Is hand count transparent?

From: Danny Swarzman <danny_at_stowlake_dot_com>
Date: Mon Nov 12 2007 - 21:39:32 CST

There have been postings on this list suggesting that hand counting
is intrinsically more transparent than machine count.

I think this is completely false on both sides of the inequation.

I have watched hand counting. I went with an expert election
observer. He saw flaws in the process that I didn't catch. But it was
really clear that neither of us could actually know if it was
conducted fairly. Your team would need complete access to all the
places were ballots are handled and counted. You would need to follow
the flow of all the data. They would be there for weeks.

To make such a process publicly viewable and secure is a real
logistical challenge for the elections board. Not all of them are up
to it.

Where scanning and counting is done by computer, there are fewer
points at which people intercede. It is easier to make those critical
points publicly viewable.

But, software isn't witchcraft. An ordinary person can figure it out.
There are a lot of people who use computer languages such as Java and
xml. There' a huge number of books on these subject.

If you don't want to read source code, you can get the source code
from the internet and follow directions and set up your own elections
system. Print some ballots. scan some votes see who wins in your world.

Like any human document, source code can be written clearly or not.
We hope ours is.

There is a lot of talk about how difficult software is. Complex
software is tough to get completely correct in every detail. But this
isn't that complex. The source code involved is small compared to the
documents that describe the applicable regulations.

Do you really think there is a larger class of people who can
observer hand counting than there is who can verify open source
software? They weren't in City Hall last Tuesday round midnight.

-Danny

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Received on Fri Nov 30 23:17:21 2007

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