[E-voting] experience with VVAT

Michael McMahon michael at hexmedia.com
Fri Mar 24 18:25:32 GMT 2006

Catherine Ansbro wrote:

> You should know better than to believe what the Secretary of State says.
> Even in Nevada in 2004 there were problems.  See here:
> http://www.votersunite.org/electionproblems.asp?sort=date&selectstate=NV&selectproblemtype=ALL 
> Catherine
There are six issues identified on that page.

1) 10,000 undervotes for the presidential race. This does not look like 
a VVAT issue to me.
    I thought that DRE software was supposed to prevent undervotes, or 
at least to bring it
    to the voters attention. I guess if the voter really doesn't make a 
choice then it has to be
    an undervote.

2) 271 votes not counted because machines in test mode. This raises an 
interesting issue.
    People need to learn that they have to check the VVAT print-out, and 
they need to learn
    to recognise what the print-out is supposed to look like. For 
example, if the print-out
    has "Test ballot" or words to that effect, then that clearly is a 
warning. If the VVAT printout
    looks authentic, then it shouldn't matter whether the software is 
working in test mode or not,
    because the print-out is (or should be) the official record.

3) The "toilet-roll" style printout. There is a genuine concern here 
relating to ballot secrecy, and
    that needs to be dealt with by improving the technology.

4) registration fraud. Not related to VVAT

5) Machine malfunction. Issue is similar to 2) Again, voters need to 
satisfy themselves that the
    printout is correct, before they press the "cast-vote" or whatever 
the equivalent action is.

6) same as 4)

I think the problems in the US stem from the unseemly rush to add VVAT 
without fully thinking
through exactly how it should be done. The legal anomalies relating to 
what happens to the paper ballots
are a good example of this. It is ludicrous to go to the expense of 
mandating VVAT, but then
not checking the paper record afterwards.

The audit has to be a standard part of every election, and has to be 
done openly and transparently.

Another thing I'd like to see, is a fallback procedure where if a 
printer jams, or other problem occurs,
then a voter can cancel the procedure (so long as the vote is not 
confirmed yet) and
can then fill out a paper ballot manually.

- Michael.

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