Re: electronically detecting tampering

From: David Mertz <voting-project_at_gnosis_dot_cx>
Date: Thu Nov 27 2003 - 00:14:45 CST

I agree with Clay's initial list of concerns. I would add some related
ones:

 * Illegal modification of the ballots (insert, update, and delete
   operations on ballots)

   - Electronic ballots
     + During local creation/storage
     + During transmission
   - Physical ballots (ballot-box stuffing/destruction)

 * Monitoring people's vote (via easter eggs or numbers to identity a
   voter's ballot)

   - Inferring votes via timestamp information (i.e. if time or sequence
     information is recoverable from a collection of ballots, this can
     be correlated with a covert videotape of all the people who enter
     the polling place).

 * Being able to verify that all ballots were counted

 * Removing the "black box" aspect to electronic voting. To me this
   refers to voters not being able to see how the electrons are stored
   on disk to verify the votes they casted are accurate.

An unrelated (or only very loosely related) issue is:

 * Validating accuracy of system in recording voter intent.

Let me explain the last. There are many cases where cast ballots, even
where nominally authentic, clearly vary--at least statistically--from
inferrable voter intent. All the Jewish retirees in Palm Beach who
became Buchanon supporters is a famous case. Another recent one comes
from the California recall: counties with Sequoia touchscreens recorded
an aberrantly large percentage of votes for "minor" candidates. This
almost surely reflected either voter confusion with the user interface
and/or errors in electronic recording of votes (the system was
paperless)--both bad things, though in somewhat different ways.

It's not enough for a system to allow a voter to POTENTIALLY determine
an accurate vote was cast... the system should reflect voter intent in
actual practice (even in the face of voters who e.g. put very little
effort into verification of vote accuracy).

Yours, David...
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Received on Sun Nov 30 23:17:10 2003

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