on February 2001
Due to lack of space, readers'
comments for February are available here online and will be published in
From Dr. Michael Norden, Vivarto
"I first began reading the Bell
because of my involvement with Vivarto Technologies, a software company
focused on improving communication and decision-making. We needed to incorporate
technology for secure Internet voting, and The Bell was an invaluable source
of information. We learned a great deal about what is possible and what
is required for a secure voting system. Notably, as a result of what we
learned, Vivarto Technologies chose to partner with Safevote, and incorporate
their voting technology. As the nation begins to study election system
reform, I believe that The Bell (including archived issues) is required
reading for all those wishing to make the most informed contributions."
From Moti Yung, Vice President &
Chief Scientist, CertCo, Inc.
Panel: The Business of Electronic
Place: Financial Cryptography 2001, Grand
Cayman, Feb 21st, 2001 10:40 AM
Panel Chair: Moti Yung, CertCo
Panelists: Ed Gerck, Safevote.com; Andy
Neff, VoteHere.net; Ron Rivest, MIT; Avi Rubin, AT&T research
Abstract: This panel will concentrate
on the emerging business of e-voting.
The problems associated with traditional
voting machines in a national election---their unreliability, inaccuracy
and other potential hazards---were placed in an international limelight
by the last US presidential election. At the same time, but less
conspicuously, an industry centered around e-voting has started to emerge,
offering various solutions for national, boardroom, company-wide, and other
sorts of elections.
Indeed, the cryptographic research community
has dealt with issues related to security and robustness of e-voting as
a fundamental protocol problem. In contrast, this panel will discuss
issues regarding the real-life aspects of actual implementations of voting
We will discuss basic requirements and
problems associated with the reality of election technology and the business
built around it, covering issues of reliability, fairness, and scalability,
and asking such questions as: Does one solution fit all situations?
How much security is actually required? Is e-voting for real?
How far are we from ``real'' voting? Is the Internet the right arena
for voting? What is the interaction between the technology and its quality
and the business? Is it a business at all? (Is there money
to be made, and how? Alternatively: does e-voting really belong in
``financial cryptography?'') What are the social and legal implications
We hope to learn about new angles to examine
voting problems, to learn about related burning issues of all kinds (social,
business, technology), and to learn about new questions for further basic,
systems, market, legal or social research.
ISSUES: We will try to cover requirements
(based on various scales and at different stages); technical difficulties,
controversies, misconceptions (any connection to security/crypto/ etc.?
new paradigms?); business and operational aspects (hoping to make money...??);
and derived technical and social/governmental aspects.
on January 2001
From Chris Wilson, Election Technology
Administrator, Franklin County, OH
“The Bell is very interesting.
I post it on our internal website. I especially enjoy the articles in terms
of laying out the logical conditions needed for security and privacy in
an Internet voting system. This is very important. There are a lot of people
coming out of the woodwork now who want to build an Internet voting system.
But they know little about the nitty gritty of election administration
and voter registration. And besides, Internet voting is a complex undertaking.
Anyone who wants to be involved in it should read this newsletter.”
From Patricia Donath, State President,
League of Women Voters of Michigan
“The information in The Bell on
Internet voting will be extremely useful to us in the context of the on-going
discussions here in Michigan regarding what we should do after Florida
and where do we go from here.”
From Edwin William Brill, Jr., Security
Analyst, New York
“The Bell is a fairly well-rounded
approach to Internet voting and Internet voting is a very difficult puzzle
to do for anyone. You’re hitting a good range of topics. And the attack
test in the November 2000 shadow election was set up really well, with
From Roy Saltman, Consultant on Election
Policy and Technology, Columbia, MD
The article in the Orlando Sentinel
headlined “Optical Scanners Topped Pregnant Chads as Most Flawed in Florida”
demonstrates how it is possible – yes, even very easy – to misinterpret
simple statistics. The article is comparing the statewide average
of invalid pre-scored punch card ballots (3.9%) with the tail end of the
variations in invalid optical-scan ballots (5.7%). The article is
comparing whole apples to orange peels and finds, not surprisingly, that
apples taste better.
Over the 36 counties in which optical-scan
ballots were used, the average percent of invalid ballots was 1.4%.
Over the 15 counties in which pre-scored punch card ballots were used,
the average percentage of invalid pre-scored ballots was 3.9%.
I made this calculation myself from the reported percent of invalid ballots
(both overvotes and undervotes) cast in each Florida county. The
public statement of the American Society for Quality on the subject of
voting equipment used in Florida reported very similar percentages.
In the worst case for optical-scan ballots,
Gadsden County, a rural county in the Florida panhandle on the northern
border of the state, had 2,073 invalid ballots out of 16,800 ballots cast,
or 12.3%. Note, however, the small number of ballots cast.
I was told by a North Carolina election official who grew up in Gadsden
County that hardly anyone who continues to live there has a high school
diploma. Even the Orlando Sentinel was willing to admit that “Most
of the 15 counties using this optical-scan system [with central count rather
than precinct count] are small and rural, and together they represent just
4.6% of all the ballots cast ...”
The worst case for pre-scored punch card
ballots was Duval County, where there were 26,909 invalid ballots out of
291,000 cast or 9.23%. Duval County includes the city of Jacksonville
and some beach communities. Also, Palm Beach County, which includes
the city of West Palm Beach and other communities such as Delray Beach,
used pre-scored punch card ballots and had 29,702 invalid ballots out of
462,900 ballots cast, or 6.42%. Invalid ballot percentages for Duval
and Palm Beach are both more than the cited 5.7% for the worst cases of
From Einar Stefferud,
Principal, Network Management Associates, Huntington Beach, CA
on December 2000
“Of course, we cannot
continue to allow voting systems to be wrong in 120,000 out of 6 million
votes, or to cost $3 or even $1 dollar per vote. Voting requirements need
to be realistic, strong and practical, and cost us no more than a few cents
per vote. I think that the 16 requirements published in The Bell reflect
current law and what is needed today from voting systems in the U.S.”
From Douglas A. Kellner,
Commissioner, Board of Elections in the City of New York
“I am very happy
to be on your subscription list for The Bell. I read it religiously and
I find it very informative, particularly because you are not afraid to
venture into a level of technical detail that I have not seen anywhere
From Bill Huennekens,
Elections Program Coordinator, Office of the Secretary of State, Olympia,
“I find The Bell
From Jason Kitcat, Founding
Partner, Swing Digital Ltd., United Kingdom
and other ideas may be coming thanks to electronic voting but we’re gonna
implement existing democratic systems electronically first. There are dangers
with more direct forms of democracy and this delay is a welcome one.
Directly allowing people
to make big decisions at first blush seems more democratic but I don’t
believe is. Firstly, people become apathetic if they get asked to vote
too much. Can you really expect people to go to the effort of learning
all the issues before voting on every decision? Don’t they have lives to
lead which is why they entrust representatives?
There is also the risk of
emotional votes which are soon regretted. In the UK we often get calls
for drastic legislation after tragedies such as a child being abducted
and murdered or unnecessary accidents. People get caught up in the moment
and don’t think through the full (civil liberty, economic, etc.) implications
of what they call for. Direct democracy might not leave room for such reflection.”
on November 2000
From Hugh Denton, Assistant
County Registrar, Contra Costa County, CA
“I used the Safevote
system myself and I liked it. It was very easy to use. Overall I can say
that the test in our county was successful and the reaction from the people
who voted on the system was very favorable. Many voters I talked to wanted
to know when they would be able to use it for real, including voting from
their homes or offices. I think Internet voting can also be used at the
precinct, allowing voters to cast their ballots anywhere in the county.
Voting was reasonably fast and could have been even faster if there were
more than one computer issuing DVCs. My staff members also found
the system easy to use and operate.”
From Christina Constantikes,
Director of Email Sales, Sigaba Corporation
“The Bell is excellent.
It looks at difficult situations head-on. It’s very concise and focused.
My work involves Internet security and I find it a valuable resource.”
From Jackie Gloger, President,
Melbourne Technical Services, Inc.
“It’s a fantastic
newsletter. Very educational. And there’s so much different information
covered. It helps us to keep in tune with what’s happening out there
and to understand all of the changes that are going to be coming our way.”
From Norma Lyons, Elections
Supervisor, Gwinnett County, GA
on a large scale basis is many years away from being practical and secure.
The Federal Election Commission does not support the idea of Internet voting
nor does the Public Integrity Unit of the United States Justice Department.
In any event, until it is permitted by law in Georgia it won’t be reality
From Dr. Richard Shurtz,
host of the “Tech Talk” show on WMAL Radio in Washington, DC.
...”The Bell, a
newsletter that I have enjoyed reading up to the October issue. ... when
will the November issue of Bell be out?”
From Constance A. Kaplan, Community
Services Director, Chicago Board of Election Commissioners
on October 2000
“Thank you for keeping me up to
date with issues of The Bell. It is exciting to watch the progress that
is being made in the area.”
From Paul F. Chamberlin, International
Technology & Trade Associates, Inc., Washington, D.C.
“Thanks for providing this excellent
From Steven Clift, in Democracies Online
“I encourage you to read this
study [on U.S. public sector elections] in this newsletter [THE BELL].
It bullets out the concerns and positive reactions of real life election
administrators to the potential of Internet voting. Election administrators
are ones that hold the real power in any transition toward Internet voting.”
From Gail L. Pellerin, Elections Manager,
Santa Cruz County, CA
on September 2000
"After I read the first issue,
I felt compelled to subscribe.
From Kathy E. Van Wolfe, Elections
Administrator, McLennan County, TX
Everything is going in the direction of
the Internet, including public elections, and I find The Bell a useful
tool in keeping up to date with news and information in the area of Internet
voting, especially as it relates to election procedures. However, security
concerns have to be addressed."
"I’m always looking for ways to
better serve the public so I try to stay abreast of anything having to
do with elections. The Bell is very useful in that regard. I read it to
find out what’s going on in the world, what the new ideas are. We don’t
want to reinvent the wheel. But Internet voting will have to be made secure.
There can’t be dead people voting. And you have to be certain that only
qualified voters can vote. These are big problems today and Internet voting
will have to deal with them."
on August 2000
From Lonn Fluke, IS Senior Deputy
Supervisor, Orange County, FL:
"I’m happy with it. The Bell
is very informative. I send the PDF version to all of the senior staff.
Some of the newsletters I read cover only one area like the Federal Election
Commission. But The Bell brings interesting information together from outside
the election community. It also keeps me informed about what other counties
are doing regarding Internet voting."
Caldwell Johnson, Knowledge Management Officer, World Bank Institute:
"I found The Bell very informative.
It has a lot of good information from different sources all in one place."
From Michelle Townsend, Registrar
of Voters, Riverside County, CA:
"Just want to provide some
feedback on your first issue of The Bell. It was sent to the County Clerk
in Riverside County who does not have responsibility for elections; but
it eventually was forwarded to me. I am the Registrar of Voters for the
County of Riverside and report independently as a separate Department Head
to our Board of Supervisors. I found The Bell to be extremely informative,
and look forward to receiving future issues.
From Dr. James Gilmour,
You may or may not be aware that Riverside
County just purchased Sequoia-Pacific’s DRE Touch Screen Voting System,
The Edge. To provide for a county of 7200 square miles and nearly 1,000
polling locations, we invested $14 million in purchasing 4,250 units. It
is a tremendous challenge, particularly in a Presidential election year.
Currently, we have a 20-year old mark-a-vote voting system, which has served
us reliably. However, for all the reasons pointed out in your columnist’s
[Roy G. Saltman] comparison of voting systems, we were compelled to search
for a replacement, particularly for a county of our size with its inherent
escalating printing costs. We were investing more than $1 million in printing
costs; and when 50% or less turn out at the polls, we must destroy that
major tax investment with each election even though we are required to
print sufficient ballots for the electorate.
Sequoia-Pacific’s Edge met all the
criteria for a new voting system you outlined on page 7 and more in our
evaluation. Primarily, it offers the security of a stand-alone system with
individual units that are not connected to a network. It also has a closed
operating system that is not able to be accessed from unauthorized intrusion.
Its multi-lingual programming capability, larger font size flexibility,
and each self-contained unit is a combined voting booth, electronic ballot
and tabulator which is accessible for those in wheelchairs and motorized
scooters. Next year, we will be adding the audio component for the visually-impaired
voters. We estimate that the DRE touch-screen units will save a minimum
of $600,000 in printing costs for each election. On November 7th, we will
be implementing it county-wide so I will look forward to sharing the results
with you. We are also interested in Internet voting applications as an
option once certification is achieved; but in the meantime, we had to move
forward with a certified alternative that achieved all the criteria you
listed plus another important one...and that is the simplicity of its design
and functionality which are extremely intuitive for our pollworkers and
Thank you again for the service you
are providing through this new periodical and the commitment you share
with elections administrators to provide voting systems which are accurate,
secure, rapid in tabulating results and engender the confidence of the
"The Private Sector won’t
wait" in the July issue of The Bell usefully distinguishes ‘delegation
proxy voting’ from ‘transfer proxy voting’. In the article it is suggested
that this difference aligns with proxy voting in the public sector and
the private sector respectively. This may be the case in the USA, but it
is not so in the UK. Established proxy practice in the private sector also
appears to differ markedly between the USA and the UK.
Reply from Jim Hurd:
The development of a general taxonomy
in this field will be useful, but it will have to take note of differences
in practice around the globe as the Internet becomes more widely used for
formal voting and similar legally controlled purposes. A taxonomy based
solely on US practice is unlikely to aid common understanding and may hinder
adoption of the technology.
In the UK ‘a proxy’ is not usually
"a written authorization", but rather a person who has been authorised
to act on behalf of someone else. The instrument appointing the proxy must
be in writing and must be signed by the person authorizing the proxy. If
the written instrument has been effected under a power of attorney or other
authority, it must be accompanied by a certified copy of that power of
attorney or other authority (Note: The use of electronic signatures for
legal purposes is not yet permitted in the UK, although the primary legislation
is now in place).
In UK public elections the person appointed
as proxy always casts a ‘delegated proxy vote’ as there is no way the authorizing
elector can confirm that his or her wishes have been followed. As we have
the option of postal voting if we cannot attend a polling place, it is
only those who are unable to read or mark the ballot paper themselves who
are likely to engage a proxy for public elections.
In the private sector in the UK, the
person appointed as proxy may cast a ‘delegated proxy vote or a ‘transferred
proxy vote’ or any combination of the two, depending on the authorization
given by the person entitled to vote. For a company general meeting, a
shareholder may appoint as his or her proxy the chairman of the meeting
or any other person who need not be a shareholder in that company. The
shareholder can give the proxy complete discretion about how the proxy
vote should be used (a series of ‘delegated proxy votes’) or can mandate
the proxy as to how the vote is to be cast on all the issues specified
on the agenda by appropriate indications on the instrument of authorisation
(a series of ‘transferred proxy votes’). When the shareholder mandates
the proxy on only some of the issues, the result will be a mixture of ‘delegated
proxy votes’ and ‘transferred proxy votes.’ For company general meetings,
the instrument of authorization (the ‘proxy form’) usually lists the issues
on which votes will be required, with boxes for the shareholder to mark
‘For’ or ‘Against’. Many private organizations, not controlled by UK company
law, operate similar arrangements, though they may restrict the choice
of proxy to someone who is a member of the organization.
An issue that arises from time to time
in private organizations is what discretion a fully mandated proxy should
have in votes on issues not specified on the agenda of a meeting. These
can be important procedural motions or amendments to listed motions where
the constitution of the organization allows such amendments to be tabled
at the meeting. An absent member may be quite happy to allow full discretion
to a fellow member of his or her own choosing, but may have reservations
about giving such discretion to the chairman of the meeting as the chairman
may not share that member’s views. If the Internet makes proxy voting more
common, this is an issue private organizations will have to address."
"Thank you for your timely
commentary. I was the editor of the paper collecting text from Dr. Gerck
and also from Elaine Maurer. That classification was an attempt by Dr.
Gerck to distinguish two equally named but different voting processes in
public and private sectors. As the article directly noted, "...if additional
items come up for a vote at the meeting, that were not in the proxy document,
then the proxy document may authorize management to use its best judgment
to vote on those issues – which corresponds to delegation proxy voting."
Thus in the U.S., private sector "proxy voting" can be either "delegated
proxy voting" or "transferred proxy voting" – but the mainstream usage
is the latter form.
The word taxonomy that you apply (and
which the article does not) is appropriate here but only if we abandon
the designation "proxy," that is completely misleading as the article notes,
when one compares public with private voting. In fact, that classification
could delete the word "proxy" and just talk about "delegation voting" and
"transfer voting" However, doing so would not in my opinion do much to
shed light on the inconsistent use of the designation "proxy voting" between
the private and public sectors in the U.S. And, of course, in the U.S.
"proxy" also usually denotes a person (as in the UK), which adds another
on July 2000
From Kathleen Williams, Assistant Clerk
Recorder Registrar of Voters, Plumas County, CA:
"I think it's great...very
informative. My staff and I got information in the newsletter we have no
other way of getting."
From Betty Carter, retired election
supervisor, Orange County, FL:
"In regard to THE BELL's June
headline"Would You Vote Naked?", I commented some time ago that if you
can use the Internet to vote in the privacy of your own home, then you
could indeed vote naked."
From Paul Terwilliger, Product Development
Manager, Sequoia Pacific:
In the June 2000 issue of THE
BELL, Roy G. Saltman, in his article ‘Voting Systems, Conclusion', writes:
"Typically, DRE machines are not designed to retain individual voter-choice
Response to Paul Terwilliger from Roy Saltman:
This is not true!
Virtually all DRE systems on the U.S.
market have been certified to the FEC's Voting Systems Standards. (For
a complete list of certified systems, see www.electioncenter.org/about/nased.html)
These standards are quite specific about the storage of individual voter
ballot images. For example, section 2.3.2 of the Standards, "Accuracy and
Integrity", states in part:
To attain a measure of integrity over
the process, the DRE systems must also maintain an image of each ballot
that is cast, such that records of individual ballots are maintained by
a subsystem independent and distinct from the main vote detection, interpretation,
processing and reporting path.
The electronic images of each ballot
must protect the integrity of the data and the anonymity of each voter,
for example, by means of storage location scrambling. The ballot image
records may be either machine-readable or manually transcribed (or both),
at the discretion of the vendor.
The Voting Systems Standards have been
in existence since 1990; it is surprising that Mr. Saltman was unaware
of this requirement.
THE BELL was not clear in identifying
the year in which my chapter in Advances in Computers was first published.
Volume 32 of Advances in Computers was published in 1991, which means that
my chapter was completed in 1990. Of course, since then, DRE machines have
been designed to record voter-choice sets. I was one of the originators
of the requirement that they should be so designed.
Please see page 6 of my report Accuracy,
Integrity, Security in Computerized Vote-Tallying, NBS Special Publication
500-158, published in 1988. To quote: "Each voter-choice set (i.e., the
machine's record of all choices of a voter) should be retained in the machine
on a removable non-volatile medium (e.g., magnetic disk). Storage locations
of the voter-choice sets would have to be randomized to prevent association
of a particular set with a particular voter. The retention of the voter-choice
sets makes possible a verification (on an independent machine) of the DRE
machine's summation of the voters' choices that it recorded....."
Thank you for the opportunity to clarify
Comments on The Bell's inaugural
issue, published on June 2000
From Einar Stefferud, Network
"Paradigm shifts cannot be
avoided if we wish to solve the issues involved with Internet voting. We
need to deal with trust in the Internet. We need to fully understand the
implications of the fact that voting and other Internet transactions involve
much more than just two parties, as Ed Gerck discusses in The Bell in terms
of a multi-party trust model."
From Professor Netiva Caftori, Northeastern
“Very informative and enlightening...Thanks!"
From Don Mitchell, Dunn Loring, Virginia:
"Enjoyed the first issue of
The Bell. Internet technology is becoming so pervasive that in the next
decade it will touch on and affect most aspects of people's lives. The
focus of The Bell on Internet voting uniquely facilitates practical discussions
(on such the topics of privacy, security, trust and related policies) which
are desperately needed to prepare for this eventuality."
From Gordon Cook, Editor of The COOK
Report on Internet:
"The Bell (Kolokol) was the
name of the newsletter published by Alexander Herzen in the 1850s. Herzen
was an advocate of the Russian peasant commune pre-emancipation of the
serfs. While I consider myself internet technology savvy, one of the intriguing
things about what these folks [at The Bell] are on to, as I am coming to
realize, is that the technology issues of voting on the internet are generally
not at all understood. It looks like they may be able to play a very useful
From Michael Krieger on Internic's
"Writing about the new internet
voting newsletter, Ed Gerck explained that in naming it "The Bell" ....
'the idea was to use the image of a bell because mission bells were used
in colonial California for telling time, announcing events, and for passing
on news from one city to another.' And perhaps subliminally there was,
romantic tho' it be in these internet speed times, the bell-associated
ideal of liberty, even if occasionally cracked in practice."
From Pat Hollarn, Supervisor of Elections,
Okaloosa County, FL:
"Thanks for this new publication,
"The Bell." Those of us already involved in internet voting will benefit
from it greatly and hope we can contribute as well."
From Richard Kimball, Director, Project
“Thank you for the copy of
your first edition. I read it with interest and found it very interesting
and informative.... Good luck with the publication.”
"Very good newsletter. I would
love to continue to receive it."
"I found "The Bell" quite informative."