[E-voting] E-voting/e-counting chaos in scotland (fwd)

Louise Ferguson louise.ferguson at gmail.com
Wed May 16 11:31:48 IST 2007


Don't know to what extent, if any, you are/have been engaged with these
issues over the years.  For example, scrutinising doubtful ballots, hearing
the kinds of questions that get raised by voters in polling stations, or
even just looking at the kind of thing that ends up on ballot papers. Ballot
design is intrinsic to elections, electronically counted or otherwise.
Ballots for e-counting are designed for machine scanning, not for people to
be able to use easily. Just as different types of marks may be more
machine-readable than others, different designs may be more or less usable
than others, *by people*. Machine-reading adds more complications to the
existing ballot design issue.

For a voting system to work, people need to be able to make marks that
reflect their intentions, and machines need to be able to correctly
interpret them. These and *all* other elements of a channel need to work for
that channel to be viable; it is absurd to ignore entire classes of problems
attached to a particular channel. (Similarly, it would be absurd to argue
that intrinsic problems of internet security, or social engineering, or
interaction design, are not, 'per se', internet voting channel problems. If
a problem can arise in that channel, it is a problem of that channel.) If a
problem is recognised, it can at least then be addressed.

The Scottish experience was, I gather from a range of sources, not unique.
But at present we do not have all the available facts published and analysed
in any kind of systematic way. So I'm awaiting the outputs of the various
inquiries and reports with interest, as are many others.

Right, off on holiday now, so I won't be responding further on this thread.


On 15/05/07, Dr J Pelan <J.Pelan at gatsby.ucl.ac.uk> wrote:
> I dropped the CC off this by accident.
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> Date: Tue, 15 May 2007 16:15:38 +0100 (BST)
> From: Dr J Pelan <johnp at gatsby.ucl.ac.uk>
> Subject: Re: [E-voting] E-voting/e-counting chaos in scotland
> On Tue, 15 May 2007, Louise Ferguson wrote:
> > Check the figures on spoiled ballots, undervoting, etc etc., inc. for
> > the different years concerned.  All the data *that was collected*
> > (though they admitted at the time that they had failed to collect other
> > important data) is publicly available on their website, and has been
> > since 2004. Compare with data coming out of Scotland and elsewhere, as
> > well as other elections.
> How do you attribute all the problems to the e-counting ? There was an
> issue with the barcodes but the bulk of the issues were not related to
> e-counting per se. In particular, the spoilt ballots were due to voter
> confusion.
> > No, but the quotes from people like Jon Snow (well-known newscaster),
> > there and in other news media (e.g. The Guardian), were genuine.
> >From memory, the problems that were cited by Jon Snow were do to with the
> postal votes and the ballot lay-out and not e-counting.
> --
> John P.
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