Re: Fwd: Hand count elections

From: Arthur Keller <voting_at_kellers_dot_org>
Date: Mon Nov 12 2007 - 12:31:23 CST

At 11:48 AM -0500 11/12/07, Nancy Tobi wrote:
>It is a common misconception that population is a show stopper for
>hand count elections. It is not the size of the town, or the
>population of the city. It is the number of registered voters in any
>given precinct that matters. In NY they limit- by law - the number
>of voters in a precinct to something like 1,300. My understanding is
>that this is the case in many states: they limit the number of
>voters in precincts so they are dealing with a manageable population
>for vote counting.
>1300 is less than a third (and even a fourth) of the number of
>registered voters in NH's largest hand count polling places, yet NH
>counts those ballots by hand on election night, and gets it done
>right because we are using methodologies that are efficient and well

I'm convinced that hand-counting can be done in precincts of
reasonable size. My issue is how to transparently, safely, securely,
and accurately aggregate the totals from each of those precincts into
overall totals. Particularly if there are multiple thousands of

The issue of how to do that with IRV is a harder problem. IRV does
not have the mathematical associative property of aggregation.
Adding up the totals of votes by precincts does not work for IRV. If
there are multiple rounds, then you either need to count IRV
centrally, or you need to do synchronized counting in a distributed
fashion over an extended period of time. The extended period of time
eliminates precinct counting as an option, but it does allow for
counts by county. I can imagine doing a distributed synchronized
count by the 62 California counties. I can't imagine doing a
distributed synchronized count for 1000 precincts.

When you have hand-counting over multiple rounds with IRV, you lose a
significant degree of transparency that precinct-based hand counting

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 Fri Nov 30 23:17:19 2007

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