Voting Methods Working Group (VMWG ) , NIST Interoperability Working Group

Modeling Subgroup for Voting Methods          10/11/2018 -LL & CH Editors DRAFT

Authors: The Members of the Voting Methods Working Group

DRAFT NIST SP 1500-107 Voting Methods , Appendix, GLOSSARY

NIST Voting Methods Working Group (VMWG)

NIST SP 1500-107 Voting Methods, Appendix, Glossary

Introduction

In general, the Voting Methods Working Group Glossary and use of terms seek to preserve the terms in use and in practice in the elections field, using legislation and other authoritative election official and election administrator documents including RFPs, RFIs, manuals, and documentation as well as in use in the discourse in the field to determine and define those terms

For the Voting Methods Working Group (VMWG) and this standard it is crucial that terms  in use terms of art in the field are preserved to achieve the purpose, goals, and benefits of this standard for our stakeholders.

In summary, our purpose includes creating a more precise model of the universe of elections code (elections law) using legislation governing elections and voting, local jurisdiction rules, RFPs, RFIs and other documentation of practice that we identify as authoritative source material in elections operated by state and local government election administrators in the United States.. Specifically, our purpose is to create a common and more precise model than is possible in the inherently less precise plain language algorithmic specifications that exist in the authoritative source materials.

Expected benefits of preserving terms of art and in practice include but are not limited to disambiguation and increased precision. Disambiguation and increased precision have a direct and measurable impact on metrics and Key Performance Indicators (KPI) of  the efficient operations of elections processes. Costs may be reduced through the reduction of unnecessary overhead and resource use, reduction in error, and increases in efficiency and accuracy, for election administrators and for voting system certifiers/testers. Additional examples of metrics that may be positively impacted include reduced errors in acceptance testing, decreased incidents of faults discovered in logic and accuracy testing, more accurate capacity planning. Further, adopting a standard for voting methods and tabulation methods may provide a means for greater accountability for compliance to governing law and local rules, and greater accountability for compliance with RFPs and resultant contracts for elections officials, manufactuers and service providers.

We may differ in our glossary terms or labels for objects, entities, or things in the NIST SP 1500-107 model, in a few cases, as compared to other elections and voting glossaries. We seek to minimize any difference in use of terms from the NIST VVSG Glossary. We also seek to match, as much as possible, use of terms and labels in our models with the NIST Interoperability Common Data Format (CDF) including those NIST standards or specifications that NIST SP 1500-107 adopts. To that end, standards and specifications that we adopt include NIST Cast Vote Record (CVR) CDF and NIST Election Results Reporting CDF, Election Modeling working group’s elections business process model, NIST VVSG Cybersecurity working group’s requirements, and enumerations that are part of the NIST Interoperability CDFs.

The adopter of NIST SP 1500-107 should assume that any elections and voting terms that are used in this specification and not defined in this Glossary are defined in the NIST VVSG Glossary.

We ask that users of this glossary credit this specification, NIST SP 1500-107, and the VMWG in any publications. Please post to the VWMG listserv with any questions or comments: voting-methods@list.nist.gov. Thank you.

Term

Definition

Batch

Approved

A collection of ballots gathered as a group for tabulation or other processing.

Technical Definition

A collection of ballots gathered as a group for tabulation processing or other operations on vote selection data sets including but not limited to post-election auditing, ballot accounting, acceptance testing, and logic and accuracy testing.

Discussion

Tabulation may be performed on a batch of ballots or ballots represented as Cast Vote Record as defined in NIST Special Publication 1500-103 Cast Vote Records Common Data Format V1.0

Batch elimination

Approved

A simultaneous defeat of multiple continuing contest options for which it is mathematically impossible to be elected or to prevail.

Technical Definition

Discussion

Rule (eliminate the set of one or more candidates C1, C2, C3….Cn if sum of all votes for C1….Cn < votes for candidate B and votes for B < votes for candidate)

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1TPuwfNcD7jmCkwx0RrRiLC3g1Jz-POByTZFjU7Kiw3I/edit#gid=1633171175&range=101:101

If a candidate satisfies both of the following conditions, then all candidates with fewer votes may be designated as defeated:
      (1) At least one other candidate has at least as many votes as the candidate.
      (2) The candidate has more votes than the total votes for all  candidates with fewer votes.  MUST (IF ANY) (SB 1288,  22100(d)–(e))


Contest Options

Approved

The candidates or issues on a ballot among which the voters may express a preference by their votes.

Technical Definition

The candidates or issues or selection options on a ballot among which the voters are to express a vote preference by marking (or deciding not to mark) their ballot.

Positions on a ballot presentation, ballot layout or ballot intended to be the locations for marks to be made by a voter on that ballot.

Positions on a ballot intended to be the locations for marks to be detected by an election system such as an optical scanner, tabulator, or to be adjudicated by an election official or judge.

Continuing Ballot

Approved

A ballot that will be processed in the current contest RCV round.

Continuing Contest Option

Approved

A qualified candidate, measure, issue or other contest option that has not yet been elected, approved or eliminated in an RCV contest.

Decision Rule

Approved

A decision rule is a constraint or a criterion that is used to determine an election contest outcome.

Technical Definition

A decision rule is a non-null constraint or a criterion that is used to determine an election contest outcome. A decision rule is a required element or attribute of a decision rule set.

Decision Rule Set

Approved

A decision rule set is a set of one or more decision rules.

Technical Definition

A decision rule set is a non-null and non-empty set of one or more decision rules. A decision rule set is a required element of a voting method.

Discussion

We intentionally exclude a null rule and/or null set or empty set from this definition. Clearly, this requirement does not imply that a systems implementation would be coded to be unable to properly handle the edge case of errors including a null decision rule data element. The purpose of these definitions is to define what should be so in correct and intended operation.


Exhausted Ballot

Approved

A ballot that is encountered in a round of RCV processing of a contest that has no further valid rankings of continuing contest options or that contains a condition in a subsequent choice that invalidates further consideration of the ballot.

Proposed Equivalent term: Inactive Ballot

Discussion

The term ‘exhausted ballot’ is the term in use and in practice, in legislation and other authoritative elections official and election administrator documents including RFPs, RFIs, manuals, and documentation as well as in use in the discourse in the field. Therefore, this term is preserved to achieve the purpose, goals, and benefits of this standard.

Inactive Ballot

Approved

Equivalent to Exhausted Ballot.

Discussion

See also: Discussion for Exhausted Ballot.
The term “Exhausted Ballot” is used extensively as a term of art in the RCV legislation, local jurisdiction artifacts, contracts, RFPs and therefore in the field. Therefore, for the purpose of NIST SP 1500-107 we preserve this as a key existing label for the same concept as the newly and uniquely coined Inactive Ballot term.

Highest-ranked continuing contest option

Approved

The highest-ranked continuing contest option is the next preferred continuing contest option on a given ballot.

The next preferred continuing contest option on a given ballot.

Highest Continuing Ranking

The ranking on a voter's ballot with the lowest numerical value or the next highest position in sequence for a continuing RCV contest option.

Majority of Votes

Approved

Greater than 50-percent of the votes counted for a contest, or greater than 50-percent of the votes counted for a contest for all continuing contest options in an RCV round.

Technical Definition

majorityOfVotes = (sum(aggregate(votesContinuing)) /2) +1

Discussion

“Majority of votes” shall mean fifty percent (50%) plus one of the votes cast on continuing ballots. (San Leandro)

Mathematically Impossible to be Elected or Prevail

Approved

A contest option where the current vote total plus all votes that could possibly be transferred to it in future rounds would not be sufficient to surpass the contest option with the next higher current vote total.

Discussion

See Batch Elimination for operation.

Overvote

10/25: We propose to have this generic defintion of Overvote replace the current VVSG def.

 Approved

Occurs when the number of selections made by a voter in a contest is more than the maximum number allowed.

Discussion

We propose to have this generic definition of overvote replace the current VVSG definition. In this way the definition of overvote is sufficiently generalized to correctly apply to all tabulation and voting methods.

As applied to RCV, overvotes may result in a skipped selection rather than a lost vote. The consequences of the overvote depend on the RCV rule being applied.

If the definition is not generic enough in the VVSG Glossary, the concern is that to be correct the VVSG definition would have to explicitly restrict applicability to “regular”/non-RCV contests only.

VVSG definition: “

Occurs when the number of selections made by a voter in a contest is more than the maximum number allowed. The number of allowed selections is equal to the number of votes lost. For example, if three selections are made in a vote-for-two contest, the number of votes lost is two.”

Gg: This definition assumes that an overvote always results in lost votes which is not the case with RCV.  With RCV, an overvote can simply be skipped and the next highest ranked continuing candidate receives the vote.  I would suggest that the general glossary term should be defined simply as “Occurs when the number of selections made by a voter in a contest is more than the maximum number allowed.”  This seems to cover the most general case and does not need to get into what happens when an overvote occurs.  That is determined by other rules.

Overvote RCV ranking

A ranking assigned to more than one contest option.

Ranking, RCV

 Approved

The number or position selected for a contest option to indicate a voter's ranked preference for that option.

Repeated ranking

 Approved

Selection of more than one ranking for the same contest option for the contest being counted.

Discussion

Sometimes referred to as Duplicate Ranking, not to be confused with “duplicate ranking “ when used to refer to an overvote.

Round of counting or round

 Approved

A round is a subprocess in the tabulation process during which current votes for all continuing contest options are counted in accordance with the applicable tabulation method counting rules.

Technical Definition

A round is a subprocess in the  tabulation counting process during which current votes for all continuing contest options are counted in accordance with the applicable tabulation method counting rules.

A round is for the purpose of determining the following:

  • whether a contest option has acheived a majority or a threshold,
  • whether and which contest option or contest options are to be eliminated,
  • redistribution of surplus in a multi-seat contest.

*In cases wherer it makes sense, formula*

Discussion

A round is for the purpose of determining the following:

  • whether a contest option has acheived a majority or a threshold,
  • whether and which contest option or contest options are to be eliminated,
  • redistribution of surplus in a multi-seat contest.

Skipped ranking, RCV

When a voter omits a ranking and ranks a contest option at a subsequent ranking

Surplus

The number of votes cast for a contest option in excess of the number required to meet or exceed the applicable threshold rule.

Discussion

Applies to multi-winner RCV, aka STV

surplus fraction, surplus factor

The proportion of each vote to be transferred when a surplus is transferred.

Technical

The quotient, rounded down to n decimal places, of a contest option’s surplus divided by the total number of votes for the contest option in the round in which the surplus occurs.

Discussion

Applies to multi-winner RCV, aka STV

Tabulation Method

 Approved

A tabulation method is a set of process flow steps and operations for performing counting, accumulation, and other data and math operations on a vote selection data set.

Technical Definition

Tabulation methods are sets of partially ordered process steps and operations for performing counting, accumulation, and other data and math operations. Each tabulation method supports, or is a part of at least one tabulation scenario .A tabulation method is used by a voting method to produce an election contest outcome.

Discussion

See Section 3.1.3 Tabulation Methods for more information on tabulation methods and tabulation process flow diagrams 
DRAFT_NIST_SP_1500-10X_VotingMethods_3-1-3_TabulationMethods_ContestProcessingHighLevel-HD-LLEditorsDraft20180510.docx

Tabulation Scenario

Approved

A situation and sequence of events or activities intended by Elections Officials and Elections Administrators to be sufficient to achieve a tabulation goal.

Technical Definition

A tabulation scenario contains a situation and sequence of events, steps in process, and tabulation state changes. Sets of ballots in the form of Cast Vote Record data sets, proceed in steps to be operated upon according to the defined process of tabulation that is executing, with the objective of producing an output count and related statistics and reporting for a particular instance of tabulation.

Discussion

A tabulation scenario may be intended to count only a subset of the total number of ballots needed to count for an election contest result that is output by a voting method. Examples of tabulation scenario purposes include but are not limited to configuration, logic and accuracy and acceptance testing, batch, precinct tabulation, central tabulation, statewide ‘rollups’ or aggregations, recounts, and audits.


This specification currently supports tabulation scenarios as follow.

Tabulation Scenarios

  • Batch
  • Batch with Accumulation
  • Election Contest
  • Reporting Unit
  • Aggregation
  • Compositions of Batch and Contest variants with Accumulation and Aggregation
  • Multi-Contest Multi Voting Method per Ballot
  • Distributed variants of this list of tabulation scenarios
  • Precinct
  • Central tabulation
  • Tabulation scenarios for the auditing use case
  • Tabulation scenarios for the recount use case
  • Tabulation for configuration testing
  • Tabulation for logic and accuracy and acceptance testing

Threshold/Quota, RCV

The number of votes that are sufficient for a contest option to prevail. In STV, it is also the point at or above which additional votes for a contest option are considered to be surplus.

Transfer value

The transfer value of a ballot is the one vote or portion of a vote that the ballot will contribute to the vote total for the ballot’s highest-ranked continuing contest option after a surplus transfer or elimination of one or more contest options.

Undervote, RCV

Approved

An undervote occurs when a voter does not rank any contest options in a Ranked Choice Voting contest.

Voting Method

Approved

A Voting Method encompasses a set of process flow or algorithmic steps, tabulation methods, and a decision rule set. Each voting method contains at least one tabulation method and at least one decision rule set containing at least one decision rule. The decision rule set is used by the voting method to produce an election contest outcome.

Discussion

Executing the appropriate election contest decision rule set is in the scope of the voting method.
The labels by which voting methods are known are elements of the NIST Common Data Format (CDF) enumeration
vote variation.
Voting methods supported by this specification include the following.

  • Plurality
  • Majority
  • Super-Majority
  • N-of-M (Includes the case of 1-of-M)
  • Ranked Choice Voting (RCV)
  • Approval
  • Cumulative
  • Proportional
  • Range

    See Section 3.1.3 Voting Methods for more information on voting methods and process flow diagrams..
    See Section 4.0 Voting Methods Mathematical Models for precise standard models of voting methods.



 

Voting Method Variant

Approved

A voting method variant is a particular, more specific variety of a baseline voting method where a particular tabulation method, and/or a more specifically or differently constraining decision rule set are applied to produce the election contest outcome.

Discussion

Vote Variation or
VoteVariation
Approved

Vote variation is an enumeration defined in NIST SP 1500-103 Cast Vote Record (CVR) Version 1.0, Section 4.26, CDF, that contains String labels by which voting methods are known as its elements.

Discussion

Not to be confused with the term “Voting Variation”in the NIST Glossary https://collaborate.nist.gov/voting/bin/view/Voting/VotingVariation

The VoteVariation enumeration is an element of the UML model that specifies the CVR Common Data Format (CDF).


See
NIST SP 1500-103 Cast Vote Record Version 1.0, Section 4.26 (page 61)

https://github.com/usnistgov/CastVoteRecords/blob/master/CVR%20Specification-2018-07-17.pdf

Vote

Vote--a ballot choice that is counted toward the outcome of a contest.

Discussion

[See also:  vvsg Contest Option Vote, previously was called Valid Vote
https://github.com/HiltonRoscoe/GlossaryMD/blob/master/vvsg_living_glossary.md#contest-option-vote]

As applied to RCV, the selection(s) may or may not contribute to the official vote total of a contest option in the final round of tabulation.  If all selected contest options are eliminated, the ballot would be considered “inactive’ with respect to the contest being counted.  Never-the-less, an inactive ballot is still considered a “vote,” having been counted for a contest option during the tabulation process. This is no different that a “vote” cast for a losing contest option on any valid ballot.