Re: A generic best practice document for New Mexico legislators

From: David Mertz <voting-project_at_gnosis_dot_cx>
Date: Tue Dec 21 2004 - 13:08:10 CST

Excellent document, Charlie. As I would expect from anything you
wrote. And, of course, being favorably mentioned personally in several
places can't hurt my opinion :-).

A few points I would word slightly differently:

> 4) If a bar-code is used in place of a text scanner or human to count
> the paper ballots, then 0.5% of these should be hand counted and
> compared in detail to the bar codes. Additionally, a bar code reader
> accessible to voters shall be available in every polling place so that
> voters may verify their own bar codes. All discrepancies will be
> published before canvassing.

I think rather than only bar code, you should say something like
"Computer-oriented ballot encoding (such as a barcode)."

At some points, we discussed using something like an OCR-A encoding on
cast ballots rather than a barcode per se. But that string of numbers
would be almost as oblique to voters as an actual barcode, and should
require the same verification standard. Likewise if some other clever
graphic/textual encoding is invented.

> 6) Vote storage formats, electronic and paper, shall either be
> non-proprietary or licensed under fixed and reasonable terms so that
> alternative vendors can produce compatible voting software and
> machinery.

Would it be reasonable here to mention the (non-propietary) efforts of
IEEE-1622 to create just such formats? Kurt Hyde, Arthur, and I are
all serving on that committee to keep it honest. And I expect that any
national standard that might arise in the future will grow out of this
standard (once it's actually created).

Or is that too narrow for this general document?

> 10) Absolutely no voter receipts — vote confirmation records taken
> home by a voter — shall be produced including “secure” cryptographic
> records.

Hmmm... I was recently in an email discussion/disagreement with one of
the VoteHere developers. While I absolutely don't like the opaqueness
to voters of VoteHere and other Chaum-like systems, I'm not sure we can
be quite so categorical in disclaiming them. But I wonder if we ought
to leave that implicit in the "voter transparency" bullet.

For that matter, I'm not totally opposed to a receipt that somehow
cryptographically shows *that* a ballot was cast (but not the content
of the ballot). I just wouldn't want that -instead of- the paper
ballot; if it's an extra thing, in addition to the ballot... well, I
wouldn't say it's necessary--and it could create extra steps for
elections workers. But it's not an in-principle harm.

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Received on Fri Dec 31 23:17:18 2004

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