My Comments on California's Draft Criteria for Top-To-Bottom Review of Voting Systems

elections, certification/testing, accessibility, reform, vendors, standards, hacks, privacy, berkeley, policy, legal

California Secretary of State Deborah Bowen has begun a Top-To-Bottom (TTB) review of voting systems used in California. On Thursday of last week, the Secretary released a set of draft criteria to be used in the TTB review process ("Top-To-Bottom Review of Electronic Voting Systems Certified for Use in California Elections").

The Secretary sought public comment and we were given 6 days to submit documents. We're already seeing news stories about the comments submitted by CACEO (the California Association of Clerks and Election Officials); they are very concerned about how the TTB review will impact preparations for the new February 2008 primary ("E-voting machines face tough new standards").

I submitted comments today and I've made my comment submission available here in PDF: "Comments on California Secretary of State?s Draft Criteria for TTB Review".

Let me know if you have comments on my comments. I'd be especially interested in thoughts on the "learning bias" problem I discuss in the red teaming section; the idea is that it is hard to run a series of consistent red team exercises as the evaluators learn after each exercise.

If we would have had more time, I could have passed it around and brokered some institutional sign-offs. Alas, 6 days is a very short comment period!

New Memo from ES&S on FL CD-13 Source Code Review

elections, vendors, hacks, news, secrecy, chilling effects, privacy, problems, litigation, research, policy

UPDATE [2007-03-27T11:03:06]: David Wagner (and other team members) have pointed out that no one on the review team saw this letter until it appeared on the web and that it in no way restricted what they were allowed to write. The official statement from the team about this letter is here:

Kim Zetter has a blog! (It's here: Informed Consent.)

Via BradBlog, I see that Kim recently posted the text of a 3-page memo from ES&S concerning the source code review in the contested FL CD-13 race ("Source Says Second ES&S Letter Tried to Dictate What Florida Test Reports Could Say").

This letter is interesting in that it seems to set a chilled atmosphere, one in which it would be difficult to accomplish a robust source code review. Particularly, there are a set of limitations requested by ES&S that would seem to limit what the analysis team could say about their results, opinions and findings.

So, to what extent does the SAIT report -- the report of the source code review team -- comport with the restrictions and the guidelines outlined in this letter? Read on for more...

Full story »

A Primer on Calculating Election Audit Confidence

elections, reform, research, policy

I've received a number of questions from people over the past few months about how to go about calculating confidence levels of election audits... some feel that the math is beyond them when it's really not that complicated. Really, it's not that hard and you too can do it if you can multiply and divide (or, better yet, use a spreadsheet program).

Anyway, I've made an effort to synthesize the math behind election audit confidence and present it to lay persons in this primer:

A Quick Primer on The Mathematics of Post-Election Audit Confidence

Let me know if it's still over your head, if you don't understand something or if you feel that I've made stuff too simple or made mistakes.

DVD Release of "Hacking Democracy"

elections, reform, vendors, hacks, news, friends, policy

Just a heads up, the DVD release of the HBO Documentary Hacking Democracy will be on 27 March. This documentary is a nice introduction to e-voting issues with a particular focus on Bev Harris of Black Box Voting, who has made enormous contributions and catalyzed important work in increasing transparency of electronic voting systems. According to the website: "This DVD release includes a number of extras including footage from Georgia and California never seen before."

Baked Ziti: Ode to the Sopranos

recipe, food

Baked Ziti I must admit, I love HBO's The Sopranos.

The season finale and last nine episodes begins in April. I've grown to love this show and agree with an article in this month's Vanity Fair ("The Family that Preys Together") that maintains it's the best dramatic television show of all time and certainly what has transitioned HBO from a feature-and-fight network to probably one of the best producers of original adult content on television. I've even grown to think a bit like Tony Soprano.

One thing is for sure: the amount of Italian food in this show is immense and mouth watering. From Sfogliatelle to Chicken Marsala to Baked Ziti. So, as an ode to The Sopranos here's an easy recipe for a popular dish on the show, Baked Ziti. It's not necessarily cheap but it is quick, yummy and will feed an army of mob soldiers for days.

Baked Ziti


  • 1 lb. ziti pasta
  • 1 lb. ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup parmesan
  • 1/2 lb. mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 28oz. jars of pasta sauce
  • 4-5 tbsp. parmesan
  • olive oil


  1. Heat oven to 400F.
  2. Cook the ziti in lots of water until Al Dente (about 11 minutes in boiling water at sea level).
  3. While the ziti is cooking, mix the ricotta, parmesan, mozzarella, parsley and nutmeg in a bowl until well combined. Add a bit of salt and ground peper to taste.
  4. When the ziti is cooked, drain and return to pan on medium heat.
  5. Add enough pasta sauce to coat the ziti well.
  6. In a 13x9 pan, add half the ziti to the bottom of the pan.
  7. Layer half of the cheese mixture over the ziti in the pan.
  8. Mix the remaining cheese mixture with the remaining ziti... only loosely so that chunks remain.
  9. Cover the top with more pasta sauce until covered. Then add the last bit of parmesan and sprinkle 1 tbsp. of olive oil over the top of everything.
  10. Cook for 10-15 minutes until hot an bubbling. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.
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