Re: Fwd: [Votingtech] Touchscreen Voting Machines Cause Long Lines and Disenfranchise Voters

From: Ronald Crane <voting_at_lastland_dot_net>
Date: Sun Apr 19 2009 - 19:36:14 CDT
Edward Cherlin wrote:
On Sun, Apr 19, 2009 at 2:45 PM, Ronald Crane <voting@lastland.net> wrote:
  
I'm glad that someone has fleshed this out. This is yet another way in which
hand-filled paper ballots (possibly counted by properly-supervised machines)
are superior to machine-created ballots.
    

I don't think I have seen your views on the typical 1% error rate for
hand-filled paper ballots, from such factors as overvoting and stray
marks. Nor do I recall hearing from you on the subject of ballot-box
stuffing.
  
Everything is a tradeoff. You have to consider the whole picture, from ease of supervisibility by the general public, to the various forms of security, to ease of voting and ease of administration, to the ability to provide enough voting stations, to reliability, to expense, to probably two dozen other factors.

Hand-filled ballots (however counted) are more susceptible to accidental overvoting, undervoting, and stray marks than electronically-filled ballots [1]. Depending upon the electronic implementation you're comparing against, hand-filled ballots might also be more susceptible to box stuffing. However, electronically-filled ballots are generally more susceptible than hand-filled ballots to attacks, including DoS attacks (such as the original post describes), presentation and selection attacks, social-engineering attacks (primarily for "E2E" systems), invalid-ballot attacks, misrecording attacks, and probably several other categories.

Hand-filled ballots are much less susceptible to centrally-coordinated attacks than are electronically-filled ballots, since manipulating hand-filled ballots usually requires physical access to them, while electronically-filled ballots can be manipulated not only locally, but also by the equipment vendor, sub-vendors, crooked state officials, hackers, and anyone else with electronic access to any sensitive system component at any step of manufacture, distribution, storage, or use.

Hand-filled paper systems are also much easier than electronic systems for an average Joe to supervise. Their main supervisory weaknesses is the need to continually observe the chain of custody. This weakness can partially be addressed by using precinct counts instead of central counts, though this doesn't help with recounts.

Electronic systems, in contrast, have attack vectors that most citizens can't begin to comprehend (as we've often discussed here). Electronic systems require most citizens simply to trust the experts.

Which kind of system you prefer depends upon how you weigh the factors. I think that electronic vote-casting systems' supervisibility and security drawbacks outweigh their advantages for voters who can hand-fill their ballots. I think that they should be used, if at all, only for voters who cannot otherwise vote independently.

-R

[1] But yes, you can accidentally hit a selection area on an e-voting system, creating a stray vote/undervote/undervoted page that you might or might not notice at the time, or on review.

It's much cheaper and easier to
accommodate voters by setting up more tables, privacy shields, and pens than
it is to do so using machines (which have not only to be purchased, but to
be securely stored and maintained). This advantage is especially pronounced
during an unexpected surge in turnout, since card tables, privacy shields,
and pens can be purchased or fabricated on election day, while machines
usually cannot (or, at least, cannot be purchased or fabricated securely on
such short notice).

-R

Arthur Keller wrote:

This article may be of interest to the design of an open voting system.

Best regards,
Arthur

Date: Sat, 18 Apr 2009 22:48:59 -0400
To: votingtech@hss.caltech.edu
From: Dick Pratt <rhpratt@his.com>
Subject: [Votingtech] Touchscreen Voting Machines Cause Long Lines and
    Disenfranchise Voters

(Forwarded from TrueVote.)  Since this seems to be a scientific paper it
should be of interest to this group.  --Dick Pratt

[snip]

 > ...Bill Edelstein, and his physicist son Arthur D. Edelstein have
 > written a paper entitled, "Touchscreen Voting Machines Cause Long Lines
 > and Disenfranchise Voters."...  The abstract:

 Computerized touchscreen "Direct Recording Electronic" DRE voting systems
 have been used by over 1/3 of American voters in recent elections. In many
 places, insufficient DRE numbers in combination with lengthy ballots and
 high voter traffic have caused long lines and disenfranchised voters who
 left without voting. We have applied computer queuing simulation to the
 voting process and conclude that far more DREs, at great expense, would be
 needed to keep waiting times low. Alternatively, paper ballot-optical scan
 systems can be easily and economically scaled to prevent long lines and
 meet unexpected contingencies.

 > (end of abstract)

Draft paper available at:

 <http://arxiv.org/pdf/0810.5577v1>http://arxiv.org/pdf/0810.5577v1

[snip]
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Received on Thu Apr 30 23:17:04 2009

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