Transparency / open audit that an 8th grader can understand

From: David RR Webber \(XML\) <"David>
Date: Tue Dec 12 2006 - 10:35:23 CST
I strongly concur vis crypto methods.  They remove control from the voter.  This is the fact that is missed by the anti-paper crowd.  A human voter - un-aided by any device - can verify and confirm a piece of paper - and that paper cannot be altered by digital means (mechanical yes - but not digital).  Anything else requires the human to trust the device that is interceding between them and their vote.
I also agree vis accountability and traceability - when you put your ballot into a box - you are implicitly trusting that all paper in that box will be treated equally - including yours - but not yours separately from the rest!
Now on to audits - yes - open auditability is crucial.  The OASIS EML process and XML formats go to great lengths to create open auditability.  It's a given that ballot records should be transparent - and not contain proprietary values that only a handful of people know what they represent.  Having open internationally recognized standards for voting records again appears like a pre-requisite.
I have worked hard at creating counting and audit mechanisms in the software design - to ensure:
a) counting is anonymous - and revealing of actual entities is only done as the very last step - in presenting the totals.
b) This is all open source and open design to match OASIS EML specifications.
c) individual XML records can be matched to paper records - providing two separate counting paths that should then match.  This an 8th grader can grok - count this pile of things - count this other pile of things - two piles should be the same.  Each digital record is tagged so it can be verified with paper similarly tagged.
The principles here are just the same as banking - you always need two sources of record - checks and ledgers - and two or more independent controllers - to make collusion difficult.  NIST have recognized this in their work on DREs and trust.  So I have the means to crosscheck digital ballot records with paper.
Right now I'm very comfortable that by using OASIS EML, XML and paper I can create an open trusted election for any voting model out there - that can be independently audited and verified.
What we need now is more adoption and more implementations.

"The way to be is to do" - Confucius (551-472 B.C.)


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Received on Sun Dec 31 23:17:10 2006

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