Cynthia McKinney and the electronic voting debate


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Jim March
August 17, 2006, 09:54 PM
Folks,

I have no use for McKinney either. She's a nut.

However.

Georgia is one of two states that have standardized on the Diebold "TS" voting machines. The "TS" is the older touchscreen that Diebold never created an individual-voter paper trail option for. So the votes are recorded electronically and that's it. Maryland is the other. There's a few TSes scattered around but they're mainly in those states.

The TS is the second worst voting machine in America, period, end of discussion. The worst? The Diebold GEMS central tabulator that counts the votes at county HQ from the TS or other Diebold machines in the field.

The third worst is the Diebold absentee ballot scanner.

I've just finished a massive project documenting the worst ills of these things. One set of problems related to Windows CE is such an incredible situation, it's possible to describe the Diebold touchscreen product line (TS and newer "TSx") as literally not legally meeting the definition of "voting machine" in 37 states, GA and MD included.

Here's the broadcast I just did on the subject minutes after finishing:

------------
There are now five files in the "Diebold fraud series" comprising the latest and most complete accounting of Diebold's sins to date:

http://www.equalccw.com/wincefraudwalkthrough.pdf – an overview of Diebold's Windows CE-related fraud. NEW TODAY: Appendix A constitutes a new page with additional evidence that this was deliberate on Diebold's part. Before we found that (again, appendix A) an argument could be made that Diebold might have declared the customized Windows CE code and Wyle ignored it. This is a specific statement that Diebold withheld the CE customizations from the test labs. Along with the Lee declaration, this in my opinion is the front-runner to putting Diebold flat out of the elections industry. Five pages.

http://www.equalccw.com/19202v2006.pdf - it's an ultra-condensed version of the file above, submitted to the California Secretary of State's site as an official request under California Election Code 19202. One page. Needs the Lee declaration in support.

http://www.equalccw.com/rrlee-wincedeclaration.pdf – the declaration of Dr. Richard Lee. Same as previously distributed, no changes. Three pages.

http://www.equalccw.com/thenasedblues.pdf – covers the possibility of NASED involvement in covering up the madness documented here and in items 1 and 2 of this list. ALL new. It's not "airtight" but like the rest it's "probable cause" for somebody with subpoena powers to sort out the truth: a gutsy district attorney could do it, a state AG would be better, or a very gutsy Federal prosecutor. The California SecState's office might be able to do it too, so go Bowen! :) Four pages.

http://www.equalccw.com/dieboldsinsandsecrecy.pdf - a more general listing (with links to evidence) of Diebold misconduct and cover-ups. 12 pages, but some big graphics. Over 9meg file size.

Folks, I'm pissed. More than that, I'm personally offended that Diebold is still in the vote biz. It's time for that to end.

And beyond that, it's time to point fingers at the oversight process that allowed them to run rampant. Because that certification and oversight process at the Federal level is the lynchpin behind ALL these vendors.

Everything here can be forwarded at will. The "WinCEfraudwalkthough" and "Lee declarations" must be a "matched set" of course...best if all five are mentioned as a set.
------------

As you can see, the page counts aren't all that bad.

I can't make you read it all, or even bits. If you're going to skip anything, skip the "19202" document and the "NASED" doc. "NASED" is the Federal quasi-agency that was supposed to be minding the shop when all this went down, and at best just slacked completely on oversight of the voting product testing process. Some evidence shows they actively covered up misconduct and incompetence concerning Diebold and one of their primary test labs but that's basically "advanced curriculum" material.

In the "Dieboldsins" document, pay particular attention to the section that has the picture of part of the TS motherboard in it.

I don't know if Cynthia McKinney won or lost. I don't care about that per se. What bothers me is that *nobody* knows for sure, except anybody who may have tampered either in Diebold or more likely a county elections office. I care about the election process working, because if it visibly doesn't we eventually end up with a very bad situation indeed.

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GigaBuist
August 17, 2006, 11:15 PM
Thanks for all your hard work in this area, Jim. I haven't looked into the recent progress of BBV but I do keep an eye on developments with the Deibold machines to some degree.

Folks, these issues come up fairly frequently in tech circles like Slashdot (http://www.slashdot.org) and I don't think I've ever seen a tech think things were just perfectly fine. The security of these devices would be laughable if it wasn't so serious.

Every time I start going over Jim's and BBV's research into the inner working of these things I hang my head. I've been doing computer programming for 13 years; half my life. This thing looks like it was cobbled together by semi-talented 16 year olds. Seriously. A team of talented and alert college students could do far better than this crap.

The fact that Diebold is deploying machines with non-certified software is appauling. Slot machines are regulated tighter than that! Heck, the project I work on is regulated tighter than that and we're just playing with jukeboxes over here!

The holes in these things are so huge that "hack" isn't even the right word for them. "Creative use" is more like it.

If the issue of secure, documented, voting is not kept in the public eye I fear that elections will devolve into which candidate can hire the better team to commit voter fraud. This may already be happening. We don't know because there's no paper trail.

Every single Diebold ATM prints out a paper receipt that I've seen. What's the hold up? I just don't get it.

Igloodude
August 18, 2006, 08:19 AM
The sad part is a whackjob like Cynthia McKinney climbing on board about it, she's a bit like Cindy Sheehan in that respect. Now naysayers can say "oh, the people that criticize it are just mad that they lost their elections" and in at least one case are probably correct.

rangermonroe
August 18, 2006, 10:37 AM
Why don't we vote here for the entire country, and one of you wizards copy and paste our votes to the individual counties.

We could really have fun, and checkerboard counties. Have perfect 50/50 ties.

Stuff like that.

Maybe even elect Aaron Zelman POTUS as a landslide victory. As a write in. With Oleg VP. :D

We could PM them with ideas for Executive Orders!

I know that this is a serious issue, but think of the possibilities. We could be the New Trilateral Commission. :evil:

Hawkman
August 18, 2006, 10:51 AM
WRT whether Cynthia McKinney is right about Georgia's machines, I think it is worth noting that the official in charge of all the machines in Georgia LOST her bid for re-election. You'd think if they we so easy to tamper with...:rolleyes:

Henry Bowman
August 18, 2006, 10:58 AM
I think it is worth noting that the official in charge of all the machines in Georgia LOST her bid for re-election.The person in charge is not necessarily very tech savvy. That creates an even further weakness in the system.

Hawkman
August 18, 2006, 11:03 AM
No, but you WOULd think they have people available who ARE!

Tim Burke
August 18, 2006, 12:54 PM
The socialists won't be happy until we adopt the system that is most prevalent worldwide:
One man-one vote-one time.
Of course, they want to adopt this right after they win an election.

Of course, there are security flaws in the various systems, but most of the complaints aren't about weaknesses, they are about results. I've never heard of the winner complaining, no matter how many of the dead voted alphabetically.
I worry more about the security of the registration process and the voter ID process than I do about the tallying process, but any reform really needs to target all 3.

Jim March
August 18, 2006, 01:19 PM
Does the term "screw your boss if you don't like 'em" mean anything?

Not saying it happened, but it's possible.

Look, the big threats are insiders in the county elections office or reps from the vendor (Diebold in this case).

It's not impossible you'd have one nutcase votehacker hacking one race, another pounding away on something else.

To see exactly how they'd do it - this is a 15 minute "walkthrough" of a Diebold central tabulator hack session shot with a screen recorder program and a PC microphone:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-7262269533321066760

INSTRUCTIONS: unless your video screen is very high resolution (1600x1200 or more) you'll need
to use the Google "download this video" link to download this large (150+ megabyte) file locally plus
the small "google video viewer". The video was shot at 800x600 resolution and you won't get that in a
web-browser window, rendering the text unreadable. Once you've downloaded it and the viewer you
can do a "full screen view" with the "ALT-ENTER" keystroke as instructed in the video and audio.
You will also need decent boosted speakers (not internal laptop speakers) as the volume is a bit low.

unspellable
August 18, 2006, 03:02 PM
I say the dead should not be allowed to vote more than once. And they should damn well have to mark a paper ballot.

ceetee
August 18, 2006, 04:52 PM
All jokes aside, Jim, what do ordinary citizens like me have to do to ensure that we (somehow) can trust the voting process?

I mean... I realize that there's always going to be criminals, in this just as in every other endeavor. But, right now, I have no faith that my votes in the last two elections were even counted, much less reported and/or recorded properly. It just seems simple... Every person who is elegible to vote should be able to without undue influence from any special interests. That vote should be counted, tabulated, and the total of all votes should be announced. If there are any doubts, then we should be able to recount those votes, to confirm them.

How do we get from HERE to THERE?

Jim March
August 19, 2006, 02:37 AM
Well NO fix is possible until the general public understands there's a problem.

The people on this forum and for that matter DU share something in common, believe it or not: we're interested in the political process and pay attention to major reports on the subject.

That makes us rare birds indeed.

It's once this hits the evening news as a soundbite (sigh) that the political pressure to fix this starts happening.

Look. A really good voting system involves both a paper and electronic record of the vote and pro-grade auditing abilities of both. In that event, the paper record becomes a check on the electronic record and vice versa. Thus you not only limit "mass hacking by an individual or small group" (inside the county elections office or at the voting system vendor most likely), you also limit large-scale paper "hacking" that is more difficult, but still doable as Tammany Hall proved over 100 years ago and the Daley machine later perfected.

There are people working on this. But they're either unfunded or underfunded, and that will continue until the scope of the problem is understood.

I...have some plans in that area...can't discuss yet, sorry.

ilbob
August 19, 2006, 09:57 AM
its called an audit trail.

you need enough proof collected along the way that the results are believable.

it does not prevent all cheating, nothing does that, but in close elections you could go back and look.

so far I have not seen any credible allegations that anyone actually has hacked any of these machines, at least in a way that affected an election. the problem is that it would not be all that hard to do so.

optical scan ballots are the better choice, but that only deals with actual counting fraud, which is generally not as easy to pull off as you might think.

run of the mill vote fraud, which is pretty common, is much harder to defeat. nothing but honesty prevents election judges from voting over and over again. there is at least one case where a congressman lost his office almost certainly due to illegals voting for his opponent. there is also the spectacle of tens or hundreds of thousands of people who voted in more than one state.

We need to create a system where it is very difficult to cheat. the more open it is the better.

to reduce the chance of those who are not entitled to vote, perhaps linking voter id cards to driver's licenses. or just using a DL as your voter ID. save the money on registering people multiple times. you are already registered for a DL or state ID card, make that all you need to vote. no reason the state cannot produce a list of people entitled to vote for the local election officials to use sorted by precinct. just list everyone with DLs and take out criminals and non-citizens.

jungle
August 19, 2006, 11:13 AM
We don't need any voting machines at all. It is nothing but a waste of time, money and manpower to have to go to a certain point to vote.

We could easily vote by internet or phone using a DL or SSN as proof of validity. Two votes on the same number require physical presentation of the card. It's easy, it's foolproof and most of us use just such a system to track our banking. If it's safe enough for money it is safe enough for votes.

The biggest drawback is that dead people and illegals won't have valid numbers, so the dems would never accept such a system.

Jim March
August 19, 2006, 02:37 PM
Jungle, sorry, but that is NOT the answer. Uhuh. Ain't no WAY. Taking that apart fully would take the longest post in THR history aside from mebbe the Nightcrawler/Correia epic.

Just for starters: FAR too many other people have your DL, SSN or both, or could get it.

ilbob
August 19, 2006, 04:02 PM
One of the problems with any kind of electronic voting/counting is that very few people are competent to comment on whether it is secure or accurate, or to deal with analyzing the audit trail.

some kind of hard copy is far easier for an average Joe to back track.

Internet voting is not inherently less secure than voting at the voting booth IF there is some secure means of tracking it. At present, I do not believe there is such a means.

wally
August 19, 2006, 04:16 PM
If the issue of secure, documented, voting is not kept in the public eye I fear that elections will devolve into which candidate can hire the better team to commit voter fraud. This may already be happening. We don't know because there's no paper trail.

Paper vote fraud has shall we say influnced elections in the past. Boss Daly getting JFK elected (dispite what happened afterwards with Nixon, he was too astute to make a stink about it) and "landslide Lyndon" where the saying was LBJ is so popular in Duval County that they come back from the dead to vote for him.

The fraud the Dems prefer is illeagal aliens voting. Paper works better for them as the machines can be really hard to use the first time or two.

I'm against all manner of "electronic voting" for a variety of reasons. In the limit, why have congress at all, we the people could vote on every issue as satellites overhead counted the votes. Sounds good until you remember that something like 70% of the people polled could name Curly, Larry, & Moe as the Three Stooges, whereas only something like 42% could name the Executive, Legislative, & Judicial as the three branches of government! Please, no jokes about the Currly, Larry, & Moe doing a better job than the clowns currently running DC. :)

--wally.

jungle
August 19, 2006, 04:59 PM
Jim March, With all due respect, how is it that a whole bunch of oddly designed machines with many humans crawling all over them is safer than your own voting account in a central state/federal database?
It is true that SSNs and DL numbers can be had, but there isn't rampant fraud at the Banks because of this and believe me people are far more interested in stealing money than votes.
You voting record could be kept on file and you could question any results you needed to, much as you can question a bank statement. The more humans you add to the process, the more chance you have of fraud.
I belong to an organization that has used online voting for a while now and it safe, convenient and trustworthy.

The real issue in both systems is how to exclude the bogus, dead, illegal and fraudulent. A secondary concern is-why does one need to leave work, home or other location in order to trundle down to a given location to vote? If it means issuing each voter a new multicharacter PIN for each election, then so be it, but it most certainly can be done with more safety and security than the present system.

hvengel
August 19, 2006, 05:41 PM
Isn't there a requirement that individual voting results must be anonymous (IE. the secret ballot)? This is to prevent fraud through intimidation and vote selling/buying.

If all of the votes are kept in a central database and someone can call up my vote in the last election then what would prevent someone or a group in a position of power from threatening me if they didn't like my vote? "If you don't vote this way in the next election we will drum up some bogus charges against you and make your life hell." Or using past results to target certain individuals for vote buying schemes?

If I felt I could ALWAYS trust those who would have control over the database to do the right thing then I would not be concerned with the possible problems that would result from no longer having a secret ballot. But I do not trust anyone in power to consistently do the right thing and as we all know many of these individuals can not be trusted at all. There is a huge potential for abuse in any system that has the potential for officials to gain access to individual voting results.

This is a lesson that we learned a LONG time ago and I don't see anything that has changed in human nature since that lesson was learned. That alone is enough to say no way. We still need the secret ballot and any modernized voting system must have a secret ballot at its core to prevent these kind of abuses.

Jim March
August 19, 2006, 06:46 PM
Jungle: at least at my bank, what I can do with my account over the phone is actually quite limited. I can transfer funds between my own pre-defined accounts and get balance summaries, but not pull any money out by paying bills, purchasing or transfers to an outside account.

On the Internet, yes, I can, but that relies on passwords that are kept very secure and known only to me and my bank. To login to my online bank account takes a password and username, and to buy things on the net relies on an additional 3-digit code keyed to my credit card number.

Let's say you could devise an equivelent password for internet voting...say, the person has to do a registration card and the password is handled at that time. That means no more political party registration, ever, or they'd have the passwords (not acceptable). So let's say all voter registration has to happen at the same place you get a driver's license from the state.

You've still got two problems:

1) Auditability. Can you trust the tracking system?

2) External pressure to vote the "right" way. Picture a union hall setting up "vote here!" computers with keyloggers making sure you did it "right". Ghaaa.

No, I don't think so!

As to pressure to vote "right": New York got queasy about the lever machines and experimented with a printed reciept showing your vote. From what I hear this was just post-Tammany Hall, maybe 70 to 80 years ago but I'm not 100% sure.

These reciepts did happen at one point though, and the inevitable result was a mixture of vote-buying and "Guido" waiting down the street to break your leg if you didn't vote "right".

There is no political way at this point to go backwards and eliminate the privacy of the vote.

What that means is that the ballot itself has to be separated from the name of the voter by some means. There are several.

In absentee voting (by mail) the inner ballot has no name on it, the outer envelope does (with signature). Processing the ballots is two-step: while sealed, confirm that the voter is registered and the signature matches. If it does, open the envelope and separate ballot and envelope in two piles. Ballots get counted in yet another step, so that the person/system counting doesn't have the voter's name nearby.

In fully electronic "touchscreen" voting at the polling place, you sign in as the first step in the process at one desk and then are directed to the machine once you're "cleared to vote"...often with a "token" of some sort in hand that turns the machine on.

Malone LaVeigh
August 19, 2006, 07:52 PM
Jim, I appreciate your post, but I wish you had titled it differently. It is very important that Cynthia McKinney doesn't become the poster girl for this issue. From what I've read, she appears to probably be right on this issue (and I include the theft of the last two presidential elections in that). But she is also widely perceived as a nut. Remember, popular opinion in this country also considers "gun nuts" like Jim March to be unbelievable. This issue is too important to allow CM, Mike Ruppert, etc., to hijack for their own purposes. I can hear Letterman warming up now for this one...

jungle
August 19, 2006, 08:03 PM
Jim, I agree on most of your points, but still think the need for seperate voting machines is way below what we should expect in this day and age. There are ways to make online voting secure, private, and anonymous.
I see you have done a lot of research on voting machines. Do you work for or with a voting machine maker or designer?

We have to trust somebody during any of these processes. The fewer we have to trust the better, the fewer people involved the more secure it is. The fewer hands touching the machines, the ballots, the results and the software the more secure the system.

Registration is a whole other issue, but it is intertwined and another step with many human interventions. Registration schemes have probably shifted, lost or diverted more votes than the ballots. There is zero reason to have to register through anything other than DL, SS, or other state issued ID.


I saw someone mention the speculative "theft" of the last two elections. Weren't they done the old fashioned way-pregnant, hanging chads in thousands of democratic loyal hands?
If one tenth of one hunredth of the people saw their money stolen in online banking, the system would be gone pronto. It doesn't happen.

hvengel
August 19, 2006, 08:40 PM
No this is totally wrong. The whole process most be totally open and transparent. This even includes the source code for the systems for any system involved in the vote processing chain.

If we only need to trust a few people then that means that those who need to be trusted are in a possition to be parties to fradulent activities that only involve a few people and are therefore easier to keep secret.

This is a process where NO ONE can be trusted and everything must be varifiable by everyone and anyone who wants to varify any give part of the system.

The fact that the source code for the current systems is closed and can not be examined by the public should be a HUGE RED FLAG that something is horribly wrong. Why don't they want the public to see the source code if the systems are really secure? Until I can personnally review the source code for these sytems I can not and will not trust them. The source code for these systems - no I will go farther - the source code change managment system (or an up to date copy of same) for these systems should be online and in a format that has free interface software available (for example CVS or SVN) and available for anyone to download and inspect. In addition the bug and feature request databases should be online and available for public inspection. And there needs to be ways for members of the public to submit feature requests, bug reports and patches.

My prefernce is for these systems to not be propritory at all and our elections officals should require that all software systems used for elections should be Open Source Software systems. Perhaps they could even specify the licensing for these systems by stating that all such systems must use a GNU GPL license or perhaps LGPL.

Jim March
August 19, 2006, 10:46 PM
I see you have done a lot of research on voting machines. Do you work for or with a voting machine maker or designer?

I am not paid by any vendor, never have been, never will be.

I donated $2000 a year ago to the Open Voting Consortium, an attempt to build a completely open-source voting system. I am in contact with and exchange information with three different "activist driven" attempts to build better voting machines:

1) http://OpenVotingConsortium.org

2) http://OpenVotingSolutions.com

3) http://Vote-pad.us

In fact I was speaking with Dick Johnson of OVS just today about getting him a copy of the free "Votoscope" application Harri Hursti wrote. It's an open source free vote tabulator app that does OCR on TIF-scanned ballots, and can act as a reasonably fast secondary check wherever there are scans of ballots available such as with the Hart Intercivic optical scanners and the as-yet-unreleased Diebold "high speed central count" product.

What OVS is working on is also an optical scan system with standard commercial scanners putting out TIF files.

I spoke in favor of the Vote-pad device on 8/8/06 at the California SecState's office:

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=3656688800924188551&hl=en

I wasn't paid to do so. I knew Ellen Theisen from her days as an activist and I think the Vote-pad is a reasonable way of adding disability access to an optical scan system...not that all optical scan systems are OK, Diebold's for one sucks wind but at least it stalls purchase of more expensive DREs and there IS at least still paper around useful in a recount.

What else...I've talked to Avante a few times about their systems. While not open source, I think they've tried to build a good system and I have encouraged them to, if not go completely open source, at least publish the source code they use. That would mean no copying/modification allowed but at least we could see how it works. Also known as "public source".

Jim March
August 19, 2006, 11:34 PM
On edit: my bit starts at 1 hour 26 minutes into that google video link above.

gunsmith
August 20, 2006, 02:23 AM
just to lighten up a little and to bump, this is a fave of mine from
www.imao.us

Dude, Where's My Votes?
Posted by Frank J. at 06:31 AM | Email This

Man, I was so happy with our win, but then I found out that places like Democratic Underground are arguing that Bush stole the election once again. What? But what about all those votes? Well, Wikipedia even has a page up about how the election was stolen with charts and everything. Is something up? Well, I contacted my local wing of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy who patched me into the national arm of the VRWC. Then I got to talk to two people I shall refer to as Hacker1 and Hacker2. Here is the conversation:

Frank: So, did we steal the election this time?

Hacker1: Yeah, totally. We like rigged all the machines so there was no way we could lose.

Frank: Why didn't you tell me we had it in the bag? I was like totally worried about this election!

Hacker2: Sorry, dude, but we were like told not to spread it around too much.

Hacker1: Yeah, we needed everyone to act like it was close and worrisome so no one would know we like totally hacked it. That Karl Rove is smart, dude; he knows how to run things.

Hacker2: Yeah, Rove is totally evil and totally cool.

Frank: So did you hack voting everywhere?

Hacker1: Yeah, otherwise it would look weird if we only improved in the battleground states.

Hacker2: Rove was completely in charge of all that. He even came in last minute and said, "Give them New Hampshire," and we were like, "Whatever."

Frank: So was it hard hacking the vote?

Hacker1: Sorta, but Diebold gave us easy to follow instructions.

Hacker2: We totally owned all the votes.

Hacker1: Totally.

Hacker2: It was funny to see the Democrats try and cheat the old-fashioned way. They can bring in all the dead people they want to vote, but we'll just change their votes to Republican in the end.

Hacker1: (laughs) I bet you didn't know this, but Michael Moore voted for Bush.

Hacker2: (laughs) He doesn't know it either.

Frank: But aren't people going to find out about this eventually?

Hacker1: Not if we're careful, dude.

Hacker2: First off, we're not going to hand out many landslides. It's going to be a bunch of real close ones so we can say to the Democrats, "Oh, that was so close. You really should try again."

Hacker1: (laughs) We're going to drive them nuts.

Hacker2: Anyway, the VRWC will save money in the future as we cut back on commercials and campaign appearances, but Rove will make sure we don't cut back so much that it looks suspicious.

Frank: Except to the Democratic Underground.

Hacker1: Yeah, there's no fooling those guys. They're on top of everything. Luckily, Rove had a plan for them too.

Hacker2: What he did was get all these mental patients - total schizos - and brainwash them about how evil the Republicans are. Then he gave them internet connections.

Hacker1: Now the schizos that Rove planted totally rule the Democratic Underground discussion forum. They’re the most prolific posters. Instead of getting anywhere on all the evil plans we have, they waste time blaming a Democrat event being rained out on Karl Rove.

Hacker2: Which is stupid because our weather machine is only 60% complete.

Frank: What about bloggers talking about voting malfeasance?

Hacker1: Dude, Rove totally owns the blogosphere. Most of the popular bloggers write only what Rove tells them.

Frank: Like who?

Hacker1: Well, Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs, half the people at the Volokh Conspiracy, and Scott Ott of Scrappleface.

Frank: I knew it!

Hacker2: The phrase "Axis of Weasels" was all Rove's idea.

Frank: So he controls the bloggers to combat the left-wing blogs like the DailyKos?

(both hackers laugh)

Hacker1: Dude, Rove personally writes DailyKos.

Hacker2: Yeah, he wants to control what the left are whining about.

Frank: Whoa! That Rove is one sinister, evil dude!

Hacker2: Totally.

Frank: Hey, has Rove ever mentioned my site?

Hacker1: Uh... yeah, once. He asked me, "What's this site 'IMAO'?" And I told him, "Remember, it's the one with the moon exploding." And he said, "Oh yeah, it's the stupid site about the angry dog."

Frank: Cool! He knows my site! So, back to the main subject, what's in the future of voting now that we own it?

Hacker1: We'll only keep fixing elections for so long. Eventually we'll dissolve the Democratic party and turn the U.S. into a one-party ruled dictatorship.

Hacker2: That's Rove's long-term plans.

Frank: Neato. Well, thanks for talking to me.

Hacker1: You're not going to publish this, are you?

Frank: Uh... well... er... uh... no.

hvengel
August 20, 2006, 10:21 PM
Jim,

I just had a look at OpenVotingConsortium.org. It took some effort to find the source code for this project as there are no links on the site to the location of the source code. Seems strange to me since the source code would appear to me to be a basic component of what they have to offer. After doing a some googling I found the sourceforge project at http://evm2003.sourceforge.net/ .

Doing a quick look at the evm CVS I found that most of the code had not been updated in 2 or more years. There were a few updates about 3 months ago all of it related to barcode support done by Jan Karrman who is listed on the OVC site as their bar code expert. The last release of any software from this system was dated April 20, 2004.

From a developers prospective the source code base for this project is very small with fewer than 50 source code files none of which where particularly large or complex (the largest I found was less than 500 lines, most were much smaller).

I also found that the developers for the evm project, which include many of the principles from OVC (Dechert, Keller, Karrman, Mertz), have stopped monitoring the forums on the sourceforge system for the project and are using an email list to communicate. The email list is a mix of technical and political threads and digging through the archives to try to understand where the project is currently and where it is going did not yield much useful information. There is even considerable confusion about how to install and run the software and one developer (Karrman) reports that he can't figure out how to get one sub-system to run.

There are 26 developers for this project. The sourceforge activity percentile for the project is 68.97 which is fairly low (this means that there are something like 32,000 projects on sourceforge.net that are more active). My own sourceforge project typically runs in the 98 to 99 activity percentile (the highest so far 99.6) range with only four active developers all working on the project in their spare time and none of them with a Ph. D (there are at least 4 Ph. Ds who are developers for evm).

If I where looking at the project statistics and didn't know where it came from I would walk away thinking that is was in the process of dieing. Looking at the email archives I can understand why this is the case. No one appears to have taken responsibility for leading the project and it is for all practical purposes with out a leader. Until that is corrected OVC is basically a political organization in spite of the fact that they appear to have people that are capable of producing a working open source voting system.

Jim March
August 20, 2006, 10:31 PM
Believe me, I know what you're talking about re: OVC.

They're trying to get gov't money to do a project through the University of California campus system...they have proponents at Davis and Berkeley.

The OVS system is the one now a LOT further along in development, but it's OVC that has built a bigger political structure - also tied to http://OpenVotingFoundation.org

OVS is operating on a for-profit model, "public source" instead of "open source".

Anyways. I was listing all of the "vendors" or anything similar that I am in contact with, to answer any possible questions about my biases. Which is a fair question given how active I am in this.

hvengel
August 20, 2006, 11:46 PM
Well that is typical. Most of those leading OVC are from the public sector (IE. teachers and the like) and their thinking is VERY public sector. "Well we need money from the government to do this". Which is total BS and also a sure way to fail since .gov does not want this to change in the way they are advocating.

Having read their stuff I think they are advocating the correct approach but until they get off their duffs and stop begging .gov for money and start working on transforming their demontration software into a real system they are nothing but hot air. If they had been working on their software for the last 2 1/2 years instead of begging .gov for money they would likely have a system that was ready for real world use and I think .gov would now be there offering them funding to do certification and the like. Instead they pissed that time away waiting for .gov and everyone now knows that they know how to talk but don't know how to get things done.

What really gets to me is that many of these folks have Ph.Ds in things like Computer Science and Information Systems and they can't get their software project beyond a demonstration phase. What gives? If I had been working on this for the last 2 1/2 years (even by myself) there would be a full blown system sitting there ready to go. This is not rocket science and the systems needed to do this are not particularly complex.

Why aren't these teachers giving their programming students class projects that will improve this software? (IE. your class project this semester will be to add this new sub-system to evm - here are the specs) Having looked through the email list archive for the project I see many posts from programmers asking what they can do to help with improving the software and no one even replies. So there are people that are willing and asking to work on this but there is no leadership to direct that energy. I can think of a number of ways to move this forward that would not need one cent from .gov and that would need little or no other funding.

If this software were to be implemented (or something like it) it would set the voting machine industry on it's ear and this would result in huge changes for the better. OVC has missed an opportunity to make this happen in the near term. In addition the fact that they don't have a system that is ready or nearly ready for certification hurts their credibility on the whole issue. If they had such a system it would give them tremendous leverage that they currently do not have since they would then be sitting at the bargaining table with a very strong hand.

Most of those who are actively working in this area are from the left. I do agree with them that the whole election integrity thing needs a lot of work. I don't think that they are right that these machines have been used to "steal" elections but the problem is that with how this is currently implemented you can't prove that it that was not the case either. And that needs to be fixed. But also making sure that only citizens who are actually alive at the time of the election are the only ones voting and that they only vote once. I think this last set of problems are actually more likely to be currently affecting election results since there is evidence of these having occurred in recent elections in large enough numbers to have possibly changed the results. But fixing all of this is important if we are to have confidence in our election process.

Trebor
August 21, 2006, 10:25 AM
Jim, no offense, but you guys really need to start doing better PR on this to get the message out. I've seen some of the press releases you've posted here or linked to and they need to be better. There was nothing as an editor that would grab me and want me to follow up and do a story. They were also hard to understand and read through if I wasn't already familiar with the issue.

Seriously, you guys need to find a PR pro, preferably someone with a background in journalism as well, to help you get your message across.

Edit: You guys are making the logical, intellectual argument. To get people excited about this issue you have to start making the emotional argument, the "Will your vote count? Not if you use electronic voting machines," argument. Then, once you've got their interest, you actually have the facts and documentation to back your claims. (Unlike the antigunners, who only have the emotional argument)

ctdonath
August 21, 2006, 10:18 PM
I think it is worth noting that the official in charge of all the machines in Georgia LOST her bid for re-election.Not necessarily not what they intended. Republicans were allowed to vote in her run-off election, and were getting excited about doing so precisely because, given that the Republican candidate invariably loses in that precinct, they might as well see to it that the worst & nuttiest Democrat wins. Dem leaders may have decided that she just had to go.

'course, the fact that she punched a cop didn't help maintain her base.

Jim March
August 22, 2006, 12:46 AM
Y'all are assuming way more connection between myself and OVC than I've stated.

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