Statement before the New York State Board of Elections
December 20, 2005
"preservation of citizen confidence in the democratic process
and enhancement in voter participation in elections"
Thank you for the opportunity to speak before you today.
The Board's mission statement says that it is charged with the “preservation of citizen confidence in the democratic process and enhancement in voter participation in elections.”
The draft regulations for voting systems standards do not comply with that mission.
I wish to make the following suggestions.
1. Simultaneous submission of both PBOS and DRE systems
Each vendor must be required to submit both PBOS and DRE systems at the same time, if they normally make and sell both kinds of systems.
It is not enough to require both kinds of systems to be submitted. They must also be required to be submitted at the same time. Otherwise, as we have seen in other states, DREs may be submitted immediately but PBOS systems may be submitted only after all counties have already purchased DREs.
2. Public Test
Before any voting system is certified, the State Board must run a public test with a large number of such systems (for example, 20 or 50 or 100) and the system must pass the test.
--Systems used in the test must be exactly the same as what will be sold in NY in hardware, programming, and every other way.
--Every machine in the test must work with no errors or failures.
--Vendors must supply the machines without charge.
--Vendor may assist in running the test, but members of the public must act as test voters, test poll workers, and test observers.
--Test observers must closely observe the entering of test votes, the printing of each voter-verified paper record by DRE equipment, and the extraction of end-of-election tallies and other information by test poll workers.
--the voter-verified paper record (for DREs), tallies, and logs must be 100% accurate.
If any system is going to fail, or is unusable by the kind of people who will be voters and poll workers, it is better to discover this before certification. This is when vendors are most highly motivated to fix their systems or simplify their use. If such a test is not done, voters will be the ones to discover failures and malfunctions during the first rollout of the equipment in an election, which will cause chaos and lawsuits.
Attached to my testimony are two reports of such a test conducted by California earlier this year.
A second reason for conducting a large public test is that distrust of DRE voting systems runs deep in our state. If the equipment works, it is better for the public to see that before cynicism about the equipment lowers voter turnout. Merely demonstrating how to use the equipment will not reassure people.
A third reason for such a test is that most of our election commissioners have not yet seen a demonstration of PBOS systems. It is an outrage that many election commissioners have already decided to select DRE equipment for their county, without ever seeing PBOS systems in action.
3. Red Test
Before any voting system is certified, the State Board must commission a professional hacker test, and the system (including all communications capabilities) must withstand such a test.
If a system is easily hacked, it is better to discover this before certification. This when vendors are highly motivated to fix their system. If such a test is not done, then after the first use of the equipment we will deal with the kinds of problems that other states have experienced, when the election outcomes differ significantly from pre-election polls. We will also face massive problems of recounts when electronic tallies differ significantly from tallies of the voter verifiable audit record.
Attached to my testimony is the cover of the report of such a test commissioned by the Maryland General Assembly and performed by RABA Technologies, LLC.