[E-voting] Disinformation again

Adrian Colley aecolley at spamcop.net
Wed Apr 12 21:37:08 IST 2006

On 4/11/06, Pierre Muller <pmmaillists at free.fr> wrote:
> Nevertheless, we did our best (we = an activist from PourEva, the
> representative from French academics in computer science, both in the
> public [!], and I). We think that we made people doubtful. The public
> was mainly civil servants from election departments of municipalities.
> We distributed an 8 page document about DREs (in French:
> http://www.recul-democratique.org/IMG/pdf/Qui_controle_le_vote_electronique.pdf)

An interesting document.  A few comments:
 - It's "Association for Computing Machinery" (not Computer).
 - The argument about citizens losing control of elections didn't go
down well with our electoral
   administrators (who view the public's involvement as something to
be minimised).  When
   Joe argued that the administrators would lose control of the
election while still being formally
   responsible for it, the silence (in the Oireachtas committee room)
was total because that
   did actually worry the elected people present.  I think you should
frame your "control"
   argument in terms of control by the mayors' electoral
administrators (versus the suppliers'
 - The phrase "la sécurité informatique, c'est compliqué, coûteux et
incompréhensible par
   l'électeur lambda" fascinates me; it seems to mean "computer
security is complicated, costly
   and incomprehensible to the lambda voter".  What does "lambda" mean
in this context?  If
   the French language now incorporates the lambda calculus, then I'm
moving to France!
 - The "no flying cars" argument is a good one which we might copy. 
(Briefly: some
   technologies are technically feasible but too dangerous to implement.)
 - The warning about miniature cameras (footnote 38) is a good one --
how come it hasn't
   been part of our arguments in Ireland?
 - Footnote 48 has an interesting analogy: reading someone's (snail)
mail is elaborate, slow,
   and risky, whereas reading someone's email is so easy that it's
possible to read everyone's
   email.  Similarly, vote-tampering on paper vs. vote-tampering with
electronic records.  That's
   a good clear analogy.

> In the conference, when I told "CEV had advised against the use of Nedap
> machines", Nedap importer accused us of disinformation.
> Of course, I should have been more accurate : I should have used the
> terms from the CEV report ("unable to recommend").

``The Commission wishes to emphasise that its conclusion is not based
on any finding that the system will not work, but on the finding that
it has not been proven at this time to the satisfaction of the
Commission that it will work.''

So you can say that the CEV declared the system unproven and therefore

> They also pretended that :
> 1) The CEV only concluded that it hadn't enough time to make a decision
> before the 2004 elections. Therefore, it recommended to suspend the use
> of the machines.

The CEV's conclusion was brief, but its observations were many:
http://www.cev.ie/htm/report/first_report/part6_2.htm included the
fact that the final software hadn't been delivered yet, and the
necessity of having source code.  Misrepresentation of quotes from the
CEV report is a principal tactic of Nedap/Powervote.

> 2) several assessments have been done since this time.

Yeah?  Let's see a report.

> 3) at this time, there isn't any recommendation stating that their
> machines "don't work, or have malfunctions"

There's one that says they can be made to malfunction in 6.2 (URL
above): "there is a possibility of interference with the voting
machine, ballot module and hardened PC".

> 1) The CEV conclusion clearly states that it had enough time : "It is
> for this reason that, although its work is incomplete, the Commission is
> in a position to make its recommendation *within the timeframe of this
> report*." (CEV overall conclusion)

Yes, since "this reason" referred to the idea that an e-voting system
can easily fail to meet the required standard.  Since the
Nedap/Powervote system didn't supply source code when asked, and as a
study of source code is essential, the system immediately failed to
meet the standard even though the machines might still be built

> 2)
> - I assume that the appendixes of first report (2A..2M) were completed
> when the CEV made its recommendation. Am I correct ?

Yes, part 2 refers to the appendices in detail, therefore they were
available to the Commission before the report was made.

> - On the "procurement" page of the CEV website
> (http://www.cev.ie/htm/tenders/index.htm), there are 3 Requests for
> Tenders, dated from Nov 2004 and Feb 2005. What is their current situation ?

What a good question!  Colm, do you know the answer?


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