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SF Open Source Voting TAC

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

Meeting Minutes: March 14, 2019 (approved May 14, 2019)

Elections Commission
City and County of San Francisco
William Walker, 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, March 14, 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 6:12 p.m. Present: Members Hage, Jerdonek, Kattouw. Excused absences: Members Philips and Wasserman. Also present: Secretary Walker.

2. General Public Comment

Jim Soper, Voting Rights Task Force, discussed how smudges on ballots counted for a KPFA Local Station Board election were misinterpreted as votes by their voting machine, causing the KPFA election to be recounted, and suggested that OSVTAC consider this when developing an open source system for San Francisco.

John Brakey, Audit USA, stated a need for elections with ballots that are transparent, trackable and verified. He added that when votes are counted, people should demand that machines are counting ballots and not pictures of paper ballots.

Dylan Saloner urged the Committee to consider developing a web application to create ballots, with references on how to use the application published to GitHub. He added that cryptographic voting would not be a direction the Committee should be pursuing, especially with voting applications.

Richard Tamm, Voting Rights Task Force, said he wanted the OSVTAC to succeed in creating an Open Source Voting System that can be shared with other counties.

Carl Carter said the repairing of voting systems can be done remotely, that this practice tends to be standard industrywide, that often voting polls post-election are out of sync with election results consistently by up to seven percent, and that people are covertly manipulating election results.

Lori Grace, involved with election integrity issues, appreciates the democratic approach that San Francisco has with its Open Source Voting process.

3. Open Source Voting Project Plan (6:22 p.m.)

Chair Jerdonek reported that no representatives were present from the Department of Technology (DT). He mentioned that the Dominion Voting System Contract and Request for Proposals were included in the Board Packet, and that he was pleased to hear that Chief Information Officer Linda Gerull would solicit input from the OSVTAC on the Open Source Voting System project. He said that DT’s evaluation of other planned or existing Open Source Voting System projects was continuing; and that a $3 million budget request for the current and subsequent budget cycles (Fiscal Years 2019-2020 and 2020-2021) was submitted by DT for approval by the Mayor’s Office.

Public comment:

4. Approval of Minutes of Previous Meeting (6:42 p.m.)

Chair Jerdonek continued approval of the Meeting Minutes from February 14, 2019 to the next scheduled Open Source Voting Technical Advisory Committee meeting.

5. Administration (6:44 p.m.)

Public comment:

Jim Soper, Voting Rights Task Force, offered to invite people to the Special Meeting.

Dylan Saloner, requested a timeline outlining the implementation deadlines for the Open Source Voting System project.

6. Member Reports (6:48 p.m.)

Member Kattouw mentioned a potential flaw in new voting machines that Westchester County (New York) plans to buy that are also manufactured by Dominion Voting Systems, the provider of voting machines to the San Francisco Department of Elections. The flaw, identified by a New York State Board of Elections Commissioner, involves a ballot marking device that could mark undervoted ballots if the machine were compromised by a hacker. Member Hage added to Member Kattouw’s report that machines that combine scanning and printing of a ballot could be dangerous, and suggested that all-in-one ballot scanner and marking devices limit writing to prevent hacking.

Member Hage reported that–

Chair Jerdonek reported that–

Public comment:

John Brakey, Audit USA, said that there needed to be a human element in voting, and that hand-marked paper ballots is the only way to go; he made suggestions about how to incorporate hand markings into the new voting system and added that voting may be a secret process, but counting votes is a public process that should be open source, with ballot images, and with good audits.

Carl Carter said he met with the California State Office of Cybersecurity in Sacramento. He only encountered what he called a marketing spokesperson; Carter is in the process of meeting with a second contact, Joe White of the California Secretary of State’s office. He agreed to connect both of these contacts with the OSVTAC and the Elections Commission and encouraged the Commission and OSVTAC to encourage California state officials to support any efforts to implement Open Source Voting.

7. Equipment Decisions and Implementation Plan (7:26 p.m.)

Member Kattouw presented changes to the Equipment Decisions and Implementation Plan section. Member Kattouw reported that he recommended approval of his presented changes, which was created by referencing a paper presented by Member Hage at the February 2019 OSVTAC meeting; a reference was also added to fully record voter data. Jerdonek and Hage approved of the report and of the plan as presented.

Member Hage moved to approve the Equipment Decisions and Implementation Plan as amended; Chair Jerdonek seconded the motion.

Chair Jerdonek requested a roll call vote be taken by Secretary Walker on the proposed changes.

Ayes: 3 (Hage, Jerdonek, Kattouw). Noes: 0 (None). Absent: Philips, Wasserman. The Equipment Decisions and Implementation Plan was approved with a unanimous vote (3-0).

8. San Francisco’s Next Voting System (7:28 p.m.)

Chair Jerdonek reported that the Dominion Voting System Contract between Dominion and the City and County of San Francisco was approved on Tuesday, March 12; he added that the Legislative Analyst report and a memorandum from the Director of Elections summarizing the aspects of the contract were also included in the Committee Meeting packet. He, then, received comments from Committee Members.

Member Kattouw commented that a lot of new features are exciting, that many of the features will save time, and that the upgrade brings the Department out of the early aughts (2000s) to the current era. He said the system will have more flexibility and mentioned that in order for the system to be certified by the California Secretary of State that the machine could not use the internet. He asked if California jurisdictions were actually using risk-limiting audits. Chair Jerdonek responded that a pilot was done a few years ago.

Chair Jerdonek suggested that the OSVTAC ask for sample ballot exports for the new voting machines in order to learn how to integrate the pilot project into the new system. Member Hage agreed with this suggestion and suggested using physical principles, excluding these, noting if error that incorrect, then auditing 200 ranked choice voting ballots with 99 percent probability that this is the right outcome. Member Kattouw added that this may be more difficult with ranked choice voting to figure out the proper cutoff considering the high number of ballots in a ranked choice contest.

9. Contributor License Agreements (CLA’s) for OSVTAC Projects (7:44 p.m.)

Chair Jerdonek reported that he did hear back from the City Attorney regarding the proposed Contributor Licensing Agreement. He stated that the City Attorney recommended to the Chair of the OSVTAC that the OSVTAC enter into the contributor licensing agreement with contributors, and that the City and County could determine later whether it wants to use the OSVTAC software.

Member Kattouw reported that the agreement would be that anyone who contributes to the software repository would enter into a signed contributor licensing agreement with the OSVTAC. The agreement would allow that the software author retain the copyright of their own contribution, but they would allow the OSVTAC and the City and County of San Francisco, should the City and County enter into the agreement, to license under the GPLv3, agree that the OSVTAC can relicense it under a separate agreement for any media created.

Member Kattouw moved to approve the CLA document that he proposed; that the OSVTAC authorized Member Kattouw to modify it slightly after being approved so it can be generalized to all OSVTAC projects, not specific to the results reporter project; and, authorize Member Kattouw to write the text that will appear at https://osvtac.github.io/cla. Member Hage seconded the motion.

Chair Jerdonek requested a roll call vote be taken by Secretary Walker to adopt Member Kattouw’s proposal as discussed.

Ayes: 3 (Hage, Jerdonek, Kattouw). Noes: 0 (None). Absent: Philips, Wasserman. The Contributor Licensing Agreement was approved with a unanimous vote (3-0).

10. Voting System Component Development (8:03 p.m.)

Members discussed the status of each Member’s progress on their development of their particular component of the voting system. Member Hage discussed complications of whether source data for elections be boolean or some other type of selection; Options include winning, election, and leading. He then elaborated on whether the choices be coded as word phrases or as single letter codes.

Public comment:

Dylan Saloner asked whether OSVTAC had a broader framework or if the focus for the Open Source Voting project was solely on building a vote tabulator. Chair Jerdonek responded that the OSVTAC has a recommendations document with a number of different components, one of which is the results reporter, which is not responsible for vote tabulation.

11. Topics for future discussion (8:16 p.m.)

The following topics were suggested for discussion or action at a future meeting:

Public comment:

Dylan Saloner asked where verification keys come into the process of Open Source Voting System Implementation.

No further topics were suggested.

Adjourned at 8:21 p.m.