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Independent Verification: Essential Action to Assure Integrity in the Voting Process

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Independent Verification: Essential Action

to Assure Integrity in the Voting Process


Roy G. Saltman
Consultant and Author on Voting Technology

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submitted to

National Institute of Standards and Technology
Gaithersburg, MD 20899


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Order No. SB134106W0703

August 22, 2006


Audit trails are needed for direct-recording electronic (DRE) voting systems. The widely used, current method of providing an audit trail with printouts is evaluated, and several disadvantages are noted. Advocates for blind persons claim that use of the printouts is discriminatory and unlawful. Software fraud or error is a major concern of computer scientists. The issue arose in 1969, soon after use of computers in voting began. Document control and partial recounting were recommended solutions for systems using ballots, but controversy remains over DRE systems, even though non-ballot lever machines were successfully used for over 100 years. Some available independent verification devices (IDVs) are described. Recommendations are that independent verification would reduce the fear of fraud, a continuing concern over the more than 200 years of US elections, as well as improve integrity and public confidence in correctness of reported outcomes. Proposed performance criteria for IDVs are given. An IDV should be connected to each DRE in use. Voting systems using hard-copy ballots should be required to undertake audits with independent recounts of at least 3% at no cost to candidates.

Section Page

1. A History of Election Frauds and their Implications for Today 1

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2. The Effects of Different Voting Procedures and Technologies 2

3. Concern over Software Fraud Begins 4

4. Inclusion of Electronic Audit Trails in Design of DREs 6

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Dr. Roy G. Saltman has worked in the field of election policy and technology for over 30 years. His 1975 report, "Effective Use of Computing Technology in Vote-Tallying" was a seminal work expressing concerns about the accuracy and security of (more...)

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Independent Verification: Essential Action to Assure Integrity in the Voting Process