How Can You Test An E-Voting Machine For Malfunctions If You Don't Get To Test The Machine?

from the just-wondering dept

Now that Florida's governor has admitted that e-voting machines without a paper trail are not such a good idea (though, the optical scan machines he wants to replace them with have their own problems), you would think that Florida would be all for a thorough investigation into the problems of the old machines. Perhaps not. Remember Sarasota, where a bunch of votes appear to have gone missing? In the lawsuit over this, the judge denied the request to see the e-voting software source code, saying there needed to be more evidence that the machines malfunctioned first. At the same time, however, the Department of State in Florida has been trying to commission an "independent" study of the e-voting software, and even spoke to Ed Felten about joining the team. He's listed as one of the investigators, though he actually declined to take part. Why? Well, it turns out that they want the investigation to take place without actually letting the experts view the working software or the e-voting machines. Instead, it only wants to give them the source code and let them comb through the source code alone to try to figure out where the malfunction could have occurred. It's great that at least some experts are finally getting a chance to look at the source code, but it makes you wonder why all of these e-voting security tests always have strict limitations on them. If they really wanted to know what the security vulnerabilities are, shouldn't they make the test much more complete?
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  1. identicon
    _Jon, 8 Feb 2007 @ 12:09pm

    Transparency

    Due to the *fact* that there are people who will attempt to illegally effect an election, it is a requirement that all elections be transparent a verifiable.

    This requirement is common sense and a Constitutional requirement.

    If you believe there is a "conspiracy theory" here perhaps you should look at the people in position to benefit from such a conspiracy. Those of us who want transparency are speaking from a position of _preventing_ conspiracies. An election cannot be stolen if everyone can re-count the votes themselves. That's the type of transparency I want.

    An election *can* be stolen if no one can re-count the votes. This argument isn't so much about what *has* happened. It is more about what *could* happen. A transparent system will not allow a stolen election. A closed system with no physical audit or hidden procedures allows - at least in theory - an election to be stolen. *That* is what we - as a nation - need to avoid. We need to use an election process that encourages support of the process and ensures to everyone involved - winner and loser - that it was fair.

    People with no peaceful way to change their government will take up arms to effect a change. That is how important it is that the election process be transparent to the common voter.

    Jo, you are clearly a smart person and can understand the complexities of the field you are in. But you've already said that not every person in this nation will understand that. However, we are all guaranteed (via the Constitution) that the election process must be a process that each voter can understand. If the election process is morphed into something so complicated that the common voter can't understand it, then it is wrong and needs to be changed.

    I've taken your comment as a lesson to me that the voting process is much more complicated than I thought it was. You scored a point with me.

    But I think you should take this point into your mind: The election process is more complicated than it is supposed to be. Work to make it more open, not less.

    Thanks

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