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Voting System Planning and Testing

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  1. Voting System Planning and Testing R. Michael Alvarez Caltech/MIT VTP Voting Systems Testing Summit 2005

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. Example: L&A, Travis County Alvarez, Voting System Testing Summit 2005

  5. 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

  6. 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

  7. Example: Buenos Aires Alvarez, Voting System Testing Summit 2005

  8. 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