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[liberationtech] REMINDER: TOMORROW Liberation Technologies Meeting AUGUST 5, 12noon Encina Hall E-008

Lauren Gelman gelman at
Mon Aug 4 10:29:13 PDT 2008

In light of David's talk tomorrow, you may be interested in this:

(David is the founder of the Verified Voting Foundation (mentioned 
below) and and is on the board of those 

A Bad Electronic Voting Bill
August 3, 2008

Congress has stood idly by while states have done the hard work of 
trying to make electronic voting more reliable. Now the Senate is 
taking up a dangerous bill introduced by Senators Dianne Feinstein, 
Democrat of California, and Robert Bennett, Republican of Utah, that 
would make things worse in the name of reform. If Congress will not 
pass a strong bill, it should apply the medical maxim: first, do no 

Voters cannot trust the totals reported by electronic voting 
machines; they are too prone to glitches and too easy to hack. In the 
last few years, concerned citizens have persuaded states to pass 
bills requiring electronic voting machines to use paper ballots or 
produce voter-verifiable paper records of every vote. More than half 
of the states now have such laws.

There is still a need for a federal law, so voting is reliable in 
every state. A good law would require that every vote in a federal 
election produce a voter-verifiable paper record, and it would 
mandate that the paper records be the official ballots. It would 
impose careful standards for how these paper ballots must be 
"audited," to verify that the tallies on the electronic machines are 

The Feinstein-Bennett bill does none of these. It would permit states 
to verify electronic voting machines' results using electronic 
records rather than paper. Verifying by electronic records - having 
one piece of software attest that another piece of software is honest 
- is not verifying at all. The bill is also vague about rules for 
audits, leaving considerable room for mischief. The timeline also is 
unacceptable. States might be able to use unreliable machines through 
2014 or longer.

This bill goes out of its way to placate voting machine manufacturers 
and local election officials, two groups that have consistently been 
on the wrong side of electronic voting integrity. Reform groups like 
Verified Voting, which have done critical work in the states, say 
they were not allowed to provide input.

The bill would do some good things, including reducing the conflicts 
of interest that plague the process for certifying voting machines. 
But the damage it would do is much greater.

Ms. Feinstein introduced a better bill last year, which would have 
required a paper record of every vote, but she could not get enough 
support to pass it. If Congress cannot pass a good bill, it should 
let the states continue to do the hard work - and be prepared to 
explain to voters why it cannot muster the will to protect the 
integrity of American elections.

At 10:05 AM -0700 8/4/08, Joshua Cohen wrote:
>Dear All:
>I am very much looking forward to seeing people tomorrow.
>all best,
>p.s. if you notice that some names of interested people are not on 
>the distribution list, please forward the message.
>On Aug 4, 2008, at 9:51 AM, Adam Tolnay wrote:
>>Dear Liberation Technologies Working Group,
>>Our second talk in the series to be held by:
>>Prof. David Dill of the Computer Science department on August 5, 
>>2008 at 12:00noon in Encina Hall E-008. Lunch will be provided.
>>Further information on Prof. Dill's talk is below.
>>Kindly RSVP to Laura Cosovanu: lauracos at to let us know 
>>if you will be able to attend Prof. Dill's presentation. Please do 
>>not hesitate to ask any questions.
>>Adam Tolnay
>>Title:  "Electronic voting -- a potentially unliberating technology"
>>Abstract:  High-tech voting seems very attractive to voters who are 
>>used to using computers for work, e-commerce, electronic banking, 
>>etc. But voting is fundamentally different from other transaction 
>>because of ballot secrecy, which makes trustworthy electronic 
>>voting a very challenging technology problem.
>>Brief Bio: David Dill has been a Professor of Computer Science at 
>>Stanford University since 1987, after receiving his PhD in Computer 
>>Science from Carnegie Mellon University. He is a co-Principle 
>>Investigator on the NSF-funded ACCURATE voting technology project.
>>Prof. Dill has been working actively on policy issues in voting
>>technology since 2003. He is the author of the "Resolution on 
>>Electronic Voting", which calls for  a voter-verifiable audit trail 
>>on all voting equipment, and which has been endorsed by thousands 
>>of people, including many of the top computer scientists in the 
>>U.S. He served on the California Secretary of State's Ad Hoc Task 
>>Force on Touch-Screen Voting in 2003, and has testified on 
>>electronic voting before the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Election 
>>Assistance Commission, and the Commission on Federal Election 
>>Reform, co-chaired by Jimmy Carter and James Baker III. He is the 
>>founder of the  Verified Voting Foundation and 
>>and is on the board of those organizations. In 2004, he received 
>>the Electronic Frontier Foundation's  "Pioneer Award" for "for 
>>spearheading and nurturing the popular movement for integrity and 
>>transparency in modern elections."
>>(For other biographical information, see:

Lauren Gelman  
Executive Director
Center for Internet and Society
Lecturer in Law
Stanford Law School
(ph) 650-724-3358

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