# Re: Observations of Hand-Counted Paper Ballot

From: Alan Dechert <dechert_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Thu Sep 29 2005 - 18:29:13 CDT

Arthur,

> It took 12 officials and 3.5 hours to count the 10,289 ballots by hand
> for one contest.
>
Thanks for these numbers. Let's suppose it will take a similar number
of person-hours per ballot and guessstimate how long it would take to
hand count 500 ballots for a precinct like this one:

Here's my back-of-an-envelope calculation.

This ballot has 35 yes/no contests (Judicial Retentions, propositions,
local measures).

I can't image having 12 counters at each precinct -- let's suppose 6
counters.

If 12 officials take 3.5 hours for 10,000 ballots, then 6 officials
would take 7 hours.

500 is one-twentieth of 10,000
7 hours is 420 minutes

so 420/7 = 21 minutes to count one yes/no contest with 500 ballots with
6 officials counting.

35 x 21 = 735 minutes or 12.25 hours for the yes/no contests with 6
officials counting.

Now, there are still 15 other contests each with many candidates:
average 6 candidates per contest (instead of 2 choices yes/no).

1) Governor
2) Lieut. gov.
3) Sec. of State
4) Controller
5) treasurer
6) Attorney General
7) Insurance Commissioner
8) State Sup. of Schools
9) US Representative
10) Assembly
11) Board of Equalization
12 Community College board
13) School Board
14) City Council
15) Rent Control Board

Instead of 2 stacks, they have an average of 6. Most are vote for one,
but two are vote-for-4 and two others are vote-for-3. So, they'll take
a lot longer that yes/no contests. Suppose they take twice as long

So, after spending 12.25 hours counting 35 yes/no contests, it will be
another 10.5 hours to count 15 other contests, or about 23 hours total
for 6 counters for the whole thing.

These must be paid officials. Volunteers could not be relied upon to
stick with it that long (and you have to keep gamers out!). 23 hours
and maybe \$400 in personnel costs to hand count one precinct. There are
about 5,000 precincts in Los Angeles. So, you need 30,000 paid,
reliable, trained people plus the whole management infrastructure to
deal with them. It's too awful to contemplate seriously.

Alan D.

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Received on Fri Sep 30 23:17:03 2005

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