Re: suggested proposals for federal election integrity legislation

From: Barbara Simons <simons_at_acm_dot_org>
Date: Sat Nov 25 2006 - 14:08:38 CST

Hi, Kathy. I've looked at your list, and I have a number of comments
and thoughts. One that I'll throw in right now is that you should not
use the phrase "computer engineering". "Engineer" has a very precise
meaning, namely someone who has passed a set of requirements and tests
to become a licensed Professional Engineer (PE). Most of these
requirements have little to nothing to do with computing. Trust me.
While some PEs might be very good a computer security, in general you
don't want PEs doing the work of computer security experts. I spent
much of my ACM presidency fighting a move to license software
engineers, so I know much more about this topic than I ever wanted to

But first I'd like to know who the two people are to whom you refer and
who the powerful Congressman is with whom they will be meeting. To put
it bluntly, I'd like to know who I'd be helping in this rather
convoluted political game we all seem to have been sucked into.


On Nov 24, 2006, at 6:21 PM, Kathy Dopp wrote:

> Everyone,
> By next Tuesday I must put together a brief summary for proposed
> federal election integrity legislation for two different persons who
> are going to meet with fairly powerful US Congressmen next week and
> who have offered to hand-carrry my ideas for federal election reform
> to the them.
> Please help me reword and edit my list, give your thoughts and
> suggestions on it, and also please your recommendations for experts
> who could help craft specific wording for each legislative proposal.
> Whatever we create, might be ignored after I give it to them, but
> perhaps not, so please help me by:
> 1. suggesting changes/edits to my list, and
> 2. suggesting specific experts (with contact info) who could help
> evaluate the exact wording for each item on the list of suggested
> federal legislative proposals.
> It must be short - perhaps one page 2-sided including the list of
> experts. I will run this two-pager by everyone when it is done and ask
> anyone who would like to support it, to sign onto it officially, if
> you would like (I would add a page if people opt to sign onto it).
> Here is my proposed short list. I can send anyone the word doc if you
> would like to help with it. I would very much appreciate your help in
> suggesting names of experts who would like to help craft the specifics
> of each item to recommend to the legislators as well.
> Thank you.
> --------
> Federal Legislation to Ensure Election Outcome Integrity & Voter Access
> 1 Require independent, transparent, verifiable, sufficient,
> scientific manual audits of all machine vote counts in federal
> elections to ensure that electronic election outcomes are correct!(I
> can list what each of these adjectives require), and
> 2 Require routine independent, transparent, verifiable reports and
> analysis of machine allocation, equipment failure and breakdown,
> undervote, overvote, and uncounted ballot rates, absentee and
> provisional ballot & voter registration handling, and other crucial
> measures of voter service, and
> 3 Provide funds for upgrading voting systems for jurisdictions that
> have un-auditable voting systems, but only fund "fully-auditable"
> voting systems where all non-disabled voters directly record their own
> votes, so that the paper record of votes has been verified by voters
> (because electronic ballot systems with ballot printers remove voters
> from ballot creation and thus can be programmed to introduce errors
> that voters may not notice and which will subvert manual audits. The
> more the voter is removed from the process of casting the ballot, the
> more opportunity there is for error and fraud to occur on
> electronically created paper records). (Since almost all
> jurisdictions already use optical scan paper ballot systems for
> mail-in votes, most states could use these paper ballots immediately
> in the polls, so this only requires minimal federal funding for
> inexpensive systems for the disabled to vote privately and unassisted
> using ballot printing systems like telephone systems, voter assist
> devices like vote-PAD, or ballot printing devices like the AutoMARK)
> 4 Provide funds for conducting manual, independent, transparent,
> verifiable, sufficient, scientific audits of machine vote counts and
> voter services in all federal elections.
> 5 Teeth only certify Presidential electors and swear in
> Congressional members from states that have conducted election audits
> as required transparently, verifiably, sufficiently, independently,
> and scientifically
> 6 Require election officials to make publicly available all election
> records that would reveal fraud or mistakes in federal elections, and
> 7 Create a new reporting system and database for logging and
> publicly displaying and tabulating complaints of voters in federal
> elections (GAO create) and for publicly posting all auditable reports
> and audit reports required under this legislation, and
> 8 Require state election officials to send all auditable and audit
> reports to the US GAO and require the US GAO to collect and publicly
> make available the detailed election data required for verifiable
> election audits, and
> 9 Mandate publicly disclosed software (all software including
> boot-loader, drivers, operating systems, voting programs, etc.) for
> all voting systems as long as the rights needed under Copyright law
> (17 USC 106) by evaluators are granted
> 10 Outlaw any network connections to, and or wireless capability in,
> voting equipment and prohibit voting through any network connection or
> by faxing ballots to any office other than the local election office.
> 11 Require qualified credentialed persons to staff the EAC's
> technical guideline development committee who have Ph.D.'s in computer
> engineering. (The current "experience" only requirement is analogous
> to hiring doctors who did not go to medical school or attorneys who
> did not pass the bar!)
> 12 Require jurisdictions to allow non-partisan citizens to observe
> close-up or by verifiable, transparent close-up video, all aspects of
> elections: such as the real pre-election testing (not just the demos),
> the polls, the transfer of ballots to the central office, the tallying
> of the votes, manual audits, and any post-election testing. This
> requirement should include language that requires jurisdictions to
> allow genuine observation, not just presence in the room.
> 13 Require a qualified degreed subcommittee of the U.S. EAC or of
> the U.S. GAO, the Vote Count Audit and Recount Committee, with PhD
> statisticians, mathematicians, computer scientists, and MS or MA
> degreed election integrity activists, gaming experts, and non-voting
> election officials whose functions include approving state election
> audit and recount procedures and policies for federal elections.
> Note: The details are very crucial and it is critical to consult with
> experts in each area for the precise wording of legislation, and not
> to believe anything that voting vendor lobbyists claim without
> independent verification by experts.
> List of experts for each numbered recommendation above follows:
> ----------------------------
> Thanks. Any help on this before Tuesday is highly appreciated. Please
> recommend some experts in each of the 13 items above.
> --
> ----
> Kathy Dopp
> National Election Data Archive
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Received on Thu Nov 30 23:17:12 2006

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