[E-voting] David Dill Unplugged

Fergal Daly fergal at esatclear.ie
Fri Dec 15 03:06:48 GMT 2006

Am I missing something? Dill's calling for a paper trail and
explaining how ocmputers can't be trusted, so describing him as a
"voting machine advocate" is a bit odd. Is he a voting machine
advocate or is he in the "if you must have a machine, here's what it
should do" camp?


On 15/12/06, Catherine Ansbro <cansbro at eircom.net> wrote:
> *OpEdNews*
> Original Content at
> http://www.opednews.com/articles/genera_michael__061214_david_dill_unpluggd_3a.h
> tm
> <http://www.opednews.com/articles/genera_michael__061214_david_dill_unpluggd_3a.htm>
> December 14, 2006
> *David Dill Unpluggd: Computer glitch leaves electronic voting machine
> advocate without a script*
> By Michael Richardson
> It happened at Harvard. Stanford University computer scientist David
> Dill was at Harvard's computer resource center talking about electronic
> voting machines. Dill, one of the nation's foremost "paper trail" voting
> machine advocates, is the founder of a lobbying group called Verified
> Voting. About ten minutes into his Power Point presentation to the
> assembled Harvard intelligentsia, Dill's laptop computer crashed leaving
> him without a script. The irony was unmistakable.
> Dill then departed from his prepared remarks explaining, "I know so much
> I can't organize a talk." The next hour was devoted to a Q&A session
> that rambled in a self-contradictory trajectory revealing more about
> Dill than electronic voting machines.
> Before the "glitch", Professor Dill was in full reformer mode and
> sounded pretty good. Dill explained he had spent his two decades at
> Stanford, "trying to check software correctness, but it's not something
> we can do."
> The three big "unsolvable" problems with electronic voting identified by
> Dill were error, security, and making sure the system is running what
> you think it is running. "We can't prove correctness....We don't know
> how to make systems secure....Why do we even trust the hardware?" Dill
> warned, "It is wrong to hand control of elections to private companies."
> Dill declared that any voting technology should be at least as
> trustworthy as hand-counted paper ballots, which he characterized as the
> "gold standard" for voting. We should "give up" on audits and instead
> "empower each voter to check their vote."
> "We have made a mistake by focusing on technology; instead we should
> focus on procedure."
> Then the questions started and Dill lost his way. After advocating for
> precinct optical scanners or printers on touch screen machines, Dill
> admitted that optical scanners do not always count the ballots
> correctly, "A careful hand-count is more accurate than optical scan."
> Touch screen printers were open to "nefarious individuals that could
> cause the paper record to be unreliable." Dill also admitted that
> self-deleting malicious code would not be detectable.
> The Harvard computer experts in the audience got Dill to admit the push
> for electronic voting machines came from marketing by the vendors; that
> there were problems with machine certification standards leaving a
> "gaping hole"; that there was no way of testing for viruses; that the
> Election Assistance Commission is "highly politicized" and incapable of
> the tasks it is presented; and that, "What we have now are a bunch of
> bad voting systems."
> Dill acknowledged that "vote-flipping" happened all over the country in
> the 2006 election and that it is an "insidious" phenomenon without
> explanation. Dill said that 1% percent audits are "frighteningly bad" in
> anything but a statewide race and that an "over-qualified janitor at an
> electronic voting machine vendor could rig an election."
> After admitting that a "careful hand-count" is the most accurate and
> cheapest way to count votes and that optical scanners could be rigged
> and don't always accurately record the ballot entries of voters, Dill
> then advocated precinct-based optical scanners as his solution to the
> problem of election fraud.
> After his confusing, contradictory talk, Dill was asked about his
> support for H.B. 550, a "paper trail" electronic voting machine bill
> pending before Congress. "That is my public position, although the bill
> is being rewritten and I don't know where I stand."
> [Permission granted to reprint]
> Authors Bio: Michael Richardson is a freelance writer based in Boston.
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