Re: Pull the Plug on E-Voting

From: Ron Crane <voting_at_lastland_dot_net>
Date: Fri Oct 27 2006 - 12:02:36 CDT
Charlie Strauss wrote:

On Oct 26, 2006, at 2:10 PM, Ron Crane wrote:

Richard C. Johnson wrote:

Mr. O'Dell's ...
also ignors the audit provisions built into, for example, the Open Source voting systems at Open Voting Solutions (see www.openvotingsolutions.com).  I too have a background in financial software and I know what an audit is.  I can assure you that cross-checking between dual paper and electronic ballots is absolutely and provably more secure than paper ballots alone.
Please prove this in light of the fact that ballot printers inject a (potentially malicious) computational intermediary between voters and their ballots, while hand-filled paper systems do not. "Voter verification" is no substitute for hand-filled ballots, especially in light of Ted Selker's study (see the Brennan Center's report, p.66) showing that voters in a simulated election identified fewer than 3% of simulated errors on VVPATs.


Selker was testing paper tapes which he showed were a cognitively inaccessible format.  The OVC paper summary ballot looks and feels a lot like a hand marked paper ballot, and it's in the voters hands.   Secondly, simulated preferences are not the participants real preferences and one can expect lower acuity to errors (he should have made it a gambling game with money riding on it to promote actual interest in the outcome by the "simulated" voter)  
Good points. But, as far as I know, there's no study showing voter verification rates significantly better than those shown in Selker's study. If you know of one, please cite it. Also, I think voter verification rates will decline over time as voters become (too) comfortable with their voting system.

The best way to avoid manipulation by computational intermediaries is to eliminate them, not to require voters to verify their outputs. Also, output verification doesn't help where the intermediary affects the voter's actual choices via presentation frauds (e.g., occasionally omitting candidates from the ballots, shuffling the ballot order, or making it more difficult to select certain candidates).

I think intermediaries are appropriate only for voters who cannot vote without them. Everyone else should use hand-filled paper ballots, counted either by hand, or by machine with appropriate random and directed hand audits. And yes, the machines should use open-source software, firmware, hardware, etc.

-R

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Received on Tue Oct 31 23:17:08 2006

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