Re: Another open source opportunity

From: Edward Cherlin <cherlin_at_pacbell_dot_net>
Date: Mon Aug 30 2004 - 11:51:27 CDT

On Monday 30 August 2004 07:01 am, Douglas W. Jones wrote:
> In working over my recommendations to Miami-Dade County, I
> realized that test script generation is another market for
> open-source software.

Second the motion. But I will go further. Open Source test
software should be required for ALL voting machine testing, and
the results of the tests should be published. Naturally, the
test software should be written by people not involved in
writing the voting machine software.

There is a paradox here for us. OVC shouldn't create test
software for its own product. But who other than OVC is ready to
take on the task? If we do anything to help create some other
testing software organization, we can be accused of collusion.

I guess it's just going to have to become important enough for
someone else to jump in.

> Florida requires that 2% of all DRE machines be tested before
> each election using a test script for which the results are
> known.

Is the script available to the public for checking?

> 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).

Are the scripts executed manually?

> 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.

Just so.

> 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
> jones@cs.uiowa.edu

All good additions to the project.

-- 
Edward Cherlin
Generalist & activist--Linux, languages, literacy and more
"A knot! Oh, do let me help to undo it!"
--Alice in Wonderland
http://cherlin.blogspot.com
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Received on Tue Aug 31 23:17:20 2004

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