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VOTING BY PAPER BALLOTS AND HAND COUNTS (some of the information below may be out-of-date)
The key to a timely hand-count is to limit the size of each precinct. The length of the ballot could determine the number of voters per precinct.
From Sheila Parks: ON-SITE OBSERVATIONS OF THE HAND-COUNTING OF PAPER BALLOTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE GENERAL ELECTIONS OF 2008 http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_sheila_p_070718_on_site_observations.htm
How other countries vote
HAND COUNTS WORK - OTTAWA (AP) November 28, 2000 -- Florida vote canvassers, take note. Within four hours after the last polls closed in Canada's parliamentary election, officials at 50,000 polling stations had hand-counted virtually every one of nearly 13 million paper ballots. There were glitches, to be sure -- an angry voter seized a ballot box in Nova Scotia and threw it into a polluted lagoon. But overall, Canada's federal elections system, which uses no counting machines, had a smooth Election Night. p://www.canoe.ca/CNEWSUSElection0011/28_canadianelection-ap.html
For Canada's year 2000 election:
HOW HAND COUNTS WORK IN CANADA
Author - Teresa Hommel
>How many ballots were received at the polling place?
>How many ballots were used?
>How many voters voted?
>When the ballots are printed, they are in pads of 25 or 50 or 100. Each
>sheet of paper in the pad consists of a ballot and a stub. A ballot gets
>torn off its stub when the ballot is given to a voter.
>Each stub is individually numbered with a unique serial number. (The
>ballots do not have serial numbers.) Records are kept to show what serial
>numbers are delivered to each polling place. For example, a polling place
>that receives 300 ballots might have serial numbers 901 through 1200.
comment - At some polls I've worked at, party workers sit and write document
voters names as they arrive. Therefore, in order to maintain a secret ballot,
the ballots should be shuffled so that as voters come in they can't be matched
to their ballot serial numbers.)
>Upon receiving the ballots, a polling official counts them to verify that
>the polling place has received the correct quantity of ballots, and that
>the serial numbers are correct according to what was supposed to be
>received. For example, if a pad is supposed to have 100 ballots, the
>polling official makes sure that it has 100, and not 99 or 101.
>The polling official also prepares each ballot by writing his or her
>initials in a designated place on the back of each ballot.
>Before voting begins, everyone looks into the ballot box to make sure it
>When a voter arrives at the polling place, the voter's name is looked for
>in the list of registered voters. If the voter's name is found, a polling
>official tears off a ballot from a pad, folds the ballot correctly with
>the side for marking votes on the inside and the polling official's
>initials on the outside. Then the polling official hands the folded ballot
>to the voter.
>The voter goes into a booth and marks the ballot by pencil or pen.
>After marking the ballot, the voter folds it again so that the votes are
>on the inside and the polling official's initials are on the outside. The
>voter hands the ballot to the polling official. The polling official
>checks his or her initials, finds the voter's name on the voter list, and
>marks a line through the voter's name to indicate that this voter has
>voted. In some elections the ballot is handed back to the voter, who
>places it into the ballot box in front of the polling official.
>More frequently the polling official places the ballot into the ballot box
>while the voter watches.
>When the polling place is closed at the end of the day, the ballot boxes
>are opened and the ballots are counted. Everyone looks into the ballot box
>to make sure that it is empty and all ballots have been taken out.
>The number of voted ballots must be exactly the same as the number of
>voters' names that were crossed with a line on the voter list. Also, the
>number of ballots used must be exactly the same as the number of ballots
>that were removed from their stubs on the ballot pads. Sometimes there is
>a spoiled ballot that was removed from a pad but not placed in the ballot
>box, or you might have two ballots that stick together and no one notices
>until the counting of ballots later, but polling officials must account
>for all ballots that have been removed from their stubs on the pads.
>Canadians have people called "Scrutineers" who observe and assist in
>elections. One Scrutineer from each party may observe and participate in
>the procedures in each polling place.
>A Scrutineer with 30 years experience in elections was asked, "What if the
>number of ballots in the ballot box doesn't match the number voters' names
>crossed in the voter list, or what if the number of ballots removed from
>the pads is not the same as the number of ballots in the ballot box plus
>the spoiled ballots?" The reply was, "It's never happened in my experience."
>Counting Paper Ballots
>It is possible that a different vote-counting method may be used in
>different Canadian elections. Below are three different methods.
>1. Example 1, Piles of Ballots
>Suppose the election involves races for mayor and city council. The
>ballots would be counted twice, once for each race.
>Suppose there are three candidates for mayor, named A, B, and C. The
>paper ballots are separated into three piles, one pile with the ballots
>marked for candidate A, one for B, and one for C. Then the paper ballots
>in each pile are counted, and the tally sheet is filled in with the final
>tally for each candidate for mayor.
>Suppose, next, there are five candidates for city council. The paper
>ballots are separated again, this time into five piles, one pile for each
>candidate for city council. Then the paper ballots in each pile are
>counted, and the tally sheet is filled in with the final tally for each
>candidate for city council.
>To summarize, for each race the paper ballots are physically placed into
>separate piles--one pile for each candidate--and then the ballots in each
>pile are counted.
>This method is very fast. An estimate for the time required to count 300
>ballots with ten races and an average of five candidates per race is two
>and a half hours.
>2. Example 2, Tally Sheet with Rows of Squares
>In this vote counting method, each Scrutineer has a tally sheet with rows
>of squares to be used for counting the votes for each candidate.
>This kind of tally sheet is large--perhaps 17 by 22 inches (the size of
>four sheets of ordinary typing paper). The tally sheet has the name of
>each candidate in large print, followed by perhaps 20 rows of squares. If
>each row has 50 squares and there are 20 rows, there are 1000 squares for
>each candidate's name. To make counting easier, the vertical line that
>separates the boxes is wider after every fifth square.
>A polling official goes through the ballots one at a time. He or she
>holds each ballot so everyone can see it, and reads aloud the names of the
>candidates selected on the ballot. For each vote for a specific
>candidate, the Scrutineers mark "X" in one box for that candidate.
>After all ballots have been processed like this, the number of votes for
>each candidate is determined by the number of "X" marks for the candidate.
>3. Example 3, Tally Strokes (also called Pencil Strokes)
>This method is for small elections where there will be relatively few
>ballots, races, or candidates.
>A pencil stroke is a mark that a person makes with a pencil on paper. For
>each five pencil strokes, the first four are vertical lines which look
>like the letter "l" or the number "1". The fifth pencil stroke is made at
>an angle across the first four, to create a grouping of five.
>Each Scrutineer has a tally sheet with the candidates' names, and several
>blank lines following the name of each candidate. For each candidate
>there is also a "total box" where the total count of votes for that
>candidate must be filled in.
>A polling official reads aloud the names of the candidates selected on
>each ballot. For each vote for a candidate, the Scrutineers make a pencil
>stroke on a line following that candidate's name.
>After all the ballots are read, the total number of pencil strokes for
>each candidate is written in the "total box" for that candidate.
>4. Counting 100 ballots at a time
>For some elections, the ballots may be counted in batches of 100. One of
>the above counting methods, or some other counting method, may be used
>with the batches.
>The batches are created as the ballots are taken out of the ballot box. At
>this time the ballots are separated into batches of 100 and each batch is
>put into a separate large envelop. The last batch would probably have
>fewer than 100 ballots. For example, if there are 250 ballots, there would
>be three envelops with 100, 100, and 50 ballots, respectively.
>The votes in each batch are counted. After counting, a polling official
>puts the ballots back into their envelop and writes the tallies for that
>batch on the outside of the envelop.
>The use of small batches can make the counting easier.
>Reporting the Final Tallies
>After the votes have been counted, a polling official writes the final
>vote tallies on a form called the Statement of Poll. The Statement of Poll
>is signed by two different polling officials who have conducted the
>election and the counting of votes.
>Several Statement of Poll forms may have to be created and signed because
>one is returned to the central elections office and in addition each
>Scrutineer must receive one. For example, if there are three major
>candidates, each polling place may have three Scrutineers, one
>representing each candidate. Each Scrutineer gets a signed Statement of
>Poll which they deliver to the office of the candidate they are supporting.
Although absentee, early, and mail-in voting is vulnerable to mishap and tampering, any voting method that provides a paper ballot for the voter to verify and a hand count (not optical scan), is less corruptible than machine, computer, or Internet voting. Most states allow voters to vote "absentee" and don't check up on whether the excuse was legitimate or not. Ask your election officials if absentee ballots are hand or machine counted. Even if absentee ballots are machine counted, at least a paper record may survive.
To my knowledge, most of the counties in these states machine-count their mail-in votes:
Hand-counting still the norm in Maine
By SUSAN M. COVER
Copyright (c) 2004
Maine Newspapers Inc.
AUGUSTA -- Human hands still count paper ballots in 80 percent of Maine
communities on election night.
And despite a national movement toward computerized voting machines,
Maine officials want to tread lightly when it comes to changing what's
"It's neighbors conducting the election of their neighbors," said
Secretary of State Dan Gwadosky. "It really has served us well."
The state will introduce at least one computerized voting machine into
each polling place in Maine by 2006 to comply with a federal
to help people with disabilities vote on their own for the first time.
Those machines have an audio component to help the visually impaired or
others vote without help from anyone else, he said.
Beyond that, there's little money and perhaps less interest in
from what's considered to be a trustworthy system to one that uses
Kim Rzasa, the Dresden town clerk, said she talked about the newer
methods at a recent training session for election officials.
"I said, 'Unfortunately ladies, they are nationalizing everything and
have to be brought down to the standards of the rest of the country,' "
With barely more than 1,000 voters, the town has volunteers who help
count ballots efficiently on election night, she said. Rarely are they
there anywhere close to midnight, although she's prepared for a big
turnout this year.
The national changes Rzasa refers to are known as the Help America Vote
Act, passed by Congress in 2002 and designed to help states get rid of
problematic punch card ballots, create statewide voter-registration
lists and provide more training for workers.
No matter how it's done, there's a certain error rate in virtually all
methods of voting, said Marvin Druker, a professor at Lewiston-Auburn
College of the University of Southern Maine. Many of the errors are
honestly: People aren't trying to rig elections, he said.
One of the best ways to prevent errors or correct them if they happen
by using paper ballots, said Druker, a professor of public affairs.
"Generally, Maine has a high voter turnout as well. And given that,
municipalities are so small they can get through quickly even with a
large turnout," he said, adding that storage of the new video machines
might be difficult for small towns.
Places such as Unity can't afford the machines, which wouldn't get much
use in nonpresidential years, Unity Town Clerk Sue Lombard said. With a
voting list of 1,400, Lombard brings in about 15 volunteers on election
night to count the ballots.
"Other than presidential elections, it's not that horrible," she said.
"This one's going to be a doozy."
While Maine hasn't been plagued with widespread voting problems, others
think it's time for smaller towns to consider moving to the optical
scanners to tabulate votes. One is Sen. Art Mayo, R-Bath, who is a
member of the Legislature's Legal and Veterans Affairs Committee and
who's been involved with two recounts in the last four years.
"As you approach midnight, it's very easy to make a mistake," he said.
"That isn't a criticism, it's a fact."
He noted that many poll workers are there from early in the morning
until late at night, and hand counting keeps them on duty far too long.
Clerks in Richmond, Dresden and Unity say there's no movement to change
the way votes are counted. It's comforting for residents to know that
things haven't changed, Rzasa said.
And the new computers, some of which do not leave a paper trail, have
made headlines after malfunctions in other states.
"They sound like they are a lot of trouble to me," Richmond Town Clerk
Judy Savage said.
In the move to embrace new technology, some states have forgotten the
basics of how to run a good election, Gwadosky said. And it's much
easier to conduct recounts when there's a paper trail to follow.
"I think the only way you can be sure is if you have something you can
physically count," he said. "We've always been a paper-based state.
of New England is, as well. There's no move for us to move away from
Douglas Jones, a computer scientist who studies voting machines at the
University of Iowa, said it appeared Maine has an unusually high number
of communities still counting ballots by hand. In that way, Maine is
similar to North Dakota, Wyoming and Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
"In places like that, it's sensible not to go overboard on technology,"
In Iowa, only one county still tallies by hand and in at least one
other, they use the optical scanning machines in big elections, but
don't take them out if it's a small turnout. He said some states and
places in Western Europe have jumped on the technology bandwagon before
fully understanding all the implications.
"People get very excited about new technology and they feel, because
we've got it, we must use it," he said. "This is the same thing that
drives audiophiles to spend money on gold-plated speaker cables."
Another downfall of the computerized touch-screen machines is cost. The
systems can cost as much as six times per vote as the optical scanners,
Jones likes the optical scanners, which read ballots with arrows
connected or ovals filled in. He describes them as a good compromise
between high-end voting technology and counting by hand, which he said
can be error-prone.
Ten years from now, Jones hopes the country will continue to have many
different ways to vote and tally results.
"If we end up with a national standard, then if we discover later we
it wrong, where do we go?" he asked.
For example, in 1968, punch-card ballots were the up-and-coming
technology. But the 2000 "hanging chad" debacle in Florida showed that
technology doesn't give voters the chance to verify their ballots in an
easy way, he said.
States should continue to shop around the marketplace, which will
work to come up with new and better voting methods, Jones said. But he
is not a big fan of Internet voting, which he thinks is fraught with
possibilities for security breaches and fraud.
"One crook in a million is a dangerous thing to have if that crook can
get access to the right resources on the Internet," he said.
November 27, 2000 NA (Network America) e-wire
Machine-free, Canadians swiftly hand-count their 13 million ballots
Look at the article below! Thanks to Robert for sending it in.
While we in the USA are still waiting to find out who the President is 3 weeks after election day, Canadians started their national election counting on the evening of Monday November 27th, 2000 – and finished 4 hours later on the evening of Monday November 27th, 2000.
Please bear in mind that --- even though there were 13 million ballots nationwide --- on average 250 or so easily read PAPER BALLOTS were counted at EACH of 50,000 precincts. The counting was done by about 6 counters at each precinct. A FEW BALLOTS COUNTED BY AN ADEQUATE NUMBER OF COUNTERS.
As can be seen from the article below, there is no need whatsoever for the ABSURD spectacle of 12 people trying to count 480,000 punch card ballots, or whatever the number was down in Palm Beach, Florida.
Of course, the Canadians are trying to get a quick, accurate count, -- while those who have stealthily placed the current voting systems in 99% of the counties in the USA were not concerned with speed or with accuracy – they were only concerned with having a voting system that could be easily rigged from a central location, and would have the feature of taking the ballots out of the sight of the voters where the voter’s ballots could be switched with pre-punched or pre-marked ballots prepared in advance by the Election Thieves.
Please notice also that – unlike the USA where it is OFFICIAL, MANDATORY POLICY of the Election Thieves who set up the system, that the ballots MUST be removed from the peoples’ supervision – in Canada the ballots MUST be discarded if they ever leave the official supervision (eyesight) of the Precinct Workers. Very important. Also, the Canadian official
interviewed says that the main feature of Canadian elections is TRANSPARENCY, as this list learned from Canadian Brent Beleskey, the director of the International Voters Coalition. Transparency means the ballots and counting are ALWAYS done in PUBLIC VIEW. The Election Thieves running the voting systems in the USA – insist on NON-TRANSPARENCY. They insist on removing the entire process into the dark, so that their agents can be protected by POLICE while they warp and steal elections in secret. HOW MUCH MORE OBVIOUS CAN THE CRIMINAL NATURE OF THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR OUR USA ELECTION SYSTEMS BE?
Here is the beginning of the article on the ease of Canadian PAPER BALLOT, HAND COUNTED Elections.
Machine-free, Canadians swiftly hand-count their 13 million ballots
By DAVID CRARY
The Associated Press
11/28/00 12:58 PM
OTTAWA (AP) -- Florida vote canvassers, take note. Within four hours after the last polls closed in Canada's parliamentary election, officials at 50,000 polling stations had hand-counted virtually every one of nearly 13 million paper ballots.
There were glitches, to be sure -- an angry voter seized a ballot box in Nova Scotia and threw it into a polluted lagoon. But overall, Canada's federal elections system, which uses no counting machines, had a smooth Election Night.
>From Newfoundland to Yukon, across the world's second-largest country, roughly 150,000 election workers fanned out Monday to a far-flung network of polling stations. Even in the biggest cities, no one station serves more than 500 registered voters -- most of the officers entrusted with the hand-counting had to handle no more than 300 or 400 ballots.
Pierre Blain, a spokesman for Elections Canada, said the system stresses transparency, with each party entitled to deploy a representative to watch the polling station chief count the ballots.
Any complaints can be registered with national elections officials; recounts are conducted automatically in cases of extremely narrow victory margins.
Though some of Monday's 301 parliamentary races were close, the overall result was clear-cut: Prime Minister Jean Chretien's Liberal Party won its third straight majority government while increasing its seats in the House of Commons from 161 to 173.
Blain, in a telephone interview Tuesday, politely declined to pass judgment on the electoral chaos in Florida, which was compounded by the use of different voting systems in various counties.
"All the democracies must look at their systems themselves," Blain said. "It's not for somebody from another country to look at them."
"The most important thing is that people must vote," he said. "I'm sure the workers in Florida did their best."
The Canadian system, in place for a century, uses traditional paper ballots, to be marked with an "X" beside the name of the preferred parliamentary candidate. There are no hanging chads, no questions about mechanical snafus.
In Nova Scotia, though, there was little that election officials could do when a man ran off with a ballot box and threw it into a
Alexander MacKenzie, who had sought compensation for living near the polluted water, was arrested for the theft, spent Monday night in jail, then was released pending a Dec. 18 court appearance.
The box was recovered with the ballots still legible, but under Canadian law they were discarded because they had been removed from official supervision. The polling station contacted the 125 people who had cast ballots; about 70 returned to vote again.
There were some systematic glitches, as well. At some polling stations, people arrived to find they were not on the list of eligible voters; many were confused even though most were permitted to vote if they had valid identification and spare time to register on the spot.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment for Elections Canada was the meager voter turnout of 63 percent -- the lowest in more than 75 years.
"Everywhere in the world, there seems to be a trend of turnout going down," Blain said. "Our task is simply to make sure there are no impediments for those who want to vote."
End of article.
End of this Network America E-wire.