Re: Fwd: Question re. audits in Wisconsin

From: Douglas W. Jones <jones_at_cs_dot_uiowa_dot_edu>
Date: Mon Nov 06 2006 - 13:18:15 CST

On Nov 6, 2006, at 12:09 PM, Charlie Strauss wrote:

> Perhaps this is not a detail to sweat this time around?  just be happy.

The decision to use an unknown random number generator is

a) an improvement over a doctored "random" selection such as was
done in Cleveland (see Hacking the Vote for a nice interview with
the guilty parties where they describe how they did "random", plus
the evidence that it was even worse than they described).

b) probably good enough, if its a COTS product that is beyond the
understanding of those using it, so that they can't predict the
numbers that it will generate in order to know where to cheat and
where not to.

c) not transparent. One could come up with a way to rig things,
for example, if there was a secret channel from the developers of
the Microsoft Exel random number generator to a crook at the county
level, allowing the crook to issue a secret knock to Exel that would
cause it to not draw the number(s) of precincts where things were
done crookedly. I consider this an unlikely threat.

I would recommend use of a transparent procedure in the future, but
I'm not going to scream bloody murder this time around. We have
only just begun to produce tools for public transparent random
number generation, the first publication was this summer, and there
are arguments about it. 2 years from now, we'll be in a place to
demand public transparency. We aren't there now.

                Doug Jones
                jones@cs.uiowa.edu

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Received on Thu Nov 30 23:17:05 2006

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