BBV report on recent VSPP activities

From: Jim March <jmarch_at_prodigy_dot_net>
Date: Fri Jan 21 2005 - 11:50:17 CST


Some recent activity at the California SecState VSPP hearings to report.

In addition to the report below, y'all need to know that the Voter
Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) requirements scheduled to begin
1/1/06 in California will still mandate that the user never handle the
paper. This kinda screws OVC's original prototype and raises hardware
costs: the printer needs to eject it's paper into a system that first
displays the document "behind glass", and then on final confirmation by
the user drops it into a "sealed bucket" of some sort...or,
unfortunately, a take-up reel (see below).

I can just imagine hooking up a dot matrix printer to a paper cutter arm
which in turn is linked to the final "cast ballot" button via a switch.
People would do their final "cast ballot" by pulling down on the arm,
slicing the paper :). KerCHUNK! Ballot cast :).


1/20/05 THURSDAY -- BULLETIN: California advisory panel approves
dismantling of voter secrecy

By Jim March, Exclusive to Black Box Voting

SACRAMENTO: The California Secretary of State's Voting Systems and
Procedures Panel (VSPP) today authorized new standards for Voter
Verified Paper Audit Trails (VVPAT) that destroy voter secrecy.

This change in the way VVPATs are allowed to operate involves a cash
register-style tape with a take-up reel that preserves the vote sequence
on each touchscreen machine. By cross-referencing available data, your
vote can be identified.

The sole opponent of this proposal, computer scientist David Jefferson,
pointed out that by comparing the reel to the polling place “logbook”
for the vote order and, cross-referencing the voter's political party
(public record) with the ballot style (obvious from the printout), a
close correlation -- or a match -- can be made between voter and vote.

While cross-referencing may sound tedious, it could become nearly
instantaneous. The same vendors who produce the voter registration
system (which contains political party and precinct, and therefore
ballot style), also produce the voting machines, and at least one major
vendor (Diebold) has already developed an electronic pollbook to
integrate with voter registration and voting system.

As Jefferson put it, prior paperless touchscreen systems at least
claimed to randomize the vote order of the tallies recorded electronically.

The first VVPAT-equipped touchscreens ever tested in California (an
Avante system used for a trial in Sacramento County in 2002) used a
“slicer” to cut off each paper ballot and drop it into a sealed bucket
big enough to allow a good degree of randomization. Jefferson discussed
this system so the panel would know that such an alternative is
possible. Also discussed were earlier prototype Sequoia and ES&S VVPAT’s
with their own slicers and drop-buckets, along with Diebold ATMs with
the same “slicers” on their receipt printers.

With Sequoia and ES&S now using “take up reel” systems, that effort
towards randomization of ballot order is gone. Mention was made of
preserving voter secrecy with “procedures” at the county elections
department, with little discussion as to what those procedures would be.

Black Box Voting has found that election procedures, even when
prescribed by law, vary widely in practice. Many public officials, party
observers, and citizens do not understand how the checks and balances
function to protect the vote, and therefore do not insist on compliance
with procedures. Sticklers about protective procedures are frequently
ignored, overruled, or called "conspiracy theorists." There are no
consequences for officials who do not comply, and no penalties for
officials who refuse to allow citizen observation of their voting
integrity procedures.

“Take up reel” VVPATs were approved by the panel on a 6:1 vote, with
Jefferson the sole holdout. Like all decisions of the VSPP, this one is
advisory, with Secretary of State Kevin Shelley making the final decision.

Sequoia’s touch-screen machine printer using this “take up reel”
sequential vote storing system (the “VeriVote Printer”) was approved for
California use with the “Mark II” Sequoia touchscreens.

It hasn’t been tested yet with the earlier “Mark I” model, which is in
use only in Riverside County, where there are concerns that the machines
don't have enough plugs to support both a printer and an audio headset
adapter. Riverside has over 4,000 Sequoia touch-screens.

For a position paper by Black Box Voting director Jim March questioning
the competence of the VSPP and asking that the panel cease
decisionmaking until issues of competence, management and conflict of
interest are resolved, see also:

# # # # #

If you do NOT approve of the take-up reel method, removing privacy from
your vote, now is the time to demand a rollback on this decision.
Pressure points: Be your own media; put pressure on county purchasing
boards to avoid these systems; call, write, fax, and e-mail Kevin
Shelley's office and tell him: NO WAY!
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Received on Sat Jan 7 22:28:58 2006

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