[E-voting] Question on optical scan
cansbro at eircom.net
Wed Jan 19 21:53:02 GMT 2005
These are exactly the concerns I am worried about, too, in relation to
use of gummed stickers.
They'd be hard for many people to handle, and there could be chaos with
OCR machines getting gummed up, or people not getting them stuck on
fully, or putting them on crooked.
It amazes me how many problems there were/are in the USA with the
OCR-reading machines. In some of the documents that have been posted,
the manufacturer specifically points out that each ballot has to be
visually inspected because there are a wide range of problems the
machine won't catch. This means you need training and absolute
vigilance on the part of the poll workers. (And in the USA it appears
the poll workers didn't bother checking the ballots at all.) Just one
example that arose in the Ohio revote, was an oval that had a tiny dead
bug on it, (and a different oval filled in by the voter), but to the
reader it looked like an "overvote" (2 votes) and was disqualified.
There were also problems having to do with setting for the thickness of
the ballot, problems if the ballot had been folded, problems if the OCR
sensitivity levels were not correct, etc.
Some of these could be managed, but the sticky label part worries me,
and also having a 30-sec time limit to change your choice is also too
restrictive. And if the label can be changed multiple times, then
you're asking for problems with labels coming off--accidentally, or
perhaps even repositioned fraudulently.
The ironic thing is, I'd like the proposed DREs if they were just used
for marking a printed ballot and nothing else (or perhaps, for an
indicative count only similar to a tally that would have /*no*/ official
weight). The trouble is, if there were an indicative count people might
get very lax about attending and scrutinizing the formal count of the
paper ballots. And no doubt their would be opposition to having
expensive machines just to print the ballot.
Surely it would be possible to have a really cheap, small "device" just
for printing a paper ballot, but not counting them? There wouldn't be
the same security storage issues, it should cost a lot less because the
programming would be very simple and there'd be no need for anything
proprietary. Shouldn't be too different from a cash register type of
Using such a device to print a legible ballot would make (manual)
counting faster, it could reduce the few inadvertent spoiled votes, and
would reduce the number of contested ballots that have to be reviewed by
ANY kind of counting device will involve potential for user error due to
many possible reasons, and it would be impossible to know how many
errors had been made unless you did a manual recount--so why not just
keep the counting by hand?
Brian O'Byrne wrote:
>Quoting Margaret McGaley <Margaret.McGaley at redbrick.dcu.ie>:
>>On Wed, Jan 19, 2005 at 02:33:32PM +0000, evoting at stusoft.org wrote:
>>>Stickers sound a little messy to me.
>I'd be worried about problems like:
>- Stickers falling off immediately after the OCR step.
>- Stickers getting folded in such a way as to stick two ballots together.
>(Consider where the center of the sticker is fully and properly stuck but an
>edge has been folded back. Another ballot lands on top and gets stuck.)
>- Ballots getting folded so that one sticker is stuck on two places. (A
>variation on the same theme. The sticker has a folded edge or corner; not
>enough to alert the scanner but enough to be a problem when the ballot is
>- Arguments arising if people find odd stickers in the ballot box.
>- Mechanical/reliability problems with the OCR equipment. It is one thing to put
>a single flat piece of paper through a machine, it is another to put through
>stickers. I could imagine rollers getting gummed up or stickers transferring to
>rollers by accident.
>Some of these are a little paranoid, and could be overcome with a good design. I
>keep reminding myself that punch cards seemed like a reliable and well-trusted
>technology before the 2000 US presendential elections...
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