Re: Shamos Rebuttal, Draft 3

From: Edward Cherlin <cherlin_at_pacbell_dot_net>
Date: Tue May 10 2005 - 17:14:44 CDT

On Tuesday 10 May 2005 13:23, Ron Crane wrote:
> On May 10, 2005, at 11:59 AM, Edward Cherlin wrote:
> > On Sunday 08 May 2005 18:13, Ron Crane wrote:
> >> On May 8, 2005, at 2:11 PM, Edward Cherlin wrote:
> >>> It is proverbial in the computer business (unlike
> >>> politics) that incompetence is to be suspected before
> >>> malice...
> >>>
> >>> So we should not focus only on the malicious vendor. The
> >>> known incompetent vendors together with the known
> >>> malicious/corrupt politicians with the money to hire
> >>> corrupt programmers and other technical people are here.
> Incompetence has been a huge problem. However, I think you're
> treating some events as evidence of incompetence when they
> could just as well have been evidence of fraud.

"Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, but three times is
enemy action."--Gen. George Patton

No, I don't make such a judgment. It would not surprise me in the
least to see it proved that a vendor committed election fraud,
and I would be delighted for the evidence to come out, if so.
The point at issue is whether we should emphasize fraud alone,
or point out that Shamos is guilty of overlooking incompetence,
and hit the vendors hard on it. Even though he mentions errors,
he does not follow up on the point, and this is the greatest
failing of his paper.

> Looking
> through
> shows many
> instances of lost votes, switched votes, inability to cast
> votes for certain candidates, etc. Your "Occam's Election
> Razor" would attribute all of these to incompetence.

I made no such statement. I said incompetence before malice, not
to the exclusion of malice. You have had trouble reading other
statements of mine accurately. Please be careful.

> I don't
> think that's a valid assumption, since it shortchanges the
> strong motivation to engage in fraud. I basically disagree
> that the Razor is, itself, justified. And its use makes it
> more difficult to address vendor fraud.

No. The law requires consideration of intent in criminal cases.
The question must always be addressed.

> >> Were I writing a general overview of voting system
> >> security, I'd want to cover all these areas, and more.
> >
> > This *is* a general overview of voting system security.
> > Shamos pretends to do just that, and his ignoring of the
> > most important issues is his biggest and most dangerous
> > mistake.
> It is a rebuttal to Shamos's piece that advocates existing
> voting systems with minor tweaks.

Precisely. His biggest and most dangerous error.

> Making it a general overview
> of voting system security would make the paper much longer
> (and thus less likely to be read) and require significantly
> more effort.

I am not calling for much more than we have already written. We
can refer to the specific studies of vendor error published
elsewhere. We must call attention to them, and use them to
discredit Shamos further by pointing out that he is misleading
the public more by leaving that topic out than by any of his
overt errors. We don't have to incorporate the other material

> We probably should write such a paper,


> but I
> disagree that this paper should be it. Certainly Alan's
> request was not for a general overview, but for a (hopefully
> readable and relatively brief) rebuttal. Further, someone
> already wants to send this paper to a legislator. I would
> prefer to release it soon enough to make this possible.

Fine with me.

Please edit your posts to avoid unnecessary verbiage.

Edward Cherlin
Generalist & activist--Linux, languages, literacy and more
"A knot! Oh, do let me help to undo it!"
--Alice in Wonderland
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Received on Tue May 31 23:17:32 2005

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