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The problems with paper ballots

The problems with paper ballots

Posted May 19, 2006 2:50 UTC (Fri) by pflugstad (subscriber, #224)
In reply to: The problems with paper ballots by AJWM
Parent article: Diebold election insecurity systems

In the first instance, that person probably shouldn't be voting -- they're hardly making informed choices.

I was implying they were blind or visually impared. The computer could read the ballot to them audibly (via headphones), with large buttons on the screen, maybe with the persons picture on it (apparently Brazil uses something like that). Or with a braile reader connected to the computer.

But even if they truly cannot read, this is no barrier to watching or listening the news, etc and understanding, probably better than you do, the issues and making an informed decions. Wise people who can't read aren't just characters in books. My father-in-law probably reads at a 3rd grade level, but he definately pays attention and can argue the issues with me 7 days a week and twice on Sunday.

And as far as an uninformed choice goes, I expect that label applies to probably the majority of the people voting, especially in down-ticket races. Quick in the last election, name who was running for state representative in your district from the major parts - what was their history and stance on various issues. What about county commisioner (or city council or whatever). I'd wager 95% of America goes into the voting completley clueless about this stuff.

In the second, if they're not taking the voting process seriously enough to pay attention to detail, then their vote shouldn't be paid attention to either.

Did you see the butterfly ballots in Florida? They are a case study in confusing/poor design. It's entirely possible that Bush won Florida in 2000 because people mistakenly voted for Buchannon or various other combinations of stupid design.

I (with a college education and clearly paying attention and motivated) am sometimes confused with the idiotic and plain stupid ballot designs our local election officials come up with. Often it's 3 or 4 different pieces of paper, with different formats - some double sided or some not.

Computers have a place in this system and can make things better. But the current implementations are not doing any of these things. They are all a joke and lead one to the conclusion that either our election officials are all crooked, or all idiots, or quite possibly both.

Yes this will probably allow a less informed voter to vote - but they're doing that now anyway. And with the way the voting machines are setup, I'd rather have an uninformed voter than a rigged election.

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The problems with paper ballots

Posted May 19, 2006 22:33 UTC (Fri) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954) [Link]

It's entirely possible that Bush won Florida in 2000 because people mistakenly voted for Buchannon or various other combinations of stupid design.

You can state it even more strongly. It is a near certainty that that happened. It may not be obvious to people who don't have a good command of statistics, but it's inescapable to those who do.

We've reached a level of polling technology where the exit polls (and even telephone polls) are more accurate at measuring who voters want to win than the ballots are (and hundreds of times cheaper!). You may remember that in 2000, several news organizations reported with certainty that Gore had won, and had to retract that when the official counts came in in Palm Beach County Florida. That's because the exit polls asked voters who they thought they voted for, while the ballots showed who they actually voted for, and those were different.

To those who didn't follow or don't remember the statistics in question: Arch-conservative independent presidential candidate Buchanan got way more votes on that ballot than independents usually get and than Buchanan got in similar counties. The same voters who voted for Buchanan also voted for the liberal Democrat senate candidate. And the ballot was designed so that a mark next to Democrat Gore's name was also a mark next to Buchanan's name.

The same inconsistencies could be seen in several other races on that ballot.

There were easily enough miscast votes to make the difference in who won Florida, and the vote was close enough among the rest of the states that that made the difference in who won the whole election.

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