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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
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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'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 records a single vote at one visit, and a voting token visibly drops into the appropriate receptacle. The overall results are immediately publicly reveaed at the close of voting. The physical arrangement is completely mechanical, not electrical, and transparent in operation, to engender trust. It is designed to be robust and reliable, almost bomb-proof. It is made water resistant, to allow deployment in an open public place. There is therefore no need to arrange 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 no vantage points which could allow photographic surveillance. To ensure only one vote per person, the cycle of begin-vote-end is locked inflexibly into 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 arrive prematurely. If there were no cycle, someone would have to manually reset the voting buttons to allow another single vote, after each visit. Compared with a simple array of click-counters, the extra mechanical linkages ensure 'one-person, one vote', automatically. If the voting apparatus were completely enclosed and therefore the voter was not in public view, graffiti and vandalism would become a problem. Wheelchair access woud also 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 closely side 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 the poll. There is no upper limit to the number of modules, so even preferential voting can be offered as an instant multi-choice of various voting 'tickets'. Or, for instance, head-to-head choices between 6 final candidates would require 15 modules. 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 backup in the case of violent attacks, to increase throughput, and to allow permutations of the displayed order of choices. That is a reason to limit the size of booths, until several can fit in one utility vehicle.

Separate from the booth, is a display of the choices, so voters can and should decide on their vote before queueing for entry. Also on display is an unenclosed dummy pair of voting modules for people to practise opening, casting a single vote and closing, but really to let people see how the mechanics are arranged to ensure a singe vote only. It is able to cater for large numbers of voters. For example 10,000 voting tokens per module allows approximately 20,000 voters, if taken to completion, which is about a week's worth of voting, at about 250 per hour. (It is best to close a booth after almost 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 the security keys, an instructor-supervisor for the voters outside, a helper for feeble or wheelchair bound voters, an attendant to beckon a new entrant and to examine their hands for dye from previous voting, an attendant to register a voter (e.g. with a dye applied to the knuckles, by pushing against an ink pad to exit the enclosure), a truck, a driver-and-assembly-supervisor-cleaner-and-chief-instructor, and trusted scrutineers. The lid has a digital counter on it to register the total number of voters processed, as a cross-check on the totalled number of votes registered inside. This being openly visible to the public and scrutineers, acts as a deterrent for trying to alter the individual 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 the accumulated voting tokens for each choice, but only when the results are opened up for scrutiny. Digital counters are by themselves not inherently trusworthy in the eyes of skeptical voters, being too easily reset, so the added visual mechanical display of casting a single pebble irretrievably into the appropriate basket, as it were, lends a high level of public trust. Putting the ingenious and transparent mechanism on display outside is a public relations exercise designed to foster public pride in the system of truly democratic secret ballot. (The token dispensers could be done away, you might think, in countries which have trustworthy electoral systems, but that is a bit like abdicating public responsibility and handing it over to public servants... The system of transparent trust is lost.) This combined approach allows the digital count to be immediately visually verified by the token accumulations. Therefore it is vote-rigging-proof, because it can register and display and confirm the ongoing count for each choice, to trusted scrutineers, and publicly display the final count immediately on close of voting, so that 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 that very reason. All that remains is for an official collation of what is already public knowledge, 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 known simultaneously across the electorate. Therefore, these should be not allowed, or limited in type and scope, and subject to especial scrutiny. E.g. the total numbers should 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 cater for. Once in place, the booth should not be removed from public scrutiny. The voting should preferbly be finished within a single day, and if not, the module needs to be guarded, 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 be simultaneously present to unlock it. The screens to block the transparent array can be made of armour plate, to prevent bullet and blast damage, and also to make the whole module difficult to quickly carry off. 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 an unuseable tactic. Mechancal Details: The overall mechanical set-up is to e.g. lift open a horizontal lid, up and sideways to vertical, forming third side of a private box for pressing a single vote counter in a sunken array. On the lid is built an exit barrier (a bar), which simultaneously lowers into place, until horizontal; lift the exit barrier to close the lid, in full view of others present, 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 enables the voting press-buttons to operate once, by means of activating a connecting rod running through all the modules. Likewise, pressing and releasing any voting button enables the lid to be closed, again by activating a connecting rod which runs the length 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 bolting together adjacent modules. Each internal connecting rod is mated to the adjacent modules so that if one short part of the rod is moved, the whole long rod moves together. The connecting rod parts do not protrude from each module, to avoid them being bent accidentally when separate, but are joined by a short key or pipe fitting tightly in a keyway or over adjacent 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 within each module. One internal rod connects the lid to the voting button lock, to unlock the voting push-buttons. A second rod, activated by voting, connects to the open-lid lock, to unlock it. I.e. closing the lid unlocks itself to open. It is preferable that each separate 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 voting buttons can protrude from the vertical steel frames on each side which hold the narrow strip of glass plate in place. Each steel frame is bolted to its neighbour to assemble the array, and to present a transparent tough barrier to the inside mechanisms. The mechanism of levers activated by using the lids or pressing the voting button is visible within the transparent modules. It is simple enough to understand by simply watching it operate. The components are large and robust, to eliminate failure and jamming and bending by abuse. Each action activates a connecting rod which removes an impediment from the next component, and puts an impediment in its

own way, to prevent a second action. Only a single use of each of these three components is allowed at any one time, in the cycle open-vote-close, open-vote-close, to ensure one vote per person, and only one vote. The cyclical system of lock-unlock works by a ratchet action. When the ratchet lever is disengaged to unlock the next action, it is caught in the disengaged position by another ratchet lever. The cycle can then be more accurately described as 4 halfactions: open lid -- press button -- release button -- close lid. Each action in this cycle disengages the lock-ratchet for the next action, and each action reverses the disengagement on its own action. Thus the cycle is inflexibly set in motion and is positively tied to the exact numbers of votes cast, while ever the supply of voting tokens does not run out. You can model the effect with a ratchet wheel of 4 cogs, turning a pointer which disables the locking mechanism of the next action, while allowing the previous locking disable to re-enable. If by chance a lid is opened without a person voting, it will imediately lock the cycle until a vote is cast. Similarly, the cycle will lock if a voter fails to push the lever properly, or release it, or the lid fails to close. When this becomes apparent, assistance may be required, to resume the cycle correctly. A mechanism is provided so that two buttons cannot simultaneously be pushed to the full extent necessary. E.g. a plunger penetrates a tube of balls which only has enough free room for one plunger. The push buttons each increment their own digital counter by one. Perhaps this counter can be duplicated for added security, and one is upside down for reverse operation, like turning the hour glass upside down. But the number is not visible to the voter -- it faces the transparent back of the cabinet. Scrutineers can see it by looking at the back of the transparent array, but until then screens are in place to deny such scrutiny. The level of accumulation of balls in the lower chambers is likewise not visible to the voter, but visible from the rear. The 'push button' is actually a push-pull handle, with two feet entering the module, and limited in to-and-fro movement, so there is little difficulty in manually operating it successfully. or it could be a foot pedal, for better hygiene. All actions -- for counters, chimes, push-buttons and lid -- need to travel fully in each direction before registering, which eliminates the possibility of double-action. This can be achieved with a ratchet motion which resets itself in reverse at the end of its travel. The whole ball-dispensing mechanism is a sealed transparent unit, like a bulletproof hour-glass, pre-stocked with a large number of small balls, preferably exactly 10,000, releasing only one at a time. Picture a 4 litre glass flagon full of chick-peas, attached mouth to mouth to a matching flagon, to envisage 10,000 balls. Stretch the glass out into a long thin column to more easily count the balls remaining. Releasing a single ball is achieved by two needles facing each other, with no gap between them horizontally but a gap of one ball-diameter vertically, which move as one piece into and out of place in the centre of the tube, alternately blocking a ball, then releasing it, when the voting button is pushed in and out. The voter sees a column of tokens fall one ball's worth from a transparent supply chamber (mostly invisible), inside the transparent tube, in readiness for the next vote, and he also hears and sees the current token drop into place below, knowing that it can only fall into a single clearly labelled sealed container. There is a slight assymetry between the top and the bottom, in that the push-pull ball-releasing action is reversed, in the order of 'release the current token; introduce

the next token'. This does not even alter the initial set-up. The chambers have no other entrance than from the neck of the 'hour-glass'. All this allows the voters to trust that it cannot be quickly interfered with. It can be turned upside down to empty the lower chamber to reset the voting to zero, or can operate upside down after all the top balls are let through to the bottom chamber, after which the click counters are reset and their reset buttons are locked. Removing a screen allows the relative accumulations to be seen by scrutineers, as a cross-check on the digital counters. The height can be scaled to indicate approximate numbers, e.g. 100 per cm. No actual counting of the balls is ever carried out, but it could be in cases of contentious dispute. One simple way is to release the remaining balls (about one hour's work) and check that the final count is 10,000. This will have to be done anyway, to reset the voting module to zero. Anything which allows removal of the needles would also allow illegitimate interference by assembly personnel, but would not change the gate-counters nor the vote counters. Leaving it tamper-proof would mean that any interference would take a lot of time to successfully achieve. The screens are made one-piece with the cabinets, hinged to them, front and back, and locked in place. A smaller lighter version could be designed for inside a room. It is less transparent and understandable because of the smaller components. It would however be suitable for clubs and associations, as a ready-made and portable secret-ballot facility. The set-up must start with labels sealed inside each voting module, no balls in the lower chambers, voting levers and token dispensers locked in place, counters set at zero, reset buttons locked, lid locked open. To begin the voting, the appropriate screens and padlocks are removed or put in place, then the lid is unlocked, ready for the first voter.

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