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, 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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