Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Avante Explains Position

Avante explains...

On the issue of paper ballot vs DRE (Direct Recording Electronic) with VVPR (Voter Verified Paper Record) for New York State

AVANTE has long taken the position that DREs with a properly engineered VVPR is the best voting solution for the United States on the basis of meeting all of the requirements. It’s the only method that can help to eliminate voter errors.

The caveat is that the DRE and VVPR must be properly engineered so that commonly observed errors and privacy concerns are not introduced. We believe the dramatic failures of some of the DREs with VVPR have nothing to do with the concept of the system but everything to do with problems in engineering and design. We have published several white papers with this opinion.11 12

AVANTE knows that its position is not the same as some of the activist groups. It is particularly true on the virtue of DREs with VVPR vs Precinct-base Optical Scan voting solutions. In many ways, the “devils” or potential problems of DRE with VVPR are well known and have been studied over the last few years. They have been addressed in election codes as well as in certification requirements.

However, one cannot say the same of optical scan system. The “devils” and problems of paper ballot tampering were known decades ago when New York and New Jersey changed from paper balloting to the current direct recording mechanical lever voting systems.13 But

the problems have been forgotten. The current optical scan system and relevant processes have not been improved over the last twenty or more years.
AVANTE has advocated that a proper name for the optical scan system may be best described as “direct recording optical scan electronic” (DROSE).
The current crop of optical scan systems scan the paper ballot and tell the voter if there are any over-voted or under-voted contests. It does NOT tell the voter how the system is actually reading and recording the deciphered ballot. Upon acceptance by the voters, even though they have no idea of how the system is registering their votes other than by faith, it then records the electronic data directly into the tallies. The tallies are recorded in flash memory and used as transfer medium. The vulnerabilities of using such transfer media are known and been proven by Harri Hursti and Thompson to be easily changed without a trace14. While it may be true that there are paper ballots marked by the voters stored in the ballot box, there is no corresponding process control in the current New York State or any other State Election Codes. Some state laws even forbid manual reviewing of the paper ballots. Paper ballots whether they are precinct-based or central counts, can be tampered with and substituted. No fault absentee ballots are subject to even more potential integrity issues.

The mentioned optical scan voting problems and potential lack of proper control with paper ballot handling is also inadequately addressed by the EAC Voting System Standards. The reason? All of the human resources in this field have been committed to eliminating the problems in DRE voting systems.

Is there an optical scan system solution that will address these issues? Yes. Mr. Harri Hursti has explained such a system in “Black Box Voting’s” website.15

An optical scan system should capture digital images of all of the ballots as they are submitted to form an electronic audit trail of the paper ballots. It is a “reverse” of the VVPR to the electronic ballots. AVANTE believe it should also provide the voters with the display of exactly how the system is recording the paper ballot as deciphered by the optical scan electronic system.16


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