Possible use of Python for a voting machine demo project -- your feedback requested

Alan Dechert adechert at earthlink.net
Tue Jul 22 19:51:49 CEST 2003


"Paul Rubin" <http://phr.cx@NOSPAM.invalid> wrote in message
news:7x4r1exzqh.fsf at ruckus.brouhaha.com...
> Marc Wilson <marc at cleopatra.co.uk> writes:
> > Ah.  That's a whole load of trouble we don't have.  To stand for
election,
> > here, you have to pony up a deposit, which you lose if you don't get a
> > certain percentage of the vote.  It's to discourage "frivolous"
campaigns,
> > supposedly.  IIRC, it's around GBP 1000; about USD 1500.
>
> Here, you have to get a certain number of voter signatures on
> petitions, plus pay a bunch of fees, to get your name actually printed
> on the ballot.
>
I'm not sure if this is "uniformly" true.  I once ran a petition drive to
get a candidate on the ballot IN LIEU of the filing fee (for 1986 primary,
U.S. House of Representatives, 12 CD in CA).  It took 3,000 valid
signatures, IIRC.

> But when voting, you can write in the name of anyone
> you want.
>
This too seems not uniformly true.  In some states (e.g., Florida) write-ins
are only valid if the candidates are "qualified."  Write-ins have to file a
petition or something like that.  Otherwise, the write-ins don't count.  So,
if a contest has no qualified write-in candidates, the line for write-in
does not appear on the ballot.  Doug Jones has some on his web site.  Here's
one for Clay county in FL.  Note that some contests have the write-in line
but some don't.

http://www.cs.uiowa.edu/~jones/voting/intent/samples/clay.pdf

The way that write-ins are handled would probably change [for the better] if
our uniform PC-based-open-source-with-a-printer voting system gets
implemented.  Write-ins pose significant overhead in election
administration.  In some cases, the actual name written in only gets read if
there are enough write-in votes to impact the outcome.  In other cases,
write-ins have to be tallied by name regardless.  With our system, write-ins
would be taken care of (almost) automatically.  So, a lot of the rules that
are designed to cut down on the manual labor involved in tallying write-ins
would no longer be needed.  There would still be some issues but, for the
most part, these will be easy to deal with.  Spelling variations cause some
challenge.  For example,

B WRIGHT
BILL WRIGHT
WILLIAM WRIGHT
WILL WRIGHT
WILIAM WRIGHT
WILLIAM WRITE

might all refer to the same peron.  In the extremely rare instance where
sorting this out could impact the outcome, it will be much easier to deal
with on our system than on any system where votes are written in by hand.
Existing DREs on the market also have this advantage over other systems but
they don't have the penetration we hope to achieve.

Alan Dechert






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