Another open source opportunity

From: Douglas W. Jones <jones_at_cs_dot_uiowa_dot_edu>
Date: Mon Aug 30 2004 - 09:01:27 CDT

In working over my recommendations to Miami-Dade County, I realized
that test script generation is another market for open-source software.

Florida requires that 2% of all DRE machines be tested before each
election using a test script for which the results are known. In a
large county (consider Miami Dade), where there are thousands of voting
machines, this means a big test using lots of different ballot styles
(many congressional districts, even more state-house districts, county
commission districts, and so on).

The problem is to take a standard election definition file (we need the
standard to be defined!) and some additional inputs and generate from
it a test script and listings of the projected results.

The additional inputs are: How many machines using each ballot style
are to be tested - a list of voting machine - ballot style pairs. This
assumes someone else selected the machines to be tested.

[ A secondary bit of software could take a database of serial-number
ballot-style pairs plus a percentage of machines to be tested and pick,
at random, from among the machines in the inventory, attempting to
assure that at least one machine representing each ballot style is
included in the test. ]

It is essential that this software be open to public inspection, since
biased or crooked test scripts could be used to mess up a pre-election
test by avoiding testing the rigged machines or by arranging the test
scripts for the rigged machines to dodge the rigging. Ideally, this
software should come from a source completely independent of the voting
system vendor.

The output test scripts would be in the form of ballot images, where
each ballot image would list machine ID, ballot style, and who to
vote for on that ballot, in order down the face of the ballot.

The summary outputs would list, for each precinct tested (whether that
precinct was represented by one or more machines) the precinct election
totals expected as a result of the script.

The summary outputs should also list, for the election as a whole, the
county wide totals expected, so that the canvassing system can be tested
as well, all the way out to the results reporting linkages.

                        Doug Jones
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Received on Tue Aug 31 23:17:20 2004

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