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

Alan Dechert adechert at earthlink.net
Mon Jul 21 03:58:41 CEST 2003

"Paul Rubin" <http://phr.cx@NOSPAM.invalid> wrote in message
news:7x1xwk8z14.fsf at ruckus.brouhaha.com...
> "Alan Dechert" <adechert at earthlink.net> writes:
> > Right.  This receipt problem is way overblown.  If we really thought
> > was a big problem, absentee voting would be illegal.  There are problems
> > with absentee voting but then look at Oregon -- they have gone to
> > vote-by-mail entirely.
> In fact absentee ballots are just about the favorite mechanism of
> ballot fraud.  ....
I think that is correct.

> Absentee voting should be greatly curtailed if not
> banned outright.  Instead, voters away from home should be allowed to
> cast their ballots at any official polling place they happen to be
> near, not just at the one in their home district.
Our system, if implemented, would replace the current absentee system as
well as the current poll site system.


The absentee system would work very much like the poll site system.  The
voter would see exactly the same screens with either one.  The printout
would look exactly the same.  The ballot electronic record would wind up in
exactly the same format as poll site ballots.  Here are some advantages
highlighted in the proposal:

· Voter does not need to plan
· Avoids mailing of absentee request as request is made and granted
· No need for the county to print and mail costly absentee ballot materials
· Tabulation of absentee votes available on Election Day
· Seamless integration with poll site system
· Secret ballot and voter anonymity preserved
· Greatly reduces potential for absentee vote fraud

> I have doubts about Oregon but its problems don't see nearly as bad as
> places like Florida (try Googling for "Xavier Suarez" and "fraud").
> If they did mail-in voting in Florida, they would never get a reliable
> election result again.
> As for the receipt problem being overblown, IIRC, Benaloh's original
> paper described its motivation, citing examples of the Mafia telling
> people how to vote in Italian elections and demanding to see receipts.
> There would be similar problems in the US military from what I've heard.
There are still important issues there.  Generally, we've cracked down on
blatant coersion and vote buying.  Still, some good sting operations are
probably in order.

The most persistent type of corruption has to do with campaigns that
overwork the absentee ballots -- helping voters make sure they vote.
Sometimes it's a fine line.  A campaign worker might stop by an elderly
voter to make sure s/he has mailed in the absentee ballot, and the voter
asks for assistance -- or the campaign worker offers assistance.  How much
assistance constitutes fraud where a voter is really not sure what to do?  I
don't have any numbers but in 2000 a lot of older folks in Florida were
getting assistance with obtaining and sending in their absentee ballots.

Alan Dechert

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