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Friday, November 18, 2005

King calls on Allegheny County with voting concerns

Allegheny County Council and Board of Election
Public Comment Hearing: Allegheny County Voting Machine Selection Process (HAVA)
County Court House, Gold Room,
436 Grant Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15217

Richard King, Ph.D.
1236 Malvern Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15217
(412) 400-3773

November 17th, 2005

Thank you, Allegheny County Council, for voting to hear these concerns…

Request for Council to Consider a Resolution of Support for V-VPRs

Voter-Verified Paper Records provide safeguards for electronic voting in:
1.) Reliability
2.) Security
3.) Audit-ability
4.) Robustness/Recovery of voter intention
5.) Transparency
6.) Voter Confidence
7.) HB2000/SB977 compliance without additional expense

(Statements preceded by a star * are fact based, not theory or opinion based)

Voter Verified Paper Records (V-VPRs):
* V-VPRs provide an independent audit trail of our votes… there is no other independent audit trail
* More 26 states already have V-VPRs
* The vast majority of computer technologists supported V-VPRs in a survey of the ACM.
* Votes lost due to software failures and electronic glitches will be recoverable with V-VPRs.

Precinct Based Optical Scan (PBOS):
* Optical scan is used throughout the country and exclusively in Arizona, Oklahoma and Rhode Island.
* One PBOS machine can serve seven times as many voters as a DRE machine on election day.
* With PBOS only two devices would have to be purchased for each polling place
* PBOS machines have greater longevity than touch screens.
* The savings from having to buy only two devices per polling place, versus four, six, ten, or more, will more than make up the expense of printing paper ballots for at least 10 years, probably more. The operating costs turn out to be lower because fewer poll workers are needed, less storage, less vendor support, shorter testing time, fewer resources all around are needed for opscan than for DRE systems.

RELIABILITY: Certification and Standards
Many experts agree: The standards for voting machine software are inadequate and allow for software failures every 136 hours. The PA computer voting state examiner has stated that “I am here today to offer my opinion that the system we have for testing and certifying voting equipment in this county is not only broken, but is virtually nonexistent” (M.Shamos, testified before the Environment, Technology, and Standards Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Science on June 24, 2004
Show the map of election day e-voting problems … all these problems were on federally certified machines.
* All machines are not inspected by the National Testing Labs and the State Examiner, only a handful are examined and only for standards, not for security.

*This summer, Diebold Election Systems presented a DRE for examination in Harrisburg. Twelve votes were cast in a mock election. Six of the twelve ballots were mis-tallied for the wrong candidate. (PA DOS video tape documentation. July 18th-19th) This machine and this software were qualified by the national ITAs

* Errors in Ballot Definition Files have only been found in optical scan systems. (See Page 21). BDFs are not more difficult to program in op scan systems, but they are more obvious and discoverable. With DRE voting, such problems may never become apparent to either the division of election staff or the voter. And the lost votes are not recoverable. Consider 134 blank ballots cast in Broward County or an 11 point swing between the tallied state wide DRE vote and a poll two days prior to the Georgia 2002 election. If errors in ballot definition files are involved, only V-VPRs will recover the intent of the voters.

* All ballots get manipulated by people whether they are electronic or paper, and all are susceptible to manipulation. The difference is that procedural safeguards and observation can protect against manipulation of paper, but no amount of procedural safeguards can ensure manipulation won't
occur -- or hasn't already occurred -- with e-ballots.
* You can watch a poll worker handling paper ballots. You can't watch the programmer that set up your
balloting software before you ever got the machine. *It is essential to guard the chain of custody of vote data -- either on paper or on electronic media -- it is a lot harder to guard it on the latter than the former.
* Paper ballots are a “write once” and tamper evident medium. E-votes are undetectably re-writable.

* V-VPRs provide an independent audit trail of our votes… there is no other independent audit trail

Robustness/Recovery of voter intention
* For lost electronic ballots, V-VPRs provide a back up, a recoverable record of the voter’s intent

HB2000/SB977 compliance without additional expense
* HAVA funds will be available for initial machine purchases, adding printers may cost more.

Transparency/Voter Confidence
* Voter-Verified Paper Ballots increase voter confidence in our system of elections. Public observation, public scrutiny and audit-ablity increase not only the integrity and robustness of election procedures. They increase the confidence of the voter in our system of participatory democracy. Thank You !