Re: securing electronic ballots

From: Rick Gideon <rick_at_openvoting_dot_org>
Date: Wed Nov 26 2003 - 15:41:43 CST

On Wed, 26 Nov 2003, David Mertz wrote:

> |> Lori Flynn <> wrote:
> |> |I am curious why voters need to physically touch the ballot at all.
> |> |...a paper ballot is printed which is visible behind glass to the voter.
> First thing, I want to dismiss Rick Gideon's rejoinder about paper jams.
> Mercuri makes a point of the irony that Diebold, maker of ATM machines
> that spit out billions of receipts every day, suddenly becoming
> overwhelmed by paper jams when it comes to voting machines. In fact,
> nowadays, it is only the very cheapest commodity printers that jam--if
> you spend just a little more, you can get machines that effectively
> -never- jam (whether behind glass or not). The ones in ATMs, for
> example, use paper rolls and cutters, rather than feed pre-cut sheets.

Sorry, but if you've ever worked with copier machines, even high end ones,
any part that may have become loose, malaligned or dirty can cause it to
cease printing in entirety due to repeditive problems. To tell me that the
possibility for a paper jam in such a voting machine is impossible is outrageous.
Perhaps a technical person would have no issue in fixing any paper handling issues
within the machine, but for a poll worker? Hardly going to happen. As
fot ATM receipts, its no different from a cash register receipt.
Comparing the two is like comparing apples and oranges. The
straight fact of the matter is that this solution is not a solution at
all. But a problem with a possibility to happen, and any possibility is
too much. Especially seeing as to how little these machines will be used
(a few times a year max). This also removes the advantage of EVM2003 being
able to use "inexpensive" hardware.

> Again contrary to Rick Gideon, it is really, really not hard to leave a
> polling place with a piece of paper that's supposed to be turned in.
> The "won't be allowed to" is just silly. Three busy 70 y.o.s working in
> a converted room that has two improper exits marked with handwritten
> notes saying "please exit at front" don't a "crack security force" make
> (nor should they). If somebody *wants* to leave with a ballot, they're
> going to be able to (at least very much of the time)... for that matter,
> I don't think these busy 70 y.o.s have a legal right to -compel- a
> reluctant voter to turn over a ballot, even if they had the physical
> ability to do so (only, perhaps, to record the fact the voter declined
> to turn over the ballot).

>From what I've witnessed, anymore the "crowds" at a precinct polling place
are hardly so huge that whatever the number of poll workers, there are
always more than enough. Especially when you have 70%+ permanent absentee
registrations (King Co, WA). Futhermore, if someone wishes to leave with
their ballot,
then so be it. They have just lost their chance to vote. If someone took
the time out of their busy schedule to go vote than its very unlikely that
they will forget to drop their ballot. Why would this be any different
than current polling places that have been using ballots for who knows how

> So given that there WILL be a gap, we have to determine what a voter in
> the gap INTENDED. What we have to work with is an XML file on a
> harddisk (with proper crypto codes and so on), but no corresponding
> piece of paper. Given that brute fact, what was the voter intention?!
> It appears that Alan's answer would be: "An electronic record without a
> corrersponding paper ballot DOES NOT express an intention to vote." The
> answer is simple, and categorical. But I'm not sure it's right (either
> legally or "psychologically").

It is correct. The ballots are printed for paper verification of the
election. The voting machine is only a medium which will reduce any
possible voter error or traditional ballot problems as well as allow for
vision impared access. The paper ballots show the intent
of the voter on a tangible legal document. Attempting to figure out the
"intent" of a voter would be illegal. Again, this is no different than
some of the errors from current voting machines, you vote for a Dem the
machine thinks you intended to vote Rep and records it so. Bottom line,
the paper ballot is the only proof of the INTENT of the voter.

> I can think of several scenarios that WILL cause a gap (these are not
> exhaustive, just ones that occur to me):
> (1) A voter genuinely forgets or misunderstands the need to place
> the paper ballot in a box. Maybe, for example, they think the
> paper is their "receipt" of a vote--it wouldn't be the dumbest
> thing anyone ever imagined.
> (2) A voter deliberately destroys the paper ballot rather than place it
> in the box, with a last minute thought that they just simply do not
> want to vote for any of the listed candidates (and a belief [true?
> false?] that there is no vote without the paper ballot).

I'm unconvinced that a "GAP" would cause a problem, the real numbers that
should be in question are the number of ballots cast and the number of
ballots in the box. The number of ballots in the box should never be more
than the number reported by the computer systems.

= The content of this message, with the exception of any external
= quotations under fair use, are released to the Public Domain
Received on Sun Nov 30 23:17:10 2003

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Sun Nov 30 2003 - 23:17:13 CST