A Transparent Open Source PC/Internet Voting System

 

Richard Charnin (TruthIsAll)

 

Aug. 25, 2010

 

 

Our current voting system is a mess. Elections are stolen while politicians and the corporate media remain silent. Unverifiable computers miscount millions of votes eight years after HAVA. Nothing is done even though news reports of voting system “glitches” come in every day.

 

To suggest that technology cannot guarantee 100% accurate election result fails to distinguish between systems designed to rig elections and those designed to properly count votes. The question should be asked: what is the risk of election fraud in a secure, transparent system compared to the unverifiable systems designed for fraud that are now in place? In a truly transparent system, the probability of vote miscounts is at the vanishing point. In the current system, it is 100%.

 

The technology to develop secure voting systems is available. To compare a voting system designed with nearly fool-proof security to current voting systems is a false analogy. All voting systems that cannot be verified by paper ballots are designed to be hacked at the voting machine and central tabulator.

 

In a transparent voting system, voters, election officials and politicians would be able to check their ballots against the posted precinct and tabulated results. This can only be achieved in a system which provides the facility for transparent access to all vote counts. And that is why the Internet is a necessary component of the system. Without online access, there is no way for a voter to check that his or her vote was properly recorded and counted. Without full transparency from precinct to tabulator, elections will continue to be rigged.

 

Touch screen (DRE) voting machines and mechanical levers do not utilize paper ballots and are extremely vulnerable to fraud locally and at the central tabulator. But even a paper ballot system is vulnerable to miscounts unless there is a robust, mandated audit. There is none. And that illustrates the problem in a nutshell. Florida forbids any recount of its optically scanned ballots.  One can only conclude that the local and federal politicians don't want secure voting systems.

 

In 2003, Diebold and ES&S voting machines and central tabulators were proven to be vulnerable to software and hardware hacks. But they were never designed to be secure. The machines were programmed using closed source code that could make one plus one equal three. No one could ever know if the voting machines read the votes correctly or if the central tabulator counted them correctly. Without paper ballots, votes cast on touch screens could be switched locally or at the central tabulator and no one would ever know. Votes cast using optical scanners can be switched on the tabulators and no one would ever know - unless the ballots were hand-counted. Paper ballots are an absolute requirement for any system. Hand-counting at the precinct would appear to be the only solution. But there is another.

 

With proper controls, a fully transparent voting system can be developed using public source code running on standard, non-proprietary hardware. Votes would be entered at the precinct on standard personal computers (not proprietary DREs) and/or optical scanners posted periodically at the precinct and uploaded to the Internet for Open Source tabulation and review by anyone with a PC. Each voter is given a ballot with a unique ID code. Discrepancies between the votes posted at the precinct and the tabulators would be noticed by election officials and voters who log on to precinct vote sites and check their recorded vote.

 

A system prototype could be developed using standard personal computers, reliable software and the Internet for tabulation and verification.  It should have been developed soon after the 2000 selection, but a technically challenged Congress went right along with HAVA and gave Diebold and ES&S full control. As a result, millions of votes have been miscounted.  If politicians wanted fair elections, they would have done something about it by now. Thousands of existing applications are much more complex than vote tabulation.

 

Only Oregon and Washington provide voting accessibility (with vote by mail) and transparency (with mandated hand-counts of optically scanned paper ballots). Oregon implemented their system in 1998 and recently Washington did also.  The ballots can either be mailed or delivered in person. The possibility of vote miscounting is virtually eliminated by mandated random hand-counts that are a necessary deterrent to election fraud. A statistical analysis of Oregon’s voting history compared to the other battleground states provides strong evidence that vote-by-mail has been a success. Although ballots are read by optical scanners and tabulated by computers, the machine counts are checked by hand-counts in randomly selected precincts.

http://richardcharnin.com/OregonVotingSystem.htm

 

 

Key Features of a PC Data Entry/Internet Vote Tabulation System

http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=show_mesg&forum=203&topic_id=505612&mesg_id=505612

 

Each state has its own election website(s) which contain the voting data records for every precinct.

 

Precinct:

- The voter is given a paper ballot with a unique pre-printed Precinct ID Code

- The voter keeps a copy of his ballot

- The votes are entered on a PC or fed through an Optical Scanner using Open Source (non-proprietary) data entry software

- A Precinct Vote Summary sorted by Voter ID is periodically posted at the precinct

- All voter ballots are kept in a lock box

 

 Internet:

- The Precinct Vote Summary is uploaded periodically to the Internet using secure data communications software

- The Internet Precinct Summary is a copy of the Precinct Summary

- The Internet Vote Tabulator calculates the total vote for each district and county

 

 Voter PC

-  Each voter can view the Internet Precinct Summary on his own PC by entering his ID

-  Each voter can view and/or download the Precinct Summary for any precinct

-  Each voter can view and/or download the total vote for any precinct or county

 

 Discrepancies

- Any discrepancies between the Internet Precinct Summary and the final votes posted at the precinct will be quickly noted

- If the Internet tabulators are hacked, the data will be discrepant from corresponding precinct ballots and posted summaries

- If the Precinct data files are hacked, the Internet Precinct Summary will be discrepant from voter paper ballots

 

Key points

- Data entry, tabulation and networking software are non-proprietary or standard

- Voting machines are standardized PCs and Optical Scanners

- Voters keep a copy of their ballot

- Voting records downloaded by precinct, district or county

- Precinct postings and voter ballots would reveal data entry errors

- Internet Tabulator miscounts would be traced to precincts when they are matched against precinct data files, postings and voter ballots.

 

 

Open Source

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_source

 

Open-source software (OSS) is computer software that is available in source code form for which the source code and certain other rights normally reserved for copyright holders are provided under a software license that permits users to study, change, and improve the software. Open source licenses often meet the requirements of the Open Source Definition. Some open source software is available within the public domain. Open source software is very often developed in a public, collaborative manner.

 

Open source software (OSS) projects are built and maintained by a network of volunteer programmers. Prime examples of open source products are the Apache HTTP Server, the e-commerce platform osCommerce and the Internet browser Mozilla Firefox. One of the most successful open source products is the GNU/Linux operating system, an open source Unix-like operating system.[15][

 

______________________________________________________________________________

 

My response to Lucius Chiaraviglio who posted his responses on the Election Integrity website

http://groups.google.com/group/ElectionIntegrity?hl=en

 

RC

I disagree with the premise that all Internet voting is bad. Actually, if the votes are entered at the precinct and uploaded to the Internet for tabulation, with the proper controls you can have a nearly foolproof nationwide system.

 

LC

Tabulation by programmable devices gives just as much opportunity for election fraud as voting on programmable devices, except that since fewer devices are needed for this purpose, the fraud is easier to achieve.

 

RC

Ask the question: Who currently writes the software, supplies the hardware and counts the votes? Can current miscounts be traceable to the precinct? Can the source voting data records be viewed?  Can miscounts on the Internet be traceable to the precinct?

______________________________________________________________________________

 

In Appendix E of my book, Proving Election Fraud, I propose a national voting system in which votes are entered on a PC by three observers. Votes are posted at the precinct in full public view. Voter identity is kept private. Each voter is provided paper ballot with a unique precinct ballot identification code. Individual ballot data records are periodically uploaded to the Internet.

LC

No matter how honest the observers are, the PC can still lie — it can appear to the observers to have recorded the vote honestly, and then alter the vote internally.

RC

You fail to appreciate the built-in data redundancy and transparency. Open Source code is used for data entry, not proprietary code from a machine manufacturer. Each voter has a copy of his or her ballot which can be compared to the precinct and Internet databases. Even if just 10% of voters checked that their votes were tabulated correctly on the Internet, it would constitute a robust random audit.

______________________________________________________________________________

 

RC

Any individual or group can download the vote data for any or all precincts in the state. The voter can check the aggregated district and county totals calculated by Open Source on the Internet and in a standard spreadsheet on their own PC.

LC

How do you know that what you downloaded is what the system really tabulated and what the voters really entered? No way.

RC

Any discrepancies in the tabulation would be apparent when compared to the posted precinct ballot summary and the voter’s own ballot.

______________________________________________________________________________

 

RC

Triple data redundancy: 1- Votes posted at the precinct.

LC

Which could have been altered by the vendor, just like in Ohio in 2004 by Triad Election Systems.

RC

We are not dealing with private corporations. No Diebold or ES&S. It's Open Source and standard software. Precinct summaries are posted every hour. ______________________________________________________________________________

 

RC

2- Each voter has a copy of his/her ballot.

LC

Which is only useful if you hand count ALL of them. In that case, might as well hand count them all in the first place.

RC

Open Source does the tabulation on the Internet. The votes can be tabulated for any precinct by the voter on his/her PC.  The Internet would empower the voter to check the ballot hand counts.

______________________________________________________________________________

 

RC

3- Votes are recorded on the Internet by precinct code/user ID

LC

No guarantee that this cannot be tampered with.

RC

How? Voters have a copy of their ballot. Anyone can confirm his/her vote and compare the precinct vote total to the tabulated total.

______________________________________________________________________________

RC

4- Votes are tabulated on the Net by Open Source and by an individual using a standard spreadsheet.

LC

Open source on your own PC does not guarantee open source on the machines doing the tabulation. Open source initially on the machines doing the tabulation does not guarantee open source on these same machine when Election Day arrives.

RC

Open Source is used for Internet tabulation which must agree one to one with the tabulation posted at the precinct. Each voter has a copy of the paper ballot and can check it against the votes posted at the precinct. Vote miscounts would be found immediately.

______________________________________________________________________________

 

RC

It is simple, cost effective, secure and redundant. That’s why it has not been and never will be implemented. Now, if you see a flaw in this very inexpensive system, tell me.

LC

It would only give a false sense of security and redundancy. Therefore, it might actually get implemented after considerable token resistance.

RC

On the contrary, it would give voters a powerful sense of security knowing that they can finally confirm their vote on the Internet and at the precinct. Don’t hold your breath expecting that it will be implemented.

 

 

 Open Source Precinct / Internet Voting System

 

Precinct Vote Database

On entering the precinct, voter is given a ballot with a pre-printed ID code

Votes are entered into a PC spreadsheet by three designated individual monitors

Voter verifies that the votes were entered correctly

Votes and precinct total are posted in full view at the precinct

The Precinct Database is uploaded to the State Election Database every hour

Voter keeps a ballot copy

 

State Election Database (Internet)

The State Election Database is a Data Depository

The total state vote is calculated from the uploaded precinct totals

Voters can verify that their votes were properly recorded at the precinct

The designated precinct monitors and the voters compare the Precinct Summary total to the posted total.

 

Any discrepancies would be noted immediately.

 

               

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Internet Precinct Database 

 

 

 

Total      Dem                         

 Rep

 Ind

140

72

58

10

 

51.4%

41.4%

7.2%

Precinct

 

 

 

1

12

15

3

2

31

24

5

3

29

19

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

    

      

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Precinct 1

 

 

 

 

Precinct 2

 

 

 

 

Precinct      3

 

 

     Total

     Dem

      Rep

        Ind

 

     Total

      Dem

       Rep

         Ind

 

     Total

     Dem

      Rep

        Ind

30

12

15

3

 

60

31

24

5

 

50

29

19

2

 

Voter ID

 

 

 

 

Voter ID

 

 

 

 

Voter ID

 

 

 

 

100001

0

1

0

 

200001

1

0

0

 

300001

1

0

0

100002

0

1

0

 

200002

0

1

0

 

300002

1

0

0

100003

1

0

0

 

200003

0

1

0

 

300003

1

0

0

100004

0

1

0

 

200004

0

1

0

 

300004

1

0

0

100005

0

1

0

 

200005

1

0

0

 

300005

1

0

0

100006

1

0

0

 

200006

0

1

0

 

300006

0

1

0

100007

1

0

0

 

200007

1

0

0

 

300007

1

0

0

100008

0

1

0

 

200008

1

0

0

 

300008

1

0

0

100009

1

0

0

 

200009

1

0

0

 

300009

1

0

0

100010

0

1

0

 

200010

0

0

1

 

300010

1

0

0

100011

0

1

0

 

200011

1

0

0

 

300011

1

0

0

100012

1

0

0

 

200012

0

1

0

 

300012

0

1

0

100013

0

1

0

 

200013

0

1

0

 

300013

0

1

0

100014

1

0

0

 

200014

1

0

0

 

300014

1

0

0

100015

0

1

0

 

200015

0

0

1

 

300015

1

0

0

100016

1

0

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200016

1

0

0

 

300016

0

1

0

100017

1

0

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200017

1

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0

 

300017

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1

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100018

0

1

0

 

200018

0

1

0

 

300018

1

0

0

100019

0

1

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200019

0

1

0

 

300019

1

0

0

100020

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0

1

 

200020

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1

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300020

0

0

1

100021

0

1

0

 

200021

1

0

0

 

300021

0

1

0

100022

1

0

0

 

200022

0

1

0

 

300022

1

0

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100023

1

0

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200023

0

1

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300023

1

0

0

100024

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1

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200024

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1

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300024

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1

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100025

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1

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200025

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100026

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300026

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100027

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200027

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300027

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1

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100028

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1

 

200028

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300028

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100029

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100030

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1

 

200030

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300030

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1

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200031

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200032

1

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200033

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1

 

300033

1

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200034

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300034

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200035

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300035

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200036

1

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300036

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200037

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200038

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200039

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200040

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200046

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200047

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300047

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200048

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300048

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200049

1

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300049

1

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200050

1

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300050

0

1

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200051

1

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200052

0

1

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200053

1

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200054

0

1

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200055

1

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200056

1

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200057

1

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200058

0

1

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200059

0

1

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

200060

0

0

1