[E-voting] David Dill Unplugged

Margaret McGaley mmcgaley at cs.nuim.ie
Fri Dec 15 10:32:28 GMT 2006

What a bizarre article. He says that Dill contradicted himself, but 
doesn't show any contradictions. He says

"The Harvard computer experts in the audience got Dill to admit the push 
for electronic voting machines came from marketing by the vendors"

Got Dill to admit? I suspect that the author doesn't actually understand 
David Dill's position.


Fergal Daly wrote:
> 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?
> F
> 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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