[E-voting] Re: Voter Verified Audit Trail - Insight from US

Fergal Daly fergal at esatclear.ie
Tue Aug 15 23:46:04 IST 2006

[replying to evoting list]

On 13/08/06, Jay Corrales <jay.corrales at gmail.com> wrote:
> Hello,
> I was reading your article on VVAT implementation for the Nedap/Powervote
> system, and I would like to share some insight into issues that we are
> running into here in California, in the United States.
> The state of California enacted a law which requires a VVPT (Voter Verified
> Paper Trail), but it's implementation has been problematic.  Most companies
> implementation of VVPT prints the verified paper trail on receipt-style
> printers.  These are like printers used in cash register machines.  While
> the cost of implementing this kind of printer is lower, the cost to count
> receipt-style ballots vs. counting real paper ballots is much higher.
> As an example, think about the process of counting a receipt-style ballot.
> The ballots must first be cut apart from each other.  Once a receipt paper
> is cut, you will realize that it wants to curl up into a roll.  This makes
> stacking the paper problematic, and counting cumbersome.  These
> receipt-style paper ballots can also not be fed through scanners, so you are
> stuck hand counting even if you just want a quick verification.
> Another issue is that the receipt is behind glass, and in the US Elections
> Code, we believe this violates the chain of custody.  The voter is never
> able to handle their ballot and ensure its delivery into the ballot box.
> True paper ballot printer solutions are better since the voter will actually
> get to handle the printed paper and ensure it goes from their hands into the
> ballot box.
> So my advise to you and the great people of Ireland is to use caution when
> talking about Voter Verified Audit Trails, and make sure you have the
> wording to achieve the end result you desire.
> P.S.- Proprietary source code is yet another issue with these machines.
> Here in California, we are working to open the source code for true
> independent verification of elections software.

I agree with pretty much everything you say here, the system I
described is not an ideal solution and the process of descriing it led
me to the conclusion that computers can only have 2 useful safe roles
in an election:

1 assisting humans to cast a valid paper ballot
2 assisting humans to count the paper ballots (perhaps by presorting
or grouping)

pretty much every other way of using computers requires that you trust
them and that means trusting the unaccountable stranger that created


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