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
    Jo, 8 Feb 2007 @ 12:57pm

    Re: Transparency

    Jon,

    You are right, this process does need to be open to the public. It is open, to an extent. Almost every election office in the nation is required to conduct public tests before every election so that the voters can see for themselves and take part in the verification of the system. I have been to literally hundreds of these, but sadly, the public RARELY shows up. They aren't interested in proving that the election is good, they are only interested in the bad.

    The EAC and the legislature are putting things in to place that will help make this even more open to the public. But the companies are never going to be able to pick between which advocacy group wants to test the machines for the good or which is going to test them so they can twist the facts and make money. So the only option these companies have is to comply with the law and leave it in the hands of the government, and essentially, the American people.

    All I am asking is that you (not specifically you) do your part in hearing out all sides of the story, even though my (not specifically my) side of the story is rarely told. These companies are not to blame here; we, as Americans, are. We have voted these crazy election rules in to law and we have supported the people who get voted in by spreading fear. If we aren't satisfied, we have to take it upon ourselves to better things and to see for ourselves, that's the American way. We can't sit behind our keyboard and present biased information that only compounds the problems without conducting the necessary due-process. Aggregating what we read on some random blog doesn't get us anywhere, we must open our eyes and take part in the process.

    Jon, I thank you for your comments and will take your point very seriously. You have proven to me that not everyone wants to ignore the truth and you have shown me that there is active cognition still taking place out there.

    On a side note, the election companies, from what I have gathered, have no interest in opposing paper audit trails. My guess is that by doing so, they will make more money, and I haven't heard any of them oppose this. However, I have seen them be very cautious, adding a receipt printer to the voting process does create more failure points and possible complications, I believe that they just want to make sure it is done right. That's my belief, I'm sure there are other ones out there.

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