Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Sequoia Disclosing Voting System Source To DC

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the watch-whether-my-pity-meter-twitches dept.

Government 100

buzzinglikeafridge writes "After Sequoia voting machines registered more votes than there were voters in DC's primaries last September, and the city threatened a lawsuit as a result, the company agreed to disclose technical details of the system (including source code) to the city. Although this isn't the first time the company has disclosed the source code of its machines, it is the first time the machines' blueprints will be handed over as well."

cancel ×

100 comments

Yay! (1, Insightful)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#28240589)

About fucking time.

Re:Yay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28240707)

There is a solution to ALL election fraud - the Robinson Method.
Read about it here:

http://paul-robinson.us/index.php?blog=5&titl...

Instant results. No fraud. Huge savings in money and time. Ballot boxes in public view at ALL times, from the beginning of the election when they are empty, to the end of the election, when the winner will be clearly visible to all, the minute the final vote has been cast.

There is only ONE reason for using ANY other method of voting - and that is FRAUD on the part of the elite.

Re:Yay! (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#28240795)

Your URL got truncated.

Re:Yay! (2, Interesting)

S77IM (1371931) | more than 5 years ago | (#28240855)

There is a solution to ALL election fraud - the Robinson Method.

That's an interesting idea, but it seems like kind of a pain in the butt compared to paper-ballot systems. Plus, in reading it I instantly came up with like 3 or 4 simple ways to commit election fraud against such a system. So I think you are full of crap.

  -- 77IM

Re:Yay! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28242399)

http://paul-robinson.us/index.php?blog=5&title=the_robinson_method_a_really_simple_way_&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1

Would you be so kind as to state what the way to commit fraud with the Robison Method are? It's no good saying you "came up with like" methods of fraud without saying what they are. It's hardly a "pain in the butt" - nobody has to waste thousands of man hours COUNTING pieces of paper any more, and there is NO MORE FRAUD.

Re:Yay! (1)

GreenTech11 (1471589) | more than 5 years ago | (#28240743)

Wow, a 3 word comment, essentially trolling got modded insightful +4

How the hell do you program something to deliver more votes than voters? Someone seriously needs to work out what the hell is going on...

Re:Yay! (1)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 5 years ago | (#28240787)

How is it trolling to express relief that something so critical as /voting/ is finally being taken seriously?

It's about damn fucking time, indeed.

Not being taken seriously (2, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#28240929)

If it was actually being taken seriously it would be done by hand counted paper ballots.

There are already good paper voting systems in use that meet important criteria such as:
1) Being easy for most people to understand how their vote is counted and the effort it takes to cheat the system.
2) Allowing the different political parties and independent bodies have their observers present to observe the votes as they are being counted.

Because, I suggest that: elections don't just have to be fair. They have to be _seen_ as fair.

Otherwise if there's a "surprise" result, there may be too many people on the streets for the police to quieten down. And that is a bad thing. If an election is seen as fair, while there may still be sore losers on the streets, the rest will be drowning their sorrows/disgust/disappointment in less troublesome ways.

Electronic voting fails that way.

It's a black box that the average voter does not understand. And worse, an expert in the field will tell you that it's a black box that makes cheating easier. How can you prove that the source code you see, is the one that was actually running during the election? You can't! If an ATM makes an error, someone in ops, accounts or audit might notice the creation or destruction of money. But the creation and destruction of votes is hard to detect and prove unless it gets to a ridiculous state (like now).

I've been in the IT line for years and I see no good reason to have electronic voting systems in a Democracy.

The more voters you have, the more counters and observers you can have. Hand counting scales fine.

I find it darkly amusing that the most powerful country in the world spends hundreds of billions to choose governments oops "establish democracy" in other countries, and can't even spend a much lower amount to do things properly at home.

Re:Not being taken seriously (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28251459)

If it was actually being taken seriously it would be done by hand counted paper ballots.

No, if it was being taken seriously, then vote verification would be used. We take our anonymity more seriously than accuracy, and so accuracy sucks. When I place a vote, I have no idea how or whether it will be counted. If it's lost, counted twice, marked invalid, etc. I'll never know. And as such, anyone could tamper with my vote and I'll never know. When the system is designed where I have to trust people with a vested interest in making their candidate win (poll workers are generally members of political parties), then I'd rather give up a little anonymity to know how my vote was counted, rather than just knowing how I wanted it to count and having to trust others that it will be what I wanted.

Until you are willing to give up some anonymity to eliminate miscounts, then you aren't taking it seriously.

Re:Not being taken seriously (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#28252845)

Well many in the USA seem to have huge hangups about nonanonymous voting. I don't know why.

To me in the scenarios where it is a big problem, are the same scenarios where voting probably doesn't matter much anymore - everything else has become terribly corrupt - the cops, courts etc. e.g. The Dictator wins with 98% of the votes.

Otherwise, in normal cases, you just get some evidence that your boss was trying to force you to vote some way, complain to the cops/lawyer and boss is in deep shit.

That said, even with anonymous voting, it is still quite hard to cheat if you have a proper hand count paper ballot system.

It's hard when there are observers from various parties/orgs watching each count as it happens. And keeping a guard over the ballot boxes to make sure they aren't moved or switched.

The way to cheat that system is via postal votes. So maybe postal votes should not be anonymous. The other votes can be anonymous.

Re:Not being taken seriously (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28253651)

It's hard when there are observers from various parties/orgs watching each count as it happens. And keeping a guard over the ballot boxes to make sure they aren't moved or switched.

But even with that, there have been multiple cases of lost boxes from areas that were expected to be for or against the wrong side, or finding 4 boxes when there were supposed to be 3 at a place, and it looks the same as the others so that you either count them all (and get more votes than voters) or throw them all out. Both were common when corruption was common. Then there's the issue of a small failure rate, but with small voting margins, many close elections (including a large number of recent presidental elections) were decided with a margin smaller than the margin of error of the paper ballots. It's likely that the declared voter didn't win the number of votes necessary to win the election if every vote counted in at least one presidential election in the past 20 years.

The way to cheat that system is via postal votes. So maybe postal votes should not be anonymous. The other votes can be anonymous.


Nearly all local elections here were within the margin of postal votes. That is, if someone did compromise the postal system votes, then they could determine the election. And even with non-anonymity, there is still no verification. You write your name on your ballot, they know how your vote was counted, but there is no way for you to ever know how it was counted. No one can ever know how their vote was counted. If that was changed. If there was a system to link a vote to a voter, then a whole class of fraud would be eliminated. There may be an increase in ease of a few types of possible fraud today, but there are no new problems created, and a whole lot that are solved. And just because one is easier, it's still illegal and frowned upon, and it would require that someone being wronged cooperate with the person wronging them in order to get away with it. So I think vote coersion will not be as big a problem as others assert. It wasn't a problem for the first 50 years of this country, and was only a problem after blacks started getting the right to vote. Now that the race wars are over (even if there are still race problems, the war is over), we can go back. I wouldn't like open ballots, where anyone could look up everyone else's votes, but there are verification methods that would be more private.

Re:Yay! (1)

myspace-cn (1094627) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243685)

Not so fast.

Now that some of you are catching on about how electronic vote tabulation devices can not be trusted, (from the doping level, to the firmware, and and finally software) you've just been "routed around" once again, as the EVM's are now shifting gears and upping the ante by changing the game with "internet voting", the ultimate unvalidatable nightmare.

A pollwatcher, still can't see the electronic signals in any of these devices.

So while everyone tech savvy sit's there and argue's over open source, closed source, you ALL fail to understand or even begin to come to grips with a term and a little law called, "Public Oversight" and furthermore, "Transparency." Both of which are already available in a high tech technology called paper ballots.

But you continue on pretending, and dick measuring. Hey it's only America you'll destroy with this same old stinking corrupt oath of office breaking, unaccountable, fucking 2 party nonsense which has created wars, removed our constitution and bill of rights, plundered $65 trillion from ponsi schemes while the Senate willingly lets it happen, Torture, Rendition.

BOHICA

And also mr Robins0n meth'd
"One transparent box with a lid for each choice plus one additional box if there's a write-in candidate."

Whoops there goes your TRANSPARENCY. Watching voters walk around reading boxes with CHOICE NAMES ON THEM?!... hmm third box on the left is...X, you just voted for X.

Come on. Enough of this *SHIT* already!

You want to get the corruption out of our government, you better fucking outlaw electronic voting machines, and their electronic POLL BOOKS too. Results should be FACE TO FACE, and only then after the final tabulation should ANYONE post this shit on the web. Enough of this % results in, when the fucking election polls are not even CLOSED yet.

Can you tell I am pissed off?

Re:Yay! (2, Insightful)

ae1294 (1547521) | more than 5 years ago | (#28244553)

Can you tell I am pissed off?

No.. because you didn't use all UPPERCASE.... but everything you said is true enough. Something as important as voting shouldn't be played with and subject to the whim's of lobbyist and 'for profit' tech companies who are outsourcing their coding to china.

The whole idea (facile) of saving a buck by making the voting system electronic or that paper ballets are too hard to understand is just cover for someone trying to make a buck or worse someone trying to rig elections with less effort and/or chance of being caught.

Doesn't mater what party or group you belong to we all loose...

Well there's your problem (2, Funny)

feedayeen (1322473) | more than 5 years ago | (#28240697)

if(candidate == "Bush") { castVote(candidate); castVote(candidate); } else { castVote(candidate); }

Re:Well there's your problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28240725)

if(candidate == "Bush") castVote(candidate); //Dont forget to comment out on production.
castVote(candidate);

This version let you plead incompetence...

Re:Well there's your problem (1)

beelsebob (529313) | more than 5 years ago | (#28240741)

The other version would let you plead incompetence too...

if (!strcmp(candidate, "Bush")) castVote(candidate); // Don't forget to comment out on production.
    castVote(candidate);

Re:Well there's your problem (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28240799)

I prefer this myself:

if (candidate == "Bush)
      castVote(candidate);
else;
      castVote(candidate);

Re:Well there's your problem (1)

Golddess (1361003) | more than 5 years ago | (#28244523)

But that wouldn't even get past the compile stage and into the machine.

Re:Well there's your problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28240815)

I agree that the code is bloated.

castVote("Bush");
castVote(candidate);

Why not the first time? (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28240717)

You want me to use your machine for my elections? Hand it all over. All. Source, blueprints, all. I want to audit it. For as long as I want and by whomever I please. Yes, of course you will get my signatures that your code will not be given to anyone (except for audits, but not to keep) and it will be only used to audit your machines. No problem.

You don't let me? Ok.

NEXT OFFER!

Frankly, it's a HUGE biz. Once you have the foot in the door, do you think they'll audit your competitor or will they order their next machines with you again because they've been audited already? YOU want to sell ME your machines. YOU are about to earn a ton of money, enough that you'll never have to create any other product anymore. You're selling to the government, not some beancounting company, they won't question if your software costs a million despite costing you 10k.

Do you think I'll find some company willing to comply with my requirements if you don't bend over?

Re:Why not the first time? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241139)

You want me to use your machine for my elections? Hand it all over. All. Source, blueprints, all. I want to audit it.

How do you know that the source you see was used to build the machine in front of you? And that the compiler didn't insert any easter eggs? The correct response is "If you machine is a #2 pencil and paper, fine, otherwise, hell no."

Re:Why not the first time? (2, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241153)

Because I will compile it. Using my compiler.

Doesn't work? NEXT!

Re:Why not the first time? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241251)

So you're going to buy machines from a company but then have to get the latest source from them, compile it, upload it to the machines, then do testing?

Re:Why not the first time? (1)

Devout_IPUite (1284636) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241953)

Someone will, yes.

Re:Why not the first time? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28244283)

Some south-american countries do this already.

The source makes rounds through representatives of all interested parties, and after examining it, they sign it with their private keys. Then the code (after verifying against their keys that it's not a changed one) is compiled (with a generic compiler for which md5 and sha1 are available) and then the resulting binary is signed digitally with keys from them all again. Then the signed binary gets copied to all the machines. And then anyone can check if the code in given machine has all the signatures it needs.

Re:Why not the first time? (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#28250013)

Are you pulling my leg? That sounds like a fantasy of how it could be done (even though it's still not as trustable as pen and paper).

Re:Why not the first time? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#28245631)

Democracy should be worth that, yes.

If it's not, you know, pen and paper still works fine...

Re:Why not the first time? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28251149)

pen and paper still works fine...

Most of the elections stolen by fraud were done with elections that ran on pen (or pencil) and paper. Ballot stuffing, lost ballot boxes, and the multitude of cases of polling place restrictions (from poll taxes that were law, to having too few voting booths and turning away voters that arrived before the polls closed). Even with all the faults, it is still asserted that electronic is more reliable than paper. Sure, that's debatable, but to just assert that paper is better as a premise, then use that to "prove" that electronic is bad seems absurd.

Compare and contrast, and be sure to include things like failed paper systems with hanging chads. If you compare the ideal non-existant paper system to a real-world electronic system that has been proven to fail, it's not a fair comparison. I could just as easily come up with an electronic system that is foolproof and a paper system that can systematically fail to elect anyone I choose (and that's been done).

WTF isn't this done already? (1)

tick-tock-atona (1145909) | more than 5 years ago | (#28240729)

Surely with something as important as a voting system, any private supplier should have to submit the blueprints & code to some kind of independent panel for approval / verification as a matter of course?

Who the fuck trusts a corporation to implement a something that is fair, correct and well engineered, without any oversight?

The code is not going to explain 4759 votes.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28240751)

The error that caused all this logged 4759 votes - a prime number. I doubt anyone is going to find that in the code because this was clearly some sort of conspiracy..

What's so complicated? (3, Interesting)

Jamamala (983884) | more than 5 years ago | (#28240757)

I don't understand how voting machines can be so complicated that such gross errors occur. Surely it can't be much more than a glorified counting program that also keeps some sort of log about what it's done. I'm making the presumption that these programs are for some reason very complicated, and that's why errors like this are more frequent than they should be. Can anyone either explain why they're so complicated or give another reason why they seem to spew out so many errors?

(Aside from the witty "they're all programmed to vote for candidate X!" responses.)

Re:What's so complicated? (4, Funny)

S77IM (1371931) | more than 5 years ago | (#28240789)

It's close enough for government work.

Re:What's so complicated? (2, Interesting)

Felix Da Rat (93827) | more than 5 years ago | (#28240871)

My gut feeling for the complication is to add more features to help jack up the price per unit.

Figure that each polling station will have at least 3 units, so you're talking about a lot of sales. A simple system, such as you described wouldn't be very expensive, and would be a tough sell.

But if you add in 'Automated security sub-routines', 'Time stamp live validation', 'Heuristic Real-time Networked Vote Tallies', all of which I just made up, but sound semi-decent for a sales pitch, you can charge more.

Of course, with such 'Features' you add complexity to what should be a straight forward system.

I love your optimistic attitude and trust in men (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28241019)

I honestly think you give too much weight on the "and you can charge more part" and not enough on the "wouldn't be very expensive, and would be a tough sell."

Computers are very complicated things. They automate our banking relates issues, let us talk to each other on line, manage our traffic lights... And do that all with that mystical magic of theirs behind the scene.

Now, someone comes and tells you that there is system that can take care of a vital piece in the western civilization - voting. It can't be anything simple. Hell, would you buy some simple system for that?

Well, of course you would! Because you know that computers don't work on magic and simpler the better. However, I fear that many officials feel better about buying a complex and expensive system that they understand nothing about than using a simple system that they understand.

Re:What's so complicated? (1)

MLS100 (1073958) | more than 5 years ago | (#28240889)

After a code review it was revealed the button1.onclick was vote++ instead of vote==1 and some people are doubletapping the screen.

I knew we shouldn't have outsourced that function to Mrs. Stewart's 4th grade computer class, but hey times are tough.

Re:What's so complicated? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28241569)

Thanks for the programming class, Mr Turing, but vote==1 is a comparison, you surely meant vote=1.

Re:What's so complicated? (2, Funny)

Devout_IPUite (1284636) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241981)

Pretty sure vote==1 doesn't do much. In Java it actually gives you an error. In C it just does nothing mysteriously.

Re:What's so complicated? (1)

2phar (137027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28240917)

I could see how some complexity could arise from data integrity concerns. Satellite systems, for example, include mechanisms to constantly check and error-correct memory because of corruption due to comsic rays. If you regard voter data as precious enough, you could construct pretty complex redundant systems to cross-check themselves too.

Of course, I doubt that would be happening if MS Access is involved.

Re:What's so complicated? (2, Informative)

Devout_IPUite (1284636) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241971)

Deibold makes ATMs. Those things are accurate, reliable, solid, perfect, etc. Why then should their voting machines be so flaky? I think the only answer can possibly be is "They wanted them that way."

Re:What's so complicated? (1)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 5 years ago | (#28249543)

you assume ATMs are perfect. perfection is impossible. the question is, is the margin of error on ATMs (which have been around for decades) lower than you would expect compared to voting machines (which are relatively new).

Re:What's so complicated? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28251401)

the question is, is the margin of error on ATMs (which have been around for decades) lower than you would expect compared to voting machines (which are relatively new).

Yes. ATMs have much lower error rates than we see for voting machines. Newness has nothing to do with it. Revolvers are more reliable than muskets, and revolvers are "newer" technology. Even when they were very new, they were more reliable. The voting machines should be an order of magnitude more simple than an ATM. They don't handle money with mechanics. They don't have to verify a voter against a roll (they could, and that would greatly reduce fraud, but there is a fanatical cling to anonymity that would cause issues). They don't do anything other than increment counters. That should be so simple it is much more reliable and less error prone than complicated ATMs.

Re:What's so complicated? (1)

Ginger Unicorn (952287) | more than 5 years ago | (#28263937)

so what is the error rate for ATMs, and what is the error rate for voting machines?

Re:What's so complicated? (0, Troll)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28268299)

You tell me. You are the one that asserted that they would be a better comparison. So since you brought them up, you let us know. The banks hide the failure rate for the ATMs to give the public confidence in them, and the government hides the failure rate on voting machines to give the public confidence in them. So good luck. The closest I can find is that the error rate for voting is between 2% and 5%, and that ATMs are below 1%. Now that you have your numbers, what are you going to do with them? Or did you only ask because you know you are wrong and you'll start playing games with numbers and words to avoid your assertion that a revolver is necessarily less reliable than a musket because it's a newer design?

Re:What's so complicated? (1)

Devout_IPUite (1284636) | more than 5 years ago | (#28268303)

Code can be mathematically proven. Mathematically proven code has no errors. Hardware executing it will not behave incorrectly due to a software bug. Hardware designs can be mathematically proven. A mathematically proven hardware design will not produce a bug due to design flaws. I'd call anything running on well made hardware with mathematically proven hardware and software "perfect". I'm not sure ATMs get mathematically proven software since every once in a while someone hacks one and gets it's money for free, but they're close to it.

Re:What's so complicated? (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#28268843)

Really? What do you know about the ATM debugging process? How do you know they are close to it? Because it really sounds like you're making stuff up and don't actually know much about ATM's.

As for 'proving', here is a Donald Knuth quote for you, "Beware of bugs in the above code; I have only proved it correct, not tried it." Proving it is unfortunately never fail-safe.

Re:What's so complicated? (1)

cusco (717999) | more than 5 years ago | (#28254583)

Considering that the guy they hired to lead their programming staff has spent time in the Washington State prison system for multiple counts of computer fraud I think your guess is probably pretty close.

Re:What's so complicated? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28249255)

You have to avoid being eaten by the ghosts whilst eating all the little white dots. Once you clock the machine your vote gets counted. It's a lot more complex than it looks. :-)

Where's the catch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28240761)

We can't discount the possibility that the problems were caused deliberately, by Italian infiltrators, unbeknownst to either party. This is known by security researchers as the "Italian-in-the-Middle" (IitM) attack. IitM attacks are growing more sophisticated and nefarious by the day, and, as this article proves, are a grave threat to our Democracy. Our wives and hot dogs will not be safe from the Italian menace until Barack Obama takes decisive and swift action. The Italians must be hunted down and smoked out of their caves.

Should get the same attention as fighter planes (5, Insightful)

CFD339 (795926) | more than 5 years ago | (#28240875)

The machines that protect democracy include jet fighters, naval warcraft, guns, rockets, bombs ---- and voting machines.

The US Government wouldn't buy a any of those other things without a massive effort to make sure they were secure, why not voting machines as well? If you can compromise those, the rest are easy.

Re:Should get the same attention as fighter planes (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241165)

The machines that protect democracy include jet fighters, naval warcraft, guns, rockets, bombs ---- and voting machines. The US Government wouldn't buy a any of those other things without a massive effort to make sure they were secure, why not voting machines as well? If you can compromise those, the rest are easy.

Excellent point, but the only voting machines that can be provably trustable are a pencil and paper. With war machines, it's easy enough to determine that they aren't working: they don't fly, weapons don't detonate, etc. But with voting machines, because voting is secret, you can't know that they are failing or compromised, even after an election or two have been rigged Thus, you must use a technology that you can prove is secure without having to know citizens' votes.

Re:Should get the same attention as fighter planes (1)

WCguru42 (1268530) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242201)

With war machines, it's easy enough to determine that they aren't working: they don't fly, weapons don't detonate, etc.

And the chance that there's a remote kill switch in it that would disable all of your war machines. The government does/should check for those in their weapons and there's no excuse why they don't take the effort to do the same with electronic voting. And this lack of effort, combined with the simplicity and effectiveness of paper ballots (not punch ballots like in Florida and other states, just simple fill in the bubble ballots), means that there should be no electronic voting until people step up and make sure they are working correctly.

Re:Should get the same attention as fighter planes (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 5 years ago | (#28243981)

And the chance that there's a remote kill switch in it that would disable all of your war machines. The government does/should check for those in their weapons and there's no excuse why they don't take the effort to do the same with electronic voting.

Again, the difference is that said weapons have been put to actual use, and they've worked well enough. Voting machines have been put to actual use as well, but who knows whether they worked? Nobody can know!

Re:Should get the same attention as fighter planes (2, Interesting)

myspace-cn (1094627) | more than 5 years ago | (#28248751)

Actually the USAF is concerned about kill switches and other hidden logic built in at the doping level, and while the do play red team blue team with such devices, sadly the only way to truly find out is to destructively reverse engineer the chip. The only other way is to have 100% trust in the doping source, while maintaining 100% chain of custody.

Meanwhile, out on the flightline, a tech sign's off that red x when the system is tested and working, "op's check good." It still doesn't mean it's working properly.

Working correctly is meaningless with no transparency, chain of custody or public oversight.

Also jets fly every day, electronic voting machines sat in storage, then had sleepovers. Where the machines were physically sitting in a poll worker's living room.

The problem with electronic vote tabulation devices differs from "state secrets" when we start getting into things like "public oversight." Public oversight is impossible when humans walk into the Secretary of State's office, go through some training, then head out to their polling place with with no spectrum analyzer, meter, freq counter, or logic analyzer.

I remind you, this is what we have now. And I am not making an argument for poll workers to have such tools, as that would be insanely stupid.

Even if poll watchers knew basic, or assembly, or electronics, or physics, they can't be allowed to access the code or allowed into the machine while an election is live because our elections must have transparency. If you can read the code during a live election, while you might consider this partial public oversight (from a purely technical standpoint), you no longer have transparency. Transparency is essential to our elections. While you might argue you have a right to give your transparency up (ala the Astronauts), you don't have a right to force anyone else to give their transparency up. And if your reading the code, it's trivial to change the code or modify the data.

This isn't just about code, it's also about firmware, and hardware!

Interestingly (diebold/premier/sequoia/es&s Whatever they call themselves) tech's have reported as being allowed access to service machines during live elections.

Electronic vote tabulation devices fail us at every step, Trust of the Doping Source, Chain of Custody, Public Oversight, and Transparency. Whoever pushes them to be allowed into our elections, clearly wants to subvert our government. While those who were accepting of such subversion early on were not fully informed, and others were clearly corrupt. There can be no excuse anymore.

Yet know this information and still here we are with these devices subverting our elections still to this day. So called "corporate journalists" do not touch this topic. And now they want internet voting?! These people can't even publish documents on their websites correctly.

And for the argument, "the handicapped need access to ballots so we need ballot marking devices."

Utter nonsense, and frankly the subversive lie which has been used to stuff this cruft down our throats from the sources which are either uninformed or corrupt.

We didn't use electronic devices in our elections in the 1700's and we don't need them today. The dilemma of you being disabled does not give you the right to subvert the entire election process by enabling invisible electronic exploits to be targeted against everyone else.

Re:Should get the same attention as fighter planes (1)

GumphMaster (772693) | more than 5 years ago | (#28244937)

The voting machine does more than the infallible pencil and paper that you describe, which only covers the marking of a vote. The voting system that you yearn for involves correct marking of the ballot paper, manual transport of vote boxes, manual handling of the paper, manual tallying of the votes, manual reporting of results upstream, manual cross checking of error rates, recounts on-demand etc... Each and every one of those steps in the system in open to human error (losing count, misreading), lack of understanding (failing to mark the ballot correctly, failing to count preferences* properly) or deliberate corruption (losing ballot boxes, etc). Votes have always been subject to these problems. All this does not excuse electronic voting machines from accountability, but please take your rose-coloured glasses off when comparing the alternative.

* Not all parts of the world rely solely on first-past-the-post [wikipedia.org] polling.

Re:Should get the same attention as fighter planes (2, Insightful)

dunezone (899268) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241197)

The machines that protect democracy include jet fighters, naval warcraft, guns, rockets, bombs ---- and voting machines.

The US Government wouldn't buy a any of those other things without a massive effort to make sure they were secure, why not voting machines as well? If you can compromise those, the rest are easy.

Because the people that are elected in office are the same people voted in by those machines.

Re:Should get the same attention as fighter planes (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 5 years ago | (#28246959)

Because the people that are elected in office are the same people voted in by those machines.

Perhaps those people should be voted out of office with jet fighters, naval warcraft, guns, rockets, and bombs.

Re:Should get the same attention as fighter planes (1)

symbolic (11752) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241585)

Interesting comment - if we are to extend the analogy completely, we'd have to acknowledge that even these complex systems sometimes require a few attempts before either being scrapped (as unworkable or too expensive) or before they are successful.

That having been said, I personally think the issues we've seen with e-voting are ridiculous - by comparison, it's not a very complicated process.

Re:Should get the same attention as fighter planes (1)

WCguru42 (1268530) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242225)

we'd have to acknowledge that even these complex systems sometimes require a few attempts before either being scrapped (as unworkable or too expensive) or before they are successful.

But are those attempts found out in the wild or in a testing phase (I'm honestly not sure, don't follow military history well enough)? If they are done in the wild then it's similar to electronic voting (though you're right, the voting machines' mistakes are pretty horrendous for the task) but if they're done in testing then so should electronic voting and they should keep testing them until they get it right.

Context can reduce security concerns drastically. (1)

jbn-o (555068) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241667)

I won't object to communities getting source code to voting machines under free software licenses [counterpunch.org] , but when voting machines are used only to prepare voter-verified paper ballots never to count ballots (as they should be), security concerns for these machines drop dramatically. I shouldn't have to use such a machine in the first place, but if I choose to use a machine to prepare my voter-verified paper ballot source code concerns drop to making sure that bugs in the program won't stop me from using the program under unforseen conditions. Communities deserve software freedom, and that is sufficient justification for communities to run their own voting systems completely.

Re:Should get the same attention as fighter planes (1)

Almahtar (991773) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241793)

The machines that protect democracy include jet fighters, naval warcraft, guns, rockets, bombs ---- and voters.

Fixed it for ya. Problem here is that the voters don't care enough to make sure the elections are working the way they should. They want to care about it once every 4 years, 2 years at best, and then go back to caring about their MySpace page. If people cared more about the politics running their nation in general they'd raise more of a fuss about things like voting machines' discrepancies.

Re:Should get the same attention as fighter planes (1)

MrPhilby (1493541) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242735)

A voting machine is the ONLY machine you have to comprimise. The rest follow without a whimper.

Sequoia is secure, all right... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28241025)

Sequoia voting machines are secure, unless someone clicks here:

http://www.google.com/search?q=sequoia+yellow+button&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=com.ubuntu:en-US:unofficial&client=firefox-a [google.com]

I used to work for a state division of elections certifying voting equipment. I wound up getting canned. I think one of the rationale was that I raised an eyebrow at problems like this.

I'd love to know what American attitudes are towards open-source. I've known plenty of people who consider open-source inherently insecure, since the public can see how it works. American idio--er, voters, probably think a super-duper secret voting system is more secure than one that's open for public inspection. :-/

Why a secret ballot? (0, Troll)

yourassOA (1546173) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241261)

If everyones name was attached to their vote there would be a way to verify the election outcome. Are people really that ashamed of who they vote for? No one is getting executed or persecuted based on their vote.

Re:Why a secret ballot? (1)

hey (83763) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241307)

Actually, that might make coding it easier.
Then you just have a hash:

      vote{SSN} = candidate

Re:Why a secret ballot? (3, Insightful)

WhatDoIKnow (962719) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241345)

No one is getting executed or persecuted based on their vote.

You think maybe that's because the vote is secret?

Re:Why a secret ballot? (1)

yourassOA (1546173) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241395)

Well if anyone is getting persecuted for their vote isn't it time for a revolution? If your gov is so evil that they persecute you for voting for the other guy they don't deserve to / can't be trusted to run the country.

Re:Why a secret ballot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28241433)

Idiot. What makes you believe that only government would be able to prosecute you for "irresponsible voting"? What about companies (that may or may not offer services to you), your boss (who may or may not consider you for a promotion) and finally your friends and family?

Re:Why a secret ballot? (1)

yourassOA (1546173) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241475)

You can't discriminate against homos or minorities because its a crime. Why would discriminating based on voting be allowed or any different?

Re:Why a secret ballot? (1)

Devout_IPUite (1284636) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242011)

Because you can discriminate against homos and minorities. You just have to be subtle when you do (and avoid false appearances of descrimination), doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

Re:Why a secret ballot? (1)

WCguru42 (1268530) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242265)

You can't discriminate against homos or minorities because its a crime. Why would discriminating based on voting be allowed or any different?

And that stops it from happening? Just because something's illegal doesn't mean it won't happen.

Re:Why a secret ballot? (1)

yourassOA (1546173) | more than 5 years ago | (#28247713)

No but where is the penalty?

Re:Why a secret ballot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28241481)

Actually, there's more worry about your average business only stocking employees that agree with their politics. Government politics and workplace politics rarely have anything to do with each other. No one wants who they voted for to be the dealbreaker for a job

Re:Why a secret ballot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28241491)

What happens when your employer starts intimidating you because he donated to his buddy's campaign for him to become mayor/senator/governor/president etc.

Or what if your employer finds a particular government agent receptive to introducing legislation to decrease his tax burden or decrease the employee rights.

If you have a limited imagination with what a non-secret ballot can cause, then you haven't even read any history. Maybe todays society might be better - why take the chance though? The secret ballot is by far a safer alternative.

Re:Why a secret ballot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28244887)

Um....it's not (typically) the government from which people fear reprisals.

It's friends, coworkers, acorn, union thugs, etc.

Why do you think Obama wants to get rid of the secret ballot for union creation? So that union "representatives" can more easily "persuade" people to vote for the union.

Look at the reaction of the anti-prop 8 people in CA to those who supported prop 8? Pickets, intimidation, assualt, etc. All that based on who gave money in support of prop 8. So OF COURSE people don't want their vote known.

Re:Why a secret ballot? (1)

myspace-cn (1094627) | more than 5 years ago | (#28248839)

No we don't need a violent revolution. Saying such things, just get's you tagged by the corrupt DHS. (Unless of course your an agent provocateur.)

It's called "Transparency." It goes back to the days, where voting the wrong way and your enemy finds out they kill you. Which is why it had to be a secret vote with public oversight.

Now while I don't claim to know your motivations, the fact our vote has to have transparency, should be a clear message to the people there are internal threats to our constitution, and our very existence.

I always "refuse to put my ballot into the scanner", and force them to open the AUX tray. they empty the tray at the end of the election, (or so they say) and send it to the SOS headquarters to be scanned, I dread this shit. I've seen many things at polling places that are wrong, yet I could be arrested if I took a picture, or video. Somehow corporate media get's access to take photos and video, but they always say, "look how smooth the election is going." When in reality it's completely fucked up.

If you knew how many errors an OCR does, you wouldn't feed your ballot in that piece of shit either scanner.

But still either way, (Scanner or AUX tray) I don't know what truly happens to my vote.

And if you say you do, you lie. I'd like to think my vote counted, but I will never really know as long as these electronic vote tabulation devices exist.

Re:Why a secret ballot? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28241393)

The reason the ballot is a secret is to be certain that no one can leverage your vote against you. A secret ballot is critical for the safety of the voters. Just imagine that your boss knows who you're voting for.

"No one is getting executed or persecuted based on their vote."

Not in the US, where voting is fairly free and safe. In other places not so much (Kenya).

Re:Why a secret ballot? (1)

yourassOA (1546173) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241445)

Are you sure that not just an excuse so the evil dictators can cheat at the election? If people are going to persecute based on others voting they should be harshly dealt with and that will be the end of that.

Re:Why a secret ballot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28241697)

Are you sure that not just an excuse so the evil dictators can cheat at the election? If people are going to persecute based on others voting they should be harshly dealt with and that will be the end of that.

Do you lock your door? Frankly, it's illegal for anyone to enter your home without an invitation, and they will be dealt with regardless. It just wastes time for you, and might cause a problem if you lose your key for whatever reason. Plus, it gives you a false sense of security- if it's locked, you assume nobody has entered and relocked it.

Re:Why a secret ballot? (4, Interesting)

Devout_IPUite (1284636) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242093)

Yes, I am sure that secret ballots are essential. Not only can an open ballot leave you open to retaliation (an extremist group says "Anyone who votes for Candidate X is going to be on our hit list") but it also lets them buy votes a la "$50 for anyone who votes for Candidate Y" (by the way, at $50 for each voter takes about $3.5 billion if you want the same popular vote that Obama got last year. Obama spent around $0.6 billion, think any corporations would be willing to fund a candidate?)

Re:Why a secret ballot? (1)

yourassOA (1546173) | more than 5 years ago | (#28247717)

Are you saying that our currant gov is an extremist group?

Re:Why a secret ballot? (1)

Devout_IPUite (1284636) | more than 5 years ago | (#28268373)

I was actually thinking of Al Quaida making a threat like "if you vote for anyone other than Osama Bin Laden we will come to your house and rape your daughters and then shoot you". I'm sure that would convince some people to stay home.

I can see radical pro-life or radical environmentalists doing the same kind of thing though. The pro-lifers are ironically more likely to shoot you while the environmentalists are ironically more likely to turn you house into green house gas...

Re:Why a secret ballot? (1)

yourassOA (1546173) | more than 5 years ago | (#28269877)

Your pro-lifer comment is a troll. Abortion doctors end many more lives than pro-lifers. And Osama doesn't control the government though him and Bush were awful close buddies same with Saddam so you are right that we should be scared of our government.

Re:Why a secret ballot? (1)

Devout_IPUite (1284636) | more than 5 years ago | (#28295809)

I'm sorry you feel the pro-lifers are less violent and gun oriented than the environmentalists. Doesn't mean you're right. I'm sure some environmentalists would get their panties in a twist if they heard me claim that they were more likely to be vandals than pro-lifers. I'm picking on both sides of the aisle if you didn't notice (because both liberals and conservatives have crazy wackjobs).

Re:Why a secret ballot? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28252585)

Just imagine that your boss knows who you're voting for.

He knows. And he knows I always vote the opposite of him. Where's the problem again?

If you are too stupid to figure out how someone could guarantee they know how you voted with the current system, then I can't help you (not that my boss does one, but that we talk politics). There are hundreds of ways that would work, and that you speak as if there are none indicates your inability to think.

Not in the US, where voting is fairly free and safe. In other places not so much (Kenya).

So you are saying that verified voting should not be allowed in the US because there is voter intimidation in Kenya? Again, your logic defies me.

Re:Why a secret ballot? (1)

Chees0rz (1194661) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241489)

You had a pet Unicorn as a child, didn't you?

Re:Why a secret ballot? (2, Funny)

An Onerous Coward (222037) | more than 5 years ago | (#28241935)

There is an old saying about how those who don't read history are doomed to repeat it.

I have no idea why that thought sprang to mind just now. None whatsoever.

Re:Why a secret ballot? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28252535)

There is an old saying about how those who don't read history are doomed to repeat it.

Secret ballots were a late-comer to the US, and weren't needed or even useful until then. And the reason they were needed was race. Prior to the race issues causing so much trouble in the south around the time of the Civil War, secret ballots were not widely used in the USA, and there was nothing lost. History shows us that, as long as there isn't a very strong case of vote indimidation being caused by a massively huge number of people (often a large majority), then secret votes don't help. So, tell us again which side of this forgot history?

Re:Why a secret ballot? (1)

An Onerous Coward (222037) | more than 5 years ago | (#28264319)

"And there was nothing lost?"

I believe it was the lack of secret balloting that allowed all manner of vote-buying schemes, including big patronage machines like Tammany Hall.

Public ballots make it harder for people to vote their conscience, and easier for groups with power to intimidate or bribe the people they have power over. But you're right that private ballots give too much leeway to the people we charge with counting the ballots. I don't see a perfect solution. I think that voting machines with open software and a voter-verified paper trail are as close to the ideal as we can get.

Re:Why a secret ballot? (0, Troll)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28268187)

There are ways to verify ballots without them being public. The votes would be anonymous, but with verification tracking would be possible. You can't guarantee anonymity, but it's not like the way the voter voted will be printed next to their name in the phone book.

Re:Why a secret ballot? (1)

grikdog (697841) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242037)

Same reason as always. If they know how you voted, they come and break your kneecaps. Secret prevents real mayhem, shame has nothing to do with it.

Re:Why a secret ballot? (1)

yourassOA (1546173) | more than 5 years ago | (#28247707)

Who are they and why will they break your kneecaps? Also why should we hide so the evil they who apparently control everything don't come after you? Shouldn't we be going after them. Who are the real terrorists in this country? Or are you one of thos conspiracy wackos?

Re:Why a secret ballot? (1)

WCguru42 (1268530) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242249)

If everyones name was attached to their vote there would be a way to verify the election outcome. Are people really that ashamed of who they vote for? No one is getting executed or persecuted based on their vote.

Follow history much? How about your up for a promotion and your boss doesn't like the person you voted for so he gives the promotion to somebody else. How about the mob threatens to harass/beat up/kill your family if you don't vote for the right person. There's a reason voting is secret and that secrecy is essential to democracy. Without secrecy intimidation and coercion has, can and will occur in voting.

Re:Why a secret ballot? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | more than 5 years ago | (#28252713)

Follow history much? [...] Without secrecy intimidation and coercion has, can and will occur in voting.

The vote wasn't secret in the USA for a long time. And what you claim would happen didn't. You are wrong, and history proves you are wrong. There was a short period (1860s to 1980 or so) where there was some race tension that resulted in many illegal acts being taken to harm people. One on the long list was voter indimidation. However, even with "secret ballots" being the law, the practice in many places was to force black people to show their ballots, or they were separated and discarded. So even with "secret ballots" being the law, there wasn't much protection in some places. But now, that there are the exciting choices between the Demopublicans and Republicats who happent to be running identical twins against each other, there wouldn't be an issue. We are a country founded on open voting, where voting in a manner where everyone could see (John Hancock) and being willing to give your life for your vote, but not being ashamed of it. I think you forgot that history. There may not be racial equality, but the race wars are over. We can go back to open voting, and indimidation will not be that big of an issue. Why do I say that? Because history is on my side, not yours.

Boss looking at who you voted for is bullshit. (1)

yourassOA (1546173) | more than 5 years ago | (#28244617)

Can your boss look at your vehicle registration? Vehicle registration should be secrete so your boss doesn't know you have a second vehicle and are working at a second job for the competition to pay for that vehicle and fire you. Can any random asshole look up your SNN? You people are a bunch of stupid assholes that try and protect everything wrong with the system rather than fix it.

Re:Why a secret ballot? (1)

yourassOA (1546173) | more than 5 years ago | (#28247739)

what hater of democracy modded me troll stand up or are you an anonymous coward to ashamed to take responsibility for your actions?

so what? (1)

Yxven (1100075) | more than 5 years ago | (#28242431)

I don't understand what this accomplishes. What are they going to do? Look for bugs? They already know there are bugs. If it was sabotaged, they're not going to get the code that was used and will only find bugs.

This is like calling the fire department after the barn has already burned to the ground, except that the fire will likely be allowed to continue.

Back to pencil and paper! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28243293)

I was glad to see, at least in Amsterdam, we're back to the red pencil for the EU vote last saturday.

Much simpler and faster. And still the Netherlands is going to get a fine from the EU for releasing voting results early, so I guess counting those votes wasn't a big deal either.

It's DC... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28243399)

The reason there are voting irregularities is NOT the problem with the machines... it's with the people who set them up and read the votes off of them.

bitc)h (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28243615)

Shouts To 7he [goat.cx]

What's all this code stuff? (1)

Punk CPA (1075871) | more than 5 years ago | (#28252437)

I can just hear the DC election commissioners now, poring over the source code: "What is this? Why can't they write in plain English? What's this 'Studio H' stuff supposed to mean?"
Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...