Using Open Standards (EML) and pre-rendering - OVS approach

From: David RR Webber \(XML\) <"David>
Date: Sun Dec 02 2007 - 14:32:44 CST

Just thought I'd share some thoughts here as we've implemented pre-rendered ballots with anonymous recording and counting in the OVS open source code base.

By used an exact scanned image of the paper ballot - or a JPG created from a ballot layout designer - (such as Framemaker or similar high end publishing software) - and then overlaying on that button controls - this becomes the user interface for the voter. Very simple model - no frills.

The button controls are positioned using a row/col XML control file - that is all numbers and reference id codes - so the whole thing is anonymous references.

Each county / state / election - then simply has to provide a graphic image of the ballot and the matching row/col control file.

To guard against malicious scanning code being introduced to somehow peak at the graphic - you of course provide a minimal deployment of the OS - with no such libraries present.

And using open source - you can see that the button click software is not calling anything else - in fact the total lines of code are less than 100 - so its hugely hard to hide malicious code in that.

Plus even if the there was scanning code - the next hurdle is huge. Anonymous ballot counting.

Naturally we don't trust the counting software either. So all the ballot records are stored as references - NOT actual ballot candidate / position choices. So - the counting software has no way of knowning what its counting - its all just anonymous totals.

After every precinct results are in - and then overall totals calculated then there is a final step that reports the actual result - in a secure computer away from the counting computer - that can reveal the actual totals for each candidate based on the reference codes.

This means that even if the software on the voting machine somehow figured out who the candidates are - it then has to know the code references for that - and the coordinate system.

Bottom line - only an inside job could hack into this - and of coure - the list of insiders who know what those codes are in small - so your risk of being caught is huge.

Deterrence is best defense.

Use of standards - fortunately the OASIS EML spec's make it really easy to apply these techniques - with reference ids already fully supported in the XML and the counting process and reporting processes.

This means you can control the whole process with descreet XML files - and managing who has what files when and where.

BTW - we've applied this not only to DRE style ballot writer terminals - but also to the scanner software - where again - you need simple row/col recording of the paper ballot choices recorded.


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

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Received on Mon Dec 31 23:17:02 2007

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