Post-Election E-Voting News

Two items of e-voting interest – aside from the ongoing audit in Sarasota County, Florida. has released its report on the 2006 election. It outlines the various difficulties experienced across the U.S. and notes that while there were no widespread problems, it would be hard to characterize the first widespread use of electronic voting machines as a success.

A draft report released by NIST and concerning the 2007 Voluntary Voting System Guidelines strongly encourages only using voting systems that are software independent (the accuracy of the election is not dependent on the accuracy of the software). The report does note that a DRE without a paper trail would not be considered software independent. To wit (page 12):
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Audit of Sarasota County Voting Machines Starts This Week

Update – November 29
All the area papers have reported on yesterday’s parallel test in Sarasota County. There were some small discrepencies between the results and the scripts they had election workers run during the test. The video will be reviewed today. One item in the press coverage grabbed my attention. If I understand this Miami Herald piece correctly there were a total of 251 votes cast on the four machines that followed the scripts (a fifth one was used that followed no particular script). (Reviewing the Script and Review Screen Checklists for those four machines confirms the total number of votes.)

This is a very small number of votes (there were a total of 123,901 votes cast for Buchanan and Jennings in Sarasota County) on a very small number of machines. The two tests will use a total of 10 machines, while the county used 1,498 on November 8. That means .667% of the total number of machines will be tested – or .333% if you discount the 5 machines tested that weren’t actually used in the election. The audit process will continue beyond the two tests scheduled for this week, possibly extending well into December. Expect the process to be rigorously scrutinized by both campaigns and other parties. Hopefully that will prompt a rigorous review and testing process, but that remains to be seen.

Update – November 28
The first phase of parallel testing is happening as I write this. The State Division of Elections released its updated audit plan yesterday. The Bradenton Herald summarizes the procedure, as well as the participating observers. The new detail in this plan focuses on specific machines that will be involved. For the first part of the test, machines not involved in the election will be used, but they will follow scripts based on event logs from machines used in the election.
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Election Problems in Florida — Again

Update – November 22 The major event since the last update is the filing of a second lawsuit on Tuesday contesting the election – this one by voters and poll workers, supported by several voting rights groups. I do want to note a couple of useful items put out by local press:

Interactive map of the undervotes by precinct – courtesy of the Herald Tribune. You can observe the percentage of undervotes (along with the vote breakdown for each candidate) per district. While the undervote percentage is generally higher in Sarasota County than the rest of the Congressional District, precincts that went for Jennings often have an even higher percentage of undervotes.

The Herald Tribune has a whole section on the recount, where you can see all of their coverage along with documents from the suit filed by Jennings.

The Orlando Sentinel has assessed the undervotes in Sarasota County, looking at how the undervoted ballots voted for other races. According to the Sentinel, these ballots trend very Democratic – even in races where the county favored the Republican candidate.

Update – November 20 As expected (per the Associated Press), the trailing candidate, Democrat Christine Jennings has officially contested the results of the election. The challenge, filed immediately after the State of Florida certified the results, calls for a new election based on statistical anomalies and eyewitness accounts of election difficulties. This challenge could have been filed whether or not the state ordered the audit of Sarasota County machines. In fact, the part of the audit that would test machines used in the election could not take place until the end of the challenge period (the 10 days following certification of results, or not before November 30). The AP reports that the first part of the audit – a test of the voting machines not used in the election – will take place on November 28.

Note: This story is still happening, so watch this space for updates.
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Meet the New Boss: Outlook for Technology Policy in the Next Congress

Update 11/16/06: One of the problems of doing a laundry-list type post like this is that you miss some issues, and some nuance when trying to summarize complex policy issues. Notably missing from this list are issues such as patent reform and reviving the Office of Technology Assessment (OTA). We don’t follow patent reform very closely, but our sense is that the the issue has been a fight between industries rather than over partisan ideology. The biggest breakthrough may be if new Chairmen in the House and Senate inject new energy into the debate. As for the debate over bringing back OTA, we posted some thoughts on the issue when Congress held a hearing on it earlier this summer. When the Republican’s eliminated this agency in 1995, the scientific community generally opposed it. We’d expect a renewed discussion about the issue to emerge, but, as our post points out, even a revived OTA isn’t likely to have a tremendous impact decision-making process on policy.

Also Tim Lee at the Technology Liberation Front pointed out that part of the post related to build out wasn’t clear and that was largely because I glossed over a key issue. I’ve attempted to clarify that section below.

Original Post 11/13/06: The outcome of last week’s election is now clear with the Democrats taking over the legislative branch. The dust, however, is far from settled. Democrats have the opportunity to make a profound and lasting impact on technology policy. What shape this will take is unclear, because much of it will be dictated by the new House and Senate Chairpersons who have not organized or set any agendas yet. Speculation will usually get you into trouble (or make you look foolish), but that won’t stop us from making some guesses about how technology policy issues will be shaped by the new Democratic Congress. These are in no particular order, but are areas that USACM has focused on in the past few years.
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Innovation Task Force to Release Report Benchmarking Competitiveness

Update: Here is a link to the final report.

Tomorrow at 11:00AM, The Task Force for the Future of American Innovation, of which ACM is a member, will be releasing a report outlining many different measures of U.S. competitiveness and making the case for increased investment in basic research in the physical sciences. USACM has endorsed the report. Below are the details of the press conference:


  • Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House,
  • David Abshire, President, Center for the Study of the Presidency, former Special Counsel to President Reagan and former Ambassador to NATO
  • Larry Wortzel, Chairman, U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission and Vice President for Foreign Policy, Heritage Foundation
  • Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN), House Armed Services Committee


  • Participants will challenge the Administration and Congress to provide greater Defense Department funding of basic research.
  • Participants will support full funding of President Bush’s American Competitiveness Initiative.
  • Release of the 2006 Benchmarks Report of the Task Force on the Future of American Innovation. To read 2005 report, go to


Reserve Officers Association
One Constitution Avenue, NE
5th Floor Conference Room


Thursday, November 16, 11:00 AM to Noon

– # # # –

The Task Force on the Future of American Innovation (, comprised of organizations from industry and academia, advocates increased federal support for research in the physical sciences and engineering. Formed in 2004, the Task Force urges strong, sustained increases for research budgets at the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy Office of Science, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and Department of Defense. For more information, to RSVP, or if you are press and wish to request an embargoed copy of the report, please contact:

Anne Caliguiri

Barry Toiv

Election Day and E-Voting, A Running Blog

Today is Election Day across the United States. The main story is who will control Congress when the polls close, but of equal interest (at least to us) will be the experience of voters’ using e-voting equipment, considering that approximately one-third of voters will be using new, electronic, voting equipment today. In an effort to capture a snapshot of some of the issues related to peoples’ experience with this new technology, I’ll try to link to stories that we come across and highlight some of the facts. Hopefully everything will go smoothly today, but with so much new technology and so many new procedures in place, I’m sure there will be some issues that will warrant a deeper look. As a reminder, you can access our e-voting resources here:

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