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Transparent Voting

Transparent Voting

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Published by kathkatz
'Transparent-Voting' The concept is to make voting in a newly democratic country, or in any other sectretballot situation, affordable, transparently trustworthy and public property. It proposes cheap mobile self-contained voting booths for multi-choice secret polls. Each booth may be only the size of a public telephone cubicle, and portable. A voter approaches something like an ATM or telephone cubicle to cast a private vote while still in public view. An array of digital counters allows and rec
'Transparent-Voting' The concept is to make voting in a newly democratic country, or in any other sectretballot situation, affordable, transparently trustworthy and public property. It proposes cheap mobile self-contained voting booths for multi-choice secret polls. Each booth may be only the size of a public telephone cubicle, and portable. A voter approaches something like an ATM or telephone cubicle to cast a private vote while still in public view. An array of digital counters allows and rec

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Published by: kathkatz on Feb 19, 2010
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02/23/2010

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'Transparent-Voting'
The concept is to make voting in a newly democratic country, or in any other sectret-ballot situation, affordable, transparently trustworthy and public property.It proposes cheap mobile self-contained voting booths for multi-choice secret polls.Each booth may be only the size of a public telephone cubicle, and portable.A voter approaches something like an ATM or telephone cubicle to cast a private votewhile still in public view. An array of digital counters allows and records a single voteat one visit, and a voting token visibly drops into the appropriate receptacle. Theoverall results are immediately publicly reveaed at the close of voting.The physical arrangement is completely mechanical, not electrical, and transparentin operation, to engender trust.It is designed to be robust and reliable, almost bomb-proof. It is made waterresistant, to allow deployment in an open public place. There is therefore no need toarrange rooms in advance, but perhaps only rain and sun shelters for attendants.It is set up in an open place, with demonstrably no wires running to it, and novantage points which could allow photographic surveillance.To ensure only one vote per person, the cycle of begin-vote-end is locked inflexiblyinto place by mechanical links.If there were no fixed automatic mechancal cycle, privacy could not be sustained --close supervision would be needed.If there were no obvious begin and end motions, a second voter could arriveprematurely.If there were no cycle, someone would have to manually reset the voting buttons toallow another single vote, after each visit.Compared with a simple array of click-counters, the extra mechanical linkagesensure 'one-person, one vote', automatically.If the voting apparatus were completely enclosed and therefore the voter was not inpublic view, graffiti and vandalism would become a problem. Wheelchair access woudalso be a problem, making each module twice as big.Each component action (open lid, press voting button, close lid), when completed,sounds a chimed note.The design is modular, with one voting column for each choice offered, set closelyside by side, plus two end-assemblies, which supply the two end blinds.Being modular makes it flexible to changes in the number of choices offered in thepoll.There is no upper limit to the number of modules, so even preferential voting can beoffered as an instant multi-choice of various voting 'tickets'.Or, for instance, head-to-head choices between 6 final candidates would require 15modules.Security locks on the voting mechanism can unlock and lock up the screens, lids,voting buttons, reset buttons and token dispensers, to open and close the voting.It is preferable that several booths are operated simultaneously, to provide for back-up in the case of violent attacks, to increase throughput, and to allow permutationsof the displayed order of choices. That is a reason to limit the size of booths, untilseveral can fit in one utility vehicle.
 
Separate from the booth, is a display of the choices, so voters can and should decideon their vote before queueing for entry.Also on display is an unenclosed dummy pair of voting modules for people to practiseopening, casting a single vote and closing, but really to let people see how themechanics are arranged to ensure a singe vote only.It is able to cater for large numbers of voters. For example 10,000 voting tokens permodule allows approximately 20,000 voters, if taken to completion, which is about aweek's worth of voting, at about 250 per hour. (It is best to close a booth afteralmost 10,000 votes so no-one can guess the relative numbers from guesstimates of when the tokens will run out.)Each voting booth requires a security guard nearby, a trusted person to hold thesecurity keys, an instructor-supervisor for the voters outside, a helper for feeble orwheelchair bound voters, an attendant to beckon a new entrant and to examine theirhands for dye from previous voting, an attendant to register a voter (e.g. with a dyeapplied to the knuckles, by pushing against an ink pad to exit the enclosure), atruck, a driver-and-assembly-supervisor-cleaner-and-chief-instructor, and trustedscrutineers.The lid has a digital counter on it to register the total number of voters processed, asa cross-check on the totalled number of votes registered inside. This being openlyvisible to the public and scrutineers, acts as a deterrent for trying to alter theindividual numbers.The vote counting is a combination of a glorified array of digital mechanical counters,to
count 
the votes for each choice, and an array of marble dispensers, to
display 
theaccumulated voting tokens for each choice, but only when the results are opened upfor scrutiny.Digital counters are by themselves not inherently trusworthy in the eyes of skepticalvoters, being too easily reset, so the added visual mechanical
display 
of casting asingle pebble irretrievably into the appropriate basket, as it were, lends a high levelof public trust. Putting the ingenious and transparent mechanism on display outsideis a public relations exercise designed to foster public
 pride
in the system of trulydemocratic secret ballot.(The token dispensers could be done away, you might think, in countries which havetrustworthy electoral systems, but that is a bit like abdicating public responsibilityand handing it over to public servants... The system of 
transparent trust 
is lost.)This combined approach allows the
digital 
count to be immediately visually verifiedby the
token
accumulations. Therefore it is vote-rigging-proof, because it canregister and display and
confirm
the
ongoing
count for each choice, to trustedscrutineers, and publicly display the final count immediately on close of voting, sothat vote-counting cannot be later altered in any counting back-room. The
immediate
public display of the final count should be a feature
insisted 
upon, for thatvery reason. All that remains is for an official collation of what is already publicknowledge, to be made, ratified and published.Only the results of pre-poll voting, postal voting, overseas voting, mobile booths(e.g. to hospitals), and the like, can make a difference to the final numbers knownsimultaneously across the electorate. Therefore, these should be not allowed, orlimited in type and scope, and subject to especial scrutiny. E.g. the total numbersshould be limited and pre-published. The list of polling booths should be pre-
 
determined and published.Absentee voters wanting to cast a vote for a different electorate, are harder to caterfor.Once in place, the booth should not be removed from public scrutiny. The votingshould preferbly be finished within a single day, and if not, the module needs to beguarded, and scrutineers need to verify the vote count has not changed overnight.The lock on the lid should be a double lock, requiring two opponents to besimultaneously present to unlock it.The screens to block the transparent array can be made of armour plate, to preventbullet and blast damage, and also to make the whole module difficult to quickly carryoff. The module remains in place until voting closes and the results are displayed.Stealing ballot boxes on their way to some counting centre therefore becomes anunuseable tactic.Mechancal Details:The
overall mechanical set-up
is to e.g. lift open a horizontal lid, up and sidewaysto vertical, forming third side of a private box for pressing a single vote counter in asunken array. On the lid is built an exit barrier (a bar), which simultaneously lowersinto place, until horizontal; lift the exit barrier to close the lid, in full view of otherspresent, so no second vote can happen. The lid is linked to the modular array of choices inside: Closing the lid activates a lever, attached to the array, which enablesthe voting press-buttons to operate once, by means of activating a connecting rodrunning through all the modules. Likewise, pressing and releasing any voting buttonenables the lid to be closed, again by activating a connecting rod which runs thelength of the array. The lid is counterbalanced, to move easily into place.The cabinets and push-buttons are arranged side-by side, and linked by boltingtogether adjacent modules.Each internal connecting rod is mated to the adjacent modules so that if one shortpart of the rod is moved, the whole long rod moves together. The connecting rodparts do not protrude from each module, to avoid them being bent accidentally whenseparate, but are joined by a short key or pipe fitting tightly in a keyway or overadjacent and matching rod ends, and forced on by bolting the cabinets together.These mechanisms are mounted in position on a pair of solid horizontal struts withineach module. One internal rod connects the lid to the voting button lock, to unlockthe voting push-buttons. A second rod, activated by voting, connects to the open-lidlock, to unlock it. I.e. closing the lid unlocks itself to open. It is preferable that eachseparate action has a dedicated mechanism, for transparency, diagnosis and repair.The best choice is to have each rod simply rotate in place to register a movement of a lever. This rotation can be re-converted to a movement via a lever. The front of each module should be built of armour glass, to prevent vandalism. The votingbuttons can protrude from the vertical steel frames on each side which hold thenarrow strip of glass plate in place. Each steel frame is bolted to its neighbour toassemble the array, and to present a transparent tough barrier to the insidemechanisms.The mechanism of levers activated by using the lids or pressing the voting button isvisible within the transparent modules. It is simple enough to understand by simplywatching it operate. The components are large and robust, to eliminate failure and jamming and bending by abuse. Each action activates a connecting rod whichremoves an impediment from the next component, and puts an impediment in its

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