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Subject: Fw: DNC Report Lambast Electronic Voting!!

Full Report:  "Democracy at Risk: The 2004 Election in Ohio"  http://www.democrats.org/a/2005/06/democracy_at_ri.php
But read Section
VII:  Electronic Voting: Accuracy, Accessibility and Fraud  [http://a9.g.akamai.net/7/9/8082/v001/www.democrats.org/pdfs/ohvrireport/section07.pdf]

  • Precinct-based optical scan systems are the most "accurate" voting systems available today.  They are also reasonably priced and can satisfy HAVA requirements in a cost-effective manner with devices such as the ES&S AutoMark (See Figure 3).
  • Current DRE systems are not engineered to meet the needs of elections. They are extremely expensive to procure and maintain.  They are not sufficiently robust against fraud. They are less usable to the broad population of voters than earlier, simpler technologies.
  • Existing standards and practices for the certification of voting systems are insufficient to the security requirements of DRE systems.  Significant effort will be needed to created the next generation of standards.
  • Few quantitative studies have been performed on the usability of different voting technologies. Vendor claims of improved usability should not be considered meaningful until they perform significant user studies under controlled conditions.  Existing anecdotal evidence, including event reports, are at best mixed in their opinions of different voting systems’ usability.  Election official should perform controlled, scientific studies of their own populations using their own voting machines to truly understand where they might be experiencing usability problems.
  • Most voting system vendors consider their software to be proprietary trade secrets and generally resist any attempts to disclose and discuss their designs in public.  Private, vendor trade secrets have no place in public elections. Vendors are welcome to protect their intellectual property with copyrights and patents, but their full designs must be subject to public scrutiny.  As elections become increasingly electronic, such scrutiny is critical to maintaining transparency and public confidence in elections.
  • Computer software, at every stage in the process, might be buggy and could well be malicious.  Different strategies are necessary to mitigate against this threat, depending on what voting system is used.
    • Paperless DRE voting systems generally print precinct-level tallies at the end of the election.  These printouts are generally signed by the election officials working in the precinct.  Those signed printouts should be treated as important evidence as to the result of the election and should be preserved for recounts and post-election auditing.
    • Precinct-level optical scanners might incorrectly tally votes as well.  The original marked ballots should be independently counted, or at least randomly sampled and compared to the electronic results, before an election result is certified.
    • Paperless DRE systems should be upgraded to voter-verified paper trail systems. The printouts should be treated in exactly the same fashion as optical scan ballots: they should be carefully preserved as evidence of voter intent and should be randomly sampled and compared to the electronic results.
    • “Parallel testing,” where some DRE voting systems are pulled out of general use and are tested, on election day but under controlled conditions, is an pragmatic and valuable test that should be performed whenever such voting machines are being used.
    • The computers used to tabulate election results are a tempting target for election fraud, and as such, require more significant controls, including well-chosen passwords and physical access restrictions. They should never, in their entire lifetime, be connected to the Internet or to any modem or communication device. Instead, an “air gap” style of security should be used. Data can be released to the public through simple measures such as burning a CD with election results and hand-carrying such a CD to a separate, network-enabled computer.

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  • Election officials need to hire “penetration testing” (also called “tiger team”) consultants to examine the security of their election systems.  Where such teams have been hired in the past, significant vulnerabilities have been discovered.  Such teams should be hired on a recurring basis to audit voting machines as well as the entire voting process, from registration through tabulation.
  • The timely publication of detailed precinct-level election statistics is critical to the public confidence in an election result, and such data is often not available in its entirety for every county.  Such statistics can be easily derived from local voting tabulation systems and should be quickly and electronically reported in a standardized fashion.

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