From: Alan Dechert <adechert_at_earthlink_dot_net>
Date: Thu Aug 21 2003 - 20:43:44 CDT

Skip wrote:

> Now commenting on content...
> ...
> Alan> Most people are not aware that the touch screen DREs being sold
> Alan> today are really just repackaged commodity PCs. So, our system
> Alan> not really that different. It's just that the repackaging is a
> Alan> lot simpler and the PCs can go back to becoming regular PCs
> Alan> after the polls close.
> It's not clear to me that when they aren't being used for voting purposes
> that the hardware can go back on the receptionist's desk. Aren't there
> physical security issues to be considered? For example, could someone
> replace/reprogram the BIOS or disk drives in insidious ways which would
> affect the next election?
Thanks for writing, Skip. Your input is always appreciated. I hope we get
some feedback from everyone else on this. We need to reach some consensus
on what the demo is about.

We won't answer very much of this in the demo. The Open Voting Consortium
will ultimately address these issues in detail. The follow on funded UCVS
study will look at all of this in some detail. That said, I doubt that the
PCs will be going back to the receptionists desk where they were before and
from which they will be taken for the next election.

More than 25 million PCs are retired every year in the USA alone -- this is
over 2 million per month, which is less than the number required for all
voting booths in the country. I tend to think that with the UCVS (the
production software) and the OVC, they will be utilizing recently retired
PCs that have not yet been remarketed. In other words, your voting machine
PC will have a history something like this: it's used in an office building
for four years or so. It goes out the door to the remarketer when the
organization "refreshes" the PCs in use. The PC sits in a warehouse for a
short time until the remarketer decides to use it for the voting vendor
contract it has with the county. The PC is cleaned, inspected, tested,
verified, (all in accordance to procedures established and maintained by the
Open Voting Consortium) and delivered for use on Election Day. The PC would
then be taken back to the warehouse where it would then go to wherever the
remarketer was going to send it before setting it up as a voting machine.
Maybe it would go overseas, to a school, or somewhere else.

In other words, the voting machine PC would probably only be used once it
its life as a voting machine. This eliminates the need to store the voting
machines and it also means that voting machines will be constantly updated.
The PCs you vote on in 2008 might be PCs newly installed this month at some
large organization.

> Alan> We will also explain the possibility that vendors will just rent
> Alan> the systems to the counties. In this scenario, a PC remarketer
> Alan> could take existing PCs from inventory -- sanitize them, test
> Alan> them, deliver them to the polling places and then, after
> Alan> Day, put them back on the road to wherever they were headed.
> I know you've thought a lot about this, but I'm still a bit leary of
> hardware that hasn't been kept under lock and key.
I think the system I describe will actually be more secure. Don't you agree
there is cause to be concerned about those with the lock and key?

The trailing edge PCs that will be more secure because they will be
validated and tested for their one-time use as a voting machine.

> ...
> Alan> We'll probably use an inexpensive compact laser printer, like
> Alan> maybe an HP LaserJet 5L that can be had on eBay for 50 bucks.
> Alan> printer will have to be situated in the voting booth so that
> Alan> someone walking by will not happen to be able to view the
> Alan> printout.
> There is the practical problem that adding all this hardware to each
> booth makes the booth bigger and generates a lot of extra heat, especially
> laser printers and large monitors, and especially in warm climates.
> places tend to be in churches and schools and don't always have the most
> up-to-date HVAC systems.
Right. We'll cheat a little for the demo. I think we'll use only flat
screen monitors with the PCs. This is forward looking in that while most
systems would probably be using CRTs in the early years of deployment of our
system, 5 years from now all the trailing edge PCs will be probably be flat

Our poll site demo will probably have at least one PC with a regular flat
screen (17. in diag 1280x1024) and at least one with a flat touchscreen.

The other PCs we use will likely be laptops. We'll need one laptop to use
for the blind voter demo; one to demo tabulation; one to demo the scanner
(actually, I suppose this could be the same one used for the blind voter

We won't be able to address all the siting issues in the demo. This is
something for the larger study. This is discussed some here:

> Alan> Most touch screen systems literally have the voter touching the
> Alan> screen with their finger. Fingers are too broad to precisely
> Alan> locate a position on the screen. Fingers also transfer grease
> Alan> the screen necessitating frequent wiping. Our touch screen
> Alan> printer will work with a stylus allowing for more precise
> monitor???????
> Alan> of the touch and eliminating the need to wipe the screen.
> Alan> People often ask what's to stop a voter from printing and
> Alan> depositing more than one ballot. The voter can print more than
> Alan> one but, in our system, the only one that counts is the one they
> Alan> deposit in the ballot box. After the ballot is deposited, they
> Alan> sign on the roster next to their name.
> Can't they still run through the line a second time pretending to be
> else? That's a hazard in current voting systems. Will EVM address this?
We will address this only in so far as people that vote with the demo system
will sign out on the roster when (before, I guess) they deposit their
ballot. I doubt we'll check IDs and such for demo users.

The Help America Vote Act calls for statewide voter databases. This will
address some of these issues.

> ...
> Alan> The radio buttons for the County Commissioner race should remain
> Alan> as radio buttons. In this case the radio buttons would not be
> Alan> individually selectable but would indicate the position of the
> Alan> order of selection.
> I'm not sure I understand how this would appear to the voter. If I select
> Wally first, Sally second and Fred third, will the order of names change
> will a number be displayed next to each choice? ...
No. We don't plan to change to order. The radio button would appear
selected in the column under the order. In addition, between the radio
buttons and the name "1ST" would be written for the first candidate
selected, "2ND" for the second, and so on. The radio buttons are there for
an additional visual clue and they also help to match up the paper copy of
the sample ballot that the voter might bring into the voting booth
pre-marked with his or her selections.

> Will the voter be able to
> reset the radio buttons and start from scratch? I don't recall what the
> sample ballot looks like and didn't find a reference to it on your website
> with a quick scan. Maybe it's self-evident from that.
The sample mock ballot is here:


Alan Dechert
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Received on Sun Aug 31 23:17:14 2003

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