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Reply #3: How about: ballot text is editable; database records are not? [View All]

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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-19-10 11:41 PM
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3. How about: ballot text is editable; database records are not?
Edited on Tue Oct-19-10 11:50 PM by Bill Bored
If you enter a candidate's name in GEMS for example, at first the ballot text will automatically match the database record of the name. But after that, the ballot text can be edited with no corresponding change to the database record of the candidate's name. So you could easily have candidate "Whitey" in the database and "Whitney" on the ballot (or vice versa) at the same time (or Bush in the database and Kerry on the ballot for that matter).

Now, this applies to optical scanners as well as DREs, since they are both programmed by GEMS. This is why I don't see what's so attractive about ballot scanners. They are as hackable as touchscreens and rarely does anyone check scanner tallies by counting enough of the paper ballots to prove that this sort of thing, or worse, didn't happen. But I digress.

What's interesting about the case you cite is that it implies that the summary screen of the DRE is using different "ballot text" to represent the candidate's name than the "ballot" itself (although of course both the ballot and the summary are just screens and not paper ballots). I wonder if, instead of the ballot text (which is easily editable), the summary screen uses the database record of the candidate's name (including any typos, abbreviations, etc.). If so, then these DREs may be somewhat more transparent than we've been assuming. For example, you'd have a hard time programming them to switch votes from Kerry to Bush by editing the ballot text without the voters knowing (and there have been cases where this has been reported on summary screens!).

The state of IL also has VVPATs. So the question arises as to what name was printed on them, doesn't it? Does it match the one on the summary screen, or the touchscreen ballot? And how about the names on the poll tapes? Any misspellings there? Presumably, the poll tape has to show the database record name because it's reporting vote tallies for each candidate.
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