Re: Questions from election officials

From: Alan Dechert <alan_at_openvotingconsortium_dot_org>
Date: Mon May 03 2004 - 14:38:24 CDT

Doug,

> The VVPT systems that use cash-register receipt
> tape are going to be real problems because that
> kind of paper handles very badly. .....
>
I heard something about a system for VVPT (maybe Sequoia) that would keep
the printouts on a roll--presumably making it easier to handle them. This
would preserve the order of the ballots and thus would seem to be taboo.
Maybe Lou could shed some light on what they're planning in Nevada.

> And, of course, the OVC model, since we're designing in terms of
> commodity printers, can be counted with commodity auto-feed scanners,
> but they'll certainly work better if the jurisdiction uses decent
> paper and doesn't simply go out and buy whatever Office Max happens
> to have on sale.
>
Right. This is a good study question for the full R&D project. What paper
offers adequate durability at low cost for purchase and retention?

> > 3) recounting
> > if OVC's answer to the above issue is simply that counts are done by
> > hand anyhow (currently with a wand), this requires a lot of people:
> > that'll work on election day when the election judges are plentiful
> > but then how are recounts to be done after election day?
>
> State law is, of course, the guide here. In many states, machine
> countable paper ballots may be recounted by hand or by machine,
> at the discretion of the commissioner of elections. If the recount
> was called because of an allegation that the machines miscounted,
> a hand count is appropriate. If the recount was called for some
> other reason, for example, because of an allegation that the polls
> were improperly closed at some precincts, resulting in a failure to
> count all the ballots from that precinct, then a machine recount
> makes good sense.
>
A sensible reply.

> In any case, California's law mandating a hand recount of paper
> ballots from precincts representing 1% of the voters after every
> election is good policy! ....
>
I've heard bad things here. Such a sample should be randomly selected.
>From what I've heard, election officials give lip service to this. A guy in
LA told me recently that precincts for manual recount are selected in
advance and not randomly! This is a sham.

> This law guarantees that, when there is
> a call for a hand recount, there will be a corps of workers with
> experience conducting such counts, and it provides a useful audit
> on the integrity of the vote tabulating software.
>
If they follow the law. Apparently then don't. Need to investigate this.
Another question for R&D project.

> The OVC model is not aiming to print on cash-register tape, as many
> VVPT vendors propose to do. Ted Selker has produced some mockups
> of what a VVPT ballot would look like in cash-register tape format!
> They're readable, but a general election comes out to be over a
> yard long.
>
Classic strawman argument from Selker.

> > 5) precint/county level manipulation
> > paper is more susceptible to manipulation by the same low tech means
> > they have problems with now.
>
> California election law requires ballot reconciliation as part of
> the canvassing that will catch this, whether it involves DRE systems,
> lever voting machines, or hand-counted paper. I recommend this
> auditing model. The canvass requires reconciliation of the number
> of signatures in the pollbook with the number of ballots counted, with
> a serious attempt to explain every discrepancy.
>
We'll have multiple methods for authenticating any ballot. I think OVC will
surpass all other systems in this regard.

> > 6) machine sealing
> > Apparently machines get sealed for some period before and after
> > elections. What parts of the OVC machine would need to be sealed?
> > Just the live CD? The ballot image data output? It turns out that
> > machine sealing is a major hassle because it means machines cannot be
> > used for multiple purposes during an election period. FOr example you
> > have to have different machines to count absentee ballots because the
> > precint level ones are sealed during the same election period.
>
> We need to do a security analysis of the system to determine what needs
> sealing when. Also, some states don't have sane laws in this arena,
> so even if the machine doesn't need sealing, they may require it anyway.
>
Right, although clearly some laws that apply to DREs should not apply to the
OVC system. We're going to have to get seriously involved in standards and
regulations.

Alan D.
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Received on Mon May 31 23:17:05 2004

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