[E-voting] The best VVAT is good for

Aengus Lawlor aengusl at eircom.net
Thu Oct 27 02:54:41 IST 2005

On Wednesday, October 26, 2005 7:06 PM [EDT],
Patrick Kobly <patrick at kobly.com> wrote:

> Catherine Ansbro wrote:
>> I wish we could get some kind of hand counting done at the voting
>> places.  I don't yet see any practical way of doing this.
> Explain to me like I'm a little baby why this doesn't work.  Being in
> Canada, where the paper ballots are counted in the voting places, this
> comment is a bit surprising.  I understand the rules and counting
> procedures are different.  Perhaps a pointer that describes the
> process in detail would be useful.  I'm interested in which aspects
> of the process limit the paralellizability of counting.

We use a Single Transferrable Vote system, whereby a voter can vote for all
27 candidates on the ballot paper, for example. If the voters first
preference is either already elected, or eliminated, then the 2nd preference
comes in to play, and so on. Because this process necessarily involves
several passes, each of which depends on the results of the previous pass,
you can't really do it in a decentralized way.

There's a fairly basic description of the process on page 8 & 9 of this 13
page PDF file on the Department of the Environments website:

(Note that Presidential elections do in fact use a decentralized process,
with the ballots for each constituency being counted at a constituency count
centre, but this is something of a special case because it's a single
candidate election, and less complex than a 3, 4 or 5 seat race in a general
election. The last presidential election, with 5 candidates, was pretty
unusual, but even that still only involved 2 rounds of counting, rather than
the 9 or 10 that is common in a general election).


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