Re: Brand new concept in audit trails

From: Jim March <jmarch_at_prodigy_dot_net>
Date: Wed May 04 2005 - 16:54:28 CDT

Ron Crane wrote:

> On May 4, 2005, at 2:18 PM, Jim March wrote:
>> Ron Crane wrote:
>>> That's a big problem. It's one thing to reduce voting privacy for
>>> everyone, and something else to reduce privacy such that it effects
>>> certain parties or candidates more than others. I think this kills
>>> the carbon-copy scheme, though it still allows for the publication
>>> of precinct totals. The latter is very important, since it permits
>>> public verification of the global tally.
>>> -R
>> No, Ron, it does NOT "kill the carbon copy scheme" or it's variants
>> because the only thing the duplicate paper is doing is ensuring the
>> accuracy and hackproofing of a data type ALREADY declared public
>> record in all 50 states.
>> Let's be clear: in any state, any county, you can ask for and GET the
>> votes cast in any precinct you care to name. That's current law,
>> current procedure.
> Can I get the *ballots* cast in each precinct? Or only the precinct
> totals? If the former, then it would seem that my objection already
> has been overridden.


OK. You HAVE raised an issue here...dunno how important it is.

Right now, I can ask for "all the votes cast per precinct" and get it.
If it's a Diebold county I'll get it regurgitated out of GEMS so I can't
*trust* it, but I'll get it. For now let's assume there's no hacking
going on.

I get a "summary printout" that has lines like:

Precinct: 69 / votes for Bush: 70 / votes for Kerry: 60 /
votes for (each candidate or ballot measure).

What I do NOT get is "this guy who voted for Bush also voted for X and Y
and Z". Or at least...damn, you know...Diebold DOES retain that. Dunno
if it's public. Hang on, I'm gonna call Bev...

OK. She says MOST states will indeed reveal that level of detail ("full
ballot images") if you ask for them specifically. A few states consider
it confidential. California isn't one of these.

So at a minimum we're talking about making this more detailed info more
easily available, but it IS mostly available now and political parties
and professional campaigns troll that data to learn "how to market
themselves". Those are the people you have to watch out for because in
a worst case scenario, those are the guys who decide to limit services
to you as punishment or in extreme cases harass or file false charges or

>> ...Now, if you want to argue for the rights of minor-party-voters and
>> get these records sealed nationally, go for it. That's a separate
>> issue. I for one will fight you tooth and nail on that because there
>> would be NO LIMIT WHATSOEVER to vote-hacking by county elections
>> officials.
> Let's think about that. With our system, they could cast a bunch of
> extra votes after the polls close, but not so many as to exceed the
> number of voters in the precinct. Carbons wouldn't catch that. They
> could manipulate the totals after tabulation, and the carbons would
> catch that but you say that ballots are already public record. What
> do the carbons add? What I am misunderstanding?

Well you're missing one aspect of how vote security really works. It's
connected to the volunteer pollworkers. You have four to six or so per
precinct, "ordinary people" - in order to "paper stuff", you have to
have them all be crooked. Not too likely, esp. not across multiple
precincts. At the end of the day these people tally up their precinct's
votes and post the numbers. If somebody tries to stuff more paper in
back at elections HQ, the numbers won't add up.

This can be defeated but with good system design it's damned difficult.
Example: proper audit logs will tell you when each step happened, in
what order even if they screw around with the PC system clock. Proper
login IDs will tell you WHO performed what step so that if a hack is
caught, you catch the perps. Compare and contrast with Diebold:
editable audit logs, no login security - good pollworker paper
procedures carefully compared to machine records might catch electronic
hacking (as happened in Volusia County FL in 2000) but the perps won't
be. So if you're a perp, go ahead and hack, you'll always get away with
it and some hacks won't get noticed.

>> Ron, you need to know more about how elections and election oversight
>> works.
> Thanks. I'm trying to learn.
> -R

Cool. Well you DID raise an interesting issue here and it's one we need
to pay attention to.

Ultimately I think the security issue will outweigh this.

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Received on Tue May 31 23:17:18 2005

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