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Finnish Court Accepts E-Voting Result With 2% Lost

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the few-votes-among-friends dept.

The Courts 159

Nailor writes "The Helsinki Administrative court accepted the municipal voting result in an election in which 2% of votes cast were not counted at all. We discussed this situation at the time. The court noted that the e-voting machinery has a feature, that should be considered as an issue. However, it also noted that 'a little over two percent failure rate can not be considered as such as a proof that the voting official would have acted erroneously.' Does this mean 98% of votes is enough to figure out how the other 2% voted? Electronic Frontier Finland has a press release about the court decision (Google translation; Finnish original)."

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Failed to Finnish (2, Insightful)

dov_0 (1438253) | more than 5 years ago | (#26682755)

If it is a first past the post system this is a problem. If it is majority rules, then as long as there is enough of a majority.

2% failure rate is a bit much though?

Re:Failed to Finnish (5, Informative)

Novus (182265) | more than 5 years ago | (#26682839)

Finnish municipal elections are always by the D'Hondt method [wikipedia.org] , so the result [yle.fi] can be strongly affected by a few additional votes. In fact, if the missing votes were all for one candidate, that candidate would have received the most votes.

Re:Failed to Finnish (5, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#26682915)

Finnish municipal elections are always by the D'Hondt method [wikipedia.org] , so the result [yle.fi] can be strongly affected by a few additional votes.

Doesn't really matter. If you let them vote, count all the fucking votes. It's that simple.

I have my own problems with any voting system skewing the results in favor of the two candidates most likely to win ("Don't vote on the little guy, your vote will be lost!"), but this is ridiculous.

Did they offer any reimbursement for the people whose vote they didn't count? I'd be pissed off if they did that to me. I'd also start screaming around about someone cheating, and likely sue as well.

Re:Failed to Finnish (5, Funny)

jaria (247603) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683179)

> Did they offer any reimbursement for the people whose vote they didn't count?

I am considering paying 2% less taxes this year. Clearly, 2% is within the allowable government tolerances.

Re:Failed to Finnish (2, Interesting)

grgon (1301215) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683761)

I am considering paying 2% less taxes this year. Clearly, 2% is within the allowable government tolerances.

This is actually a really good point. Another example: if during one day in one country all the transactions in one bank contained 2% errors, that is money going to the wrong recipent, wrong amounts etc. it would be totally unacceptable. maybe if we involved a bank and put a euro coin/note in each envelope....

Re:Failed to Finnish (1)

canonymous (1445409) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683869)

Dunno why parent is being modded Funny! 98% taxation for a 98% change of being represented...

Re:Failed to Finnish (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26683203)

But it's not that simple. This e-voting debate has always been tainted by a complete lack of scientific logic, which your post typifies.

No measurement is perfectly accurate. Counting votes by hand is not a perfectly accurate method. We expect computers to be perfect but the measuring system isn't perfect so the results aren't either.

It doesn't matter. Our voting system has always had a margin of error, and always will. Thankfully one court in the world understands this and is bold enough to say 2% is an acceptable error.

If the election is not close, it clearly has no effect on the end result. It can only matter if the election is close.

And here's the thing - if the election is close enough, then no system will accurately measure the result. We have a situation, well understood in the world of science, where the noise is louder than the signal. The result of any binary discriminator in this situation is effectively random.

Closely-called elections have always been randomly decided, and they will always be randomly decided.

Let's just accept this and get on with the real debate which is, what is an acceptable margin of error? Do you agree with 2% or not? What would you like the error to be? How much are you willing to spend to reduce the error?

You'll note that in this properly cast debate, anyone saying that only 0.000000% is acceptable counts as an extremist who won't be listened to.

Re:Failed to Finnish (3, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683247)

If the election is not close, it clearly has no effect on the end result. It can only matter if the election is close.

It's the principle that matters. You're basically saying they should randomly not let people in the booth saying "You're the error margin, good bye."
How would you feel?

You'll note that in this properly cast debate, anyone saying that only 0.000000% is acceptable counts as an extremist who won't be listened to.

Make a law saying anyone who didn't get their vote counted doesn't have to pay taxes until the next election. I'm sure they'll get it sorted out in no time.

Re:Failed to Finnish (2, Insightful)

Ornedan (1093745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683351)

2% is bloody well not an acceptable error rate when manual counting error rate is 0.5% on average. As such, the court saying 2% is acceptable is utter bullshit.

Re:Failed to Finnish (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26683413)

> Let's just accept this and get on with the real debate which is, what is an acceptable margin of error? Do you agree with 2% or not?

Given that 1% or even 0.5% is the limit where a party can ask for recompensation for their expenses (speaking about Germany), 2% is definitely far, far too much, and obviously anything above 0.1% is too much.
But that is not the real issue: the real issue is that nobody knows or can proof why which votes were lost, and the electronic voting systems make it completely impossible to find out even if 60% of votes were lost. You can then also not determinine if there was any system or regularity in which the votes were lost. This means that just speaking statistically, the margin for error must be far lower for electronic systems in order to allow the same accuracy as traditional voting.
If someone had had the possibility to let the green party loose 2% at will it is quite likely it would never have grown - a party that now regularly gets around 10% of votes.
If you say 2% loss is acceptable with a voting system that makes reliable tracking impossible (since different to pen and paper, electrons do not leave any traces we can track these days), that means you essentially o.k. any arbitrary vote manipulation as long as it does not exceed 2%.
That is not much if all you have is a party with 60% and one with 40% but if you have e.g. 1 with 6%, 1 with 5%, 4 with 3% maybe 3 more with about 1% that is basically giving the permission to mess up the system as you like (particularly if above/below 5% decides whether you get seats in parliament or not).

Re:Failed to Finnish (3, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683527)

Given that 1% or even 0.5% is the limit where a party can ask for recompensation for their expenses (speaking about Germany)

1% in Hungary.

But that is not the real issue: the real issue is that nobody knows or can proof why which votes were lost, and the electronic voting systems make it completely impossible to find out even if 60% of votes were lost.

No, it's not impossibe. We're talking about computers here, they can be audited.

Also, I'd like to see, how

votes[canditate]+=1;

has an error margin of 2%.

Re:Failed to Finnish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26683693)

> No, it's not impossibe. We're talking about computers here, they can be audited.

At least after the fact, you can only audit the non-volatile parts (and an audit during the election would probably be hard to align with the desire to keep vote secret).
To my knowledge, current voting machines unfortunately use von-Neumann architecture, not Harvard architecture.
Thus all executed code is in volatile storage, any manipulation on it can not be proven with today's technology (the same probably applies to anything but hard-wired ROM, where it should depend mostly on how much effort each side invests).
The closest you can get is showing that it is quite unlikely that someone would be able to manipulate it - but it is likely that it will always be possible to manipulate, and most likely impossible to show if such a manipulation happened or not even when you have the possibly manipulated piece of hardware in your hands.
This _is_ different to ordinary paper, and IMHO it is a significant difference.
I think it is significant, since what do you do when someone claims that there was manipulation? Do you accept that claim just when they prove it is possible at all? Expect a lot of re- and rerevoting.
Don't you accept it unless they can prove such a manipulation actually happened? That seems to be the stance of the German parliament, but isn't that a rather high bar when it is "impossible" to prove?
I realize that none of my arguments so far are really a argument against voting machines in general, but my opinion is that currently voting machines are so far away from the ideal that they can be called "non-auditable". Even if they weren't there is still the issue that even the most basic level of auditing is possible for less than 1% of the population - in comparison I think given enough time and some instructions there would be more people that could detect even an exceptionally well done manipulation to an ordinary paper vote, particularly if they are allowed to attend the voting and counting itself (which these days is the norm I think).

Re:Failed to Finnish (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#26684303)

Also, I'd like to see, how

votes[canditate]+=1;

has an error margin of 2%.

You didn't show how you locked votes in case multiple voting machines try to access it concurrently. A lot of languages that use this sort of syntax don't specify concurrency semantics for +=. Nor did you show how your program handles a hardware or operating system failure between when the user presses "submit vote" and when the line you quoted gets executed, or between when the line you quoted gets executed and when votes is committed to nonvolatile storage. Nor did you show the code that obfuscates the variable canditate so that it doesn't match candidate 2% of the time.

Re:Failed to Finnish (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 5 years ago | (#26684541)

Return to PDP11's. The x++; operation is impemented in hardware in a PDP11, and as I hope you all know, C is the assembly language of the PDP11, which was designed as a "hardware Fortran machine", Even "for (i = 0; i

Do the voting machines use a really sad processor? How sad can processors get in the 21st century?

I know compilers can get pretty bad, but this bad?

Re:Failed to Finnish (1)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 5 years ago | (#26684413)

Also, I'd like to see, how votes[canditate]+=1; has an error margin of 2%.

Software design principle: All input is invalid.

Even simple input as a touchscreen click should be validated. And there's a long way to go between a click and "votes[candidate] += 1;" and it can go Wrong.

Re:Failed to Finnish (1)

Thiez (1281866) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683445)

> We expect computers to be perfect but the measuring system isn't perfect so the results aren't either.

The measuring system IS perfect. You either vote for a candidate or you don't. Adding integers is something computers can do very well without errors.

> You'll note that in this properly cast debate, anyone saying that only 0.000000% is acceptable counts as an extremist who won't be listened to.

A 0.000000% error margin is perfectly acceptable when you are adding some positive integers when the sum of all integers is guaranteed to be between 0 and 6 million (finnish population 2008 estimate 5.3 millios).

Do you call a teacher an extremist he when says 1 + 1 != 2.000000001 (assuming both 1s are integers)?

Re:Failed to Finnish (1)

powerspike (729889) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683399)

In Australian, we have what they call preferences, if you don't put them in, the person you voted for gets to cast them for you. Alot of the smaller parties are setup to lose, so they can throw 3-4% of the vote to one of the two big parties. You can either out a 1 in a box, or put 1-50 on the vote form...

They Take advantage of the system either way.

Re:Failed to Finnish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26683549)

> ...reimbursement ... pissed off ... screaming ... cheating ... sue...

Calm down. The votes were not counted because the voters themselves screwed up. They didn't press the confirm button after entering the candidate's number code. 98% of people did manage to follow the instructions. The person to sue, and the one that you should yell at, is in the bathroom mirror.

The voting machines will be made more idiot proof in the future, but there will always be people who will manage to circumvent the most ingenious idiot proofing. With pencil and paper voting there are always votes for candidate #1 (numbering starts at 2 in all elections; there is no candidate 1. The list of candidates is *right* *there* in front of the voter in the voting booth; no #1 anywhere in sight.)

Re:Failed to Finnish (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683591)

Re:Usability Glitch? (Score:5, Insightful)
by Antique Geekmeister (740220) on 2008-10-29 8:47 (#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:Failed to Finnish (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683957)

Doesn't really matter. If you let them vote, count all the fucking votes. It's that simple.

If you read the article, you'll see that what the problem really is, is that 2% of users were too stupid to register their vote properly.

I would suspect that here in the UK you'd see approximately 25% of votes discounted, with 10% of users just standing in front of the touchscreen going "When's Strictly Come Dancing on?", 10% of users trying to roll it up and smoke it, and the remaining 5% trying to challenge it to a knife fight.

Re:Failed to Finnish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26684465)

You have just done the best hidden 'first post' post I've ever seen! Well done!

What's the margin of victory? (4, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 5 years ago | (#26682761)

If one person had 70% and the other 30%, the 2% won't matter and they should accept the election while fixing the problem for the next. If it's 51/49 victory, then its an issue now.

Re:What's the margin of victory? (0, Redundant)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 5 years ago | (#26682791)

I did a little digging, but couldn't find an article in English that mentioned what the actual gap was. That probably means that the gap was greater than 2%, and the various bloggers are afraid that publicizing the fact that the missing votes don't matter might blunt our outrage.

It's a problem, certainly, but it may not have any bearing on the outcome of this particular election.

Re:What's the margin of victory? (2, Interesting)

BSAtHome (455370) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683139)

It's a problem, certainly, but it may not have any bearing on the outcome of this particular election.

It doesn't matter whether the votes would have made a change or not. It is the basics of fairness that dictates that all votes should be counted. The margin of error should not play a role. If people are asked to vote, what is the problem with accepting the responsibility for counting them? The precedent set here says: we don't care about your vote since it doesn't matter. That is a very dangerous precedent because people will start losing interest and faith in the democratic system this way.

Re:What's the margin of victory? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26683405)

It's a problem, certainly, but it may not have any bearing on the outcome of this particular election.

It doesn't matter whether the votes would have made a change or not. It is the basics of fairness that dictates that all votes should be counted. The margin of error should not play a role. If people are asked to vote, what is the problem with accepting the responsibility for counting them? The precedent set here says: we don't care about your vote since it doesn't matter. That is a very dangerous precedent because people will start losing interest and faith in the democratic system this way.

All votes should be counted? Really? Did you look at any of the PDFs of the actual ballot scans from the Coleman/Franken election? Some of those were pretty indeterminate as to who they were voting for. Some of them should have just been ignored. But often those weren't. During the recount they had folks trying to figure out just who the heck the morons who'd filled out the ballots intended to vote for.

Funny thing is that when the ballots were messed up in a way that seemed to indicate a vote for Franken was likely then in many cases that'd be counted as a vote for Franken.

Now here's an even funnier thing. When some of the ballots were screwed up in a way that would seem to indicate a vote for Coleman, well wouldn't you know, often they just couldn't figure out for the life of them who the heck that moron intended to vote for and discarded the vote.

I'm all for counting as many votes as possible, just as long as the votes are plainly unambiguous. And by plainly unambiguous I mean can be "told within a split second who the voter intended to vote for." Not "has to be carefully examined and pored over as if divining entrails to figure out voter intent."

If a voter can't be bothered to make sure their ballot is filled out properly then they clearly do not care enough about the election to have their vote counted, especially when the process of determining "voter intent" is opened up to shenanigans by third parties.

Re:What's the margin of victory? (1)

jaria (247603) | more than 5 years ago | (#26684549)

I did a little digging, but couldn't find an article in English that mentioned what the actual gap was.

It was zero votes in two towns, for instance. That is, two candidates got the same number of votes, one got to the city council.

That probably means that the gap was greater than 2%, and the various bloggers are afraid that publicizing the fact that the missing votes don't matter might blunt our outrage.

The correct state of affairs was stated here in this thread already. Do your research first before you jump into conclusions.

Re:What's the margin of victory? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26682803)

but the elections are not done only to determine who is the winner. Elections also show how much support the smaller parties and candidates have. They also show whether a smaller party or candidate suceeded in getting more votes than another smaller party or candidate. Such results can help smaller parties or candidates build coalitions, disband, get more members, or change their politics.

Re:What's the margin of victory? (3, Informative)

Front Line Assembly (255726) | more than 5 years ago | (#26682825)

According to the article a few votes could have changed the results (different persons elected).

Re:What's the margin of victory? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26682863)

This was municipal voting where difference to get elected or not was down to one vote. Now when you need something like 50 votes in small town to get elected and then something like 40 votes didn't get counted in that town so these 2% could have easily changed results in the towns that electronic voting was tested.

Re:What's the margin of victory? (2)

Card (30431) | more than 5 years ago | (#26682911)

This was a municipal election, carried out in three small municipalities with just several thousand voters. The victory margin in those municipalities was just a few votes. This error clearly affects the outcome of the vote.

Effi's site had an english version, too:
An error margin of 2% in municipal elections ruled acceptable in Finland [effi.org]

Re:What's the margin of victory? (1)

Weird O'Puns (749505) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683543)

The article you linked has couple more points that are in my opinion more important than the problems with the interface:

Additionally, there is risk of a breach of the anonymity of the votes, because the electronic ballot box has been archived with information on who voted and how. The e-voting project had been strongly criticised by Effi from its inception for the lack of transparency both in the process and software.

First, the system is not anonymous. Right people can see from the archives who voted for who. In fact, right after the election they were telling those who asked if their vote had been cast or not.

Secondly, the system is completely closed. There was an audit, but the auditors were forced to sign a NDA. There is also no paper trace. The voter has no guaranties that his/hers vote has been cast to the right candidate.

Re:What's the margin of victory? (5, Informative)

jaria (247603) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683007)

The margin of victory was *0* votes. There are people who got elected by roll of dice in the voting board, because they got the same number of votes as someone else.

Clearly, even one additional vote would have changed the situation.

Non-electronic spoilage rate (4, Insightful)

profplump (309017) | more than 5 years ago | (#26682797)

2% doesn't mean anything unless you know the spoilage rate for non-electronic voting. In the US 2000 elections, 1.94% of the ballots cast were spoiled, and most of those were not electronic. I don't know if Finland usually has similar spoilage rates, but if they do I don't see why this is any more or less a problem than the old method.

Re:Non-electronic spoilage rate (1)

Kizor (863772) | more than 5 years ago | (#26682955)

Where the HELL do you get your ballots? Finnish ballots have a circle. You take a pencil and write a number in the circle. That's it, you're done. Voting is held for one issue at a time. The failure rate of this electronic voting system is several times higher than that of traditional ballots.

Traditional Finnish ballots fail because of unavoidable human stupidity, but here failures are due to technical problems and incompetent design that allows human stupidity to be expressed. The machines apparently allow removing the slotted card used before registering the vote - was there no defensive design at all? The Finns have not gone through the catastrophes you USAns have, and still think that every vote counts. Anything else is a mockery of democracy.

Re:Non-electronic spoilage rate (5, Informative)

raynet (51803) | more than 5 years ago | (#26682959)

The Finnish system has very very low spoilage rate, the voting is done by writing the number of the candidate on the ballot and just about everybody does manage to do it correctly. And the margins in small municipalities are very tiny, had I gotten 7 more votes I would have been elected, and I got 3 :)

Re:Non-electronic spoilage rate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26683515)

You mean, everyone manages to write a number correctly.

By removing all possible redundancy from a system, you lose the ability to detect errors. That doesn't mean your data is now error-free.

If it's almost impossible to cast a spoiled ballot, of course your spoilage rate will be low. That doesn't mean everyone voted the way they meant to.

Re:Non-electronic spoilage rate (3, Informative)

puhuri (701880) | more than 5 years ago | (#26682981)

The number of rejected votes has been less than 1% [www.stat.fi] in most muncipal elections.

In Finnish voting, a number of choisen candidate is written in booth by pen on paperboard sheet, that is then folded, stamped by official and put into ballot box. Many of invalid votes can be considered as protest votes (vulgar drawings, names of fictional charactes), but some of votes are rejected because number cannot be clearly identified (like 1 or 7). In larger cities, there are more than 100 candidates, so numbers can be upto 3 digits.

Re:Non-electronic spoilage rate (1)

SwabTheDeck (1030520) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683505)

In Finnish voting, a number of choisen candidate is written in booth by pen on paperboard sheet, that is then folded, stamped by official and put into ballot box. Many of invalid votes can be considered as protest votes (vulgar drawings, names of fictional charactes), but some of votes are rejected because number cannot be clearly identified (like 1 or 7). In larger cities, there are more than 100 candidates, so numbers can be upto 3 digits.

Articles in sentences are then discarded to make sound like bad American stereotype of European talking.

Re:Non-electronic spoilage rate (2, Interesting)

thesupraman (179040) | more than 5 years ago | (#26682997)

Quite, reading through this reasonably carefully it would appear that 2% of the votes 'Were not counted at all' which from my election experience would mean that 2% of the issued/recorded voters whom entered a booth did not then result in a vote in the system.

The obvious reason for this would be that either a machine or machines were not transfered to the centralised count - something that should stick out in the paperwork like a sore thumb..

OR

2% of people did not understand/complete the voting procedure correctly - which would not be unusual at all.

It is quite common, although rather surprising, to get paper voting papers that have not been marked in any way - one can only guess that the voter got in to the booth, could not find the person/issue/whatever they thought they wanted to vote for, and didnt bother. You also get voters who do quite obviously stupid and incorrect things in marking their paper ballots, like circling the name of the candidate they support, rather than marking the box.

I would not be at all surprised with a 2% missing vote from the combination of people who just didnt finalising their vote on purpose, and people who did not correctly complete whatever the procedure was.

Neither of these is a particularly 'electronic voting' type fault - it happens all the time in paper based systems. If the numbers are much higher than tghe old style voting, then it could mean the new system is not clear or understandable enough.

Of course IF the problem is simply missing voting machine counts, then that is a whole different kettle of fish, and requires investigation.

So long as people can vote in 'privacy and anonymity' then it is damn near impossible to actually get all their votes..

Re:Non-electronic spoilage rate (1)

amorsen (7485) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683145)

It is quite common, although rather surprising, to get paper voting papers that have not been marked in any way - one can only guess that the voter got in to the booth, could not find the person/issue/whatever they thought they wanted to vote for, and didnt bother.

My guess would be that most of them are protest votes.

Re:Non-electronic spoilage rate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26683431)

> Neither of these is a particularly 'electronic voting' type fault - it happens all the time in paper based systems.

Yes, but only the electronic systems leaves you completely guessing what the fault was.
Obscene drawings on a piece of paper give a quite obvious sign of the intent of the voter, as does a badly written number. A unusually high number of either can be noticed and the election process or political system could be changed to improve things.
A non-registered vote due to someone pulling out the smart-card does not give you any information.

Re:Non-electronic spoilage rate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26683003)

I think you should differentiate between spoilage rate for paper and e-voting.
With the paper ballots you could choose to give an invalid vote to send a political message (after all you *do* care about voting but all choices sucked equally, etc.). On the other hand, with e-voting it's either a system failure or bad design at fault.

Re:Non-electronic spoilage rate (4, Insightful)

getuid() (1305889) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683013)

I don't see why this is any more or less a problem than the old method.

I do. It's because of why the spoilage occured.

In the case of paper ballots, it's easy to imagine where the spoilage comes from: thousands of helpers handle millions of pieces of paper. Either they mis-count, they accidentally destroy bills... whatever. It's easy to imagine that there is some damage, and the most likely scenario is not a systematic error or a manipulation.

In the voting machine case, it's different. There's a machine counting results. It's not supposed to miscount. There's also the machines adding the numbers and doing the math -- it's not supposed to be wrong. If it is wrong, then it's propably not because of 1000 small errors adding uncorrelated small pieces to the spoilage (like it would be in the case of the manual counting), but it's most probably because of one single error or manipulation in the system. Being one single malfunction, it is not at all likely anymore that it has nothing to do with manipulation on purpose -- on the contrary, this scenario is very possible, and more or less likely.

An analogy with weapons, to clarify (not to justify) my points: if a bow+arrow wouldn't be able to hit a 1 foot target at 1000 yards distance, you wouldn't complain. That's the limits what a bow can do, after all... But if a high-tech sniper rifle missed the same target from the same distance, you'd have all rights to complain! The gun is supposed to work orders of magnitude better, there's no room for such a big error there.

Re:Non-electronic spoilage rate (4, Informative)

kaip (92449) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683107)

In the Finnish municipal elections 2008, 0.17% of the paper votes were inadvertently spoiled (unclear marking in the ballot ticket etc.) and had to be dismissed. This can be compared with the 2% of the electronic votes lost in three municipalities in which the new voting system was piloted (see Effi's Electronic Voting FAQ [effi.org] , in Finnish).

The total fraction of the spoiled paper votes in the municipal elections was 0.6%. Most of the dismissed paper votes were due to a deliberate action by the voter (votes for Donald Duck - a popular candidate here!, empty ballot tickets etc.). There is no evidence to support the claim that the lost electronic votes were due to a deliberate action by the voters. On the contrary, in addition to the usability problems with the voting machines, there is evidence of system malfunctions which may have contributed to the lost votes (slow response times, freezing of the voting machines during the voting etc.). Additionally, the electronic voting did allow to cast an empty vote.

Re:Non-electronic spoilage rate (1)

vuo (156163) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683339)

0.5%

Re:Non-electronic spoilage rate (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#26684183)

It doesn't matter what the non-electronic spoilage rate is. This is electronic, if it loses anything it is hopelessly broken. Would you be ok with 2% of the deposits at your bank going missing? 2% of your credit card charges going missing? We have the technology to do this right. A single uncounted vote is unacceptable. 2% loss is proof of sheer incompetence, and the results should not be trusted no matter what margin the results seem to indicate.

EFF press release (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 5 years ago | (#26682799)

Unfortunately, around 2% of the EFF's press release was not translated correctly into English. I would like to assure all slashdotters that their comment posts about it will still be accepted for discussion.

2% (3, Insightful)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 5 years ago | (#26682809)

I guess this is a question of whether it is possible to have a "perfect" user interface such that 100% of people who use it will get it right. Given the number of nincompoops out there, that is a pretty difficult problem. What is the percentage of mistakes with paper ballots? I bet there are 2% who manage to screw that up too.

I looked at the demo of the voting machine user interface and it seems perfectly sensible. You put your voting card in and press the number of the candidate you are voting for. A message comes up with large friendly letters telling you something like "This is the candidate you are voting for: <candidate details>. Press OK to cast your vote. [OK] [CANCEL] Apparently, at this point 2% of the voters simply pulled their card out of the machine and walked out of the booth without pressing OK. If they didn't have the confirmation screen, then the same people would press the wrong number and vote for the wrong candidate, and then complain that they weren't given a chance to correct it.

Re:2% (4, Informative)

raynet (51803) | more than 5 years ago | (#26682975)

It seems that the [OK] [CANCEL] buttons didn't have very good feedback and they didn't work all the time, sometimes requiring multiple clicks to register, which is why some people took their cards after clicking on OK several times.

Re:2% (2, Informative)

legirons (809082) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683617)

It seems that the [OK] [CANCEL] buttons didn't have very good feedback and they didn't work all the time, sometimes requiring multiple clicks to register, which is why some people took their cards after clicking on OK several times.

OK/Cancel buttons are a disaster-area anyway, since every OS and every application has a different idea on what order they should go in, and people get used to clicking the left/right one for OK without looking at the labels.
 

Re:2% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26682985)

Except, of course that [OK] isn't really Finnish. Why the buttons couldn't have been something like [CAST A VOTE] ([ÃÃNESTÃ]) or [CANCEL VOTING] ([PERUUTA ÃÃNESTYS]) in the first place? And these weren't the greatest quirks.

The interface and functioning are bad usability and that's the crux of the matter.

Re:2% (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26683001)

You could always make it so voters can't take out their card without selecting either OK or CANCEL.

Like on the ATM, if you want out, you can't just pull the card. Seems simple enough to me.

Re:2% (1)

clarkkent09 (1104833) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683181)

But who says that people who couldn't handle the simple system mentioned above would actually wait for the card to come out? They would probably just leave the card in the machine. Would that count as a bug with the voting machine too?

Re:2% (1)

bentcd (690786) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683789)

But who says that people who couldn't handle the simple system mentioned above would actually wait for the card to come out? They would probably just leave the card in the machine.

There would need to be a lamp outside of each booth labeled "voting in progress" and one labeled "voting complete". Then there would need to be functionaries outside the booths ready to stop people who leave booths with the "voting in progress" light on and explain that they are not finished yet.
Alternatively, a door with an automatic lock on it that wouldn't let you out unless you've collected your card but I don't see this being very popular, or safe.

Re:2% (3, Interesting)

jaria (247603) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683027)

There were multiple problems. Bad user interface design, which allowed modes where the votes don't get registered. Machines becoming frozen at the time of the voting process, making it impossible to press the OK button. Instructions which stated to press OK once, when you had to press it twice. And so on.

The most serious issue is that if the machine freezes for several minutes, the voter does not know what to do. If he pulls the card out before the machine returns to life and you can press the 2nd OK, your vote was lost.

No one really knows what happened why the 2% of votes were lost. I presume it is a combination of people simply walking out in the middle of the voting process, machine hangups, and people misunderstanding what they had to do, and possibly some yet unknown problems.

By the, none of the problems described above were in dispute. The court only decided that despite the problems, the result stands.

You can make a better UI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26683215)

The machine should "eat" the card and not return it until the vote was cast.

1. you put the card in
2. press the number of the candidate
3. ok, cancel
4. if ok get card else return to 2

If you come to vote you need to vote. If people come to vote without knowing who they'll vote for and then want to decide not to vote at all, they should've stayed at home in the first place. Or allow not casting a vote, but the user would be required to get one of the staff to help with that. Cancellation would require a key or something. This would have two good sides. One: user can't cancel unknowingly. Two: comming to the election uninformed should put them on the spot (shame as deterrent).

The card should be something the user needs outside of voting. Like the state's ID card, driver's license etc. Something that identifies you digitally.

In the opening where the card is put in you could have a small hole, so if the machine dies you can get the card out with pincers.

Re:You can make a better UI (1)

andy.ruddock (821066) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683971)

You'd better make sure that one of the options is "None of the above". I can care enough to cast my vote, but currently if I feel that none of the candidates is sufficiently qualified to do the job then my only option is to spoil my paper.
If I stay at home I get counted as a "didn't care enough to vote", if I spoil my paper I may get counted as "idiot who didn't understand the process", but I've made my mark.
You can't get staff to help with not casting a vote, the process has to be anonymous.

Re:2% (1)

jeti (105266) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683239)

Good testing would have found the problem with people pulling the card without confirmation of the vote. The machines should have been modified to lock the card until the vote is cast.

Re:2% (1)

sa1lnr (669048) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683301)

Here's an idea, what if the machine did not release the voting card until a vote had been properly cast. It surely can't be hard to implement in this day and age?

Re:2% (1)

legirons (809082) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683627)

Here's an idea, what if the machine did not release the voting card until a vote had been properly cast. It surely can't be hard to implement in this day and age?

You're still trusting the software to do the right thing -- I can just imagine this voting machine being like trying to persuade a Mac to spit-out a CD when it's "sure" (incorrectly) that something is using it.

It all depends... (2, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#26682843)

Except in extremely close races, a smallish percentage of lost/spoiled/uncounted votes isn't an issue as long as the lost votes are a representative subset of all the votes. If it is a selective subset, then you have a serious, serious problem.

Same thing as polling. If the people you do poll are a representative sample, you don't actually need all that many of them to get the correct answer. If you get an unrepresentative sample, then your results are worthless. It should be noted, of course, that with elections, unlike polling, you are still obligated to put forth your best effort to count everybody's vote(though, depending on the technology, imperfection is inevitable to some degree).

Re:It all depends... (1)

Kizor (863772) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683005)

Good point. I'd hazard a guess that people from the demographics that have the most trouble with new technology were the most likely to have trouble with electronic voting.

Selective.

Re:It all depends... (1)

jaria (247603) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683173)

Perhaps, like the elderly. But we have to remember that in this case we also had young computer savvy people who experienced problems. (This is all well documented in the court case and not under dispute by the way.)

For instance, a computer science teacher saw the machine crash when he inserted his smart card.

A young student saw the computer froze for several minutes in the middle of the voting process. Had she not waited, pulling out her card before the process was final would have resulted in her vote getting lost.

None of this is demography related. The machine crashes when it decides to do so... (or when networking conditions, timing of key presses, memory leakage reaching a certain point, etc makes it to).

Re:It all depends... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26683463)

> None of this is demography related. The machine crashes when it decides to do so...

Yep, it may very well have _decided_ to do so, e.g. because you voted for a certain candidate (which might also happen due to a bug, e.g. the counted votes are stored on a part of a flash that is failing and causing a timeout). Is it even possible to prove otherwise? The way most voting machines were designed, (not) reviewed and stored the answer is likely "no" and the court just decided to _assume_ it was a random bug, for no particular reason - despite the fact that if there is one thing that computers are not is "random", so you actually already know that the failures had some kind of system to them.
So the question is even more precisely: is it even possible to prove whether the deterministic (but seemingly unknown because nobody cares enough) system according to which the voting process failed is correlated to the vote cast or not?

Re:It all depends... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26683033)

But they possibly were selective.

Apparently the problems were mostly with unclear UI of the electronic voting machine. As such we have a good reason to assume that they targeted elderly voters more.

Besides, your argument works poorly when it is matter of municipal elections in Finland. We don't have just two parties which need to get about right. We have dozens and each can gain or lose positions on a margin of a few votes. If this 2% translated to the elderly losing 3% of their votes, that could actually mean several spots of loss for the Senior Citzens' party (which actually exists).

Is this a problem? (1)

sonamchauhan (587356) | more than 5 years ago | (#26682879)

Unless the 2% of lost votes actually matter (e.g., the race is close, or 2% is signifant for proportional representation, or it indicates a deeper systemic problem) why do they really matter?

Re:Is this a problem? (1)

raynet (51803) | more than 5 years ago | (#26682989)

In my municipality, about 80 votes for candidate was about the maximum, 11 got you elected and 5 was enough to get a in as a backup. Also votes are used for dividing up seats in different comissions/boards/positions etc. And if I recall correctly, of about 2000(ish) ballots cast here, one was spoiled, rest were valid.

Re:Is this a problem? (1)

jaria (247603) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683037)

The race was close. In two of the three cities, the last person to be selected was chosen randomly because they got the same number of votes as some one else. In the third city there was just a few votes of difference.

In addition, the lost number of votes alone would have been enough to get someone elected, i.e., 2% would get you to the city council.

Re:Is this a problem? (1)

legirons (809082) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683637)

Unless the 2% of lost votes actually matter (e.g., the race is close, or 2% is signifant for proportional representation, or it indicates a deeper systemic problem) why do they really matter?

Because it shows that their computers can't count. Computers are supposed to be very good at counting - if they fail at something very simple like that, it means they've been programmed to incorrectly count, which would be illegal because that's election-fraud.

Re:Is this a problem? (1)

ruin20 (1242396) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683977)

Another aspect is how does this compare to the error margine in paper balloting? Is 2% really that much larger then, for example, the number of hanging chads in florida?

First (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26682929)

First. It's impossible to spoil an electronic ballot.
Second. If not a ballot problems, what could affect electronic vote??? Only illegal enforced spoilation.

Translation of article (5, Informative)

Novus (182265) | more than 5 years ago | (#26682977)

Standard disclaimer: legalese may not be 100% accurate. I am not a lawyer.

Electronic Frontier Finland ry (Effi) is shocked by today's decision by the Helsinki Administrative Court. The court downplayed the problems of e-voting and declined to annul the result of the election. Thus, the elections will not be repeated unless the Supreme Administrative Court overturns the decision. After last year's municipal elections, it was found that 232 voters' votes were lost.

Effi assisted in 16 complaints regarding e-voting in the three municipalities in which it was trialled. Based on the witness and expert statements gathered by Effi, the problems were due, amongst other things, to machines freezing at the moment of voting, inadequate testing, user interface design issues, not fixing detected problems and incorrect instructions. In some trial municipalities, even one vote could have changed the members of the council that was elected.

A central basis for the decision was that "A failure rate of slightly more than 2% can not, as such, be considered to show erroneous activity on the behalf of the election authority... The threshold for repeating an election must also be high even with respect to realising basic state rights."

Lawyer Mikko Välimäki, the complainants' advocate, comments: "The decision does not seem to be well founded. The problems are undeniable, and the election result was incorrect. The Administrative Court's line chips away at the trust in Finnish democracy. What happened to the basic rights of the "slightly more than 2%"?"

The vice chair of Effi, Ville Oksanen, wonders: "I understand that we agree that the election trials had serious problems. Now, however, the Administrative Court has accepted a situation in which it is clear that the result of the election did not correspond to the will of the voters. The last candidates to pass are within the margin of error of the system." Oksanen continues: "Not even the municipalities have denied the existence of problems in the judicial process or the possible effect of the missing votes on the results of the election. Going by the Administrative Court's logic, we could give up recounting votes, because the results don't change by more than a few votes anyway. The constitution guarantees everyone an equal right to vote. It doesn't say anything about 98%!"

Jari Arkko, who complained about the elections in Kauniainen, intends to appeal the decision: "We will study the court's decision in the next few days, but we have previously considered the matter to be so important in principle that we have reason enough to appeal to the Supreme Administrative Court." In Vihti, complainant Tero Miettinen agrees: "A badly implemented system should not decide who is elected to the council of my home town. The margin of error in the electronic voting was many times that of the traditional election system. It is hard to understand why the Administrative Court does not consider this an indication that the system has failed."

Well my God! A Communist country VOTING? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26683029)

That there is an "election" in Finland is good enough, even if it is Putin-backed communism chicanery at its typical foul.

Handling of the problems was even a bigger mess (5, Informative)

jaria (247603) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683071)

We can never have a 100% perfect system. Paper ballots lose about 0.5% of votes in Finland. But 2% is way too much. We spent a lot of money on that system, and it gives worse results than the almost free paper ballot system (the votes are counted by volunteers).

The reasons for the mess include incompetence on the part of the ministry organizing the elections and completely ignoring the feedback from external experts prior to the election. For instance, minister of justice, Tuija Brax, painted the worries as "science fiction" just before the elections.

But I am even more stunned by the handling of the problems after they were discovered. Normally, if you get problems you try to deal with them and rectify the situation. But many of the government officials, voting boards, etc. have focused on blaming the users, explaining that 2% isn't a big deal, and attempting to avoid discussion of the actual technical problems that were discovered.

And it gets worse. My city voting board actually blamed the votes for purposefully misusing the machines so that they would appear unreliable. Conspiracy! Normally it is the crazy citizens who suspect the government of conspiracies, but this time the government thinks the citizens are conspiring against them. Maybe the officials involved should be re-allocated for JFK murder investigations...

More information here:

http://www.arkko.com/vaalit/evoting.html [arkko.com]

Re:Handling of the problems was even a bigger mess (1)

SLi (132609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683773)

We can never have a 100% perfect system. Paper ballots lose about 0.5% of votes in Finland. But 2% is way too much. We spent a lot of money on that system, and it gives worse results than the almost free paper ballot system (the votes are counted by volunteers).

Volunteers?

I assure you I got paid in the order of 300 euros for essentially the single voting day. Ok, only 92 (IIRC) euros of that were for the counting itself.

This is not the final decision in this matter (2, Interesting)

jaria (247603) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683093)

There will be an appeal to the highest court.

At least *my* vote was counted (2, Interesting)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683119)

Luckily, I am one of those who voted with pen and paper. From what I've heard, the electronic voting system was fairly complicated, and my guess is that I could have fallen victim of it.

The candidate I voted for didn't get through. I think I'll blame it on the fucking electronic voting (I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that he promoted a rabidly anti-car and pro-cycling agenda).

Re:At least *my* vote was counted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26683579)

> From what I've heard, the electronic voting system
> was fairly complicated, and my guess is that
> I could have fallen victim of it.

Insert ID card.
Type in candidate's number.
Press OK.
The screen shows the candidate's name and OK/Cancel buttons.
Press OK. (<- IQ test! Potential for epic fail!)
Take out ID card.

Similar to but easier than taking money out of an ATM.

You can also ask for assistance if you cannot manage the above process, e.g. due to a disability.

Medical attention for modern /. ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26684497)

From what I've heard, the electronic voting system was fairly complicated, and my guess is that I could have fallen victim of it.

Yes Virginia, I am also confident that none of the modern /. readers would be able to figure out what to do with the big green OK button.

The people who's electronic votes did not get counted, did not figure out the green OK button.

WTF? (1)

EdIII (1114411) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683171)

Does this mean 98% of votes is enough to figure out how the other 2% voted?

Of course NOT. ABSOLUTELY NOT. The answer here could never be yes if you are going to even begin to pretend you have a form of democracy.

I can accept that my own vote may not be counted due to any number of errors in the voting process. I WILL NEVER ACCEPT that somebody uses math to determine how I *may* have voted and use that to determine who will represent my interests in government.

If the 2% does not make a difference in deciding the vote, then the error rate does not affect the outcome. If that 2% could change the outcome, than the ONLY solution is to vote again.

To not have another vote is accepting the outcome of a flawed process. It may be practical to do so in some situations, but it does not change the fact the process is *FLAWED*.

Of course, I don't know a single government that is not deeply flawed anyways.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26683257)

Using the 98% to guess the remaining 2% is stupid, but probably gives you the correct answer.
But only of you are absolutely sure that that 98% is correct. Missing 2% because someone "lost" them means that you can't thrust the other 98% anyway.

No, let's have an ATM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26683199)

That gives you up to 2% less money than you asked for. I would expect it to be shut down, if not trashed by vigilantes.

Just not getting it... (1)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683255)

I can deal with 2% lost votes in one election. But why they want to use electronic voting machines in the first place I'm not getting. And if they plan to use them after this I'll be voting by pen and paper as long as it is an option.

The Finnish system is so simple that you can't really make it any better. You get a piece of paper, with a circle designating where to write your number. A line shows which way is down.

In the voting booth there are writing models of every number, and a list of all candidates with their numbers. Most six year olds have mastered pen usage enough to copy the model numbers so that there is a 99% chance they won't be ambiguous. They are, of course, designed to be non-ambiguous in the first place.

Counting is done by hand, huge amounts of eyeballs, usually representatives from each party. You'd have to corrupt an insane amount of people to make a dent in the system.

There is no box to mis-tick, no buttons to mispress. Why fuck the system up by complicating it? Making voting cheaper is not an argument. I'd rather pay more taxes and trust that my vote counts whey they spend the rest...

Re:Just not getting it... (1)

drsmithy (35869) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683621)

The Finnish system is so simple that you can't really make it any better. You get a piece of paper, with a circle designating where to write your number. A line shows which way is down.

Heh. Now that's an interesting little cultural difference. As an Australian I would expect an arrow like that to be showing which way is up. :)

Re:Just not getting it... (1)

ZygnuX (1365897) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683935)

I think it's not an arrow, but an horizontal line which designates the "floor".

Let me get this straight... (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683443)

The EFF says the system is flawed because it requires people to verify their vote once they selected it? It would be far worse if there wasn't a verification.

It's not like this is unusual behaviour in any electronic system. You don't take your bank card out of an ATM or chip and pin machine until you're told to and most ATMs require a 'yes I'm sure' for any actions that would cost. You also don't yank out your card until you're told to.

A 2% spoilage rate although higher than the typical rate, isn't incredibly high. At some point you really can't make the process any easier without your actions actually making mistakes and confusion more likely. Of course there's the question : do you really want people who can't handle incredibly basic instructions voting?

Re:Let me get this straight... (1)

Weird O'Puns (749505) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683501)

The EFF says the system is flawed because it requires people to verify their vote once they selected it?

No, they criticize that it was possible to stop the voting process unintentionally. This could have been solved using card readers that took whole card inside the reader, so it wouldn't have been possible pull it out without voting. Other solution would have been to display clear message that the voting process was interrupted and no vote was cast.

You also don't yank out your card until you're told to.

ATM won't give you any money if you yank out the card too early. That means that there is a clear feedback when the transaction has happened correctly. With voting machines there was no such feedback.

A 2% spoilage rate although higher than the typical rate, isn't incredibly high.

Why spend money to switch to a system that is worse?

Re:Let me get this straight... (1)

abigsmurf (919188) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683561)

ATM's don't let you yank out the card but there are scores of Chip and Pin machines that will.

Who says the system is worse? Spoilage rate and costs are only 2 factors. There's staff levels, level of monitoring needed, speed of voting, speed of counting etc.

2% spoilage isn't huge and it's probably safe to assume that it'll improve in the next election. All the advantages with only a slight difference in spoilage would make it a sensible choice.

Re:Let me get this straight... (1)

Ornedan (1093745) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683967)

It's voting. That means spoilage has weighting ratio relative to all other considerations of +infinity.

Re:Let me get this straight... (1)

Joutsa (267330) | more than 5 years ago | (#26684111)

Actually, ATMs around here let you pull out the card during transaction. Unlike with voting machines, you can easily tell that the transaction failed by the fact that you have no cash.

We can fix this. (1)

Richard Kirk (535523) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683459)

I remember reading about 'foolproof' paperless voting machines in the 1960's. In fifty years, nothing seems to have changed except for the technology. You don't have a full record of the votes. People vote for a day, and at the end of the day the total does not tally, but you don't know what went wrong.

If at the end of the day, the machines logged who voted, which way, and when, then everyone would be able to check that their vote was logged correctly. However, this might allow others to know or guess the way you voted, so the ballot would not be secret.

Suppose your voting paper had a unique random barcode generated at the time your ballot paper was printed. The machine takes the candidate number of your vote and adds it to the total. It also adds your candidate number to your barcode number, and puts that in a public database. The public database would contain a set of apparently random numbers. However, if you keep your ballot paper with the number, you or someone at the voting booth ought to be able to find the number that corresponded to your vote, and check that the machine correctly tallied it.

This is a crude proposal. There are probably much better ones out there. I bet ATM software doesn't put up with a 2% error rate.

Re:We can fix this. (1)

bentcd (690786) | more than 5 years ago | (#26683849)

Suppose your voting paper had a unique random barcode generated at the time your ballot paper was printed. The machine takes the candidate number of your vote and adds it to the total. It also adds your candidate number to your barcode number, and puts that in a public database. The public database would contain a set of apparently random numbers. However, if you keep your ballot paper with the number, you or someone at the voting booth ought to be able to find the number that corresponded to your vote, and check that the machine correctly tallied it.

This would make it possible to purchase votes and have a receipt to check that the service was delivered. Or bully people for votes or whatever. It is generally considered an undesirable feature.

This is a crude proposal. There are probably much better ones out there. I bet ATM software doesn't put up with a 2% error rate.

An ATM doesn't have the onerous requirements that a voting process does: it doesn't need to not give receipts and it doesn't need to be ignorant about who is using it. This makes auditing very much easier. It is also not a disaster if someone tries to use it, fails to and walks away thinking they have received cash when they have not. Moreover, it is legal to get direct assistance in using an ATM if for whatever reason you can't figure out how.

Re:We can fix this. (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 5 years ago | (#26684429)

For god sake, every single time.

Secret voting means you can't connect a vote to a voter. In your case someone who gets your receipt, say your boss or union rep who demands everyone hand them over after the election, can determine who you voted for.

Finnish Government (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26683691)

Finland's government has some interesting ideas of democracy. There is the case, for example, between Helsinki and Sipoo and the annexation of land to Helsinki. Sipoo held a referendum according to Finnish law - 98% voted against the forced joining with Helsinki. The Finnish government ministers including prime minister and the minister for justice declared the vote irrelevant. There are lots of other "strange" incidents relating to this particular incident too - Wikileaks might be the place to go.

Anyway, the Finnish justice system ignoring the constitution and "reinterpreting" laws to serve themselves is quite normal here. Sad thing is that NOONE seems to actually care.

Note: Finland is the ONLY democratic government with no separation of powers between the legislature and justice dept.

If you dig deep then there's a huge amount of corruption in Finnish politics, most of it centered around Helsinki City and its incestuous relationship with the current ruling party (Keskusta).

Last year, after ignoring the Sipoo referendum result and forcing certain interpretations of the law, minister Brax (Justice) asked the question why people were disillusioned with Finnish politics and democracy. Ministers then went on to vote the keep their expenses private. There were other "corruption" incidents too but these have also been kept private.

2% error in voting...acceptible in Finland

Who Cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26683975)

I'd be less concerned about the lost 2% and more concerned that the other 98% weren't just "made up" by the voting machine vendor.

Did each voter get a human-readable receipt that was then deposited in a secure box for later verification? A subset of the paper votes needs to be pulled and counted by hand and if the sample result does not equal the population result within an acceptable margin of error (t-scores, etc.) then count the whole thing by hand. In fact, multiple samples should be taken from each precinct and they should be matching within the margin of error.

Company that made this software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26684095)

The company behind this electronic voting system is called Tieto (ex TietoEnator). It keeps screwing up more and more, and has even been on TheDailyWTF-article ( Tieto was behind this Finnish bank's software transition: http://thedailywtf.com/Articles/Sampo-UhOh.aspx )

I can read news every month about their software being delayed, costing too much or even not working at all. Still they keep getting every software development job government needs to be done, I wonder why..

Only 232/157/N votes rejected by e-evoting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26684159)

Electronic voting was piloted in three (3) small municipalities totaling:

- 34 062 total eligible voters
- 20 912 votes casted
- 157 votes rejected

Not really a national catastrophe, only few test sites.

All of Finland had:

- 4 191 949 total eligible voters
- 2 554 319 votes casted
- 16 281 votes rejected

Rest of the country collected the old-skool paper votes. That way it was still possible to vote D. Duck, or the multi rower upside-down rowing boat, which is also marginally customary.

Re:Only 232/157/N votes rejected by e-evoting (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 5 years ago | (#26684597)

That way it was still possible to vote D. Duck, or the multi rower upside-down rowing boat,

Either of which would have run the banks better than the present regime.

Re:Only 232/157/N votes rejected by e-evoting (1)

jaria (247603) | more than 5 years ago | (#26684637)

Not really a national catastrophe, only few test sites.

Of course. But this case is important, because if this test had seen as a "success", the next time the system would be used for real in the whole country. I suspect the government might have actually done so, even with this mess, if there had not been a public outcry. Luckily the issues have been publicized widely, and I think we won't see a similar system in the near future. The minister of justice has talked about re-evaluating whether the whole thing makes sense, and if they go ahead, about the need for open source implementation and paper trail. This is a good thing.

Two Percent Lost? OMG (1)

kenh (9056) | more than 5 years ago | (#26684207)

From the Slashdot article:

Does this mean 98% of votes is enough to figure out how the other 2% voted?

I can think of at least two folks in Minnesota that would have a problem with that many votes lost...

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2008/11/franken-coleman.html [latimes.com]

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