Re: Representative Holt's OWN WORDS [Re: OVC-discuss Digest, Vol 36, Issue 9]

From: Arlene Montemarano <mikarl_at_starpower_dot_net>
Date: Fri Nov 02 2007 - 11:58:53 CDT

"Complexified". Love it!

Nancy Tobi wrote:
> Mr. Johnson wins the "D'oh" award in this great debate over our
> democracy. I bow in humility before the greatness of his simple,
> succinct, and immensely powerful observation:
>
> The ability to define experts is the ability to exclude the truly
> qualified members of the public who may not yet have knuckled under to
> the powers that be.
>
> Exactly. The only experts in our form of democracy are We The People.
> We, who have by no means knuckled under to the powers that be, and who
> are ever hopeful we can fulfill the promise of our Declaration of
> Independence to "alter or abolish" our government through the peaceful
> and eminently democratic VOTE rather than revolution, which is a much
> messier process.
>
> The elitist movement among technologists to yank our elections out of
> the populist muck is a big problem that remains for the most part
> un-debated. Especially among the elite themselves. A shame, because
> many of these elitists are quite intelligent and could no doubt bring
> interesting and useful insights to a real debate and discussion about
> Democracy.
>
> But these self appointed experts with their singular access to Capital
> Hill who are advising and advocating for IT standards in our elections
> have completely fallen off the People's boat, and are drowning in
> their own self created illusion that a high tech, complexified,
> opaque, and expertified election system can meet the standards for a
> free and open democracy.
>
> Nope. D'oh.....
>
> ~Nancy Tobi
>
>
>
>
> On 11/2/07, *Richard C. Johnson* <dick@iwwco.com
> <mailto:dick@iwwco.com>> wrote:
>
> Barbara,
>
> I understand the hopelessness that one experiences looking at the
> vast power and resources of Microsoft. However, capitulation and
> assimilation are not truly required as yet. The ability to define
> experts is the ability to exclude the truly qualified members of
> the public who may not yet have knuckled under to the powers that
> be. The NDA is perfectly capable of being used as a bludgeon
> against those who deviate from the Microsoft party line, whether
> or not there is an actual provable offense. How can an ordinary
> citizen without means sign such a document and then defend against
> an unjustified lawsuit?
>
> Personally, I would never sign such an NDA, simply because it
> renders dissent unsafe. Even winning a lawsuit brought by
> Microsoft could easily beggar any ordinary person. Sign that NDA
> and you are their expert, their pawn, theirs to intimidate into
> silence. Is telling the truth really worth losing the house you
> live in?
>
> We as citizens are still able to rear back on our own two feet and
> say "NO." We can vote, more or less. And we do not need to
> accept the perversion of the Holt Bill. Compromise is good in
> general, but giving away the baby to get bathwater is not a good
> deal.
>
> The EAC has requested public comment on its draft of voluntary
> guidelines, such as the Glossary item redefining a ballot as a
> summary of votes (pandering to the paper trail crowd who fear to
> fly their own flag). I urge you and other citizens to go to
> http://www.elections.state.ny.us/portal/page?_pageid=35,1,35_26319:35_26327&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL#HAVAPC
> <http://www.elections.state.ny.us/portal/page?_pageid=35,1,35_26319:35_26327&_dad=portal&_schema=PORTAL#HAVAPC>
>
> and comment on the document. Start with the Glossary (1984
> definitions our specialty, ballots are not ballots, etc) and put
> your comments on the record. Stand up for what we believe and
> speak truth to power. Exercise what remains of your civil rights,
> because there are those who would take these rights from you.
> Absent the right to vote in a rational and competent set of
> procedures, what is left to our democracy?
>
> -- Dick
>
>
>
> */Barbara Simons <simons@acm.org <mailto:simons@acm.org>> /* wrote:
>
> An "oath of secrecy" is not the description I would use. I
> urge people
> to read the bill. However, I have transcribed the relevant
> portion
> below for those of you who don't have the time to scroll
> through the
> legislation.
>
> Holt had always called for no secret software. The change in the
> legislation was forced by Microsoft. I believe that no federal
> legislation could pass that prohibited secret software, at
> least not
> while MS has the power and influence that it currently has.
>
> That said, I believe that the pro-HR811 negotiators did a
> remarkable
> job, given the pressure they were under. The bill requires
> that all
> "election-dedicated voting system technology" be certified and
> escrowed
> with an accredited laboratory. The disclosure restrictions
> apply only
> to the accredited laboratories. The labs are required to disclose
> "technology and information regarding the technology" to a
> "qualified"
> person who has signed an NDA OR (not AND) "is required to
> disclose the
> technology to the person under State law."
>
> A "qualified" person is (quoting from the text of the
> legislation):
>
> 1. a government entity with responsibility for the
> administration of
> voting an election-related matters for purposes of reviewing,
> analyzing,
> or reporting on the technology;
> 2. A party to pre- or post-election litigation challenging the
> results
> of an election or the administration or use of the technology
> used in an
> election, including but not limited to election contests or
> challenges
> to the certification of the technology, or an expert for a
> party to such
> litigation, for purposes of reviewing or analyzing the
> technology to
> support or oppose the litigation, and all parties to the
> litigation
> shall have access to the technology for such purposes;
> 3. A person not described in the above clauses who reviews,
> analyzes,
> or reports on the technology solely for an academic, scientific,
> technological, or other investigation or inquiry concerning
> the accuracy
> or integrity of the technology.
>
> Perhaps even more important, there are crucial limitations on
> what the
> NDA can require. In particular, the NDA MUST allow:
> 1. "disclosure of evidence of crime, including in response to a
> subpoena or warrant;"
> 2. "the signatory to perform analyses on the technology
> (including by
> executing the technology), disclose reports and analyses that
> describe
> operational issues pertaining to the technology (including
> vulnerabilities to tampering, errors, risks associated with use,
> failures as a result of use, and other problems), and describe or
> explain why or how a voting system failed or otherwise did not
> perform
> as intended."
>
> Had the Holt bill been law during the Sarasota court case, it
> seems to
> me that Florida would have been required to provide Jennings'
> expert
> witness with the code. That is a huge improvement over the
> status quo,
> even if it's not as much as many of us would like.
>
> Regards,
> Barbara
>
> Fred McLain wrote:
> > Aha, now I see why there is such strong opposition to HR-811 as
> > currently worded. By forcing those that would inspect the
> code to
> > somehow prove that they are qualified to do so and forcing an
> "oath of
> > secrecy" upon them the vast majority of those that would
> inspect the
> > code, the OSS community, to exclude themselves from the
> inspection
> > process. That is completely unacceptable.
> >
> > I write complex software for a living and have lead open voting
> > software development projects. I my experience there is no
> need for
> > closed source, secrecy or anything of the sort.
> >
> > I would also assert based on my 25+ years of active software
> > development and my 4 years in voting software development
> that there
> > is *no need for an operating system* in voting equipment. In
> fact, it
> > would be best to write this without an OS since the
> inspection becomes
> > far simpler and more reliable.
> >
> > -Fred-
> >
> > On Oct 30, 2007, at 2:49 PM, Hamilton Richards wrote:
> >
> >
> >> A few thoughts after watching the YouTube video of Rush
> Holt, which
> >> is actually at .
>
> >>
> >> Code inspection is a sideshow
> >> -------------------------
> >> Rush Holt is quite right--the integrity of elections can be
> assured
> >> not by inspecting source code but by auditing paper records.
> Auditing
> >> amounts to an end run around any possible shenanigans in the
> software.
> >>
> >> If the video's unsourced claim that "up to 10% of the
> >> electronically-generated paper records allowed by HR811 are
> damaged,
> >> unreadable, and unusable for audits" is based on anything,
> it's based
> >> on early implementations produced by manufacturers who have an
> >> interest in seeing them rejected. Electronically generated
> >> voter-verified paper ballots can be far more reliable than
> >> hand-marked ones, and far less vulnerable to ballot-box
> stuffing and
> >> spurious rejection by crooked election officials.
> >>
> >> Concerning code inspection, it's universally accepted in
> computing
> >> science that code cannot be validated by inspection. You can
> inspect
> >> a piece of software all you like, and when you finally quit, you
> >> cannot know whether there's a flaw--innocent or
> deliberate--that you
> >> missed. Therefore the arguments about "full disclosure" of
> election
> >> software are at best a sideshow. Requiring inspectors of
> proprietary
> >> software to sign NDAs is no more than one would expect from
> >> commercial software vendors, who habitually commit the
> accounting
> >> error of booking lines of code under Investment, rather than
> Expense.
> >>
> >> The video's contention that "The committee changed the bill
> when they
> >> heard from Microsoft ... so ordinary American citizens can
> never know
> >> how their votes are being counted" is disingenuous.
> Microsoft could
> >> publish its entire inventory of software on the web, and
> "ordinary
> >> Americans" would still never know how their votes were being
> counted.
> >>
> >>
> >> Open source is a good thing
> >> -----------------------
> >> Discounting the importance of software disclosure is not to
> say that
> >> open-source software for elections wouldn't be a great step
> forward,
> >> but the reason is not that it would guarantee election
> integrity.
> >>
> >> One reason in favor of open source is that truly open
> software would
> >> be of higher quality initially than proprietary software
> (there's
> >> nothing quite like knowing that your work will be viewed
> critically
> >> by hundreds of your peers), and it could be expected to
> continue to
> >> improve in response to scrutiny and contributions from the
> >> open-software community.
> >>
> >> Another reason is that election officials choosing open-source
> >> software would be free from enslavement to a particular
> vendor. A
> >> vendor that charged too much or failed to perform could be
> replaced
> >> by another vendor, since all would have access to the same
> software.
> >>
> >> Some proponents of open source, always looking for more
> arguments in
> >> its favor, claim that open source is less insecure than
> undisclosed
> >> source. That claim may have some merit, but it's of no
> practical use
> >> ("less insecure" is like "less pregnant")--unless the
> software is
> >> known to be completely secure, other security measures such as
> >> voter-verified paper ballots are still essential.
> >>
> >>
> >> The mythical golden age
> >> --------------------
> >> The video makes the claim that "we already have 'verifiable'
> >> elections. They're called hand counted, paper ballot
> elections. We
> >> don't need a federal bill...". The colorful history of
> election fraud
> >> in the days before computers is so widely known that this
> can only be
> >> another disingenuous claim. Its author's antipathy to the use of
> >> computers in elections is evident, but since it is
> unsupported by any
> >> logical arguments, it's far from persuasive.
> >>
> >>
> >> Profits are evil?
> >> ------------
> >> The video ends by asserting that no one should make a profit
> from
> >> elections. Does that mean that election officials should not
> be paid?
> >> That the suppliers of printed paper ballots should provide
> them at
> >> cost? How about the printers' suppliers of paper and ink?
> This smells
> >> like a religious argument more than a logical one, and the thing
> >> about religion is that you either get it or you don't.
> Brandishing
> >> religious arguments at nonbelievers is famously
> counterproductive.
> >>
> >>
> >> The bottom line
> >> -------------
> >> Your mileage may differ, but for me HR811, imperfect as it is,
> >> represents a worthwhile step forward, and I'm grateful to
> Rep. Holt
> >> for introducing it and for putting up with all the flak.
> >>
> >> Cheers,
> >>
> >> --Ham
> >>
> >> At 12:00 PM -0700 2007/10/30,
> ovc-discuss-request@listman.sonic.net
> <mailto:ovc-discuss-request@listman.sonic.net>
> >> wrote:
> >>
> >>> [...]
> >>>
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> >>>
> >>> Message: 1
> >>> Date: Tue, 30 Oct 2007 10:34:35 -0400
> >>> From: "Nancy Tobi"
> >>> Subject: Re: [OVC-discuss] [FWD: RE: [vote-technology]
> Booted out of
> >>> the Hotel at the 2007 Post-Election Auditing Summit]
> >>> To: "Open Voting Consortium discussion list"
> >>>
> >>>
> >>> [...]
> >>> But most interesting to you may be Representative Holt's
> OWN WORDS
> >>> on the
> >>> subject. You can see those here:
> >>>
> >>> http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=HANDSONELECTIONS
> >>>
> >>> Best,
> >>>
> >>> Nancy Tobi
> >>>
> >>>
> >> --
> >>
> ------------------------------------------------------------------
> >> Hamilton Richards, PhD Department of Computer Sciences
> >> Senior Lecturer (retired) The University of Texas at Austin
> >> ham@cs.utexas.edu <mailto:ham@cs.utexas.edu>
> hrichrds@swbell.net <mailto:hrichrds@swbell.net>
> >> http://www.cs.utexas.edu/users/ham/richards
> >>
> ------------------------------------------------------------------
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> >>
> >
> > Instant Messaging (IM) Addresses:
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> >
> >
> >
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Received on Fri Nov 30 23:17:04 2007

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