Gov. Schwarzenegger Signs Ca. Paper Trail Bill into Law

elections, certification/testing, reform, standards, news


by Kim Alexander of the California Voter Foundation.

California is the first state in the nation where paperless, electronic voting systems have been widely deployed that is requiring by law that the machines be retrofitted or replaced. With the enactment of SB 1438, California continues to lead the nation on electronic voting reform.


Proclaimed "dead" just last month, SB 1438 was brought back to life by its authors in the 11th hour of the legislative session, and sailed out of the legislature on unanimous votes of both houses.

Too cool... this just goes to show that you can get things done right with the right people involved. It's not perfect, but it's very good law. Read it yourself here: SB 1438 (as chaptered).

Note: there's some lingering discussion about the text of the bill on the OVC list (feed for the OVC list)... check out this thread: "SB 1438 is law in CA...".

Oh yeah, don't forget that SB 1356 also became law yesterday! It's pretty important too... giving increased access to software source code.

A picture is worth a thousand dead G.I.'s


Doug Jones: "Comments on the EAC TGDC Testimony"

elections, certification/testing, reform, standards, news


Doug comes through with another set of great notes from a voting event... this time it was the EAC Technical Guidelines Development Committee hearing on Sept 20, 2004. Some excerpts:

I believe that the time has come to ban the use of infrared optical mark-sense ballot scanners. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, when this technology was developed, infrared emitter-photosensor pairs may have been a reasonable choice, but today, we have nearly white LEDs and broad spectrum photosensors on the market that can easily sense any mark that would be visible to the human eye, and we ought to demand their use.

If you're interested in this, check out Doug's guide on optical sensing voting equipment.

If just 1 percent of the voters inspect their voter-verifiable ballots and would be willing to complain vocally if they saw problems, then the voter-verifiable model will test the machines more thoroughly than the parallel testing model. In fact, as Jim Adler has shown, in Confidence -- What it is and how to achieve it, presented at the NIST Symposium on Building Trust and Confidence in Voting Systems last December (see, random voters testing 1 percent of the ballots offers a far stronger test than random testing of 1 percent of the machines.

This is an important observation... that is, only having 10-20% of voters checking the VVPAT's printed out by a system such as Sequoia's VVPAT VeriVote printer, is vastly superior to, for example, California's 1% manual recount requirement.

We should eliminate the term audit trail from the voting system standards in the form it is currently used. This term, as currently used, is misleading, and should be replaced by the term event log, because the audit trail of a process is the totality of all information an auditor might want to inspect, including event logs, actual ballot images, and all of the paper records surrounding the process. This observation was first made to me by Donald Llopis of the Miami-Dade Elections office.

Alright, but we just got used to the acronym VVPAT! Just kidding. This makes good sense.

If the law gives primacy to any one of these records, then a crook attacking the vote collected at that polling place need only corrupt that one record. This is the primary weakness of HR2239, the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2003, where subparagraph 4.a.'2.'B.'iii says "The ... paper record ... shall be the official record used for any recount conducted with respect to any election in which the system is used."

Doug has compelled me on this issue. Note that this is also a problem with the California SoS's AVVPAT regulations.

Finally, why we should not standardize the state certification process...

I believe that the second reason is more important! Up to the point where the voting system is submitted to the states for testing, all of the tests to which it is subjected are predictable. Certainly, this is true of the testing at the ITA under the FEC/NASED Voting System Standards, where the vendor knows that each objectively testable criterion in the standards is likely to lead directly to some test.

At the state level, however, the vendors cannot currently guess what tests they will be subjected to. Some states have minimal tests, some rely entirely on the ITA's, but others offer significant and surprising tests. The ITA is asking, does the voting system satisfy each objectively measurable criterion in the voluntary Federal standards. The states first ask if the machine meets the requirements of state law, but having asked this, the examiners in may states are asked to give an opinion about whether the machine will accurately and fairly capture and record the intent of the voters. This is an open ended requirement that allows them to exercise some creativity in their tests, and between the 50 states, this creativity has led those of us involved in state testing to find significant problems.

Lucasfilm puts the kibosh on screening of twisted 'Star Wars'

copyright, chilling effects


These guys should not charge for the movie event, but accept donations to protest stringent copyright control that doesn't allow such uses as these. Parody can be a bitch.

The long arm of director George Lucas' legal team has reached out and put a lightsaber at the throat of a local non-profit theater group.

Theater and sci-fi buffs hoping to catch Jet City Improv's send-up of "Star Wars" on Thursday were disappointed when the troupe told them that Lucasfilm Ltd. threatened legal action if it spoofed "Star Wars" that night. Or ever.

Unless Jet City intended to go to court against a major film company, the group couldn't screen a redubbed version of the movie.


"In order to protect our copyright, anyone who plans to commercially exhibit our films has to go through the appropriate channels," said Lucasfilm spokeswoman Lynne Hale.

The proper channels include either contacting Fox Distribution or Lucasfilm's legal department.

Christensen said Jet City consulted an entertainment attorney who told it that Lucasfilm has a reputation for saying "no" to most requests.

Indeed, Hale said that, typically, when the film company is in the middle of a marketing push -- such as last week's release of the "Star Wars" trilogy DVDs, they tend to deny most screening requests.


The main issue seems to be this: That Jet City charges $10 a head for the show. If the show were free, there's a chance that the legal department of Lucasfilm would not have responded. After all, the anonymous fellow who created "The Phantom Edit" (a version of "Star Wars: Episode 1 -- The Phantom Menace" sans Jar Jar Binks) never really got in trouble with Lucasfilm.

"It wasn't commercially exhibited -- they weren't doing it for profit," said Hale.


Microsoft Patents Ones, Zeros



This is an oldy but a goody:

Microsoft Patents Ones, Zeros

REDMOND, WA - In what CEO Bill Gates called "an unfortunate but necessary step to protect our intellectual property from theft and exploitation by competitors," the Microsoft Corporation patented the numbers one and zero Monday.

With the patent, Microsoft's rivals are prohibited from manufacturing or selling products containing zeroes and ones%u2014the mathematical building blocks of all computer languages and programs%u2014unless a royalty fee of 10 cents per digit used is paid to the software giant.

"Microsoft has been using the binary system of ones and zeroes ever since its inception in 1975," Gates told reporters. "For years, in the interest of the overall health of the computer industry, we permitted the free and unfettered use of our proprietary numeric systems. However, changing marketplace conditions and the increasingly predatory practices of certain competitors now leave us with no choice but to seek compensation for the use of our numerals."

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