[EM] Paul: Counts

robert bristow-johnson rbj at audioimagination.com
Sat Apr 28 21:32:26 PDT 2012

> But who says it has to be marked by a machine. A handcount actually 
> doesn't requirea machine-printed ballot!  I would not deceive you 
> about that.
> The voter could mark hir ballot, _hirself_, without a machine!
> Pencils used to be used, for instance. Pens would be better, for an 
> un-erasable mark.Punched cards have been used too. Read by a machine, 
> but  (hopefully) saved for examination.Of course even if punched cards 
> are used, that doesn't mean that they must be read by machine atall. 
> Punched holes are especially un-modifiable.

i used to live in Illinois and we had punch cards.  they are cheap and 
the voting "machines" (they are actually just a jig) are inexpensive for 
the municipalities.  but the problem with punch cards is that they do 
not have the candidate names on the physical instrument themselves.  the 
punch card could be misregistered or mal-aligned.  you could punch 
through the hole on the  jig of the candidate you support and it punches 
out the chad in the card for the candidate you hate.  and you wouldn't 
know it unless you could, by sight, decode the row and column numbers 
for your candidate.

a similar issue exists with those older mechanical voting machines.  the 
voter pulls the lever down for the candidate they select and when they 
commit their vote (by pulling on the big red lever), they are not 
assured that the marks left on the internal paper record will be 
properly interpreted (because of a misalignment in the machine), *even* 
if hand-counted.  if the machine takes your vote and, because of 
misalignment, assigns that vote to another candidate, there is little 
that can be done later in a manual recount if this misalignment cannot 
be connected to the particular machine.  that's more of a problem with 
punch cards since, at a particular precinct, there might be several, 
ostensibly identical, vote-punching kiosks that the voter can use and 
only one is misaligned.  you won't be able to tell which intermingled 
ballots went through that particular jig.

optical scan technology applied to paper (or light cardboard) ballots, 
where the candidate names are marked on the very same ballot (the 
physical instrument), is the only way to avoid this danger at least in 
the manual recount.  sure, there could be an alignment problem in the 
scanning machine and that would result in an incorrect tabulation, but 
if someone bitched about it and the decision was made to recount 
manually, you could do it and be assured that the original intent of the 
voter was manifest in each ballot.

optical scan is the only smart way to do this and i think that a 
trustworthy, transparent, and democratic system would best use optical 
scan consistently to the exclusion of all other technologies.

BTW, i had (and still have) Mike plonked.  so i can only see responses 
to whatever he says.  i am still, for the most part, unimpressed my 
Mike's content-to-hype ratio.  i just had to respond to this dumb punch 
card thing.


r b-j                  rbj at audioimagination.com

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."

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