Re: Re: Fwd: Shamos Rebuttal, almost final

From: Ron Crane <voting_at_lastland_dot_net>
Date: Thu May 12 2005 - 17:30:07 CDT

On May 12, 2005, at 2:19 PM, Edward Cherlin wrote:

> <shamos-rebuttal-final.doc>

I have significant comments on your paragraph on error. I'd like to
rewrite it; see below the dashed line.

> Shamos also neglects the potential for harm caused by errors in voting
> systems, and the documented cases of egregious errors in DRE systems,
> such as recording several times more votes than there were voters in a
> precinct.

To which incident does this refer? Do we know it was error? I would use
the term "miscounts" instead of "errors", since "errors" implies that
we know it was a malfunction, and not fraud.

> Many elections turn on small numbers of votes, so no comfort can be
> taken from the fact that only large errors are likely to be detected.

Again "miscounts" or "failures" would be better.

> Although Shamos mentions such incidents, he addresses only the
> possibility of vendor fraud seriously in his paper. This is a serious
> defect in his analysis, since error is expected to be far more common
> than fraud, and error is indeed rampant.

Including this will immediately make the reader question why we don't
have an extensive exploration of "error".

> Many kinds of experience show that officials are far more likely to do
> something about errors in favor of the opposition party than about
> errors in their party's favor, so pervasive error provides many
> opportunities to cheat by omission.

Then that is fraud through use of a random (?) force. It's a good
point, though, that that can happen, and I'd like to use that thought.
But we need a cite for it. You mentioned a Duke ESP study in which the
experimenters found people "settling" ambiguous dice to "confirm" their
preconceptions. Do you have a cite for that?

> In short, Shamos is directing attention away from more pressing
> problems.

Which, again, will make the reader wonder why we don't have an
extensive exploration of "error".

----------------------------------------------------------------

I'd like to rewrite this thusly, and place it in its own section, say
3.6 (since it's mainly philosophical in nature). Please get me the
requested cites:

Shamos also fails to address the full scope of the potential harms
caused by voting system faults [1]. Studies show that people are far
more likely to correct errors that favor themselves [cite reliable
study on tax errors, if possible], their opinions [it's be nice to have
something for this], or their preconceptions [cite the ESP study] than
those that do not. Thus, pervasive faults give the dishonest more
opportunities to cheat. And, to date, electronically-based voting
systems have demonstrated a wide range of faults [cite some stuff from
http://www.votersunite.org/info/messupsbyvendor.asp, then drop footnote
to it]. Shamos ignores the opportunities for cheating that these faults
create, and thus ignore the possibility of a wide range of fraud.

[1] In this context, "faults" means errors, crashes, and any other kind
of malfunction, even those that could be manifestations of fraud.

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Received on Tue May 31 23:17:35 2005

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