Re: I need some help

From: Ron Crane <voting_at_lastland_dot_net>
Date: Tue Apr 26 2005 - 10:25:37 CDT

On Apr 25, 2005, at 11:04 PM, Teresa Hommel wrote:

> 3. I need someone who is well versed in OVC's system to read section
> 2.4 of Shamos's paper
> (http://euro.ecom.cmu.edu/people/faculty/mshamos/paper.htm#_edn1 ) and
> to write a technically solid rebuttal. Reward: naming as a co-author.
>
> Ron, I implore you not to make the same mistake that Shamos makes. He
> says in section 1.1 that he sees no "engineering difference" between
> airplanes and voting machines. That's why he ends up making such
> outlandish statements and arguments -- he views elections as an
> engineering problem. But elections are not an engineering problem,
> they are a democracy problem. If you ignore the needs of a legitimate
> democratic election, of course you may write something technically
> solid but it is likely to be irrelevant to the needs of our democracy.
> I actually gave a whole speech on this topic.
> http://www.wheresthepaper.org/RadcliffeFeb12_2005_TeresaHommel.htm

I'll read your speech. But elections feature both democracy issues and
technical issues. You're correct that Shamos gives too little weight to
democracy issues, such as the purpose of elections, what it means for a
person illegitimately to assume office, and election transparency. But
he also fails to acknowledge a plethora of technical issues.

I aim to criticize him on all of these points.

-R

> Below are my responses to section 2.4 of Shamos' paper.
>
> Teresa Hommel
>
> 2.4. The “Voter-Verified” Paper Trail
>
>             It is alleged that adding a so-called “voter-verified
> paper trail” to a DRE machine will either permit tampering to be
> detected or at the very least will provide a reliable record of how
> each voter voted that can be used for a recount, even if the recount
> must be conducted by hand.  This is incorrect.  A paper trail
> accomplishes one thing, and one thing only – it provides assurance to
> the voter that her vote was initially captured correctly by the
> machine.
>
> FALSE. IT RECORDS THE VOTER'S CHOICES ON A "PERMANENT" NON-ELECTRONIC
> MATERIAL WHICH CAN BE USED TO DETERMINE WHETHER OR NOT THE COMPUTER
> RECORD OF THE BALLOT WAS CORRECT. SHAMOS IS FALSELY NAIVE HERE,
> BECAUSE AS A COMPUTER SCIENTIST HE KNOWS THAT THE SCREEN CAN SHOW ONE
> THING, THE INTERNAL RECORD CAN SHOW ANOTHER, AND THE PAPER PRINTOUT
> CAN BE THE SAME OR DIFFERENT FROM THE SCREEN OR INTERNAL RECORD.
>
>  This is no small accomplishment, but it can be achieved in numerous
> other ways, as explained below.  That is the only voter-verified
> part.  The paper trail provides no assurance at all that her vote will
> ever be counted or will be counted correctly.  The reason simply is
> that the paper trail itself becomes insecure at the moment of its
> creation.
>
> TRUE, AND ALSO THE INTERNAL ELECTRONIC RECORD BECOMES INSECURE AT THE
> MOMENT OF ITS CREATION, REGARDLESS WHETHER IT WAS ACCURATE OR
> INACURATE TO BEGIN WITH. HOWEVER, THE PAPER RECORD CAN BE WATCHED BY
> NONTECHNICAL ORDINARY CITIZEN ELECTION OBSERVERS, AND THE ELECTRONIC
> RECORD OF THE BALLOT CAN NOT BE OBSERVED.
>
>
>             First, if the machine cannot be trusted, which is the
> working hypothesis of paper trail proponents, then it cannot be
> trusted to deal with the paper trail safely.  After the voter leaves
> the voting booth, it can mark her ballot as void and print a different
> one.  The voter will have left the booth believing not only that her
> vote was cast and counted properly, but that it will also be counted
> properly in any recount.  None of these beliefs is correct.
>
> TRUE, AND THIS IS ONE REASON WHY A POPULEX-TYPE DESIGN IS DESIRABLE,
> WHERE THE VOTER TAKES THE PAPER BALLOT IN HAND AND DELIVERS IT TO THE
> COUNTING STATION (OR OPTICAL SCANNER).
>
>
>             One might argue that inspection and testing of the
> machine would reveal such abjectly bad behavior, but the claim of DRE
> opponents is that no amount of inspection and testing is ever
> sufficient.  If testing is adequate to reveal paper trail flaws, then
> it is adequate to uncover other faults in the machines.
>
> TRUE, INSPECTION AND TESTING OF AN EVOTE COMPUTER MEAN NOTHING
> BECAUSE THE COMPUTER IS MANAGED BY NONTECHNICAL ELECTION WORKERS WHO
> WOULDN'T NOTICE IF IT WAS TAMPERED WITH, AND ARE CERTAINLY INCAPABLE
> OF PERFORMING SOPHISTOCATED ROUTINES TO VERIFY WHAT SOFTWARE IS IN THE
> COMPUTER.
>
>             Here is a further, but only partial, catalog of problems
> with paper trails.
>
>  1.  The paper trail cannot be on a continuous roll of paper, since
> that would permit reconstruction of each voter’s ballot based on the
> order in which votes were cast.  Therefore, the paper trail must
> consist of separate pieces of paper.  However, once the pieces of
> paper are separated, the integrity of the trail is lost.  Looking at a
> piece of paper, we will not be able to tell for certain where it came
> from.  Stuffing and all other paper ballot tampering methods then
> become possible.  The addition of cryptographic indicia, which has
> been proposed as a method to prevent insertion of unauthorized
> ballots, cannot work since the voter will never know whether her real
> ballot contained the proper indicia when it was created.  If it
> didn’t, the ballot will not be tabulated during a recount.
>
> PARTLY TRUE, NO MACHINE CAN PREVENT FRAUD BY INSIDERS AND COLUSION OF
> INSIDERS AND VOTERS. ONLY MULTIPARTISAN OBSERVERS WHO ARE NOT PART OF
> THE COLLUSION CAN DO THAT BY OBSERVING THE BALLOT BOX AND THE BALLOTS.
>
> 2.  Adding a paper printing device to a DRE machine naturally adds
> another component that can fail, run out of ink, jam or run out of
> paper.  If DREs are alleged already to be prone to failure, adding a
> paper trail cannot improve that record.  In Brazil in 2003, where a
> small number of precincts had installed paper trails, failure of the
> printers delayed voters by as much as 12 hours, a figure that would be
> catastrophic in the U.S.[32]
>
> SHAMOS IMPLIES THAT AMERICANS CAN SEND A SPACE SHIP TO THE MOON, BUT
> WE CANNOT BUILD A PRINTER THAT CAN PRINT 200 SHEETS OF PAPER IN 12
> HOURS. SO BUY A JAPANESE PRINTER.
>
> SERIOUSLY, THIS IS WHY MANY PEOPLE ADVOCATE HAND-MARKED PAPER BALLOTS
> TO BE COUNTED BY A PRECINCT-BASED OPTICAL SCANNER. IF THE OPTICAL
> SCANNER BREAKS, VOTERS CAN STILL MARK THEIR BALLOTS. MY PENCIL MIGHT
> BREAK, BUT I COULD BORROW ANOTHER ONE AND IT WON'T COST $3000 TO $8000
> LIKE A DRE WOULD.
>
> 3.  There is no voter-verified paper trail machine that has been
> tested on any large scale.
>
> TRUE, AND THERE IS NO DRE THAT HAS EVER BEEN AUDITED AFTER AN
> ELECTION. AMERICAN ELECTIONS ARE A SORRY BUSINESS.
>
> 4.  States that propose to implement the paper trail have promulgated
> regulations stating that the paper shall govern over the electronic
> record in the event of discrepancy[33].  This has the effect of making
> the insecure paper record paramount over the secure electronic one, a
> return to the early days of the Australian ballot.
>
> REPETION IS NOT AN ARGUMENT. NO ELECTRONIC RECORD OF ANY ELECTION HAS
> EVER BEEN AUDITED, SO WE DON'T KNOW IF ANY ELECTRONIC ELECTION HAS
> BEEN CONDUCTED HONESTLY AND WITHOUT ERRORS. HOWEVER WITH MULTIPARTISAN
> OBSERVATION OF PAPER BALLOTS, WE CAN BE SURE THAT EITHER ALL OBSERVERS
> COLLUDED WITH FRAUD, OR NO FRAUD OCCURRED.
>
> 5.  With complex ballots, voters are prone to forget exactly whom
> they have voted for.  When confronted with a paper record, they may
> erroneously claim that the machine made a mistake.  This will call the
> machine’s reliability into question, prompt calls for a recount and
> cast doubt even on machines that are functioning properly.
>
> THIS IS ONE REASON WHY MANY PEOPLE ADVOCATE HAND-MARKED PAPER BALLOTS
> TO BE COUNTED BY A PRECINCT-BASED OPTICAL SCANNER.
>
> 6.  Paper trails do not address the problem of DRE failures.  If the
> complaint is that a machine cannot be initialized for use on the
> morning of election day, then having a paper trail mechanism is of no
> help.  In fact, the presence of the mechanism increases the load on
> the machine’s power supply and processor and itself increases the
> probability of failure.
>
> PAPER TRAILS ARE NOT A PANACEA, THEY PROVIDE AN INDEPENDENT MEANS FOR
> AUDITING THE COMPUTER. ALL VOTING SYSTEMS SHOULD BE ACCOMPANIED BY
> SUFFICIENT PAPER BALLOTS SO THAT VOTERS CAN VOTE IF THE EQUIPMENT
> BREAKS. FOR EXAMPLE, IN NEW YORK EVERY ELECTION DISTRICT HAS 300 PAPER
> BALLOTS PACKACED IN THE BACK POCKET OF ONE OF ITS MECHANICAL LEVER
> MACHINES.
>
> 7.  The paper trail requires a re-examination of meaning of the terms
> “ballot” and “official ballot.”  This is not a mere semantic exercise,
> but a question of great legal and, in some states, constitutional
> significance.  Can a piece of paper be a ballot if it is neither
> marked nor touched by the voter?  If so, significant statutory changes
> will be required.  If the paper is the ballot, then what conceivable
> meaning can be ascribed to the computer count, which is not derived by
> counting the “ballots,” but by processing the voters’ original inputs
> that were separately used to generate the ballots?  If the paper
> ballots are official, then we are put in the untenable position of
> having to certify an election without ever actually counting the
> ballots, unless an allegation of irregularity compels a “recount.”
>
> ELECTRONIC VOTING HAS BEEN THE CAUSE AND RESULT OF MANY CHANGES IN
> OUR LAWS. CHANGING TECHNOLOGY OFTEN CHANGES LAWS. FOR EXAMPLE, BEFORE
> WE HAD CARS, WE DIDN'T HAVE SPEED LIMITS ON OUR HIGHWAYS.
>
> CAN AN ELECTRONIC RECORD THAT IS NEITHER MARKED NOR TOUCHED BY THE
> VOTER BE A BALLOT? IT CAN IF THE LAW SAYS IT CAN, AND THE CHANGES TO
> LAWS OR STATE CONSTITUTIONS ARE UNLIKELY TO BE "GREAT" OR
> "SIGNIFICANT."
>
> HOWEVER THE EFFECT OF INVISIBLE ELECTRONIC BALLOTS THAT CANNOT BE
> OBSERVED BY ORDINARY MULTIPARTISAN CITIZEN OBSERVERS IS GREAT AND
> SIGNIFICANT --  THE EFFECT IS TO UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMACY OF OUR
> ELECTIONS AND OUR GOVERNMENT. THIS IS BECAUSE UNOBSERVED
> VOTE-RECORDING AND VOTE-COUNTING, AND REQUIRING VOTERS AND THE PEOPLE
> TO "TRUST" UNOBSERVED THESE PROCESSES IS ANTITHETICAL TO ELECTION
> LEGITIMACY.AND TO DEMOCRACY ITSELF.
>
> 8.  Each losing candidate will claim that the election was stolen
> from him by the machine and will insist that the only true indication
> of the voters’ preferences reside on the paper, even if there is no
> evidence of irregularity or tampering.  Thus paper recount will become
> the default method of vote counting, mitigated only by the high cost
> of such recounts.  If this is to be the case, why use voting machines
> in the first place?
>
> THERE IS NO GOOD REASON TO USE ELECTRONIC VOTING.
>
> 9.  Paper trails cannot readily be viewed by disabled voters,
> requiring them yet again to reveal their votes to strangers in order
> to have them verified.  It is no answer to say that there are other
> mechanisms to review their votes.   If paper trail proponents truly
> believe the paper trail is necessary for fair elections, then
> elections will not be fair for the disabled.
>
> THE PURPOSE OF AN ELECTION IS TO DETERMINE THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE IN
> SELECTING OUR PUBLIC SERVANTS. AN ELECTION IS FAIR IF ALL PERSONS
> LEGALLY ENTITLED TO VOTE ARE IN FACT ABLE TO CAST A BALLOT WITHOUT
> UNDUE BARRIERS, AND THEIR VOTES ARE RECORDED AND COUNTED ACCURATELY.
>
> HAVING A DISABILITY IS NOT FAIR. PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES THAT FORCE
> THEM TO DEPEND ON OTHERS SUFFER NOT ONLY FROM THEIR DISABILITY BUT
> FROM OUR CULTURE'S DISRESPECT FOR THOSE WHO ARE NOT "INDEPENDENT," AND
> THIS IS NOT FAIR.
>
> HOWEVER, WHEN A PERSON REQUIRES ASSISTANCE FROM OTHERS IN COMPARABLE
> AREAS OF THEIR LIFE, AND ALSO REQUIRES ASSISTANCE TO VOTE, THE
> UNFAIRNESS RESULTS FROM THE DISABILITY AND NOT FROM THE ELECTION.
> WOULD YOU SAY THAT IF A PERSON NEEDS ASSISTANCE TO EAT BREAKFAST, THAT
> THE BREAKFAST IS UNFAIR?
>
> FOR MORE DISCUSSION OF VOTERS WITH DISABILTIES, SEE
> http://www.wheresthepaper.org/
> Evoting_BadForDemocracy.htm#VotersWithDisabilities
> http://www.wheresthepaper.org/links.html#dis
>
> 10.  A report of the Caltech-MIT Voting project concluded that the
> presence of paper trails actually decreases public confidence in the
> voting system[34].  This can be understood as follows: would requiring
> airplane passengers to inspect the plane’s engines before boarding
> enhance their belief in the safety of the aircraft?
>
> WOULD REQUIRING AIRPLANE PASSENGERS TO WEAR SEAT BELTS ENHANCE THEIR
> BELIEF IN THE SAFETY OF THE AIRCRAFT?
>
> OUR FIRST REQUIREMENT HAS TO BE THAT ELECTIONS ARE LEGITIMATE, AND
> FOR ELECTRONIC VOTING SYSTEMS THIS MEANS CREATING VOTER-VERIFIED PAPER
> BALLOTS AND USING THEM TO AUDIT THE ELECTION.
>
>             My position on paper trails, despite their problems, is
> not an extreme one.  If a manufacturer produced a reliable paper trail
> device and the remainder of his system were acceptable, I would see no
> problem in certifying such a machine.  I am firmly opposed to any
> audit trail requirement, however, and even where audit trails are
> used, the paper record should never govern over the electronic one
> because it is vastly less secure.  The proper use of audit trails is
> as evidence.  If the paper trail totals differ from the electronic
> ones, that is the starting point for investigation, not the end of the
> issue..
>
> ALL TRANSACTION-CAPTURING AND TRANSACTION-PROCESSING SYSTEMS MUST BE
> AUDITED TO ENSURE ACCURACY. THIS IS A PROFESSIONAL IT STANDARD.
>
> ALL ELECTION PROCEDURES MUST BE APPROPRIATELY OBSERVED. THIS IS A
> REQUIREMENT FOR ELECTION LEGITIMACY IN A DEMOCRACY. THIS CONCEPT MAY
> BE DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND FOR SOMEONE WHO THINKS  THAT "the republic
> will survive if a president is elected who was not entitled to the
> office."  (SECTION 1.1)
>
>  
>
>
>
> Ron Crane wrote:
>
> At Alan's request, I am writing a paper rebutting Prof. Shamos's
> recent paper that promotes DREs. I've got most of it in hand, but I
> need some help on three issues. Two of them should be easy for someone
> who knows, and one will require some work. I need all these by
> Thursday if possible. Here they are:
>
> 1. A few reliable cites for the proposition that flight-control
> software is subject to rigorous specification, implementation, review,
> and testing procedures.
>
> 2. A few reliable cites for the proposition that software used for
> major financial transactions (e.g. a bank's check-clearing system) is
> subject to tight standards (though probably not as tight as (1)).
>
> 3. I need someone who is well versed in OVC's system to read section
> 2.4 of Shamos's paper
> (http://euro.ecom.cmu.edu/people/faculty/mshamos/paper.htm#_edn1 ) and
> to write a technically solid rebuttal. Reward: naming as a co-author.
>
> Thanks!
>
> -Ron
>
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Received on Sat Apr 30 23:17:15 2005

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