Re: OVC - I "really" need your help with "public disclosure" legislative suggestion

From: Richard C. Johnson <dick_at_iwwco_dot_com>
Date: Mon Nov 27 2006 - 14:09:42 CST

Open Source code, archived and compiled by a defined procedure, can be characterized by checksums. In turn, checksums can be verified by people familiar with computers with very little added training required.

One might also ask of a paper ballot what its provenance might be...the classical practice of stuffing the ballot box with anonymously marked "official" ballots is subject to the same degree of skepticism as is expressed about "the computer". Which is more secure--paper, rock, or scissors? Hmm...well, it depends.

My favorite is Open Source with voter verified paper ballots, letting the relative strengths of each reinforce the other by design. Scissors is no match for combined rock and paper.

-- Dick

"Cameron L. Spitzer" <> wrote:
When I was "logic and accuracy" observer for our county
elections in '94, the same question came up: regardless
of where this code came from, how do we know what we're
looking at/auditing/testing is the same code that was
used to run the election.

The answer was not encouraging. The proprietary tabulation
software had been installed remotely by the vendor onto
the county's Eclipse 9000, and at the end of the day
they dumped it onto a tape which they didn't know how
to read, and mailed it to the Secretary of State, who
wasn't going to try to read it either. The vendor, of course,
knew this, and could have rigged the count with confidence
it wouldn't be detected. It certainly wouldn't be
detected until after the results were certified.

End to end auditability isn't enough. The audits have
to actually happen, and right away, and it has to be
so easy that everyone expects it to happen.
Fraud detectability isn't enough, it has to be fast and easy.

Of all the objections the paper-and-pencil people raise to
computer-assisted tabulation, this is the one I can't
swat down. It takes an airtight chain of custody to be
sure the tabulation code, and the signature-checking code
we use against it, isn't a big fake, and that chain is
awfully long and convoluted. Frankly I don't see how
it can be airtight if there are private vendors involved.
They only have to be confident that they could evade
detection until after their fake election gets certified.
It's bad even if the Secretary and the registrars own
the whole process, and that isn't even on the table.


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