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Voting Machines and 'Calibration Drift'

Soulskill posted about 5 years ago | from the if-it's-not-one-thing dept.

Government 217

An anonymous reader writes "Tuesday saw elections for school boards and city officials throughout Kansas. In Saline, ES&S voting machines in several locations were 'mis-calibrated,' and when the voter touched next to one candidate's name, the 'x' appeared next to another one. One person I talked to said he tried to vote three times before going to the 80-something-year-old election worker, who told him 'It was doing that earlier, but I thought I fixed it.' From the story in today's Salina Journal: 'The iVotronic machines used in Saline County are sold by Elections Systems and Software. In October, the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law notified 16 secretaries of state, including Kansas Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh, that the machines are known to record votes to the wrong candidate.' The county does calibrate the machines the day before each election, but, '... in conversations with ES&S on Thursday, [the county clerk] was told that the calibration might change during the day. "What they've seen is calibration drift on a unit," Merriman said. "They're fine in the morning, but by afternoon they're starting to lose their calibration."' There was also coverage of the problems when they occurred two days ago."

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a new low for /. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27541235)

One person I talked to said he tried to vote three times before going to the 80-something-year-old election worker, who told him 'It was doing that earlier, but I thought I fixed it.'

What does that have to do with anything? It's not in TFA. Am I supposed to just take your word for it? Even so, what's it supposed to mean? Old people can't calibrate newfangled voodoo touchscreens?

Too difficult for you to understand? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27541311)

What we have here is a failure to communicate, due to willful avoidance of understanding.

Re:a new low for /. (2, Interesting)

conureman (748753) | about 5 years ago | (#27541445)

@49 years of age, I'm still one of the youngest poll workers around my area, as I've been for the past 20 or so years I've been doing it. Kids nowadays, they just aren't interested in working 14 hours straight with a half-hour break, for less than a C-note. sheesh.

Unless this was the intented behavior... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27541237)

This level of incompetency should be punished by death.

Re:Unless this was the intented behavior... (1)

SupremoMan (912191) | about 5 years ago | (#27541319)

I would say if this was intended they should be punished by death. Not the other way around.

Re:Unless this was the intented behavior... (-1, Flamebait)

Dreadneck (982170) | about 5 years ago | (#27542141)

This isn't incompetency - it's bullshit.

Electronic voting machines are not analog devices and they don't suffer 'calibration drift'. They are digital computing devices and do exactly what they've been programmed to do.

Using proprietary closed source devices and software to count votes is lunacy. It has been shown again and again that these devices can easily be used to rig elections. We've already seen people arrested and indicted for using e-voting machines to manipulate the outcome of elections.

People need to reject any voting system that cannot be independently audited by the public.

Re:Unless this was the intented behavior... (2, Insightful)

Smallpond (221300) | about 5 years ago | (#27542219)

Touch screens ARE analog devices and depending on technology may have to be calibrated. I'm sure that for a competitive bid situation they use the cheapest technology they can get away with. Does anyone know what ES&S are using?

Calibrate Per Use? (4, Insightful)

hal2814 (725639) | about 5 years ago | (#27541241)

How hard would it be to just calibrate per use? I know on things like a Palm Pilot you just touch three places and it's good to go. Why not do that for each voter (or at least offer it to each voter)?

Re:Calibrate Per Use? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27541263)

I agree. A system with a touch in the top left corner, bottom right corner, then the center of the screen would add only a very small amount of time.

After calibrated, the machine could show 4 lists of 4 items, and have the user select 1 highlighted element on each of the 4 lists to ensure that the calibration was correct. If they could not select the 4 items, a light could go off on the station to alert poller assistants.

I'm as frustrated as you are, hal. This is the type of thing that would come up in even the most basic systems testing. Even some of the worst programmers that I went to college with would have made sure that the system was calibrated properly.

Graduates... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27541773)

what makes you think they got their programmers from college?

Re:Calibrate Per Use? (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 5 years ago | (#27541265)

Or, for a more reliable solution, do the same thing they do with cash machines and, rather than using a touch screen, put a row of buttons next to the screen and get users to push the button next to the candidate's name.

Re:Calibrate Per Use? (5, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 5 years ago | (#27541309)

Or, for an even more reliable solution; The pencil.

Re:Calibrate Per Use? (3, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 5 years ago | (#27541383)

I'd favour that solution for an entirely different reason: The average voter understands pencils. Trust is a vital part of the election process, and having it depend on something that, to the average voter, is effectively magic is not a good idea because it undermines trust in the electoral process. Even if the machine is 100% reliable, only a small subset of the electorate are capable of verifying this, the rest are required to trust these people.

Whenever I suggest this, however, I am told that elections in the USA are too complicated for paper and they have to use machines or they would never be able to count the results.

Re:Calibrate Per Use? (3, Funny)

AlHunt (982887) | about 5 years ago | (#27541527)

Whenever I suggest this, however, I am told that elections in the USA are too complicated for paper and they have to use machines or they would never be able to count the results.

Careful - keep it up and the feds will appoint an "Election Czar". Or maybe the UN will send "observers".

Re:Calibrate Per Use? (2, Interesting)

Sebilrazen (870600) | about 5 years ago | (#27541747)

I live in Minnesota. Even pencils didn't save us from court appointed observers. Our Senate election is still up in the air.

Re:Calibrate Per Use? (5, Funny)

aynoknman (1071612) | about 5 years ago | (#27541855)

I live in Minnesota. Even pencils didn't save us from court appointed observers. Our Senate election is still up in the air.

Minnesota's problem is precisely that they didn't have electronic voting. That would have allowed the result to have been determined before the election.

Re:Calibrate Per Use? (1)

AlHunt (982887) | about 5 years ago | (#27542019)

... they didn't have electronic voting. That would have allowed the result to have been determined before the election.

Damn pesky voters anyway ...

Re:Calibrate Per Use? (2, Insightful)

blindseer (891256) | about 5 years ago | (#27542075)

Careful - keep it up and the feds will appoint an "Election Czar". Or maybe the UN will send "observers".

I would welcome UN observers. It might clean up some of this nonsense we are having with our elections in recent years. Besides, how can we as a nation demand observers for other countries elections and get all upset when they demand observers on our elections? A bit of a double standard I think.

Re:Calibrate Per Use? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 5 years ago | (#27542217)

I don't see why this isn't standard practice for all UN countries. Each should send election observers to the other countries to ensure that their elections are fair. This has the nice side-effect that it gives the UN observers some practice seeing how an election should be run (hopefully) or, at least, spotting corruption in a situation where the population isn't likely to start shooting them.

Re:Calibrate Per Use? (1)

swillden (191260) | about 5 years ago | (#27541787)

Whenever I suggest this, however, I am told that elections in the USA are too complicated for paper and they have to use machines or they wouldn't get immediate results.

Hyperbole is not helpful.

Re:Calibrate Per Use? (1)

pmarini (989354) | about 5 years ago | (#27542209)

well, it's not like we are talking of conquering half of the known world in a few years or invading Poland in a few weeks... I'm sure that people would allow a few days to count the votes given enough little helpers
and if you really want to go "modern", to give an example, back at University there were some busy classes were students took exams choosing answers on paper slips (much like the lottery ones) and these were quickly parsed by a (mechanical) scanner...

Re:Calibrate Per Use? (4, Informative)

conureman (748753) | about 5 years ago | (#27541403)

At the polling places I've worked, the (touchscreen) AutoMark machine (for voters with disabilities, &c.) marks a paper ballot, which is counted by the M100 scanner. After the polls close, we seal the marked ballots up in boxes which never get opened up unless there is a problem with the computer's count. The protocols (except for the software) seem fairly robust and transparent, and skeptics are welcome to watch. That's Contra Costa County, YMMV.

Re:Calibrate Per Use? (0, Redundant)

tedshultz (596089) | about 5 years ago | (#27542007)

This is also how it work for me. I always use the automark machine because I am interested in it. Last week when I did use it, the calibration was so far off that pressing one candidate would select a different one. I was so surprised I took a video of the process. It is online here http://shultzonline.com/vote/ [shultzonline.com] The idea behind the automark is to help people who have a hard time voting with paper and pencil. These are the exact same people who would have a hard time telling that the wrong person was chosen. I don't worry about intentional vote rigging, as it is easy to detect a problem for most people when the ballot is printed, but I still expect that every vote should count properly.

Re:Calibrate Per Use? (3, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | about 5 years ago | (#27542003)

Or, for an even more reliable solution; The pencil.

That's too reliable, man! We can't leave the outcome of an election up to the voters!

Re:Calibrate Per Use? (1)

pmarini (989354) | about 5 years ago | (#27542157)

that's not "digital" enough, unless you count the use of fingers (digits) as such :-)

Re:Calibrate Per Use? (1)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | about 5 years ago | (#27541743)

Or, for a more reliable solution, do the same thing they do with cash machines and, rather than using a touch screen, put a row of buttons next to the screen and get users to push the button next to the candidate's name.

I've seen poorly calibrated ATMs where they have two options with arrows pointing to the side of the monitor and neither lines up with a button, so you have to guess which button applies to which.

Re:Calibrate Per Use? (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | about 5 years ago | (#27541959)

I've _certainly_ seen exactly this kind of error on an ATM: I could speculate on various reasons for it, but the drift is certainly noticeable on many of htem.

Re:Calibrate Per Use? (2, Insightful)

Mr_Perl (142164) | about 5 years ago | (#27541961)

Unfortunately you'll get the same screen alignment problems with the cash machine approach. I've seen many cash machines where the screen text was not aligned with the buttons, creating an ambiguity about which one you touch. You can count from the bottom most of the time to figure it out, but some voters will inevitably miss that logical step.

Paper is still the best choice.

Re:Calibrate Per Use? (2, Interesting)

tedshultz (596089) | about 5 years ago | (#27541985)

I used the ES&S automark this past week. The calibration was so far off that I got the vote flipping talked about. I was so alarmed that I took a video with my cell phone. You can see it here. http://shultzonline.com/vote/ [shultzonline.com] I was so upset that I talked to the election officials, and went to the clerks office a few days latter. More or less I found out that all these machines are pieces of crap. A simple solution would have been to add a little space between the names (like they do on ATM machines) so that a small miss calibration would not have been such a serious deal.

Re:Calibrate Per Use? (4, Insightful)

getuid() (1305889) | about 5 years ago | (#27541323)

Even if it wouldn't be too hard, it's not how it's "supposed to" work.

A person is supposed to go into the booth and vote, not start to hack on workarounds for obviously faulty hardware design. To bring in the car analogy: it's like having electrically adjustable car lights, and having to re-set them every time you turn them on because they wouldn't remember their position when turned off, or simply "drifted" during you drive.

Besides: even if you and I and most Palm users are able to perform such (granted, relatively simple) tasks as calibrating a touch screen, not everybody is (think: grandma). And while one may argue whether this is good or not, one cannot argue about one thing: the constitution gives *everyone* above a certain age the right to vote, not only to those who can calibrate touch-screens.

And: while it was your *choice* to own a palm, it was not everybody's choice to vote electronically. It is (was?) imposed on us. So if somebody is making me vote electronically, they at least ought make sure the damn technology fsck'ing works. It's not like it's rocket science, and it's not like there wouldn't be easy ways to make it work reliably -- worst case, for example by using regular buttons left and right of the screens instead of touch screens (think ATMs of most banks).

Re:Calibrate Per Use? (3, Insightful)

Morlark (814687) | about 5 years ago | (#27541789)

Why should anybody be incapable of calibrating a touchscreen? I honestly cannot think of a single situation in which that would occur (barring actual physical disability that would prevent a person from using the machine entirely). I think you're underestimating poor grandma if you think she's incapable of pressing a button on a touchscreen. In fact, why should a person even need to know that they are doing a calibration at all? Why not just have "Press here to begin casting your vote" with a nice obvious red button, and then a few other simple inane comments requiring the user press a button to continue? Job done.

Saying that, I actually agree with you that a voter shouldn't have to go to the trouble of doing a calibration to work around the machine's faults. But arguing that such a calibration would somehow be discriminatory is an utter nonsense to my way of thinking. Anybody who is capable of using a touchscreen machine to vote is equally capable of calibrating it. As the GP poster said, you just touch three places on the screen and you're good to go.

Re:Calibrate Per Use? (4, Informative)

tedshultz (596089) | about 5 years ago | (#27542051)

The calibration was so far off when I voted this week (on an ES&S automark), that I talked the election official about the calibration. More or less it is done the same way you used to with the palm pilot (touch 4 corners). The problem is that there is also some parallax issues as the screen is about 45 degrees off vertical. The result is the calibration can be a little off. A little off is fine and normal if the interface is good, but on the automark machines, they put the candidates names right next to each other so even a small error in calibration will result in the wrong candidate being selected. I took a video of my self voting, (it's here: http://shultzonline.com/vote/ [shultzonline.com] ). in the video is is clear that not the person I am pressing is selected, and that a candidate only 5mm away is selected.

Re:Calibrate Per Use? (1)

Allicorn (175921) | about 5 years ago | (#27542155)

Sheesh. Doesn't get much clearer than that. Check those videos! Somebody with points today mod parent up pls?

Re:Calibrate Per Use? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27542229)

Grandma is capable of calibrating a touchscreen. However, grandma is also capable of being nervous, getting confused, and screwing things up.

You say not to underestimate grandma... equally, don't underestimate anybody's propensity for making a mess of things when they're unsure of themselves and dealing with something they're unfamiliar with.

Why the UN is fucking worthless... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27541489)

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090411/ap_on_re_af/piracy [yahoo.com]

Any my favorite line, pretty much summing up why American interests should never be beholden to a glorified debating club:

"We hope that before launching any tactical action against the pirates, the welfare of every hostage is guaranteed and ensured," said Vice President Noli de Castro. "Moreover, any military action is best done in consultation with the United Nations to gain the support and cooperation of other countries."

So basically, goodbye Captain Phillips. I hope your life insurance was paid up, because international maritime "laws" prevent the US from dealing with pirates in the only way that would send an effective message: cutting those stinky emaciated niggers in half with a .50-cal. I'm sure your family will get along ok without you.

Re:Calibrate Per Use? (1)

repvik (96666) | about 5 years ago | (#27541763)

Is it really necessary? I mean... I *never* calibrated my iPhone. Ever.

Re:Calibrate Per Use? (1)

spud603 (832173) | about 5 years ago | (#27542203)

That's a good point.
I wonder if it's an issue of hardware cost. Maybe it's just that reliable touch screens are too expensive for municipalities to buy in bulk? (in which case I would argue again that they shouldn't be using them at all if they're not going to be reliable).

Re:Calibrate Per Use? (1)

DJRumpy (1345787) | about 5 years ago | (#27541829)

Because if you leave it up to the voter, it would open up the machine to easy manipulation. One could easily change the calibration to purposely shift votes from the left of the screen to the right by an inch or two.

Definitely not a good idea.

A better idea would be for them to purchase voting machines that are open source and that actually work as designed.

You Shouldn't Have to Calibrate Per Use (2, Insightful)

Kneo24 (688412) | about 5 years ago | (#27541947)

You shouldn't have to calibrate per use. My phone is a touch screen device and I use it all day. Since I've bought it over a year ago it never lost its calibration. I've never seen other touch-screen devices lose their calibration so quickly in other areas. Whether it be the software or hardware, something is faulty with these machines. How much do tax payers shell out for these pieces of shit? With that kind of cash floating around, and for something as important as voting, there shouldn't be stupid issues like this. Suggesting a calibrate per use is ignoring the root the problem.

Re:Calibrate Per Use? (2, Informative)

pmarini (989354) | about 5 years ago | (#27542149)

and how many times one has to calibrate a $300 PDA these days?
it's really abominable that these $A_LOT voting machines "forget" where a certain position on the screen is only after a few hours! it looks more a "feature" than a drift to me...
I'm growing tired of suggesting over and over the simple use of actual push-buttons (not on-screen ones) to go with the voting process (or to be considered for "manual override" use by the voter)...

'Drift' sounds like a rubbish excuse (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27541243)

Right. I've been using touchscreen gear for more than 11 years now. Monitors with touchscreens built in, tablet PCs, iMacs with touch-enabling overlays, two cintiqs of my own and many dozens I've sold and supported to graphic artists.

They NEVER 'drift'. I've not seen even the cheapest touchscreen gear 'drift'. What's with this drift excuse? That smells too much like an excuse for throwing elections. Color me for stating the obvious, but sorry that sounds too suspicious.

Re:'Drift' sounds like a rubbish excuse (1)

conureman (748753) | about 5 years ago | (#27541273)

As the software is proprietary and secret, we can only speculate as to the cause for this irregularity. BTW I'm not working the polls May 19, I'm on VACATION.

Re:'Drift' sounds like a rubbish excuse (1)

Megane (129182) | about 5 years ago | (#27541303)

It doesn't matter if the software is proprietary and secret if the problem is with the hardware. This sounds like a cheap touch screen that goes out of calibration easily with the kind of use that it gets when used for a voting application.

Re:'Drift' sounds like a rubbish excuse (2, Interesting)

DarkOx (621550) | about 5 years ago | (#27541785)

I am sorry but on a voteing machine the entire software stack should be OPEN.

How do you *know* its a hardware problem if you don't have the ability to audit the software? Maybe there is a back door and someone can setup up so that if candidate X is doing a little to well, a certain number of clicks on X get recorded as clicks W above or Y below so it *looks* like a hardware calibration issue.

Re:'Drift' sounds like a rubbish excuse (1)

Ken D (100098) | about 5 years ago | (#27541321)

One anecdote is not data.

I'VE been using touchscreen's for 11 years and MY 11 year old Palm Pilot Vx touchscreen drifts ALL THE TIME.
It drifts from hour to hour as the temperature of the unit changes. It didn't do this when it was young, but it got so bad that I almost threw it out because sometimes I couldn't get into calibration mode the calibration was so bad.
Then I found a Palm App called "Digifix", which lets you recalibrate the screen no matter how bad the drift is by entering calibration upon soft reset.

Two anecdotes. Now we have data.
Drift happens.

Re:'Drift' sounds like a rubbish excuse (1)

conureman (748753) | about 5 years ago | (#27541607)

Maybe some *kid* should be hired to install big copper heatsinks and loud-ass fans in these units.

Re:'Drift' sounds like a rubbish excuse (1)

cvtan (752695) | about 5 years ago | (#27541717)

I have an older Garmin iQue3600 PDA which uses the Palm OS. It never drifts; the whole "drifting" business makes no sense to me.

Re:'Drift' sounds like a rubbish excuse (2, Informative)

sortius_nod (1080919) | about 5 years ago | (#27541987)

You're talking about an 11 year old palm... not "state of the art voting machines".

Your Palm is well past it's used by date, these machines are supposed to be purpose built.

Drifting to the left (2, Funny)

John3 (85454) | about 5 years ago | (#27541261)

My Motorola PDA can stay calibrated for weeks on end, and the touch-screen PC in my hardware store paint department has been calibrated for over a year, but they can't keep a voting machine calibrated for more than a few hours?

Now when the pundits say the electorate is "drifting to the left" we'll know it's not a political shift but just a calibration drift.

No time for a joke (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27541425)

It isn't a good idea to joke about government corruption. A lot of people think that there may be some deliberate intent to defraud voters, hiding behind "equipment problems".

The U.S. government is VERY corrupt. For other examples, see The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One [pbs.org] and the Slashdot story EFF Says Obama Warrantless Wiretap Defense Is Worse than Bush [slashdot.org]. There are people in control of the U.S. government who believe in limitless surveillance, dominance of the banks, and killing to make money and get control of oil.

The US needs a modern system (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27541283)

Ready printed paper slips in envelopes.

1. Pick the paper with your candidate on it.
2. Put it in the envelope.
3. Put the envelope in the sealed voting box.
4. Profit!!! (From a system that works)

But the US would probably screw it up some way or the other like mandating dusting every paper slip for fingerprints to go in a database or some such in order to control voting. Or something even more insane.

Re:The US needs a modern system (1)

idiotnot (302133) | about 5 years ago | (#27541367)

You forgot a couple...

5. No voter verification after that ballot box ends up at the bottom of San Francisco Bay.
6. There is no election fraud when the candidate/party the squeaky wheel likes wins.

But the machine they show in TFA does suffer from poor interface design. The machines in my precinct...you'd have to miss by an awful lot (meaning ~40% of the entire screen, since I don't think I've ever seen more than two options presented on the screen) to screw it up. You'd then also have to not be able to read later on when it asks you whether your ballot is correct.

Re:The US needs a modern system (2, Funny)

Norsefire (1494323) | about 5 years ago | (#27541395)

you'd have to miss by an awful lot ... You'd then also have to not be able to read ...

You overestimate the capabilities of the average voter.

Re:The US needs a modern system (1)

tedshultz (596089) | about 5 years ago | (#27542117)

you'd have to miss by an awful lot (meaning ~40% of the entire screen

I just used the ES&S automark last week (A slightly different machine from the same company). The tolerance of where you need to press is less than the width of my finger. I took a video of this to prove it. http://shultzonline.com/vote/ [shultzonline.com] In the video there are only two candidates, yet they are still right next to each other, and in the video you can clearly see the calibration is off enough to incorrectly select the wrong candidate. You cannot argue that this interface is unacceptable.

hard, or what? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27541285)

Software used in space shuttles hardly ever fails to put the heap of complex technology it governs safely in orbit...
So every time I see another voting-machine-screwup, I wonder how it is possible that writing software used for voting (imo an equally, if not more important human activity) is apparently such a daunting task that it fails time and time again.

Re:hard, or what? (3, Interesting)

Wonko the Sane (25252) | about 5 years ago | (#27541293)

Two possibilities:

  1. The machines are programmed by the lowest bidder (several dozen monkeys flinging shit at a keyboard)
  2. The machines are intentionally designed to provide inaccurate results

Take your pick

Re:hard, or what? (3, Insightful)

the_arrow (171557) | about 5 years ago | (#27541337)

  3. Both of the above

Re:hard, or what? (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | about 5 years ago | (#27541965)

What the... where did my [quote] button go?? :(

3. Both of the above

Oh great... can't see the GP post to quote something meaningful.. grr...
Where was I going? Oh yeah:
I was trying to make a clever joke about having
incompetent ballot tampering is the only chance third parties had of ever winning.

Re:hard, or what? (1)

DarkOx (621550) | about 5 years ago | (#27541817)

Lowest bidder, wow now that is wishful thinking. My guess is the government paid top dollar for this crap; and the software company that won the bid is probably owned by the son in law of whatever official put the job out to bid.

Re:hard, or what? (1)

Oonushi (863093) | about 5 years ago | (#27541305)

Exactly. I don't think any real honest mistakes are happening in the realm of electronic voting at all.

Treason (3, Interesting)

Lehk228 (705449) | about 5 years ago | (#27541297)

if this were the 70's and touch screen was brand new tech I would believe this.

however it's not the 70's and every touch screen device i have ever seen holds it's calibration or doesn't need to be calibrated. From ATM's that are exposed directly to outdoor weather to late 90's production eBook readers to the Nintendo DS I have never once seen one lose calibration in any reasonable time and it's rare to need to calibrate at all except when combining a touch sensor to a system not built for touch sensor use.

this is outright election fraud and IMO it is treason and should be dealt with accordingly.

Not really (4, Insightful)

aepervius (535155) | about 5 years ago | (#27541349)

The most probable explanation is extremly shoddy hardware engineering combined with extremly shoddy software engienering ina bid to make as much benefit as possible. I have seen this with another touch screen machine, and although I did not ask the team what was the problem in detail, the aforementionned point were the problem. The old adage probablym hold : Never attribute to malice what can adequately explained by idiocy and/or greed.

Re:Not really (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27541475)

:The old adage probablym hold : Never attribute to malice what can adequately explained by idiocy and/or greed.

Election fraud isent malice, it plain greed. GP is right, no one could design today surch a bad system. This is election fraud.


Re:Not really (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 5 years ago | (#27541903)

Do the touch screens always fail in the same way? Was the way the screens fail known when the ballots were designed? My bet is yes and yes. Let's find out! If I'm right then it's election fraud, plain and simple.

Re:Treason (2, Interesting)

blackest_k (761565) | about 5 years ago | (#27541461)

To be fair, there are some quite poor touch screens out there. I can think of two examples my toshiba e740 occasionally loses calibration generally after the batterys run completely flat. But the other Example is a point of sale (cash register) theres no issues within the POS app but if you want to play around with WIN-CE Calibration is off and recalibrating doesn't seem to help much. Which kinda makes the point that provided the interface is designed well enough a few pixels out will not matter.

Re:Treason (2, Interesting)

maddskillz (207500) | about 5 years ago | (#27541511)

The movie ticket kiosks at the theatre here seem to get miscalibrated all the time. Most people don't use them because of that. On the plus side, once you figure out which way it is miscalibrated, you can use it, and you don't have to wait in line

A small victory against voting machines... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27541313)

...happened in Finland last week. A few municipalities tested electronic voting in the last (municipal) elections and when (unsurprisingly) irregularities occurred (232 votes were not counted properly), the results were challenged all the way to the supreme court, which now decided that the elections must be held again. The lawyer representing the appealing parties has said that he doubts that any politician will ever propose electronic voting in this country again.

That outcome is thus quite positive but it would've been even better if the minister responsible for it had accepted her responsibility and resigned like many people demanded her to.

So don't use touchscreens (3, Informative)

BiggerIsBetter (682164) | about 5 years ago | (#27541339)

Put physical buttons of to the side of the screen to press. How difficult was that?

And yes, the drift excuse sounds like B.S.

A machines helping hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27541351)

So you would like to vote for candedate X... but you're not entirely sure yet.
Why don't I drift you in the right direction, shall I? *wink*

Re:A machines helping hand (1)

dangle (1381879) | about 5 years ago | (#27541449)

I think we need to get away from binary options, let's embrace the touchscreen technology to allow voters to touch closer to or further from the name of a candidate as a function of their degree of support for the candidate. Maybe use better graphics and sound cards in those things to enhance the voting experience as well. I'm only half joking, we just had a 17% turnout for a mayoral election here last week, maybe we should make the voting machines more like gambling machines.

Re:A machines helping hand (1)

JustOK (667959) | about 5 years ago | (#27541481)

the house always wins in gambling

Re:A machines helping hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27541499)

With the rampant rate of undue (almost automatic) reelection, I'd say the same is true of politics.

Call themselves engineers.... (5, Informative)

hengdi (1202709) | about 5 years ago | (#27541381)

Touchscreen calibration? I used to work for a company that built quiz machines and the like for the UK pub industry (circa 2000). Essentially they were simple PC's with a touchscreen (the monitor had a PS2 output).

We used to leave those machines running at various sites for YEARS, and I can't ever remember a calibration problem. And trust me, we'd know because when a customer starts to lose money they let the pub know about it all right. The biggest problem we had was the coin slot mechanism screwing up.

So now you're telling me that almost 10 years later and the calibration in a voting machine can't last A WHOLE GODDAMN DAY? That's service so bad it almost makes me believe in the conspiracy angle!

Re:Call themselves engineers.... (4, Interesting)

maxume (22995) | about 5 years ago | (#27541891)

I would bet $0.15 that the machines are being incorrectly calibrated.

Re:Call themselves engineers.... (4, Interesting)

VShael (62735) | about 5 years ago | (#27542205)

ALMOST believe the conspiracy?

Geez, what the hell more do you need? A video tape of Diebold executives laughing evilly while cashing cheques?

driving exam (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27541439)

I failed the test to get my learner's permit because of this very same thing. There weren't confirmations, and the screen calibration was off by at least 20 pixels.

ATM? (1)

gollito (980620) | about 5 years ago | (#27541479)

Why do they even bother with touch screens? Why don't they do like ATM's and have actual buttons on the side of the screen that you would use to select your options?

Yes, touch screens are "cooler" but why not use a proven technology? Shoot, they may even be able to save money since a regular LCD is a tad bit cheaper than a touch screen.

Also what is this BS about drift? My Touch Pro was calibrated ONCE and it hasn't drifted (and I know plenty of iphone users who don't have "drift" problems). Could it be do to the size of the screen?

None of the touch screens I've EVER used... (3, Informative)

karlandtanya (601084) | about 5 years ago | (#27541531)

has this problem.

Granted, I've only been developing apps for them since about 1991, but I've NEVER seen any "calibration drift".

Heck, if the Client wants to "calibrate" them, I usually have to root around in the menus to find the CAL function. Touch the top right corner...

They just work.

What sort of cheap crap are the voters paying for?

Conspiracy? (1)

wdhowellsr (530924) | about 5 years ago | (#27541543)

I'm no conspiracy theorist but aren't their like, oh I don't know, A MILLION TOUCHSCREEN ATMS AROUND THE WORLD? I don't recall hearing about this calibration issue with them. I guess it's possible that since the banks definitely want it to be accurate they make sure they work.

Why wouldn't someone want the voting machines to work? William D Howell Sr.

How hard is it to show a confirmation screen? (1)

Targon (17348) | about 5 years ago | (#27541565)

How difficult would it be to have the user enter his/her vote, and then before the "ballot" is registered, show a confirmation screen, which would then require the voter to hit yes or no?

If an ATM machine can do a decent job with touch screen technology, then why can't these systems?

Re:How hard is it to show a confirmation screen? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27541715)

You must be joking.

When yes is no and no is yes, which option do you choose to not confirm?

It's funny isn't it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27541635)

It's really fucking funny how Diebold can make touch-screen ATM machines that perform absolutely flawlessly and never lose a single cent, and yet their voting machines can't record a simple "candidate A/B" choice reliably.

Merely coincidence I'm sure.

Sorry, I really don't get it (1)

gordguide (307383) | about 5 years ago | (#27541675)

I simply do not understand the persistence by election officials to use flawed voting methods whatsoever. As far as I'm concerned, this is a GO/NO GO issue.
Apparently with most State Election Officials it's a GO/GO issue with no asterisk, no qualifications, nothing. This just in ... you can run an election on paper if you just keep the polls a manageable size. So, there's no excuse for not having a fall back method to replace one that does not work.

Maybe they should just contact the gaming industry ... they could whip up a few machines that could randomly select votes. At least then they would be contracting people with a proven track record of actually building a machine that does what it says it will.

Run 'em on TV in front of God And Everybody and declare a winner. It's essentially what's happening now, anyway.

What the fuck kind of excuse is that? (5, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | about 5 years ago | (#27541677)

Drift? Seriously?

You mean that kiosks in airports, malls, restaurants, hotels, atm machines that sit outdoors, my iPhone, my Windows Mobile phone, tablet PCs and god knows what else can be calibrated once and last for years, but these voting machines can't last for 8 hours?

Most traditional touch screens CAN'T drift. They need an initial calibration to align the location of touches to match the display to deal with manufacturing and assembly differences, but they don't actually drift, ever.

WHAT THE FUCK are they doing to get drift in the system? The $2 multitouch video on YouTube shows a system less likely to drift than this shit?

Someone needs to be hung. We need to start instituting criminal punishment for leaders of companies that produce crap like this. There is no accountability anymore because everyone hides behind 'the corp'. That shit needs to end now. We can either do it legally, or wait a little while longer and watch the public start taking the law into their own hands.

Re:What the fuck kind of excuse is that? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27541825)

Could always vote by lining all the candidates up, and throwing rocks at everyone except the one you want to vote for. The one left alive is obviously the one who was most favored. The only drift then is if your aim is bad. I think it could work! Vote by stoning.

rfp do7l (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27541737)

everything else 0sers. This is PreferrablyQ with an already dead. It is clearly. There

Electronic vote COUNTING (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27541739)

Why is this so hard for people to understand?

You should vote with reliable, unmistakeable, dead simple technology. Best-case: permanent ink on paper. Everyone knows how to use a marker, everyone has seen a piece of paper with check boxes on it and knows what to do with the two. Anyone who is still muttering about receipts, ATM buttons, calibration, or whatever has missed the point.

Use the computers to do what they are very good at: counting votes. Lock the doors after the polls close and feed your ballots into an automated vote counter to get the results. If there's any kind of discrepancy, fine: pull the plug and count the friggin things by hand. Recounts? No problem. Just hang onto the ballots and you can recount till the cows come home.

This way, the chief returning officer for the poll is still responsible for the result (which I believe is kinda the law). Not some techy guy who "certifies" that the black-box system actually works, actually records, actually remembers, actually communicates upstream, is actually honest, etc. etc. etc. while all the election officials abdicate their responsibility and go home early.


Re:Electronic vote COUNTING (1)

DarkOx (621550) | about 5 years ago | (#27541897)

Good point. Election officials are required to by law to ensure the election is run in accordance with the law! How can they possibly be doing this when the hardware and software being used is not Open and they do not possess the skills to audit them if they were.

I wonder if the EFF or ACLU(not that I care much for that organizations behavior as rule) could petition corts for writs of Mandamus to enforce elections laws and intemperate them in such as way as to force the opening of the devices.

Lots of places require poll workers to have background checks. Are all the people who contributed code to the voteing machine effectively poll works? Did they have background checks that are compliant with the election law? How do we know? There are avenues of attack!

Pen and fucking paper (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 5 years ago | (#27541809)

Or are "school boards and city official" elections, to damn complicated for Americans to write an X in a few boxes?

Look at Algeria for an example of what can happen (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 5 years ago | (#27541835)

The votes came back in Algeria today. The leader who has a vast amount of blood on his hands (Mugabe is nothing compared to him) that is facing open military rebellion in many areas collected more than 90% of the vote. That's a possible future if you continue to not have proper oversight over an electoral system.

Wrong town name; it's actually 'Salina' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27541905)

The name of the town is "Salina", not "Saline" as is written. (Being a former Kansan, I can vouch for that!)

Re:Wrong town name; it's actually 'Salina' (2, Informative)

ianweller (893579) | about 5 years ago | (#27541967)

Being someone who lives in Salina, I can vouch for that as well. Please fix.

which way? (4, Funny)

v1 (525388) | about 5 years ago | (#27542029)

So, have we found it more common for the calibration to drift to the right, or to the left ?

Voting machine setup (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27542089)

I was part of a team that did the setup for voting machines. As part of this setup we had to calibrate the touchscreen, it was just like an other touchscreen setup.

On a side note some of the screens had small red dots, where people who first tested the machine used an uncapped red pens on some of the screens to do the calibration.

Who thought that was good anyway? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27542159)

For JPMorgan Chase banks,
I use their touchscreen ATM's at least once a week.
I have NEVER felt that they were nonresponsive, never have i felt that an item I did not select was selected.

So... Why is there a problem with these indoor limited use machines?
Why the hell do we need touch screen for voting?
Jesus, Grandma likes her old non-touchscreen cellphone anyway.

Beside that, my voting machines at home; St. Charles Parish, Louisiana work fantastic!
In fact, for high school government elections we use the same voting machines to teach future voters how to use them.
They always work.

Touchscreens drifting in hours? bullshit. (3, Interesting)

h4x354x0r (1367733) | about 5 years ago | (#27542179)

A touchscreen - especially one on a voting machine - that supposedly needs re-calibrated every few users is pure bullshit. PURE bullshit.

I work in A/V control systems and deal with touchscreens every day. Some are used very heavily - not quite as much as a voting machine on voting day, but probably gets as many touches within a few days time. The need for re-calibration is rare; I'm talking once a year maybe? The worst touchscreen I've ever seen is a the wacom overlay on a Modbook (Macbook repackaged as a touchscreen tablet PC). That POS needs re-calibrated about... once a month. Add other's comments about all the touchscreen kiosks in airports, etc.; same f*ing technology, but they don't need recalibrated every 10 minutes.

There's just no way this isn't a case of either gross negligence / incompetence, or criminal vote rigging.
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