Re: suggested proposals for federal election integrity legislation

From: Ron Crane <voting_at_lastland_dot_net>
Date: Thu Nov 30 2006 - 18:41:47 CST
Arthur Keller wrote:
At 9:50 AM -0800 11/30/06, Ron Crane wrote:
Arthur Keller wrote:

At 9:07 PM -0800 11/24/06, Ron Crane wrote:

Our voting systems (and our elections generally)
need to be under direct, constant citizen supervision, not solely under
the supervision of experts. Experts are great as another layer of
protection, but they should not constitute the sole layer.

Critically important is that anyone should be able to hire his or her
own expert, or to band together collectively to hire an expert.
Having only a few anointed experts is problematic, particularly based
on how those experts are chosen.  After all, consider the expertise
of Alec Yasinsac, a Florida State University professor.  Wouldn't it
be beneficial if Christine Jennings could hire her own expert?

I agree on all points. But it's even better if elections can be 
directly and effectively supervised by ordinary citizens with no (or 
minimal) expert input. This approach minimizes the threat of 
election fraud and encourages citizens to inform themselves about 
and to supervise not only their elections, but their governments in 
general. It embodies a reversal of the modern tendency to delegate 
authority (and thus trust) to a distant, "professional" 
administrative state, and a return to the founding ideal of citizen 

It is important to understand that direct and effective supervision 
by ordinary citizens essentially does mean supervision by experts 
chosen by the ordinary citizens.  Few if any ordinary citizens will 
show up to observe, but may fund experts to do that observation for 
them.  Experts who are trained to look for fradulent behavior that 
the casual observer wouldn't notice.  The question boils down to what 
skill level is needed to be an effective observer other than plenty 
of time on one's hands.

Supervision by proxy experts is not "direct" supervision. We should prefer voting systems that can be effectively supervised by ordinary citizens for the reasons I've already enumerated. I'm perfectly fine with adding experts as another layer of protection, but not with making experts the primary (or, worse, the only) layer of supervision.
On another note, I am wondering what people on this list think about 
all paper ballots (either hand-marked or computer-marked or 
-printed); in-precinct cast ordinary ballots (not provisional, not 
absentee) are scanned by in-precinct optical scan and then a 
confirming hand count is made at the close of polls.  The optical 
scanner checks for blank ballots and overvotes.

The hand-count tally is a check on the computer tally and vice-versa.
I prefer hand-marked hand-counted ballots. Because long ballots exist, I am willing to countenance hand-marked machine-counted ballots (preferably counted by open-everything tabulators) supplemented with rigorous hand audits. Machine marking introduces a variety of security issues (e.g., presentation frauds) and badly reduces transparency without giving non-disabled voters any significant benefit. I'd prefer deploying noncomputerized assistive devices (e.g., the Vote-PAD) for those who need them to vote independently. Though the Vote-PAD cannot assist every disabled voter, it seems that, with sufficient effort, someone could improve it enough -- while still avoiding computational intermediaries -- that we could call it "adequate."


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Received on Thu Nov 30 23:17:18 2006

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