Re: MORE Questions from election officials

From: David Jefferson <d_jefferson_at_yahoo_dot_com>
Date: Mon May 03 2004 - 20:54:47 CDT

I do know Mike Shamos very well. We have been close friends in fact
for 30 years--still are. He is a brilliant computer scientist and
intellectual property attorney, and I like him a lot. He was a voting
system certifier for over a decade for Pennsylvania and Texas. He was
also a major figure in Ronnie Dugger's 1988 New Yorker article on
voting system security, and was on the side of the angels then.

With all of that said, I am completely at a loss to explain his recent
opinions and writings on voting systems. He seems to have a
contrariness streak that is just off the wall. He is doing a lot of
harm to the voting system security and openness cause. Anything you
can do to discredit his completely untenable ideas would be a major


On May 3, 2004, at 6:43 PM, Alan Dechert wrote:

> I think David Jefferson knows Shamos pretty well.  David may have
> something "in the can" that he could bring out.
> Shamos was on the panel at the cfp2004 conference we were at on APR
> 23.  Some of his comments were jaw-dropping.  He seemed to be a strong
> advocate for plenty of black box testing--as if that could find any
> and all problems. 
> Alan D.
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Popkin, Laird (WMG Corp)
> To: ''
> Sent: Monday, May 03, 2004 6:37 PM
> Subject: RE: [voting-project] MORE Questions from election officials
> Shamos says "It is important to realize what is supposed to be
> accomplished in an audit of a voting machine or election. Ideally, one
> ought to be able to reconstruct the ballots in their entirety, verify
> that no unusual or unauthorized events took place during voting or
> tabulation, and review the correctness of the vote totals. To imagine
> that there is any realistic mechanism to accomplish this is to indulge
> in fantasy. Let me be very clear on this point - no existing voting
> system is auditable. Furthermore, I have never seen a design for an
> auditable system, and doubt that any jurisdiction could afford one if
> it existed."
> When I read that, it sounds like complete gibberish, as it's fairly
> obvious that a voter verified paper trail can be audited, recounted,
> etc. Is there some other meaning of the word "audit" that he's
> referring to? And if so, is there any advantage to his definition over
> what most people mean by auditable?
> It would be useful if someone could dig into this paper and disect it
> -- it's popping up as a reference point for anti-VVPT folks in
> discussions I'm in, and it'd be very useful to have a more formal
> analysis than "he's bonkers".
> Any takers?
> - LP
> -----Original Message-----
> From:
> []On Behalf Of charlie
> strauss
> Sent: Monday, May 03, 2004 9:13 PM
> To:
> Subject: [voting-project] MORE Questions from election officials
> Hello again,
> It turns out that while I was speaking with Denise Lamb (director
> NASED) this moring,  a freind was coinidentally delivering the
> Mythbreaker's document to Rebecca Vigil-Heron in the same office.  She
> is the President Elect of the National Association of Secretaries of
> State, and SOS of New Mexico.  She is vehemently opposed to paper
> trails. Unfortunately, I dont beleive she has plans to read it. 
> (Coinidentally She's off to euorpe tommorow to propote paperless
> systems there -- good timing regarding the Irish report!). 
> Anyhow she handed over the following april 2004 Paper from Carnegie
> Melon as her main scholarly point of reference on the issue.
> by Micheal Ian Shamos, School of computer Sci. 
> who also wrote:
> I put these forth for your discussion.  If you want to say it's a
> bunch of bog trot and ill posed analogies I'm fine with that, but the
> more specific you are the better I will actually be able to make use
> of your opinions.
> thanks!

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Received on Mon May 31 23:17:07 2004

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