ACM Washington Update, Volume 10.12 (December 21, 2006)


[1] Newsletter Highlights
[2] USACM Encourages Adoption of “Software Independence” Standard for Voting Systems
[3] Key Federal Advisory Committee Recommends Software Independent Voting Systems
[4] Lame Duck Congressional Session Lives Up to the Name
[5] Election Assistance Commission Considers 2006 Elections a Success
[6] Radical Education Reforms Required to Handle the Challenges of Globalization
[7] Commerce Department Names Measuring Innovation Committee
[8] About USACM
Continue reading “ACM Washington Update, Volume 10.12 (December 21, 2006)”

Commerce Department Forms Advisory Committee on Measuring Innovation

One last item before the end of the year.

On December 6th, the Secretary of Commerce named the 15 members of the Measuring Innovation in the 21st Century Economy Advisory Committee. A mix of business and academic leaders, the Committee will “study metrics on effectiveness of innovation in various businesses and sectors, and work to identify which data can be used to develop a broader measure of innovation’s impact on the economy.” Part of the Department’s Economics and Statistics Administration, the Committee will hold its first meeting in late February. Committee members that may be familiar to regular readers include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Harvard economist Dale Jorgenson, and IBM CEO Samuel Palmisano.
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Uncertainty and the Florida 13th

Update – December 21

The court hearing over access to the voting machine source code ended yesterday, with the judge in the case requesting written briefs to be submitted by Friday, instead of oral arguments. While one voting expert testified that it was highly unlikely for the undervote to be a result of voter choice rather than flawed voting machines, another advanced the argument that it was a result of flawed ballot design. The judge gave no indication of when he might rule. Meanwhile, the state’s election division continues its audit.

Jennings’ campaign did submit the paperwork contesting the election to the Committee on House Administration. In preceding cases (the most recent in 1997), the House typically seats the certified winner – in this case Buchanan – and investigates the election. While most investigations take a matter of weeks, the 1997 case lasted 15 months. Expect Congressional voting reform proponents (namely Representative Rush Holt) to use this investigation to push legislation requiring paper trails.

Original Post – December 19

It’s been a while since we posted about the Congressional race in Florida’s 13th District, where the undervotes in one county dwarfed the narrow margin of victory, prompting audits, parallel testing, and a pair of lawsuits. Continue reading “Uncertainty and the Florida 13th”

Radical Education Reform in Response to Globalization

We don’t cover broad education issues on this blog, but we do cover aspects of globalization — particularly after ACM’s report on the globalization and offshoring in the software industry. It is hard to separate the two issues. Education is clearly connected to workforce issues, which are, in turn, connected to globalization. Realizing these deep connections, today a high-profile commission, with possibly the clunkiest name ever — The New Commission on the Skills of the The American Workforce — released a report calling for a radical overhaul of America’s education system. The goal is no less than installing an entirely new system to create a globally competitive workforce:
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The Duck Quacks, New House and Senate Chairs Are Named

Congress’ very short lame-duck session came to an end early Saturday morning wrapping up a largely unproductive 109th Congress in the technology policy space. In the waning hours, Congress did pass a few tech-related measures, but left almost all of the funding and competitiveness bills on the table — including funding for the President’s American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI).

Also, as the 109th Congress concluded, the Democrats were laying plans for the 110th Congress by naming their committee chairs. The Republicans also named their ranking members.
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Election Assistance Commission Reviews 2006 Elections

The Election Assistance Commission (EAC) met yesterday in Washington, to handle regular business and hear testimony on the mid-term elections. The EAC was created as part of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) to assist states and localities in the administration of elections and to administer the funds designated by HAVA for states to update their voting equipment. Here is the meeting agenda.
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ACM Washington Update, Volume 10.11 (December 6, 2006)


[1] Newsletter Highlights
[2] Election Day E-Voting Problems Largely Isolated
[3] Technology Policy in the 110th Congress – Meet the New Boss
[4] Innovation Benchmarks Report Released
[5] E-Voting Troubles in Florida?
[6] Copyright Office Grants Malware Research Exemption to DMCA
[7] About USACM
Continue reading “ACM Washington Update, Volume 10.11 (December 6, 2006)”

TGDC Reverses Course, Finishes Meeting

Update – December 12
Materials from the meeting, including the webcast and text of the resolutions considered at the meeting, are now available on the NIST website.

Original post – December 5
As I suggested in yesterday’s post the Technical Guidelines Development Committee (TGDC) did revisit the software independent proposal during today’s session. It was the first item, and by unanimous consent a revised resolution was approved requiring that the next generation of voting machines approved under the next Voluntary Voting System Guidelines (VVSG). The revisions, as best as I can tell, were meant to address two main concerns from yesterday’s session.

First, while implementation of this next VVSG is approximately 3 years away, several TGDC members (primarily state elections officials) were concerned that currently existing voting systems would have to be scrapped and/or would be considered substandard. Language was inserted into the resolution (which hopefully will be available online later this week) which stipulated that the TGDC is not suggesting that current systems that are following EAC best practices be replaced at this time. Again, given the timeline for development and implementation of this VVSG, this was not likely to happen. At least one member was still confused about the innovation class resolution approved yesterday, as he attempted to insert similar language to the software independent systems resolution.
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TGDC Decides Against Software Independent Systems

As Cameron posted to the blog yesterday, the Technical Guidelines Development Committee is meeting today and tomorrow at the NIST Gaithersburg facility to discuss its advice to the Election Assistance Commission for the 2007 Voluntary Voting System Guidelines. The meeting is being webcast and will be archived for later viewing. Presentation slides should also be available online in the next few days. Contrary to the white paper we circulated late last week, and supported in a letter to the NIST director, the TGDC rejected a proposal for requiring voting systems to be software independent under the next Voluntary Voting System Guidelines.

As my post on e-voting late last week suggests, there is some confusion about the timeline the TGDC and EAC are working on with respect to voting guidelines. Some clarification is in order. (Those wishing to jump to the meeting activity should skip ahead.)
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USACM Urges Feds to Adopt Software Independent E-voting Systems

Update: The TDGC rejected NIST’s and the security subcommittee’s recommendations for software independent systems on a 6-6 tie vote. We’ve got a story about the meeting posted here.

Update 2: The TDGC reversed course and adopted a compromise resolution that embraces the software indepence concept. David posted a story about it here.

Last Thursday we posted a story that the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released a paper recommending that federal standards allow certification only for “software independent” (i.e. ones that create a paper trail) e-voting systems. A key technical panel will consider and vote upon the recommendations this Monday or Tuesday. Calling these recommendations an important step forward for improving e-voting machine security, USACM issued a letter urging the panel to adopt the recommendations. These events are significant developments in the ongoing debate over e-voting and warrant a closer look.
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