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Official site of the San Francisco Open Source Voting System Technical Advisory Committee (OSVTAC)

Meeting Minutes: March 8, 2018 (approved May 9, 2018)

Elections Commission
City and County of San Francisco
Don Chan, Secretary
Open Source Voting System Technical Advisory Committee
Christopher Jerdonek, Chair
Larry Bafundo, Vice Chair
Carl Hage
Roan Kattouw
Tony Wasserman
Open Source Voting System Technical Advisory Committee
of the San Francisco Elections Commission
Thursday, March 8, 2018
6:00 p.m.
City Hall, Room 421
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, California 94102

Order of Business

1. Call to Order & Roll Call

Chair Jerdonek called the meeting to order at 6:10 p.m. Present: Members Hage, Jerdonek, Kattouw, Wasserman. Member Bafundo arrived late at 6:30 p.m during item #5. Also present: Secretary Chan.

2. General Public Comment


3. Approval of Minutes of Previous Meeting

Member Kattouw moved to approve the February 18, 2018 draft minutes, seconded by Member Hage. The motion carried, 4-0.

Public comment: None.

4. Administration

Chair Jerdonek thanked Member Wasserman for doing a good job chairing the February meeting in his absence. He wanted to answer some of the points that came up then. 1) The Committee’s second report is due to the Commission in May. 2) The TAC member reporting to the Commission should mention the Committee’s approval of the wording and spirit of the RFP for the interim system, for its nod to accommodating requirements of open source.

It was confirmed that Member Wasserman would present at the March 21 meeting. Member Wasserman said he welcomed any input for the report he will give.

Chair Jerdonek asked Member Kattouw if he would draft the next written report to the Commission. Member Kattouw said he would try and welcomed any help from the other members.

Public comment: None.

5. Member Reports

Chair Jerdonek reported that the City is in the middle of its budget process, with departments submitting budgets to the Mayor’s office. The Slalom report is still not available, but he heard that the report might be ready by the next Commission meeting. The Mayor’s office is aware that money for an open source voting system has not been put in the Department’s budget. They are awaiting the Slalom report. Member Kattouw asked to be informed when it is available.

Member Hage has tried using Open Count but it doesn’t seem to work. The software might have limited usefulness.

Member Wasserman is awaiting approval of a talk he wanted to give at OSCON, the week of July 17. Member Kattouw suggested that he and Member Wasserman could collaborate on their upcoming talks. Chair Jerdonek can provide the slides he used in his past presentations.

Chair Jerdonek answered a couple of questions that came up in February’s meeting. One was how the Department sorts its vote-by-mail (VBM) ballots. The other was what happens in case of a power outage during the elections. Regarding publishing the RCV ballot image data, he said that was voluntary. On the question of the 1% public manual tally, in addition to selecting 1% of precincts, the State also allows selecting VBM ballots by “batch.” Regarding the size of ballot cards, there is no standard size.

Member Bafundo summarized his report to the Commission at their February meeting.

Public comment: None.

6. Project Background and Terminology

Member Hage reported updated information about the Prime III project, which New Hampshire modified and is calling “One for All.” He said they have promoted it to the California Secretary of State, but he can’t find anything on their source code. He asked if Chair Jerdonek could contact New Hampshire to inquire. They proposed several questions to be asked.

Public comment:

Mr. David Cary spoke for the California Clean Money Campaign and encouraged the Committee to do whatever they could to facilitate the State’s approval to allocate funds for the development of the open source voting project in San Francisco.

Mr. Jim Soper reported on a State hearing on cybersecurity in elections. He commented that Dean Logan (LA County) said their project is based on an open source “platform,” but they are not making their source code available for review. He encouraged the Committee to contact Assemblymembers David Chiu and Phil Ting, both representing San Francisco, to support the project.

There was a short discussion about Los Angeles County’s use of the word “platform” and not “software,” as compared with San Francisco’s position of making the software open source and openly developed from the start.

7. Project Management and Procurement

Member Bafundo offered to get resources from the US Digital Services (USDS), but he felt that the Committee already had enough to describe an approach and recommend sequencing pieces of the system as it related to a procurement strategy.

Member Wasserman mentioned a Patrick Stoddard (USDS) who works with groups to do agile procurement. It might be worth following up with him. Chair Jerdonek said that while the Committee has recommendations on the sequence of components, it doesn’t yet have information on the process of agile procurement in how-to form. Member Bafundo said that Jessie Posilkin’s work with Alaska is available in a public GitHub repository, so he can summarize it. Chair Jerdonek asked him to possibly draft some text for the Committee’s document.

Public comment: None.

8. Equipment Decisions and Implementation Plan

Chair Jerdonek reviewed one “diff,” which re-organizes how some of the sections are in the Committee’s document. He suggested changing the term ballot layout analyzer to ballot layout encoder.

Member Kattouw moved to approve the diff, seconded by Member Wasserman. The motion carried 5-0.

For the second diff, Chair Jerdonek explained some of the changes in the language around accessibility, to change the focus from use by people with disabilities to everyone being able to use it. He discussed a new “pro” being that if everyone used the same method to vote, their voting experience would be the same. Another would be that the use of the machine would remove the appearance of ambiguous or erroneous marks that demanded adjudication. This remark would go in section 6.4.

Member Hage moved to approve this document with the revisions, seconded by Member Kattouw. The motion carried 5-0.

Chair Jerdonek summarized the letter he drafted to the Commission that highlights things the Committee believes the City should work on in the first year but is specific to the budget process. He is going to ask the Commission to approve sending the letter to appropriate individuals.

There was a discussion regarding subject and terminology in the letter, e.g. calling someone a project lead versus a product or project owner, and how salary levels should be competitive for the industry. There was a question regarding the wording in the first of the five reasons, so it was changed. Overall, the document was received positively.

Chair Jerdonek will put it on letterhead. Member Kattouw moved to approve the letter with the discussed changes, seconded by Member Hage. The motion carried 5-0.

Public comment: None.

There was a short discussion regarding ballot selection and printing and specs, but it did not impact the motion. Member Wasserman will give a statement about this letter in his report to the Commission.

9. Committee Recommendations

Member Hage reviewed the PDF he submitted for section 5.3.2 that defined and suggested ways cryptography could be used for the benefit of a voting system. It was felt that this section was better put into an appendix that can be referred to when looking at the recommendations.

Member Hage discussed the various things that could or should be done for chain of custody for things like documents and log files to help make them secure. This includes using digital signatures on several levels, files within files (e.g. archived zip files), “jar files,” and similar techniques.

He was asked if NIST was discussing the use of these methods. Member Hage said they are only talking about using XML files for data exchange.

Member Kattouw wanted to review the document in more detail. Chair Jerdonek suggested using the heading “Digital Security” for this appendix.

Member Hage said he thought there should be a recommended plan of how data security and cryptography should be used. This could be part of the requirement specification for producing all of the software. It could help ensure data security and integrity all the way from input data.

There was a discussion related to encrypted PDF’s and the extent to which they could be viewed as an open format, as well as read and creaetd using open source software.

Public comment:

Mr. David Cary said that when the Committee looks at recommendations for security and cryptography, it should keep in mind what is being worked on by VVSG 2.0 and NIST, so they are compatible. Member Hage is a part of that working group so is familiar.

Mr. Jim Soper said several years ago there was a study on end-to-end verifiability. He will send a summary of that to the Committee.

Member Wasserman commented that when the Committee makes recommendations they should be more on the “why” and not the “how” so it doesn’t get too far into prescriptive directions.

Member Kattouw mentioned the event DEF CON in Las Vegas where it was shown how voting machines could be hacked. Member Wasserman mentioned that the RSA conference will be in San Francisco the week of April 16.

There was some discussion of secure boot and reproducible builds, which Member Kattouw had previously volunteered to draft language for. Chain of security was discussed, including its relationship to certificate authorities (CA’s) and root CA’s, etc.

10. Topics for future discussion

Chair Jerdonek raised the question of whether it was legal to transport people to precincts where accessible voting machines were available.

Member Kattouw said he was supposed to write a couple things, including a recommendation related to using shims for the testing of software libraries. He will try. He asked if the Committee could take any actions to help in getting funds for open source. As a committee, no, but as individuals yes.

Public comment: None.

Adjourned at 8:12 p.m.