voter verified paper audit trail

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Verified Voting Blog: Continuous-roll VVPAT under glass: an idea whose time has passed | Andrew Appel

This article was originally posted at Freedom to Tinker on October 19, 2018.

States and counties should not adopt DRE+VVPAT voting machines such as the Dominion ImageCast X and the ES&S ExpressVote. Here’s why.

Touchscreen voting machines (direct-recording electronic, DRE) cannot be trusted to count votes, because (like any voting computer) a hacker may have installed fraudulent software that steals votes from one candidate and gives them to another. The best solution is to vote on hand-marked paper ballots, counted by optical scanners. Those opscan computers can be hacked too, of course, but we can recount or random-sample (“risk-limiting audit”) the paper ballots, by human inspection of the paper that the voter marked, to make sure.

Fifteen years ago in the early 2000s, we computer scientists proposed another solution: equip the touchscreen DREs with a “voter verified paper audit trail” (VVPAT). The voter would select candidates on a touchscreen, the DRE would print those choices on a cash-register tape under glass, the voter would inspect the paper to make sure the machine wasn’t cheating, the printed ballot would drop into a sealed ballot box, and the DRE would count the vote electronically. If the DRE had been hacked to cheat, it could report fraudulent vote totals for the candidates, but a recount of the paper VVPAT ballots in the ballot box would detect (and correct) the fraud.

By the year 2009, this idea was already considered obsolete. The problem is, no one has any confidence that the VVPAT is actually “voter verified,” for many reasons:

  1. The VVPAT is printed in small type on a narrow cash-register tape under glass, difficult for the voter to read.
  2. The voter is not well informed about the purpose of the VVPAT. (For example, in 2016 an instructional video from Buncombe County, NC showed how to use the machine; the VVPAT-under-glass was clearly visible at times, but the narrator didn’t even mention that it was there, let alone explain what it’s for and why it’s important for the voter to look at it.)
  3. It’s not clear to the voter, or to the pollworker, what to do if the VVPAT shows the wrong selections. Yes, the voter can alert the pollworker, the ballot will be voided, and the voter can start afresh. But think about the “threat model.”  Suppose the hacked/cheating DRE changes a vote, and prints the changed vote in the VVPAT. If the voter doesn’t notice, then the DRE has successfully stolen a vote, and this theft will survive the recount.  If the voter does notice, then the DRE is caught red-handed, except that nothing happens other than the voter tries again (and the DRE doesn’t cheat this time). You might think, if the wrong candidate is printed on the VVPAT then this is strong evidence that the machine is hacked, alarm bells should ring– but what if the voter misremembers what he entered in the touch screen?  There’s no way to know whose fault it is.
  4. Voters are not very good at correlating their VVPAT-in-tiny-type-under-glass to the selections they made on the touch screen. They can remember who they selected for president, but do they really remember the name of their selection for county commissioner? And yet, historically in American elections, it’s as often the local and legislative offices where ballot-box-counting (insider) fraud has occurred.
  5. “Continuous-roll” VVPATs, which don’t cut the tape into individual ballots, compromise the secrecy of the ballot.  Since any of the political-party-designated pollwatchers can see (and write down) what order people vote on the machine, and know the names of all the voters who announce themselves when signing in, they can (during a recount) correlate voters to ballots. (During a 2006 trial in the Superior Court of New Jersey, I was testifying about this issue; Judge Linda Feinberg saw this point immediately, she said it was obvious that continuous-roll VVPATs compromise the secret ballot and should not be acceptable under New Jersey law. )

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Botswana: Electoral Bill introduces electronic voting machine paper trail | Mmegi Online

“The Bill introduces (a) VVPAT printer to ensure that votes are supplemented by a permanent paper record of each electronic vote for purposes of auditing electronic ballots,” says the Bill presented by the Minister of Presidential Affairs and Public Administration, Eric Molale. It further states that the introduction of VVPAT necessitated redrafting of the Amendment in order to synchronise the procedures for the EVM with the verification process provided by the VVPAT printer ballot slips. It will distinguish the EVM voting procedure from voting by ballot paper, while it retains other provisions such as registration of voters, preparation of rolls, deletion of supplementary rolls, assistance of voters by election officers and increase in penalties. Read More

India: Poll panel’s plan to use VVPATs in 2019 elections on track | The Economic Times

EC’s bid to conduct the 2019 general elections using an entirely new set of electronic voting machines with Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) is running four weeks behind schedule. While the general elections are scheduled to be held in May 2019, the 16-lakh VVPAT machines to be used in the polls were to be received by September 2018. According to EC officials, who are closely monitoring the procurement of the machines, the delay has been caused by minor ‘slippages’ related to security of EVMs. EC officials, however, said the plan to use VVPAT machines in 2019 was still on track and such machines would be used across all booths for the first time. ET has learnt that in a review meeting on Wednesday, there were discussions around the security of EVMs which has led to the delay. “Even though we are looking at using new EVMs for the election, it is important that all loose ends related to security are cleared,” a highly placed official said. Read More

India: Election Commission to get 30,000 VVPAT machines by September | Times of India

The Election Commission (EC) is expected to get delivery of around 30,000 voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) voting machines by the first week of September, enabling it to hold 100% paper trail-based assembly polls in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh at the end of this year. The commission, which has a stock of 53,500 VVPAT machines, requires around 70,000 units for Gujarat polls and around 15,000 units to conduct Himachal Pradesh elections. The additional 30,000 machines will complete the requirement for two state polls. Read More

India: Election Commission to tally paper trail slips with electronic voting machines in 5% booths in each assembly seat | The Indian Express

In a bid to further reinforce the credibility of electronic voting machines, the Election Commission (EC) has decided to mandatorily tally paper trail slips with the results of EVMs in five per cent of polling stations in each assembly seat, for all state and Lok Sabha elections. The counting of paper trail slips, however, will not take place in more than 14 polling stations and less than five polling stations in each assembly seat. The stations will be selected or identified at random. This change in the vote counting process will, by the EC’s estimate, delay the announcement of poll results by three hours. The Commission has already decided to link all EVMs with Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines in the Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh Assembly elections, scheduled to be held towards the end of this year. VVPAT machines produce a printout of the vote cast using an EVM. The printed ballot slip is deposited in a box and can be used to resolve any dispute regarding the election. Read More

India: Future elections will be held with paper trail, Election Commission tells political parties | Telugu 360

The Election Commission on Friday ruled out any possibility of the EVMs being tampered with in elections even as it announced that all future elections will be held with VVPAT slips to prevent any doubts while the AAP demanded ‘hackathon’, a view others were not apparently enthusiastic about at an all-party meeting convened to discuss worries over the machines. At the end of the day-long meeting, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi that the poll panel will hold a “challenge” for political parties to prove their allegations that the machines were or could be tampered with. “All future elections will be mandatorily held with VVPAT (Voter-verifiable paper audit trail),” he said. “The Commission will hold a challenge and offer an opportunity to political parties to demonstrate that the EVMs used in the recently-concluded assembly elections were tampered or the EVMs can be tampered with even under the laid down technical and administrative safeguards,” he added. Read More

India: Assembly passes resolution on use of VVPAT slips as directed by Supreme Court | The Tribune

Three days before the all-party meeting called by the Election Commission of India (ECI) to discuss the concerns over electronic voting machines’ (EVMs) reliability, the AAP on Tuesday conducted a mock poll inside the Delhi Assembly to back its allegations that EVMs can be “hacked” and claimed “such rigging” has led to BJP’s successive wins in the recent elections across the country. To lend credence to the whole exercise in the House, the Arvind Kejriwal-led party had invited representatives of the CPI (M), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD, Trinamool Congress (TMC), Janata Dal (U) and Samajwadi Party to see EVMs hacking. CPI-M leader Nilotpal Basu, RJD’s Manoj Jha and leader from the TMC were seen seated in the gallery to see the live demo.
In course, the AAP dared the BJP-led Centre and the ECI that given a chance it can get the EVMs “tampered” through its engineers within 30 hours and in poll-bound Gujarat it requires “just three hours” for the same, before the House adopted a resolution demanding that every election in the country henceforth be held using voter-verified paper audit trail or VVPAT slips as directed by the Supreme Court. Read More

India: Election Commission to buy VVPAT machines in 2 years, issues letter of intent to manufacturers | India TV

The Election Commission has issued a letter of intent for purchase of 16,15,000 Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail ( VVPAT) machines in the next two years to be used in all polling stations in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The Commission issued letter of intent to ECIL and BEL — both PSUs — on Friday, two days after the Union Cabinet cleared its proposal to buy 16,15000 voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT) units at an estimated cost of Rs 3,173.47 crore. The poll panel has informed them that the machines would be bought during 2017-18 and 2018-19.  The Commission will buy 8,07,500 VVPAT units each from the two manufacturers by September, 2018.  Read More

India: Congress questions Government’s ability to provide VVPATs by 2019 elections | Deccan Chronicle

With the Election Commission’s decision to monitor production of the Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) by the 2019 assembly elections, the Congress Party on Thursday questioned the government’s ability of providing these machines. “We need at least 16 lakh Paper Trail machines before the 2019 elections. Whether the government will be able to fulfill the target or not is a crucial question. It’s a much wider issue and for the purity of election process it is essential. If the EVMs are not functionally accurate then they cannot be used,” Congress leader K.C. Mittal said. He further said the issue needs to be investigated by expert committees. “In the 2014 parliamentary elections I had raised objections. There is something wrong with the EVMs. The Uttar Pradesh Election Commissioner says he cannot hold municipal elections with the earlier EVMs. Then why were the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh held on the same EVMs? These questions need to be answered,” he added. Read More

India: Cabinet clears Election Commission’s proposal to buy new paper trail machines | The Indian Express

The Union Cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, cleared the Election Commission’s proposal to buy new Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines on Wednesday. Ahead of the 2019 General Elections, the EC has been given the go ahead to procure 16,15,000 units, at an estimated base price of Rs. 3,173.47 crore. Since June 2014, the EC has reportedly given at least 11 reminders to the Centre seeking funds for VVPAT machines. “Amount of Rs. 3173 crores have been approved to acquire 16.15 lakh VVPAT machines,” confirmed Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday, reported news agency ANI. Read More