[EM] Re: touch screen voting machines

Eron Lloyd elloyd at lancaster.lib.pa.us
Tue Nov 11 16:39:09 PST 2003

On Tuesday November 11 2003 7:08 pm, David GLAUDE wrote:
> Eron Lloyd wrote:
> > I agree there is quite an amount of value in this traditional method.
> > What I was proposing was to use an electronic interface to produce a
> > marked paper ballot. This way, you have the multiple benefits of computer
> > technology (error correction, language selection, accessibility support,
> > etc.) and the confidence of a paper ballot result.
> Error correction => Ask another ballot.
> Language Selection => Provide translation in the voting area and for
> names, there is no need for translation.
> Accessibility => Those that need help can choose someone to help or use
> proxy-vote.

I'd interested in how easily you could get multiple ballots to correct 
mistakes. This presents a way to either add a duplicate ballot or risk 
privacy by the person you hand your bad ballot to associating your face with 
the votes on your ballot. As far as language translation, perhaps in Belgium 
it is much more homogenous than here in the US, where we have over half a 
dozen distinct languages spoke right here in my community. To say there is 
nothing to translate is absurd...what about the instructions? Who determines 
what languages to print ballots for? If I speak Hindi, am a registered 
citizen, and can vote but can't read the ballot, it that OK? A computer 
system could provide internationalization for many languages, and shift on 
the fly. Another interesting idea, is that the screen could describe the 
purpose and function of each office voted for. Many people skip ballot items 
because they don't know what the job is for. The ballot could explain this in 
plain terminology. As far as for accessibility, if we just told people with 
disabilities to have someone help them do everything, we wouldn't need any 
accomodations! If I become disabled and can't vote and my wife secretly wants 
me to vote Republican instead of Green as my proxy, is that OK? They deserve 
the same amount of freedom and privacy as the rest of us.

> > One of the biggest problems with *any* ballot is that often-times not
> > much usability research goes into it's design (like the recent Florida
> > ballot). One interesting offering a computer interface could provide is
> > multiple ways of displaying and inputing information about the ballot,
> > based on the preference of the user.
> YES:
> * make it more user friendly than paper.
> * Let me choose my user interface (with random default):
> ** Win 3.1
> ** Win 95
> ** Win XP
> ** Gnome
> ** KDE
> ** X11
> ** Mac OS
> Then do not forget to remember my preference for next election so that I
> don't have to setup the voting machine at each election. LoL

Okay, well we don't have to go that far but I think you get my drift ;-)

> > Indeed there are many problems...I suppose what it boils down to is
> > attempting to reduce to ratio of correct to corrupt votes, so it can't
> > swing an election. And all of us volunteering at the polls as observers.
> The nice thing about manual voting system (paper and pen) is that
> corrupt votes are also done at human scale and they go in every
> direction. Also it can be detected by witness.

How? Don't you get privacy when filling out the ballot? If you can't inspect 
ballots until the election is over and counting begins how will you know?

> The problem with e-voting is that e-fraud goes in a single direction at
> a computer scale with no possible proof or witness.

I'm not sure I agree. What I'm proposing is not a complete DRE system; it 
still ultimately produces a paper ballot that gets counted by hand, by a 
person. The computer would only aid in filling it out. Mechanisms between the 
computer tally and the individual ballots would ensure they are correct. A 
two-way audit if you will.

> Being an observer durring an e-election is really not fun. I spended the
> day watching machine "faking"(?) to count the vote of the elector with
> no way to verify. I was just following the "procedure".

Not much about elections is fun. But it's something we have to do. It is 
better to have knowledgeable, cautious officials, however.

> David GLAUDE


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Eron Lloyd
Technology Coordinator
Lancaster County Library
elloyd at lancaster.lib.pa.us
Phone: 717-239-2116
Fax: 717-394-3083

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