WO2003042931A1 - Vote recording & counting apparatus and method - Google Patents

Vote recording & counting apparatus and method Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2003042931A1
WO2003042931A1 PCT/GB2002/004036 GB0204036W WO03042931A1 WO 2003042931 A1 WO2003042931 A1 WO 2003042931A1 GB 0204036 W GB0204036 W GB 0204036W WO 03042931 A1 WO03042931 A1 WO 03042931A1
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WO
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Patent type
Prior art keywords
means
apparatus
ballot
paper
writing
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/GB2002/004036
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French (fr)
Inventor
Anthony Christopher John Lee
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Drs Data & Research Services Plc
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    • GPHYSICS
    • G07CHECKING-DEVICES
    • G07CTIME OR ATTENDANCE REGISTERS; REGISTERING OR INDICATING THE WORKING OF MACHINES; GENERATING RANDOM NUMBERS; VOTING OR LOTTERY APPARATUS; ARRANGEMENTS, SYSTEMS OR APPARATUS FOR CHECKING NOT PROVIDED FOR ELSEWHERE
    • G07C13/00Voting apparatus

Abstract

The present invention relates to apparatus and a method of recording and counting votes. Apparatus is provided comprising a writing implement (1) having a writing tip (2); means for electronically sensing the position of the writing tip (2) relative to a datum position; and means for electronically interpreting positions of the writing tip (2) sensed by said sensing means so as to provide an electronic indication of a mark applied to a voting paper with the writing implement (1) during use.

Description

VOTE RECORDING & COUNTING APPARATUS AND METHOD

This invention relates to apparatus and a method for recording and counting votes, and in the preferred embodiment provides an apparatus and a method for electronically recording and counting votes while simultaneously ma taining the traditional voter practice of making a mark on a ballot paper and placing the ballot paper into a ballot box.

The process of holding a ballot to enable people to vote secretly is central to a democratic system. The traditional method of voting is by placing a mark on a ballot paper and placing the paper into a ballot box. There are many advantages to this process. It is simple and well understood by most people. It requires very simple equipment, that is paper, pens and boxes. For large ballots it is easy to have multiple "polling stations" to ensure voters are not disadvantaged by their physical location. Secrecy of marking the ballot paper is easy to achieve. Many different types of election can be held using the same process. Counting of the votes can be scrutinised to ensure a fair system.

However, a major problem with the process is the time and effort required to perform a manual count. The counting time and effort may be acceptable for a simple ballot (e.g. one vote, "first past the post" winner) but can become extremely difficult for more complex ballots (e.g. two or more votes, proportional representation). For this reason a number of electronic counting and electronic voting systems have been proposed.

These electronic counting systems fall into two broad catagories.

Firstly, there are systems which aim to maintain the use of a ballot paper but use machines to count the marks on the papers once all votes have been cast. Although this can be quicker than a manual count it still requires all ballot papers to be "scanned" as a mechanical process and in the case of a large scale ballot requires a large number of complex machines. This results in a process that is still quite time and labour intensive and is relatively expensive.

Secondly, there are electronic voting systems which aim to remove the ballot paper and replace it with an electronic device of some kind (computer terminal, telephone, touch sensitive display). Such systems suffer from the disadvantage that voters are not familiar with the process. Also, use of the equipment can be complicated, and the equipment can be expensive. Further, the ballot becomes totally dependent on electronic data. If equipment fails, votes can be lost and if the result of a contest is disputed there is no mechanism for recounting.

One object of the present invention is to provide a vote recording and counting apparatus and method which retains all of the advantages of the traditional ballot paper process while adding the advantages of electronic vote capture and subsequent electronic counting.

A first aspect of the present invention provides apparatus for recording and counting votes according to the appended independent claim71. The apparatus may be provided with further novel and advantageous features as claimed in the appended dependent claims 2-13. A second aspect of the present invention provides for the use of the apparatus claimed in claims 1-13 for recording and counting votes. A yet further aspect of the present invention provides a method of recording and counting votes according to appended independent claim 15. The method may be provided with further novel and advantageous steps as claimed in appended dependent claims 16-20.

Apparatus may also be provided for recording and counting votes, the apparatus comprising a digital pen (as hereinafter defined) and means for inteφreting data captured by the digital pen to provide an electronic indication as to the marks applied to a voting paper by the digital pen.

A method of recording and counting votes may further be provided, the method comprising providing a ballot paper having a plurality of areas within which a mark may be made to indicate a voting choice; marking the ballot paper with a digital pen as hereinafter defined, and analyzing data captured by the digital pen to provide an electronic indication of the vote cast.

The apparatus and method of the preferred embodiment of the present invention enables the intention of a voter, making a mark or marks on a ballot paper, to be captured electronically to allow automated counting of votes. This is achieved by using a "digital pen".

The term "digital pen" as used herein means a device, which is typically of similar size and shape to an ordinary pen, that is capable of writing in the manner of a conventional pen or pencil, and also of providing an electronic indication of the position of its writing tip relative to some coordinate system. For example, the device may include or have associated therewith means for sensing its lateral movements and digitising them into x and y co-ordinates. When the referred digital pen is used to write, an ink-cartridge marks the surface as in the manner of a standard pen, but also the writing pressure on the cartridge is sensed so that the pen records which movements are causing marks and records their co-ordinates. The co-ordinates are transmitted by the pen to a suitable receiver for processing. A number of digital pen types are commercially available and can be used in this process. However those devices that automatically register their position relative to the writing paper are preferred. For devices not able to do this the user would need to place the paper in a known position before writing.

In use of the preferred embodiment of the invention, a voter marks his ballot paper and the digital pen records the shape and position of marks made by a voter on a ballot paper. When the voter has finished marking the ballot paper the pen transmits an encrypted version of the mark information to a receiver held by a ballot official. The mark information is then processed, either locally or by transmission to another location, to determine whether the vote is valid and what the intention of the vote is.

This process has several unique advantages over other forms of either electronic voting or electronic counting of votes. The vote information is recorded electronically at the time of voting and simultaneously the voter is using the traditional process of marking a ballot paper. The only difference perceived by the, voter is that a special pen is supplied rather than using a standard pen or pencil. Other electronic voting methods do not allow the use of a ballot paper and require a different voting process (For example, selecting options on a computer screen).

The ballot paper can be folded and placed in a conventional ballot box, thereby preserving the normal voting practice and allowing the voter to keep their vote secret as it is placed in the ballot box. The advantage is that a paper copy of the vote is maintained and if any problem occurs with the electronic data then a manual count is still possible.

All details of the marks made by the voter are recorded so a number of different election types can be processed with the same equipment (eg. single or multiple vote, order of preference).

Details of marks made anywhere on the ballot paper are recorded so a potentially "spoilt" paper can be detected and adjudicated by the ballot officials in the traditional way.

For elections where some postal voting takes place in parallel to voting in person the same type of ballot paper can be used. This ensures uniformity of voter information and minimises any bias that may be caused by different ballot paper design or voting methods. The postal votes can either be counted manually or can be scanned on receipt and electronically counted by the same process as the other votes.

The simultaneous capture of votes both electronically and on paper allows for partial or full recounts to take place. Data from the digital pen and manual counts of the ballot papers can be counted and compared to resolve election issues. The simultaneous capture of votes can also be used both during and after a ballot to confirm the accuracy of the electronically recorded data by comparing the two sets of information.

The invention will be better understood by the following description of a preferred embodiment thereof, given by way of example only, reference being had to the accompanying drawing wherein: the single figure illustrates schematically apparatus and a method in accordance with the present invention.

Assuming a ballot is being held in a number of polling stations the procedure is:

1. The voter supplies their identity to a presiding officer to show eligibility to vote.

2. The presiding officer records a voter identification number on the counterfoil of a ballot paper and detaches the ballot paper. In this process the presiding officer uses a digital pen to write the voter ID. The action of writing the voter ID number on the counterfoil is recorded by the pen and signifies the start of a voting process.

3. The digital pen is then passed to the voter with the ballot paper. The voter takes the pen and paper to a cubicle and uses the pen to mark a vote or votes on ballot paper. The pen records the shape and position of the marks.

4. The voter folds the ballot paper and inserts it into a ballot box. The pen is then returned to the presiding officer.

5. The presiding officer uses the pen to "tick" the counterfoil and register that the voter has completed voting.

6. The pen is now ready for a new voter.

7. Depending on the particular ballot rules the information transmitted by the pen can either be stored locally until the ballot is complete or sent to a central location, in real time, via telephone or other communication device.

The co-ordinate information received from the digital pens is processed by a computer system to count votes. The data contains the complete shape and position of any marks made on the ballot paper. The marks are analysed by a program to separate those that are clearly good votes within the rules of a particular ballot (eg. A single cross inside a particular candidate's voting box) and those votes that are doubtful for some reason (e.g. a mark covering more than one box or marks that are not in the voting area of the ballot paper). The good votes are automatically counted and added to the ballot tallies. The doubtful votes are passed to "adjudication terminals" for manual processing. These terminals have a graphical representation of the ballot paper displayed onto which the voter marks are superimposed. Each doubtful vote can be assessed by officials and either a valid vote or reason for rejection entered into the system. All doubtful ballots that are adjudicated in this way can be monitored by any observers of the count.

Any votes which were not recorded electronically can either be counted manually or scanned into the system and counted electronically. At any time, should the need arise, some or all of the paper ballots can be checked and counted.

The invention will be better understood from the following description of a preferred embodiment thereof, given by way of example only, reference being had to the accompanying drawings wherein:

Figure 1 illustrates schematically a pen for use in connection with an embodiment of the present invention;

Figure 2 illustrates schematically how the pen is used in an embodiment of voting system according to the present invention;

Figure 3 illustrates schematically the collection of data for counting purposes;

Figure 4 illustrates schematically how a voting paper may be displayed to allow a validation decision to be taken;

Figure 5 illustrates an alternative pen to be used in an embodiment of the invention; and

Figure 6 illustrates a ballot paper which may be used in association with the pen of Figure 5.

Referring firstly to Figures 1-4 the invention may be put into effect by means of a pen 1 which has a writing tip 2. The writing tip enables the pen to mark a conventional ballot paper. However, the tip of the pen is pressure sensitive and the pen incorporates XY co-ordinate sensing electronics 3 together with appropriate battery. Information from the co-ordinate sensing electronics can be transmitted via a transmitter 4 to a remote receiver 5. As illustrated, the receiver 5 is in the form of a mobile transmitter which may be used to transit data received from one or more pens 1 to a remote location, for example, a central counting station.

In use, a voter wishing to cast a vote, will identify himself to the presiding official and will be issued with a ballot paper and a pen 1. He may take the pen to a polling booth and use it to mark his vote on the ballot paper. The XY co-ordinate sensing electronics will determine both the shape of the mark made and its position on the ballot paper. This information is suitably encrypted and then transmitted in real time or after a pre-deteιτnined delay to the receiver 5 where the information is stored for subsequent analysis. Typically, each polling station will have a receiving device 5 which will periodically upload the information which is held to a central computer 6. The central computer may be located at a central ballot counting office and will receive information from all of the polling stations.

After the voter has made his mark, he will return the pen to the presiding officer and place his ballot paper in a ballot box in conventional manner. The hard copy ballot papers may be used for the purpose of verifying' the accuracy of the electronic count or effecting a "re-count" in the case of a close ballot result.

In the case of the embodiment of the invention described above it is necessary, prior to marking the ballot paper, to calibrate the position of the pen relative to the ballot paper. This may be done by any appropriate means. For example the user may be required to perform some preliminary calibration step such as pushing the point of the pen against two pre-marked spots which are spaced apart on the ballot paper. Alternatively, each voting booth may be provided with a holder within which the ballot paper must be placed in order to vote. The holder will define the position of the ballot paper and the pen may be adapted to provide an accurate co-ordinate position of the tip of the pen relative to the holder. Hence, when the pen is pressed to make a mark on the ballot paper the exact position and movement of the tip relative to the holder, and thus relative to the ballot paper, may be recorded. The calibration step may be avoided if a pen 7 of the type illustrated in Figure 5 is used. This pen incoφorates a writing tip 8 for marking the ballot paper and a camera 9 which can detect preprinted patterns which are printed on the ballot paper. Electronics 10 are provided for activating the camera when the point 8 is pressed onto the paper. A transmitter 11 is used to transmit information to a receiver as described above.

In use, each valid voting area 12 on the ballot paper will be pre-printed with a pattern of dots or lines 13 distinctive of that area. Thus, in the ballot paper illustrated in Figure 6 on which seven candidates are listed, seven different distinctive patterns will be provided in the seven possible valid voting areas 12. When the pen 7 is used to mark a ballot paper the camera 9 detects the pre-printed pattern in the area which is marked and this information is transmitted to the recording device of the presiding officer for onward transmission to a central counting station. With this arrangement, the pattern which is provided in the box marked by the voter will be identified by the camera and this information will indicate for whom he has voted. With such an arrangement' no calibration step is necessary.

If the pen 7 is of appropriate sensitivity, the pattern of dots or lines may be sufficiently fine as to be invisible to the human eye. So far as the voter is concerned, therefore, he simply uses a special pen to mark his ballot paper and no special technique is required.

The above techniques may be combined, that is to say both XY co-ordinate sensing and pattern sensing may be used to enhance the accuracy and/or reliability of the count.

One particular advantage of the invention is that the system may be designed automatically to identify a potentially invalid vote. The distinctive preprinted pattern may be extended to cover all areas of the ballot paper. Thus, if a voter puts a mark against the name of more than one candidate, or puts a mark outside of the bounds of the valid voting area for one candidate, the system may automatically detect this. Under these circumstances the central processing device 6 (Figure 3) will not count the mark as a valid vote. If appropriate, voting forms which have some fault on them maybe accepted, but may be viewed by means of an appropriate computer (Figure 4). The computer screen will provide a reproduction of the ballot paper and the position of the mark on the ballot paper. An appropriate authorised official may then decide whether the vote is in fact a valid vote for one candidate, or whether the ballot paper must be regarded as ineffective.

An appropriate pen may be of the type available from Ericsson under the name "Chatpen" or as described in various published patent applications of Anoto AB.

Claims

CLAIMS:
1. Apparatus for recording and counting votes, the apparatus comprising a writing implement (1) having a writing tip (2); means for electronically sensing the position of the writing tip (2) relative to a datum position; and means for electronically interpreting positions of the writing tip (2) sensed by said sensing means so as to provide an electronic indication of a mark applied to a voting paper with the writing implement (1) during use.
2. Apparatus as claimed in claim 1, wherein the writing implement (1) comprises said sensing means.
3. Apparatus as claimed in claim 2, wherein the writing implement (1) comprises said means for electronically interpreting writing tip (2) positions.
4. Apparatus as claimed in claim 2 or 3, wherein the writing implement (1) comprises means for encrypting data generated by the sensing means.
5. Apparatus as claimed in any of the preceding claims, wherein said electronic indication provides an indication of the shape and position of a mark on the voting paper.
6. Apparatus as claimed in any of claims 2 to 5, wherein the writing implement (1) comprises means (4) for transmitting data generated by the sensing means to a remote receiver (5).
7. Apparatus as claimed in claim 6, wherein said transmitting means (4) comprises a radio frequency transmitter.
8. Apparatus as claimed in any of claims 2 to 7, further comprising means for determining when a mark is being made with the writing tip (2); and wherein said inteφreting means inteφrets only those positions of the writing tip (2) traced whilst a mark is being made.
9. Apparatus as claimed in claim 8, wherein said means for determining when a mark is being made comprises means for sensing a force applied to the writing tip (2).
10. Apparatus as claimed in any of the preceding claims, wherein said sensing means comprises a digitizing camera (9).
11. Apparatus as claimed in claim 10, wherein said inteφreting means comprises means for identifying one or more pre-printed patterns provided on a voting paper and viewed by the camera (9).
12. Apparatus as claimed in any of the preceding claims, further comprising a remote receiver (5) to which data generated by the sensing means is transmitted, wherein the receiver (5) comprises means for storing data in respect of marks made on a plurality of voting papers.
13. Apparatus as claimed in claim 12, wherein the receiver (5) comprises transmitting means for transmitting stored data to a central station for analysis.
14. Use of apparatus as claimed in any of the preceding claims in the recording and counting of votes.
15. A method of recording and counting votes, the method comprising the steps of providing a ballot paper having a plurality of areas within which a mark may be made to indicate a voting choice; marking the ballot paper with a writing implement (1) having a writing tip (2) and means for electronically sensing the position of the writing tip (2) relative to a datum position; and analysing data captured by the writing implement (1) so as to provide an electronic indication of the vote cast by a mark made with the writing tip (2).
16. A method as claimed in claim 15, further comprising the step of calibrating the position of the writing tip (2) relative to the ballot paper.
17. A method as claimed in claim 16, wherein said step of calibrating is undertaken before the step of marking the ballot paper.
18. A method as claimed in any of claims 15 to 17, wherein the step of analysing data comprises the step of identifying ballot papers so marked as to render said ballot papers spoilt.
19. A method as claimed in any of claims 15 to 18, wherein, prior to providing a voter with a ballot paper, an identification code for the voter is recorded with the writing implement (1).
20. A method as claimed in any of claims 15 to 19, wherein after a voter casts a vote by marking the ballot paper, the ballot paper is placed in a ballot box.
PCT/GB2002/004036 2001-11-14 2002-09-03 Vote recording & counting apparatus and method WO2003042931A1 (en)

Priority Applications (2)

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GB0127350.7 2001-11-14
GB0127350A GB0127350D0 (en) 2001-11-14 2001-11-14 Vote recording & counting apparatus and method

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Cited By (4)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US7134606B2 (en) 2003-12-24 2006-11-14 Kt International, Inc. Identifier for use with digital paper
WO2008029118A1 (en) * 2006-09-04 2008-03-13 Accenture Global Services Gmbh Digital polling system and method
EP2106604A2 (en) * 2007-01-04 2009-10-07 Victor Piorun Improved voting apparatus and system
US8145520B2 (en) 2008-07-31 2012-03-27 International Business Machines Corporation Method and system for verifying election results

Families Citing this family (2)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
GB0214988D0 (en) * 2002-06-27 2002-08-07 Drs Data & Res Services Plc List item processing apparatus and method
GB2428324B (en) * 2005-07-11 2011-03-23 Ryknield Executor Company Ltd Apparatus and methods relating to voting systems

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Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
DE4015981A1 (en) * 1990-02-09 1991-08-14 Kaiser Datentechnik Gmbh Voting booth - has optical light pen to access bar code for candidate entry
US6181329B1 (en) * 1997-12-23 2001-01-30 Ricoh Company, Ltd. Method and apparatus for tracking a hand-held writing instrument with multiple sensors that are calibrated by placing the writing instrument in predetermined positions with respect to the writing surface
WO2001061449A2 (en) * 2000-02-16 2001-08-23 Telefonaktiebolaget Lm Ericsson (Publ) Specially formatted paper based applications of a mobile phone

Family Cites Families (1)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
EP0580119A3 (en) * 1992-07-20 1995-03-22 Tokyo Shibaura Electric Co Election terminal apparatus.

Patent Citations (3)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
DE4015981A1 (en) * 1990-02-09 1991-08-14 Kaiser Datentechnik Gmbh Voting booth - has optical light pen to access bar code for candidate entry
US6181329B1 (en) * 1997-12-23 2001-01-30 Ricoh Company, Ltd. Method and apparatus for tracking a hand-held writing instrument with multiple sensors that are calibrated by placing the writing instrument in predetermined positions with respect to the writing surface
WO2001061449A2 (en) * 2000-02-16 2001-08-23 Telefonaktiebolaget Lm Ericsson (Publ) Specially formatted paper based applications of a mobile phone

Cited By (5)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
US7134606B2 (en) 2003-12-24 2006-11-14 Kt International, Inc. Identifier for use with digital paper
WO2008029118A1 (en) * 2006-09-04 2008-03-13 Accenture Global Services Gmbh Digital polling system and method
EP2106604A2 (en) * 2007-01-04 2009-10-07 Victor Piorun Improved voting apparatus and system
EP2106604A4 (en) * 2007-01-04 2011-08-31 Victor Piorun Improved voting apparatus and system
US8145520B2 (en) 2008-07-31 2012-03-27 International Business Machines Corporation Method and system for verifying election results

Also Published As

Publication number Publication date Type
GB0127350D0 (en) 2002-01-02 grant
GB0220455D0 (en) 2002-10-09 grant
GB2382196A (en) 2003-05-21 application

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