The Miami Story

From: Douglas W. Jones <jones_at_cs_dot_uiowa_dot_edu>
Date: Thu Jun 10 2004 - 16:21:16 CDT

As many of you know, I've been down to Miami twice in the
last month to investigate their iVotronic system and a
curious anomaly in data extracted from that system. My
complete report on this adventure is on line at:

   http://www.cs.uiowa.edu/~jones/voting/miami.pdf

This is a revised version of the report formerly posted
at that URL, with revisions in blue if you happen to have
seen the earlier version (written before my first visit to
Miami).

I have not, as you'll note, recommended that Miami abandon
the iVotronic system for this voting cycle, despite the
fact that it contains two known bugs at this point and the
fact that it is a DRE machine.

The reason is, Miami is already using this system more
prudently than many jurisdictions, and I believe that the
cost and risks of living with it, with added defenses such
as parallel testing, are lower than the costs and risks of
jumping ship to centrally counted paper ballots using their
existing absentee system. Centrally counted mark-sense
paper ballots really are inferior to precinct-counted
mark-sense ballots, and Miami has over 700 precincts and
over 7000 voting machines, large enough numbers that the
lead time for any change in polling place procedures is
measured in months, not weeks! (In comparison, Louisiana
has about 8500 voting machines statewide.)

Quite frankly, I believe that the bugs that Miami has found
are present in all iVotronic systems deployed nationwide,
and that it is to Miami's credit that they located these
bugs over a year ago, that the canvassing procedures
that they already have in place offer effective defenses
against these bugs, and that the audit procedures they
already have in place found these problems. Folks in other
jurisdictions that use iVotronic systems need to ask why
these bugs weren't found in their jurisdictions, and we all
need to ask why these problems made it through the
certification process.

By the way, I should note that the LWV has already been
misquoting the first draft of my report to Miami as if I
was giving a blanket endorsement to DRE systems. This
revision includes a final section intended to deter such
abuse. The most positive conclusion I'd accept the LWV
drawing from my report is that, under some circumstances,
with appropriate and aggressive defensive measures, it may
be acceptable to use existing DRE systems this fall."

                        Doug Jones
                        jones@cs.uiowa.edu
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Received on Wed Jun 30 23:17:12 2004

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