Re: Report on EVM Rating Workshop

From: Ron Crane <voting_at_lastland_dot_net>
Date: Tue Jun 13 2006 - 12:54:08 CDT
Alan Dechert wrote:
Work at GW is focusing on comparing machines in terms of criteria
such as integrity and privacy, showing tradeoffs and analyzing the
conditions under which these criteria may be difficult to achieve-singly
or together-due to electoral infrastructure issues.

"The hot topic" at the workshop was encryption. Alan Sherman asked me
a question about the OVC position and I pleaded ignorance, but my
impression is that the OVC list has not included any discussion of this
topic. If I am wrong, the OVC needs to take account of the recent work
of David Chaum and Josh Benalosh taking a systems cryptographic
approach to elections that may make concerns about election
machines-as we know them-irrelevant.  I realize that some of these
ideas are not new, but they created a buzz at the meeting.

    
We have talked quite a bit about encryption.  We did not include encryption 
in our demo prototype.  I think it's fair to say that we would include 
encryption in a production system.  I think we'd say that encryption would 
provide a security layer for the OVC system, but would be only one of 
several layers.  You could remove the encryption layer and the system would 
still work although it would be less secure.  I believe this is the way 
security layers are supposed to work.
  

The reference to encryption is to schemes (like VoteHere: Neff-Chaum) that use cryptography to -- proponents argue -- allow voters to determine whether their ballots are correctly included in the final tally without being able to prove to anyone else how they voted. I have significant doubts about Neff-Chaum's robustness against vendor-based vote-switching attacks. Further, none of the cryptographic schemes (that I know about) address presentation frauds, and none address (or can address) differential-reliability attacks. Finally, they're opaque as all get-out except to cryptographers. As such, they cannot effectively be supervised by the general public -- and therefore should not be used. All told, these schemes do not "make concerns about election machines-as we know them-irrelevant."

-R

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Received on Fri Jun 30 23:17:05 2006

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