Executive summary of Auditability Working Group report


The Auditability Working Group found no alternative that does not have as a likely consequence either an effective requirement for paper records or the possibility of undetectable errors in the recording of votes.  If undetectable errors can be introduced at any point in the process, then the argument for the correctness of the process as a whole inevitably has a missing link.  Optimism that approaching the problem from the auditability perspective would make the "paper or plastic" question go away was based on faulty premises:

Thus, a choice among five mutually exclusive alternatives is presented:

  1. Software Independence—robustly mitigates the risk of undetectable error at the cost of effectively requiring paper records with all of the difficulties thereunto appertaining, unless and until a paperless design that satisfies the same requirements is demonstrated.
  2. Independent Verification—improves auditability without requiring paper, but certain plausible classes of error remain undetectable.
  3. Lossy SI—requires a marginal increase in auditability, but with most of the same costs as Software Independence.  Undetectable errors remain plausible.
  4. VVSG 1.0—no change.  Undetectable errors remain plausible.
  5. Hybrid systems—explicitly requires a combination of different kinds of vote-capture devices, where some robustly mitigate the risk of undetectable error while others sacrifice this capability in exchange for providing the best available accessibility.

Once a choice among these alternatives has been made, a set of testable requirements can be derived.