Re: Nevada Voters Forum

From: Alan Dechert <alan_at_openvotingconsortium_dot_org>
Date: Sat Dec 06 2003 - 14:23:47 CST

Lou,

> Well, it is a good news, bad news situation. .....
>
No, no, and no. There is no bad news here. This is good news, plain and
simple.

> The good news is that the audience really liked the idea of a "better",
> "cheaper", "open source" system. ....
>
Right, of course they do.

> The bad news is that the state and county officials appear to want
> a solution now. .....
>
This is NOT bad news. We may not be able to give it to them "now," but it
doesn't mean we won't be able to provide it "soon." Keep in mind that
"soon" in governmental lingo is a bit different than "soon" that ordinary
people think of. Remember that everyone in the world saw just how broken
the U.S. voting system was in 2000. People demanded a solution ASAP. Two
years later HAVA was signed. This wasn't any kind of solution either --
just a plan to throw money at the problem.

With the help of your new friends in the Nevada Gov, we might be able to get
it to them "very soon" (governmental lingo).

> 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. ...
>
And you think this is "bad news"?

> 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. ....
>
Bait and switch? You just told us they want the better, cheaper, and open
source system. Why deny them what they want?

> 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. ...
>
What if there is no reasonable solution available?

> To my eye that would be the addition of a voter verified
> paper trail with a system of paper verification. ....
>
So you think that spending $5,500 per unit on a piece-of-crap system that
will be worthless in two years is "reasonable."?

>>> 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.
>
What job is that? For sure, they could ensure your voting machine will work
properly on the planet Mars.

> I will engage the Caltech/MIT project to work with them on
> incremental vendor improvements. ...
>
I suggest you review our NSF proposal for a summary of the work Caltech/MIT
has done. For example, you can find the recent cutting-edge report they did
for the state of Massachusetts.

http://www.vote.caltech.edu/Reports/VotinginMass.pdf

.. where they make such startling recommendations such as

"The Secretary of State should decertify mechanical lever machines and
DataVote punch cards for use in Massachusetts. (p. 13-14)"

"Localities should not lock themselves into stagnant
voting technologies in a time of technological flux.
Massachusetts should encourage localities to lease,
not buy, new voting equipment. (p. 15)"

"The Secretary of State should expeditiously move to
establish a task force to develop a statewide plan for
the improvement of voting technologies. (p. 16)"

and so on.

Actually I have no problem with the Caltech/MIT recommendations for Mass. I
have made many of the same recommendations too (e.g., see my presentation
at the UCSC evoting forum). Do you really want them to do something similar
for Nevada? Pay them a bunch of money and then 6 months later they give you
a report?

Tell you what, instead, why don't you cut-and-paste the executive summary
for the MA report and give that you your SoS?

It would save your state a lot of time and money.

> 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? :)
>
Look, Lou: what you've done there is GREAT. Your processing of the
information you've gathered stinks.

HAVA is supposed to make available something like $30 million for R&D on new
voting equipment. Every state should have access to some of this money.
Why not recommend to your SoS that he grant some of his HAVA bucks to the
scientists and engineers of the OVC so Nevada can get the system they really
want ASAP? It would help other states too because it's also the system that
every other state will want.

Alan D.
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Received on Wed Dec 31 23:17:05 2003

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