Re: Nevada Voters Forum

From: Lou Montulli <lou_at_montulli_dot_org>
Date: Fri Dec 05 2003 - 22:10:21 CST
Alan Dechert wrote:
Lou,

  
Lastly, I told the group about the OpenVotingConsortium.  I told
them that there was a goal to great an open source software
solution and that it could reduce the cost of the machines to
around $1000 or less.

    
Great!  I was waiting to hear about this part.
  

Well, it is a good news, bad news situation.  The good news is that the audience really liked the idea of a "better", "cheaper", "open source" system.  The bad news is that the state and county officials appear to want a solution now.    I really got the sense that they did not want to wait more than a few weeks and they would like to know what to buy right now.   To that end, at least in Nevada, it seems like it is going to be a lot more productive to try and advocate incremental improvements to the current vendors solutions.    I would like to urge the state to be cautious and to delay the decision, but one can only fight on so many fronts.   If the state is going to purchase something soon then it would be best if they could at least get a reasonable solution in place.  To my eye that would be the addition of a voter verified paper trail with a system of paper verification. 
  
There may be some ways that OVC could help the process in
the shorter term by coming up with ways that existing vendors
could improve their systems.  .....

    
I have to say I disagree with this part.  This is, in essence, what the
Caltech/MIT project has become.  Ironically, the OVC is carrying the banner
for what the Caltech/MIT project originally stood for.  They are working
with vendors and jurisdictions to improve things.  The OVC is growing a new
crop of vendors.  These goals/objectives are pretty much mutually exclusive.

  
That seems reasonable, specialty can help the job get done a lot sooner.
 I will engage the Caltech/MIT project to work with them on incremental vendor improvements.

  
For instance.

Advocate a voter verified paper trail

    
David Dill is carrying that banner rather well.  We can support what they
are doing, but we don't want to get sidetracked from our mission -- which is
to develop and deliver an open voting system.

I don't want to get too involved with it because the issue is much more
complex than it appears -- it's a veritable black hole.

You can't just hang a printer off a DRE.  In fact, if you do that, it's not
clear you still have a DRE.  If you say (like a lot of VerifiedVoting
advocates claim) that the paper reigns supreme, then you didn't really cast
your vote when you hit "CAST BALLOT."   Or did you?  If there is a
descrepancy between the electronic record and the paper records, you don't
just have a situation where we say, "okay now we say we go by what's on the
paper [I hesitate to say "ballots" because with the DREs it's not clear what
they are... "Receipts?"].  If there is a descrepancy, you have a gross
system failure -- it's not clear if either the paper or the electronic
record would be reliable.

  
It's not entirely clear to me exactly how the systems will function in the near future.  I agree that there are issues with just adding a printer to a DRE, but isn't it better than having to paper record at all?    At least with a paper record you can tell that something went wrong.  If the record is entirely electronic and it is wrong you will just never know it.   Perhaps ignorance is bliss?  :)

:lou
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