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

From: Teresa Hommel <tahommel_at_earthlink_dot_net>
Date: Tue May 10 2005 - 14:37:32 CDT

OK, with suggested addition of one word.

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 3 (Includes some of Teresa's points. Note that the purpose of
> this section is to advocate OVC's plan to deploy an open-source
> tabulator in time for the 6/06 elections, not to advocate the
> abolition of all electronically-assisted voting systems):
> 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 electronic voting or vote-tabulation systems, 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 suspicion 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. Finally, many existing systems
> particular DREs make it impossible for voters to observe their
> "ballot"'s creation, handling, or counting, since both occur invisibly
> inside the system, and frequently are not cross-checked with paper
> records.
> 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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