Vote counting system

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There exist various methods through which the ballots cast at an election may be counted, prior to applying a voting system to obtain one or more winners.

Manual counting[edit]

Manual counting requires a physical ballot that represents voter intent. The physical ballots are read and interpreted; then results are individually tabulated.[1] This method is used in Sweden for example, and conducted as follows. The voter casts three ballots, one for each of the three elections (national, regional, and local), each in a sealed envelope. The party and candidate names are pre-printed on the ballot, or the voter can write them in on a blank ballot. When voting has finished, all envelopes are opened on the counting table, for one election at a time. They are sorted in piles according to party, inspecting them for validity. The piles are then counted manually, while witnesses around the table observe. The count is recorded, and the same pile is counted again. If the results do not agree, it is counted a third time. When all piles are counted and the results agree, the result is certified and transmitted for central tabulation. The count as received is made public, to allow anyone to double-check the tabulation and audit the raw data. There appears to be a high level of confidence in this system among the population, as evidenced by the lack of criticism of it.

Such a system may be used for recounts in areas where mechanical or automated counting systems are used.

Electromechanical and Optical scan counting[edit]

Further information: Optical scan voting system

Paper ballots, typically punched cards or marksense, are collected and fed into a machine to tabulate vote totals. Tabulation can occur with each individual ballot, or in batches.[2]

Direct-recording voting (mechanical) counting[edit]

Voters selecting switches (levers), pushing plastic chips through holes, or pushing mechanical buttons which increment a mechanical counter (sometimes called the odometer) for the appropriate candidate panot.[1]

Direct-recording electronic counting[edit]

Main article: DRE voting machine

Voting data and ballot images are recorded in memory components. Tabulation of the voting data stored in a removable memory component and as printed copy. The system may also provide a means for transmitting individual ballots or vote totals to a central location for consolidating and reporting results from precincts at the central location. This consolidation can be any subset of machines, such as all voting machines in a polling station, or all voting machines in a precinct, etc.[3]

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