OVC demo made it to Dave Farber's IP list...

From: Karl Auerbach <karl_at_cavebear_dot_com>
Date: Wed Mar 31 2004 - 12:05:26 CST

The demo tomorrow made it to Dave Farber's IP list. (The IP list reaches
a surprising number of influential people.)


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 31 Mar 2004 03:31:50 -0500
From: Dave Farber <dave@farber.net>
To: ip@v2.listbox.com
Subject: [IP] Voter verifiable touchscreen voting machine to be
    demonstrated Thursday

Delivered-To: dfarber+@ux13.sp.cs.cmu.edu
Date: Wed, 31 Mar 2004 00:13:23 -0800
From: Tim Bishop <geodog@cyberdude.com>

Dave and Dan,

Berkeley had its own problems with the Diebold machines last election (see
and http://www.berkeleydailyplanet.com/text/article.cfm?storyID=18399) so
it is a very encouraging sign that people from the The Open Voting
Consortium (http://www.openvotingconsortium.org/) have volunteered their
time and energy to trying to solve the problem of creating a better way to
vote that is secure, fast and voter verifiable. They plan on demonstrating
the system they have developed this Thursday in Santa Clara. My
congratulations and thanks to them.

My local paper had a nice story on it that you might want for IP:

Berkeley Daily Planet
Edition Date: Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Bay Area Programmers Develop Touchscreen Alternative
By JAKOB SCHILLER (03-30-04)

As touchscreen voting machines continue to draw heat from critics pointing
to allegations of security vulnerabilities, one group of computer science
experts proposes to have the solution.

The Open Voting Consortium (OVC), a nonprofit group with several Bay Area
members, recently announced the development of touchscreen voting machine
software that uses open source and creates a voter verified paper trail.
Recently completed, the software is set to be publicly tested this
Thursday, April 1, at the Santa Clara County government offices in San Jose.

The group's development comes at a particularly charged time for the
touchscreen debate. Just last week, Alameda County Registrar of Voters Brad
Clark filed an official complaint with Diebold, the manufacturer of the
touchscreen voting machines used throughout the county. Clark was one of
the first county registrars in the state to invest in the new technology,
spending $12.7 million on the Diebold machines in May of 2002. But he made
his formal complaint after several problems with the Diebold machines
during last October's gubernatorial recall, as well as the primary earlier
this month, resulted in switched votes and major delays.

Two state senators, including Oakland's Don Perata, recently introduced
legislation asking the state to decertify touchscreen machines. California
Secretary of State Kevin Shelley has also issued two mandates asking for
increased security updates on all touchscreen machines for upcoming elections.

Taking all the complaints and security vulnerabilities into question, the
Open Voting Consortium developed a simple approach; maintain the advantages
of a touchscreen system but include the security features that alleviate
the current security concerns.

OVC's system, currently in software form only, can be used on regular
desktop PCs hooked up to a touchscreen monitor and a standard printer. Like
the touchscreen machines now in use, the OVC unit records the vote
electronically. But unlike Diebold's machines, the OVC system also
automatically produce a paper receipt, which is intended to be the official
tally. To ensure accuracy, the paper count is then reconciled against the
electronic one stored on the machines.

"Our idea is that the machines should have [a tally] that people can
inspect," said Arthur Keller, a computer scientist who teaches part-time at
UC Santa Cruz. "You trust the paper and can have much more faith in the

The group has written open source software that can be checked by anyone
for malicious code that might tamper with votes. Like Linux software for
PCs, OVC's code isn't proprietary.

In contrast, the proprietary base software that runs the Diebold
touchscreens machines in Alameda county was inspected by private companies
before state certification, but is exempt from other check-ups. In the
past, Diebold has been severely criticized for using un-certified software
updates on their machines.

No one associated with OVC thinks the new software or process will be the
end-all of electronic voting problems but they say it's a step in the right

"I think there has been a lack of critical analysis of claims made by
voting companies, and now there is a healthier dose of criticism," said
David Dill, a computer science professor at Stanford and one of the leading
experts on touchscreen voting vulnerabilities. Dill is not affiliated with
OVC. Asked if OVC's approach might be the solution, he said, "I don't know,
it's still too early to say. He added, though, that, "I'm glad they're
doing it."

"I have hopes that they will come up with something," said Judy Bertelsen,
a member of Berkeley's Wellstone Democratic Club who has been tracking the
touchscreen debate. "What I'm concerned about is that if we do get some
sort of paper trail that people will wander off and say everything is fine."

The touchscreen machines are just part of the problem, Bertelsen said. She
is also concerned about the optical scan machines, another Diebold product.
These devices were responsible for switching thousands of absentee ballot
votes from Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante to Southern California
Socialist John Burton during the Oct. 7 recall election. The Diebold
machines used by the county to tally votes are an additional problem.

Like Diebold's machines, the Open Voting Consortium's system would
facilitate voting for people with certain disabilities. The group hopes
their machines could also provide additional advantages for blind voters by
producing paper receipts in Braille.

The machines are still several steps away from making it onto the market.
They need to be certified and also need the financial backing of a
for-profit producer. One advantage over the Diebold machines, according to
OVC members, is that the OVC software can be put on any standard PC.
According to Keller, even an older and fairly slow PC can still run the
program. Recycling old PCs could potentially cut down on cost, since old
PCs can be bought for a fraction of the price of a Diebold machine.

Alan Dechart, a former computer consultant for Sacramento County and
founder of OVC, said the group has scheduled meetings with several
secretaries of state around the country to discuss the new system. OVC also
partnered with several universities on their project, including the
University of California, and hopes to receive federal funding to move the
project ahead.

"It will catch on in certain areas," Dechart said. "The people who have
bought the voting machines will resist but they have to in order to cover
their tracks so they don't have to admit they made a stupid mistake."

The Open Voting Consortium's software demonstration will take place this
Thursday at 10 a.m. in room 157 at the Santa Clara County government office
building located at 70 W. Hedding St. in San Jose. For more information
please contact them at (916) 791-0456.

Tim Bishop
E-mail   mailto://geodog@cyberdude.com  Boycott Electronic Voting Machines
Opinions http://tiltingatwindmills.com  Demand A Voter-Verified Paper Ballot!
News links http://www.midnightblog.com  www.VerifiedVoting.org
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Received on Wed Mar 31 23:17:11 2004

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