Pre-Election Audit of Memory Cards for the November 2009 Elections

The Center for Voting Technology Research (VoTeR Center) at the School of Engineering of the University of Connecticut performed a pre-election audit of the memory cards for the Accu-Vote Optical Scan tabulators that were to be used in the November 2009 Elections. The cards were programmed by LHS Associates of Methuen, Massachusetts, and shipped to Connecticut districts for use in the elections. The VoTeR Center received in total 491 memory cards from 481 districts before the elections. This document reports on the findings obtained during the audit. The 491 cards represent over 80.6% of all districts, thus the audit is broad enough to draw meaningful conclusions. Among the 491 cards representing those intended for use in the elections, 87% were properly programmed. These cards contained valid ballot data and the executable code on these cards was the expected code, with no extraneous data or code on the cards. Concerning the remaining cards, 42 or 9% were found to contain “junk” data, that is, they were unreadable, which is easily detected by the tabulators; had a card contained junk data at the time of the election, it could not have been used. It was determined that weak batteries is the primary cause of this and a separate report will document our findings. Two additional cards did not match the pre-election baseline: one card had a different candidate name due to late replacement, another had a different district number (1 vs. 2), otherwise being properly programmed. There are 76 cards that, although not presenting an immediate security concern, were found in unexpected states or contained unexpected timing of events. For example, 23 card duplication events were found prior to the election. We note that the adherence to the election procedures by the districts is improving, however analysis of the audit logs indicates that the established procedures are not always followed; it would be helpful if reasons for these extraprocedural actions were documented and communicated to the SOTS office. One card contained a few unexpected data characters beyond the range of memory known to be used by the tabulators. In summary, (a) 87% of the cards representing those intended for use in the election were properly programmed, (b) cards with junk data continue to be a problem; we believe we know the reason and are finalizing the findings, (c) a number of cards show that the pre-election procedures are not followed uniformly and that cards continue to be duplicated; we recommend that in addition to the prohibition of duplication of cards, that whenever there is a perceived necessity to duplicate a card, the reason be documented and furnished to the SOTS office. The audit was performed at the request of the Office of the Secretary of the State.

Full report: 2009-nov-pre-card12

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