Re: important new USACM study of Voter Registration Databases

From: <dr-jekyll_at_att_dot_net>
Date: Fri Sep 22 2006 - 12:17:58 CDT

Why not add a paper audit trail requirement, if not on all aspects, perhaps at least on initial voter registration applications? That would help in detecting fradulent voter registrations.

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-------------- Original message from Arthur Keller <>: -------------- 
> From: "Barbara Simons" 
> To: "Quixote Group" 
> Sent: Thursday, September 21, 2006 5:48 PM 
> Subject: the USACM study of Voter Registration Databases 
> Dear colleagues, 
> This email is in response to my request for help in publicizing the ACM 
> study of computerized databases of registered voters. 
> You can find the Executive Summary, list of panelists, and full report 
> (a downloadable pdf file) at The report 
> is aimed at the general public and at election officials. However, for 
> those folks who don't want to read the full report, we have a separate 
> file called Overview and Recommendations that can be downloaded. It 
> contains our 99 recommendations. 
> I blush to admit that we didn't think of some of the problems that have 
> occurred. For example, while we discuss well known problems with 
> inaccuracies in registrar of voters databases and recommend against 
> using database matches to purge voters, it never occurred to us that 
> someone would do something so foolish as to disenfranchise voters whose 
> names are not an exact match with the names in some other databases. 
> When we discussed the need for backups to the electronic poll 
> books, the problem of having the poll books crash in the middle of an 
> election with the accompanying difficulty of determining who had 
> already voted did not occur to us. 
> Still, if election officials were to follow our recommendations, the 
> situation would be greatly improved. I suspect that there is not a 
> single jurisdiction that has followed even a majority of our 
> recommendations. I believe that the Maryland meltdown was just a 
> prelude to what is coming in November. 
> I've included below the press release that ACM issued when our study 
> was released. 
> Regards, 
> Barbara 
> P.S. I also recommend the study that Kim [Kim Alexander of 
> California Voter Foundation] did on privacy issues 
> relating to voter registration. It's a real eye opener. 
> Washington, DC, February 16 , 2006 - A team of computer security and 
> voting experts has issued recommendations to ensure that electronic 
> records of information submitted by citizens registering to vote are 
> accurate, private and secure. In a report commissioned by the 
> Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), state and local election 
> officials now have nearly 100 high-level guidelines designed to help 
> states comply with Federal laws that require computerized statewide 
> electronic databases to be operational by 2006. 
> "If these guidelines are not implemented, at a minimum there could be 
> widespread confusion and Election Day failures. And in the worst case, 
> voters across the nation could be disenfranchised and election fraud 
> could result," said Paula Hawthorne, co-chair of the Voter Registration 
> Database Study Committee. Hawthorne, a former database expert at 
> Hewlett-Packard, and vice president of software development for several 
> start-up companies, identified a series of risks, including hacker 
> attacks, massive Election Day failures, severe privacy violations, and 
> further erosion of confidence in the election process. 
> "These guidelines will enable the more than 20 states that have not yet 
> met these federal deadlines to avoid Election Day problems," said Study 
> Committee co-chair Barbara Simons, a past president ACM, who is retired 
> from IBM Research. "They also provide a useful template for those 
> states which have complied with federal deadlines, but may need to 
> revamp their processes and procedures in light of the report's 
> recommendations," she said. 
> The report outlines "best practices" from technology experts recruited 
> for their special knowledge and understanding of these areas. It 
> presents guidelines to make certain that voter databases are 
> consistently reliable and accessible by people with diverse 
> backgrounds, purposes, and knowledge. 
> The study was commissioned to develop objective technical information 
> and expert recommendations to help states and localities comply with 
> provisions of the Help America Vote Act, which was passed in the wake 
> of voting problems in the 2000 Presidential Election. 
> The guidelines will enable state and local officials to address 
> potential risks by: 
> a) adopting transparent policies and open practices for managing 
> technical and logistical aspects of voter registration databases. 
> b) setting clear accountabilities for those responsible for proposing, 
> making, or approving changes to the data, the system, or its policies. 
> c) establishing audit trails to track changes made to data, security 
> policy, and database design. 
> d) designing privacy policies that are fundamental to the system, and 
> based on long-established and widely-accepted Fair Information 
> Practices procedures. 
> The complete Electronic Voter Registration Database Study and a list of 
> report's authors are available online at 
> About ACM 
> ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, is an 
> educational and scientific society uniting the world's computing 
> educators, researchers and professionals to inspire dialogue, share 
> resources and address the field's challenges. ACM strengthens the 
> profession's collective voice through strong leadership, promotion of 
> the highest standards, and recognition of technical excellence. ACM 
> supports the professional growth of its members by providing 
> opportunities for life-long learning, career development, and 
> professional networking. 
> # # # 
> -- 
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
> Arthur M. Keller, Ph.D., 3881 Corina Way, Palo Alto, CA 94303-4507 
> tel +1(650)424-0202, fax +1(650)424-0424 
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Received on Sat Sep 30 23:17:05 2006

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