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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How to (count) votes

From the Register...

"With just a week to go before the US presidential election,
academics, politicians, and voters are voicing increased distrust of
the electronic voting machines that will be used to cast ballots.

In early balloting in West Virginia, Texas, and Tennessee, voters
using e-voting machines made by Nebraska-based Election Systems &
Software (ES&S) have reported the "flipping" of their vote from the
presidential candidate they selected to the candidate's rival. In some
cases, voters said their choice had been changed from Democrat Barack
Obama to Republican John McCain while others reported just the


This is ridiculous. Here's how you do it: you should put a piece of
paper with your vote on it in a box. At all times that box is being
observed by someone from the Democrats and someone from the
Republicans. Those two take the box to a central or regional center
for counting. The counting is performed simultaneously by the
Democrats and the Repuiblicans.

Who cares if we get the results the same night or several days later?


Unknown said...

We use paper ballots and still manage to get the results in within about 90 minutes for most of them. Of course, you've got 10x more ballots to count.

jarober said...

There's a simpler way. Use optical scan ballots, similar to the "use a number 2 pencil" tests we all took in school. Those are easily machine counted with old, well known technology - and they are also easily hand counted if there's a need.

Chris Bogart said...

I don't care about instant returns, but counting ballots by hand is tedious, labor-intensive, and open to interpretation (remember the hanging chads?)

I like the ones where I cast my vote on the machine, but I get to see a paper receipt that it produces and drops into a bin. Not only is there a backup paper trail, but since it was machine-generated, there won't be quibbles about how to interpret human marks on a page.

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Portland, Oregon, United States
I'm usually writing from my favorite location on the planet, the pacific northwest of the u.s. I write for myself only and unless otherwise specified my posts here should not be taken as representing an official position of my employer. Contact me at my gee mail account, username patrickdlogan.