Florida Election hardware/punch cards.. technical questions

I don’t mean for this to be a great debate, but I suppose I should put it here anyway.

I have a few questions…

First, the punch cards… Are these a standard sort of IBM punch card used by programmers in the 60s/70s? For those of you who have had experience with them, would handling cause intact chads to come loose and fall out, or, as a poster on another board argued “you can crumple it up, throw it on the floor, and jump up and down on it, and the chads will not come loose unless punched”

Again, for those with experience with punch cards, how common are punched but not completely dislodged chads?

Does anyone know how the counting machine works? Is it mechanical i.e. there is a physical sensor that detects whether a chad is missing, or intact? How would a loose chad be counted? Could the machine itself loosen the chad?

Or is the machine optical… does it detect light shinging through punched chad-holes?

Or does it work by some other mechanism?

I don’t really want this to turn into a debate, I don’t want to get into the specifics of election law; I just want to learn how accurate the machine count is in the first place, and how possible it is for repeated handling/running through machines to create “false” votes.

Actually maybe I should have put this in general questions… The moderator can make the decision and move it if necessary, altho I suspect it might end up here in the long run :slight_smile:

  • but I did read a nonscientific, although interesting test where a fellow submitted a punch card to different more or less relevant tests: Bending, turning, folding, throwing, dropping, slapping against a surface etc. (Less relevant, he rubbed it furiously on his cat (though for a shorter time than planned, due to lack of feline cooperation) and broiled it in a microwave oven…)

No chads were displaced, no matter what he did.

If I could only remember where I read it…

ok, moderator, please move this to general questions.

[url=http://www.aceproject.org/main/english/em/emf02/default.htm]This site[/ul] seemed to be pretty comprehensive.

We used these in my state until 2-3 years ago, and they are indeed the 60’s style IBM cards with roughly 1/8 by 1/16 perforations. No link showed up to any specific testing on loosening chads through handling, but my own experience is that it’s virtually impossible to get these things out unless you’re trying. YMMV.

I believe they use laser scanning, not the old copper-brush method, though. One article I’ve seen says that newer machines can be calibrated to register a partly-covered hole, which would retrieve some of the undervote left by the old all-or-nothing scanners. Both are susceptible to the chad problem to some degree, though.

Interestingly, the Web search I did came up with a couple of news releases (now off the servers) about banning Votomatics due to excessive inaccuracy. We now use the color-in-the-oval system.

Oops, make that This site

The punched cards used are not, I think, the same kind of punched cards used for computer programming (if that was your question). Those, as far as I can recall, were not pre-perforated. The keypunch machine punched accurate rectangular holes in the card. Because the voting cards are meant to be hand punched, they perforate them for easier marking.