Washburn's World

My take on the world. My wife often refers to this as the WWW (Weird World of Washburn)

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Location: Germantown, Wisconsin, United States

I am a simple country boy transplanted from the Piehl Township in northern Wisconsin to the Milwaukee metropolitan area who came down "sout" in 1980 for college and have stayed in the area since.
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Friday, August 26, 2005

Could not make it to Mad City Today

AccuPoll is in Madison today showing off its wares. Since I have a real job and paying client this afternoon, I had to forego indulging in my hobby of election integrity. Instead I sent the following poor substitute; a sharply worded letter.

Germantown, WI 53022
August 26, 2005

D. Richard Rassmusen
Wisconsin State Elections Board
17 West Main Street, Suite 310
PO Box 2973
Madison, Wisconsin 53701-2973

Dear Richard:

Unfortunately, I will not be able to attend the equipment demonstration today in Madison as I had planned. I have a real, paying client to meet with this afternoon. So, my hobby of election integrity must be subordinated to this.

This fax is to document my concerns with the AccuPoll system. First and foremost, I do not see how AccuPoll can meet the requirements of 5.91. Second, there is no documentation of the certification to FEC 2002 standards. Third, the statement regarding open-source is likely to be false.

AccuPoll as described on the website and in literature cannot possibly comply with 5.91(1) and 5.91(18) simultaneously. As long as the elector can handle the ballot receipt printed by the machine, there is no guarantee all the receipts will be available for a manual recounting of the election. AccuPoll is quite adamant that the scrap of paper printed by the machine is NOT the official ballot. This is deliberate and understandable on the part of AccuPoll. If the scrap of paper were the ballot then all the restrictions of chapter 5.64 and other ballot provisions would apply to the printed scrap of paper. (By the way, this may be a problem for Populex as well, since the paper printed by Populex is the official ballot). But, since this is not the ballot the elector is free to take the ballot receipt home. This is similar to the elector taking home a sample ballot home. The ballot receipt, the sample ballots and the “I Voted” stickers have the same status under the law; election aids and souvenirs. If even 1 elector can or does leave the polling location with a receipt or fails to deposit the receipt in a central collection box, the requirement of 5.91(18) is not met. The election cannot be counted or recounted manually.

The logical solution to get out of this box is to require the elector to hand the ballot receipt to an election official and the official then deposits the receipt into the central collection box. The first problem with this approach is there no way to legally compel the elector to give his election souvenir to anyone, let alone an election official. Putting this concern aside for a moment, leads to the deeper statutory problem of this approach. Paragraph 5.91(1) requires the privacy of elector voting be maintained. Since the ballot receipt contains voting information for a particular elector, this document (even though not a ballot) cannot be given to an election official. The votes of an identifiable elector would not be private if the scrap of paper called a ballot receipt is given over to an election official. Printing all of the digital images stored in the AccuPoll machine fails to meet 5.91(18) because the digital was never verified by the elector. The scrap of paper called a ballot receipt was presented for possible verification by the voter, not the digital image.

The printer and hardware of the AccuPoll machine could be altered so the elector can view and verify his ballot receipt without handling it. This is the receipt-under-glass approach. The problem here is that if the AccuPoll Machine is altered to provide a receipt-under-glass, then the certification number FEC-N-2-13-22-22-001 (2002) does not apply to the newly configured, receipt-under-glass system. Chapter 8.7.1 (Physical Configuration Audit) of the 2002 NASED/EAC/FEC standards is quite explicit that the certification and the number assigned to that certification is for the single and particular configuration of hardware and software described by the Physical Configuration Audit (PCA). The PCA is submitted by the vendor to the independent testing authority. Any change to the physical configuration (new requirement for existing hardware, new version of some software component, the addition of software or hardware or the deletion of hardware or software) requires a new PCA. The system with the new PCA must be resubmitted for certification and the issuance of a new certification number.

So on the 5.91 issues here are the salient questions for AccuPoll:
  1. What is the official ballot? The screen or the paper? If the screen how does this system simultaneously comply with 5.91(1) and 5.91(18)? If the paper, then does the paper conform to the ballot regulations of chapter 5, e.g. 5.64?
  2. Is there a receipt-under-glass version? If so, what is the certification number for that system? If not, how long will it take to get the receipt-under-glass system certified and a new certification number issued for the receipt-under-glass system?
  3. Where is the physical configuration audit (PCA) associated with certification number FEC-N-2-13-22-22-001 (2002)?
    1. When will the staff of the board get the PCA and other certification documentation created and supporting certification number FEC-N-2-13-22-22-001 (2002)?
    2. Is the system here today in Madison the same system described in the PCA?
    3. If not, when will a copy of the system actually described by certification number FEC-N-2-13-22-22-001 (2002) be provided to the staff of the election board?
  4. How does the staff of the election board compare the AccuPoll system before them to the PCA of certification number FEC-N-2-13-22-22-001 (2002) to confirm or deny the system before them is certified? The staff needs to do this before it wastes its time entering test ballots as part of the staff testing via mock election.
Related to the above questions is my second concern. I can find no copies of the underlying documentation to certification number FEC-N-2-13-22-22-001 (2002). There is no information or links on the AccuPoll, Ciber, inc. or SysTest web-sites.
  1. Which ITA was the ITA for FEC-N-2-13-22-22-001 (2002)?
  2. Where are the ITA and AccuPoll documents submitted and created during the certification related to the issuance of certification number FEC-N-2-13-22-22-001 (2002)?
A third, relatively unrelated issue with AccuPoll is the lie that the AccuPoll software is Open-Source.
  1. Where is the source code repository for the open-sourced code?
  2. Since the minimum, legal definition of open-sourced requires delivery of source code upon sale, how much disk space does the delivered source code occupy? What is the deliver media: ZIP file, TAR ball, CD-ROM, access to an FTP site or other? Since Erath County, Texas purchased the AccuPoll Voting System on June 21, 2005, AccuPoll has provided source code at least once. The answers to these questions are if nothing else, what did AccuPoll do while delivering source code to Erath County, Texas?
In Liberty,

John Washburn


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