[E-voting] experience with VVAT

Marian Beddill beddill at nas.com
Sat Mar 25 15:55:34 GMT 2006

Catherine correctly points out the local differences within our state - and that three (most populous) Counties in Washington State have had severe problems - with both mailed ballots and DRE's.  It must be recognized that, in the US, the elections systems are run by the Counties (or maybe Cities, but that has been diminishing), with great variation in methods, rules and results.  And, as you know, states also have differing laws and rules. 

King County (the largest by far, home of Seattle City) used a commercial processing service to receive and pre-process the returned ballots.  This also bothered us.  Our county collects the ballots from the Post Office, with a team of two staffers, each morning. 

In defense of ballot "diversion" in the postal arena being caught, our county has marked each ballot when mailed to identify the Precinct (and in many rural areas, sub-precinct for local districts like school, fire, etc.)  Upon receipt back at the Elections office, the signature of the voter on the security envelope is checked against the sig on file, and upon counting, the tally of votes is compared to the count of ballots.  A ballot "stolen" from spares, and sent in by a fraudster, would be identified first (while still in its sealed security envelope) as from some specific voter but NOT from a specific precinct - and if the real voter had voted (before or later), a duplicate would be caught.  (The instances of that have been nil or none in my county.)  If the fraudster somehow knew that a certain voter was not intending to send in her/his ballot, they could indeed try to forge the signature for the slacker-voter, and send in their robbed spare.  The count of successes in such an endeavor would be very small. 

A true, greater concern, would be group-pressure for voters to vote in a certain way - by any person who had a domineering relationship with a group of voters.  That surely happens in households, and may happen in organizations.  Postal voting probably increases that effect, but since we have already had postal voting for years with permanent "absentee", the rate of such influence likely did not change between 75% postal and 100% postal balloting.  And, there have been NO instances reported, nor complaints filed, against such perpetrators, and I believe there would have been at least one hardy soul who would have blown the whistle over the years.  In my county - none. 

We think it is not perfect, but is the least worst of all our options. 

Marian Beddill

At 3/25/2006  05:02 AM, Catherine Ansbro wrote:

>Agreed re: WA state.  In the US, not only states but /counties/ vary widely in their protocols and apparent integrity.  Whatcom County, where Marian resides, is one of the best counties as far as their election procedures go.
>I also agree about the riskiness of postal voting.  Chain of custody of the ballot and accounting for every ballot printed are extremely important. 
>Some parts of WA state have an abysmal track record.  Two counties in particular--King and Snohomish--were like a comedy show.  Every week or two someone would "find" more uncounted absentee or provisional ballots.  The printer had printed an extra 25% of the ballots required, but never kept track of what happened to any of them.  There was no record-keeping of what batch of serial numbers were mailed out or received.  Some counties used DREs with no paper trail.  The results of the DREs were different from the results of the paper-based votes--which doesn't necessarily indicate anything in particular since there's no way of checking either one.  When there was a paper trail, there was often no chain of custody, or poll tapes were unsigned.  In one case, a crucial audit log had 3 hours missing (over a period of about 2 or 3 months)--which happened to be for the 3 consecutive hours beginning shortly after the polls closed, when the voters were being counted.  .  
>.  .   Was it investigated?  No.  This anomaly was just ignored.  There were also poll tape irregularities that matched the poll tape irregularities found in some Florida counties that used the same kind of equipment.  These poll tape irregularities were consistent with sloppy execution of the Hursti-demonstrated hacks done in Florida last July.
>Ciaran Quinn wrote:
>>Catherine Ansbro wrote:
>>>Marian's county has one of the best procedures in the country!  Hear, hear!  They had/have excellent citizen participation at every step in both the decision-making, planning and implementation, which is one reason their results are so good.  It sets a great example and shows what can be accomplished.
>>>If we had similar opportunities for choosing our to improve our election system here, it would be great.
>>Washington State is renowned for absentee ballot fraud - http://www.opinionjournal.com/diary/?id=110006543
>>Postal voting is extremely subject to fraud - a British example: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-1537754,00.html
>>The last thing we need is more postal voting - being able to audit the vote count is not of much use if the process of voting itself is easily tampered with
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