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Subject: Re: [election-services] RE: EML UPDATE

On Thu, Nov 5, 2009 at 5:20 AM, John Borras <John@pensive.eu> wrote:
> Further to my note below, the comments submitted by David Rosenburg centre
> around the aspects of STV or RTV voting.  Has anyone got any first-hand
> experience of these approaches and thus could help with assessing the
> comments raised and the required solutions please?  The comments are
> available at
> http://lists.oasis-open.org/archives/election-services-comment/200911/maillist.html so
> please take the time to review them and feed back thoughts on this mailing
> list.

Mr. Rosenberg has obviously put a good deal of thought into how EML
could support alternative voting mechanisms (that is, forms of voting
other than plurality).  After reading his comments, I have a few
thoughts.  First, I know IRV is used in a few different "flavors" in
the US for local elections. (the "flavors" meaning variations in how
ties are settled, how many candidates can be ranked*, etc.)  However,
I'm not sure any of the other methods of voting are used in the US (I
don't know a lot about other countries, alas; sorry to be so
ethnocentric).  So, I wonder if it makes sense to support all possible
forms of alternative voting mechanisms (there are many and they can be
arbitrarily complex, it seems) or if EML should instead support ones
that have reached some sort of threshold.  (This might be a place
where vendors who support forms of proportional representation can
chime in.)

I do think---as much as I'm not a big fan of it for other
reasons---that EML should support IRV/STV given how it has grown in
use.  Reporting aggregated results such that vote permutations can be
tracked seems like a natural thing for EML to accommodate (with the
voting system software tasked with keeping the logic straight).  That
was the meat of his comment:

* Often voting system interfaces like optical scan ballots can only
support IRV through the use of multiple contests.  That is, in order
to do "ranking" on an optical scan system, the solution usually
requires having a separate "vote for one" contest for each possible
ranking, with some limit on the number of rankings to make ballot
printing tractable.

> On a wider aspect, the vast majority of the work on v6.0 has been done by
> David Webber and I for one am extremely grateful to him for his efforts.
> But he could do with some help please in reviewing and responding to
> comments received during the Public Review period and also the current spate
> of activity with NIST and IEEE, see below.  Could I ask for volunteers
> please to help spread the load.

Hear, hear!

I'd be willing to help, where it makes sense.  I'm very glad to see
the NIST and IEEE things going in collaborative directions, rather
than an "everyone needs their own standard"-type of direction (were
the Google VIP people at the NIST workshop?).  Unfortunately, I'm on
the academic job market so my time is restricted even more than usual.
 So, if you could give me hints how I could be most helpful, that
would help.  Let me see if I can subscribe to
election-services-comment. best, Joe

Joseph Lorenzo Hall
ACCURATE Postdoctoral Research Associate
UC Berkeley School of Information
Princeton Center for Information Technology Policy

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