WPES: "Privacy Issues in an Electronic Voting Machine"

elections, certification/testing, accessibility, reform, standards, open source, secrecy, privacy

Link: http://seclab.dti.unimi.it/~wpes/program.html

In case anyone out there is interested, here is the preprint version of our OVC-inspired privacy paper for the ACM's WPES 2004 upcoming in October: "Privacy Issues in an Electronic Voting Machine"

Here's the abstract:

In this paper, we describe the Open Voting Consortium's voting system and discuss the privacy issues inherent in this system. By extension, many of the privacy issues in this paper also apply to other electronic voting machines, such as DREs (Direct Recording Electronic voting machines). The privacy issues illustrate why careful and thorough design is required to ensure voter privacy and ballot secrecy.

The extended paper is here.

Florida primary tomorrow

elections, news

Link: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/politics/content/news/epaper/2004/08/30/c1a_showdown_0830.html

Tomorrow is the primary election in Florida... it's gonna be crrrrraaaaaaazy! Verified Voting will be testing it's Election Incident Reporting System that will be used in November.

This will give you a good feeling of why tomorrow is interesting in elections:

To get an idea of the paranoia and distrust that is swirling around Tuesday's election, consider:

  • At least a half-dozen groups have set up toll-free numbers for voters to call if they encounter problems.
  • Roughly 400 people %u2014 about two times more than normal %u2014 will be inside Palm Beach County polls watching to make sure no one is denied the right to vote.
  • Teams of lawyers have been assembled to be ready to intervene if problems arise.
  • In reaction to a constant barrage of criticism about the efficacy of touch-screen voting machines, record numbers of voters in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast have requested absentee ballots to create a paper record in case recounts are needed.

And Tuesday's precautions pale in comparison to battle plans already being drawn up for the main event: the presidential election in November.

Eyewitness to Death


It's probably not much of a stretch to say that death can put a damper on one's day... I suppose for a period of time, really.

This morning, during a morning run, I saw a deer killed in traffic in downtown Oakland.

I was getting to the end of my run... that part of the run where runners say to themselves, "Wow. Even if I stop now, I would have gotten some excercise." This part of a runner's run is particularly euphoric. It's right after the "runner's high" has kicked in and you get that "floating" feeling that marathon runners are trained to live in.

Right when I was about to make the turn onto my street (near the Oakland Rose Garden), about 10m in front of me, I see what I first thought was some crazy biker trying to beat the light. But the sounds it's tires were making were weird, more like a gallop.

Then I saw it. A gorgeous deer. A three-point buck. Not sure what species but damn good looking. It started to speed up and run directly towards cross-traffic. I managed to say, "AAAAAgggghhhh... don't..." probably not loud enough for the deer to hear.

Then the deer jumped. It actually cleared one car but then its left hind-leg was clipped by a smaller car, which caused it to land funny. I was momentarily relieved as I figured it had fallen before and could keep on trucking. Then a small car, a blue honda, slammed into it and the deer went half-way under its front tires. Four of the six of his points were busted off immediately.

The deer decided to lay down... and then made a few death throws. The kind of throws that are hard to describe or immitate if you are not, in fact, dying yourself. Then the deer just laid there.

It was still obvious that it was alive. This is one of the situations where a firearm, pistol or rifle is appropriate and desired. The deer needed to be put out of its misery... a shot or two to the head would have done just that. In my past, working on a ranch, you first wonder why keeping a rifle in the ranch house and a rifle in the barn is necessary. This is why.

I stood there in shock. The girl driving the car that clipped the deer at first walked up and said, "Is that someone's dog?". I said, "No. It's a deer. It's dying... you don't happen to have a gun, do you?" She said, "That's a relief... I mean, I thought I killed someone's dog... I guess it's still sad that it's a deer."

Then another runner had the presence of mind to carefully walk out onto the street, grab the buck gently by its hind legs and drag it off to the sidewalk.

This has totally screwed up my day... I listen to people's bitching and moaning. And I don't give a shit.

This deer had made it to downtown Oakland... it shouldn't have been there. I suppose that's natural selection... deer that avoid us and our unfeeling machines that have no common sense will survive our time on Earth... maybe. That is, if we don't find another way to kill them.

Pic of Joe from 1970-something


joe as a baby drinking water from a Miller beer can

This is a picture of me in the very late 1970s drinking water from a beer can (Miller). I found this while going through some old stuff of mine at my mom's house that I hadn't looked at in 10 to 15 years. It's amazing how many memories, feelings and such can be brough back so quickly with the slightest glance at an old photo.

The most striking thing is that I found images I had never even seen before (my one and only talent is a psuedo-photographic memory).

Seeing a precious image of your or someone else's youth that you've never seen before is like looking at a familiar painting upside-down. We must construct ideas and memories based on the pictures we have... and when a new photo comes in and questions or challenges memories you've had for long, long times, it can be somewhat of a shock.

SB 1438 Passes California Legislature, Now onto Ahnold!

elections, certification/testing, accessibility, reform, vendors, standards

Link: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/postquery?bill_number=sb_1438&sess=CUR&house=B&search_type=email

SB 1438, if signed by the terminator, will set into stone regulations that the California Secretary of State, Kevin Shelley, has promulgated in the last year.


SECTION 1. Article 4 (commencing with Section 19250) is added to Chapter 3 of Division 19 of the Elections Code, to read:

Article 4. Direct Recording Electronic Voting Systems

19250. (a) On and after January 1, 2005, the Secretary of State may not approve a direct recording electronic voting system unless the system has received federal qualification and includes an accessible voter verified paper audit trail.

(b) On and after January 1, 2006, a city or county may not contract for or purchase a direct recording electronic voting system unless the system has received federal qualification and includes an accessible voter verified paper audit trail.

(c) As of January 1, 2006, all direct recording electronic voting systems in use on that date, regardless of when contracted for or purchased, shall have received federal qualification and include an accessible voter verified paper audit trail. If the direct recording electronic voting system does not already include an accessible voter verified paper audit trail, the system shall be replaced or modified to include an accessible voter verified paper audit trail.

Note that DRE is defined as follows in SB 1438:

19251. (b) "Direct recording electronic voting system" means a voting system that records a vote electronically and does not require or permit the voter to record his or her vote directly onto a tangible ballot.

I bet I know a few people that would take issue with this definition... but it's a hell of a lot better than what we had before:

19251. (b) "Direct electronic voting system," also known as a touch screen voting system, means a voting system that does all of the following:

  1. Records votes by means of a ballot display provided with mechanical or electro-optical components that can be actuated by the voter.
  2. Processes the data by means of a computer program.
  3. Records voting data and ballot images in internal or external memory components.
  4. Produces a tabulation of the voting data stored in a removable memory component and in printed copy.

That definition threw AVVPAT equipment (Mercuri systems) onto all sorts of non-DRE voting systems like those made by Vogue's AutoMark (marketed exclusively by ES&S), Populex and AccuPoll. Sometimes sausage is made well!

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