FAQ categories -- system comparison

From: Alan Dechert <alan_at_openvotingconsortium_dot_org>
Date: Wed Dec 24 2003 - 16:43:51 CST

Karl has outlined some good categories for the FAQ, but we're certainly not
done with this.

We need a section that compares the OVC with others. Beyond that, we may
need some sub-categories.



- projects
- proposed systems
- existing systems

We probably want to include "projects" because they could, theoretically,
lead to systems. For example, Caltech/MIT don't have anything we could
identify as a voting system, but they have had a fairly high-profile project
going for three years now. Our NSF proposal included a comparision of our
project with Caltech/MIT and we should have something like that in our FAQ.
Some uninformed people might assume Caltech/MIT is doing (or has already
done) what we are doing since they kinda-sorta-for-about-five-minutes said
they were going to build the "U.S. Voting Machine." Also, U of Maryland and
Johns Hopkins have had some projects going and we should compare what they
are-doing/have-done with the OVC project/system.

There are a number of proposed systems that we should probably cover too.
For example, vote by phone has been mentioned on this list. There have been
some pretty extensive investigations of this. "Internet Voting" proposals
are numerous.

We want to hit vote-by-mail pretty hard since it is probably the least
secure most fraud-prone voting method ever devised.

When comparing "existing systems" with the OVC system, futher divisions
might be useful like "DRE" and "other NON-DRE."

The Australian eVACS system is worth comparing also (David Mertz wrote a
comparision for our NSF proposal). Although eVACS shares several important
features with the OVC system, there are several significant differences to
be noted.

Lorrie Cranor's list might be a good place to start outlining subcategories
for the COMPARISIONS section of the FAQ.


Note that this page includes a link to a 1993 paper by Irwin Mann of NYU
that may be considered somewhat prophetic -- antcipating the OVC. He says,

     ... In order to ensure that such an insulated group cannot
     occur, we conceive of a condition under which this
     insulation is virtually impossible. We provide a paradigm
     whereby the voters have relevant access to the
     accountability of the voting process. We refer to such
     a system as an "open voting system".

     Such a system is defined as one where:

     - every element of every component, both hardware
        and software, is in the public domain,

     - there are built-in capabilities for independent
        monitoring of software, and

     - there are institutionalized protocols for public
        monitoring of all components and the electoral
        process, sufficient to find any hypothetical
        discrepancy from the intended design, if it
        should happen to exist.

     In particular, this means that the system can have no
     proprietary parts! It is proposed here that as a matter
     of public policy, every voting system used for a public
     purpose shall be "open" in the sense given above.

     This open protocol, in conjunction with the standard
     protocols of a rigorous auditing trail, and sufficient
     redundancy (including the existence of hard copies
     of ballots) is essential for full accountability of the system

-- Alan Dechert 916-791-0456
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Received on Wed Dec 31 23:17:17 2003

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