Saturday, October 23, 2004

Ontario e-voting 2003

A 2003 article about Ontario e-voting.

As voters across Ontario were preparing to head to the polls today to elect their municipal leaders, a technological first was quietly taking place in the easternmost reaches of the province. About 100,000 voters the counties of Prescott-Russell and Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry were registered to cast their ballots online.

Under a new system developed by CanVote Inc., an eastern Ontario startup company, registered voters in 11 area municipalities had the option of voting via the Internet or telephone.

"I believe we're the first to do a real full Internet election in North America," said Joe Church, president of CanVote Inc.

London Free Press - 2003-11-10
100,000 ballots to be cast online

e-Jack 2001

I found a 2001 PowerPoint presentation by Jack Layton in which he jabbers on about the wonders of e-everything.

E-voting and electric citizenship is fast and convenient. (If controversial - my own web poll suggested people did not like the idea.)


e-democracy should enable citizens to fully participate in the democratic process through the Internet and other digital means. Examples of e-democracy include online voting, conducting online town halls, and mobilizing groups

The E-Polity (PowerPoint)

The Pew Charitable Trusts: Advancing Policy Solutions: Election Reform Briefing: the Business of Elections

The once-overlooked election industry has become the focus of intense scrutiny in recent years with the passage of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) and the promise of nearly $4 billion in funds from Washington to purchase new voting machines, software and databases.

In the past two years, as concerns over the security and reliability of direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machines have increased, so too has the public wariness over the political activity of companies that design, manufacture and maintain them.

Electionline.org’s latest election reform briefing, The Business of Elections (PDF), provides the first nonpartisan and non-advocacy look at the political campaign contributions and lobbying activities of the largest producers of e-voting machines, including Diebold, Inc., Election Systems & Software, Sequoia Voting Sytems and Hart InterCivic.

The Pew Charitable Trusts - electionline.org - August 2004
Election Reform Briefing: the Business of Elections

virtual voting, real election

Edward Bitet fought in World War II, built affordable housing for veterans and taught sixth grade. When the Long Island native retired to Florida, he fulfilled another civic duty by becoming a poll worker. But Bitet, 77, isn't volunteering this year he says he doesn't trust Palm Beach County's electronic voting machines. He walked out of a county demonstration of touch-screen terminals convinced that software bugs could wreak havoc on Nov. 2.

"We lost an election four years ago because they fooled around with the paper ballots and couldn't recount them," said Bitet, a Democrat. "Now we're moving to a system without paper, and they won't even have the ballots to recount. I can't be a part of this."

With polls showing nearly equal numbers of Florida voters for President Bush and Sen. John Kerry, the election's outcome may again hinge on a Florida recount.

And the more that Floridians learn about how voting machines work, the more they question whether the 15 counties with paperless voting systems can accurately count and recount votes.

ABC News - AP - Oct 22, 2004
Integrity of Fla. Virtual Vote in Doubt

e-voting e-hubris

On November 2, hundreds of thousands of Americans will step into electronic voting booths, many of them for the first time. They'll likely be confronted with a touch screen that steps them through the local and national candidates, as well as the local propositions that are usually stuffed onto the ballot.

This is not, as we all know, just any election year. We're choosing our next president—the incumbent or a new one. As a result, the performance of these electronic voting systems will be watched with keen eyes and worried minds. Will they be accurate? Are they secure? Can you have such a thing as a virtual hanging chad? My gut tells me that these systems will work flawlessly next month, but the concern is well founded.

An exhaustive 2003 report from the Johns Hopkins University (Analysis of an Electronic Voting System, July 23, 2003 [avirubin.com/vote.pdf]) outlines more than half a dozen key ways in which the security, accuracy, and overall functionality of an electronic voting system—a Diebold AccuVote-TS, to be precise—could be compromised.

ABC News - PC Magazine - October 13, 2004
Is E-Voting Fundamentally Flawed?

necessary physical security for e-voting machines

So here's the thing about "saving money by using electronic voting machines".
If you actually put in place the necessary security measures, they cost way more than some humans and paper ballots.

Check it out:

Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters Jesse Durazo is not taking any chances with this year's presidential election.

After weathering months of criticism of the county's new touch-screen voting system, Durazo in July installed 24-hour surveillance cameras in the warehouse where the voting machines are stored and are being tested this week.

``Voters deserve to know we have done our best to maintain security,'' Durazo said.

Durazo also tightened an internal badge system that limits access to the warehouse. And expensive bar-coded tamper tape will protect the machines during the days leading up to the Nov. 2 election, an upgrade from the primary election, when flimsy plastic tags were used.

The steps taken by Durazo and his staff have won praise from critics of electronic voting, like David Dill, a professor of computer science at Stanford University, whose warnings about the reliability and security of touch-screen voting helped galvanize a national movement of voters demanding modifications to the machines.

``They are bending over backwards to be responsive,'' Dill said.

The Mercury News - Oct. 22, 2004
E-vote security is tight

International Observer Team Urges Reforms in US Electoral Process

Among the most-important changes called for in the group’s report is to assure a ’’paper trail’’ for touch-screen voting which is being introduced in a number of states across the country.

"Transparency at the polls is critical and cannot be readily established without voter verification," the group said, adding that, where touch-screen voting is used, an independent agency and a parallel monitoring process should be adopted to achieve "optimum transparency."


The group also called for the enfranchisement of former felons who have served their time in prison and strongly criticized laws of the kind that disenfranchised tens of thousands of Floridians in the 2000 election and still exist in Florida, Virginia, Nebraska, Mississippi, Kentucky, Iowa, Arizona, and Alabama.

"This practice falls outside of international or even U.S. norms and is an unreasonable restriction that creates subcategories of citizenship," the group said.

In Florida, the group expressed special concern about possible challenges by election monitors, the lack of independent review of electronic voting machines that created so much havoc in 2004, and the continued felony-related disenfranchisement of minority voters.

emphasis mine
bellaciao - 22nd October 2004
International Observer Team Urges Reforms in US Electoral Process
same story from Rabble.ca: U.S. electoral process affected by 'dirty tricks'

judging the counters

A federal judge said Wednesday he would rule as quickly as possible on U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler's attempt to force the state to create a paper trail for any needed recounts with touch-screen voting machines.

After hearing three days of testimony with regular reminders of the flawed 2000 presidential vote, U.S. District Judge James Cohn said the "case is of great public importance" and promised a written order, which would be subject to quick appeal by the losing side.

The state issued a new rule Friday for manual recounts in extremely tight elections to replace one thrown out by a state judge. But Wexler maintains recounts aren't possible with the paperless machines because there is nothing to review by hand. Their end product is a form showing votes and instances where no votes were recorded.

The judge said the question of whether manual recounts are possible with touch-screen machines is one "the court has to grapple with."

tuscaloosanews.com Dateline Alabama | APP - October 20, 2004
Judge: Will rule quickly in suit seeking e-vote paper trail

almost as popular as Paper Vote Canada

Two weeks before the presidential election, an event billed as a forum on electronic voting drew a handful of people to UC Riverside on Tuesday night.

Organizers urged voters to beware of electronic voting, saying the system is unreliable and that voters should vote by paper.

The Riverside chapter of Democracy for America, a group inspired by failed Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean, and the California College Democrats at UCR, co-sponsored the event in a university lecture hall.

Three people, including two UCR students and one lecturer, made up the audience. Sponsors attributed the low turnout to the rain.

The Press-Enterprise - October 19, 2004
Anti-e-vote forum draws three people

2004 Ontario Public Library Service Awards shortlist

Minister's Award for Innovation ...

Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry County Library (large library
category) - for providing unique access to electronic and
telephone voting to six townships during the 2003 municipal
elections - one of the first libraries in North America to use
online voting.

More like Public Disservice Award.

CNW Telbec - October 18, 2004
Ontario Ministry of Culture PR

space e-vote

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (AP) -- The space station's newest astronaut will cast his ballot in the presidential election from 225 miles (360 kilometers) up, with NASA's help.

Leroy Chiao said Monday that the space agency has worked hard with local and federal authorities to make it possible for him to vote from the orbiting complex, his home until spring.

He plans to cast his ballot via a secure e-mail connection, much the same way that astronaut David Wolf used a new computer software developed by NASA to cast his ballot from the Russian space station Mir in a 1997 vote on 14 amendments to the state constitution.

U.S. astronauts, most of whom live around Houston, won the right to vote from space under a Texas bill signed into law by then-Gov. George W. Bush.

CNN.com - AP - October 20, 2004
Astronaut to e-vote from space

risk e-voting

This November, as many as 50 million Americans could vote for president using some form of electronic touch-screen system, the vast majority of which have been designed by McKinney, Texas-based Diebold Election Systems. That has some IT and security researchers holding their breath because of the faulty track record of Diebold's technology and a government-endorsed testing and certification process that they say is deeply flawed.

Those critics say that direct recording electronic (DRE) voting systems remain vulnerable to manipulation and malfunction, particularly in states that have ignored some recommendations of independent researchers, like Maryland has.

State election officials, on the other hand, say they are confident that appropriate safeguards are in place to ensure the security and accuracy of the 2004 vote.

Among the most pressing issues cited by critics are a lack of technical standards governing DRE software development, the failure of the government to impose transparency on the software testing and certification process, and the lack of technical security knowledge throughout the many state and local jurisdictions that oversee elections where DREs will be used.


Mystery Tests

One of the most critical aspects of the voting system development process is the testing and certification of hardware and software to ensure that they meet voluntary federal voting standards for security and reliability. Three vendors act as so-called independent testing authorities (ITA). However, IT experts are highly critical of the testing process because of its secrecy.

"Election officials are buying a software package, and there's not a lot of transparency," says Rudisin. "With voting software, you pretty much buy a pig in a poke."

Ciber Inc. in Greenwood Village, Colo., and SysTest Labs LLC in Denver act as the two software ITAs. Wyle Laboratories Inc. in El Segundo, Calif., is the hardware ITA. All of them refuse to provide details on how they test the voting equipment or on their findings.

"The ITAs that test these machines are hired by the vendors, so they are not independent and not neutral," says [Avi] Rubin

a fairly long article from
Computer World - October 18, 2004
E-vote at Risk
They also have a Sidebar: Where E-voting Went Wrong
featuring such gems as

5. Orange County, 2004: Hart InterCivic Inc. DREs trip circuit breaker and shut down when batteries die; voters are turned away from the polls.

6. Orange County, 2004: Hart access-code confusion causes 7,000 voters to receive the wrong ballots.

7. San Diego County, 2004: Diebold DREs lose votes; control modules fail to start up properly.

8. Bernalillo County, 2002: Insufficient memory results in failure to count 12,000 of 48,000 votes.

San Bernardino County e-vote testing

After weeks of testing, San Bernardino County's top election official declared its voting machines trustworthy after a final exam in which his office cast hundreds of test ballots.

"We nailed 100 percent, just the way we're supposed to," said Scott Konopasek, the county's Registrar of Voters.

State law requires counties to conduct a public "logic and accuracy" test of their voting systems. On Friday, before an audience of news cameras, the public and local officials, Konopasek and his team tested both the electronic touch-screen and the paper absentee-voting systems and also assessed how the two worked together.

They used a test deck of ballots with predetermined votes on them and checked that the results matched the input, he said. They also allowed observers to cast unscripted votes from unscripted precincts on unscripted machines "to verify those unscripted votes are being reported and verified correctly," Konopasek said.

Three members of the county's grand jury certified the results, he said.

The Press-Enterprise - October 17, 2004
San Bernardino County scores '100 percent' on e-vote dry run

voting machine crash in Florida

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. A pre-election test of electronic voting machines in Florida has been postponed after heat caused the crash of a server that tabulates the data.
Critics were quick to say the episode underscores the need for touch-screens to be backed up with paper records. The glitch happened in Palm Beach County, home of the infamous hanging and pregnant chads from the 2000 election dispute.

Nearly one in three U-S voters will use touch-screen voting machines to cast their ballots Election Day.

A former senior testing engineer says heat is a serious problem for touch-screens, especially in locales like Florida and Louisiana.

KRON4 - AP - October 14, 2004 or earlier
Computer crash linked to excessive heat deepens concerns about electronic voting

Submitted by George Wiman.

Wired News reported it as

Tuesday's public dry run had to be postponed until Friday because a computer server that tabulates data from the touch-screen machines crashed, said county elections supervisor Theresa LePore. Such "logic and accuracy" tests are required by law.

She said she suspected Hurricane Jeanne, which struck in September, may have zapped electricity and air conditioning to the room where the server was stored, causing temperatures to soar to 90 degrees or more and possibly causing the crash. The storm wiped out power to nearly 1.3 million homes and businesses throughout Florida.

The incident raised questions in the minds of computer hardware and software engineers about the reliability of other computers on which Floridians will depend for an accurate vote count on Nov. 2 — especially touch-screen machines.

An Achilles' heel of electronic voting equipment, just like any machines whose circuits get hot with colliding electrons, is its inability to tolerate extreme conditions, many experts say.

Wired News - AP - Oct. 14, 2004
E-Vote Snafu in Florida

Slashdot reported it as Florida Electronic Voting Machines Crash /.

e-voting in New Westminster, BC

Information provided by Chris Brand.

For the 2002 election, Election Systems & Software Model 100 machines were leased from the City of Toronto.
The firmware in the machines has been tested in the US to meet the US Federal Elections Commission's standards.
ES&S programmed the software for this specific election.
I asked about the possibility of the count getting reset to zero partway through the day, and was told that very few people knew how to zero the machines. The Presiding Election Officials were told to call Election Headquarters if they had any problems. There was a technician there would could deal with such problems (I wasn't told whether the technician was somebody from ES&S).
I asked about power outages and was told that the data is stored on a smart card so no information can be lost. There is a way to separate uncounted ballots cast while the power is out, which can then be fed through the machine once power has been restored.
This election happened to be very close, so there was a judicial recount which showed the machines to be very accurate.

From my own memory of the election, the ballot reminded me of the answer sheet for a multiple-choice test to be marked by a computer. We had to fill in the appropriate ovals with a pencil. The completed ballot was fed into the machine, which incremented a counter on its face. I did see it reject a ballot where the wrong number of ovals had been filled in. The completed ballots were stored inside the machine ... and were available for a hand recount.

Related stories:
The Royal City Record
City goes for lease on voting machines

In February, city council approved a staff recommendation to proceed to a Request For Proposals to purchase electronic vote counting equipment. Staff continued to look at alternatives and have now determined that leasing the machines is a viable option.

"I am glad to see this happen. We have had concerns about technology change," said Coun. Bob Osterman about purchasing electronic equipment. "This is good."

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Edmonton municipal election

Edmonton held an election yesterday, October 18, using mark-sense readers (optically scanned ballots).

Here is what they say

Marking the Ballot

You will take the ballot into the voting booth, remove the ballot from the secrecy sleeve and mark the ballot beside the name of the candidates you wish to vote for.


After the Ballot is Marked

You will return the marked ballot, inside the secrecy sleeve, to the Ballot Box Clerk . The Ballot Box Clerk will insert the ballot into the voting machine without looking at it. It is very important that each person's vote remains secret.

If you choose too many candidates, the ballot will be returned by the voting machine and you will be given the option of either completing a new ballot or having the existing ballot accepted by the machine. Where votes have been cast for too many candidates, votes will not be counted. All other votes on the ballot will be accepted.

from www.edmonton.ca - Voting on Election Day

While optical mark-sense are among the least-worst electronic voting systems, since the original data is on the marked ballot, they are still worse than a paper ballot.

Why? Because the machine counts.
Any time the machine is counting, there are opportunities for error, either due to malfunction, incorrect programming, or malicious action.

As I reported earlier they also had audio-electronic touch screen machines at the advance polls.

Florida - vote early, crash often

The Sun-Sentinel is reporting on computer glitches already affecting the election in - you guessed it - Florida. Of the 14 early voting sites that opened in Broward County on Monday morning, 9 were reporting problems.

Slashdot - Computer Problems Already Affecting Florida Voters
<- Older Posts - Newer Posts ->

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?