Category Archives: HR811

Daniel Castro’s response to my ITIF review

Daniel Castro has responded to review of the ITIF eVoting report that he wrote.

In that review I agree with his thesis that “end-to-end verifiable” voting systems should be encouraged and be part of the debate on electronic voting and I basically agree with his recommendations. But I strongly disagreed with his assessment of the relative risks of paper systems, electronic voting systems, and electronic voting systems that print a voter verified paper trail. I also found much of the tone of his report offensive.

My assessment is:
e2e verifiable system > paper system > eVoting with voter verified paper trail > eVoting

His appears to be:
e2e verifiable system > eVoting > eVoting with voter verified paper trail > paper system

And I believe that we both agree the e2e voting systems need more support and some trial runs but are not yet ready for widespread deployment.

To put it pithily, “I agree with the thesis of this disagreeable report“.

Here is his response. This is posted with his permission:
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summary of ITIF’s eVoting report

I’m writing up a full point-by-point review of the ITIF eVoting report. [Update 9/20/07: It’s written. Here is the point-by-point review]

For now, here is a quick summary of my impressions.

I agree with the basic premise of the report that the debate about electronic voting needs to be broader and include other verification technologies than voter-verified paper audit trails. I am in basic agreement with the policy recommendations of the paper but I feel that these recommendations need some caveats. I discuss the recommendations below.

I disagree with much of the setup of the report. The susceptibility to fraud of electronic voting machines is downplayed too much as is the ability of voter-verified paper audit trails to mitigate that. The tone of the report when talking about organizations promoting voter verified audit trails or promoting distrust of eVoting is absolutely poisonous and Mr. Castro should be ashamed. I suspect that much of the poor reception this paper is getting is due to that.
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Buzz about ITIF’s eVoting report

[Update 9/20/07: I have read the report and review it here: summary and points-by-point]

I just got an interesting comment from Daniel Castro, the author of an Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF) report on electronic voting. Castro’s comment:

I just wanted to make sure you were aware of the report we just released on electronic voting. We discuss the limitation of paper audit trails, alternative technologies (to paper) that can be used for audit trails, and suggest that we should focus the national discussion not on whether or not we should have paper trails, but rather on how to implement universally verifiable (or end-to-end verifiable) voting systems.

From the report’s teaser:
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seeking clarity on ‘Software independence’ in voting systems

In response to the Timothy Ryan op-ed “A Damaging Paper Chase In Voting”, Rick Carback (one of the punchscan developers) wrote about HR811:

…the article makes an excellent point — mandating a specific technology (which has been known to be problematic since the inception of voting) is a bad idea. By contrast, the authors of the bill could have taken the approach of Software Independence, where the outcome of an election can be determined independently of a piece of software. Any software independence approach would rule out paperless DREs, a hidden audit trail printout, and other ill-conceived technology. DREs with unreliable printers for a VVPAT approach could also be excluded, but you would need to add a reliability requirement (not hard to do). Our system, and similar systems like PAV, would more easily fit into such a definition.

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washingtonpost points out that HR811 conflicts with systems like punchscan

Punchscan; see your vote count

From A Damaging Paper Chase In Voting by Timothy J. Ryan for the Washington Post comes this piece opposing HR811. Among other things it points out that HR811 would conflict with voting systems that cannot provide a paper trail (like Prime III, an Auburn University project that I am not familiar with and hence do not endorse in any way) or cannot preserve all paper records (like punchscan) I would be interested in hearing the reaction of people involved with punchscan to this piece.

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Avi Rubin supports HR811

Avi Rubin Avi Rubin is a professor of Computer Science at Johns Hopkins University who is famous for bringing to light vulnerabilities in Diebold Election Systems’s Accuvote electronic voting machines.

(read about his book about the experience: Brave new ballot; The battle to safeguard democracy in the age of electronic voting)
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HR811 postponed until at least September 17

From the Ballot Access News:

HR 811, the bill in Congress to require vote-counting machines to produce a paper trail, will not be taken up in the House until September 17 at the earliest. Congressman Rush Holt (D-N.J.) had hoped it would pass the House this week, but it has fierce opposition, both from elections officials who don’t want a paper trail, and from activists who want to eventually eliminate all electronic vote-counting machines. Thus the bill has enemies from both directions.