Thursday, November 06, 2008

Looking forward

I generally concur with Al Kolwicz on his deeper analysis below. It is true that there is no adequate mechanism for information flow about voting systems, and to the extent that such a mechanism is in place it is too often scuttled by those in positions of power and influence. Their actions represented in the points below are taken at a real and tangible risk of loss of the accuracy of our elections. The problem of spurious marks is not unexpected by those of us watching closely, and has been encountered before. It is soluble by simple but time consuming human interception of any machine’s limited capability at vote interpretation.

In the future we must redesign our system (laws, rules, common practice, and equipment) with improved checks and remedies and perhaps more direct human involvement. But for now we must allow our existing checks in place to go forward, even if it takes days to interpret and count the marks on the paper ballots. We have always recognized that the benefit of having a countable record of voter intent depends on the ability and willingness to actually count it. While there are those who see benefits in simplicity and efficiency in losing the human countable record of voter intent, and there are also those who demand rapid results reporting, I see only loss of accuracy in those places.

Al says the spurious marks issue is not forgivable, but I see it only as foreseeable and some aspencts of it actually foreseen. This very real issue remains difficult to address under the currently popular presumption of the fallibility of the human counting of votes by many election officials. Naturally we should look for remedies involving an increase of human involvement in the vote interpretation process.

Harvie Branscomb

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