Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Hand count plan - attempt to decieve voters

I have just reviewed the City of Boulder hand count plan http://coloradovoter.net/ercdocs/boulder-hand-count-to-sos.pdf .

The plan is a farce, designed to deceive the public into believing that the City is verifying election results.

1. The plan fails to verify (through sampling) that every vote cast by an eligible voter is accurately counted. Entire segments of the voting process are excluded from the hand count plan. Consequently, eligible votes that are not counted will not be detected by the process. Ineligible votes that get counted will not be detected by the process. The ballots sampled should include all ballots received. The plan ignores eligible ballots that are improperly rejected, and ineligible ballots that are improperly counted. It ignores duplicated ballots that are incorrectly duplicated, and potentially misplaced batches of ballots. It ignores eligible votes that are incorrecly interpreted.

2. The sampling procedure described in the plan is inept. Only a portion, less than half, of the vote counting system can be tested by this process. The sample guarantees testing will be limited to a maximum of three vote scanning machines, a maximum of three ballot resolution teams, a maximum of three ballot qualification teams, etc. All of the remaining components of the system are ignored. Individual ballots should be sampled, starting at the point that they are received in the mail (hand delivery collection box). This will distribute the selected ballots over all processes and equipment.

3. The counting method is biased. The law requires the determination of voter intent to interpret the votes on each ballot. The hand count plan, instead, requires that the hand counters must interpret the votes in the same way as the computer interpreted the votes. (If the computer did tit wrong, the hand counter must do it wrong.) This is designed to bias the hand count results so that they match the computer results.

4. The hand count plan does not specify a "blind count". People performing the count can know the prior results -- both the total number of votes and the interpretation of individual votes. The same team should not conduct the original and repeat hand count.

5. The comparison of results is insufficient and inexact. The results of each sampled ballot should be compared to the actual results. In the case of a ballot whose votes were counted, the hand counted results of each vote on that ballot should be compared to the computer generated result for that particular ballot. The hand count plan does not keep track of results by ballot, and does not keep track of over and under votes. Sloppy averaging of votes within batches is not an adequate verification.

6. The hand count plan is not independent; the Clerk selects the people who check the Clerk's work-product. The process must be conducted by people who are not subservient to the Clerk.

7. There needs to be a provision in the hand count plan for disqualifying the original election results. If the hand count proves that the system failed to accurately count every vote cast by an eligible elector, the original counts should be discarded and the entire set of ballots reprocessed -- by hand.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Say "no" to NIST's voter verification deception

The National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) just released a draft of their input on VVPATs and DRE audits as requested by the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) of the Election Assistance Commission.

Preliminary Report: NIST Approach to VVPAT Requirements for the VSS
2002 Addendum (John Wack)

The NIST draft is a step backward.

1. It does not require that the votes on the voter verified ballot be the official votes that get counted. Consequently, it is little more than a mechanism to deceive voters into thinking that voters are verifying their votes.

2. It requires that the voter be able to compare the votes on the paper to the votes in the computer -- which as far as I can tell is not possible. "To permit the voter, at the time of voting, to verify that the DRE-VVPAT is recording the electronic ballot choices correctly and to resolve problems should they occur,"

3. Several members of the IEEE committee on Voting Systems objected to this solution and provided many arguments against it.

As far as I can tell, this draft is another attempt to protect DRE vendors and election officials who have purchased DRE equipment, and is not an attempt to achieve the highest level of election security, accuracy and verifiability.

The draft should be rejected.