Re: Use of audit/copies in event of loss of original ballots

From: Douglas W. Jones <jones_at_cs_dot_uiowa_dot_edu>
Date: Tue Jun 29 2004 - 09:27:17 CDT

On Jun 29, 2004, at 1:14 AM, james_in_denver wrote:

> Does anyone have a "feel" for how the Judiciary might interpret
> "copies"
> or "audit records" acting as "substitutes" of ballots when faced with
> the (at some point likely) absence of originially recorded ballots?

Yes

> Does anyone know if this issue has been addressed legislatively?

Badly at best.

All DRE machines currently on the market store redundant copies of
the "electronic ballot box", and in many cases, there are redundant
transmission paths from the voting machine to the county canvassing
center. For example:

The ES&S iVotronic stores 3 copies of all records internally, in
3 separate flash memory chips.

There are 4 ways to extract the data:
1) Via a strange and proprietary device known as a PEB. This is the
   normal path for extracting vote totals for inclusion in the canvass.
2) Via a removable compact flash card.
3) Via the serial port on the back of the voting machine.
4) By removing one of the flash chips itself.

Path 4 is the last resort, but paths 2 and 3 are normally used to
extract event logs, and along with the event logs, you also get a
copy of the electronic ballot box (all the ballots).

THE MORAL OF THE STORY: Anyone who says that a VVPT system is bad
because it introduces multiple versions of the ballot box, and if
these differ, we have no way to tell which is right, doesn't
understand that all DRE systems suffer from exactly the same
problem!

There is no clear understanding in the laws of any state I've seen
that these can differ, and no clear understanding that, when they do
differ, the selection of one of them as definitive cannot be made
arbitrarily. It would be stupid to enact legislation saying that,
in case of difference, any one of these was given automatic
priority over the others, because in that case, all you do is
create a forgery of that privileged version.

What the law needs to do is recognize that every copy of the
ballot records, whether paper or electronic, is subject to possible
loss, error or fraud. Electronic copies might be hacked, paper
ballots might be forged. If there is a problem, then, the evidence
needs to be examined and the copy that is most consistent with the
other evidence should be accepted as definitive.

For example, if you find 100 electronic ballot records and 150
paper ballots in the ballot box, but the pollbook has only 100
signatures and the public counters on the voting machines at the
close of the polls also added up to 100, you might reasonably
conclude that the paper ballot records have been tampered with.

The current OVC model is, of course, a bit more complex than the
simple-minded model I used for illustration above, but the point
remains.

                Doug Jones
                jones@cs.uiowa.edu
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Received on Wed Jun 30 23:17:25 2004

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