Re: Text of count every vote act.

From: Ron Crane <voting_at_lastland_dot_net>
Date: Sun Feb 27 2005 - 19:45:56 CST

On Feb 27, 2005, at 2:55 PM, Charlie Strauss wrote:

> The Count every vote act (sens Clinton kerry) is available.
> http://www.pfaw.org/pfaw/dfiles/file_493.pdf....
>
> The bill does not seem to anticipate that bar codes will get used
> (they are part of the sequoia system and are integral to the accupol
> system). Thus it does not spell out how bar codes get vetted
> against the text during the audit or recount. This is a golden
> opportunity for OVC to hammer this point home. It is the main
> advantage of the OVC system over the Accupol system for example. And
> certainly use of bar codes is going to be needed for efficient
> handling of flimsy paper tape systems as well.

Bar codes shouldn't be used. Though they improve the efficiency of
ballot handling, they add security risk (e.g. voting station prints bar
code that doesn't represent voter's selections even though text does)
and reduce transparency (voter isn't sure how vote is represented). If
the polls are busy, I'd guess that many voters would skip the ballot
reader/verifier and go right to the ballot box, thus never finding
bar-code mis-correspondence. And, of course, the ballot reader could be
compromised to ignore this kind of cheating.

OCR, though more error-prone [1] and less efficient than bar codes, it
more secure and more transparent.

> OVC could further improve its standing by making one of its
> disavantages an heralded advantage. OVC requires that all the ballots
> get hand scanned by poll workers. We all agree we like that for many
> reasons but of course the down side is manual labor. However, since
> the manula audit provision of the law means there is going to be a
> manual audit phase this is an opportunity for OVC. OVC should assert
> that the OVC process does not require a secondary manual audit since
> that is part of its voting process. One could do this voluntarily, as
> it does add to the integrity, but OVC should take the stand that it is
> not required for OVC. this will reduce the cost of operation of the
> OVC system compared to others that are less manual-audit friendly.

It'll do so only at a serious sacrifice of security. The manual audit
is meant to make tabulation fraud much more difficult by cross-checking
a randomly-selected, statistically-significant set of precinct
tabulations against hand counts the gold standard of security.
Nothing in the OVC system replaces this important cross-check, though
possibly elections officials could hand-audit as they scanned ballots.
That seems a clumsy process, and it doesn't satisfy the usual recount
requirements of observers, partisan balance, two teams, etc. It also
doesn't satisfy the legal requirements of, e.g. HR 550 (should it
become law), which requires federal officials to perform the audit.

More broadly, the main purpose of OVC's system should be to provide the
most secure system possible, not necessarily the most convenient for
elections officials to use. Of course it shouldn't be substantially
harder than others to use if that can be avoided without sacrificing
security.

-Ron

[1] Errors, unless the rate is high, concern me much less than
cheating. Errors are, by definition, randomly-distributed, and thus, on
average, won't skew elections. Cheating, on the other hand....

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Received on Thu Mar 31 23:17:02 2005

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