Tagged pito salas

The Voting Information Project is cool

Yeah this is old hat to election-insiders (I am not yet one, so I can still have that sense of wonder 🙂 but I just took a drive through the “Voting Information Project” web site. I think it’s a cool idea that could be a template to catalyze very useful election related information resources in a totally decentralized manner, where each state or locality can elect when and how to join in.

In case you haven’t heard about it, this is from their site:

“…As a fundamental step in this initiative, the Voting Information Project is partnering with a group of state election officials to develop and implement a technical standard, known as an “open format,” by which state and local election officials can more efficiently disseminate voting information. ” (from Voting Information Project)

If a state chooses to provide election related information in this format, at a known URL, this information will be pulled into the VIP system and in turn be deliverable to web sites, cell phones, twitter, facebook, yadi yada.

In other words, the one fairly simple piece of work is leveraged multiple times and brought to where it can be used by voters. Pretty cool, and maybe a template for decentralized adoption and deployment of election info services of other kinds in the future.

Here’s the FAQ of the Voter Information Project.

Government 2.0: Shouldn’t elections also be on the list?

I caught this post by Mark Drapeau of O’Reilly about where so-called Government 2.0 is headed in the next year or 2.0. It’s an interesting list, agree with it or not. It does seem to be the case that usually when folks are talking about Gov2.0 they don’t seem to be thinking about what can be improved in the way we run elections.

From the post: Government 2.0: Five Predictions for 2010-12(from O’Reilly Radar – Insight, analysis, and research about emerging technologies.:

“So, here are some non-exhaustive, somewhat creative, and entirely debatable trends and ideas that I foresee taking shape in the next three years or so. Why the next three years? Well, it’s hard to predict what will happen within a year – there are too many strange short-term factors, like natural disasters and Congressional behavior (but I repeat myself). Plus, the next three years is the remainder of Obama’s current term in office, so these are things we can expect to see either before his second term, or before the new President’s first term. So, that said, here are my five predictions for 2010-12:” (from: Government 2.0: Five Predictions for 2010-12)

Here is the list of predictions: Government 2.0: Five Predictions for 2010-12

Update on our work on ballot scanning

We’ve been putting together test cases and experimenting with techniques and actually developing code for actually scanning ballots – in other words, the ‘simple’ problem of taking a digital and figuring out if it is ‘correctly’ filled out by a voter, and who got the  votes. Here is a progress report on this work so far.

In that short document you will see, step by step, how one approach would work, the intermediate steps required, the supplementary information which would define the ballot style: how it would be detected and then applied. (The term ballot style, in this context means the information that specifies where to expect each vote oval on a particular ballot and what it means.)

We’ve made very good progress in this area. While we’ve worked so far only with one common look for ballots, so-called (by some) ‘office style’ ballots as generated by Premier. We believe that many if not all of our techniques would work equally well with other graphically designed ballots.

One interesting preliminary result is that it seems possible (and worthwhile) to get rid of the bulk of the computerish marks that decorate most ballots today and reduce that visual clutter to a set of 4 black squares in each corner of a ballot. That would be enough to allow the image analyzer to line itself up reliably. Read the progress report for the rest of the details.