Re: SB 1438 is law in CA...

From: Douglas W. Jones <jones_at_cs_dot_uiowa_dot_edu>
Date: Thu Sep 30 2004 - 12:44:25 CDT

On Sep 29, 2004, at 4:02 PM, Popkin, Laird (WMG Corp) wrote:

> Perhaps I'm missing something, but this doesn't feel right to me. If
> the position is that the paper is the true ballot, and the electronic
> record is a processing step in computing the results, it's clear to me
> how things work. That is, you get the electronic results almost
> immediately, and then if there's a question (or when you do your
> regular audits) you can go to the paper record and verify that the
> electronic results mirror the actual votes cast, and if they don't,
> there's no question about which is "right".

If they disagree, all you are certain of is that one or the other
is wrong. Until you look more closely, you have no basis for
concluding that one or the other is right.

You must investigate such things as the chain of custody. If the
paper ballots spent the night in the home of one pollworker,
while the electronic record has strong cryptographic protection
that makes it extremely unlikely that it has been tampered with,
you'll probably want to be very careful about the paper ballots.

If the paper ballots were brought immediately to the county
election headquarters in the joint custody of two pollworkers
representing opposing parties, but the electronic records were
not cryptographically protected, the paper may well be the more
reliable.

However, in both cases, you're strongly advised to check if there
is other evidence to corraborate one or the other. For example,
if the number of electronic ballots matches the number of signatures
in the pollbook but not the number of paper ballots, there's good
reason to investigate the possibility of paper records having been
added or destroyed.

Yes, the voter verified paper ballot, if authentic, is an original
document stating the voter's intent, while the electronic records
are copies, but authenticity can only be assumed if the chain of
custody is unbroken and properly maintained. Copies can trump what
appear to be original documents if there is evidence that the originals
have been tampered with. Originals can be used to show that copies
were made inaccurately. But, because all of these determinations
are made after the fact, secondary evidence of the chain of custody
and secondary corraborating evidence must be used to determine
which is authentic and which has been tampered with.

                        Doug Jones
                        jones@cs.uiowa.edu
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Received on Thu Sep 30 23:17:10 2004

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