Re: Bar code researcher volunteer wanted

From: Alan Dechert <adechert_at_earthlink_dot_net>
Date: Thu Jul 24 2003 - 13:20:02 CDT

What (and how many) characters can you encode with Code 128? If you have
128 characters, that's good. What about the others? This page just doesn't
tell us.


- ----- Original Message -----
From: "Arthur Keller" <arthur_at_kellers_dot_org>
To: <>
Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2003 10:51 AM
Subject: Re: Bar code researcher volunteer wanted
Message-ID: <1635@initial.digest>

> Which bar code font do we want to use? Here's a list (and source,
> although we may want to buy elsewhere).
> Arthur
> At 10:14 AM -0700 7/24/03, Alan Dechert wrote:
> >I have a task I'd like to see someone take charge of. I need someone to
> >study bar coding schemes and come up with one that we can use on the
> >
> >This is something Doug Jones and I disagree on slightly, but I'll put it
> >this way: we're going to come up with a bar code scheme for the demo.
> >not necessarily the way the ultimate product will have it, but we will
> >"this is a way it could be done." The bar code is critically important
> >address a major issue: how to maintain a secret ballot for blind voters.
> >will explain.
> >
> >The bar code will not be human readable (btw, Doug has a scheme that
> >be human readable). Here's why I don't want it human readable: the
> >will take the printout (8.5 in. x 11 in) from the printer and put it in a
> >privacy folder. Imagine this folder is a file folder cut to 12 inches by
> >inches. This means that 1/2 inch of the long edge will be exposed. This
> >exposed area will have the bar code. So, a blind voter can take the
> >printout and put it in the folder knowing that no one can read the
> >of the ballot. But there will be a scanner set up so that the blind
> >can go there and put on headphones and hear the selections read. A poll
> >worker can assist the blind person and can see the bar code while voter
> >privacy is preserved.
> >
> >Sighted voters will also be allowed to use the scanner to double check
> >ballot and to ensure that the bar code has been printed correctly.
> >
> >Having the bar code exposed also gives poll workers an indication of what
> >side the print is on so that the ballot can be removed from the folder
> >down when it is about to be placed in the ballot box.
> >
> >We will not bar code write-in candidate names. I was thinking maybe we'd
> >have a separate bar code for write in names but now I think we should not
> >this for the demo. Also, it may be unnecessary altogether. Some states
> >only look at write in names if there are enough write in votes that it
> >possibly impact the election outcome. As I understand it, other states
> >require that all the write-in names be tabulated regardless of whether or
> >not in could impact the outcome. In these states, they could OCR scan
> >the ballots.
> >
> >So, we will only be encoding the bits. For example, in the ballot mockup
> >gave, there are 7 presidential candidates plus write-in. So the possible
> >votes are
> >
> >10000000
> >01000000
> >00100000
> >00010000
> >00001000
> >00000100
> >00000010
> >00000001
> >and
> >00000000
> >
> >We could use a single 8-bit ASCII character to represent the vote for
> >president. Actually, we could encode a lot more than this with a single
> >8-bit character because only 9 of the 256 possible bit patterns are
> >vote patterns. I want to look at compression algorithms that analyze the
> >ballot and develop a mapping scheme so that all the selections can be
> >encoded in just a few characters (maybe 5 or 6 on an average ballot) but
> >won't get into that for the demo.
> >
> >Our mock ballot has 126 bits so it would take sixteen 8-bit characters to
> >encode the selections. However -- and this is where some research is
> >required -- not many bar code schemes can handle all the 8-bit
> >We need to find a bar code scheme that is simple and works with a cheap
> >commodity reader. With luck, we'll find one that handles at least 128
> >characters if it can't handle the 256 8-bit characters. If we have at
> >128, then we'd encode 7-bits at a time so it would take eighteen 7-bit
> >characters to represent the 126 bits.
> >
> >Along with the selections, we'll encode the date, state, county, and
> >precinct. Bar code schemes have various limits on how many characters
> >can handle so we'll need to consider what the length of the bar code will
> >be. It would be nice if the bar code is no more than an inch or two
> >
> >We also need to look at how to print the bar code using Python.
> >
> >This may not be the best way to do it but we can't wait for OASIS to tell
> >what the standard format will be for the electronic ballot image. We
> >not claim this is the best way to do it. If someone demonstrates a
> >way, we will adapt to that. But for now, this is a simple doable scheme.
> >
> >We need someone to take responsibility for choosing the bar code type and
> >figuring out how to make it work.
> >
> >-- Alan Dechert
> --
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
- -----
> Arthur M. Keller, Ph.D., 3881 Corina Way, Palo Alto, CA 94303-4507
> tel +1(650)424-0202, fax +1(650)424-0424
Received on Thu, 24 Jul 2003 11:20:02 -0700

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