[EM] Cambridge computerized voting

DEMOREP1 at aol.com DEMOREP1 at aol.com
Tue Dec 4 12:36:43 PST 2001

D- The newly computerized vote counting system in Cambridge, Mass.


[Government statement]


The first step

On election night at the central tabulation center, the memory card from 
each precinct's ballot box is entered into a computer. This computer 
takes the records of each ballot from the memory card and sorts them by 
precinct into separate files, one each for City Council, School 
Committee, and ballot question. The complete ballot files for each race 
or question are then copied onto a computer disk. Each ballot record 
consists of the candidates selected by the voter and the order in which 
they were ranked.

The second step

The computer disk with the ballot files is installed in a second 
computer. This computer contains the software which counts the ballots. 
The software has been programmed to follow the "Cambridge Rules," as 
documented in M.G.L. Chapter 54A and in the Cincinnati Code - Article IX 
of 1938. By computer, the same process formerly carried out manually by 
more than a hundred counters over the course of a week is conducted in a 
matter of seconds by the electronic sorting, counting, and transfer of 


An "unofficial first count" of number one (#1) votes for each candidate 
for City Council and School Committee will be available on election 
night within minutes of receipt of the memory card from the last 
reporting precinct. This count is referred to as "unofficial" because it 
does not contain all ballots. For example, it does not yet include 
write-ins or ballots marked in a way that could not be read by the 
scanner at the precinct level. Those votes must be individually added to 
those already scanned. Only when this last step is completed on the day 
after the election will all valid ballots have been recorded.

The complete ballot records are then copied and read into the tabulation 
software where they are tallied. The software produces an "official 
first count" and then proceeds to distribute surplus and eliminate 
candidates with the least number of votes until all seats have been 
filled. The Election Commissioners declare the results.
D- The Nov. 2001 results are at


Thus some of the higher tech voting methods can apparently be done using 
computerized voting.

Which shall prevail --- the 10,000 B.C. Taliban type politics or the above 
2001 A.D. computerized voting politics ???   Time will tell.

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list