Sylvia Tan was also a counting agent, but assigned to a counting centre different from the one I was in. She submitted a set of drawings last night to show what marks were considered valid or invalid at the centre where she was. Like several comments to the earlier post Counting agent me by readers who were also counting agents, her observations reinforce the picture we have of considerable inconsistency in the way ballots are adjudicated. By the way, Counting agent me set a new Yawning Bread record of 100,000 hits thirty-six hours after it was published.
At Sylvia Tan’s counting centre, ballots like example 13, containing a tiny cross, was ruled as valid for the umbrella party — this should not be controversial. Example 14 was also ruled valid (for the bunny ears party) even when there were two markings on the ballot paper. The table chief at Sylvia Tan’s centre judged that the voter’s intention was clear. Such a ballot would have been ruled invalid at the centre where I was on the ground that there were two markings on the ballot paper.
Example 15, with two ends of the cross invading the other box was also ruled as valid for the umbrella party. In the counting centre where I was, such a ballot would have been ruled invalid. Example 16 had the centre of the cross not clearly in one box or the other and was treated as a rejected ballot at Sylvia Tan’s centre — this too should not be a controversial decision.
Both examples 17 and 18 were considered valid (for the umbrella party) at her centre too,
whereas examples 19 and 20 were considered valid for the bunny ears party.
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The law says the job of the adjudicator (which I call the “table chief”, though that is not his official title) is to determine the voter’s intention. The law also says that ballots should be marked with a cross, though other marks are acceptable.
Frankly, this is badly-drafted law. The problem is that the law allows so much latitude in markings that it triggers adjudication too much, and once adjudication is triggered, with no guidance except that of determining voter intention, wide inconsistency in interpretation is a natural outcome.
The two ideas I like best are:
(a) perforated hole(s) that the voter must remove completely (hanging chads to be considered invalid) like our parking coupons; or
(b) a self-inking rubber stamp is provided at each private voting booth and the only acceptable ballot is a stamp on a ballot paper that is ENTIRELY within a candidate’s box.
In both cases, angry voters can write whatever they want on the ballot paper, but all writings will be ignored. Make it as mechanistic as possible, so that it can be read by a computer.