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Avi Rubin describes his ideal election system.

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eomer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-30-06 11:53 AM
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Avi Rubin describes his ideal election system.
I transcribed a portion of the radio program that nashville_brook alerted us to a couple of hours ago, The Validity of the 2006 Election on WBUR's On Point. I was interested in Avi Rubin's description of an election system that is paper-based and auditable and that uses technology in a way that takes advantage of its benefits but doesn't have us trusting the software. His system is pretty much the same as what I've been advocating lately in bits and pieces but he puts the whole thing together.

Avi Rubin: Well Ive been studying this now for several years and Ive seen all kinds of technologies, there are really multiple ones, and the best one that I think we could have would be paper ballots. And, the paper ballots can we can use technology to augment the process quite a bit. We could use computer touchscreens to mark the paper ballots. So you go up to a touchscreen machine and you make your selections and it prints out a filled-out paper ballot, which is basically the same one you would fill out with a pencil except the ovals will be filled in perfectly. And you get a lot of advantages of the electronics there in terms of the interface that the voter has, which is a nice touchscreen, which voters like and avoids all kinds of problems.

Tom Ashbrook: Is such a system deployed and ready to be used next Tuesday anywhere right now?

Avi Rubin: I believe that they are using it in several places. Theres a system the most widely known system of this sort is called the Automark and Ive only given you half of the equation because now, Ive described the way in which voters mark a ballot, its a paper ballot, but then how you count it is very important as well and what Id like to see would be precinct-level optical scanners, which is you dont take these papers and then try to transmit them before theyve been counted to a central place, but you count them right in the precinct with an optical scanning machine. Now obviously thats an electronic machine as well. The difference between that electronic machine and a touchscreen voting machine that counts votes is that you can audit it. You can feed it all kinds of ballots and then count the ballots by hand and compare them to the totals that the optical scanner gets, without knowledge in advance of which machines youre going to audit.

Tom Ashbrook: So in a way youre saying keep it local, and at some level, keep it simple.

Avi Rubin: Keep it simple and keep it local now, think about how much software youre trusting in a system like this. If youre auditing these optical scanners then youre not trusting the software on them and its very little software to begin with. Whereas, if you use the electronic voting machines, youve got, in the case of the Diebold Accuvote which we use in Maryland, fifty thousand lines of code in the software on top of millions of lines of Windows, and so I think as a computer scientist that its a bad idea to trust the elections to software, which can have bugs and can be manipulated in a way that cannot be detected.


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nashville_brook Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-30-06 11:58 AM
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1. thanks for transcribing this!
"Keep it simple and keep it local!"

those are powerful words.
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Wilms Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-30-06 08:49 PM
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2. K&R n/t
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