Takoma Park: verifying the shuffle and the unopened ballots

So the votes have been cast, the uncertified tally has been released, and the confirmation codes have been published for all voters to check. Now, it’s time to make sure that the coded votes, which were shuffled via the Shuffle Tables into the decoded votes in the Results table, were indeed shuffled and decoded correctly.

Having trouble remembering which table is which? Here’s a reminder:

pdr-setup

Now of course we don’t actually see these tables in cleartext, rather what we have right now is:

pdf-vote-cast

Next, the Scantegrity team used random stock data to seed a random number generator and decide which side to open up, the left or right. Now we said before it would be row-per-row in the shuffle table… but because of a subtle privacy issue, it turns out instead that there are 40 Shuffle Tables, and each one will be open either entirely on the left, or entirely on the right.

That’s what was done, and that’s what I verified just now in the Meeting 4 Audit.

Any Issues?

The same issue that I mentioned for Meeting 2 applies: the stock-data program pulls data that is, unfortunately, still being adjusted for a few days as stock trades reconcile, and thus it’s not possible for me to find the exact same seed. I have to trust that the Scantegrity team did it right. Not ideal, as I mentioned before, but also not extremely worrisome because the other parts of the audit provide a bit of insurance against any error here: next we’re going to open up every piece of data for the unused ballots, and there are a lot of those, and no carefully crafted randomness can hide cheating here.

Contested Ballots?

Scantegrity supports a “contested ballot” audit where, if a voter wants to contest that their confirmation code does not appear, all confirmation codes for that ballot are opened up to prove there was no hanky-panky. Since that original nomenclature, the Scantegrity team has decided to effectively act like *all* ballots are contested by default, so that all confirmation codes for all cast ballots are revealed to prove that there are no duplicates or other naughtiness. Of course, the correspondence between confirmation code and real, decoded candidate is not revealed.

If you voted in the Takoma Park election, you can check your ballot’s complete set of confirmation codes against my regenerated list.

Auditing Unused Ballots

For all ballots that were unused, the Scantegrity team is now forced to reveal all of the shuffle table rows and all of the confirmation codes. Since it’s not possible for the Scantegrity team to predict ahead of time which ballots would be used and which would remain unused, this audit gives us added confidence that the used ballots were okay, too, because the unused ones are.

Check out the Unused Ballot Audit. Everything checked out fine.

So… are we done?

Yes, we are! It looks like the Takoma Park election went well, and I can say with confidence that, if you voted in the election, wrote down your confirmation code, and checked it against my copy of the confirmation codes, then your vote counted the way you intended it to. And I can say this even without knowing how you voted. Pretty darn cool.

Over the next few days, I’ll write up a couple of followups regarding:

  • some recommendations for improving Scantegrity,
  • an explanation of what happens if the election officials are all corrupt, and
  • a script that lets you re-perform the entire Scantegrity audit on your own.