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

Michael McMahon michael at hexmedia.com
Mon Aug 21 10:23:41 IST 2006

I agree that the logistics of counting this type of paper ballot
is difficult. But, I've always held the view that they shouldn't be counted.
Instead, a random sample should be checked against  the official file
of electronic votes (which has to be published). And then you use
independently developed software to check the count.

For this to work, you would have to do the following:

1) print a unique code (eg. a barcode) on each ballot so it
    can be correlated with the corresponding vote in the electronic file

2) The printers would have to cut the ballot paper in order
     to separate the votes. If you want a random sample, then they need to
     be physically mixed, and it could be difficult to achieve this with a
    continuous reel of printed votes.

- Michael.

Fergal Daly wrote:
> [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
> it,
> F
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