April 23, 2004

Electronic Voting Panel...

Lorrie Cranor is the chair.

David Wagner (UCB)

Showed a cooking pot and then a laptop. He said, what's the difference between these two? Ping yells: "The pot doesn't crash!"

David then showed something called the Therac 25. A medical device that killed quite a few people before it was discontinued. The problem was that they moved from the older system to the Therac 25 very quickly and that there was not sufficient testing. People died in the quick adoption.

Douglas A. Kellner, Commissioner, New York City Board of Elections

You can't recount votes unless they're on paper. NYC asked for the first design of an electronic voting machine. Mr. Kellner ended up showing that how ever many safegaurds you insert into the system, you still need an official record in order to be able to verify the vote and reconcile an audit trail.

NYC ended up stopping the electronic voting machine procurement as it was to error-prone and not a valid representation of the electorate's votes.

Tremendous progress can be made by speaking out... the computer professionals have done a good job.... NYC will demand an paper-based audit trail.

Kim Alexander (CVF)

We are still calling for the de-certification of all machines that do not produce a paper record. Yesterday was a great day as the TSx was recommended for decertification.

Here's notes from the case Kim made to SoS Shelley yesterday about decertification of all electronic voting machines that do not produce a paper-based audit trail:

  1. There were wide-spread problems with electronic voting machines in the March 2 election. There were smart card encoder problems in Alameda and San Diego Counties. In Orange County the wrong ballot was presented to voters. There were problems getting the optical scan ballots recorded. In Napa county the Sequoia machines didn't record votes because they couldn't recognize the ink used to record votes.

  2. They produced results that cannot be verified. (Kim walked us through the life of an electronic ballot). Each of these steps much be glitch-free and perfectly programmed. Any errors are difficult to detect and it would be impossible to figure what the correct vote would have been.

This all erodes public confidence in the legitimacy of state and federal elections.

It's bad enough that we use any software given the poor state of software regulation... but given what we've seen, it's also irresponsible and dangerous.

A government can only be legitimate when the process is transparent and verifiable.

Mike Shamos

Whatever the problems are, paper is not the answer.

Every election that has been manipulated has been done so with paper. Any time a human being has custody over the ballots, bad things an happen.

There has never been a proven case where electronic elections have been manipulated. There are two cases: the equipment is garbage or elections are stolen maliciously. Adding a paper trail actually increases the likelihood that a machine won't boot in the morning.

"I view the problem as an engineering problem. Specify the properties of a system that you want, we test to those criteria, we certify the machine."

If a vendor could produce a machine that is certifiable, I would recommend that we let it go. We need to test the things. No testing mechanism will uncover all possible errors.

Scott Konopasek

The election system is much broader than just what happens on election day. There are many more opportunities to disenfranchise voters. There are many layers of checks and balances that exist in this process.

I hear this argument all the time: you can't disprove that you don't know what you don't know. It is intellectually dishonest to claim these systems are insecure, because it's never been proven.

I have a vested interest in making sure that there is an audit trail. "The VVPAT and other audit trails are needed. A poorly concoted version of such a thing is not desirable."

Dan Tokaji

He's a former ACLU counsel. He teaches civil rights.

There's something else that he cares about besides this: equality. Something that is especially important in the rights to vote. This is sacred.

The proposal to require a VVPAT (which he calls a CPR (contemporaneous paper record)) advances the right to vote. It will certainly deny equality.

There are three dimension to this debate:

  1. Hardware: We need to understand the systems that we are building.
  2. Election Administration: We need to understand the infrastructure that already exists to execute the vote.
  3. Voting rights: people have the right to vote.

What kinds of voting rights do people have?

  • Accuracy: Many people's votes are not counted. Paper-based systems loose thousands to hundreds of thousands of votes.

  • Racial disparagement: Electronic voting machines help eliminate racial gaps in counted ballots.

  • Disability rights: People need to be able to vote unassisted.

Anti-DRE folks make four mistakes:

  1. (I didn't get this)
  2. overstate the qualities of a VVPAT.
  3. (
  4. An over-estimation of our current paper-based systems.

(I'm going to stop here)

Posted by joehall at April 23, 2004 04:06 PM | TrackBack
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