Saturday, November 13, 2004

good site with e-voting links and info

Anne-Marie Oostveen has tons of e-voting resources including Electronic Voting Bibliography and Mailing Lists and Blogs.

Via Yahoo! Canada Directory > Elections > Electronic and Internet Voting

NB OCEO News Release on e-voting

FREDERICTON (CNB) -- Amendments to the Municipal Elections Act were introduced in the Legislature on March 31 by Justice Minister Bradley Green.

The legislation includes two different types of amendments. The major amendment gives the Municipal Electoral Officer authority to modify aspects of the electoral process, to allow the use of vote counting machines or other equipment or procedures in particular elections.

The immediate reason for this amendment is to allow the use of vote tabulating, or counting, machines in Saint John for the triennial municipal, district education council, and regional health authority elections being held in May. Saint John does not have a ward system, so all council members are elected at large, and municipal elections in the city normally attract a large number of candidates.

"Traditional ballots in Saint John create difficulties for both voters and poll workers. Voting can be a slow process, leading to line-ups and frustrations at the polls," Chief Electoral Officer Annise Hollies said. "Counting the votes with such ballots is a time-consuming job, with some polls not reporting until 5 or 6 a.m. the day after polling day, making it difficult to find people willing to work the polls in the city."

"Vote counting machines will take the counting burden off the shoulders of poll workers," Hollies said.

Current legislation does not allow the use of such machines in New Brunswick, but Elections New Brunswick has observed their use in other places and is confident that the machines are easy to use, reliable, accurate, and will vastly improve the process of voting, counting and reporting election results in Saint John.

"The use of vote counting machines in Saint John is something of a pilot project.," Hollies said. "Elections New Brunswick will review the results of their use there, and if everything goes as well as expected will consider the feasibility and desirability of using such systems in other parts of the province in future elections."

Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, New Brunswick - April 1, 2004
Amendments introduced to Municipal Elections Act

That's an April Fool's event that just keeps on going.

Saint John, New Brunswick e-voting

Government of New Brunswick (www.gnb.ca) - Office of the Chief Electoral Officer
Vote Tabulation Machine Use in the City of Saint John

Why are Tabulation Machines being used in Saint John?

For the 2004 Municipal Elections, it was decided to use Vote Tabulation machines in The City of Saint John. The city does not have a ward system, so electors are confronted with a long ballot where they may select 1 candidate for mayor and up to 10 candidates for councillor, normally from a list of over 25 candidates. In addition, electors receive ballots for District Education Council and Regional Health Authority Elections.

The time required to sort, count, and return this large number of ballots (sometimes over 1000 ballots per poll) results in delayed results reporting, the possibility of counting errors being made, and forces the election officials to work a very long day at the polling station.

What is a Vote Tabulator Machine?

A vote tabulator is a digital optical scan machine that reads and records how ballots are marked and produces election results. This is the same technology used in grocery stores.

Also has both Windows Media and QuickTime videos of using the machines.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Ottawa is Diebold city

In case you're looking at the USA and are all ha ha at their crappy Diebold voting systems with Windows-based multi-hackable GEMS central vote tabulation (featuring vulnerable modem dialin), you know who else uses that same system?

The City of Ottawa.

See various Diebold memo threads e.g.

The City of Ottawa (GEMS-1-5-10) has reported that
When downloading to Memory Card the Program Memory Card screen changes the status from Modem to Accu-Vote. I have tried to duplicate this without success using GEMS 1-7-5.

They also reported when uploading in the Receive Election Results screen that the status changes to Accu-Vote from modem after the first transmission.

In fact it does and locks out any further uploads from other Accu-Votes at different locations. It appears that it retains the line and allows successive Memory Cards to uploaded without having to redial.

The port must be highlighted, then the Stop key clicked, highlighted again then Start to reactivate for the next reception.

There does not seem to be any process to terminate the mult-card upload and reset for the next Accu-Vote.

some Diebold list - 30 Mar 1999
Gems changing from modem to Accu-Vote when downloading and uploading Fw: GEMS software versions

our friends at Global Election Systems

Now owned by Diebold, everyone's favourite electronic voting provider.

Global Election Systems Inc. (TSE:GSM.) announced today its voting system sales of AccuVote and AccuVote-TS (touch screen) for the year ended June 30, 2000.


Contributions to the sales figures come from Global's further expansion into the Canadian marketplace. Global reports add-on sales of 60 AccuVote systems to the City of Ottawa and 70 to the City of Hamilton as well as first-time sales of 60 AccuVote-TS systems to the City of Barrie and 70 to Dynabec, Global's authorized distributor for Quebec.

findarticles.com - Business Wire - July 25, 2000
Global Election Announces Year-End System Sales; Increased Revenues

Thursday, November 11, 2004

specific Canadian activists

Brent Beleskey is working on the Barrie issue.

CanuckJack's Defend Democracy Canada is working on the places affected by CanVote

(feel free to add or clarify)

touched by electricity - City of Barrie e-voting

The City of Barrie first used touch-screen technology in its 1997 municipal election, and in its last election, on Nov. 13, all voting stations were converted to touch-screen kiosks.


The system is successful because it’s convenient for voters, says John Sisson, Barrie’s deputy city clerk. Centralized voter lists on mainframe computers allowed Barrie residents to vote at any station in any ward during the city’s Nov. 13 election. Polling stations also opened six days in advance, allowing residents to choose the most convenient day to vote.
The AccuVote-TS computer makes paper ballots obsolete. It sends encrypted voter decisions to a central computer.

"We thought it was a way to enhance participation," Sisson says. "The city provided an opportunity that few municipalities can offer."

But Barrie’s city council went to great lengths to convince voters these machines would not reveal their identities and that the system was hacker proof.

The possibility of intrusion always exists, but the suppliers of touch-screen systems to Barrie say they are taking all possible precautions.

"The data is all double encrypted," says Rickards.

"If the information being transferred has been tampered with, we find out about it through our audit trail at the other end."

The Vancouver-based Global Elections Systems Inc. has teamed up with Soza and Co., a Washington-based computer software firm that does encryption for such organizations as the U.S. defence department.

In case of power outages, each of Barrie’s machines has a backup battery. There are several memory systems built in to each machine, and they can be recovered in the event of a complete system failure.
"The legislation is still written towards a system that we’ve had for over 100 years of hand voting."

Though each touch-screen system costs around $5,000, they will save money down the road, Rickards argues.

"You save on the number of man-hours and the cost of paper," Rickards explains. "The machines can pay for themselves over the course of two and a half federal elections, if they were held about once every three or four years."

It's "double encrypted". Well, I feel safe now.
Also, even ignoring all the costs they ignore, the things still only pay for themselves if we have elections all the time.

The Canada Elections Act has been the ultimate barrier to automating the federal election. It currently does not allow the use of automated equipment, and the process to change it has been stalled for three years.

"The legislation is still written towards a system that we’ve had for over 100 years of hand voting."

Rickards has been talking to [Chief Electoral Officer Jean-Pierre] Kingsley for the last eight years about automating Canada’s federal elections. Kingsley is sympathetic, says Rickards, but it’s taking a "horrendous amount of time" for new provisions to be legislated.

Until the federal government makes the appropriate changes, Elections Canada will continue to be stuck in the '70s using an "ancient system that is slow and inaccurate."

Make that "appropriate system that is rapid and accurate".
Rickards must be stopped.

Carleton.ca Capital News Online - December 1, 2000
Touch-screen voting electrifies electorates

article about e-voting in Canada

A reasonably comprehensive article from ITbusiness.ca
I'm going to quote almost all of it.

Canadian interest in electronic voting has been slower to take hold
federally and provincially, with political parties perhaps waiting for "the go-forward solution," said Jonathon Hollins, Canadian director of Election Systems & Software of Omaha, Neb.

Unlike the U.S. willingness to adopt the latest technology, Canada "is not quite there," explained Hollins, who's based in Pickering, Ont. "We don't put as much emphasis on voting technology. I think it becomes a bit of a cost issue. We don't have as frequent elections up in Canada."

Federal ballots are less complex than those at other government levels, generating less interest from Elections Canada to replace them with more costly electronic voting, suggested Adam Froman, president of Delvinia Interactive Inc. , a digital marketing and applied research agency in Toronto.

Voting on standalone touch-screen machines (Direct Recording Electronics), however, which also caters to the visually-impaired through an audio ballot, has been used in municipal elections held in Toronto, Edmonton, and the Ontario cities of Vaughan, Brantford, Oakville and Mississauga, said Hollins.

In Ontario, Markham and Prescott have also flirted with Internet voting, which allows people to vote at home, at work, in libraries or at the polling station. The city of Vancouver and the province of Ontario are also exploring online voting for their next elections, according to Froman.

"For municipal elections, they're very complicated –– the ballots," including candidates running for mayor, town council and school trustee, added Froman, whose agency conducted online and in-person surveys of Markham voters.

"From our point of view, there will always be risks with any form of electronic voting that have to be managed and monitored...but the demand is overwhelming from the voters themselves," said Froman.

(Delvina is not exactly objective, since they want to be involved with e-voting.)

"From the voters' point of view, (people) weren't concerned about security" of voting online, Froman said. Rather, he said, the administrators of Internet voting were worried that the real voter may in fact not be casting a ballot.

The town of Markham had a different take on the experiment, though. Although the systems are secure, said John Swan, client adviser in Markham's IT department, voters still take a skeptical view of the online voting process, specifically the accurate undertaking of a re-count or updating voter information.

"With e-everything these days, and hackers and security issues -- I think that's really what's holding people back," said Swan, adding that Markham's discussions with the province have also unearthed similar concerns.

Swan said one of the reasons Markham introduced this more sophisticated voting option was to capture the vote of tech-savvy youth. The democratic pilot project failed from this perspective, though. But it did work for those who were out of the country during the election but registered for the online option before leaving, he said.

Markham is uncertain whether it will repeat its online voting episode. Showcasing a solution from Election Systems & Software, the town's e-election cost $25,000, about four times less than what the price tag would be next time, said Swan.

"If we had to do it full-blown to attract that small segment of the marketplace, it becomes a very expensive option for the town."

Experts agreed that Canada is unlikely to focus strictly on electronic voting, but instead may adopt multi-channel voting, such as voting by phone, voting by mail, advanced voting or voting on election day.

ITbusiness.ca - 11/3/2004
Canada unlikely to imitate U.S. e-voting effort: experts by Fawzia Sheikh

e-voting in Estonia

Some Estonians will be able to vote online next year, as Tallinn plans trials with electronic voting software that is the first step toward a nationwide e-voting system, officials said Friday.

Toomas Sepp, spokesman for Tallinn's city government, said the virtual system - which will be used for the capital's local elections in the fall - requires that voters have an electronic ID card, ID-card reader and Internet access.

Forbes.com - AP - 11.05.2004
Update 1: Estonia to Run Tests on 'E-Voting' System

Ned Ludd is in trouble

Ned Ludd goes to the polls covers the wonderful simplicity of an election in Britain. The only problem is that, as in Canada and elsewhere, having a wonderfully simple system isn't stopping officials from trying to introduce voting technology anyway.

Here he states everything with nice clarity:

And, asks the Ned Ludd in me: Why is this even an issue? What's the problem that technology is intended to solve? Is a hand-count too slow? Okay, get more people. Or just f---ing wait a bit longer. It seems to work just fine in Britain. Are ballots too complicated to be completed by hand, or counted by hand? Okay, simplify them. Separate off Federal-level votes from State-level votes if need be.

via trackback for Schneier's article

Bruce Schneier blog entry on e-voting

Bruce Schneier is a very insightful thinker about security.

Basically, a voting system has four required characteristics:

1. Accuracy. The goal of any voting system is to establish the intent of each individual voter, and translate those intents into a final tally. To the extent that a voting system fails to do this, it is undesirable. This characteristic also includes security: It should be impossible to change someone else’s vote, ballot stuff, destroy votes, or otherwise affect the accuracy of the final tally.

2. Anonymity. Secret ballots are fundamental to democracy, and voting systems must be designed to facilitate voter anonymity.

3. Scalability. Voting systems need to be able to handle very large elections. One hundred million people vote for president in the United States. About 372 million people voted in India’s June elections, and over 115 million in Brazil’s October elections. The complexity of an election is another issue. Unlike many countries where the national election is a single vote for a person or a party, a United States voter is faced with dozens of individual election: national, local, and everything in between.

4. Speed. Voting systems should produce results quickly. This is particularly important in the United States, where people expect to learn the results of the day’s election before bedtime. It’s less important in other countries, where people don’t mind waiting days -- or even weeks -- before the winner is announced.

I disagree with speed, but anyway.

Schneier on Security - November 10, 2004
The Problem with Electronic Voting Machines

via Slashdot Schneier On Electronic Voting

Monday, November 08, 2004

Paper Vote Canada syndicated on LiveJournal

I discovered that Paper Vote is syndicated on LJ.
You can go to http://www.livejournal.com/users/papervotecanada if you want to add it as a LJ "friend".

CNet roundup of e-voting problems

CNET News - November 5, 2004
More e-voting glitches surface

Via the November 8, 2004 Macintouch.
(Note: I don't know of any way to permanently link the Macintouch particular entry.)

Australian election questions answered

Some very sensible analysis from Australia.

Q: What chances are there that we will see electronic voting in the near future? What about internet voting?

A: I've received several questions on electronic and internet voting. Currently Federal elections must be conducted by paper ballots. The law could soon be changed to allow a limited use of electronic voting, but don't hold your breath waiting to vote on-line. Countries like Brazil and India have recently conducted elections using a form of electronic voting. This obviously raises the question as to why a wealthier nation like Australia does not do the same.

If you are going to switch to electronic voting, which is almost certain to be more expensive than the current pencil and paper methods, you have to define some benefit to be gained from the extra cost. To push for change simply because more exciting technology than pencil and paper is available falls into the trap of technological determinism.


However, computerising the count would be a very expensive process when you remember we have 8,000 polling places and most of the technology would be used for only a single day. That is before you even look at the problem of how to provide a safe and secure audit trail and how the secrecy of the ballot is maintained.


The Australian Capital Territory has experimented with computer voting. It was first used in 2001 and will again be used in October 2004. Most pre-poll votes will be cast electronically, and a small number of election day polling places will also use computers. Paper ballots will still be available as an option.


But such voting is not cost-free. Based on the 2001 experiment, the ACT electoral office produced an estimate for full electronic voting which was not achievable on current budgets. The cheaper alternative was to abandon a single polling day and conduct the election over a longer period at a smaller number of polling places. This was judged not to be an acceptable option.


As for thinking electronic voting will mean we know the result more quickly, think again. As it is, we almost always know the result on election night. In close elections, you need to wait for the one-in-five votes cast by pre-poll, absent, postal and provisional votes. That means waiting up to 10 days.

It is the Electoral Commission's job first to get the result right, and second to get the result as soon as possible. As the problems of voting in Florida showed in the 2000 US Presidential election, using technology is of no use if after the event you can't check to make sure everything was done correctly.

ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corp.) News Online - July 26 2004
Antony Green's Q&A: Electronic and internet voting attract questions from several readers.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

wiki - electronic voting in Canada

I've built the skeleton of a Wiki entry Electronic voting in Canada.

response to CNEWS about "gadgets needed"

In response to Gadgets Needed.

There doesn't seem to be any "letters to the editor" area for the CNEWS article.
If you click on "Write CNEWS" you get a trouble-report page, I selected Comment/Question.
I posted this message

The key to maximizing the benefits of technology is to use *appropriate technology*. For voting, the appropriate level of technology is a paper ballot marked by hand. Electronic voting technology introduces unreliability and removes transparency from the voting system. I have a website about this issue, Paper Vote Canada, http://blog.papervotecanada.ca/

I got back a trouble ticket

Your problem report has been submitted successfully.
Your Report ID is '2004/11/07:08:26:23'
Please allow at least 2 working days for processing.

I guess the CNEWS Forum is a more appropriate place, I have also posted there: electronic voting in Canada.

another letter-writing opportunity

While I know that Internet voting, or true reliance on technology to solve issues will not be in this year's Christmas stocking, it is coming. With all the Canadian talent we have, I can see opportunities for us to take a leading role. In the meantime, all you voters out there start making noise. Hound your MLA or MPP, Councilor, Mayor, and whoever you can think of to get this ball rolling.

Canoe.ca - CNEWS - Tech News Greg Gazin - October 22, 2004
Gadgets Needed - Tell Your Mayor!

Letter to the Editor, London Free Press

In a recent article, David Canton stated "Canadians have not been exposed to electronic voting."

While it is true that there is no electronic voting in Canada at the federal level, it is widespread at the municipal level. Primarily this consists of optical scanners, but touch screens were used in a limited way in Edmonton this year, and Markham Ontario even used Internet voting in 2003.

Electronic voting systems are unnecessary, unreliable and expensive. If Canadians want to continue our tradition of transparent, trusted elections, we must oppose the use of these systems. I have a website on the issue, Paper Vote Canada, http://blog.papervotecanada.ca/
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