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Finnish E-Voting System Loses 2% of Votes

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the in-america-we-call-that-the-margin-of-error dept.

Government 366

kaip writes "Finland piloted a fully electronic voting system in municipal elections last weekend. Due to a usability glitch, 232 votes, or about 2% of all electronic votes were lost. The results of the election may have been affected, because the seats in municipal assemblies are often decided by margins of a few votes. Unfortunately, nobody knows for sure, because the Ministry of Justice didn't see any need to implement a voter-verified paper record. The ministry was, of course, duly warned about a fully electronic voting system, but the critique was debunked as 'science fiction.' There is now discussion about re-arranging the affected elections. Thanks go to the voting system providers, Scytl and TietoEnator, for the experience."

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366 comments

Usability Glitch? (4, Interesting)

lecithin (745575) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551543)

"It seems that the system required the voter to insert a smart card to identify the voter, type in their selected candidate number, then press "ok", check the candidate details on the screen, and then press "ok" again. Some voters did not press "ok" for the second time, but instead removed their smart card from the voting terminal prematurely, causing their ballots not to be cast."

No. This isn't a glitch nor a problem with the machines. 98% of the voters got it right. That means that the directions were pretty clear.

This sounds like a nice feature to keep stupid people from voting.

Re:Usability Glitch? (3, Funny)

Kenoli (934612) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551557)

Apparently some people (approximately 2%) have problems following simple instructions. Clearly a glitch in the system.

Re:Usability Glitch? (2, Interesting)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551881)

But there are no dimpled chads to interpret in my candidate's favor....

We have seen this before. Unfortunately, the sentiment isn't "if your too stupid to work the machine, your too stupid to vote", it is more like "the dumber the better so we need to design everything so that not only the smart people can figure it out but the stupid and high people too".

I guess having the fate of your country decided by people who can't read directions is really important. I know it isn't popular but you know that if they didn't pay attention there, they didn't pay attention to anything the candidates said or done in the campaign or over the years. There should be somewhat of a means test to allow voting. Maybe not money or materials but something like the ability to answer a few questions or read a newspaper or maybe just being able to recite the name of the current president and vice president or whatever they call them in the finnish land.

Re:Usability Glitch? (5, Insightful)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552091)

The card should have been locked into the machine until the voter said 'OK' or cleared the screen, and locked it in with an alert and a deactivation warning if the person left the booth without doing either. Anyone can get confused about simple directions for an entirely new system. How many of us have tried to walk away from an ATM with our card still in it because we were distracted?

Re:Usability Glitch? (1)

2meen (728316) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552157)

How many of us have tried to walk away from an ATM with our card still in it because we were distracted?

No one I hope? That's why (at least in Sweden), the ATMs give the card back before giving out any money (and no, you don't get any money until you remove the card). You're not likely to forget your money, are you?

Re:Usability Glitch? (3, Insightful)

Capsaicin (412918) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551569)

No. This isn't a glitch nor a problem with the machines. 98% of the voters got it right. That means that the directions were pretty clear.

If this is true, then a 2% failure rate would be extremely low in comparison to traditional paper ballot systems. Which is not to say that the result of an unaudited electronic voting system is actually trustworthy.

Re:Usability Glitch? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551661)

Actually ministry of justice itself described 2% failure rate as "very high" compared to ordinary paper ballot. In Finland an ordinary failure rate for paper ballots cast would afaik be around 0,5% and that includes Donald Duck and offensive drawings, which are not available to evoters.

One of the pro-evoting arguments was that we get significantly _lower_ failure rates compared to paper ballots. Apparently that was not the case...

Re:Usability Glitch? (0)

srussia (884021) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551723)

One of the pro-evoting arguments was that we get significantly _lower_ failure rates compared to paper ballots. Apparently that was not the case...

That's the ennd of that thenn.

Re:Usability Glitch? (4, Insightful)

moderators_are_w*nke (571920) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551997)

If only it was. I really don't get e-voting. Why do people insist on using these highly complex, extremely expensive systems when the simple approach (write an X in a box on a piece of paper) works well and has done for hundreds of years, in the UK anyway.

Re:Usability Glitch? (4, Insightful)

RollingThunder (88952) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552013)

Quite simply, because they want instant results when the polls close.

Re:Usability Glitch? (5, Insightful)

karstux (681641) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552081)

Does it really matter if you have them instantly - as opposed to the next morning? And sacrifice trust in the validity of the election for such a small convenience?

If you have a truly verifiable e-Voting system with a paper trail, the final, binding results aren't faster either - because a few districts will still have to be counted manually to verify the machine count.

It's insanity. There is no advantage to electronic voting. It's expensive, complicated and prone to failure and manipulation on so many levels, it's obscene. It undermines democracy.

Re:Usability Glitch? (1)

aproposofwhat (1019098) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552181)

Added to which, the UK has just announced that we won't be progressing e-voting any time soon, which is a small glimmer of common sense from Neues Arbeit (motto - Kraft Durch Dummheit).

Re:Usability Glitch? (5, Interesting)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551755)

I keep hearing this argument about evoting, that it has a lower failure rate.

Can someone please find an actual study that confirms this? Or are they just hoping if something's repeated often enough it's taken as fact?

Re:Usability Glitch? (5, Funny)

sumdumass (711423) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551897)

It's probably one of those things that works in theory and blows up in operation. I guess you can say it looked good on paper.

Re:Usability Glitch? (1)

karstux (681641) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552115)

If e-Voting eliminates the possibility for failure, then that is actually an argument against e-Voting: lots of people cast invalid votes as a means of protest, expressing that although no party is fit for their support, they want their political will recorded nonetheless.

It's not what I would do, but the possibility to do so should be preserved.

Besides that.. honestly, if people fail to properly write an "X" into an "O", there's no way they'd fare better with a machine.

Re:Usability Glitch? (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552179)

I keep hearing this argument about evoting, that it has a lower failure rate.
Can someone please find an actual study that confirms this? Or are they just hoping if something's repeated often enough it's taken as fact?


Even in theory this is questionable since a complex electronic system has many more possible failure modes than pieces of paper marked with a simple writing tool and collated by closely watched people.

Re:Usability Glitch? (3, Interesting)

Capsaicin (412918) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551763)

Actually ministry of justice itself described 2% failure rate as "very high" compared to ordinary paper ballot. In Finland an ordinary failure rate for paper ballots cast would afaik be around 0,5% and that includes Donald Duck and offensive drawings, which are not available to evoters.

Only half of 1%?! Wow. Finnish voters must be much more careful (or draw less Donald Ducks) than Australian voters then. Or perhaps, it's the result of compulsory voting, or that our exhaustive preferential system is a little more complicated. We get informal voting rates around the order of 5% (historical data here [aec.gov.au]), so 2% looks pretty low to me.

One of the pro-evoting arguments was that we get significantly _lower_ failure rates compared to paper ballots.

Informality (failure) seems a far lesser problem than trust to me. We have a paper ballot (but are experimenting with evoting for the blind). The ballot boxes are not transported, but counted at the voting place (usually the local school), and while the votes are counted 'scrutineers' from each party stand over the shoulder of each vote counter casting an eagle eye on every vote counted, noting what the counter writes down and disputing any suspect votes for the other side. Perhaps Finland doesn't do this , which would account for our higher informality rates.

Re:Usability Glitch? (1)

fastest fascist (1086001) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552007)

I'm pretty sure a large factor in the low discard rates of votes is that not many people are likely to bother to drag themselves over to their voting location in order to just cast a joke ballot. Mandatory voting changes that of course, since you have to go.

Re:Usability Glitch? (1)

amorsen (7485) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552073)

I think the Finnish 0.5% failure rate only includes votes where voter intent could not be discerned. Surely you don't have 5% of votes where you cannot figure out what the voter wanted.

Re:Usability Glitch? (5, Informative)

DMNT (754837) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551869)

Actually ministry of justice itself described 2% failure rate as "very high" compared to ordinary paper ballot. In Finland an ordinary failure rate for paper ballots cast would afaik be around 0,5% and that includes Donald Duck and offensive drawings, which are not available to evoters.

As an election vote counter I can assure that out of the approximately 7000 votes that went thru my hands during the counting, only 9 or 10 were that ambiguous that it couldn't be reliably placed to one single candidate. Those ambiguous votes go to the board of election officials that will ultimately decide whether it's a valid vote (and who has the voter voted for) or not. Other invalid votes were maybe 5 times as common. Most of the time it's a question of whether the number is "1 or 7?" and other common problems are "6 or 0?" and "5 or 6?"

The Finnish counting system was developed during times of great distress and has stood the test of time. It was good right after the civil war and therefore it's good for peaceful times too:
The votes are first grouped by candidate, then counted twice by separate persons and invalid or ambiguous votes taken aside. If the numbers differ, they're counted again by two separate persons. Then the count is recorded on two separate forms held by secretaries and those forms are cross-validated against each other.

After this, the votes are given to second counting group selected at random (obviously different from the first group) and counted again, with a possibility to take aside votes they found invalid that were accepted previously but not vice versa. If this verification count differs at all from the first count, the number of votes for candidate will be verified by counting again the number of votes for that particular candidate and if the first count seems to have been erroneous it'll be counted for the third time by a third group. Finally the invalid votes will be considered and decided whether it is an acceptable vote or not by higher election officials. Each party attending the elections have a right to set observators to the counting procedures but at times like these I saw none personally.

This whole procedure makes it really hard to cheat in the vote counting unless you're using e-voting where officials just download the XML, turn it into a PDF and print it. Then they tell us that this is the result. I'd love to link to the news video where they did that but unfortunately I'm unable to find it right now.

Re:Usability Glitch? (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552149)

Actually ministry of justice itself described 2% failure rate as "very high" compared to ordinary paper ballot. In Finland an ordinary failure rate for paper ballots cast would afaik be around 0,5% and that includes Donald Duck and offensive drawings, which are not available to evoters.

These are not "failures" indeed a system which cannot allow a voter to create a ""spoilt ballot" in a way which is clearly delibrate should itself be considered broken by design.
A big problem with "evoting" is that it can apply rules against a voter's intent e.g. preventing them from using an ommited "none of the above"; indicating with an STV system that they don't want some of the candidates under any circumstances; etc.

Re:Usability Glitch? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551687)

For the whole country the failure rate was 0.7%, so much less than with the electronic machine. And usually big part of them are voting Donald Duck etc.

Re:Usability Glitch? (4, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552009)

"If this is true, then a 2% failure rate would be extremely low in comparison to traditional paper ballot systems."

Cite please.

"Which is not to say that the result of an unaudited electronic voting system is actually trustworthy."

If the voter (usually via thier representative) can't determine that the election procedure is trustworthy then by default it isn't.

PS: To the OP and others who keep making the suggestion that "stupid people shoudn't be allowed to vote" - I submit that they are petitioning to disenfanchise themselves but are too stupid to realise it.

Re:Usability Glitch? (2, Funny)

msormune (808119) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551699)

Well you are not entirely accurate in your "keep stupid people from voting" argument, since at least 50% of people are stupid. We need worse and less clear instructions here in Finland to achieve the goal :)

Re:Usability Glitch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25552119)

I was thinking earlier today that interspersing Suicide Booths with the voting booths might be a good way to achieve that.

"Would you like to commit suicide? Enter 1 for No, Enter 2 for Yes."

Commit Suicide: ___

"Would you like your death to be painless or painful? Enter 1 for painless, Enter 2 for painful."

Painless or Painful: ___

"Commit suicide now? Enter 1 for No, Enter 2 for Yes."

Commit suicide now: ___

Re:Usability Glitch? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551825)

Sounds like a great system. There's no way that a despotic government would ever bind the smart card ID with the vote and "re-educate" you after the election.

Re:Usability Glitch? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25552033)

But everybody agrees that "it could never happen here" - after all, us Finns are such a peace-loving people, and we have learned so much from the histories of Germany, Russia, Japan, Italy, Spain, Portugal, China, Russia, Iran, Iraq, Libya, etc. We aren't ever going to be stupid like them.

Re:Usability Glitch? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551883)

no it's poor design and poor (probably not existent) testing.

They intended to vote so where is the buzzer/audio feedback along the different stages of the process.

How about the big warning when no vote was cast.

How about not returning the card until the proces is complete - think atm machine.

Software design these days no one pays attention to detail...

Re:Usability Glitch? (1)

Saval (39101) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552045)

no it's poor design and poor (probably not existent) testing.

They intended to vote so where is the buzzer/audio feedback along the different stages of the process.

How about the big warning when no vote was cast.

How about not returning the card until the proces is complete - think atm machine.

Software design these days no one pays attention to detail...

How about using the current system, which works well, is simple and is easily verified...

Re:Usability Glitch? (5, Insightful)

grumbel (592662) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551895)

This isn't a glitch nor a problem with the machines.

Yeah, the good old "blame the user" solution, its after all just democracy that is at stake...

Why is it even possible for the user to eject the card before stuff is done? Any half decent ATM doesn't allow that, it holds the card inside until everything is finished. Why doesn't the voting machine do the same? Seems to me to be a pretty clear case of a badly designed system.

Re:Usability Glitch? (5, Interesting)

fastest fascist (1086001) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552001)

A commenter on an article dealing with the issue at hs.fi says there were problems with the machines that may have caused this issue:
http://www.hs.fi/keskustelu/Brax%3A+Vaalitulosta+ei+voi+perua+hukka%E4%E4nien+takia/thread.jspa?threadID=148607&tstart=0&sourceStart=40&start=60 [www.hs.fi]
username Jones is the commenter, it's in Finnish, so here's a summary:

Commenter says she is a young female with university degree from Kauniainen who tried electronic voting with poor results. The voting machine had responsiveness issues: first the machine refused to register input of the candidate number, and after numerous presses and waiting the machine responded. The commenter then pressed the "ok" button, nothing happened. She pressed it again, harder, and pressed more times, until after several minutes of trying the buttonpress was registered. Then a screen popped up with the name of the candidate and the user was prompted again to press OK to accept the vote. Same problem with the OK button again, but she managed to get it to register after a long time of trying and waiting for the machine to respond.

If this is accurate, it's not unreasonable to think people may have thought the machine isn't even supposed to show the candidate number chosen on-screen after choosing, or that either of the OK presses aren't actually supposed to result in any response from the machine. 2% failures with these kinds of problems doesn't sound so strange.

No wonder why Nokias are slow... (0, Troll)

VeryLargeNumber (1394367) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552161)

"...until after several minutes of trying the buttonpress was registered."

No wonder why Nokia phones are slow, if the Finns have are willing to try registering a keypress for several minutes.

Re:Usability Glitch? (1)

umghhh (965931) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552113)

That is a bit of fast judgment I think. You do not know what the problem was. TFA says that there has been a report that either due to software fault or touchscreen insensitivity there could have been problems with pressing OK button and the voters could have thought they have pressed enter although they have not. It could be be that the procedure was 'open' i.e. did not give clear and distinct indication 'vote has been cast' which means this was a glitch maybe not really technical but procedural but still one that could cause the vote to go wrong way.

I suppose there are arguments against allowing stupid and uneducated people voting but I guess they would not vote anyway. There are ways how to improve democracy but if they start excluding people from it then usually the path to dictatorship is short.

Re:Usability Glitch? (1)

VeryLargeNumber (1394367) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552121)

"This sounds like a nice feature to keep stupid people from voting."

Please enter any 11 digit prime to cast your vote.

Bad summary? (1, Informative)

RockMFR (1022315) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551551)

The article says the system was in use for "about 2 per cent of the electoral roll". The summary says "about 2% of all electronic votes were lost". lol wut?

Re:Bad summary? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551587)

The summary has more data than the article. This was a pilot in three (smallish) municipalities, involving the 2% of the voters.

Of the e-votes cast in these three municipalities, 2% were not accounted for. So both statements are correct.

Re:Bad summary? (2, Informative)

kaip (92449) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551619)

The original Ministry of Justice announcement [www.om.fi] (in Finnish) states: "A total of 12234 electronic votes vere cast in the electronic voting pilot of the 2008 municipal elections. - -"

232 is about 2% of 12234 and therefore the summary is correct.

According to the same announcement the total number of votes in the three municipalities in which the voting system was piloted was 21073 (Karkkila 4251, Kauniainen 4843, Vihti 11979), i.e., 8839 of all voters cast a paper ballot. (The voters could choose between the traditional paper ballot and trying the new electronic system.)

not bad (1)

adamruck (638131) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551563)

2 percent off due to human error, and most likely zero percent off tallying error. I betcha that compares pretty damn well to our system.

Re:not bad (1)

Eskarel (565631) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551635)

This is really the interesting thing, 2% sounds high, but what's the level of trashed votes in a paper system?

Re:not bad (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551743)

About 0.5% of votes are ignored in the traditional voting system.

Re:not bad (1)

umghhh (965931) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552189)

There are countries where all citizens vote and the failure rate is null. I am sure you do not want to live there.
There are also other countries where courts may decide what is best for citizens. One big democracy come to mind - almost 8 years ago....
Then there is Finnland where they seem to care what happens to votes. At least outside the justice department they do.

Re:not bad (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551757)

Ministry of justice itself described 2% as being "very high" figure compared to that of (afaik around 0,5% or so for) paper ballots.

In finland we get a pencil and a ballot (a piece of cardboard, about the size of big postcard) where we write the number of candidate. If there are several elections conducted at once (which is pretty rare), we get several ballots.

And yes, people old or clueless enough can screw that up too, but the screw-up-rate for evotes was expected to be way _lower_ than for paper ballots.

More about voting here:
http://www.vaalit.fi/17098.htm

Re:not bad (1)

Upphew (676261) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551943)

"Kuntavaaleissa koko maassa hylÃttiin 17 073 ÃÃnestyslippua. Se on 0,7 prosenttia kaikista ÃÃnistÃ." -mtv3

So in whole country there were 17 073 invalid votes, that is 0,7% of all votes. And that number includes "protest votes" where people draw cunt or wrote Donald Duck to the ballot paper instead of number...

More information here (2, Informative)

jaria (247603) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551571)

http://www.arkko.com/evotingfailure [arkko.com]

For information, I am a citizen of one of the three small places where the system was tested. I have already sent out an appeal of the decision to the voting board; if necessary, I will also appeal to the administrative court. Lets see how this plays out. I think we have a good chance of overturning the election results.

Re:More information here (4, Informative)

kevinatilusa (620125) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551615)

From the summary, it seems that they're defining "lost" as just "the voter intended to cast a vote for the office, but none registered", and include those caused by user error (the voter pulling out the voting card before confirming their vote, or failing to confirm their vote altogether).

In that sense, the problem seems not to be electronic voting so much as just a poor set of instructions. Poorly designed ballots in other places can lead to a similar level of "lost" votes -- for example in the U.S. state of North Carolina, about 2.5%-3% of ballots [miamiherald.com] in presidential races fail to register a vote for President, compared to 1.1% in other states. The primary culprit? A poorly designed ballots where voters THINK they're casting a straight-ticket vote for every office, but in reality are casting one for every office except President.

Re:More information here (4, Interesting)

canthusus (463707) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551791)

the problem seems not to be electronic voting so much as just a poor set of instructions.

Check out "usability" - eg Donald Norman. If you need to rely on detailed instructions, then you've got a usability issue.

Truth is, we don't know the intentions of those who withdrew their card early. But they were told that they had to press "Cancel" to cancel their vote. As they didn't "follow the instructions" for either voting or not voting, I'd say there's a usability problem.

(and yes, I know people don't always follow instructions on simple paper ballots)

Re:More information here (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551859)

In that sense, the problem seems not to be electronic voting so much as just a poor set of instructions.

An electronic voting system like that should make it almost impossible to lose votes or misunderstand even without instructions. You shouldn't be able to close the application without pressing okay the second time. Instructions don't really come into it. Bad design is the primary thing. The e-voting companies should pay to re-run the election with paper.

Re:More information here (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551741)

Shit stirrer !!!!!

I was there .. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551577)

I'm living in one of those three experimental places and when I went to vote they offered me electrical version. I told 'em to frack off and give me true democratic way to vote because electronic one is very bad and unreliable. How do I know that communists ain't gonna change my vote?

Anyway, I made a nice scene there and few people turned away from voting electronic. I felt good .. a true savior of democratic society.

Commies to blame? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551647)

Considering it's these big IT corporations that have 'designed' and sold this system to local covernment... Makes me wonder how it suddenly could be a commie plot for altering the votes?

Re:I was there .. (1)

Plutonite (999141) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551977)

All our true saviors are Anonymous Cowards :(

You felt good, but not good enough to sign in? What are you, some kind of..communist?

Re:I was there .. (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25552207)

The electronic voting system doesn't allow us to vote our true democratic leaders Kekkonen and Aku Ankka.

the stats (5, Informative)

japa (28571) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551601)

There were 3 pilot municipalities; Vihti, Kauniainen and Karkkila.

Municipality / Number of votes given / number of lost votes / lowest number of votes for elected person
Vihti: 7087 / 122 / 77
Kauniainen: 2982 / 61 / 49
Karkkila: 2165 / 49 / 35

!!suprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551607)

surprise!

"Didn't see any need" ? (4, Insightful)

DrStrangeLug (799458) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551637)

Call me an old software biz cynic but when I see the phrase "didn't see any need to implement a voter-verified paper record" I read that as "given complete assurance by the sales team that the system was 100% accurate". Never attribute to malice that which is just as easily explained by incompetence. Never attribute to incompetence that is is more readily explained by a bunch of lying sales weasels.

Re:"Didn't see any need" ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551787)

a bunch of lying sales weasels.

Which ones, the politicians or lobbyists? Or both?

Re:"Didn't see any need" ? (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552085)

"Sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice."

Something plenty of "leaders" later rely upon.

 

well of course (1)

socsoc (1116769) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551641)

I would like to call this a layer 8 problem, but electronic voting vendors need to make this as idiot proof as possible. No paper trails, supposed missing votes... way to go guys.

Paper ballots (4, Interesting)

Aggrajag (716041) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551643)

Writing a number to a piece of paper has worked here in Finland for over hundred
years now so I really don't see the need for e-voting. Also the e-voting system
has been implemented by one of the crappiest IT-companies ever, TietoEnator, whose
main areas of expertise are: missing deadlines, underestimating budgets and designing
the worst and unusable UIs for the simplest of applications.

Re:Paper ballots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551701)

Also the e-voting system
has been implemented by one of the crappiest IT-companies ever, TietoEnator, whose
main areas of expertise are: missing deadlines, underestimating budgets and designing
the worst and unusable UIs for the simplest of applications.

:-D
So true. Whenever i hear system failure i think TietoEnator... I Sometimes have to work with them, and they're terrible...

Re:Paper ballots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551911)

My teacher in school had a favorite story about how the French king in the 1800's replaced the silverware with aluminium cutlery. I don't know if it is a true story, but I do know that the history teachers of the 2100's will have silly and true stories to tell to the kids...

Re:Paper ballots (3, Interesting)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552067)

My teacher in school had a favorite story about how the French king in the 1800's replaced the silverware with aluminium cutlery. I don't know if it is a true story, but I do know that the history teachers of the 2100's will have silly and true stories to tell to the kids...

Back in the 1800's, aluminum was several hundred times more valuable than gold because of how primitive and expensive the extraction and purification techniques were.

Aluminum cutlery would be seen as an exceedingly opulent dining room appointment.

special access... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551681)

One of the concerns of a democratic state about revealing votes is that votes can be bought.

It's cheaper to buy individuals than half of the people in a democratic state.

If votes are open as a database and can be mined by anyone who knows how to do a select statement and if there can be no untraceable ID... there will never be a vote miscount.

Why are only special people privileged to counting? Can they not be bought?

Re:special access... (3, Informative)

wertarbyte (811674) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551973)

Why are only special people privileged to counting? Can they not be bought?

There are no special people. Counting the votes has to be done in public, you can go there and watch.

Re:special access... (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552195)

If votes are available in a database the database was...
...run and populated by a few persons using the tallies from lots of publically supervised counters or...
...run and populated by a few persons using the tallies from machines designed, built and maintained by a few persons.

At each point I mentioned "a few persons" you can pay off someone without having to buy half of the country. In the upper example that's twice (DB admins and whoever enters data into the DB), in the lower one five times (DB admin, DB entry, machine designer, machine builder, machine maintainer) - and since there's usually significant overlap between those various sets of persons paying off someone becomes even more effective.

Traditional paper voting might be attackable as well but the voting part is actually the most secure part. Usually representatives from all partes are there to count and cross-validate their results and the public gets to watch. That means that if you want to reliably tamper with counting you'd have to pay off everyone in the voting district - and that includes the very people you want to skew the votes against.

TietoEnator? Lol :o) (1)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551691)

My previous employer, how nice ;o)

Well, at least I voted using pen and paper, and so did the great majority of Finns, and still they had the results ready the same night. Which brings me to a giant WTF: why introduce an electronic system, when good nordic organization will provide poll results the same day anyway?

Re:TietoEnator? Lol :o) (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551753)

Which brings me to a giant WTF: why introduce an electronic system, when good nordic organization will provide poll results the same day anyway?

I've been wondering the exact same thing. The other argument used was that by introducing an electronic voting system, young people would be more willing to vote. That sound like a really shitty plan, because even if they did, this would not be the case the next time because then the whole electronic voting thing would be old news. And, in any case, if people are so very little interested in the society that they don't vote if it's traditional pen-and-paper, some gimmick e-voting parade surely will not make that big a difference.

Something fishy sure is going on here, I'm tellin' ya. Maybe the system providers are FOAF of the politicians so keenly pushing this fscked-up system? Or.. they are merely nazi puppets of the near future nazi rulers we'll have?

Re:TietoEnator? Lol :o) (1)

indeciso (1350357) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551865)

C'me on, you're talking about Finland, not about Venezuela. Here people just don't do that. PS: And I'm not Finnish!

Re:TietoEnator? Lol :o) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25552173)

My previous employer, how nice ;o)

You should not confess that sort of thing in public (or private, for that matter) unless you WANT to be ridiculed for the rest of the eternity.

voting machines sales that go to the lowest bidder (2, Funny)

Achoi77 (669484) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551705)

I guess that's what you get when you get a system made as cheaply as possible.

If they really wanted a good system, they should have looked up who makes those ATM machines for banks.

Or at the very least, those automate ticket vendors at the movie theater. Even those have a goddamn paper trail. What the hell, do those just cost TOO much to deploy?

Re:voting machines sales that go to the lowest bid (4, Funny)

MorderVonAllem (931645) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551789)

If they really wanted a good system, they should have looked up who makes those ATM machines for banks.

What? Like Diebold?

Paper is no panacea (2, Insightful)

mveloso (325617) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551727)

All the people who talk about e-voting want a paper record. But that has its own problems, the main one being the same problem as any voting system:

How do you know if your vote is registered correctly or not?

With a secret ballot, there is no transparency. The only thing you can verify is that approximately the same number of people that went into the machine cast a vote. And at least in the US, there's no requirement that you actually cast a vote when you're in the booth, as far as I can tell. I've never tried to walk out without voting, but I expect there's no way they can force you to vote.

Are the tallies wrong? How can you tell, except by interrogating every voter...which wouldn't work, because voters may lie or change their vote when asked what/whom they voted for.

In fact, how many paper ballots are invalidated because the voter voted for multiple candidates or otherwise invalidated their ballot? 2% may be low compared to real paper ballots.

e-voting doesn't make fraud any more or less difficult. It just makes things less transparent, and probably makes fraud easier.

Instead of having to print and fill out tens of thousands of ballots, register lots of dead people, or stuff ballot boxes, all of which have severe logistical problems and can be traced with a bunch of work, all you need to do perform e-fraud voting is compromise a couple of computers up in the food chain. There is no reliable auditability for e-voting unless you remove the secret ballot requirement...and even then, it's all plastic anyway. Logs (and audit logs) are a lot easier to fake than tens or hundreds of thousands of paper ballots. The latter requires coordination among large numbers of people; e-voting fraud just requires a couple of focused and motivated geeks. Bits are bits, baby, and our jobs is to make sure the bits are in the right order.

  i'd trust paper ballots over any kind of e-voting any day. It's not hard to design a ballot that doesn't allow hanging chads. It's probably impossible to design a computer system that can't be compromised by someone with enough motivation.

Re:Paper is no panacea (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551815)

In fact, how many paper ballots are invalidated because the voter voted for multiple candidates or otherwise invalidated their ballot? 2% may be low compared to real paper ballots.

As stated above, average number of invalid votes cast in Finnish elections tend to hover around 0.7%, so 2% statistically significantly higher level. These are usually recognised to be mainly as true protest votes.

Normally elections (municipal, parliamentary, European parliament and presidential elections) are separate, and ballot is as simple as it can be: big circle on the inner page where you're supposed to write the candidate number. Minimal risk of misunderstanding the idea, especially on country with literacy and schooling rate of 100% (at least until now).

Well-organised and respected local election board takes care of the rest, making elections trustworthy in a country with sufficiently democratic multi-party system with representatives from every party with support level worth mentioning, all looking at each other and tangible manual routines to minimise fraud and voter (un)anonymity problems.

Referenda are a special case, but those are extremely rare - I remember one during couple last decades - and even in those cases, there are separate ballots for referenda if they are organised the same time with other elections. These ballots are clearly of different color and have question text in official languages, and crossable vote alternatives, if I remember correctly.

Re:Paper is no panacea (1)

tpheiska (1145505) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551819)

How do you know if your vote is registered correctly or not?

Well, in Finland, paper voting has proven to work in a time of great civil unrest, specifically before and after a bloody civil war. Representatives of all parties count the votes together, several times to make sure everything is counted right. Unreadable votes are discarded. After this the voting result is sent to the central electoral committee and the votes are recounted by different people. The number of votes per candidate are written down, and a carbon copy of the paper is stored with the original ballots in a sealed bag which is sent to the ministry of internal affairs.

Of course there's no way of knowing your vote was counted right but since there's people with opposite (at times even hostile) motivations it's pretty close the best we can have whilst retaining anonymity.

And now we're substituting this with a closed source voting system. The system provider even forced auditors to sign an NDA to secure their IP. Basically we're substituting a good, working system with an expensive, unsecure, and useless system.

Re:Paper is no panacea (5, Insightful)

grumbel (592662) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551871)

How do you know if your vote is registered correctly or not?

You stand there and watch while they do the counting. The whole point of pen&paper is that the voter themselves can verify that the voting process happens correctly, everything that isn't pen&paper adds a layer of intransparency that makes it much harder or impossible for the voter to verify the voting process is going as advertised.

e-voting doesn't make fraud any more or less difficult. It just makes things less transparent, and probably makes fraud easier.

E-Voting doesn't only make fraud easier, it makes large scale fraud possible in the first place. With paper you will have a really though time manipulating more then a single ballot box, with E-Voting on the other side you can do large scale fraud pretty easily when you sit at the right spot.

The good thing about pen&paper is that it works even when you can't trust the government, it of course doesn't stop fraud in that case, but it makes it much easier to detect.

Re:Paper is no panacea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551873)

It's probably impossible to design a computer system that can't be compromised by someone with enough motivation.

It's probably possible, but the program and hardware both would be so simple/dumb and locked down that very few people would be either willing or able to use them.

Re:Paper is no panacea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551919)

In fact, how many paper ballots are invalidated because the voter voted for multiple candidates or otherwise invalidated their ballot? 2% may be low compared to real paper ballots.

This figure is about 0.5 % in Finland. The 2 % far exceeds the normal rate of rejected paper ballots.

Re:Paper is no panacea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551959)

e-voting doesn't make fraud any more or less difficult. It just makes things less transparent, and probably makes fraud easier.

Why don't you have your friends vote on just exactly what the fuck you mean? Then get back to us with a single answer.

Re:Paper is no panacea (1, Informative)

LordLucless (582312) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552005)

e-voting with a paper trail, as it is usually envisioned, is just as transparent as the pen & paper variety. In fact, those sort of e-voting machines are nothing more than giant mechanical pencils that people use to mark their ballots with. They embed a bit of logic so that nonsense votes can't be cast, and when they have a legitimate vote, they spit out a bit of paper that shows the voter who they voted for, which can also be read by a computer. They may also keep an internal register of votes, but that's entirely redundant anyway, because the machine-readable ballots generated can be quickly and efficiently read to do the count anyway.

it would seem that the solution is quite simple (1)

frankm_slashdot (614772) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551779)

when someone ejects their card prematurely, you need to have a flashing red light and a siren going off shrieking "you're an idiot! step away from the voting machine! please learn to follow directions!" on repeat.

of course - making people wait for their verifible printed ballot might work too.

which, i do not know how anyone would implement an anonymous paper ballot... maybe just have it print out a bunch of squiggles a la the standard UPS label so in the event of a conflict someone can take their ticket to the counter, check the vote and receive a simple yes/no of whether or not that vote was counted... obviously not say "who" it counted towards, just that it was counted and was recorded in the system... i dunno.

Re-elect John McCain 2012! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25551875)

This is nothing. In Ohio, there have ALREADY been, in some counties, more early votes than the total number of people living in those counties!! People are voting 72 times! Voter fraud! This is all being done to elect you-know-who to the presidency and I ain't talking about McCain. Let me tell you something. Unless you want you-know-who to redistribute YOUR wealth, you'd better vote for McCain.

What, you say, he won't redistribute my wealth?! Let me tell you something. Raise taxes on the corporations. For a corporation, a tax is like any other expense. It gets factored into the price of the product they make. Corporations don't actually pay ANYTHING in taxes. They merely collect it from their customers and pay it to the government. So when you buy a loaf of bread, school supplies, new tires for your car, a bag of plant food for your yard, or any other product out there, YOU are actually paying those corporations' taxes for them. Even if you're poor. Because it's factored into the price. In the end, corporations exist on paper and money passes through them -- but it's ALWAYS people who end up footing the bill for taxes. That's why once McCain is in office, we need to convince him to push adoption of the FairTax [fairtax.org] plan.

Joe the Plumber is absolutely right. If you're a hard-working person and you manage, through your blood, sweat, and tears, and through sacrifices and risk-taking, to arrive at success, and it's DIFFICULT to arrive at success, then you are the rightful owner of what you earn and it is NONE of the government's business to "redistribute" your wealth, "spread" your wealth around. It's your wealth and you decide what to do with it. Not you-know-who, who hangs out with terrorists, radicals, Communists, anti-American people. His friends are upstanding citizens like Reverend "God Damn America" Wright [youtube.com], or Bill "I don't regret setting bombs" Ayers [youtube.com]. How about Rashid Kalidi and his buddies (Where is that damn tape that the Los Angeles Times has?) Or any of a zillion other really upstanding citizens who obviously care about the well-being of this country.

So go ahead. Listen to what the "mainstream" media, the biased lying dishonest garbage media, is telling you to do and go vote for you-know-who. Go ahead and let them convince you that your wealth needs redistributing. They're already laughing all the way to the bank, but you won't. Or you can vote for John McCain. I disagree with a lot of his ideas, but you bet your wallet I'm voting for him.

Karl Marx was a stupid idiot. His ideas were wrong then. They are wrong now. And they will always be wrong. The Communist Manifesto is GARBAGE as was Marx's brain. Marx was garbage. Marx was trash. Marx was refuse. Marx was rubbish. Karl Marx. A piece of shit. This is AMERICA people. We don't need any of that Communist garbage here.

The oldest democracy on the planet (3, Interesting)

orzetto (545509) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551981)

Since for some reason the cliche' in American media is that the USA are the oldest functioning democracy on the world, you may actually learn something today: Finland is. Finland introduced universal suffrage and the right to run for office for women in 1906. The USA as a whole can be counted as a democracy since 1964, when the blacks in the South states were finally allowed to vote and run for office and poll taxes were abolished (though most states had universal suffrage and right to run, but there is no such thing as a democracy for the few).

Sad to see that a nation with such a history is going down the drain of electronic voting...

Re:The oldest democracy on the planet (2, Funny)

plasmacutter (901737) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552083)

actually, athens is.

Actually, Athens isn't (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552109)

The city-state of Athens that had a form of democracy did not comply with the definition given by the GP, since women and slaves did not have the vote (just like the USA when it was founded...) and in any case only lasted for a few decades. I think you may possibly find that New Zealand beat the Finns to it, though.

Re:The oldest democracy on the planet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25552221)

Only free men voted in Athens.

How can such a simple thing be so hard? (1)

cheekyboy (598084) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551983)

1. use two small embedded or slim line PCs in one cabinet.
2. both tally data to be added to two different servers running different software.
3. if in doubt get IBM to do it, they helped the germans accurately in ww2.

Re:How can such a simple thing be so hard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25552011)

3. if in doubt get IBM to do it, they helped the germans accurately in ww2.

Trolling or just truely ignorant of IBM's involvement in the Holocaust? [cbsnews.com]

Paper Record Would Do Nothing (1)

magicchex (898936) | more than 5 years ago | (#25551993)

Since these people did not follow through and press "okay" the final time, a paper record would have done nothing. This is user error that would not have been fixed in any way by a paper record.

Re:Paper Record Would Do Nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25552031)

That depends on the method.

A machine which prints a paper ballot (which is then both the official ballot and the paper record) would lead at least some of the voters to realize they didn't finish when they got up to the place where they were to turn said ballots in...

Re:Paper Record Would Do Nothing (2, Informative)

BarneyL (578636) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552057)

If there was a visible feedback that a vote had or hadn't been placed (say a printed paper record) then the voter could immediately see that they hadn't pressed a final OK button and correct the issue.
As it is it appears there was no feedback or indication that there was a final step needed after selecting the correct candidate.

Science fiction (1)

Orlando (12257) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552105)

" but the critique was debunked as 'science fiction.'"

Yes, you could argue that Orwell's 1984 is science fiction.

Why are users able to pull their card prematurely? (3, Interesting)

Jayjay2 (1236942) | more than 5 years ago | (#25552129)

If you need to write instructions for a process as simple as voting, you've frakked up the design of the system. Why were users able to remove their card before a vote was registered?

acting analog (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25552213)

Funny how digital systems sometimes ends up acting like analog system. Even though it is "just 1 and 0", there is still a loss.

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