Re: Critical analysis of VoteHere

From: charlie strauss <cems_at_earthlink_dot_net>
Date: Sat Dec 20 2003 - 13:04:17 CST

I'll just add that Votehere needed a little attention by OVC because
the way it it being marketed is as a voter-verified system that also
allows "counted-as-cast" technology. If this last virtue becomes
conflated with the present notion of "voter-verified" and enshrined as
a requirement you can kiss OVC and all paper-ballot system goodbye.
The reason why this is a credible threat of becoming true is that
votehere is not easily dismissed as yet-another-receipt system and
sequoia is already moving to implement it as a salve for the
voter-verified outcry now reaching critical mass.

moreover, the more I discuss this issue of votehere, the more I
appreciate the nuances of OVC.

I have also found some of the discussion very helpful in enunciating
why I dont like votehere in a ways I can now credibly respond to
letters from the Secreatary of state, League of women voters, and ACLU
when they raise the issue of using this system as a strawman response
to verifable voting. Unless there is a credible response I see this as
being the system that wins out in the end because from a
manufacturuer's and election commisioners point of view (but not from
democracy's point of view) it has many advantages over paper ballots in
implementation (e.g. thermal printers, roll fed paper, never any
recounts, and reduced need for security at the poling place itself).
It also has many many down sides that have been discussed here. What
I am persuing in my free time is educating my legislators to make sure
that if the laws in my state change they dont allow votehere as an
option to paper ballots.

Still no one has really answered the question I started with: does
their system actually work as claimed--there are lots of unproven
claims about "provably" secure elections that I dont buy. This is
somewhat important question too, though maybe not a concern of OVC: at
the end of the day if i am forced to live in a state where Touch
screens dont have paper ballots then I would feel more secure with
Votehere than not having votehere.

On Dec 20, 2003, at 11:39 AM, Alan Dechert wrote:

> David,
>
>> I think it is important to be able to compare and contrast OVC to
>> other
>> systems proposed and in use out there. It is important in order to
>> articulate the strengths (and weaknesses of OVC). Also, other people
>> will
>> ask for for those comparisons, or will make them, and we have to be
>> able
> to
>> answer correctly and fairly.
>>
> I agree totally.
>
> However, we also need to focus on the core goals. The demo continues
> to
> slip and this is costing us. I've had reporters call and ask,
> "where's the
> demo."
>
> We should not spend a lot of time analyzing other projects. We've
> been over
> this quite a bit already. Professor Brady and I spent a lot of time
> doing
> that in 2001 and, frankly, the picture is not dramatically different.
> The
> first presentation I heard on VoteHere technology was in the office of
> Kevin
> Shelley in 2001 (when he was in the Assembly). One of Shelley's staff
> members was describing to Henry Brady and me what the VoteHere people
> were
> telling him.
>
> The only thing that's really different in 2003 (ouch, almost 2004) is
> that
> people seem to be serious about trying to add printers to DREs.
> Saltman and
> others have pointed out that this is not as simple as it seems. For
> example, Saltman wrote:
>
> Due to the fact that the printout is created by the computer
> and is not a document-ballot, such a printout is a sop to the
> layperson ignorant of the inner workings of computers.
>
> http://www.fairvote.org/administration/papertrail.rtf see #7
>
> Since the authentic vote is on paper with OVC system, Saltman refers
> to it
> as a document-ballot See #8 -- Saltman didn't have all the details
> right due
> to the fact that the idea has evolved slightly (e.g. he has
> "mark-sense"
> ballot reader where it is now barcode scanner -- although this could
> change
> again for the production system).
>
> Last Spring Dill asked me why Saltman wouldn't sign his resolution. I
> explained to Dill why the voter verified paper trail was not a
> solution. It
> is an essential feature of the solution, but, by itself, it is not a
> solution. And could actually make a crummy DRE into something even
> worse.
>
> It's not even clear that you still can call the unit a DRE if you add a
> printer. It really depends on how the election is administered with
> such a
> goofy thing. If you say that the "receipts" will only be used in a
> recount,
> then the way to go if you're a crook, is to figure out what conditions
> trigger a recount and make sure that this never happens. Say a
> recount is
> done only where the margin is less than x (say .5 percent), then you
> make
> sure that your candidate wins by more than that. Make sure the
> printouts
> always match what the voter intended then record the votes however you
> want.
> There are lots of other ways to rig a DRE with a printer. For
> example, if
> the machines knows that the voter can't read (e.g., because they're
> using
> headphones), then give the voter the right oral feedback but print the
> receipt and record the vote however you want. It all depends on how
> the
> election is to be administered with these. But, generally speaking, I
> do
> not consider a DRE with printer to be a valid voting machine.
>
> The OVC system is NOT a DRE system. Votes are recorded
> electronically, but
> those electronic ballot images are conditional and only become valid
> ballot
> images when they have been matched with corresponding paper ballots.
>
> Alan D.
>
>
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Received on Wed Dec 31 23:17:16 2003

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