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

Meeting Minutes: October 11, 2018 (approved November 8, 2018)

Elections Commission
City and County of San Francisco
Don Chan, Secretary
Open Source Voting System Technical Advisory Committee
Christopher Jerdonek, Chair
Roan Kattouw, Vice Chair
Carl Hage
Tony Wasserman
Open Source Voting System Technical Advisory Committee (OSVTAC)
of the San Francisco Elections Commission
Thursday, October 11, 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 6:01 p.m. All present: Members Hage, Jerdonek, Kattouw, Wasserman. The committee has one vacancy. Also present: Secretary Chan. Member Wasserman had to depart at 8:28 p.m.

2. General Public Comment


3. Approval of Minutes of Previous Meeting

Chair Jerdonek asked about the comment about SHA files and in what context it was brought up. Member Wasserman moved to approve with corrections, seconded by Member Kattouw. The motion carried 4-0.

4. Administration

The normally scheduled TAC meeting can go forth. Chair Jerdonek mentioned that the project page on the website has been fleshed out with descriptions. Missing still are budget documents.

Public comment: None.

5. Member Reports

Member Hage has looked into security issues and showed a couple of hardware security tokens. He discussed briefly how they can be used to hold encryption keys inside the hardware. These are being suggested for use in conjunction with GitHub repositories. He suggested signing the TAC GitHub repositories with them to demonstrate the concept. NIST-certified versions of the keys exist. NIST also has specifications on container security. If TAC is going to use containers, they should probably be in compliance with those. The concept of using digital signatures could be demonstrated by TAC.

He mentioned DEF CON this year, which showed how easily voting machines could be hacked. He said it would be important to note that security should be based on paper records and auditing rather than attempting to make hardware impenetrable.

Member Hage reviewed the ballot scans received from the Department (6 precincts, about 20 pages each), mostly English/Chinese. He wanted clean PDF’s. Chair Jerdonek will ask for those. Member Hage said there is data on the November election on the Department’s website, but some of it isn’t updated (e.g. precinct maps from 2016).

He mentioned that he is on a Secretary of State (SoS) email list. He discovered that there is a statewide database of election information that counties are required to submit information to the SoS for, but it is not open for public review.

Member Wasserman reported that Estonia’s election turnout is low (similar to the United States), despite the ease with which they can vote there.

Member Kattouw reported on his presentation in St. Louis. About 100 people attended. One participant indicated interest in contributing to the Committee’s work.

Member Wasserman will be speaking at a conference in Shenzhen next week.

Chair Jerdonek referred to the packet document regarding the Los Angeles County project. It shows that LA County does not have a license for their system, and in particular confirms again that it is not open source.

Public comment:

A member of the public commented on the use of YubiKeys, and how they are used.

6. Open Source Voting System Project Manager

At the last Elections Commission meeting, Chair Jerdonek asked the Department of Technology if a TAC member could participate in the interview process for the Project Manager position. He was told there was a possibility. However, yesterday he learned they had decided this wouldn’t be possible. Secretary Chan mentioned that they left open the possibility of including up to five questions that the Commission or TAC could submit for posing to the candidates.

The Committee discussed different qualities they felt a successful candidate should have, including involvement and contributions to open source projects, familiarity with agile processes, how they have managed staff and work within an agile framework, and experience with security issues. The Committee discussed and developed five questions for the interview panel to use.

Public comment:

Mr. JP Posma commented that candidates could be asked to list some open source projects they’ve been in involved in. That way one could go directly to the projects and see what their contributions were. He also suggested asking if they have ever contracted out for software development, and how familiar they are with voting systems. He said he believed there are people with security experience that also have the other qualities being sought.

Mr. Jim Soper suggested using the term “contributors” rather than “vendors.” He said security isn’t just a module but a single primary concern for the project. He also felt that an important quality in candidates would be how they adjust to changes.

Member Kattouw moved to approve the five questions, seconded by Member Hage. By voice vote the motion carried unanimously, 4-0. Chair Jerdonek will take them before the Commission.

7. Civil Grand Jury Report

Chair Jerdonek mentioned that the Board of Supervisors would be holding a committee hearing next Thursday on the Civil Grand Jury (CGJ) Report and the responses to the report. He pointed out the cover letter attached to the consolidated response to the report from the Mayor, Department of Technology (DT), and Department of Elections. It stated that a discovery phase à la the Slalom Report was planned. He was concerned that the administration’s plans are not aligned with the Commission’s and Committee’s position.

The Committee looked over the proposed timeline and activities and wondered whether the plan was to develop a roadmap or to actually produce concrete components of the project. There was a feeling that DT should go back to TAC’s recommendations to prioritize project activities and follow a more agile process. It appeared from the format of the plan that DT might not be familiar agile processes.

There was also a feeling that the Committee needed a more direct line of communication with DT so there could be more alignment with recommendations. The Committee discussed what it felt should be the next steps in development. Some thoughts were: defining what the modules are, the input and output formats, doing things in an agile way, and not outsourcing the work of designing the planning phase. There should be community involvement from the beginning. Discussions with jurisdictions that have made similar attempts should take place (e.g. Colorado). There doesn’t have to be a fully developed plan before any single component is completed. If DT could return to the Committee’s recommendations, they could begin more quickly on many components without as much up-front planning.

When Chair Jerdonek gets a chance to talk with Director Gerull, he will ask for clarification on the role of the OSV steering committee listed in the draft plan and whether the plan is to produce components of the system, or just to formulate a whole plan.

There was a question of whether funds were clearly allocated for specific products/outcomes in this budget. Chair Jerdonek will try to track down some budget documents for the project.

Public comment:

Ms. Mary Ryan, CCMC, commented that DT’s plan does not identify an open source system architect, which she felt was essential to bring the right perspective to the initial development.

Mr. Steven Buss agreed with Ms. Ryan about having an open source system architect, and with Member Wasserman in saying the plan looked like a generic Gantt chart that was adjusted to apply to the open source project. He also thought that developing data formats in advance would be premature.

Mr. Jim Soper said he thought it would be very important for TAC to sit down with DT to get clarification on some of the questions and concerns the Committee has with the plan.

8. Voting System Component Development

Member Hage said he is getting election data and will put it into TAC’s sample data repository. He said he would like to see an actual accessible remote vote-by-mail ballot to see if it has the same security issues as the sample, but there are limitations on who can get one. There was no answer to if they could get a copy of the ballot. Chair Jerdonek said he hoped there could be progress on this by the next meeting.

Member Hage has seen the precinct boundaries files. He wants to get a nice CSS design for the results reporter. Member Kattouw will help him on this.

Chair Jerdonek asked Member Kattouw if he could get a CLA template for the Committee to discuss. He also suggested a code of conduct for the repository, in the interest of modeling good practices. Member Wasserman noted that the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) has one on their website.

Public comment:

Mr. Jim Soper didn’t think there was a big security issue with accessible vote-by-mail balloting

Mr. Steven Buss mentioned using GeoPandas for mapping visualizations and has a friend who has done this who might be open to helping.

Member Hage commented that getting some graphic visualizations of election results might be a good candidate for soliciting public contributions.

9. November 6, 2018 Election

Chair Jerdonek and Member Kattouw were able to observe the Logic and Accuracy (L&A) testing (separately), and they reported on what they saw. Member Kattouw was surprised to see the process being done by a Dominion employee.

Member Wasserman departed at 8:28 p.m.

Member Hage asked if there was documentation on the machines available. Chair Jerdonek will check on that.

The Committee reviewed the answers from the Department to TAC’s questions after the June election observation (see agenda packet).

Public comment:

Mr. Jim Soper gave a short description of how WinEDS handles balloting.

10. Committee Recommendations

Member Hage said it would be good to review the issue of security. He thought it would be good to have that in TAC’s recommendations document as background material before DT begins making a roadmap. He also suggested that TAC could possibly digitally sign all of its documents. Chair Jerdonek recommended that Member Hage propose something for the Committee to consider, including workflows and assumptions.

11. Topics for future discussion

None at this time.

Adjourned at 8:52 p.m.