[E-voting] experience with VVAT

Michael McMahon michael at hexmedia.com
Sun Mar 26 14:27:24 IST 2006


Marian,

That sounds like a good system. What about the mechanics of scanning the 
ballots?
How reliable is that? Are there any problems with ballots being 
missed/skipped in the scan process?
Did the audit show an anomalies at all ?

Thanks
Michael.

Marian Beddill wrote:
> 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
>
> Footnotes:
> (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" :
> http://www.sequoiavote.com/productguide.php?product=OPTECH%20400C&type=Introduction 
> <http://www.sequoiavote.com/productguide.php?product=OPTECH%20400C&type=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
>>> VVAT?
>> A quick google turned up the 2004 elections in Nevada. According to
>> this statement by the Nevada Secretary of State
>> ( http://sos.state.nv.us/publications/hava.htm)
>> the audit of the election showed the electronic votes matched the 
>> paper 100%.
>>
>> There must be more examples by now though.
>>
>> Michael




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