# Re: Fwd: Hand count elections

From: Danny Swarzman <danny_at_stowlake_dot_com>
Date: Tue Nov 13 2007 - 13:16:21 CST

Alan,

It is possible to make an argument for hand counting in 2008 in
February, June and November. I don't think that hand counting in San
Francisco in 2011 there is a mayoral contest that will take forever
to count.

I don't have time to do that. If I did, here's what I would do:

Find a realistic cost of counting one vote in an ordinary election.

Multiply by the average number of ballot propositions.

For February and June, you just add the same cost for contests.

Happily the IRV elections in November are two or three district
elections. They may go on for several rounds of counting of smaller
numbers of ballots.

The way the algorithm works, there can be many rounds of re-
evaluation. That is because in the first rounds, candidates receiving
the smallest number of votes are eliminated. One round of counting to
eliminate one rank. John Arntz is a clever guy and may find ways to
organize things so that a round of re-evaluation takes about as much
time as it does to count an ordinary contest.

You can get a feel for how many rounds you would need to do this for
seven candidates and 100 voters at

It's in JavaScript. Use the browser to view the source for details

If the elections board were to put a priority on determining the
results of the important races in a timely manner, the public could
exercise patience about the races for the district representatives in
SF.

So hand counting will not endanger the mission of the elections
board. It is still possible to have open source software in place in
2008.

Once someone calculates the numbers and argues with John Arntz, he
should:

- Plan on hand counting in February and June.
- Do a feasibility study of the solutions for November.
- Develop a plan for hand-counting and produce realistic estimates
for the process.

By November, the hand counting processes for ordinary elections would
be perfected. In any event, San Francisco would, according to this
plan, have the ability to survive 2008 without shame.

But, if they do have hand-counting in November, they will start to
see the costs grow. Everybody will realize that 2011 will be a
disaster. They will clamor for the head of the director following San

So the director must say now that he needs to study alternatives. He
must hire experts to propose alternatives for November 2008 and
beyond. He should ask for money from the Board of Supervisors to do
this. He should also go to those guys from the SoS office with his
hand out for this.

-Danny

I
On Nov 12, 2007, at 11:12 PM, Alan Dechert wrote:

> Re: [OVC-discuss] Fwd: Hand count elections
> Doug Kellner wrote:
>
>> I am not sure why everyone is spending so much
>> effort discussing how to count paper ballots. It
>> is simply a matter of organization and logistics
>> that many boards of elections have been dealing
>> with for years.
>>
> We could really use some help convincing San Francisco officials that
> hand-counting is not so bad (or even a GOOD thing). Our position
> has been
> to encourage them to stand firm on purchasing an open source voting
> system.
> If no vendor has an open and certified system available when they
> need it,
> go to a hand count. Officials seem horrified at the prospect of hand
> counting, and the media is helping to fan the flames.
>
> There is increasing pressure to go with the Sequoia contract, which we
> helped forestall earlier this year. It doesn't help that ES&S
> continues to
> be a problem for them.
> http://www.votetrustusa.org/index.php?
>
> We met with Aaron Peskin (president of the SF Board of Supervisors)
> last
> week. He suggested we meet with John Arntz, Direct of Elections.
> that meeting today. I don't know what's going to happen, but I
> think it's
> fair to say that if they don't have a new system in place for NOV
> 2008 and
> have to hand-count, many would considered it a failure -- given the
> current
> attitudes of the Arntz, Mayor Newsome, and the media.
>
> To all the hand-count advocates: SF is a good test case. Let them
> know
> they can do it.
>
> Alan D.
>
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>

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Received on Fri Nov 30 23:17:22 2007

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