which video; anti-fraud measures; accusations of treason [Re: OVC-discuss Digest, Vol 36, Issue 10]

From: Hamilton Richards <hrichrds_at_swbell_dot_net>
Date: Thu Nov 01 2007 - 16:15:14 CDT

At 7:00 PM -0700 2007/10/30, ovc-discuss-request@listman.sonic.net wrote:

>Message: 4
>Date: Tue, 30 Oct 2007 21:59:29 -0400
>From: "Nancy Tobi" <nancy.tobi@gmail.com>
>Subject: Re: [OVC-discuss] Representative Holt's OWN WORDS [Re:
> OVC-discuss Digest, Vol 36, Issue 9]
>To: "Open Voting Consortium discussion list"
> <ovc-discuss@listman.sonic.net>
>Message-ID:
> <612c9c300710301859k1ced1c7fmaeeae786909f635f@mail.gmail.com>
>Content-Type: text/plain; charset="windows-1252"
>
>You may disagree with the video, but no need to act ignorant about it and to
>make false assertions.

Ms. Tobi's post in OVC-discuss Digest, Vol 36, Issue 9 invited the
reader to hear "Representative Holt's OWN WORDS" at
<http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=HANDSONELECTIONS>, but that
video doesn't show Representative Holt at all.

So I browsed around YouTube until I found a video
<http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F9hLLmBJLZE> which shows Rep. Holt at
a town meeting uttering quite a few of his "OWN WORDS". The
town-meeting video is heavily intercut with unsigned editorial
comments. It was those comments to which my post was responding.

[...]

>3) having large groups of people able to read software does not mean that
>the vote tabulation system is observable, which is mandated by many state
>constitutions and by the federal Voting Rights Act.

I have no problem in principle with hand counting ballots. I do know
people involved in running elections who assure me that for many
elections hand counting would be impractical, but I'm not in a
position to judge that for myself. I suspect that for some elections
hand counting would be fine, and for others it would impose
restrictions on the ballot's complexity. It would also seem to limit
such promising election innovations as instant-runoff voting.

>4) Nobody is contending that fraud didn't or can't occur with hand counting.
>This is a disingenuous argument for e-voting. Elections invite fraud.
>E-voting invites massive fraud. But well managed hand count systems are self
>auditing, with many sets of eyes on every ballot, every count, every record
>of that count. For more information on this see:
>http://www.electiondefensealliance.org/HCPB_election_admin_handbook

Sure, and well-managed e-voting--i.e., e-voting with voter-verified
paper ballots--can be equally secure. After all, the VVPBs can be
counted by hand.

We agree that mismanaged e-voting invites wholesale fraud, whereas in
paper-only voting the fraud is limited to retail. The outrage of the
folks who insist on paper-only voting in reaction to the massively
mismanaged first generation of e-voting systems is understandable,
but it has apparently blinded them to the security advantages of
e-voting voter-verified-paper-ballot systems such as the one
prototyped by the OVC
<http://www.openvotingconsortium.org/our_solution>.

>5) Paying our public servants for the work they do is quite different from
>selling our democracy to the highest bidder. Our public servants take an
>oath of allegiance to us, our state, our nation.

Right. That's a distinction that's missing from the editorial
comments in the video to which I was responding, but perhaps I should
have assumed it was intended.

Nevertheless, it's still the case that even in paper-only elections
someone profits--the companies that supply the preprinted ballots
can't be expected to donate them. And if the ballots are produced by
a government printing office, that just moves the issue to the
suppliers of paper and ink.

So the argument that no one should profit from our sacred elections
is too simple. Nor does it really matter--what's wrong with the
first-generation e-voting systems is not that they made their vendors
money but that they are lousy, insecure systems. Bringing in the
profit issue looks like a case of grabbing any available weapon, and
it gives the impression of weakness and desperation. In this case, we
already have a highly effective weapon--the security issue--and our
cause is served best if instead of flailing about with everything
that comes to hand we concentrate on wielding that one weapon with
deadly effectiveness.

>The evoting industry, whose
>products are by far among the most offensively and expensively substandard
>by any standard - quality, effectiveness, reliability, security, you name it
>- is the best example of corporate corruption whose only oath of allegiance
>is to their own pockets and those anonymous backers of their despicable
>enterprise. Selling our democracy to a private industry which then claims to
>OWN OUR VOTE and the OWN OUR VOTE COUNT is nothing short of treasonous to
>the very tenets of our American representational democracy and the Republic
>itself.

Is it really effective to throw around accusations of treason? To me
this kind of highly emotional rhetoric comes across as overwrought
and counterproductive. It brings to mind the stereotypical American
tourist who, finding that the locals don't understand English, simply
repeats himself in a louder voice.

If appeals to one's audience's reason aren't working, perhaps instead
of just boosting the emotional temperature one needs to find some
arguments that are more persuasive.

Regards,

--Ham

-- 
------------------------------------------------------------------
Hamilton Richards, PhD           Department of Computer Sciences
Senior Lecturer (retired)        The University of Texas at Austin
ham@cs.utexas.edu                hrichrds@swbell.net
http://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/ham/richards
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Received on Fri Nov 30 23:17:03 2007

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