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

Dr J Pelan J.Pelan at gatsby.ucl.ac.uk
Fri May 18 12:31:00 IST 2007

On Wed, 16 May 2007, Catherine Ansbro wrote:

> From the description of the layout-related counting problems (people using
> numbers instead of X and vice-versa), perhaps many of these would not have
> been spoiled if they had been counted by hand right from the start.  E.g., an
> X instead of a 1 would have been clear at least for a first-preference vote--I
> don't know what the Scottish rules are regarding counting votes where the
> intent was clear.  Same if someone had used a 1 instead of an X.

Whatever the counting mechanism, human or machine, there have to be clear 
rules as to the interpretation of the voters intentions. This is not 
unique to e-counting nor are the machines entrusted as the ultimate 
arbiters of a spoilt ballot.

As has been suggested in the past, a simple solution, (machine generated 
ballots aside) is to provide a 'counting machine' at each polling station 
whereby a voter can, if they so chose, pre-validate their vote against the 
machine. Voter education also helps tremendously as does a voting system 
that remains consistent for successive or coincident elections - voters 
don't like change or surprises.

One has to take care to distinguish the issues inherent to a particular 
technology from those brought about by short-comings in the particular 
implementation. There is no prima facie reason why an audited e-counting 
election cannot provide equivalent performance characteristics to those of 
a hand-counted one. In raising undue concern about e-counting, one may 
inadverently shift the focus onto DRE, which is not where we want to go.

John P.

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