Re: Consensus of the OVC

From: Alan Dechert <alan_at_openvotingconsortium_dot_org>
Date: Wed May 26 2004 - 13:22:11 CDT

Karl,

> Sure we can study it. But I can guarantee that having a screen that can
> handle such a everything one one screen is going to add mightily to the
> cost of the system, not only initial cost, but also in terms of cost of
> warehousing, shipping, and setup.
>
Our system should be much cheaper than electronic voting alternatives. We
can afford to spend a little extra on the screen, if justified.

> If this project is to succeed then it needs to focus on its core
> proposition - the paper ballot - things like "everything on one screen"
> are nice research topics for a later day.
>
This is a simplistic characterization of my argument. For some ballots, it
may not be practical to get everything on one screen. But does this mean we
have to page through one contest at a time? What about the 76 contest
ballot? Most of those are judicial retention. Can you imagine voters
paging through 76 screens?

> We have an extremely narrow window of opportunity - once printing DRE's
> are purchased our day is done and we become a "could have been"
> technology. I doubt that any election official who, having risked his job
> once by chosing DRE's with printers is going see enough value in paper
> ballots to risk his job a second time; they won't perceive enough
> incremental value.
>
I don't buy it. Voting technology has evolved over a period of decades
(centuries, actually, but it has changed rapidly with the advent of
computers). It will continue to evolve for decades to come. Paperless DREs
cannot stand the light of day. They will not exist within a few years.
"Printing DREs" is an oxymoron. The only "printing DRE" is the one where
the printout is not used under any circumstance. If the paper is used in a
way that coiuld potentially overrule the electronic record, then you no
longer have a DRE.. i.e., the authentic vote was not cast electronically. I
suggest you read Saltman's paper to improve your understanding:

http://vote.nist.gov/pospapers/Saltman-AuditabilityofDREs(Revised)2003.pdf

> I figure we have less than one year to produce a working prototype that's
> good enough to be used in an election.
>
Not really. It's certainly true that the sooner we can get something
certified the better. One of the main principles we need to follow to
streamline certification is this:

STICK WITH COTS.

We have to have an enclosure that may or may not be strictly COTS. It
remains to be seen if there is a commercially available PC stand that could
be included in the package to be certified. Over the long run, I think
there will be such a stand that could work in schools, libraries, and voting
boots as well. There is some engineering work to do there, and it should be
focused on a multi-purpose rather than dedicated PC stand.

For political reasons, I want to shoot for getting something certified this
year--even if there is not enough time to use it in the NOV election.
Actually, if we could get it used in a few precincts (say in Yolo County) it
would be an enormous PR boost.

> If we don't make that date then we can study to our hearts content - but
> it will be a purely academic exercise.
>
> It is time to set aside study for study's sake and focus on one goal - a
> working certifiable system. .....
>
This is one goal. It is a good goal, and I want to get that done this year,
if possible. However, it is not THE GOAL. THE GOAL is much larger and
involves improving voting technology throughout the voting system in the
U.S. and the world. The OVC is in this for the long run. It will be many
years before the OVC can claim to have completed its mission (you may want
to review the vision and mission statements in our Bylaws).

Alan D.
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Received on Mon May 31 23:18:06 2004

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