Re: Draft Proposal Concept for California Secretary of State -- Feedback Wanted

From: Teresa Hommel <tahommel_at_earthlink_dot_net>
Date: Tue May 10 2005 - 13:42:21 CDT

You must acknowledge the role of people/voters/election observers in
election integrity, or else you become simply one more vendor who
ignores the public and treats elections as a computer problem that
inappropriately requires trust rather than observation of votes and ballots.

Public distrust of current evote systems arises first of all from the
fact that these systems prevent the voter from observing the recording
of their own votes on their own ballot (because the votes and ballot are
electronic and no one knows what is in the internal memory of the
computer), and prevent election observers from observing ballot handling
and vote-counting (which also occur in the internal memory of the

Teresa Hommel

Ron Crane wrote:

> On May 10, 2005, at 5:49 AM, Arthur Keller wrote:
> Please note that the writing so far was done with the able help of
> Amy Pearl, who wrote:
> I think the missing section on what's wrong with existing systems
> and their inadequacies should be no more than one page. The
> purpose of this version of the proposal is merely to get them to
> say whether they are interested enough for us to pursue this. The
> section should be the motivation: as scary as possible to provide
> them with motivation and ammunition for pursuing this. It should
> not be a huge airtight case against Diebold or DRE vendors.
> Please help with this section if you can.
> Draft 2:
> Current systems use secret software and uninspected hardware, which
> imperil security and undermine public confidence. While all systems
> must pass certification testing, testing cannot find "back doors" that
> could allow dishonest vendors to manipulate election results, nor can
> it find most security-related errors which could be exploited by
> dishonest officials or hackers. Much of the public backlash against
> the deployment of DREs, and much of the public suspicion of elections
> conducted using them, arises from their secret nature and from the
> very real security risks that it creates. Public suspicions also has
> been stirred by existing systems' numerous, serious documented errors
> including vote loss, vote switching, and even a case in which 600
> voters somehow "cast" 4,000 votes for a Presidential candidate.
> Supporters of current systems frequently say that they have operated
> for years with no proven fraud. What they don't say is that the
> systems' secrecy makes it virtually impossible to discover fraud.
> Elections routinely are decided by small single digit percentages, and
> polls routinely fluctuate by similar percentages, so frauds that shift
> such percentages of votes would be essentially undetectable. Nor do
> such frauds require many individuals to collude: a few key developers
> at a vendor could implement them.
> Fearing similar frauds in electronic gambling systems, Nevada has for
> years required gambling system vendors fully to disclose their
> software and hardware, and has subjected gambling machines to random
> on-site inspections. And it has, in fact, discovered such frauds,
> including one in which a vendor rigged its poker machines to avoid
> giving royal flushes; Nevada decertified the vendor and fined it $1
> million. Basically Nevada, understanding that dishonest gambling
> machines undermine public confidence in gambling, requires vendors
> continuously to prove that their machines are honest and accurate,
> much as the FDA requires drug-makers to show that their drugs are safe
> and effective, rather than requiring consumers (gamblers) to prove
> that they're deadly (cheating).
> No similar standards have ever been enacted for voting machines,
> despite the fact that elections are vastly more important than
> gambling. While the UCCS team urges the enactment of such standards,
> it does not ask for that now. Rather, it proposes to build a system
> that is entirely open to public review and inspection, and whose
> development process guarantees that its publicly-reviewed software
> actually makes it into its system on election day. Unlike existing
> systems, in which the voter selects her candidate, clicks the "vote"
> button, and wagers whether her vote will be counted, the UCCS system
> gives her solid assurance that it will.
> -R
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Received on Tue May 31 23:17:31 2005

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