Re: code validation?

From: Ed Kennedy <ekennedyx_at_yahoo_dot_com>
Date: Sat Feb 26 2005 - 23:09:53 CST

Hello Ron and Edward,

    As for replacing the defective equipment like the Diebold Acuvote DRE,
in San Diego County, California, (my home) it depends on how sharp the
county officials were who negotiated the original deal. If I understand it
correctly, in San Diego County there was something like a performance
guarantee written into the purchase contract for the equipment. It seemed
that the County officials had been tipped of that there was something of a
'bad smell' associated with Diebold. When the California Secretary of State
decertified the Diebold Acuvote, Diebold had to eat the costs of a warehouse
full of voting equipment and step up to the plate with optical ballot
scanners at no additional cost.

    However, in Riverside County, California, they are probably going to
have to pay the entire cost of replacing their election system. Considering
the hubris of the Riverside officials, it might be appropriate for something
like that to happen but who am I to judge? With the awful smog they have
there I'll cut them a little slack. While I suppose a county could try to
sue for product defect, misrepresentation or some other grounds to either
break the contract or even recover funds, I wouldn't expect the plaintiff to
have much success.

As for Secretaries of State and the issue of partisan adminstration of
elections, this is a knotty problem. A Secretary of State is a position
that is usually defined into existence in a state constituion as an elected
(read partisan) official. Please be aware that as I consider the phrase,
"Non partisan elected official as elected in a non partisan election," to be
something like the tooth fairy, similarly I believe suggestions that the
postion should be non-partisan to be a non-starter. I have considered the
idea of a civil service postion of an election commissioner but as I am a
civil servant I know that ultimately a civil servant has to answer to the
people through their elected representatives. So, I'm open to suggestions.

I confess that I have the pervasive and nagging doubt that many elected
officials deem elections as either something that they would not like to
leave to chance or as just an inconvenient formality that they have to dance

In general, for the security/integrity issues, I like the idea of harnessing
the aminosity and distrust that political parties have for each other in
verifying the integrity of software and the election results. Specifically,
Ron I dislike the idea of OVC going into the election system business. It
leaves us wide open to the charge that we're not truely neutral and that we
have a vested interest in promoting our own system. I'll admit that many of
your concerns are valid and could be solved by having OVC or an affiliate
make and market a system. None the less, I'm uncomfortable with the idea.

Thanks, Edmund R. Kennedy

<Multi snips>

> And in 2004 we saw them handle the election cases which were much
> heavier on technology issues than the 2000 cases quite slowly and
> sloppily. The main Ohio recount case was mooted by Congressional
> confirmation of the electors before it was even argued. Then the Ohio
> attorney general tried (is still trying) to fine the lawyers who
> brought it, arguing that it had been a "frivolous" action.
> . I have
> little faith that most judges (or, for that matter, most
> administrative agencies charged with implementing the procedures you
> describe below) will understand the need to incorporate all legitimate
> security fixes.
> They'll listen to the vendors and leave the public out in the cold.
>> Just imagine if Internet Explorer/Outlook/Microsoft Exchange
>> Server had to pass such tests to qualify for government
>> purchases. How fast do you think Microsoft would clean up its
>> act?
> It would never happen. MS has much too large an installed base in
> government for government to stop purchasing its software, let alone
> to stop using it and to replace it with something else.
>>> The question of legal enforceability is far from a theoretical
>>> issue. During Ohio's presidential recount, local boards of

>>> defined as "be locked out of the building where the tabulation
>>> occurred", etc. Many of these violations are felonies under
>>> Ohio law, but I haven't heard a peep about prosecutions.
> positively retrograde. I recall Florida's governor actually deriding
> e-voting security concerns.
>>> Basically you have to trust the vendor to incorporate
>>> suggested changes.
>> Don't trust, verify.
> That works only if the procedures you describe are vigorously enforced
> [1]. But I think politics will curtail the level of enforcement to the
> to enforce such procedures, it might, of itself, drive many of the bad
> machines off the market and out of polling places, particularly if we
> were able to make our platform available at cost [2].
> -Ron
> [1] And, even then, crafty vendors determined to cheat can do so via
> hardware. See my replies to David Mertz from the afternoon of 2/23 for
> some icky thoughts on this topic.
> [2] Yes, this does raise the terribly thorny issue of financing. I
> have some ideas for that.
> _______________________________________________
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Received on Sun Feb 27 17:17:13 2005

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