Archive for the 'election' Category

SBCL used in e-counting


Page 21 of ORG’s full report on their observations of the 2007 elections (held for various purposes across the UK) says that SBCL was used for e-Counting in South Bucks. That’s pretty much the only positive thing I’ve found so far. The report just makes me want to weep.

Of course the usual suspects also appear: Windows Server 2003, .Net 2.0, Oracle, Red Hat, Ubuntu (twice!), Apache, Tomcat, Ruby on Rails, Firefox 2.0, Sun JRE.

Why electronic counting failed


All I’ve read so far is the BBC article about how the pilot at 5 councils of electronic counting has failed. That and some of the more tedious leglislation on the matter.

So having not found out much yet I predict the following will turn out to be key factors in the failure of the electronic counting pilot:

Secret software.
MS Access.
Administrator Privileges.
Power cycling.
Final hardware not specified (specification of hardware changed throughout project life-cycle).
No full-scale tests. That is, no test using a similar number of votes as would be expected on election night.
No test performed using the final hardware and software at the site where counting was to be done using real counting staff (until the real thing on election night, naturally).
Nobody opened an image-processing textbook (see secret software).
Results of pre-election night tests suppressed.
Requirements for error rates not specified numerically (in quantifiable terms).
At least one class of errors (in categorising votes) not considered.
Requirements on speed of processing not specified numerically.
Requirements on number of votes presented for adjudication (compared to votes adjudicated in a hand count) not specified.
Changing the design of the ballot paper so that electronic voting would be “easier” meant that electronic counting systems could not be tested with the actual voting slips from previous elections.
Inadequate staff training (see power cycling).
Concurrency problems (for example, presenting the same image to two different adjudicators, then screwing up the count database).

Vote Different


It turns out that there are 12 “electoral modernisation pilots”. Sorry for the crappy image linked to a PDF. Getting this table from NeoOffice to my blog was unreasonably annoying.

Advance is a scheme where voters can vote up to 2 weeks (generally) before the election. In all these schemes a signature will be required before advance voting.

Signature is a scheme where all voters (not just advance voters) will be required to provide a signature before voting.

Scanning means that votes will be counted by electronic scanning machines. Y denotes a scheme using “commerically available” scanning hardware. X presumably denotes a scheme using scanning hardware custom-built by the Mayor’s nephew in his shed.

Internet denotes a scheme of advance voting using the internet.

Telephone denotes a scheme of advance voting using the telephone.

Central denotes the provision of a centrally provided facility (or facilities) at which voters can vote regardless of their ward or parish.

That single table is about the same amount of information in this 5 page PDF from the DCA found on this page. Is the DCA’s performance measured in Kilogrammes or something?