[E-voting] experience with VVAT

Marian Beddill beddill at nas.com
Sun Mar 26 18:39:09 IST 2006

I believe that the scanners are working correctly - the principal evidence being the (although small) double-checks that have been done - hand count and machine count, in full view of the party Observers, with correct totals.  (I might add, Observers are allowed every time this election work is ongoing - for all the manual preparatory steps and for the machine runs.)  

None of the times we were present have ballots been missed/skipped in the scan process. The machines are robust, mechanically "old-technology" (see the photo at the mfg site:  
http://www.sequoiavote.com/productguide.php?product=OPTECH%20400C&type=Introduction )
It has a counter - the staff keeps a log, which starts with the exact number of ballots brought to the machine, then the number reported by it, for each batch.  There are anomalies - most commonly "overvotes" (marked for TWO candidates in a race for one position) and Write-ins (votes for a person not fully registered as a candidate).  The scanner detects these and diverts them into separate "OUT" trays - and the ordinary ones into the main tray - and reports the counts, which the staffer writes on the log-sheet. 

Marian Beddill
ps: I have no relationship with any vendor, and have never had.  My interest is elections integrity, because: "If you cannot trust the way your votes are counted, nothing much else in politics matters!" http://noleakybuckets.org/ . 

At 3/26/2006  05:27 AM, Michael McMahon wrote:

>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 ?
>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
>>(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.
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