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RE: University Researchers Challenge Bush Win In Florida
From: "Todd Towles" <toddtowles () brookshires com>
Date: Wed, 24 Nov 2004 13:41:20 -0600

Did the charter say something about political messages?..please take it
off the list guys if possible...

-----Original Message-----
From: full-disclosure-admin () lists netsys com 
[mailto:full-disclosure-admin () lists netsys com] On Behalf Of 
Paul Schmehl
Sent: Wednesday, November 24, 2004 11:22 AM
To: Jason Coombs; Gregory Gilliss; full-disclosure () lists netsys com
Subject: Re: [Full-disclosure] University Researchers 
Challenge Bush Win In Florida

--On Wednesday, November 24, 2004 05:39:31 AM +0000 Jason 
Coombs <jasonc () science org> wrote:

In the case in point, even with the variables you mention, 
the entire 
technical problem can be reduced to observing how the election 
officials in various places have historically constructed 
ballots and 
influence just those that can be influenced in just those 
states where 
it will matter. The Republican party (my party) apparently has 
advantages over others when it comes to influencing the technical 
details of the design of voting machines. Diebold, for example.

The horse has already been packed up and shipped from the 
rendering plant, but I'll give this *one* more try.  (One 
side note - the management of Diebold are mostly Democrats, 
not Republicans, not that *that* makes one iota of difference 
in the competence (or lack thereof) in designing electronic 
balloting equipment.  Pointing to someone's party affiliation 
as proof of something is merely a distraction from the real issues.)

You are talking about an extremely complex and unlikely set 
of possibilities, *all* of which have to fall into place 
perfectly for this to happen.  It might be fun as 
speculation, but the implementation would be nigh until 
impossible and would take some real genius to pull off.

It makes just about as much sense for every regional 
election office 
to do their ballot construction differently as it does for 
everyone to 
create their own home grown crypto.

And yet it's done all over America.  Imagine that.

Your point about differences in ballot construction is also a red 
herring to begin with. If you think that there is the same 
degree of 
variability with ballots in electronic voting machines as there is 
with legacy ballots, then perhaps you are the one who does not know 
how the process really works with the machines in question.

Why would you assume the ballots all have to be the same just 
because the same machines are being used to count them?

Given three candidates for President (and there are usually 
more than that) there are at least six different ways the 
ballot could be arranged *even* if the basic design was the same.

Furthermore, the methodology used by an electronic voting 
machine is independent of the ballot design, for all intents 
and purposes.  For example, an optical reader merely senses 
the dark spots where a vote has been cast.  *Which* candidate 
that represents is determined by the configuration, which is 
determined by the construction of the ballot. 
Having to fit within certain machine-driven parameters does 
not force the ballot design into one pattern.  The votes 
could be on the left, in the center, on the right, staggered 
from left to right, staggered from right to left.  The 
possibilities are great.

Yet you want to control *all* of that to "take advantage of 
statistical anomalies" in the equipment?

Do we have a mathematician on this list who can calculate the 
probabilities of this?

I would contend that it is infinitely more likely that the 
machines would be either deliberately tampered with or 
incompetently misconfigured, ending up in statistical 
anomalies then I would ever consider your scenario possible.

You really need to stop making things seem so complicated that the 
difficulty of influencing their behavior or outcome 
couldn't possibly 
be surmounted.

Jason, I'm not making anything complicated.  I'm observing 
the complication that already exists - the complication that 
you apparently refuse to acknowledge.

Paul Schmehl (pauls () utdallas edu)
Adjunct Information Security Officer
The University of Texas at Dallas
AVIEN Founding Member

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