Washburn's World

My take on the world. My wife often refers to this as the WWW (Weird World of Washburn)

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Location: Germantown, Wisconsin, United States

I am a simple country boy transplanted from the Piehl Township in northern Wisconsin to the Milwaukee metropolitan area who came down "sout" in 1980 for college and have stayed in the area since.
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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Hand Count Paper Ballots

Checkout How to Count Hand Ballots for how Canada counts by hand. I especially like the perforated ballot and stub system. If used in Milwaukee, Scott Walker and the City Election Commission could very precisely know and document how many ballots were printed, delivered, used, not used and returned during an election at any given polling place.

My only innovation here is to use a high-end counting scale in order to count the stacks of sorted ballots. The worst case in Wisconsin is the Village of Brown Deer. Here is what it would take to count 7080 ballots of 10 partisan races by hand in one night.

The current trend is there may be no certifiable equipment available on the market by midnight of January 1, 2006. If so, hand counting paper ballots may be the only HAVA-compliant answer available to the State of Wisconsin.

The more I know about voting machinery, the more I am drawn to the conclusion the most trustworthy, most secure, and least expensive system is hand counting paper ballots during a local canvass performed on election night at the polling location by adversarial, partisan poll inspectors where the local canvass is open to the public. Wisconsin statute requires all of these elements except the hand counting.

Now, getting the Cities of Milwaukee, Madison, Racine, and Kenosha to actually obey Wisconsin Chapter 7.51 on local board canvassing is another matter altogether. The Wisconsin system for local board canvassing would work if the Wisconsin-style canvasses were actually performed in every municipality in the state.


Anonymous steveegg said...

Fine arguments for hand-separated, machine-weighed ballots. I'll take not knowing the winners at 9:30 pm in exchange for the elimination of the machine errors.

That extended time frame does, however, bring another element into question. If the folks doing the counting are the same ones that have been there since 6:30 am, it gets to be a VERY long day, and that would tend to introduce human errors into the mix..

Tue Aug 16, 02:16:00 PM CDT  
Blogger John Washburn said...


But, only the chief poll inspectors need to be there all day. Most municipalities have split shifts. Why not have the counters work from 5:00 pm until 12:00 am? As long as the counters are not uni-partisan (bi- tri- quad- or quint-partisan), I am trusting of the arrangement.

Also, Brown Deer is the insane example. The 7080 ballots could be counted at the 3 polling locations instead of the short adjournment to the Village Hall as is the case today and allowed under 7.51(1) in accordance with 5.85(1).

Most polling places had less than 2000 ballots on November 2, 2004.

Tue Aug 16, 05:41:00 PM CDT  
Anonymous steveegg said...

The split shift definitely would work. Counting at the 3 polling places also would reduce the amount of time required, though it would require 3 scales instead of 1. One more thing that reduces the time somewhat are the races that don't have 7 candidates (i.e. most of them).

Operationally, I would probably eliminate the separate write-in stack, separating out the write-ins for each office as each office is canvassed. That would allow the initial sort to concentrate solely on the party-preference section of the ballot, which reduces both the time required to run that step and the chance for an error.

I do have some lingering questions on the time estimates, though. The main one is that it appears that the sorting of a particular ballot is done by a single poll worker. The other is that you list the weigh/count time as "man-hours", when it really should be classified as "hours" (more workers than a minimum amount required to preserve impartiality wouldn't decrease the actual time taken to do this step).

Mitigating these would be that, at least to my untrained eye, the estimates themselves appear to be on the extreme-high end of the scale.

Wed Aug 17, 12:20:00 PM CDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SAVElection Monterey County CA.....We have demanded the replacement of our Sequoia t/s and op/scan machines with HCPB....please contact Valerie Lane at myvotematter@yahoo.com to share any info you feel will be helpful.....we are trying to use Paul Lehto's "Rights " argument...have you had any luck with this ?.....what has your best strategy been....? Thanks for fighting to restore democracy ....we need better..consolidation methods....look forward to hearing from you....VL.

Fri Sep 21, 04:50:00 PM CDT  

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