Wednesday, January 10, 2007

David Dill on paper ballots and hand counts

Comments used in Chester County recount case

Big hopes to upset a tiny lead in ChescoThe GOP is almost certain to challenge the hair's-breadth margin - 0.1% - Democrats hold in the 156th District.
By Carrie Budoff Inquirer Staff Writer


The 156th District, which encircles West Chester, has become the focal point of a statewide power struggle over the House of Representatives.

Royer came out of Election Day with a 19-vote lead, but a subsequent count of absentee ballots threw the edge to Smith. The outcome of this one race has left the 203-member chamber in limbo, with Republicans urging caution and Democrats claiming House control for the first time in 12 years.

A Chester County Court judge will decide whether to grant a recount and how it would be performed once Republicans - as they said they would - file a recount request by tomorrow's deadline.

While election experts agree a recount should be done, they disagree over which method - counting the paper ballots by hand or by machine - would be more accurate.

Ansolabehere favors a machine count, citing the likelihood of human error that comes with a manual review. "I know computer scientists love hand-counted paper. Go with the optical scanners."

David L. Dill, a computer science professor at Stanford University and founder of, a nonpartisan advocacy group, said he prefers a human count.

"You want to go slowly and carefully; you have multiple people watching it," he said. "You are only counting one race on the ballot. The careful hand count takes longer and takes more effort but will be much more accurate."

The number of "undervotes" - instances where voters didn't make a selection in the race, but did make choices in other contests - serves as a barometer for possible counting problems. There were 273 undervotes, or about 1 percent of the total.


David Dill responds on BBV forum

Posted on Friday, January 20, 2006 - 06:12 pm:


Posted on Saturday, January 21, 2006 - 03:07 pm:

I don't think that means we should eliminate machines. There is a significant part of the activist component that believes we should go back to all hand counting. That's ok in theory, and even in practice in rural areas in the U.S., but it has several problems. One is that it ALSO requires careful procedures and lots of auditing, because those human counters can make mistakes and cheat. Some people have proposed hand counting all the ballots at the polling places right after the close of the election. It would be HARD to mobilize enough observers to watch this process at every precinct! Also, it seems to be a tough sell. Finally, it doesn't seem BETTER than optical scan with extensive auditing, which seems to me to have a much better chance of working out...

do not miss this discussion

Just the kind of stuff we need to know - who is who?

Among computer scientists who have achieved renown in the voting integrity movement, in general, the following scientists are against crypto:

Dr. Rebecca Mercuri
Dr. Barbara Simons (at least last time I talked to her about it, which was in August).
Dr. Herbert Thompson (at least, last time I talked to him about VoteHere, which was in a cab in Washington D.C. in late September)

Those who have been for the crypto solution:
Dr. David Dill
Dr. Avi Rubin
Dr. David Jefferson
Dr. David Chaum (has his own crypto solution, a company called Votegrity)

However, Drs. Dill, Rubin and Jefferson who have been favorable to VoteHere in the past say it is NOT ready for prime time now.

One more question: Has anyone heard of a crypto solution combined with mail-in ballots? That may be in the works, and I'd like to find out more about it.

(Message edited by Bev_Harris on January 10, 2005)

David Dill responds in his first post on Wednesday, January 19, 2005 - 04:33 pm:

More from Kim Alexander,GGLD:2006-40,GGLD:en

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