[E-voting] experience with VVAT

Marian Beddill beddill at nas.com
Fri Mar 24 18:56:01 GMT 2006

Yes, Michael, my own county has now used VVAT in three elections, with excellent results. 

We are Whatcom County, Washington State - just over 100,000 registered voters, in 119 Precincts.  We had previously used punch-cards for about 20 years, and our number of "permanent absentee" voters(*1) had gradually grown to 75% of the returned ballots.  

In early 2005, the governing County Council voted to eliminate the 40-or-so polling places and shift to 100% vote-by-mail (VBM).  We purchased optical scan equipment (Sequoia 400C)(*2) for the central office, and will have a few special machines for service to disabled voters. 

We have a cadre of trained citizen observers, representing the "major"(*3) political parties, who were allowed close visual observation of all the steps of the ballot-processing and vote-counting (no touching), beginning at receipt of trays from the Post Office into the Elections Office, all the way to archiving in a locked vault, of the coded-&-sealed boxes of counted ballots. Along the way, we performed a "double-check" hand count of randomly-selected batches of ballots, in the presence of observers who watched the batches be counted by teams of staffers, then counted by the machines.  Since the optical-scan paper ballots had been created by the voters (data source), and the same ballots(*4) were counted by staff and the machines, in public, and with track kept of the number of ballots at each step, we were confident that we had established "an audit trail" from data generation (marking) to data tally. 

Working with our senior elections officials, there also was a Citizen's Elections Advisory Committee or C.E.A.C. established ( http://www.co.whatcom.wa.us/auditor/election_division/index.jsp ) with nine members representing stakeholder groups, which has helped communication between the officials and the public. 

Marian Beddill
Bellingham WA USA

(1) Any voter has been allowed to request and return an "absentee" ballot by mail in our state, for many years. 
(2)  Sequoia "OPTECH 400C - Introduction" : 
(3) Our state defines political parties as "major" or "minor", according to legal criteria that are basically vote counts for candidates.
(4) "the same ballots" is not precisely 100% accurate, as law allows damaged ballots to be duplicated by staff, working always in teams of two, and with Observers present.  Both original and duplicate are archived, available for further review if even needed. 

At 3/24/2006  08:50 AM, you wrote:

>> Given that VVAT has been mandated in many jurisdictions in the US, do you (or anyone else out there)
>>know what the experience has been with it? Has there been any elections yet using
>A quick google turned up the 2004 elections in Nevada. According to
>this statement by the Nevada Secretary of State
>the audit of the election showed the electronic votes matched the paper 100%.
>There must be more examples by now though.
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