Presentation materials now available from "Voting System Testing Summit"

The California Secretary of State’s office has just released the presentation materials from the “Voting Systems Testing Summit”, for those presenters who had electronic presentation materials.

Some highlights from my panel include:

  1. Henry Brady’s presentation, which began with a critique of the widespread focus on security problems with precinct voting systems. This is detailed in the first few slides from Henry’s talk, where he pointed out that discussions of risk ought to include mention of both vulnerability and threat, not just vulnerability. But the main thrust of Henry’s presentation was to talk about voting system accuracy in California, focusing on a variety of residual vote analyses. One of the methodological issues that arose during Henry’s presentation was his use of data from the recent 2005 special election, and whether his use of that election (which involved only ballot measures on the statewide ballot, and no statewide candidates) to compute residual vote statistics using the lowest residual vote estimate across the eight ballot measures, produced a metric that is indeed comparable to other elections like the 2004 presidential election.
  2. David Dill’s discussion (he didn’t use electronic props for his talk), in which he called upon Secretary of State McPherson to take a leadership role in security testing of voting machines.
  3. Avi Rubin’s discussion (he also didn’t use electronic props), in which he had the interesting idea to develop a “DARPA” competition for testing the security of voting systems; the idea here would be to develop a contest, with a large monetary reward for the achievement of clearly specified ends, to get individuals and groups interested in thoroughly testing voting systems.
  4. Michael Shamos’s presentation, where he first argued that the existing “Independent Testing Authority” process was broken. But the most interesting part of Michael’s presentation came in the second half of his slides (see slide 8 and beyond) where he developed an interesting typology of “voter verified paper audit trail” (VVPAT) systems. I found Michael’s typology to be a very clever way to think about VVPAT systems.

Of course, there were just a few of the things I thought were of interest in our panel; each of the sessions had useful presentations and discussion. My understanding is the the Secretary of State’s staff is preparing a report from this summit; it will be interesting to see what they took from this conference, and what recommendations they make for how California might move ahead into the brave new world of voting system testing.