Increasing mechanization and centralization of election processing has led naturally to less citizen oversight. Decreased trust in election "judges" and "hand counting" has aggravated this loss of oversight. The predominance of cost and convenience issues has also led to bypassing inefficient opportunities for citizen oversight. Yet citizen oversight of the most idiosyncratic nature continues to demonstrate that it improves election quality by discovering errors. Access to ballots has historically been difficult because of geographical issues and physical ballot integrity. But recently more and more voting systems use scanners that produce or could produce copies of ballots that are almost as good for interpretation as the original paper. Technology has presented us with a way to cheaply and conveniently offer the best possible opportunity for oversight imaginable - access to each ballot, and, ideally, access to each officially counted cast vote record. With both of these data points in hand, citizens, campaigns and press can identify weak points in the election interpretation and vote aggregation process, as was done in the Coleman Franken contest. Any trouble with the election can be isolated and converged upon and corrected for.
-Aspen's historic May 5, 2009 IRV election audited as single ballots- 5/5/09 Aspen CO held an instant runoff election (IRV) for mayor and 2 council members. Interpreted contents of each ballot, scanned by True Ballot, were publicly released. Open records requests for a CD of image scans were denied. Aspen has been sued to protect records from destruction and to allow inspection of the scanned ballot files. A Court of Appeals ruling holds that unidentifiable ballots are public records.
Friday, October 28, 2011
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