[lug] ElectionAudits software - help audit the election!
neal at bcn.boulder.co.us
Mon Oct 27 13:53:37 MDT 2008
On Sun, Oct 26, 2008 at 08:05:48AM -0600, Bruce Raup wrote:
> Related to this, I recently learned about an interesting new company
> that has developed a voting system that combines paper-and-pen voting
> with a Linux-based system to record and count the votes automatically.
> One of the people involved tells me that the software (written in
> Java) would be (or is?) open-source.
Indeed, open-source software would help increase transparency. But it
wouldn't avoid the need for audits. Even hand-counted elections need
someone to confirm that the subtotals add up to the total, and
spot-checks on the counts are needed, besides the accounting for
ballots themselves which is always very important.
An interesting open-source prototype software system for electronic
voting machines is http://pvote.org/
A very different approch is http://punchscan.org - but most voters
would be very confused....
Neal McBurnett http://neal.mcburnett.org/
> On Fri, Oct 24, 2008 at 2:23 PM, Neal McBurnett <neal at bcn.boulder.co.us> wrote:
> > I briefly noted this project at the last blug meeting and in my barcamp
> > email, and I have finally finished some pieces I really wanted done before
> > asking for help. So please check it out.
> > One particular question relates to xml and xpath: how can I get e.g. the
> > lxml package to deal with the "xmlns = 'urn:crystal-reports:schemas'"
> > namespace declaration in the top node? Unless I just take that part out
> > (which I do now before parsing), the xpath queries return nothing at all,
> > and my attempts to incorporate the namespace in my queries result in
> > "Invalid expression"....
> > Read the rest on my blog here:
> > ElectionAudits software - help audit the election!
> > or read on....
> > Proper audits are the gold standard of election integrity - they can tell
> > whether the election system actually counted the real ballots properly.
> > Unfortunately, they are rarely done properly. We need better audits of our
> > elections in order to promote confidence in the results. Thankfully, there
> > are resources to make it easier than it has been in the past, both in terms
> > of procedures and statistical research, and in terms of open source
> > software. If you are willing to talk to your local elections officials, you
> > can make a difference. Read the Background section below for more
> > information.
> > You can:
> > Join the ElectionAudits Team - this will get you on the mailing list.
> > See how prepared your state is for the 2008 election
> > Ask your local officials if they follow the Principles and Best Practices
> > for Post-Election Audits
> > Attend a Logic and Accuracy Test (LAT) of your county election system
> > Get data from the LAT and test the ElectionAudits software
> > Ask when the report your county intends to audit will be released
> > Ask when the random selection will be done and how. Make sure the selection
> > isn't done before they release what they intend to audit (like most of
> > Colorado unfortunately!)
> > To do my part, I've worked with the Boulder County Clerk and started the
> > ElectionAudits open source software project to help us audit elections with
> > appropriate statistical significance, and I need help there too! If you're
> > skilled with Python or Django (especially on Windows since it is developed
> > on Ubuntu Linux), database query optimization, xml, xslt, css, setuptools
> > for packaging cross-platform easy_install eggs, statistics, documentation or
> > the like, see the ElectionAudits Software Home Page, download the latest
> > code, and please lend a hand:
> > http://neal.mcburnett.org/electionaudits/
> > Background
> > We all know there are many questions being raised about the systems used to
> > count votes in our elections. The bottom line, as noted in a paper by MIT
> > voting and security expert Ron Rivest and NIST voting expert John Wack, is
> > the need for "Software Independence":
> > http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_independence
> > meaning that election software should not be a critical component which, if
> > it fails, can threaten the results of an election.
> > That is why we've moving from using unauditable paperless DRE machines to
> > systems based on paper ballots that can be audited. And we're slowly getting
> > there. But even for optical scanner systems we also need to check the
> > software that does the actual tallying and reporting of the results.
> > Those paper ballots are of little use if we never audit them. And we still
> > have a long way to go on effective audits of elections: the voting systems
> > don't support audits well, the laws and regulations are sparse and often
> > inadequate, and the topic is confusing to many.
> > This prompted California Secretary of State Debra Bowen to establish Post
> > Election Manual Tally Requirements and issue California proposed emergency
> > regulations for them.
> > Along with that, recently, experts in elections, statistics, computer
> > science, risk assessment and related fields have been working on better
> > audits, coordinated by ElectionAudits.org, the nation's clearinghouse for
> > election audit information. The latest results are the Principles and Best
> > Practices for Post-Election Audits.
> > I've been very active in that effort, and convinced Boulder County to do a
> > complete audit, far better than what is currently required in Colorado,
> > starting with an audit of the 2008 Primary in Boulder:
> > http://bcn.boulder.co.us/~neal/elections/2008-boulder-primary-audit/
> > Based on that experience, it was clear we needed software to help deal with
> > the inadequacy of the reports available from our Hart InterCivic BallotNow
> > system, and to make it clearer how to base the work on good statistics. So
> > the software includes the "varsize.py" statistical software from Ron Rivest
> > to guide efficient sampling of the audit units.
> > On Auditing Elections When Precincts Have Different Sizes, by Javed A.
> > Aslam, Raluca A. Popa and Ronald L. Rivest
> > See the demo and more at http://neal.mcburnett.org/electionaudits/
> > And while you're at it, please Digg it!
> > --
> > Neal McBurnett http://neal.mcburnett.org/
> > _______________________________________________
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> Bruce Raup
> Web Page: http://lug.boulder.co.us
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