Re: How difficult is software? [Re: OVC-discuss Digest, Vol 37, Issue 18]

From: Barbara Simons <simons_at_acm_dot_org>
Date: Tue Nov 27 2007 - 12:44:25 CST

Selker's paper was about a very special system with a very special
setup, and it has little to nothing to do with EBPs. Also, does anyone
know if the paper has been published in a peer review journal? If
anyone has a reference, I'd appreciate it if he or she would send it to me.
Thanks.
Barbara

Ronald Crane wrote:
> Hamilton Richards wrote:
>
>> To be sure, most voters can use pen and paper, but electronic ballot
>> printers have their advantages:
>>
>> + there's no expensive inventory of blank ballots to be printed
>> and securely stored
>> before the election
>>
>> + disabilities and alternative languages are accommodated more easily
>>
>> + overvotes can be prevented, and undervotes can be detected
>>
>> + unlike ballots marked by hand, in which the voter's intent can
>> be obscured by stray marks
>> and other mistakes, machine-marked ballots can be read,
>> manually or by machine, with
>> extremely high accuracy
>>
>> + machine-printed ballots eliminate a time-honored technique for
>> fraudulently disqualifying
>> ballots by surreptitiously adding stray marks (e.g., using
>> bits of pencil lead hidden under
>> vote counters' fingernails)
>>
>> Whether these advantages are worth the cost is open to debate, but
>> they should be debated and not simply ignored.
>>
>>
> EBPs also have disadvantages:
>
> * They're vulnerable to attacks that modify the ballot or that modulate
> the difficulty of selecting certain candidates. Since these attacks
> trick or coerce the voter into making certain selections, she will not
> notice any inconsistency between her (final) intent and the printed
> ballot, rendering "voter verification" meaningless.
>
> * They're vulnerable to attacks that simply misprint the ballot (and
> store corresponding electronic records, if any). The existing studies
> (e.g., Selker) show that most voters don't "verify" paper trails, and
> those who do tend to miss most defects.
>
> * They're vulnerable to delay- and denial-of-service attacks, which can
> cause selective vote loss.
>
> * They're expensive to buy, store, deploy, and maintain (though
> open-source machines might be less so than proprietary ones), and
> require more training than many pollworkers are willing or able to absorb.
>
> There's something to be said for EBPs for those who need assistance to
> vote independently. There's much less to be said for them for the
> general voting population, and more to be said against them.
>
>
>> Such control software is actually *in control*, and if it screws up
>> there's often no way for a human to intervene. Voting software, on
>> the other hand, *can* be used in such a way that screwups can be
>> detected and corrected before any harm is done.
>>
>>
> Not always. An attacker can perpetrate much mischief upon a voter left
> alone with a machine. See above.
>
> -R
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Received on Fri Nov 30 23:17:28 2007

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