Re: [OVC-discuss] draft of text for new OVC-sponsored bill

From: David Mertz <>
Date: Sat Jan 24 2009 - 17:53:48 CST

>> "You must have made a mistake; here, we'll void your ballot and
>> let you vote again." Most voters grumble and accept. The attacker
>> has programmed the machine not to cheat twice in a row. The voters
>> re-vote, all is well, officials chalk it up to "voter error" or "a
>> glitch", and nothing is done. Maybe one or two voters stick with
>> their complaints. Officials label them cranks (at best) or call
>> the police to charge them with monkeywrenching or terrorist
>> incitement (at worst).

I definitely don't believe that technology is a silver bullet. You
need human procedures that make sense as well. Clearly, charging
disenfranchised voters with terrorism is not such a good procedure...
even *I* am not *that* cynical though.

>> Also, as Jim March observed, voters' errors on hand-filled paper
>> ballots will be random and will lack a partisan bias (unless the
>> ballot is very badly designed). In contrast, an attack on ballot
>> printers will (by definition) have a partisan bias.

The badly designed paper is a REALLY BIG caveat. Doesn't anyone
remember Florida in 2000 anymore? Or a thousand other jurisdictions
with less publicized design errors in paper ballots.

Also, an error in a ballot printer is not *by definition* partisan.
Sure, it could be, even if the error was initially careless rather
than malicious. E.g. a calibration error skews votes towards the
candidate listed lower on the screen. On the other hand, if this
same possible error was on a system with randomized candidate order,
the error wouldn't favor any particular candidate or party (since any
one of them would be equally likely to occur at the bottom of the
list). The real answer is "it depends".

> This essay ignores the effects of DoS attacks, presentation
> attacks, selection attacks,

We've had plenty of DoS attacks on all-paper ballot precincts! Some
of them right here in LA county in 2008! I think Arthur has written
well of something similar when he was an election judge, and
inadequate numbers of paper ballots were provided to his precinct.

A DoS attack need not be planned with sophisticated software that
counts voting history per machine. You pretty much know voting
patterns by precinct, and causing long lines among "undesirable"
voters is an old and nasty trick that isn't particularly dependent on
polling-place technology.

A nice word for MS: <IMG SRC="c:\con\con">
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Received on Thu Jan 7 00:09:51 2010

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