Re: Emergency Measures To Protect The 2004 Vote Count (EM2004)

From: Douglas W. Jones <jones_at_cs_dot_uiowa_dot_edu>
Date: Thu Sep 02 2004 - 11:22:52 CDT

> From:
> To: undisclosed-recipients:
> Sent: Thursday, September 02, 2004 1:38 AM
> Subject: Emergency Measures To Protect The 2004 Vote Count (EM2004)
> Hand counted paper ballots for FEDERAL offices in the 2004 election!
> We need your participation to make it happen.

I think this group is making a big mistake. Hand-counted paper ballots
are open to serious problems with clerical errors and if they are not
counted at the precinct immediately after the polls close, they are open
to lots of classic forms of fraud.

Hand recounts, as required as spot-checks in California, and hand
of single contested races are a very different matter from hand counts
of entire general election ballots, or event the federal portion of
entire ballots, as these people seem to be proposing.

Not that it can't be done, but I trust precinct-count machine-counted
paper ballots more than I trust hand counts for the routine counting.

Furthermore, in the short run, between now and November, I believe
that this campaign is asking for trouble. Pollworker training is
under way in some jurisdicitons, and absentee ballots will be mailed out
in just one month in many others. Changes in election procedure are
a good idea this close to a general election.

A responsible institution of hand-counted paper ballots would require
that training manuals be in place for those who will count now, so that
training can be done over the next two months to get things ready for
the big day. Those manuals are not in place now! It is not trivial to
put such a manual in place -- it requires lawyers, technical writers
and election experts. I'd guess a bad manual would take a week or two
to put together, while a good one is at least a month's work, probably
more. I'd rather not run an important election using a bad manual. Do
it right or don't do it.

About the only thing that makes sense, at this point, is to freeze the
technology being used and concentrate on (with only two months left)
critical examination of election procedures, and monitoring.

                        Doug Jones

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Received on Thu Sep 30 23:17:01 2004

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