Friday, October 24, 2008

Oh, the power of The CherkyB

Here's an interesting little article on the problems West Virginia residents are having with their touch screen voting machines registering the votes for the wrong candidates. I note that Dr. Fancy Computer Scientist from Rice managed to describe parallax without actually using the word, and then he swiped Blogauthor's ATM example. I guess if you give a million PhD's typewriters, none of them will write Shakespeare, but instead they'll all turn out stuff that is largely identical.
Wallach also noted that, as with all such displays, calibration depends on the angle from which the screen is viewed: A display properly calibrated for a five-foot-tall user might be miscalibrated for someone a foot taller. "Don't take my word for it; go up to a drive-in ATM calibrated for someone sitting down, and try to use it just standing there," suggested Wallach, "you won't be able to hit the damn buttons." The iVotronics system compounds the problem, he said, because its display is locked in place, which "guarantees that some users are going to be viewing it at the wrong angle."
Here in Colorado, we use Diebold, not iVotronics. I have learned that the Diebold machines are actually tilt-adjustable by the poll workers to give everyone the right viewing angle, though no such information was provided to me by the guy who "trained" me on using the machine.

How did I learn this?

Well, I sent in a complaint to the Larimer County Director of elections using the email contact on their web page (though I did it at like 11pm after having written my screed, so she didn't see it until the next day). Much to my surprise, she responded by the close of business that they had received another complaint about the machines at that location the same day I voted, they had discovered that the polarized privacy screens covering the display were not fitting correctly causing this problem, had already removed them from all early voter locations, and will not ship them with the machines they will set up on election day.

Cool. She also threw in that the calibration of the machines was OK and that they are tilt-adjustable for people of different heights.

I guess I should have just told the guys working there about the problem, but for some reason I wanted to get to work.

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