RE: Spoiled ballots, forged ballots, destroyed ballots

From: Arthur Keller <arthur_at_kellers_dot_org>
Date: Fri Jun 11 2004 - 19:54:50 CDT

At 7:14 PM -0500 6/11/04, John Payson wrote:
>Actually, since as you acknowledge there's a possibility that a voter
>might print a ballot but not cast it, this means that even a shortage
>of ballots in the ballot box doesn't constitute prima facie evidence
>that something's wrong. Given that there have been elections in which
>some ballots were accidentally left out of a stack that was fed through
>a machine, this would seem like something that should be addressed.

The number of cast ballots should equal the number of voters and
should also equal the number of printed ballots minus the number of
spoiled ballots. Any discrepancy needs to be explained.

>I suspect that some of my philosophical beliefs in what constitutes a
>secure voting system may be at odds with the proposed mechanisms of OVC
>voting, and there is no interest in adapting such mechanisms to fit the

It's not at all clear you have proposed things that don't present
other problems. You seem to have lots of ideas, but they are not
consistent and not thought through.

>In particular, I believe that a good voting method should meet both of
>these requirements:
>-1- It should be possible for any interested person to be
> shown that the election is tabultated correctly and
> EQUIPMENT OTHER THAN HIS OWN**, and that the only means
> by which election results could be altered, **EVEN IF
> by physically altering or replacing cast ballots;
> ballots should contain features to make such trickery
> detectable given a reasonable inspection (say 30
> seconds or so).

Instead of sending us half baked ideas, why not put together a clear,
complete, and consistent alternative proposal, and we'll consider it.

>-2- Persons other than election officials should not be
> able to throw an election into doubt (that election
> officials will be able to do so is unavoidable).
>I believe that it is possible to satisfy both of these requirements at
>reasonable cost. Although a broad enough conspiracy among officials
>and manufacturers would allow fraudulent ballots to be forged that were
>indistinguishable from real ones, that would require a greater
>conspiracy than would be needed to cheat in most other ways.
>I think that using open-source software to conduct elections is a good
>idea, but a person should have no reason to trust the legitimacy of
>even open-source software on any machine they don't own, since there
>is no way to know what software a machine is "really" running. I do
>not, therefore, consider the fact that a piece of machinery claims to
>be running a certain piece of open-source software to be evidence
>sufficient for me to unquestioningly trust that machine.

Maybe you should read about the discussions on checksums that are
printed in the newspaper or the election pamphlet.

>Perhaps people on this list don't think the requirements I listed,
>particularly the ALLCAPS portions of #1, are important. Perhaps they
>don't think they're achievable. If the latter, I could show how
>they could be achieved. If the former, then this list is a waste of
>my time.

You haven't presented a solution to those requirements, but flawed
partial ideas.

>Anyone who's interested in further correspondence is invited to write
>me directly, if the matters aren't of interest to the list.

Put together a well-thought out, consistent, and complete description
of your ideas, and you'll get a better hearing. Some of us have been
working on this for years. Some ideas we've adopted when suggested,
like the bar code. Other ideas, we've rejected.

Best regards,

Arthur M. Keller, Ph.D., 3881 Corina Way, Palo Alto, CA  94303-4507
tel +1(650)424-0202, fax +1(650)424-0424
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Received on Wed Jun 30 23:17:13 2004

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