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

Meeting Minutes: January 10, 2019 (approved February 14, 2019)

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
Brandon Philips
Tony Wasserman
Open Source Voting System Technical Advisory Committee (OSVTAC)
of the San Francisco Elections Commission
Thursday, January 10, 2019
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 6:05 p.m. Present: Members Hage, Jerdonek, and Wasserman. Member Kattouw arrived late during item #3 at 6:55 p.m. Member Philips was absent. Also present: Secretary Chan.

2. General Public Comment

No members of the public were present until item #9.

3. Open Source Voting Project Plan

Chair Jerdonek reported that Director Gerull of the Department of Technology (DT) would not be present tonight. He referred to the progress report she submitted to the Commission at their December meeting showing their new hires (Sean Roberts and Michael Kelly). Member Wasserman said that Sean has a strong reputation in the open source community.

Member Hage said it pretty much was the same as the initial plan presented. Chair Jerdonek said there was something different regarding governance but didn’t know exactly. During the December Commission meeting, President Donaldson had asked about the changes in governance reflected in the project plan. Director Gerull said it more closely reflects how the budgeting and decision making for the project moves within the City, with the Mayor and Board of Supervisors having the final say on what is funded.

4. Approval of Minutes of Previous Meeting

With no suggested revisions, Member Wasserman moved to approve the minutes. Seconded by Member Hage. The motion carried 3-0.

5. Administration

The next committee meeting falls on February 14. Barring any issues that may come up, it will be held on this date. Member Wasserman reported that he will not be available for the March meeting. Chair Jerdonek represented the committee at the last Commission meeting. He asked if anyone was available to report at the January Commission meeting. Member Wasserman can do February. Chair Jerdonek will do the January meeting if Member Philips cannot attend. He further reported that his re-appointment for the Elections Commission will be going before the Rules Committee, whose members need to be appointed by the new Board President, Supervisor Norman Yee. The Rules Committee meets on the first, third, and fourth Wednesdays of each month.

Chair Jerdonek reviewed the draft written report to the Commission and said he would also like to add mention of the project page they created in response to the Civil Grand Jury’s request.

Member Wasserman asked if listing the questions the committee submitted to DT for the hiring process was necessary. Chair Jerdonek said it was more just to let the Commission know what they did, since the questions haven’t been made public before.

Member Wasserman said there should be mention of CLA’s (contributor license agreements) and questioned the phrase “began discussing” as opposed simply to “discussing.” Chair Jerdonek said he felt it was an ongoing activity, so he wanted to indicate it as such. With the amendments, Member Hage moved to approve the written report to the Commission. Seconded by Member Wasserman. The motion carried 3-0.

Member Wasserman asked if they could personally invite the new hires to meet with the Committee. Chair Jerdonek felt it would be more appropriate to go through Director Gerull. If a committee member wanted to touch base individually with either of them, without representing the committee, they could.

6. Member Reports

Member Wasserman said that proposals for OSCON (the third week of July) are due soon, and he thought it would be good if they tried for a slot on the program. It was decided that Member Wasserman would put together an abstract, and if accepted, to figure out who would present with him. Member Hage moved to have Member Wasserman submit a proposal on behalf of the Committee. Chair Jerdonek seconded. The motion carried 3-0.

Chair Jerdonek commented on the document from Verified Voting recommending hand-marked paper ballots over the use of a ballot marking device. This issue is relevant to San Francisco in its voting process and is noted in the committee’s recommendations.

Chair Jerdonek said he didn’t have any news from the City Attorney regarding CLA’s. The two aspects they are looking at are questions around copyright, and whether CLA’s are necessary.

7. Voting System Security

Member Hage said he hadn’t had time to test the security hardware he showed at the last meeting. He hopes to be able to write something up on how to use digital signatures with the committee’s repositories. He did report that he has started to use SHA-256 for all the files in the converter software.

8. Voting System Component Development

Member Kattouw didn’t have time to complete the tasks from the last meeting. Member Hage reported that he has been writing more code to convert the DFM EMS data, and match contests and candidate IDs. He mentioned a few other problems he found in the data. He has the software working but has not yet gotten all of it linked with the errors fixed. He can produce some pretty good JSON election definitions and matching ID’s.

Chair Jerdonek said he hadn’t done recent work on the software. He did ask the Deputy City Attorney about the possibility of a working meeting. He was told they could hold a work meeting with attendance optional. There was a short discussion about having a separate meeting. Various times and dates were proposed, with January 27 a possible candidate. This will be explored.

Member Hage brought up the matter of reviewing other counties’ election results data, which could be relevant to the results reporter the committee is working on. The committee reviewed how some of that data was formatted, and how long it took for the pages to load. The link to that data is: https://github.com/OSVTAC/osv-sample-data/blob/master/2018-11-06/samplesurvey.md

Chair Jerdonek commented that when the contract for the new voting system is finally signed, TAC might want to review how the new system works and how the results will look. He asked Member Hage if he had time to see what the experience of other jurisdictions using this same system has been.

Member Kattouw mentioned that South Carolina publishes a great deal of ballot images – actual CVR’s (cast vote records) of complete ballots. He will bring more details about this to the next meeting.

9. Topics for future discussion

Regarding Verified Voting’s letter, Member Kattouw mentioned there was a study in Tennessee about the extent to which voters were able to verify their votes. He thinks there should be something in the committee’s recommendations that speaks to this. He will put together a more complete report on it so it can be discussed at the next meeting.

Public comment:

Jim Soper spoke about the Little Hoover Commission, which is holding hearings on elections security. He said the hearing will be in Sacramento on January

  1. He felt that it would be important to reach out to the Governor to fund the open source voting project and encouraged the committee to do so.

Member Hage asked Member Kattouw if he had information about the audit done by South Carolina. Member Kattouw said he didn’t have a full report but that they were revising the reporting format (which was described as annoying) so that it is visually more appealing and accessible.

Member Wasserman thanked Secretary Chan for his work for the Committee and wished him well in his future endeavors.

Member Kattouw found the names of some State legislators who are part of the Little Hoover Commission.

Adjourned at 7:23 p.m.