Thursday, November 06, 2008

Ghost votes - print through

I've worked as a resolution judge today. The problem is called ghost
votes by the other judges with whom I worked. Changes in threshold
setting on the mark detector software seem to be making a dramatic
improvement in ths processing. But, to my untrained eye, there is
something very strange going on. The details of the images of marks
that I see don't fit well with any explanation that has been suggested
to me. I feel sorry for the people working on this problem. The environment
in which they are gathering data is certainly not a scientifit/engineering
laboratory. There a lot of constraints on the experiments they can
perform, and there is a lot of pressure to perform very quickly. But
when you discover that there is a problem with the actual count you
have to announce to the press and try to deal with their questions.
I'm sure a lot of time is being wasted dealing with crazy theories
generated by the press and public.

Part of the problem that I did see was a kind of print through of text on
the ballot onto other parts of the ballot. This was attributed to a wrong
ink used by the printer. This wrong ink remelted in the Post Office sorting
machine when the mail passed between hot rollers. (I don't think the
rollers are deliberately heated. They just get hot during normal operation
of the sorter. But I'm not sure.)

I had no problem fitting my mail-in ballot into the return-mail envelope
for this election. The envelopes were correctly sized, IMHO.

Paul Condon

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