[E-voting] sophisticated "layering" of software code

Catherine Ansbro cansbro at eircom.net
Wed Jun 1 21:32:57 IST 2005


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And the post below it.  (both follow below)

These refer to incident reports from the Nov. 2004 election on optical 
scan machines.  Note particularly the statements I've put in bold.  (And 
especially the one about sophisticated software "layering." --Do you 
think something like this might be noticed in the software code review 
currently underway?  Or could it slip beneath the radar, particularly if 
there's not much time and it's not obvious?)

Catherine
---------------------------------------------
Great report. It is also wonderful you were able to get someone as 
cooperative as Ion Sancho to participate. I would also like you to 
examine the many EIRS machine incident reports that were found in Leon 
County during the Nov. 2004 election. It was troubling to me that 
someone as committed to accurate elections was *not able to pick up 
these problems in the L & A testing.* Many precincts in Leon had the 
inability to read and accept many ballots because of the optical scan 
calibration's inabilty to read the color of the ink or gradation of the 
pencil that was used. Also many optical scan machines had difficulty in 
accepting the ballots, so poll workers had to collect their ballots to 
be counted later. At least they had a paper ballot to count.
-------------------------------------
/I would also like you to examine the many EIRS machine incident reports 
that were found in Leon County during the Nov. 2004 election./

/ Many precincts in Leon had the inability to read and accept many 
ballots because of the optical scan calibration's inabilty to read the 
color of the ink or gradation of the pencil that was used. /

Hi, and it's nice to see you here. The good thing about Ion Sancho is 
that he is willing to hand-count whenever he thinks it should be done. 
In many places, the elections supervisors point to bogus secretary of 
state guidelines and say they "can't" do a hand recount unless the 
election is too close to call.

*It is not surprising that the problems you mentioned were not caught in 
the L&A test. The testing uses the writing implements these machines 
were designed for. When you introduce various kinds of writing 
implements with infra-red scanners you get those kinds of errors.
*
I think Ion Sancho wants to see how the electronic voting battles shake 
out (and how the next generation machines fare in objective tests) 
before upgrading to something that could be even worse. So, my 
understanding is, he uses procedural workarounds -- like hand counting 
and double checking the counts -- instead of jumping on the bandwagon to 
buy new machines.

I think he's wise. *While the Diebold programmers, at first, appear 
clumsy, a deeper look at the software indicates that there are 
sophisticated layers below which are very hard to explain with reasons 
that would be legitimate.
*
When you 've got a system that has layers of built-in problems, you are 
wise to avoid new purchases -- and even if Sancho was to ask for his 
money back, what would be the replacement? Something with even worse 
problems, that are harder to detect?

Frankly, I wish Ion Sancho was my elections supervisor, and I'd feel a 
lot better if Thomas James was manning the King County Diebold optical 
scan system. Maybe then we'd know who the governor is by now.

Thanks, and welcome here.

By the way (I'm guessing this will interest you) -- we have two boxes so 
far from Broward. Haven't had much time to delve, we are scanning the 
seven boxes from Palm Beach.

Love ya!

Bev Harris




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