Re: Have you ever been a poll worker?

From: Steve Chessin <steve_dot_chessin_at_sun_dot_com>
Date: Mon May 17 2004 - 17:24:38 CDT

>Date: Mon, 17 May 2004 00:01:19 -0700
>From: "Ellen Theisen" <>
>Subject: Re: [voting-project] Have you ever been a poll worker?

>> 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

Once you start pre-printing information on the ballot stock (a number
in four of eight corners, as you have described above), then it doesn't
matter how much information you print, or if you use different colored
stock for different numbers, as the setup charge and printing costs
will be the same. As someone pointed out earlier, there is virtue in
redundancy, and having
        1-Democrat on blue stock
        2-Republican on pink stock
        3-Green on green stock
        4-Liberarian on yellow stock
        5-AIP on purple stock
        6-Peace and Freedom on orange stock
        7-Natural Law on brown stock
        8-NP on beige stock

makes it that much less likely that a voter will be handed the wrong
ballot. (It will still happen. In the March 2000 primary, a poll
worker handed me a Green party punch card because my wife is registered
Green and he either thought I was the same or misread her information
as my information; my party registration is Democrat. Fortunately, at
the top of the punch card it said "Green Party", and I noticed and
returned it to him and said "I'm a Democrat". He gave me the proper
punch card. Who knows how my vote would have counted if I had used the
Democratic ballot positions to punch a card that would have been read
as a Green party ballot. But because it did say "Green" and not "3", I
was able to notice it even before I started punching it.)

[I note you say "ballot style" above; to election officials, "ballot
style" or "ballot type" means the specific races being voted on in that
precinct; each precinct would have one ballot type. For example, in
the March primary in Santa Clara County, there were 155 ballot types,
five languages, 11 party types, almost 1600 sample ballot variations,
3,000 optical scan ballot variations and 8,525 DRE and audio voting

>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.

I agree that you'd still want the printer to print the information (but
party name along with number). But it is much better to prevent errors
than to have to catch them, and having the extra redundancy up front
makes it less likely to have to catch an error afterwards.

>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

No, but comparing numbers does require that they have decent vision and
remain alert.

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Received on Mon May 31 23:17:52 2004

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