[EM] Mike: Count issues - learn English

robert bristow-johnson rbj at audioimagination.com
Mon Apr 30 20:48:16 PDT 2012

On 4/30/12 7:30 PM, Paul Kislanko wrote:
> Whatever handcounting is it isn’t “secure.”
> Seriously, you think hand-counting whatever you get from the “official 
> ballot boxes” is a “verification” of the vote-counting?
> It’s not, as we repeatedly point out.
> You argue over and over that the only “verifiable” counts have to be 
> based upon INSECURE notions of paper ballots in boxes.

as "insecure" as microscopic bits living in a magnetic or semiconductor 
medium packaged in an opaque container?

that's what having the *option* of a paper-ballot recount is for. so we 
can see and read precisely the same ballot the voter saw and marked and 
not some electronic representation of it.

> Suppose we change every ballot-collection-method in existence to paper 
> ballots suitable for hand-counting.
> Show how you can PROVE to me that the paper ballots you hand-counted 
> included mine.

one thing, Paul, is that if you are the final arbiter of what is 
"proved" or not (it has to be PROVEd to you), that is a standard where 
the goalposts are only known to you. the other party might legitimately 
think they kicked the ball so high and so far that it had to have gone 
over *any* goalpost and you come back and say "nope, didn't make it" 
when none of us can see where your goalpost is, let alone if you're 
moving it or not.

i have participated in helping in elections (but not as an elections 
inspector nor the ward clerk) and have participated in manual recounts 
of two different elections. unless we believe in a Star Trek 
transporter, we can be reasonably secure in the verifiability property 
of a manual recount of paper ballots.

with paper ballots, we can see that the ballot box is empty before the 
polling place is opened to voters. we can keep our eye on it and know 
that only ballots issued to and held by voters go into the box. and we 
can see your ballot go into the box. at the end of the day, we can take 
the lid offa the top (usually there is an optical scanner in the lid) 
and dump the ballots into a bag that was previously inspected to be 
empty. we can close and seal the bag with serialized tag that must be 
broken when the bag is reopened. and we can see that the ballot box is 
now empty (your ballot is not left behind because no ballot is left behind).

we can see the tags broken, verify the tag serial numbers agree with the 
record of what was closed up in the bag on election night, dump out the 
ballots, and verify that the bag is empty.

in the manual recount procedure, it is called and counted by multiple 
persons from more than one party. ballots are removed from the bags and 
divided into piles of 50 that are each called and counted separately. we 
have to do it two different times in slightly different ways and get 
equivalent results twice before we say we counted that pile correctly. 
for a precinct-summable method, we can sum up the results from each pile 
and double-check that summation.

i cannot promise that this will prove to you that your ballot was 
included, but if i'm watching the whole thing, it's proven to me.


r b-j                  rbj at audioimagination.com

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."

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