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Voting System Planning and Testing. R. Michael Alvarez Caltech/MIT VTP Voting Systems Testing Summit 2005. Voting systems. The entire process, end-to-end (registration, balloting, tabulation ..) Yes, precinct-voting devices are critical, but so are VR, absentee/early voting, tabulation

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voting system planning and testing

Voting System Planning and Testing

R. Michael Alvarez

Caltech/MIT VTP

Voting Systems Testing Summit 2005

voting systems
Voting systems
  • The entire process, end-to-end (registration, balloting, tabulation ..)
    • Yes, precinct-voting devices are critical, but so are VR, absentee/early voting, tabulation
    • Planning and testing should involve the entire process, especially potential points of failure
      • One important concern now are statewide voter registration systems.

Alvarez, Voting System Testing Summit 2005

security planning
Security Planning
  • End-to-end security review, threat assessment
  • Protect physical facility, use procedural controls (chain of custody)
  • Software and hardware protection
  • Many eyes involved in each step
  • Openness and transparency

Alvarez, Voting System Testing Summit 2005

example l a travis county
Example: L&A, Travis County

Alvarez, Voting System Testing Summit 2005

contingency planning
Contingency Planning
  • Assume bad things will happen! Moynihan (2005), “Leveraging Collaborative Networks in Infrequent Emergency Situations”:
    • Pre-plan, but expect to plan more once emergency occurs
    • Identify necessary resources and match them with organizational competence
    • Create trust where you can, find alternatives when you can’t
    • Take advantage of technology to improve coordination and efficacy
    • Establish, formalize and communicate basic procedures

Alvarez, Voting System Testing Summit 2005

testing
Testing
  • In the US, we generally procure first, experiment later. Testing often only around procurement.
  • We need to develop protocols for testing practices:
    • Pilot test voting systems, starting small, building to real experiments; using experimental methods, with treatment and control groups (and use real people!)
    • Field test usability, ballot designs, accessibility
    • Auditing, monitoring, data analysis from field
    • Security testing, including “tiger team” and parallel monitoring programs
    • Think of testing as a continuing and on-going process (before, during and after procurement)
    • Disseminate testing results, feedback into certification

Alvarez, Voting System Testing Summit 2005

example buenos aires
Example: Buenos Aires

Alvarez, Voting System Testing Summit 2005

conclusions and questions
Conclusions and Questions
  • Need to develop security plans
  • Need to develop contingency plans
  • Need testing protocols for voting systems
    • Standards or guidelines for plans and testing protocols?
    • Best practices?
    • Who should help develop plans and protocols (EAC, NIST, NAS, State/local officials)?
    • Resources?

Alvarez, Voting System Testing Summit 2005

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