Editorials: How not to measure security | Jeremy Epstein/Freedom to Tinker

A recent paper published by Smartmatic, a vendor of voting systems, caught my attention. The first thing is that it’s published by Springer, which typically publishes peer-reviewed articles – which this is not. This is a marketing piece. It’s disturbing that a respected imprint like Springer would get into the business of publishing vendor white papers. There’s no disclaimer that it’s not a peer-reviewed piece, or any other indication that it doesn’t follow Springer’s historical standards. The second, and more important issue, is that the article could not possibly have passed peer review, given some of its claims. I won’t go into the controversies around voting systems (a nice summary of some of those issues can be found on the OSET blog), but rather focus on some of the security metrics claims.

California: Voting Needs A Serious Overhaul And Los Angeles Might Have The Solution | Co.Design

If abysmal election participation is any indication, voter experience in the United States desperately demands an overhaul. In 2014, turnout hovered around just 36 percent. Federal and local governments have been experimenting with ways that technology can streamline services, whether it’s obtaining business permits or healthcare. In Los Angeles County, the focus is on a pillar of democracy: voting. Dean Logan is the Los Angeles County Registrar and County Clerk and is leading the local call for a new approach to voting. “We live in a time where technology is changing rapidly and where voters and citizens are used to some level of customization and choice in how they participate in civic activities,” Logan says. “We need a system that caters to these experiences. It needs to be agile, secure, and private but as a core foundation it needs to be adaptable to technological advancements and changes in voter behavior.” In 2014, L.A. County embarked on a $15 million contract with Ideo to take a human-centered approach to the problem. The resulting prototype, which is still in the review stages, centers around reinventing voting from two angles. The first is recasting the entire experience from beginning to end. The second is building new machines that offer the ease and flexibility of touch screen systems with the security of a paper trail.

National: Voting by phone, computer: Not coming to you soon | CNN

Voting from a phone, tablet or desktop computer is probably still years away, according to a report on online voting released Friday. While some voting technology is already in use — such as electronic voting machines, apps to register to vote and online information to find polling places — voting itself requires developing a system that can’t be hacked. “Every day, we are dealing with thousands of security breaches in this country,” said Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, president and chief executive of the U.S. Vote Foundation, which compiled the report. “To think that voting could be better or more secure is a little bit pie in the sky.”

Voting Blogs: Arkansas Chooses New Statewide Voting System | Election Academy

A few weeks ago, I wrote about how county clerks in Arkansas were looking forward to a new voting system but worried about plans to upgrade the system before the state’s March 2016 presidential primary.

While much of that uncertainty remains, at least they now know what machines they’re going to get after an announcement by the Secretary of State yesterday – though even that decision is raising some question about costs. … Of course, just identifying the vendor and a potential cost still leaves some very key variables – namely, delivery schedule and cost – though the Secretary’s spokesman suggested that fast-tracking the implementation is no longer on the table as the state continues to work on funding the purchase.

California: Los Angeles County voting to shift from inkblots to open source | Ars Technica

Los Angeles County is home to a burgeoning technology industry. It boasts a roster of high-profile companies including Hulu, Snapchat, and Tinder. As of 2013, it offered more high-tech jobs than other major markets in the country, including Silicon Valley and New York City. Come election time, however, its residents cast their votes by marking inkblots on ballots that resemble Scantron forms. This discrepancy hasn’t gone unnoticed. In fact, thanks to recent efforts, it’s gradually narrowing. LA County is finally in the process of developing an open source voting system, purported to be a flexible, intuitive replacement of the incumbent method. Under the new system, slated for public use in 2020, voters will indicate their choices on a touchscreen-operated tablet, after which a machine at the voting booth will print and process their paper ballots to be tallied. This is a leap from the ink-based system, which has remained unchanged since its adoption in 2003. The project, which began in 2009, stems from a combination of misfortune and luck. After the 2000 presidential election, many jurisdictions adopted paperless voting systems in compliance with new federal legislation. LA County couldn’t make the shift; the electronic systems on the market lacked the capacity to process its high volume of votes, and the county was forced to develop its own software. Eventually, some of the other jurisdictions’ machines began to fail and lost their certification. Though spared, Los Angeles County recognized this volatility, and it started drafting plans for a more sustainable solution.

Verified Voting Blog: Recount Roulette

We risk an election meltdown worse than the Florida 2000 debacle when the presidential election came down to hanging chads and chaos. This time we are looking at another razor close result and perhaps another recount. However, if a recount is required in either of two key states — Virginia and Pennsylvania — we risk catastrophe, because most of those votes will be cast on paperless voting machines that are impossible to recount. To make matters even worse, the wake of superstorm Sandy could cause disruption on Election Day. Polling places without paper ballots that lack power will have to close, resulting in voter disenfranchisement. This is inexcusable, especially as voting advocates have long urged states to provide emergency paper ballots. Other states present their own hazardous recount challenges. About one quarter of voters nationwide will use paperless direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting machines, most of which have touch screens. Unfortunately, the DRE software can store voters’ choices incorrectly.

Colorado: Voting in Colorado

Arapahoe County Colorado was in the news the week with the Denver Post reporting that envelopes containing absentee ballots mailed to over 230,000 voters included “I Voted” stickers, which rubbed up against the ballot and in some cases left a faint, near-linear mark that appeared exactly where voters draw a line to select their candidates. The Secretary of State has issued a list of procedures to address the potential of un-readable ballots and because there is a software independent record of the voted, officials are confident that the problem can be resolved. Unfortunately not all potential problems with the Colorado’s voting technology can be resolved.

For polling place and early voting, Colorado uses Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) machines and paper based optical scan systems as well as at least two counties doing hand count of paper ballots. About 70% of ballots cast in Colorado are returned by mail. Some counties have only residual use of DRE to satisfy HAVA requirements, others collect substantial votes on DRE in precinct polling places. Some counties receive paper ballots at polling places but count them centrally by optical scan.

Verified Voting Blog: Virginia – the new Florida?

There are many ways in which Virginia 2012 could resemble the Florida 2000 – only worse. At least in 2000 there were paper ballots to recount in Florida.  But only 7 out of 134 Virginia localities (Virginia terminology for counties and independent cities) do not use paperless  Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting machines. If a DRE loses or miscounts ballots, it is essentially impossible to determine the correct results.

As if to guarantee that it will be impossible ever to verify an election in Virginia, Virginia law actually prohibits manual post-election ballot audits of paper ballots, except in extremely narrow and unlikely circumstances. This prevents election verification even in the 7 localities that have no paperless DREs (Chesterfield, Gloucester, Hanover, New Kent, Wythe, Fredericksburg, and Williamburg), together with the 30 other localities that have a mix of paper ballots and paperless voting machines.  Unless the anti-verification law is repealed, Virginia will continue to be a poster child for how not to run an election, even after Virginia replaces all of its antiquated paperless DREs with paper ballot based optical scan systems, as it should. But it gets worse.

Two notoriously unreliable paperless DRE systems are still being used in Virginia, years after their inadequacies had become common knowledge. A distinctive feature of the WINVote that makes it particularly vulnerable is it’s use of wifi to communicate between equipment in the polling place. The AVS WINVote, used only in Hind County, Mississippi and in the state of Virginia, failed to qualify for federal certification in 2007, even to the lower testing of the two voting systems standards. Since then, AVS seems to have folded, with maintenance  done by Election Services Online, a Philadelphia based company with ties to the Shoup family, that founded AVS predecessor company over a century ago.

The other unreliable paperless DRE system is the Unilect Patriot, which gained notoriety in November, 2004 in both North Carolina and Pennsylvania. In Carteret County, N.C. a Patriot machine lost almost 4500 votes in early voting, while in Pennsylvania the Patriot appears to have lost a significant number of votes in the 2004 presidential race. Pennsylvania Secretary of State Pedro Cortes issued a report claiming that the Patriot was not “capable of absolute accuracy” and was not “safely and efficiently usable”. Pennsylvania decertified the Patriot; it is now used only in Virginia. Should either the AVS WINVote or the Unilect Patriot malfunction on Election Day with the Presidential or Senate race hanging in the balance, our country could be in uncharted territory.

Verified Voting Blog: Roadmap for Future California Elections

When it comes to elections, what does California do well? What could California do better? How have we led, and how have we perhaps lagged behind? These are questions that a diverse group of individuals and organizations asked themselves and one another over the course of three months, with an aim to envision the future of California’s elections. It turned out to be an extraordinary conversation and a process which could very well serve as a model for other states as well. One driving force in the process was the convening organization, the James Irvine Foundation, which has long worked on issues of importance to Californians. The participants included a diverse range of representatives with a concern for voters and not-yet voters, for elections and how they function, and for California’s democracy.

Download the Roadmap for Future California Elections (pdf)

Verified Voting Blog: Voting machine problems in Mississippi primary highlight national concern

In the August 3 primary in Mississippi voters experienced voting machine problems: candidates’ names and entire contests missing from the voting machine screens and equipment failing to booting up properly. Problems were reported in Hinds County, which uses the Advanced Voting Systems Winvote and in several counties that use the Premier  (Diebold) TSx equipped with…

Verified Voting Blog: Flawed Wisconsin Race Proves Need for Transparency, Accountability in Election Procedures

When Wisconsin voters flocked to the polls on April 5, one of the factors driving the high turnout was the State Supreme Court contest between incumbent Justice David Prosser and challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg. Prosser, whose term ends July 31, often casts the deciding vote on the seven-member court. He is a conservative Republican former Speaker of the Assembly seen as closely allied to Wisconsin’s controversial Gov. Scott Walker. Kloppenburg, a virtual unknown who was given little chance of success when she entered the race several months ago, was buoyed by the high passions stirred by Walker’s actions to strip government employees of their collective bargaining rights. Though the race is officially nonpartisan, it was seen as both a referendum on Walker and a chance to affect the Supreme Court’s ruling on Walker’s actions, which are likely to be reviewed by the Court in its next term. Election night results were considered too close to call, but the next day when seemingly all the votes had been tallied, Kloppenburg claimed victory with a margin of 204 votes of the more than 1.4 million total votes cast. A recount seemed inevitable.

[pullquote align=”left”][media url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ldCVBB-ruKY” width=”360″ height=”240″ jwplayer=”controlbar=bottom”][/pullquote]Then one day later, County Clerk Kathy Nickolaus of Republican stronghold Waukesha County suddenly announced in a dramatic press conference that she had forgotten to include the votes of the county’s second-largest city, Brookfield, in her tabulation. The more than 14,000 votes she added now gave Prosser a lead of almost 7,316 votes of the 1,498,880 votes cast, or 0.488%. Wisconsin picks up the tab for recounts where the margin of victory is less than 0.5%, so this falls just barely within the margin of a state-funded recount.

Verified Voting Blog: Maryland Report – Scanners Cost Less than DREs

A new study commissioned by the state of Maryland has just taken a close look at the relative cost of optical-scan paper-ballot voting systems compared with electronic touch-screen systems, and found that optical-scan paper-ballot systems are less expensive . These findings are timely and important not only for Maryland, but for other states as well. With Maryland’s direct-recording electronic voting machines (DREs) approaching the end of their useful lifespan, the report by the Department of Legislative Services notes that using the systems becomes increasingly risky as the machines age. The report recommends that the State should move to implement optical scan systems for “long-term cost-effectiveness and cost control.” and that “Maryland would spend $9.5 million less on an optical scan system than it would on a DRE system. Both [Operations and Maintenance]and capital costs are expected to be lower over the long term under an optical scan system.”

Using current costs of service contracts and cost proposals submitted to the State, the study concludes that “Overall, the cost of continuing to use the state’s current voting system will be higher than transitioning to an optical scanning system.” The study compared price quotes submitted to Maryland with five other states and ascertained that the proposed purchase of the optical scan devices and related equipment appears to be in line with what other jurisdictions have paid for identical equipment. In all cases where direct comparisons can be made of ES&S pricing on software and hardware from past contracts, the price quotes in the Maryland response are comparable or better.”

Verified Voting Blog: Pulling the Lever for Paper

The 2010 elections quietly marked a milestone in election technology history. For the first time in over a hundred years, this was the first national election in which mechanical lever machines were not used. Lever machines were at one time so ubiquitous in US culture that the phrase “pull the lever” is still the go-to phrase we use to mean “cast the vote”. Most states made the transition from levers years ago, beginning in the 1980s when the first optical scanners were employed. But in New York State, this election was the first one without levers in a very long time. Fortunately, the new technology the State chose to use is paper ballots and optical scanners,  not paperless electronic voting. And those paper ballots are proving their worth already in several disputed elections around the state.

Media reports of “problems with the new voting systems” really have it the wrong way around. Perhaps it’s because New York isn’t yet used to having an actual paper record of votes, so we don’t yet understand the value of a recount. When outcomes are uncertain or disputed, recounting paper ballots is the best way there is to find out who really won an election. New York’s new ability to count the paper is not a problem, it’s the solution.

Verified Voting Blog: Paper vs. Electronic Voting in Houston

Back in late August, Harris County (Houston)’s warehouse with all 10,000 of our voting machines, burned to the ground. As I blogged at the time, our county decided to spend roughly $14 million of its $40 million insurance settlement on purchasing replacement electronic voting machines of the same type destroyed in the fire, and of the same type that I and my colleagues found to be unacceptably insecure in the 2007 California Top-to-Bottom Report. This emergency purchase was enough to cover our early voting locations and a smattering of extras for Election Day. We borrowed the rest from other counties, completely ignoring the viral security risks that come with this mixing and matching of equipment. (It’s all documented in the California report above. See Section 7.4 on page 77. Three years later, and the vendor has fixed none of these issues.)

Well, the county also spent the money to print optical-scan paper ballots (two sheets of 8.5″ x 17″, printed front and back), and when I went to vote this morning, I found my local elementary school had eight eSlate machines, all borrowed from Travis County (Austin), Texas. They also had exactly one booth set up for paper ballot voting. After I signed in, the poll worker handed me the four-digit PIN code for using an eSlate before I could even ask to use paper. “I’d like to vote on paper.” “Really? Uh, okay.” Apparently I was only the second person that day to ask for paper and they were in no way making any attempt to give voters the option to vote on paper.

Verified Voting Blog: Voting Machine Expert Offers Insights on North Carolina “Vote-Flipping”

Douglas Jones is a voting technology expert on the computer science faculty at the University of Iowa who has done extensive study of the ES&S iVotronic direct recording voting machine. In this interview he offers his insights on reports of straight-party voting problems on iVotronics in multiple North Carolina counties. Q: Are you familiar with…

Verified Voting Blog: Comprehensive Map of US Voting Equipment Released

Voter-marked paper ballots dominate among U.S. voting methods, but one fourth of voters still depend on unverifiable equipment.

Verified Voting has released a new version of the Verifier, a map of voting technology used throughout the United States and territories, along with a statistical summary of voting technology that States will use this November.

The Verifier can be accessed at this here.

Verified Voting Blog: Thoughts on the New York Primary

Despite the impressions received from media reports, the September 14th primary was not the first time that New Yorkers voted on paper ballots and scanners. In the 2009 off-year election, 47 counties in upstate New York used the new systems as part of a pilot program. This trial run taught participants valuable lessons, and New York City’s decision to abstain led directly to many of the problems reported there. In general, things went smoother upstate than in the City. Problem reports broke down into a few main categories:

Privacy Issues – One of the big lessons from the 2009 pilot was that voters felt that their ballots were too often exposed to public view. Some of this was inevitable – using a lever machine, surrounded on all sides by panels and curtains, the voter is in an isolation booth. Today, the small privacy booths where voters fill out their ballots are open on the back side, and if not placed correctly at the poll site (for example with the open side facing a wall) one can feel exposed. It’s very important that Boards of Elections think about layout and lines of sight within the polling place. A second frequent privacy complaint concerned carrying the paper ballot in plain view over to the scanner. This can only happen if Boards of Elections do not provide sufficient supplies of ‘privacy sleeves’ (folders which conceal the completed ballot) and adequately train poll workers in their distribution and use. Lack of privacy sleeves is an administrative failure, and is really inexcusable.

Verified Voting Blog: An Important New Proposal for Voting Machines

If you’ve wondered why voting machine problems seem to occur again and again around the country and what can be done about it, the Brennan Center at New York University School of Law has an answer. A report released last week by the non-partisan organization, Voting System Failures: A Database Solution, found that in the absence of requirements to report malfunctions, vendors do not keep election officials informed about voting system defects. The report recommends several remedies for this pervasive problem. Among other conclusions, it calls for a searchable national database of voting machine problems to be created and made available to the public.

The report found that election officials “must rely almost exclusively on the voting system vendors for information about malfunctions, defects, vulnerabilities and other problems that the vendors have discovered, or that have occurred with their voting systems in other states“. Vendors “don’t have an incentive to inform [election officials] of certain problems with their systems”. Noting that this leads to repeated failures of systems year after year, ” these malfunctions – and their consequence, disenfranchisement – could have been avoided had election officials and/or public advocates known about earlier problems and had an opportunity to fix them”.

Verified Voting Blog: On India’s Electronic Voting Controversy

For Americans who care about verified elections, recent events in India are resonant.  Verified Voting applauds the advocates, ordinary citizens and technologists who are working for accountable voting in the world’s largest democracy.  We support calls for the government of India  to 1) engage constructively, rather than persecute, technologists who have conducted critical research on Indian voting systems; and 2) take immediate steps toward a verifiable voting process suited to India’s needs.

A bit of background for Americans who have not yet tuned in to the controversy:  India adopted a nationwide system of paperless direct-recording electronic voting machines in 2004.  Early on, some Indian computer security experts pointed to the inherent vulnerability of a purely electronic voting process, and a number of journalists and candidates for office raised concerns.  The machines in India are much simpler than those used in America, but are no less vulnerable to wholesale attacks originating from the voting system vendor, and are prone to a number of serious machine-by-machine “retail” attacks.

Verified Voting Blog: On the South Carolina Primary – A call for recountable, auditable voting systems

Last week’s surprising outcome in a party primary in South Carolina for United States Senate was accompanied by anecdotal reports of voting problems on election day, and many questions about the accuracy of the vote count. Whether specific reports of irregularities in this election are confirmed, the most important fact about South Carolina’s voting system…

Verified Voting Blog: The 2010 Primaries: More Recounts than Recountable Elections

The 2010 primary election season is in full swing.  As in every election cycle, there are a number of extremely close races, with recounts looming for some.  So far this year, state-mandated automatic recounts are likely for the Democratic primary for Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania, and for the Republican primary for Ohio’s 18th U.S. Congressional District.  In Oregon, a recount is possible in the statewide race for superintendent of schools. Some of 2010’s recounts will include the hand-to-eye examination of actual ballots; for example, Oregon mandates that recounts be 100% hand-counted.  But too many “recounts” this year will depend upon the correct functioning of computer software or firmware.  We believe that this state of affairs is not tenable.  When a state does not provide every voter with a reliable, physical ballot showing his or her intent, or does not conduct computer-independent recounts of those ballots, then an effective recount –  a process that should provide the strongest possible evidence of the intent of the electorate – is not possible.

Verified Voting Blog: Judge Orders Expert Review of Voting Machines in New Jersey

A judge in New Jersey has ordered a new review of New Jersey’s voting systems, this time by qualified technical experts, in a partial victory for advocates challenging the systems’ constitutionality. State law requires that voting systems be “accurate and reliable.” From our vantage point, these systems don’t meet that standard; because they cannot be audited, there’s no way to check for accuracy. A recent report from researchers at UCSD illustrated a stunning new kind of vulnerability in the type of voting system in widespread use in New Jersey (AVC Advantage), where code could be inserted, modify results and vanish without detection. An author on that study, and expert witness in the New Jersey case, Prof. Edward Felten, said preventing such attacks “requires an extraordinary level of security engineering, or the use of safeguards such as voter-verified paper ballots.”

While other requirements from the Judge address some security measures, including criminal background checks on personnel working with the voting machines and all third party vendors who examine or transport them, and protocols for inspecting machines to ensure they have not been tampered with, such checks have no impact on any tampering that may have occurred in the past (such as during the extended periods of time in which they were left unattended at polling places before and after past elections), and provide no failsafe that would ensure reliability. Voting systems can no longer be connected to the Internet, which we trust means New Jersey will now provide a more secure way to allow for the return of voted ballots from overseas voters.

Verified Voting Blog: Justice Department Seeks to Block Merger of Voting Machine Vendors

According to an article in the New York Post a lawsuit is expected to be filed by the Department of Justice that would seek to block the already-completed merger of the nation’s two largest voting-machine makers, Election Systems & Software (ES&S) and Premier Election Solutions (formerly Diebold Election Systems). The article cites “a person close to the situation” that the DoJ lawsuit, “if successful, would effectively undo the merger of Diebold’s Premier Elections Solutions with Election Systems & Software, a $5 million deal completed in September.”

Verified Voting Blog: Monopoly, ES&S, and Nassau County

There was lots of reporting last week about the decision to award New York City’s huge voting machine contract to the ES&S, but the really interesting story slipped by nearly unnoticed – Nassau County, home to nearly 1 million registered voters, announced they were abandoning their recently purchased Dominion ImageCast machines for ES&S systems. This announcement came as quite a surprise because Nassau County has been using the Dominion machines for accessible voting in all polling places since 2008, as well as spent time and money training poll workers in the use of the new systems. So how is it that ES&S managed to snatch away Nassau County, in terms of voting system sales the second largest prize in New York State, from the much smaller Dominion? The answer is a cautionary tale about the power of a near monopoly to force smaller competitors out of the market.

ES&S has long been one of a handful of voting machine companies dominating the United States market. But recently, with Sequoia Voting Systems struggling financially, and the absorption of Diebold into ES&S (a move opposed by many), the company already has a near-stranglehold on providing voting systems and services to election officials. In New York State however, ES&S faces a small competitor from just across Lake Ontario in Canada, Dominion Voting. Dominion designed and built the ImageCast, a new scanner and accessible ballot marker combination system that many County Boards of Elections around the state, including Nassau, liked enough to order and use in 2008 and 2009 [Note – initially Dominion partnered with Sequoia to bring the ImageCast to New York, but Sequoia later pulled out and turned the contract over to Dominion]. Indeed, even if New York City chose the ES&S DS200 scanner, a decision finally made this week, little upstart Dominion would still have provided over half of the Empire State’s huge number of voting machines! But big companies like Wal-Mart and ES&S don’t stand around idly letting small competitors take what they see as their market share. And the way they do it is by being big enough to offer customers deals that are simply too good to pass up. And that’s exactly what ES&S did in Nassau County.

Verified Voting Blog: Statement on New York Voting System Certification

This is my opening statement for today’s meeting of New York’s Citizen Election Modernization Advisory Committee, which was created by the State Legislature to advise the Board of Elections on adoption of the new systems. Testing is now completed and results are being evaluated, with the State Board of Elections scheduled to make a determination on certifying systems on December 15th. We have come to an important moment in New York’s saga in adopting HAVA compliant voting systems. The long and rigorous testing required by New York State’s laws and regulations, arguably the best in the nation, has now been completed. Remaining is the difficult part – determining whether the systems have met the high standards required by New York State.

We have been presented with a huge amount of data to evaluate, and have only an extremely short time in which to do so. I’m pleased the Board staff has set aside this day to answer all our questions, but I am concerned that even the long, intense session we are embarking on may be insufficient to thoroughly assess the volume of data before us. Nevertheless, I look forward to today’s session and getting answers to the literally hundreds of questions I have about the test results.

Verified Voting Blog: Tinkering with Disclosed Source Voting Systems

In October, Sequoia Voting Systems, Inc. (“Sequoia”) announced that it intended to publish the source code of their voting system software, called “Frontier”, currently under development. (Also see EKR‘s post: “Contrarianism on Sequoia’s Disclosed Source Voting System”.) Yesterday, Sequoia made good on this promise and you can now pull the source code they’ve made available from their Subversion repository here. Sequoia refers to this move in it’s release as “the first public disclosure of source code from a voting systems manufacturer”. Carefully parsed, that’s probably correct: there have been unintentional disclosures of source code (e.g., Diebold in 2003) and I know of two other voting industry companies that have disclosed source code (VoteHere, now out of business, and Everyone Counts), but these were either not “voting systems manufacturers” or the disclosures were not available publicly. Of course, almost all of the research systems (like VoteBox and Helios) have been truly open source. Groups like OSDV and OVC have released or will soon release voting system source code under open source licenses.

I wrote a paper ages ago (2006) on the use of open and disclosed source code for voting systems and I’m surprised at how well that analysis and set of recommendations has held up (the original paper is here, an updated version is in pages 11–41 of my PhD thesis). The purpose of my post here is to highlight one point of that paper in a bit of detail: disclosed source software licenses need to have a few specific features to be useful to potential voting system evaluators. I’ll start by describing three examples of disclosed source software licenses and then talk about what I’d like to see, as a tinkerer, in these agreements. The definition of an open source software product is relatively simple: for all practical purposes, anything released under an OSI-approved software license is open source, especially in the sense that one who downloads the source code will have wide latitude to copy, distribute, modify, perform, etc. the source code. What we refer to as disclosed source software is publicly released under a more restrictive license.

Verified Voting Blog: Report on New York Voting System Pilot

Testimony on the voting machine pilot I gave at the New York State Senate Election Committee’s hearing on November 30, 2009. Full submitted testimony is posted here.

New York State was wise to do a pilot of our new voting systems. It provides an opportunity to work out the kinks in new systems and the procedures for managing them, allows us to learn from the inevitable mistakes, and to apply what we learn in the future. In my opinion, New York’s just concluded pilot was extremely valuable and revealed some important areas that need improvement. Certainly, privacy and ballot design issues often came up. However, given my limited speaking time I will submit comments on those two issues with my written testimony. Today I will discuss another pilot experience from which important lessons can be learned – the failure of some of the new voting machines and how New York can benefit from this failure.

Questions Raised in NY-23 Congressional Race
The NY-23 Congressional race had national attention, with 9 of 47 pilot counties holding elections in this race. Despite assurances from vendors, some of the new machines were inoperable on Election Day. In cases where machines failed, paper ballots were treated according to New York State emergency ballot rules, assuring that all votes were counted. Indeed, this is the great strength of New York’s new voting system – it ultimately relies on the marked paper ballot which contains a software independent record of voter intent.