Re: Open Source for "electronic verification method[s]"

From: David Jefferson <d_jefferson_at_yahoo_dot_com>
Date: Sun Feb 29 2004 - 16:20:58 CST

There is a somewhat complex story behind this requirement, which will help
elucidate its intended meaning. It had its origin in the Touch Screen
Voting Task Force last spring, when David Dill and Kim Alexander and I were
faced with unwavering hostility to the idea of voter verification, and to
any sort of paper trail or paper ballot.

David and I argued on many occasions that there might be other methods of
accomplishing voter verification of ballots without the ballots being
recorded on actual paper. We proposed the *possibility* of electronic vote
verification. For example, perhaps one vendor's touch screen equipment
could record the vote, and a different vendor's equipment could read it back
so that voters could verify their vote, without the votes ever being
committed to paper. It was a half-thought-out proposal at best--we were
looking for a way to establish the necessity of voter verification in *some*
medium, even if not paper. But, we said, even if electronic voter
verification were possible, it should be a requirement that the software of
that verification software be open source (and presumably very simple) since
otherwise we have merely transferred the need to trust software from the
proprietary vote capture software to proprietary vote verification software.
We would still have to trust some proprietary software, which we felt it was
imperative not to have to do.

Now consider voting by the sight- or reading-impaired. Since they cannot
read a paper ballot, some form of electronically-mediated verification would
seem essential for them. But if the software that reads their votes back to
them is not open source, then it could lie, and we do not it fact have any
kind of verification.

So, what Shelley meant by that part of his directive is: if, for whatever
reason, any software is used in a vote verification system, then that
software *must* be open source. The requirement would *not* apply to the
vote capturing software in the DREs--just the vote verification software,
whatever that turns out to be.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Alan Dechert" <>
To: <>
Sent: Sunday, February 29, 2004 10:16 AM
Subject: [voting-project] Open Source for "electronic verification

> I just ran across this:
> Perhaps David Jefferson (and/or others) could comment on this. What is
> Shelley talking about here?
> Alan D.
= The content of this message, with the exception of any external
= quotations under fair use, are released to the Public Domain
Received on Sun Feb 29 23:17:02 2004

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