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117 comments

What about the rest of it? (1)

jgreco (1542031) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424396)

Is the software open source and based on verifiable voting, too?

Re:What about the rest of it? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424424)

Its a bit of a stupid article:

One of the last stand-out Linux desktop deployments in Australia was that found at Kennards Hire.

Can't be much going on at Kennards. Where I work we've got maybe 200 linux desktops and thousands of linux systems which run our product. Maybe I should tell this Delimiter thing about it.

Re:What about the rest of it? (2, Interesting)

jgreco (1542031) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424918)

Yes, after all, desktop deployments are not really the sort of thing you trumpet about with press releases, etc. Who knows how many large-scale Linux desktop deployments there are.

I'm more curious about what's running on top of Linux, though. Any free software OS (Linux, FreeBSD, etc.) is going to be great simply because it'll save the taxpayers licensing fees. However, as we've discovered here in the US, it is usually the voting software itself that is problematic.

The Linux thing is nice, but it'd be more meaningful to me to say "We've deployed new e-voting machines. They're Linux based devices running verifiable voting software, which we gave sample units of to each of our top tech schools, and none of them were successfully subverted." Or something line that.

Re:What about the rest of it? (1, Troll)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424956)

Are you seriously asking someone to RTFA for you and tell you what it says?

Seriously, I think some people are seriously confused about Linux and programming. The problem with voting machines isn't whether they run Linux or Windows (though it is a problem of cost of the OS) it's whether or not the source code to the processes is open and available and the ability to verify that the binary running is in fact compiled from that same source. If this happened in a Windows based machine, there would be fewer concerns. However, one thing is generally true -- when people code for a Linux platform, they almost always consider freeing the source code and when coding for Windows, they almost always expect to keep the source code private.

This is how things like "The internet is a series of tubes" gets started. Someone was trying to explain something conceptually and the recipient tried to take it literally.

Re:What about the rest of it? (3, Insightful)

jibjibjib (889679) | more than 4 years ago | (#31425000)

The problem is that very few people, if any, have the time and expertise to verify every part of an e-voting system, and it's impossible for a person to see exactly what a chip is doing in real time to make sure the production system is behaving the same way the source says it should.

With paper-based voting, someone can look in the ballot box at the start of the day and see that it's empty. They can then watch each person put one ballot paper in, and they can watch them get taken out and counted. It is, and always will be, much more easily verifiable than any form of electronic voting.

Re:What about the rest of it? (2, Interesting)

jgreco (1542031) | more than 4 years ago | (#31425120)

If there was a secure way to make that happen, I'd agree. However, how do you determine who is trustworthy enough to supervise the process? Do they supervise the entire process (empty box -> add votes -> count votes -> report votes) or just a part of it? If you have two, three, four political parties, do you have observers from each party? What happens when votes from a precinct just "disappear" on the way to whereever they're counted (or stored)? How many people need to be subverted in order to corrupt the vote?

The potential for electronic voting is that there are clever ways to avoid lots of problems. Lost votes? Submit them in realtime over the network, and keep an electronic copy and paper copy at the precinct for security. With copies held in more than one place, loss becomes much more difficult. Verifiability? There's been a lot of work done on that as well, but a bit more complex than I can summarize in a sentence. There are also lots of new possibilities for fraud; anyone reading Slashdot knows that, but these can (and should) be addressed.

I wish that "e-voting" meant "working towards a technologically superior method for ensuring the integrity of a vote", but it mostly seems to mean "a way to replace the behemoth mechanical voting machines with 10 columns of 40 levers each" that some of us grew up with. To that end, I don't really care if the platform is XP or Linux, most deployed electronic voting systems are probably just about as corruptible - maybe just in different ways.

Re:What about the rest of it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31429884)

It's incredible to see so many people have no idea how to put in place a secure paper-based voting system when such systems have been in use for a good 40 years (not in the US mind you, that's probably why). You don't have to invent anything fancy, just observe how elections happen in France.

However, how do you determine who is trustworthy enough to supervise the process?

You don't! That's the whole point. Anyone is allowed to watch the whole process. Of course you also ask each political party to send some representatives just so they cannot tell 'we weren't invited'.

Do they supervise the entire process (empty box -> add votes -> count votes -> report votes) or just a part of it?

The entire process: from the time the transparent empty ballot box is locked in the polling place, to the time where the results are publicly announced in that same room. This includes watching each voter as he inserts his ballot, watching the ballot boxes being opened, and watching the ballots getting counted right on the spot. They can then report the results to their organization (political party, whatever) and perform their own independent tallying of the election across the country.

If you have two, three, four political parties, do you have observers from each party?

You get observers from whichever party bothers sending them, so usually yes, at least from three or four parties. But, again, anyone, even if you're not from a party, is welcome to observe the whole process.

What happens when votes from a precinct just "disappear" on the way to whereever they're counted (or stored)?

Don't EVER move votes before counting them! Are you crazy? The moment you let someone put that ballot box in a car or, worse, in truck you no longer know what's inside it (no matter what the so called chain of custody says). That's why the law says that once the results have been announced at the polling place the ballots no have any legal value and can be discarded.

How many people need to be subverted in order to corrupt the vote?

At a minimum the president of the polling place, two or three assessors and three or four representatives from competing parties. Then you may also need to corrupt the voters who volunteer to count the votes (4 per 300 registered voters for the polling place so usually around 12 of them) and whichever random voter drops in unannounced to watch things. Think you can do it in even one polling place without getting caught or the word leaking out? Think stuffing the votes in just one polling place is going to have an impact?

The potential for electronic voting is that there are clever ways to avoid lots of problems. Lost votes?

Trying to solve a problem you don't have with a correctly run paper election?

Submit them in realtime over the network,

You mean get the voting computer hacked in real-time?

and keep an electronic copy and paper copy at the precinct for security.

Yes, IF you print a voter verified paper ballot, AND you actually count them manually, AND you do so right at the polling place, AND they override any electronic count, then you solve all the problems of electronic voting. You've also made all that electronic machinery entirely redundant and nullified every claimed e-voting benefit.

Verifiability? There's been a lot of work done on that as well, but a bit more complex than I can summarize in a sentence.

All of which require a paper trail, and all of which you would be unable to explain in detail even if you had the whole day to do so as it would involve explaining such things as cryptography algorithms, cryptographically secure checksums, zero-knowledge proofs, and so on. Just saying 'this is a secure cryptography algorithm' does not cut it and even that would befuddle half of the voters.

Re:What about the rest of it? (1)

profplump (309017) | more than 4 years ago | (#31426468)

It's not impossible to see what the computer is doing, and done correctly, electronic voting is both a superior input interface AND can provide faster counts AND can provide better audit trails. I agree this isn't what we see done with typical voting machines, but it's hardly impossible task you make it out to be.

You could in make the computer output a human-readable receipt. That could be on paper, it could be emailed, it could be laser-cut into a hunk of steel -- the output mode doesn't really matter. And since the input device is a computer the receipt could include a cryptographic signature (which has some security risks, but keeping one private key per voting machine, generated on the machine on the day of the vote secure for long enough to validate the results is a lot easier than keeping thousands of ballots printed days ahead of time at an off-site location secure). Such a signature could be used to validate the receipt, and to track down the specific machine(s) involved in any discrepancies that might arise.

You could even have a second computer read the receipt from the first and produce its own independent count using different software and hardware run by different staff in another building. Plus if the public keys for the machines were released it would be possible for anyone to independently verify the counts produced by the government, simply by collecting receipts, validating the signatures, and making their own tally -- we could give voters a second copy of their receipt to take home just for this sort of purpose.

Re:What about the rest of it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31430024)

It's not impossible to see what the computer is doing

Who are you? I'm pretty sure even superman cannot see the electric charges in the computer's RAM or flash memory.

All you can see is what the computer displays on the screen, which only you can see and which has no legal value anyway; and the paper ballots if you are lucky enough to get one. But even then a paper ballot is useless unless it's actually counted and counted right at the polling place before it's substituted while being moved around.

There's not one electronic voting scheme that's secure that does not involve paper ballots. And even so they are so complex to describe and understand that not even 1% of the general population can understand them.

And since the input device is a computer the receipt could include a cryptographic signature (which has some security risks, but keeping one private key per voting machine, generated on the machine on the day of the vote secure for long enough to validate the results is a lot easier than keeping thousands of ballots printed days ahead of time at an off-site location secure).

Why the heck would you need to keep paper ballots secure? Any tampering would be obvious.

Plus if the public keys for the machines were released it would be possible for anyone to independently verify the counts produced by the government, simply by collecting receipts, validating the signatures, and making their own tally -- we could give voters a second copy of their receipt to take home just for this sort of purpose.

Thereby subjecting everyone pressures to prove they voted the right way. The switch from public votes to secret votes in Chile (iirc) in 1958 proved that this is not just a theoretical issue but one that can change the political landscape overnight.

Re:What about the rest of it? (1)

jgreco (1542031) | more than 4 years ago | (#31425026)

No, I already *read* the article and I was commenting on what was *missing* from the article.

Perhaps *you* should have read the article before making yourself look foolish. Had you actually read the article, then my comment, then you would have known that I, too, was essentially saying that the Linux thing is only one small part of the bigger picture.

Oops.

A couple of things (3, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424402)

I live in Victoria and as far a I know there is only one electoral commission in Australia and that is the national one. Maybe the AEC [aec.gov.au] is trialing something in Victoria?

Voting here has always been manual. You write a number in the box. I write it backwards. Gun nuts get the highest number, the greens get the lowest (which is 1), but I accept that other people go about it their own ways.

I have never seen a computer of any kind in a place where we vote. The process is obsessively manual and works very well.

Re:A couple of things (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31424454)

I have never seen a computer of any kind in a place where we vote. The process is obsessively manual and works very well.

This is what surprised me. I was involved in the last election giving out the ballots and counting at the end. There were only 3 of us at our booth and we were paid something like $200 for the day. The process went very smoothly and everyone knew what to do. I think introducing computers here will be more expensive and cause more problems than it is worth.

Hah, as a nerd I never thought I would say something like that.

Re:A couple of things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31425766)

Use the right tool for the job. If a country is wealthy, there is nothing wrong with computers...BUT they have to ensure there is more honesty in the overall end vote than if they use humans. $600 and no electrical costs, no battery backup costs, and no training costs, seems like it's cheaper than a computer that is attempted to be hardened, but can probably be hacked at some point...either in the voting, the counting, the transmission of the voting, or the processing of the tallies. In the US, we had a President and Congress decide to give MANY millions of dollars to buy easily hacked computers from a friend who ran such a computer voting company, and ended with results that seemed quite odd. (Didn't pass the smell test.) It was most successful as a subsidy to less than 3 companies.

Personally, I've never used "Gentoo Red Hat," but have used about 30 other distributions of Linux over the years. I have found that most people, outside of tech circles (and some in them,) don't understand the difference between a Linux distribution and Linux. Those of us who use Linux understandably don't often make the distinction. But it does confuse others.

Re:A couple of things (1)

Lueseiseki (1189513) | more than 4 years ago | (#31427014)

I think you're missing the point of your parent comment.

I think introducing computers here will be more expensive and cause more problems than it is worth.

If it aint broke dont fix it.

Re:A couple of things (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 4 years ago | (#31427384)

As a nerd you are interested in solutions. If you were interested in (only) computers you would be a fanboy, not a nerd.

Re:A couple of things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31427486)

Not at all. It will give jobs to China and allow China to fix your elections for you. That way they will be allowed to buy your Uranium, Iron, and Rare earth mines.

Re:A couple of things (1)

SJ2000 (1128057) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424462)

I live in Victoria and as far a I know there is only one electoral commission in Australia and that is the national one

http://www.vec.vic.gov.au/ [vic.gov.au]

Re:A couple of things (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424520)

Oh okay so we are talking about local elections. Last time I checked they were all done by post. I still have (unopened) voting slips addressed to:

Brett A Needham

Martin J Spratt (twice)

Marlene J Valentine

Catherine A Spratt

Ian J Valentine

Venessa Sayers
 
...at my former address in South Croydon. I imagine they were test data inside the former voting system. I am holding on to those letters, just in case.

Re:A couple of things (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424622)

Some of it depends on the state, WA local elections can be run by the WAEC [wa.gov.au] or they can be run by the council itself. It's usually a cost issue. Local councils can run them in different ways. Most are now postal elections. Turnout is pretty poor.

As for odd letters, some political party programmer needs a course in logic. Just because my brother and sister live at the same address and share a last name, they are not Mr and Mrs.

Re:A couple of things (4, Informative)

GigaplexNZ (1233886) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424656)

As for odd letters, some political party programmer needs a course in logic. Just because my brother and sister live at the same address and share a last name, they are not Mr and Mrs.

Had you replaced WA with Tasmania, I would have disagreed with you right there.

Re:A couple of things (1)

skirmish666 (1287122) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424474)

From the article:

The state first started using the machines in a limited trial during the last state election in 2006. It appears as if the machines were used for voting for the vision-impaired, as well as for military personnel.

Yeah, I'm in Victoria too and I've never seen an electronic voting machine. Maybe next election...

Re:A couple of things (2, Interesting)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424524)

From the article:

The state first started using the machines in a limited trial during the last state election in 2006. It appears as if the machines were used for voting for the vision-impaired, as well as for military personnel.

Yeah, I'm in Victoria too and I've never seen an electronic voting machine. Maybe next election...

A woman I work with works for the AEC on election day. Its pretty interesting how they run the polling places. All the votes you see on the night are counted by the same people who run the polling place, right after they close up.

Re:A couple of things (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424518)

I live in Victoria and as far a I know there is only one electoral commission in Australia and that is the national one.

Article say in Victoria, not of.

Re:A couple of things (1)

ajv (4061) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424630)

Every state has its own Electoral Commission. ECs are a retirement grounds for out to pasture politicians who want / still need a salary - but not much work - and very hard working and independent minded public servants. I was fascinated by the process that creates new electoral boundaries and trust it a lot more now.

The AEC and the state ECs compete to run the local council elections. Local councils run elections not for democracy (for which most don't care about), but instead as a method of making quite a lot money, as most folks don't bother to vote and thus get a fine. There is precisely one correct answer to getting out of the fine, but don't use it too often as you won't be believed on your second or third attempt.

The computers are in the back room. Trust me, there's lots of machinery counting your votes. They count about 90-95% of the votes electronically by OCR as a first pass. Some of these batches are also counted manually to make sure that the machines are working properly, but the majority of votes are electronically read. If you scrawl or otherwise waste your vote, it'll be scrunintized by hand and entered manually by temp staff working for a DRO. This is about 2% of all votes.

Don't write offensive crap on your ballot as the community-minded volunteers counting the votes don't work for the parties (in fact, they're not even allowed to be party members) and they are doing it for not much money or no money at all. They've seen it all before.

If a ward / seat vote is close enough to warrant a recount, party goons will watch temp staff re-count the votes by hand. If there's a discrepancy from the machine count, it might be counted again, but this is really rare. Most electorates and wards vote strongly for one party, so they rarely get counted by hand on the night.

If you vote below the line in senate elections (and it sounds like you do), good - you've wasted your vote. Such votes are not germaine to figuring out who the last seat goes to in a Federal election, and thus your vote is simply wasted. If you really want to make your vote count, vote above the line in a party grouping. But be aware that most of the single issue parties, like the Gun Nut party are fronts for (and paid for) by the majors. Your vote will end up in their hands based upon the two party preferred system.

The good news is that our voting system is voter verifiable, has a strong paper trail, and difficult to tamper with. That's why I like it - it's a mix of old and new.

Re:A couple of things (1)

bug1 (96678) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424770)

There is precisely one correct answer to getting out of the fine, but don't use it too often as you won't be believed on your second or third attempt.

Oh great, a riddler...

FINE, ill ask, what is the word ?

Re:A couple of things (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424938)

The AEC and the state ECs compete to run the local council elections. Local councils run elections not for democracy (for which most don't care about), but instead as a method of making quite a lot money, as most folks don't bother to vote and thus get a fine.

The AEC doesn't do local elections. Local government elections aren't compulsory. Anything else you need corrected?

Re:A couple of things (1)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424634)

You write a number in the box. I write it backwards. Gun nuts get the highest number, the greens get the lowest (which is 1)

Oh, I get it. I was wondering why you wanted people to have to hold your ballot up to a mirror to find out what you wrote.

The counting down technique is exactly how I do it too. I call it the "who do I hate the most" principle. And never vote above the line for the senate, always fill in every single box. It is the same principle as wanting to see the source code. If the parties don't publicise how your vote will count if you give them a tick above the line then they don't deserve the vote.

Finally, I don't know why they didn't use the existing, reliable system that we already have. It is called Myki. They already have booths all over Victoria and they have an unenviable track record. The only problem is that you have to remember to vote twice, otherwise they charge you the full national debt.

OK, non-Australians can come back again.

Re:A couple of things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31424786)

Electronic voting was only brought in in order to facilitate FRAUD. Which is treason, and should be seriously punished.

Paper ballots are also suitable for fraud, which is why they are used.

There is only ONE 100% fraud proof voting method, the Robinson Voting Method.

http://tinyurl.com/c7z4x6

This is what the scum who control your country are terrified of - a dirt cheap, simple, fraud proof voting method, because they are terrified of you having any say in your life.

Re:A couple of things (2, Insightful)

Zouden (232738) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424870)

Australia has instant-runoff voting. Your proposal won't work here, nor is it necessary.

they are terrified of you having any say in your life.

With 95% voter turnout at each election, and four different parties currently in the Senate, I think our current method gives us plenty of say.

Re:A couple of things (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31425144)

Laughable.
If you can't vote once a WEEK on whatever policies you, the people, decide, then you don't have a real democracy.

Why do you think Australia also has open borders, with half of the third world pouring in? Did the whites who built Australia ask for this?

Re:A couple of things (1)

Cimexus (1355033) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424940)

Don't know about Victoria, but we've had a electronic voting option here in the ACT for both the last Federal election and the last Territory election. Having said that, most people still prefer the paper ballot because it's what they are used to, I suppose.

VEC and AEC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31426190)

The Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) is an independent statutory authority established under Victoria's Electoral Act 2002, which conducts Victorian State elections, local council elections, certain statutory elections and commercial and community elections. Where as the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) is responsible for conducting federal elections and referendums and maintaining the Commonwealth electoral roll.

The two bodies are not the same.

Mwahahaha! (3, Funny)

ndogg (158021) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424410)

Now we get to control the Oz elections, and install Linus Torvalds as dictator (benevolent, that is) for life!!!

Mwahahahaha!!

Re:Mwahahaha! (2, Funny)

ndogg (158021) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424422)

Oh, crap, I just got a message saying I wasn't actually supposed to leak that to world.

Well, maybe we can install RMS as dictator.

Now I'm giggling at the thought of a country run by RMS.

"That's GNU/Australia to you!"

Re:Mwahahaha! (2, Funny)

oztiks (921504) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424564)

static char shellcode[]=
"\0x90\0x90\0x90\0x90\0x90\0x90\0x90\0x90\0x90\0x90\0x90"
"\0x90\0x90\0x90\0x90\0x90\0x90\0x90\0x90\0x90PaulineHanson++"

Re:Mwahahaha! (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424808)

I was more concerned that CowboyNeal would win in a landslide, due to it being the none-of-the-above option. Of course, this whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane.

Re:Mwahahaha! (1)

html 5 tutor (1762180) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424936)

I misread the title as following

Linus Takes Over E-Voting In Australian State

That's should give Steve Ballmer something to think about.

Pah (4, Funny)

somersault (912633) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424414)

2.6/Gentoo RHEL is nothing compared to my Damn Small Yellow Dog DebuntuSE with FutureKernel 6.4

Re:Pah (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 4 years ago | (#31427858)

nothing compared to my Damn Small Yellow Dog DebuntuSE with FutureKernel 6.4

Bah, showoffs. I prefer to get real work done with my computer, so I stick to GNU/Hurd.

Open, or not ? (2, Interesting)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424450)

If the rest of the software, i.e. the actual voting system, is not open source, the move is for the worse.

Re:Open, or not ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31425038)

A move from a closed, proprietary system running on an OS with a ton of tax-payer funded licensing costs to a closed, proprietary system running on an OS with zero licensing costs would still be of some benefit, no?

Still wrong (4, Informative)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424532)

Linux doesn't make electronic voting a good idea though. How can we check the published program is the one running ? It is akin to use opaque voting boxes without showing they are empty first.

Spread the word to fellow voters : if YOU can't understand how the vote is secured, refuse the voting system !

Re:Still wrong (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424616)

How can we check the published program is the one running ?

How can we check paper votes are counted right? How can we check the ballot results are added correctly? Have you ever tried to track how your paper vote is counted?

Any voting system is subject to fraud. It's only the way of committing the fraud that changes. Political parties and organizations who are concerned with elections must evolve with the times and develop new ways of checking election results in an electronic world.

Those concerns about electronic voting that are presented every time the subject is discussed are becoming rather tiresome. It's like someone complaining that cars are dangerous while at the same time conveniently forgetting that horses bite, kick, and throw their riders to the ground.
 

Re:Still wrong (4, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424644)

It's difficult to stuff a paper ballot box (which in most systems is never to be left unattended from when it's sealed to when the votes get counted) without it being fairly obvious.

OTOH, there are plenty of places to hide an electronic vote stuffer on most electronic systems and it's a often a lot harder to verify that nobody's tampered with them.

Re:Still wrong (4, Insightful)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424652)

paper votes can all be pyshically accounted for, and counted by a machine and then checked by multiple hand counters. thats the problem with electronic votes. how do you KNOW the button you pressed turned into the vote you asked for and can't be tampered with after the fact? while i'm sure there may be a solution like taking a hash of the vote based on it's time and result and storing it seperately to the vote itself, then checking these later to confirm they match. i'm not sure the public will be very comfortable with this concept for some time.

you can't track or verify your vote after you've cast it obviously - to suggest any voting system is flawed due to a lack of tracking flys in the face of the secret ballot and is for retards.

Re:Still wrong (5, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424672)

Have you ever tried to track how your paper vote is counted?

Yes I did. I am not sure of the US system but here (France) any citizen is welcome to participate or oversee the public counting of ballots. We use transparent ballot boxes so you are free to stay in the voting office from the opening to the counting. There are always several people there including opponents.

Any voting system is subject to fraud. It's only the way of committing the fraud that changes.

It is also the scale. Electronic voting makes nation-wide fraud possible. Electronic voting gives a single point of failure for fraud : the machine manufacturer.

Re:Still wrong (2, Informative)

Mornedhel (961946) | more than 4 years ago | (#31425024)

here (France) any citizen is welcome to participate or oversee the public counting of ballots. We use transparent ballot boxes so you are free to stay in the voting office from the opening to the counting. There are always several people there including opponents.

I can attest to that. Every time I go to vote I'm asked if I would like to help with the counting, despite the fact that I don't vote for the usual majority in my arrondissement, and that the old guy asking me does. I usually can't help, though, because of other time constraints.

I also personally know several people who regularly help with the counting. Some of them are involved in their local politics, and some of them aren't.

So basically, every time we get the election results, I am highly confident that they do in fact represent the wish of the majority of my fellow citizens. They usually elect the wrong guy.

Re:Still wrong (1)

c++0xFF (1758032) | more than 4 years ago | (#31428630)

So basically, every time we get the election results, I am highly confident that they do in fact represent the wish of the majority of my fellow citizens. They usually elect the wrong guy.

That's how I verify voting results too: if the wrong guy is voted in, I know that no significant tampering occurred.

The day an intelligent, honest, moral politician (I know, oxymoron) wins an election is the day we need to rethink our voting system!

Re:Still wrong (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 4 years ago | (#31425554)

The old fashioned manual voting and manual or semi manual voting system have had many attempts at subverting them and all are now protected against

You cannot swing an election (unless it is a very narrow margin) when a properly run manual count election is in place

With electronic voting of any kind it is not as transparent as it could be and it is possible to influence the outcome

Re:Still wrong (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#31425854)

"How can we check paper votes are counted right? How can we check the ballot results are added correctly? Have you ever tried to track how your paper vote is counted?"

Paper ballots are put on a table and representatives from all the political parties start sorting them into stacks. When they are all sorted the reps swap stacks with each other to check and throw out those which they think are incorrectly sorted or unreadable. Rinse and repeat until all reps have inspected all stacks. The discarded ballots are then resorted and the process continues until all ballots have been counted. Independent observers watch the whole process and the competing reps watch each other. This is done at the polling station and a result is normally declared within 12hrs.

Now the machines in Victoria print a ballot that you can check before you put it into a ballot box, they may even speed up the counting with an electronic reader and if all reps agree with the readers result then it's fine, if not then they count them manually as outlined above.

"Any voting system is subject to fraud. It's only the way of committing the fraud that changes. Political parties and organizations who are concerned with elections must evolve with the times and develop new ways of checking election results in an electronic world. Those concerns about electronic voting that are presented every time the subject is discussed are becoming rather tiresome."

It's tiresome to keep explaining this to people who do not understanding the relative risk/reward for different types of electrol fraud. Compare the two systems outlined above to the Diebold system where the machine counts your vote with no auditable paper trail and no possibility to question the results of the machines. The first two can be trusted by a reasonable person, sure you may get low level fraud such as ballot stuffing but it would take a massive conspiracy between competing political parties to rig an entire election. A Diebold type system cannot be trusted by a reasonable person, a single fraudster could rig an entire election by simply changing a number in the central server's database.

Re:Still wrong (1)

geschild (43455) | more than 4 years ago | (#31425010)

"if YOU can't understand how the vote is secured, refuse the voting system !"

Now that's an acurate description of how best to look at it.

Thing is, there's nothing inherently wrong with electronically supported counting of votes, as long as the votes themselves are each seperately available in physical form.

Here in the Netherlands we've recently switched back wholesale to voting with a red pencil instead of voting computers precisely because it's the only way to have those votes available for a true recount. Funny thing is, right after the most recent election officials started complaining counting was 'difficult, timeconsuming and old-fashioned'. Just a few days after said election, several districts have resorted to recounts that demonstrate why having the votes on paper instead of in a computer is a good idea.

Re:Still wrong (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 4 years ago | (#31425444)

This is NOT a diebold type system which the AEC has repeatedly stated will not be introduced into Australia. It's the same system they used for blind people at the last election. The machine simply prints the ballot, if you're NOT blind you can check it, if you are blind you're truted companion can do that. The printed ballot still goes into a ballot box. The supposed purpose is to eliminate unreadable ballots and donkey votes, personally I think it's a waste of money but it's not a threat to democracy.

India uses propritery hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31424550)

See this link on how inda votes

http://brainstorms.in/?p=309

Correction (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31424558)

The news was taken from tender documents published via tenders.gov.au from the Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC). The tender stated the Gentoo release of RHEL. The tender is for kiosk hardware for use with existing software and the hadware drivers must provide Linux support. The tender documents will be updated online to correct the error.

Each Australian state or territory has its own Commission or independent elections organisation. The VEC has previously run the same E-voting software on a small number of desktop PCs in 2006, running Gentoo Linux. They were made available at six locations in Victoria, only for the blind and vision impaired. This time the project will deploy more machines in tamper-evident kiosk enclosures with a receipt printer. The printer and the touch screen drivers need to support Linux.

The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) which is the federal body did run a vision impaired trial of its own in 2007, but it was not related to the Victorian pilot of the year before.

The VEC will provide a full media release for this project closer to the November State election after the Victorian Parliament has decided what groups of voters should have access to the systems. At most, any voter who would otherwise require assistance may get to use the systems. As I said, at the moment, it's just vision impaired voters until the law changes.

Get off my lawn! (4, Interesting)

ajv (4061) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424576)

Converting to Linux for voting machines is a big shift from the VEC of old. Color me impressed.

I remember many years ago (1998-1999) working at the VEC. I was a system admin in my first security consultant job.

DEC/Microsoft was helping the VEC create a Microsoft-only COM+ based voting system called EMS 2000. Previously, it had taken 3+ months to organize an election, despite laws allowing the Premier to call an election within a month at any time. So they had to be prepared a long way out, which was costly. EMS 2000 was essentially a way to roll out an election within three weeks. I believe it was used in at least a few elections. I wouldn't be surprised if EMS 2000 has been maintained and is still in use - it was a lot of $$$$$$ to spend on a project.

EMS 2000 used every single part of the Microsoft stack. One thing I remember was how slowly Outlook 98 opened when it had 4000 tasks. EMS 2000 created Outlook tasks using COM+ custom queuing components over very slow modem and ISDN lines to all parts of the state. Surprisingly, this was still better than the previous system, which was primarily a manual system.

It was a full MS stack with basically every single possible MS product at the time (NT, COM+, Exchange, SQL, queuing components using pre-release NT 5.0 / Win2K, and lots of custom VB code), it hung together well and ran fairly reliably considering the shaky comms at the time.

Re:Get off my lawn! (2, Interesting)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 4 years ago | (#31425566)

Switzerland ... has a manual voting system, holds elections at very short notice and announces the complete result usually within 5 hours of the polls closing

Why do we need electronic voting again?

Penguinitis (1)

thomst (1640045) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424580)

the documentation states it will be using the '2.6 kernel/Gentoo release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux.

How tragic - another case of Mad Penguin Disease.

Will nobody think of the children?

Re:Penguinitis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31425646)

Who says it's a penguin? It could be kernel 2.6.29 [wikipedia.org] after all it's used in Australia.. (link [kernel.org] )

Trains and Voting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31424608)

We can't even run a train system properly and you expect the Govt of VIC to handle electronic Voting correctly?
Still I've had a Kennett of a day and anything's got to be better then that...

GNU.Free (1)

Seyedkevin (1633117) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424708)

I wonder if they plan to pick GNU Free up , seeing as it's something that already, you know, exists. Otherwise I would suspect them to just use some proprietary program.

Hey kdawson: (-1, Troll)

bmo (77928) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424730)

I am shitposting here because this is a shitpost thread, started with a shitpost summary of a non-story.

You are a plague upon Slashdot.

You're a cunt.

Eat a bowl of dicks.

Sincerely,

--
BMO

Re:Hey kdawson: (0, Redundant)

bmo (77928) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424748)

Mod Parent into the ground, please.

It belongs in the XKCD thread.

However, I don't take back what I said.

*grumble*

--
BMO

does it matter ? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31424746)

I have to be honest. In the end I don't care one bit about what operating system the voting machine is on. Not at all. What I do care about is that it works and works well. Prove that to me and I would be fine with it running on OS/2

computer-based voting systems are not trustworthy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31424868)

1. as presently constituted, computer-based voting systems are NOT trustworthy on numerous levels
2. PAPER BALLOTS, HAND COUNTED, LOCALLY REPORTED is the *BEST*, most trustworthy, transparent, and auditable method of voting we have
3. INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING is the other part of reforming our voting process which will provide for TRUE CHOICES aside from the two-headed Korporate Money Party
art guerrilla
aka ann archy
eof

Re:computer-based voting systems are not trustwort (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31426788)

Hand counts are not readily auditable because they're very slow. They're marginally auditable in cases where ballots can be sorted into a very small number of mutually-exclusive outcomes (i.e. for one race) but if you can't put them into piles an audit of a hand count would be very expensive and time consuming.

Plus optical-scan systems have accuracy rates of 3 or 4 nines, which is almost certainly better than the accuracy rate of people attempting to mark their intended vote on a ballot, and close enough for all but the mostly tightly contested races even if you assume ballots are 100% accurately marked.

So if you used optical scan ballots and automated counting and demanded a hand count only when the error rate of the machine might reasonably affect the outcome of the election, you could improve speed and maintain at least as much if not more auditability.

http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com/blog/appel/optical-scan-voting-extremely-accurate-minnesota [freedom-to-tinker.com]

The core problem is unchanged by this (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424922)

S/he who controls the database, controls the outcome. E-voting should not be allowed for anything more important than vacuous tv talent shows - and even those outcomes are corrupt.

Computer assisted voting is possible. (1)

leuk_he (194174) | more than 4 years ago | (#31424998)

Actuallly the OS & voting program and databse does not matter that much. What is important is that there is a verifiable paper trail. The voter should be able to check what he voted (on a paper). A manual recount should be possible. And remember a vote should be secret (not to be traced back to who voted what). You cannot trust that the (open) source code of the program is the same that is actually running on the voting kiosk. (And i probably am forgetting some important specs here)
Y
A open source system helps, but really is not the core of the problem.

Besides that, the way voters have to register is also important of course. If a voter can vote mulitple times at multiple locations the whole point any voting system is lost. This has nothing to do with the voting computer.

This becomes more important if people distrust their government.

Hats (1)

andrikos (1114853) | more than 4 years ago | (#31425020)

Anyone noticed how the australian icon and the redhat one look so close to each other?

Re:Hats (1)

iamagloworm (816661) | more than 4 years ago | (#31425246)

hard to know which iconic australian hat you are thinking of, maybe the akubra that the prime minister loves to wear, proving his australianness? i'd be impressed if he wore a traditional hate with corks on string to the keep the flies away. none of them however are fedoras of redhat fame.

Issue? (1)

fremean (1189177) | more than 4 years ago | (#31425298)

I don't know why everyone has such a problem with this - the act of voting, manually or electronically is rather simple and not an overly difficult task.

Have a touch screen/keyboard overlay that displays the candidates and the computer records the order you tick the boxes.

Then prints on paper in fixed locations to match the screen overlay numbers that represent the order a box was chosen (Look at a lottery quick pick, or a machine readable ticket) print a barcode at the bottom that encodes the time, date, location, etc, the options chosen and a checksum (Perhaps one of those new fangled 3d barcodes so people may even be able to verify it with their phones/etc)

Make sure the print out and the screen are displayed side by side, if they don't match the voter is to manually cross out with a specific pen (no computer crossing out at all).

Oh and make sure they can't unlock the voting booth until they confirm one way or the other :D
If the numbers in b
oxes don't match the barcode the vote is declared illegal.

Added points if after the user verifies the vote it's saved locally, sent to a central location, and uploaded to two independent bodies (which check the central location and each other to verify the vote)

Even more points if the barcodes, votes, and backup systems are checked routinely - like every hour all votes are scanned and compared.

The key here is that the humans and the machines are able to read the primary component printout - barcodes are only there as double checks.

Paper systems aren't foil proof - especially as we're given PENCILS to mark the boxes - and as much as they're under supervision a whole group of supervisors can be abusing the system...

Re:Issue? (1)

fremean (1189177) | more than 4 years ago | (#31425380)

An alternative, have the whole lot done by a couple of programmable microcontroller - in this day and age there's no need to build a whole software system to do this.

The week before polling a manufacturer can burn verified programs to microcontrollers, these can then be run through second and third parties to test the code burnt for verification, drop them into chip mounts inside the booths and again test by second and third partys - build the booths in such away as you need 3 keys to open it one share them out.

Add to that my comment above...

Today Australia (1)

Xenna (37238) | more than 4 years ago | (#31425328)

Good God...

I see that Linus wasn't kidding when he was talking about world domination!

Bad People = Electronic winners (1)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | more than 4 years ago | (#31425472)

I would think that slashdotters would be largely against evoting simply because we have all seen how computers are routinely mauled by bad people. The stakes are way too high if bad people are the only ones who would hack themselves a win does this not almost make it certain that bad people will win. The only computerized voting I would accept would be one where the vote is taken by computer but then it prints a bit of paper that becomes the final say. This way you avoid hanging chads yet you give the voter the ability to audit what they put in the box. With any other evoting system the computer could ignore the voter and change the tally as it is told and the voter would a have no idea that they were just disenfranchised. With the stakes this high having people count some bits of paper is a very good investment.

Victoria Police IT, myki... e-voting? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31425542)

The Australian state of Victoria is home to some of the worst IT-related projects in the history of IT.

Victoria Police Business Information Technology Services: fraud, kickbacks, blowouts, leaks... the list is long

myki: most expensive ticketing system in the world, years behind schedule, too complex, doesn't work... the list is also long

And now they want to fail spectacularly - again - with the introduction of e-voting?

I've got a special slot reserved in my "top IT project disasters" list for any e-voting system that has anything to do with the state of Victoria.

worst IT-related projects (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31425680)

"The Australian state of Victoria is home to some of the worst IT-related projects in the history of IT. Victoria Police Business Information Technology Services: fraud, kickbacks, blowouts, leaks... the list is long .."

Apart from the myki project, do you have any citation of references to repuitable sources for this? Was myki based on Linux?

neubyr (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31426132)

Global lessons in e-voting:
http://news.cnet.com/Global-lessons-in-e-voting/2009-1008_3-5387540.html

Why Linux? Or any other COTS operating system? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31426294)

OK, they chose Linux. How does help?

I mean, the point of voting is not to run some fancy software; instead the point is to unequivocally arrive to a conclusion about the opinion of a population.

Why would anyone in their sense select a Linux, or any other commercial off the shelf operating system, for a voting system has always baffled me. I find it very difficult to trust any arguments for system's dependability, if the starting point is a selection of a specific technology. After all, the system shall fulfill its requirements, not more, no less.

My incredible and perfect solution (1)

nunokjpg (1764164) | more than 4 years ago | (#31428436)

Give a receipt to all voters with: voterID random-challenge hash(voterID, random-challenge, vote option) Then create a online list with all the population hashs ordered by vote option. Only who knows the random-challenge can check that the vote was indeed accouted for that "vote option". Should I start run to go patent this? :P

Never E-vote (1)

FreeBooteR01 (1752646) | more than 4 years ago | (#31429574)

Even with GNU/Linux. I prefer the old paper method, it leaves physical proof that can be recounted. Just take a look at what has been happening in the US and realize bought and paid corporations will rig the vote in favor of the highest bidder.
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