Re: Ms. Tobi's overheated rhetoric

From: Arthur Keller <voting_at_kellers_dot_org>
Date: Sun Nov 11 2007 - 07:58:28 CST

Dear Arlene,

Suppose we had a system for hand-marked and hand-tallied ballots.
Should we avoid using forensic techniques to determine if ballots
were fraudulently altered because many people don't understand the
science behind the forensics. Or should we avoid using statistical
techniques for detecting ballot stuffing in a post election audits
because many people don't understand the statistics?

I served as a Precinct Inspector in the November 2007 election in
Santa Clara County. One of my assigned poll workers dropped out a
few days before, and I was told there was a shortage of poll workers.
I was the only poll worker who was there the entire day. I had three
poll workers for the first half of the day, one poll worker for the
second half of the day, plus two spare poll workers who showed up mid
morning and stayed for the rest of the day. This shortage was for an
election that was run in only small parts of the county.

Advocates of hand-counted paper ballots often claim that there will
be plenty of vote counters to do the job. I can tell you that poll
workers who start at the polls at 6 a.m. are not able to do the job.
(I had one of the "spare" poll workers count the signatures on each
page of the roster index and then transcribe the numbers onto the
summary sheet in the back of the roster index. The poll worker
missed some signatures and counted as voters the entries I had
hand-marked as vote-by-mail. The hand-marked entries were the list
of people who had been sent vote-by-mail ballots after the roster
index was printed, and the Precinct Inspector marks those voters as
"vote-by-mail" so they are to vote provisionally if they do not
surrender their absentee ballots.) Given the shortage of qualified
poll workers, I wonder where the ranks of vote counters will come

Here's my challenge to the hand-count paper ballot advocates. Don't
wait until hand-counting is adopted to demonstrate the size of the
cadre of vote counters. Get them to volunteer now as poll workers.
Poll worker experience is most useful to be a vote counter.

Also, please tell me how you will avoid vote counters who are
"bi-partisan in name only" and who count fraudulently or alter or
stuff ballots in the precinct. (Oh, you'll rely on statistical
post-election audits or electronic surveillance?)

We will have a real problem with the February 2007 Presidential
Primary Election in California. Turnout will be huge. Many counties
will use hand-marked paper ballots with just one DRE per precinct.
Take the ten or so parties, each of which will have its own
candidates, and multiply that by the number of languages (minus 1,
because English and Spanish are on the same ballot), and you get lots
of stacks of ballots for poll workers to juggle. In the days of
punched card ballots in Santa Clara County, the multiple languages
were handled by different sets of instructions for the common ballot.
For last week's election I had 4 stacks of ballots (English/Spanish,
and smaller stacks for English and the other 3 languages in my
county). Even with Democratic, Republican, and Green, that's 12
stacks of tabloid sized ballots. For 10 parties, that's 40 stacks of
ballots to handle.

No wonder Registrars of Voters are pushing vote by mail. Fewer
voters at the polls means shorter lines for poll workers.

About voter preference, 106 voters cast ballots in my polling place.
Each of them was offered a choice of "paper or plastic (i.e.,
electronic)" ballot. Fifteen chose paper ballots, and 91 chose
electronic ballots. Three voters surrendered their vote-by-mail
ballot and voted electronically. Some people were reassured because
our electronic ballots were accompanied by a paper trail.

In a few days, I will write up more of my experiences as a poll
worker this time. My report on the November 2006 election (where the
paper trails ran out) was posted to this list last year.

Best regards,

At 7:48 PM -0500 11/8/07, Arlene Montemarano wrote:
>Mr. Cherlin, we will never agree. I had my say and you don't
>agree. I think your approach is probably wonderful, but if people
>like me cannot comprehend what you are doing, it is not appropriate
>for voting.
>So let us not proceed with this exchange. It is already becoming testy.
>Thanks though, for all your hard work on the issue. It is apparent
>that you are dedicated to the effort.

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 Fri Nov 30 23:17:12 2007

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