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Sunday, September 24, 2006

ASK Allegheny County to verify the voting software!

Given that our votes are not observable, recountable, or auditable.
Let at least have software verification and parallel testing!

Call County Council: 412 350-6491

Please Sign Up by Monday 5PM to Speak to County Council on Tuesday, September 26th!

Parallel Testing: A Proposal for Allegheny County’s November 2006 Election

Parallel testing is designed as an election day security measure to detect software glitches as well as to counter software hacks that could fraudulently record and count votes. In voting software, a Trojan Horse is a hidden program that can avoid detection in the voting software and wait until election day to become active. To be effective, a Trojan Horse program must not change votes during accuracy tests, but must only be active during an election. Such a program may discriminate elections from accuracy tests by the date, time, duration, speed of voting, rate of errors, under-votes, location of under-votes, or any other natural feature of typical voting behavior.

For parallel testing to be valid and effective, it must be presented to the voting machine in a manner that resembles typical voting as closely as possible. Ideally, from the perspective of the voting machine, the testing behavior and environment are identical to the actual voting behavior and environment.

In parallel testing, the votes are cast on the machine according to a script that is developed to reflect actual voting data. The rates of speed in casting ballots, errors, revisions, attempted under-votes and over-votes, the rates of languages and disability uses should all be taken into consideration for the design of the scripted voting. The parallel test should begin as typical voting does at 7 AM and end when the poll closes. The ebb and flow of voting throughout the day should be reflected in the parallel testing. All votes cast on the parallel test machine should be documented on video tape and observed by at least 2 witnesses. At the end of the day, a comparison of the scripted vote tally is made with those tallied on the voting machine selected for the parallel test.

On the positive side, parallel testing is doable for our November 2006 elections and can provide some accountability to our system of elections in Pennsylvania. On the downside, our present system of elections depends largely upon blind faith by the voters and our county election officials in a history and environment that is steeped in partisan election fraud. Parallel testing is a minute and inadequate afterthought for election integrity. But it can provide a small window of truth. It is a small window into the accuracy of an unverifiable voting system. It will be the only possible check on our non-transparent system of our Pennsylvania election. An election that operates largely without voter verified paper ballots, without meaningful recounts or audits.

Once again, Allegheny County has the opportunity to become a leader in bringing some election integrity and voter confidence to Pennsylvania. Providing parallel testing in Allegheny County will raise the standard in Pennsylvania.

from: Richard King, 1236 Malvern Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15217, (412) 400-3773
kinggaines -at- comcast -dot- net


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