Implementing Risk-Limiting Audits in California

elections, reform, hacks, berkeley, research, policy, legal

We've made available a pre-print version of our forthcoming EVT/WOTE 2009 paper. We'd appreciate any feedback, especially before next week, if at all possible.

You can grab the at either of these places:

Implementing Risk-Limiting Audits in California

Joseph Lorenzo Hall, Luke W. Miratrix, Philip B. Stark, Melvin Briones, Elaine Ginnold, Freddie Oakley, Martin Peaden, Gail Pellerin, Tom Stanionis, Tricia Webber

Abstract: Risk-limiting post-election audits limit the chance of certifying an electoral outcome if the outcome is not what a full hand count would show. Building on previous work, we report on pilot risk-limiting audits in four elections during 2008 in three California counties: one during the February 2008 Primary Election in Marin County and three during the November 2008 General Elections in Marin, Santa Cruz and Yolo Counties. We explain what makes an audit risk-limiting and how existing and proposed laws fall short. We discuss the differences among our four pilot audits. We identify challenges to practical, efficient risk-limiting audits and conclude that current approaches are too complex to be used routinely on a large scale. One important logistical bottleneck is the difficulty of exporting data from commercial election management systems in a format amenable to audit calculations. Finally, we propose a bare-bones risk-limiting audit that is less efficient than these pilot audits, but avoids many practical problems.

Thurston Moore on Black Metal

music, friends

(Because sometimes you need more than 140 characters...)

If you know me well, you know two things: 1) my favorite musical troupe of all time is Sonic Youth; and, 2) I played drums in a death metal band for a while in high school.

In fact, to this day, my most consistent listening habits are obscure hip-hop and very heavy artists. I just can't get enough.

I was intrigued to see an interview in Decibel with Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore about black metal. (If you don't know what black metal is, you won't find the rest of this post very interesting.)

In this interview, Thurston displays a very deep and broad knowledge of black metal, linking it to the avant-garde stuff he's found so inspiring for so long. He talks about how it's so raw and how it's so much not about being music but being art. It's such a great display of his devotion to all things sonic, and it's a fun read. Not to mention that there are bands in there that only the encyclopedic have ever heard of.

However, he also says the following about death metal:

Were you ever into death metal?
I really drew the line between black metal and death metal. Death metal was obviously more of a technically proficient kind of playing, which I had no interest in. I wanted to hear music by people who had no desire to impress with any kind of traditional, skilled playing. I do appreciate hearing riff masters, but they?re a dime a dozen.

This, as someone who respects Thurston probably way way more than I should, kind of caught me off-guard. I assumed that any musicians that were putting forth concerted effort to express themselves wouldn't be met by a godfather with such disinterest.

When I was playing this stuff in Albuquerque in '93-'95, we frankly had no idea that black metal existed (if it was even called that, which seems doubtful). We knew about american music mostly and the occasional European act like Bolthrower (U.K.). We certainly weren't jet-setting around the world playing shows and having any sort of insight into how metal varied around the world.

Maybe I'm reading too much into a few sentences in an interview. I can't help but be a bit disappointed. I'd like to think we can find something of value in most types of artistic expression. And to write off a whole genre of music that I hold close to my heart... well, it's just too bad.

(BTW, Sonic Youth has a new record out tomorrow:

If you have trouble posting comments, send them to me via email and I'll post them like I did with Ross' below.

EVT/WOTE 2009 Program Available

elections, hacks, news, friends, research, legal

(I'm traveling this week in California for meetings and the Privacy Law Scholar's Conference, so Mike and Eric beat me to this announcement...)

I'm delighted to announce that the Program for the Electronic Voting Technology Workshop/Workshop on Trustworthy Elections 2009 (EVT/WOTE '09) is now available:

The workshop will be in Montreal, Canada from 10-11 August co-located with USENIX Security. As one of three co-chairs---David Jefferson of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Tal Moran of Harvard being the other two---I am very excited about this year's line-up.

Our keynote address will be delivered by the Brennan Center's Larry Norden. Papers include submissions on usability, forensics, security, cryptography, end-to-end systems and auditing. We will also have a "rump" session (more from Eric) for informal presentations (works in progress, humor, etc.) and a demo session where developers and vendors can bounce their systems off of a technical crowd.

(Note for those unfamiliar: All major publishing in computer science and related fields is done at conferences... that is, if you want to get tenure or a promotion as an academic in these fields, you'd better be publishing in these venues, journals be damned. :) USENIX Security is one of three of the most prestigious venues for computer security. We've "co-located" EVT with USENIX Security for the past four years... which makes it a bit difficult to attract people from other disciplines that don't value this particular venue. Anyway, we've worked hard to make EVT and now EVT/WOTE (we combined with another workshop) a multidisciplinary venue that is rigorously peer-reviewed.)

Here are the paper titles, for your browsing:

  • Now Do Voters Notice Review Screen Anomalies? A Look at Voting System Usability
  • Style guide for voting system documentation: Why user-centered documentation matters to voting security
  • E-Voting and Forensics: Complement or Contradiction?
  • Detecting Voter Fraud in an Electronic Voting Context: An Analysis of the Unlimited Reelection Vote in Venezuela
  • The New Jersey Voting-machine Lawsuit and the AVC Advantage DRE Voting
  • Can DREs Provide Everlasting Security? The Case of Return-Oriented Programming and the AVC Advantage
  • Understanding the Security Properties of Ballot-Based Verification Techniques
  • VoteBox Nano: A Smaller, Stronger FPGA-based Voting Machine
  • Some Consequences of Paper Fingerprinting for Elections
  • Electing a University President using Open-Audit Voting: Analysis of real-world use of Helios
  • Efficient Receipt-Free Ballot Casting Resistant to Covert Channels
  • On Subliminal Channels in Encrypt-on-Cast Voting Systems
  • Permutations in Pret a Voter with Paillier Encryption
  • Weight, Weight, Don't Tell Me: Using Scales to Select Ballots for Auditing
  • Automating Voting Terminal Event Log Analysis
  • On the Security of Election Audits with Low Entropy Randomness
  • Interstate Voter Registration Database Matching: The Oregon-Washington 2008 Pilot Project
  • Software Support for Software-Independent Auditing
  • Implementing Risk-Limiting Audits in California

UC Berkeley School of Information Pre-Prints

copyright, open source, berkeley, friends, research, education, iSchool

I, along with a number of others, seemed to have forgotten that my school has a pre-print repository through the California Digital Library.

The UC Berkeley School of Information eScholarship Repository contains publications, preprints, papers, and reports about work conducted under the auspices of the I School. Watch that space.

I have a feeling as many of us have conveniently remembered it exists, that you'll start to see a slew of interesting papers pop up there.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License and contains pieces directly copied from Brian Carver.

Voted, sort of

elections, photos

gonna go vote... I voted today in the Jersey City Municipal Election.

I decided, as you can see, to wear my EKR-designed California Top-To-Bottom Review T-shirt. That may not have been the wisest decision; it made me a bit nervous. One pollworker remarked, "Love the shirt!", although I was pretty sure she meant the lolspeak and not the specific application thereof. When she said that to me, I thought, "Damn. The jig is up." and decided to vote as quickly as possible (so that they couldn't say I was messing with the machine). I was in and out of the voting booth in about 5 seconds (srsly).

In my haste, I forgot to vote for one of the at-large councilperson seats; I voted for 2 candidates instead of the allowed 3. Sigh. I didn't realize this until I was halfway home. So, Lori Serrano, you missed my vote today due to this mistake; I'm sorry.

Undervote notification -- where a voting system lets you know if you're ballot isn't complete -- is a good thing! (The Sequoia AVC Advantages that are used in Jersey City don't do this... or at least were not configured to do so.)

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