The software utility, eVote and the eVote clerk, injects true democracy and deliberation into our real-world landscape.

Monday, May 31, 2010

New technology will make election voting more efficient - EPSRC

Newsletter posted:

Combination Ballot: A new voting system combining machine optical scanning, data processing, and manual methods is being developed by UK researchers in the hope of avoiding drawbacks with purely manual or electronic voting systems. Under development at the universities of Surrey and Birmingham, with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and in collaboration with the University of Luxembourg, the system uses a perforated ballot paper, randomising the order of candidates names. Voters tear the paper in half after casting their vote, scan the half with the vote on (which is fed into a database), then shred the candidates’ names. Voters then keep their casting paper, and can log on to a website to view their ballot scan, ensuring tampering cannot take place:

New technology will make election voting more efficient - EPSRC: "New technology will make election voting more efficient
26/05/2010 EPSRC press release: Did you stay up all night to hear your local result during the recent election?
Press release
26 May 2010
Time-consuming manual vote-counts and ballot boxes could soon be consigned to the history books, thanks to innovative new secure voting technology.
The system is being developed by computer scientists at the Universities of Surrey and Birmingham, with funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), and in collaboration with the University of Luxembourg.
Combining speed with total vote-counting accuracy, the system is unique because it will integrate state-of-the-art optical scanning, data processing and encryption with the tried-and-tested process of manually writing on a ballot paper."

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Hong Kong Vote Was Test of Democracy -

Hong Kong Vote Was Test of Democracy - "Most Hong Kong voters skipped a citywide legislative by-election Sunday, dealing a blow to opposition lawmakers who had hoped to use the polls as a de facto referendum on the pace of democratic reforms.
About 17% of Hong Kong's 3.4 million voters cast ballots, far below the 30% turnout some opposition lawmakers had hoped to attract. The low turnout came after several weeks of subdued campaigning.
The by-election was triggered by the coordinated resignation of five opposition lawmakers who had hoped to use a voter groundswell to press government officials for faster progress on democracy—including the eventual direct election"

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Kathy Dopp's latest election paper

Dear colleagues (election integrity advocates),

I've publicly posted a working paper on post-election auditing
*procedures*. Your comments are welcomed. I've shared a copy with
election commissioners in the Philippines who are hoping to convince
authorities there to conduct risk-based post-election audits. Up until
now, the Philippines has employed a hand-counted voter-marked paper
ballot system that exposed ballot tampering problems to detection, and
will be using initial machine counts for the first time.

This new paper is *not* mathematical. It discusses details of
procedures necessary for conducting risk-limiting post-election audits
in order to close loopholes that could be used to tamper with
elections and detect and correct vote miscount via post-election
manual counts of voter-marked paper ballots.

It is publicly posted now at the Social Science Research Network web
site and you can search for it there by my name, Kathy

Checking Election Outcome Accuracy – Post-Election Auditing Procedures

Current voting systems and procedures used to conduct post-election
audits fail to provide reliable assurance of the accuracy of election
results. Several methods have been found that overcome some of the
obstacles to auditing caused by various election system designs. This
article provides an overview of the scope and content of post-election
auditing practices indispensable to ensuring election audits will
effectively and reliably check the accuracy of officially reported
election results.

Keywords: post-election audit, election auditing, election results accuracy

Also, my more mathematical paper on post-election auditing sampling
methodology is posted at the Social Science Research web site:

Checking Election Outcome Accuracy, Post-Election Audit Sampling Methods
Methods for determining post-election audit sampling have been the
subject of extensive recent research. This article (1) provides an
overview of post-election audit sampling methods, focusing on
risk-limiting audits, (2) advances and improves three methods for
calculating risk-limiting election audit samples, showing how to apply
precise margin error bounds to improve the accuracy of existing
methods by using new margin error bounds, sampling weights and
sampling probabilities that improve the e ffectiveness of existing
for any size audit unit and for single or multi-winner election
contests, and (3) provides a new method for estimating post-election
audit sample sizes whenever detailed data, expertise, or tools are not

Post-election auditing is vital to restoring public oversight over the
integrity of an electoral process that has been largely privatized
without independent checks and balances.


FYI, I am also working on three new papers:

One showing, using very simple mathematical proofs, that there is only
one simple method (not dozens of complex methods as previously
thought) for calculating 2-dimensional geographic compactness of
legislative districts and redistricting plans. After the 2010 US
census is complete, a compactness measure will be crucial for helping
redistricting commissions to avoid gerrymandering of districts for
political purposes, ensuring better proportional representation for
constituents of legislators, assuming that geographic proximity of
constituents increases shared political interests, or at the very
least makes legislative districts easier to serve for legislators and
to administer for election officials, as well as decreasing the
likelihood of gerrymandering to help specific politicians retain
control of legislatures, despite having disparate interests from a
majority of constituents.

Another paper showing how simple mathematics can be used to evaluate
precisely how electoral methods affect the ability of minority
coalitions to obtain substantive legislative representation under
conditions of various specific constituency shares that could be used
to improve the way that the Dept. of Justice operates under the
preclearance clause of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

A third paper analyzing the recent January 2010 Massachusetts
Senatorial election results, but I need to raise $200 to purchase
additional data from the Secretary of State's office to complete that
analysis, which so far shows that the presence of a computerized vote
counting machine predicts a significant rise (to the 1% level of
significance) in the Republican vote share as compared to townships
that count ballots manually.


There have been some good signs when it comes to stopping the threat
to election integrity and fairness from the instant runoff voting
method. Voters in both Burlington, VT and in Aspen, CO have rejected
IRV after trying it out and experiencing its vagaries including how
IRV eliminates the majority-favorite candidate and elects a
majority-opposed candidate (Burlington), does not allow all voters to
participate in the final counting rounds (San Francisco), and how a
candidate sometimes loses when more voters vote for him, whereas the
same candidate would win if 75 fewer voters voted for him (Aspen).
There are effective proportional voting methods that are in common use
internationally, such as the party list system that, unlike IRV, treat
all voters' votes equally and fairly, and are precinct-summable and
simple to count manually for audits.

Unfortunately election officials who think that proposed requirements
for manual counts of voter marked paper ballots go too far, and some
election integrity advocates who think that the same proposals don't
go far enough continue to work together to kill all federal election
reform that would protect us from determinative vote rigging in
upcoming state and federal legislatures and executive office
elections. Unless there can be some kind of compromise legislation,
the United States is at huge risk of being taken over irretrievably by
an element that will oppose future reform of elections to restore
public oversight over the process. You can see by reading my latest
paper on post-election auditing procedures that virtually no states
are doing everything necessary to ensure accurate election outcomes
and deter undetectable vote fraud. New Mexico and North Carolina
probably come closest, but still fall short. Valiant efforts to
achieve meaningful risk-based post-election audits state by state have
been stymied in states like New Jersey, Maryland, Florida, Tennessee
and in many other states. I may eventually try to add a
state-by-state analysis of all the loopholes in audit provisions and
statutes. About half of states make no show at auditing whatsoever,
and most of the states that do audit, leave large loopholes open to
conduct vote fraud. Massachusetts is a state that conducts no
post-election manual checks whatsoever, so is wide-open to vote


Kathy Dopp
Town of Colonie, NY 12304
"One of the best ways to keep any conversation civil is to support the
discussion with true facts."

Realities Mar Instant Runoff Voting

Voters Have Reason to Worry

View my research on my SSRN Author page:

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Ban Touchscreen Voting - FWIW

Ban Touchscreen Voting
Do you remember the Stolen Elections of 2000 (Florida) and 2004 (Ohio)? We will never forget them, because we fought hard after both elections to count every vote.
And now we can finally do something about it by passing Rep. Rush Holt's "Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act."
Sign our petition to Congress:
In 2000, the Republican Supreme Court blocked a manual recount of 175,000 never-counted paper ballots and appointed George Bush as President, with disastrous consequences for our nation and the world. And in 2004, many disputed Ohio votes were cast on touchscreens, so a manual recount was impossible.
After 2004, grassroots activists across the country fought to ban touchscreen voting and to require full manual recounts in close elections. Thanks to activists, the closest race in 2008 - the Minnesota Senate battle between Al Franken and Norm Coleman - used paper ballots which were recounted entirely by hand. This careful and precise manual recount changed the result from a Coleman lead of 477 on Election night to a Franken lead of 312 today.
But a Minnesota-style recount would be impossible in one-third of the U.S. because of paperless touchscreen voting. That's why Congress must pass Rep. Rush Holt's "Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act" to ban touchscreen voting and require manual recounts in close elections.
Sign our petition to Congress:

2. Cheney's Iraq-Torture Scandal

In 2002 and 2003, Dick Cheney ordered the torture of key prisoners captured in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Cheney says he ordered torture to stop another terrorist attack, but the evidence is now clear: Cheney wanted false "confessions" to justify the unprovoked U.S. invasion of Iraq.
Please sign our petition to Congress and Attorney General Holder:
Those "confessions" were featured in key pre-war speeches by Cheney, George Bush, and Colin Powell that betrayed Congress, the American people, and the world.
Thus the "Torture" scandal and the "Iraq" scandal are not two separate scandals, but one massive and historically disastrous scandal: the Iraq-Torture Scandal.
Cheney claims his torture "saved hundreds of thousands of lives." In reality, it cost hundreds of thousands of lives - innocent Iraqi lives. It also killed over 4,300 U.S. soldiers, maimed hundreds of thousands more, cost U.S. taxpayers $3 trillion dollars, and profoundly damaged U.S. credibility and security.
Dick Cheney understands the enormity of his crimes and launched a public relations war to protect himself, including carefully-chosen TV interviews and speeches. His daughter (and chief defender) Liz Cheney admitted her father's greatest fear is prosecution.
It's time for Congress to investigate the massive Iraq-Torture Scandal - and for the Department of Justice to prosecute Dick Cheney for creating it.
Please sign our petition to Congress and Attorney General Holder:

3. Break Up the Banks - Town Hall Meetings
In April, we joined A New Way Forward to hold nation-wide protests against Washington's massive bailout of the banks that created our financial crisis.
During the week of June 8, A New Way Forward will hold Town Hall Meetings to build support for breaking up the banks. If they are "too big to fail" then they are "too big to exist."
Please sign our petition to Congress:
Find a Town Hall Meeting near you, or help organize one:
Thanks for all you do!
Bob Fertik
Forward this message to everyone you know!
To subscribe, create a free account here:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Free & Equal Elections West Virginia Ballot Access Bill Signed into Law

Bill Reduces Signature Requirements for Independent and Third Party Candidates Read More at

Almost a month since the West Virginia Legislature passed an improved ballot access bill, Governor Joe Manchin signed HB 2981 into law on May 8th, lowering the signature requirements to place Independent and Third Party candidates on the ballot.The new law lowers the petition signature requirement from 2% of the last vote cast, to 1%. In addition, the law moves the non-presidential petition deadline from May to August, so that it now matches the presidential petition deadline.Free & Equal applauds the West Virginia Legislator and Governor Manchin for putting aside partisan struggles and passing a law that significantly reduces the hurdles that Independent and Third Party candidates must jump through to place their names on the ballot.This law is the most significant ballot access improvement that has been enacted so far this year. Now that the law has been signed by the Governor, the only states that will have no procedure for a minor party or independent presidential candidate to get on the ballot -that is at or below 2% of the last vote cast in a midterm year- will be North Carolina and Oklahoma.OK HB 1072 is currently in a conference committee in Oklahoma, and Free & Equal will continue to monitor its progress. Free & Equal also plans to help introduce an appropriations-related ballot access bill in North Carolina for the 2010 legislative session.

Free & Equal Elections is a non partisan organization dedicated to eliminating restrictive ballot access laws that target Independent and Third-Party Candidates.Free & Equal will challenge these laws, through lobbying of state legislators, court challenges, and initiatives.

For More Information, Log on
While you're there, why not make a donation to support ballot access reform?
Free & Equal Elections407 S. Dearborn StreetSuite 1170Chicago, IL 60605 Telephone: 312.320.4101Fax: 1.866.309.7803

Monday, April 20, 2009

Freedom to Tinker blog

As usual, I don't know how many of you follow the Freedom-To-Tinker blog--so here is a fairly recent item on the status of some FLOSS concepts in the never-ending mess with e-voting:

Here is one part of the article that I think goes to the heart of the philosophy underlying FLOSS:

"Disclosing the source code only results in a complete forfeiture of the software's security if there was never any security there in the first place. If the product is well-engineered, then disclosing the software will cause no additional security problems. If the product is poorly-engineered, then the lack of disclosure only serves the purpose of delaying the inevitable."

One of the responders to the article also expresses the fundamental point rather well:

"When bad guys discover secrets, they keep quiet. They reuse the secrets or wait for a great opportunity to exploit. If most secrets are being discovered by black hats, most secrets will stay hidden from public view and will be used to compromise election after election or at least important elections. When white hats find flaws, they make noise, the result being that security bloopers get rooted out much quicker."

It seems to me that high school students (soon to be old enough to vote) and college students ought to be exposed to these ongoing techno-political debates. What would be the best ways for teachers in the fields of computer science, social studies, &c (as many areas as possible) to collaborate in the construction of relevant inter-disciplinary curricula? Of course (as is usual with high-tech topics), some of the students will be more knowledgeable than some of the teachers--but that can be a plus *IF* it is handled right.



An article that I handout to my students, presents the following scenario:

"Would you, while travelling far from home, take medicines of an unknown brand given to you by a self-proclaimed “doctor”, without documentation, and hence without (independent) assurance about the nature and proper working of the ingredients?"

The article is titled "Increased security through open source" and you can find it online here:

Though, I think that I first saw it in ACM's Communications.

My experience is that, for most students, it is a good introduction into security issues related to open source software. And with the help of a few discussion questions can spark a lively classroom discussion.

I suspect that many other teachers would find the article useful as well.

Let me know what you think,


Saturday, January 31, 2009

Candidate Kick Off