[E-voting] David Dill Unplugged

Andrew Ó Baoill andrew at funferal.org
Fri Dec 15 17:26:55 GMT 2006


I take it it was seen as contradictory in that his solution was  
"adopt electronic voting, with safeguards" but his argument/evidence  
was that electronic can't be trusted, with or without paper trails,  
and that staying with a non-electronic paper-based system was the  
best solution. So, insofar as he still went for the "VVPAT" solution  
in the end, there's clearly a contradiction between the theory and  
practice.

Andrew

On 14 Noll 2006, at 21:06, 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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>
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--
Andrew Ó Baoill
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- -
Inst. of Communications Research, U. of Illinois
Communications / Participatory media / Political action
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andrew at funferal.org / baoillo at uiuc.edu
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