PERFECT Project: Ground-Truthing Ballot Images

We are currently developing a prototype BallotTool system to support our research on paper-based ballot processing. BallotTool contains a collection of useful software components for manipulating ballot images and their associated metadata. The BallotTool graphical user interface (GUI) is written in the popular Tcl/Tk scripting language and runs under the Linux operating system, where it also makes use of the standard Netpbm open source toolkit for manipulating image files. Although our planned work covers a broad range of questions, many of them are centered around the image of a single ballot. Rather than develop a separate program for each task, BallotTool provides common functionality that is shared across a number of different applications, as will be described in the remainder of this paper. See the figure below for a screen snapshot of BallotTool in one of its operating modes: defining a basic ballot layout.

Underlying the BallotTool system is an XML-like language we have developed for describing ballots and elections. This provides a common representational framework for all of the applications we plan to study. Input is assumed to be a blank ballot image in PDF or TIF format. Metadata is built up through human interaction with the system, or, in certain cases, generated automatically.

BallotTool system
(a) BallotTool system displaying the Lehigh-Muhlenberg simulated survey form.

PERFECT is an acronym that stands for "Paper and Electronic Records for Elections: Cultivating Trust." PERFECT is a multidisciplinary research effort aimed at studying the reliable processing of paper ballots and other hardcopy election records. Participating institutions include Lehigh University, Boise State University, Muhlenberg College, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Click here to return to the PERFECT homepage.

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PERFECT is funded in part by the National Science Foundation under award numbers NSF-0716368, NSF-0716393, NSF-0716647, NSF-0716543. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed on this website are the investigators' and do not necessarily reflect those of the National Science Foundation.