Re: securing electronic ballots

From: David Mertz <voting-project_at_gnosis_dot_cx>
Date: Wed Nov 26 2003 - 23:35:29 CST

Unfortunately, most of Rick's response is simply frustrating to me in
the ways it is both indignant and wrong. I'm not sure what to do with
them going forward.

Rick Gideon <> wrote:
|within the machine, but for a poll worker? Hardly going to happen. As
|fot ATM receipts, its no different from a cash register receipt.

Exactly, cash registers are another quite reliable printer technology.
Paper jams just are not the kind of issue that various people find them
to be as "arguments of convenience"... if minimum wage workers at
McDonalds can learn to deal with VERY RARE paper jams, so can poll

|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.

In point of fact, this just simply DOES happen frequently already.
There is a significant gap between the number of people who go to a
polling place, sign in, and walk to a booth (using whatever technology)
versus the number of ballots that wind up in ballot boxes.

Whatever Rick, or whoever, might abstractly deduce about human motives,
the real world ALWAYS shows that physical ballots go missing with great

Moreover, even if Rick can cavalierly state "well, then they lost their
vote"... courts and laws do not work at Rick's whim. There's no way a
court is going to look at the gap between XML and printed ballots and
blithely declare "tough turkey" as a general principle. Not even the

|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.

The only way we can decide this on behalf of courts is to simply omit
ALL electronic recording of votes, and let the printed version be the
SOLE ballot.

I'm not even necessarily opposed to that approach (nor am I per se
advocating it). But empty posturing on an email list doesn't make law.

|Attempting to figure out the "intent" of a voter would be illegal.

This is as wrong as wrong can be. NOT attempting to figure out the
intent of the voter is BLATENTLY illegal. The job of a voting
technology is to make the voter intent more clear, nothing more and
nothing less. If the technology allows any ambiguities (according to
courts and "reasonable persons" not according to Rick's fiat), it is the
OBLIGATION of elections officials to resolve the actual voter intent as
best they can.

|The number of ballots in the box should never be more
|than the number reported by the computer systems.

And the tooth fairy should give small cash prizes to every child when
she loses a tooth.

Unfortunately, our voting machines/systems have to work in the real
world, not only in imaginary worlds dreamt up by the Brothers Grimm.

Yours, David...

Keeping medicines from the bloodstreams of the sick; food from the bellies
of the hungry; books from the hands of the uneducated; technology from the
underdeveloped; and putting advocates of freedom in prisons.  Intellectual
property is to the 21st century what the slave trade was to the 16th.
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Received on Sun Nov 30 23:17:10 2003

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