EAC comments -- final

From: Alan Dechert <dechert_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Wed Jul 27 2005 - 14:54:58 CDT

Below is what I am sending the EAC via email. I gotta hit the road so
no more time for revisions. Thanks for your suggestions. I will read
the summary page tommorow at the hearings. Note that I said at the end
that we'd be submitting more specifics through their online submission

EAC Testimony, 28 July 2005

I am Alan Dechert, President of the Open Voting Consortium. We are
encouraging lawmakers to adopt the best measures to protect the
transparency and security of the electoral system. We applaud
legislators in Illinois who recently passed a bill, HB 1968, that says

"All test plans, test results, documentation, and other records used to
plan, execute, and record the results of the testing and verification,
including all material prepared or used by independent testing
authorities or other third parties, shall be made part of the public
record and shall be freely available via the Internet and paper copy to

We are encouraging law makers in other states to adopt similar measures.
We want this so that we can see if things were done correctly.

The current version of the VVSG has serious flaws you should correct.
Voting technology should be standardized. There should be more
transparency. There should be stronger election audit procedures.
There is too much emphasis on protecting trade secrets. There is no
protection against the very real threat of malicious insider tampering.

It's not necessary to protect trade secrets in election machine
technology. Using computers to count things is a technology that is
well understood. Novel solutions are neither needed nor desirable. Let's
standardize the technology and let vendors compete based on the services
they provide. Let's not make the technology more complicated than it
needs to be. Wireless devices and other overly high-tech approaches
should be eliminated. Transparency should be valued over speed and

Insider tampering is a real threat to elections, and must be taken
seriously. Nevada's Gaming Control Board tests slot machines more
rigorously than the government tests voting machines. Yet, the
malicious insider threat persists, and insiders have successfully rigged
slot machines. Paperless voting is practically an embossed invitation
to rig elections, and should be banned.

Scientists, engineers, and faculty members associated with our Open
Voting project have demonstrated a prototype of an inexpensive,
accessible, electronic ballot printer utilizing free open source
software. This architecture should be encouraged in the VVSG.

Australians have contributed toward fair and efficient election
administration over the past 150 years. We may have more to learn from
them. They have pioneered the use of commodity multi-use PCs and open
source software in elections. The VVSG should allow for this possible

In summary, we want to see the EAC value transparency in election
administration. Please accommodate, and even encourage public
disclosure of all aspects of election administration. Invest in
Research and Development with our country's great university system.

******* end page 1

The first page above is my summary that I will give at the 28 July
Pasadena hearings. I want to provide more details about our views
regarding voting system testing and certification.

Here is Information on the Illinois bill:
HB1968, the text of which can be found at

The bill is still awaiting the Governor's signature, but everyone
expects that he will sign it soon. The relevant section is on page 186,
lines 19 through 25.

Open Voting Consortium (OVC) was asked by the US General Accountability
Office (GAO) to provide information for a report on which they are
working. We assembled a task force and provided this report for them:


In our report, you will find more about Open Voting Consortium - our
strategies, goals, and achievements so far. Dr. Richard Johnson
describes our OpenTest strategy. We discuss some of the problems in the
voting system testing and certification process.

I recommend this article by Charles Ferguson:

Highly relevant quote from this article:

"The transparency inherent in the open-source model also limits secrecy
and makes it harder to avoid accountability for shoddy work. People
write code differently when they know the world is looking at it."

This letter we wrote to the EAC last year is still relevant:


We pioneered the idea of the electronic ballot printer to public
Baltimore Sun -- excellent article:

Mercury News -- after seeing the demo:

The definition of Electronic Ballot Printer can be found in your

Electronic Ballot Printer (EBP)
DRE-like device that fully prints paper-based ballots with selected vote
choices for tabulation by a separate ballot scanner.

Links to papers:


Here is our rebuttal to Michael Shamos (DRE advocate):


( rebuts this paper
http://www.cfp2004.org/program/materials/p12-shamos.pdf )

My first co-author -- UC Political Scientist Henry Brady:
Saltman wrote this letter for us in 2001:

Saltman wrote this paper in 2003 (citing me on pg 6):


We feel that pages 96-98 from VVSG2 should be incorporated into the

We will be submitting more comments about VVSG through your online
submission process.

Alan Dechert
President, Open Voting Consortium
9560 Windrose Lane
Granite Bay, CA 95746
The Open Voting Consortium (OVC) is a non-profit organization dedicated
to the development, maintenance, and delivery of open voting systems for
use in public elections.

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Received on Sun Jul 31 23:17:21 2005

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