Re: Shamos Rebuttal, Draft 3

From: Ron Crane <voting_at_lastland_dot_net>
Date: Thu May 05 2005 - 21:16:20 CDT

On May 5, 2005, at 4:45 PM, Kathy Dopp wrote:

> Ron Crane wrote:
>> This draft incorporates comments by Arthur, David, and a well-known
>> OVC contributor who wishes to remain anonymous. It also includes some
>> revisions of my own. Revision bars are from draft 2, but exclude
>> purely textual changes like the placements of quotes and reference
>> marks. Please comment. My next draft will include full formal
>> citations for all the hyperlinks (talk about drudgery!)
> Ron,
> I'm sorry but there is too much in your Shamos rebuttal that I find
> over-stated

Please detail.

> or overly wordy

I'm sure that's true, and will take the lessons from the paragraphs you
edited to heart.

> or that I disagree with, and I do not have time to rewrite it. I
> began trying to rewrite a little (but still not to my satisfaction)
> and have attached the edited copy, but have to give up as I've got too
> much else to do. I promised to help begin writing our
> Liddle/Blumenthal rebuttal and it will take me a few days of studying
> before I can even begin and we have to get it ready by the AAPOR
> conference.
> I do not agree with your statements about voters being able to
> 'verify' that their votes were counted correctly. Voters, at best,
> can verify that their paper record of their vote is correct, not that
> their votes are counted correctly. The nature of secret ballots
> makes verifying that the votes are electronically counted correctly as
> voters vote impossible.

I mostly agree [1], and do not see where my piece implies that voters
using e-voting systems actually are verifying that their votes properly
are counted. Section 4.5 describes a hypothetical system proposed by
Shamos as allowing the voter "[to] verify the correct recording of her
votes". Perhaps that should be amended to "[to] verify that the audit
device has displayed her vote properly". But the arrangement would, if
implemented (and not subverted by both manufacturers), provide
significant assurance of correct recording.

> I think that you put the burden too much on the voting machine vendor
> and do not emphasize nearly enough the need for election offcials to
> perform routine independent audits of the paper ballots to prevent
> vote embezzlement by insiders.

My main purpose is to rebut Shamos's implied notion that e-voting is
largely fine as it is. I am concerned with local insiders cheating, but
not nearly as much as I'm concerned with vendors cheating, since vendor
fraud can affect the entire nation, and local fraud must be propagated
one precinct at a time.

> IMO, decades of Not independently auditing electronic vote counts
> when 95%+ of our vote counts are electronic, has led to ubiquitous
> embezzlement of votes in numerous ways, and the only way to clean up
> American elections, is to not just implement voting systems that are
> independently auditable, but to actually require routine indendent
> audits of vote counts.

I agree, but this is beyond my paper' s scope.

> The main problem with Shamos, IMO, is that he wants to have electronic
> voting systems that either provide no method of independently (from
> the voting machine vendor) auditing vote counts, or make it so
> difficult and expensive to independently audit vote counts, that no
> one will ever audit, and so that will continue to give free reign to
> insiders to embezzle votes - so the problem will continue ad
> infinitum. This point does not seem to be mentioned anywhere in your
> paper in any direct way.
> That said, I appreciate your efforts very much, and wish you well in
> it. It is a good goal.

Thanks. I'm sorry that the paper doesn't work for your purposes. Good
luck on your paper.


[1] Subject to my continuing review of Neff's system (
But I don't yet understand it well enough to see whether it does what
it claims.

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Received on Tue May 31 23:17:22 2005

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