steve
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Received on Mon May 31 23:17:48 2004

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