Re: Voting Project Needs Python People

From: Aahz <aahz_at_pythoncraft_dot_com>
Date: Sun Aug 03 2003 - 14:23:59 CDT

> On Sun, Aug 03, 2003, Alan Dechert wrote:
> >
> > From a marketing standpoint, I don't think your suggestion will work.
> > As I understand it, DREs handle write-ins electronically. Election
> > administrators will expect our system to do the same. In some states,
> > write-ins must be tallied even if there aren't enough to affect the
> > outcome. This is significant overhead for election administrators
> > -- sorting through all the ballots to find the write-ins and then
> > recording what was written in.
>
> Yes, I know, but avoiding write-ins in the electronic voting streamlines
> the voting process and reduces errors. ...
>
Compared with what? Do you think manual write-in votes are handled
accurately?

> If the vote-counting machinery
> gives some support to the write-in process (e.g. by separating out
> ballots with write-ins), it should be better than what they've got now.
>
Yes, but our system must be at least as good or better than other electronic
voting machines in all areas.

> I mean, really, think about all the difficulties of managing write-ins
> electronically, from screen space and design, to the issues of keying in
> the names (both speed and accuracy).
>
I don't see a problem. One feature of our system will be the use of larger
high-res screens (this enhances our position relative to new FEC guidelines
that call for minimizing page turns and other unnecessary step for voters).
When write-in is selected, the screen will appear with a QWERTY layout of
buttons with a space bar underneath and an alphabetical layout under the
space bar -- people can use either one. They pick off the letters to build
the string. I think it will work fine, but we'll test it in the demo. It
would get very thorough testing -- along with other alternatives -- in the
larger study. We will consider the manual write-in suggestion you gave. I
suspect that voters and election administrators will prefer automated
handling of write-ins.

> Finally, there's the I18N issue. I'd bet that none of the other
> companies are handling this in a useful and correct way, and
> if you can build a well-documented case for that, your approach
> will get some credence.
>
We will study that. I doubt we'll do much about it for the demo. For the
demo, I think we may or may not support accented characters but that's about
as deep as we'll go. During the larger study, we'll look at
internationalization issues in great detail. The demo code is throw-away
code. The real production system will be built from the ground up as an
international voting machine.

> > Have you requested to join our team? I am passing this message along to
> > Adrianne.
>
> No, this was just a drive-by comment. ;-)
> --
> Aahz (aahz@pythoncraft.com) <*>
http://www.pythoncraft.com/
>
We're just now pulling the demo team together. We've got 14 scientists and
engineers on board right now, including engineers, academic computer
scientists, academic computer scientists with voting system expertise,
python experts (including David Mertz), and at least one technical writer
and one QA engineer. The team will probably double in the next week or two.
The demo is scheduled to be ready around mid-October.

Let us know if you'd like to join the team. We have rigorous standards for
inclusion, but I think I could get you in ;-)

Alan Dechert
Received on Sun, 3 Aug 2003 12:23:59 -0700

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