Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Delaware's Elections Task Force's Failure of Imagination

On September 11, 2018 a task force empowered by legislation passed a couple of years ago to replace decertified voting machines, unveiled its choice.  The process was absent any meaningful voter/citizen participation and input about its new machine it hopes will record and count our votes correctly.  It is called the Express Vote xl from the infamous voting systems manufacturer, ES&S.   Any consideration of un-hackable paper ballot voting systems, such as voting at home or polling place based paper ballots and scanners were completely ignored.  The techies at the Commission got their toy; Delaware voters got potentially screwed.  And a former Vice Chair of the Deldems was their lobbyist, selling us out in terms of voting cyber-tampering security. Below is a presentation I made at the announcement meeting.  It at least evoked about an hour of very robust discussion, but concluded with a unanimous vote to recommend this vulnerable, brand new (certified in July 2018 by the EAC) system cyber security experts across the country have researched and deemed unreliable.  It now goes to the legislature for funding.

Task Force, your process completely failed to engage Delaware voters.  It was secretive, minimally publicized and without voter input.  
First, the process undertaken several years ago to replace our voting system was flawed from its inception.  It was non-transparent, late, devoid of citizen participation and education on potential voting method options before you jumped to machine purchases.
You failed take advantage of an historic opportunity provided by our need to replace an unrecountable 22 year old voting technology.  Our legislature’s task force creation bill chose machines over methods.
You bypassed  an opportunity to inform your electorate on voting options used successfully elsewhere and engage our voters in a public discussion about those options, cybersecurity and their preferences, such as paper ballots at home or at polling sites.
Instead, the task force bill treated this historic event as just another routine purchase of machines, failing to imagine a different future. Again, machines over methods.
Second, we voters were poorly represented in the task force meetings with sporadic and spotty participation of our elected officials.  This was their fault and they share the shame. Hardly any voters were involved.  The minutes revealed no robust discussion over potential future voting methods to be explored.
As the process ensued, our elected officials were denied a voice in the selection process on an absurd premise that they would have a conflict of interest with scoring and choice.  This was an abrogation of their responsibility.   You legislators and commission members provided no public forums to engage voters in discussion of election technology options. Worst of all,  we were denied expert outside opinion on cyber security research and voting system vulnerabilities.
Third. Missing also was any public discussion about the decade long history of technical malfunctions leading to protests and lawsuits all over the country.  You were in denial about to the emerging public crisis about Russian intrusion into the country’s voting systems.    It was as if that issue just bypassed Delaware while raging all over the country. You dismissed the return to paper ballot voting in many jurisdictions, a foolproof defense against tampering and cyber intrusion. Your indifference to this solution led to no paper ballot system vendor bids.  Task force, you own this malfeasance.
You have chosen to approve untested new voting technology.  You have subjected Delaware voters to needless risk that our votes will be  not properly counted and recorded.  The solution, at least temporarily, was right in front of you, paper ballots in some form, either filled out at home or at polling sites.  You denied us this solution for 2018.
You ignored the expert advice from a dozen or more university research organizations and a hundred or so cyber security scholars, who LOVE technology and are not owned by the vendors who have a record of lying, misrepresentation and non-transparency.  That advice is to provide voters with unhackable, countable paper ballots  until cyber secure, proven and risk limiting auditing techniques are available with confidence.
You own the shame of malfeasance and arrogance. Worst of all, you failed to engage your imagination.  You chose machines over methods.