electoral security by obscurity on trial

John Denker jsd at av8n.com
Thu Dec 6 11:46:21 EST 2007

For years, the Election Integrity Committee of the Pima County
Democratic Party has been trying to improve the security of the 
elections systems used in local elections. The results include:
 -- a dozen or so suggestions that they made were actually accepted
  and implemented by the county.
 -- there was a criminal investigation by the Attorney General's 
  office into the actions of Pima County Division of Elections 
  personnel, but no charges were brought.
 -- last but not least, they wanted access (after each election) to 
  the record of votes cast, but the county refused, leading to a
  lawsuit that has just now come to trial.

Background info on the trial:

Overview with links:

Report on day one, with links to statements and testimony:
  I note that the plaintiffs' opening statement actually
  used the term "security through obscurity".

Report on day two, with links to testimony:

"Election Security Report"
  From the County Administrator to the Board of Supervisors 

  The last 20 pages reproduce an article from 
    The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation
    "Stop the Presses:  How Paper Trails Fail to Secure e-Voting"

  which quite one-sidedly favors cryptologic solutions to all
  problems.  It suggests things like cut-and-choose and zero-
  knowledge proofs ... which makes for a dramatic contrast with
  the appalling unsophistication of the Diebold machines that
  are actually being used.


  Disclaimer:  One of the attorneys in the case is T. A. Denker.
  Yes, he is my brother.  No, I have not learned _anything_
  about the case from him.  I am not involved in this case ...
  except to the extent that as a voter I have a stake in the


This is not an issue for the trial, but I can't help noting
that for years the Australians have been using a Linux-based 
e-voting system, with all code open to public review:

which makes another dramatic contrast with Diebold's stated
"need" for secrecy.

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