Parper recount is not easy. Re: [E-voting] Re: terrorism and electronic elections

Catherine Ansbro cansbro at
Wed Jul 13 10:06:31 IST 2005

Maybe you & some colleagues should come to Ireland and observe a count!  
Or, go to Canada where their paper counts sound fantastic. It's 
unbelievable they find this such a challenge in Belgium.

Here, counting is done in teams of 2, observed by teams from all 
political parties and members of the public.  Votes are first counted 
into bundles of 100 and initialled.  Then the 2 in the pair exchange 
bundles and recount and initial.  So nothing gets past that stage 
without being counted & verified (like a count & recount in the first 
step).  After that the bundles are put in different piles according to 
the indicated first preference (and questionable votes set aside).  
Again, each time they are counted one person counts & initials, then the 
other person counts & initials.

Others, please correct or add to what I've described here.  Am I leaving 
out anything important?

David GLAUDE wrote:

> Paper vote recount are hard to do in Belgium... history prooved that 
> to us.
> There was an election for the Brussels Region some years ago. The 
> result of the vote was very close and uncertain so that one of the 
> seat could have been allocated to one party or another party.
> The only way to tell would have been to recount it all over Brussels. 
> At that time the vote was paper only (or half paper half electronic).
> Apparently since the two party in dispute were going to make a 
> coalition and that this seat was not required for the majority, there 
> was no recount.
> Doing a recount would have required to setup many new counting team. 
> This is already hard to do the day of the election, but the week after 
> no one wanted to try or pay the price to do it.
> I was told that the seat was left empty
> So when we used the argument to some knowledgable Brussel's 
> politician: "Without paper there is no possible recount." we had the 
> unexpected answer: "Even with paper there is no recount.".
> We succedded in answering that without paper there is no COUNT. Later 
> when the same storry line was used in the Belgian Senate by the same 
> representative (that is member of both the brussels regional 
> parliament and the national/federal senate=one of the chamber) the 
> answer from another senator was that there was no political will to 
> organise a recount but a recount would have been possible.
> My conclusion is that there is room for improvement in the procedure 
> and the way paper election are organised in Belgium. Law should be 
> clear about when, how, what trigger, who pay a recount. I don't thing 
> we have that.
> David GLAUDE
> PS: I really need to check my fact as I do not remember much of those 
> event. But the bottom line of the storry is that even when a recount 
> is necessary, it is not organised.
> Marian Beddill wrote:
>> Your statement is so close to my studied position - ( 
>> )  thanks.
>> The electronic counting has value for STV methods and others similar, 
>> when applied over dispersed geographic regions, whose separate 
>> ballot-sets must be combined to obtain the result.  They CAN be 
>> hand-counted, then the sets re-distributed and re-counted - but the 
>> time needed and human resources to do so are significant, and the 
>> more handling - by ever larger pools of workers - the greater the 
>> opportunity for either errors or manipulation.
>> And, if this has any merit, electronic counting gives the media and 
>> the curious public a quicker answer.  I say that is a spurious 
>> "advantage", having just watched the US Presidential race in 2000 
>> (~35 days) and the US Washington State Governor's race in 2004 
>> (almost two months - more if you count the lawsuit.)
>> I'd happily wait for a solid trusted result.
>> Marian Beddill

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