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Public Clearinghouse Proposed For Evoting Failures

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the colllecting-the-mistakes dept.

United States 114

Hugh Pickens writes "Alice Lipowicz writes in Federal Computer Week that Lawrence Norden, senior counsel to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, has reviewed hundreds of reports of problems with electronic voting systems during the last eight years. He is recommending a new regulatory system with a national database, accessible by election officials and others, that identifies voting system malfunctions reported by vendors or election officials and new legislation that requires vendors report evoting failures to the clearinghouse. 'We need a new and better regulatory structure to ensure that voting system defects are caught early, officials in affected jurisdictions are notified immediately, and action is taken to make certain that they will be corrected for all such systems, wherever they are used in the United States,' writes Norden. Adding that election officials rely on vendors to keep them aware of potential problems with voting machines, which is often done voluntarily and that voting system failures in one jurisdiction tend to be repeated in other areas, resulting in reduced public confidence and lost votes."

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114 comments

How is a Diebold machine like a Pakistani citizen? (5, Interesting)

symbolset (646467) | more than 3 years ago | (#33596280)

They don't get to vote in America, and we shouldn't let them count the votes either.

Look, I'm an IT guy. I completely get the labor savings, the fallibility of humans, the difference in cost. We ought to be willing to pay the cost for humans to count our votes - if it costs more, maybe we'll let less stupid stuff on the ballot, or vote less than every few months. I get that when people want to cheat, a way can often be found - though most vote-counting setups have multiple interested parties to limit the cheating. I get that the average American voter is mindless cattle whose vote can be bought with sufficient advertising. But still, I'd rather that people tried to get their cheating past other suspicious-minded people than that machines introduced the opportunity to rig elections wholesale in advance and without a trace.

In the mean time until the machines are granted the right to vote, they've got no business counting the vote.

As for the rest of it, well I believe it's been described as the worst system for managing society - except for all the others that have been tried. It's mostly working.

Did Obama vote for himself? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33596358)

Seeing as he is not American?

Re:How is a Diebold machine like a Pakistani citiz (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33596426)

Diebold does not like your attitude. Their corporate shills have reported you to the DHS, who will put you on a terrorist watch list.

Your big mouth is a threat to national security. Enjoy being gang-stalked, prole. We have cameras in your bathroom.

-- signed, a thug who gets paid 37 grand a year plus free housing to troll nonviolents into, well, violence...tee-hee!.

-- also signed, the FBI. Man, we love watching hard-working Americans being laid off as we pay thugs to fatten our salaries!

I would vote for this clearing house but (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33596622)

somehow I don't think my vote would get counted :p

Re:How is a Diebold machine like a Pakistani citiz (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33597766)

See, but academia has fairly solid proposals for machines that DO leave traces and that DO let voters verify votes. Better anonymity and transparency than now at a ballot box. Its just that somehow only shoddy adaptations of pure banking-type of systems (which only give a sysadmin or even only the creator's company some real insight into what's going on, not voters) are being employed.

In reality, academia thinks (and I think) that electronic voting machines could be quite strongly accountable, with better anonymity as well as transparency than current paper-based voting.

Re:How is a Diebold machine like a Pakistani citiz (3, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 3 years ago | (#33598614)

but academia has fairly solid proposals for machines that DO leave traces and that DO let voters verify votes.

Even so, I'm with the First Poster. He's got it exactly right. We can let machines do the counting if and when the machines are smart enough to vote and to care about those votes, presuming we're still engaged in pretending to stick to our constitutionally based, vague semblance of a democratic republic. Until then, machines that control vote counting are potentially proxies for corporations. No more, no less. And that is extraordinarily dangerous.

In the meantime, the system is absolutely corrupt from the top down, and introducing new mechanisms that may or may not allow wholesale election buying are a bad idea, because what is here now -- that is, people doing the counting -- is extremely difficult to corrupt all at once. It's probably the only thing in the entire process that works half-decently on a reliable basis. And yes, we can wait a few hours or even day for results if we have to. There's no actual need for a McDonalds/FedEx mentality about the vote. It isn't like the elected must start work on the very next day.

What we need (since I'm on my soapbox) is to stop regarding corporations as "persons", and forbid them from coming anywhere near a lawmaker or a political party or an election with money, opinion, gifts, or offers of employment before, during or after their elected term. Under penalty of having the executives hung. Corporations are not people. At best, they are sociopaths. Dangerous, without any concern for actual humans, and with goals that have no natural connection with the best interests of humans except at the executive levels. As demonstrated by such things as nine million dollar salaries. And higher.

The original idea of the constitution was, here we make the federal government, which we strip of most powers, not in ignorance that it will make things difficult for the government, but because it will make things difficult for them.

First, we should get back to that, and stop accepting the government's complaint that is "has to do something despite the constitution, because it needs to (if it really needs to, there is article five, ready and waiting... we will decide, not them, if it's really required.)

Second, we should apply the same general idea to corporations. These entities, when medium sized or larger, by their very nature, can collect more power in a day than most citizens will in their entire lifetime under the current setup. That's a really, really bad thing. Putting them in control of the voting process -- that's a REALLY really really bad thing. And that's what voting machines do. So lets not go there.

Re:How is a Diebold machine like a Pakistani citiz (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600106)

What we need (since I'm on my soapbox) is to stop regarding corporations as "persons", and forbid them from coming anywhere near a lawmaker or a political party or an election with money, opinion, gifts, or offers of employment before, during or after their elected term.

I agree with you on everything save opinion -- citizens who band together for a common cause (think: the ACLU, the Sierra Club, the NRA, etc.) under the guise of a corporation can not be muzzled if the 1st amendment is to mean anything.

Putting them in control of the voting process -- that's a REALLY really really bad thing. And that's what voting machines do.

No they don't. It's up to your state board of elections to set the specifications for their voting equipment when they request bids on such equipment. If those specifications leave room for manipulation than your grievance is with your state government, not the corporation(s) that responded to said bid. My state (New York) relies on machines to tabulate the vote but the paper ballots are retained and available for review. A certain number of districts are randomly audited to ensure that the machine count is accurate. What is wrong with this type of system?

Re:How is a Diebold machine like a Pakistani citiz (1)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600918)

IMHO we were better-off with the old scantrons (mark your machine-readable ballot with a pen).

It has the advantages of electronic voting (fast, easy counting) plus the security of thousands of pounds of paper (hard to rig).

Re:How is a Diebold machine like a Pakistani citiz (1)

I_M_Noman (653982) | more than 3 years ago | (#33601338)

IMHO we were better-off with the old scantrons (mark your machine-readable ballot with a pen).

It has the advantages of electronic voting (fast, easy counting) plus the security of thousands of pounds of paper (hard to rig).

We just implemented this in New York State with this week's primary elections. To call it a disaster would be an understatement. No privacy (reports of poll workers seeing how people marked their ballots and commenting "Well, there's another one for Schneiderman!"); confusing ballots (why weren't the incumbents listed first?, type so small that each ballot marking station had a magnifying glass as standard equipment); poorly-trained poll workers who didn't know who made the scanning machines, how to set them up, or whether the ballots should be fed in face up, face down, head-in, or tail-in (actually any of the above is supposed to work) -- thank goodness this was only a really-poorly-attended primary and not something like a Presidential election. Bring back my trusty old mechanical lever machine!

Re:How is a Diebold machine like a Pakistani citiz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33601598)

...

What we need (since I'm on my soapbox) is to stop regarding corporations as "persons", and forbid them from coming anywhere near a lawmaker or a political party or an election with money, opinion, gifts, or offers of employment before, during or after their elected term. Under penalty of having the executives hung. Corporations are not people. At best, they are sociopaths. Dangerous, without any concern for actual humans, and with goals that have no natural connection with the best interests of humans except at the executive levels. As demonstrated by such things as nine million dollar salaries. And higher.

...

I agree with pretty much everything but would add, in accord with corporations not being people, they should not be allowed to own intellectual property, or possibly not any property at all.

Re:How is a Diebold machine like a Pakistani citiz (3, Insightful)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#33598008)

As for the rest of it, well I believe it's been described as the worst system for managing society - except for all the others that have been tried. It's mostly working.

I believe Winston Churchill said that with regards to democracy. Here in the US, we have a limited representative republic, not democracy.

A few key differences:
(a) No direct representation, but voting for an electorate who in turn votes for who goes to office.
(b) A dictator with the power to veto the will of the people.
(c) A third of the government (the supreme court) isn't elected, but appointed. And sits for life too.
(d) Disenfranchisement is allowed and common. Not only felons lose their right to vote, but in many cases unconvicted suspects and vagabonds are prevented from voting.
(e) Only pre-planned voting is allowed. You have to register to vote.
(f) No de-facto freedom of who to vote for. You're generally barred from voting in more than one primary election, and the two-party system doesn't give a lot of real choice.

It would be nice if we tried democracy here in the US. One man, one vote, without any "unless" clauses and hoops designed to keep the powers that be in power.

Re:How is a Diebold machine like a Pakistani citiz (3, Interesting)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#33598692)

I'd like to see a true representative democracy. The Senate and House votes a bill up and the President signs it, but it doesn't become law without referendum. Laws would be voted on annually by the people, and would take a 2/3rds majority to pass. Laws against activities like murder, rape, robbery, etc. would have no trouble passing, while they'd have a harder time passing laws against things like smoking pot and playing poker at home with your friends.

As to "(b) a dictator with the power to veto the will of the people," that's not accurate. The veto can be overridden.
For (c) A third of the government (the supreme court) isn't elected, but appointed." But they have no power to pass laws, only to judge the legality of those laws. Many if not most local judges, where the majority of suspects are tried, are elected.

The "two party system" is a myth (call it a conspiracy if you like) perpetrated by the corporate media and the Democrats and Republicans they own. There were six candidates for President on my ballot in the last election, and all were on the ballot in enough states to have a mathematical chance of winning, had anyone heard of them. The corporate media won't cover them and perpetrates the lie that a vote for a "third party candidate" is a wasted vote.

"Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain."

Re:How is a Diebold machine like a Pakistani citiz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33600898)

I'd like to see a true representative democracy. The Senate and House votes a bill up and the President signs it, but it doesn't become law without referendum. Laws would be voted on annually by the people, and would take a 2/3rds majority to pass.

Yeah, I can see it would be a good system to let a load of uneducated retards whose main intellectual nourishment is American Idol vote on things of which they have only been educated, if at all, through the popular media. People who have sought no expert advice on the technicalities of all of the several hundred laws that are passed each year.

I'm not saying the politicos listen to the advice they receive or are any better for being in the pockets of Big Business, but do you honestly believe America could govern itself? Seriously? Every law?

Re:How is a Diebold machine like a Pakistani citiz (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600158)

No direct representation, but voting for an electorate who in turn votes for who goes to office.

It's called the House of Representatives for a reason....

A dictator with the power to veto the will of the people.

Huh?

A third of the government (the supreme court) isn't elected, but appointed.

Thank the gods for that....

but in many cases unconvicted suspects

Citation needed.

and vagabonds are prevented from voting

In what state?

Only pre-planned voting is allowed. You have to register to vote.

What's wrong with that?

No de-facto freedom of who to vote for. You're generally barred from voting in more than one primary election, and the two-party system doesn't give a lot of real choice.

There is no "two-party system". You are free to vote for any third party candidate that you want.

Re:How is a Diebold machine like a Pakistani citiz (2, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#33598398)

We ought to be willing to pay the cost for humans to count our votes - if it costs more, maybe we'll let less stupid stuff on the ballot, or vote less than every few months.

It depends on the system. By your reckoning we should do away with computers in business and government altogether, and go back to filing paper in cabinets.

Here in Illinois we may have the world's most corrupt politicians. Our last Governor was convicted of a felony and the jury deadlocked on 12 other felony counts that will be retried next year while he appeals the conviction. The Governor before him is in Federal prison right now for bribery. In Chicago they have a saying; "vote early, vote often." In Illinois we're so patriotic that being dead doesn't keep us away from the polls.

Despite (or maybe because of) this, our voting machines spit out a paper trail, which is put in an old fashioned ballot box. If there are any questions, the votes can be retabulated by hand. So here at least, it would be as hard to rig elections wholesale and incredibly hard to do it without a trace; as hard or harder than pre-computer times.

Like any IT endeavor, procedures are more important than hardware and software. I agree with you about most states, who have no paper for humans to count. IMO that's just plain stupid.

Re:How is a Diebold machine like a Pakistani citiz (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 3 years ago | (#33601220)

A friend of mine has parents that run an "Evil collections agency." They DO keep paper records, despite most collections and debt agencies keeping digital-only ones.

An interesting fact is that paper records are not destroyed by a filesystem malfunction; just momentarily misplaced. They have actually had larger agencies ask for copies of their paper files when the larger agency's data has been lost or damaged by technical malfunctions or disasters, on several occasions. (Debt collectors also share information on debtors to help in the collection of debts. If you have a debt in one township, and create another debt in another, the two collections agencies can collaborate, based on seeing the debts posted on your credit report to get information about where you live, your list of active phone numbers, etc. They cannot share it without an active debt in collections though.)

The basic crux of the argument is that it is hard to get a computer to modify paper-only documents without being uniquely visible as a process. (A simple shell-script can "Bulk-process" digital files. Not so with paper ones.) Also, people that keep paper documents provide a valuable service to their digitized peers.

I would very much like to see a "paper ballot" warehouse that keeps the paper versions of ballots, and uses this cache for evaluating prior elections post-hoc, and as a raw data collection for evaluating and designing new ballot strategies. Like all public knowledge institutions, it should be a transparent agency. Ideally, it should keep them for at least 2 decades, and perhaps longer.

Re:How is a Diebold machine like a Pakistani citiz (3, Informative)

fruviad (5032) | more than 3 years ago | (#33598674)

I used to be a deputy director at a board of elections in Ohio. The county used Diebold machines.

These systems are drastically more expensive than the older method of voting; there is absolutely no cost savings, whatsoever. It is not uncommon for poll workers to break the systems because of their ignorance or carelessness in working with the hardware. A broken Diebold voting system is VERY expensive to correct. The old systems? Cheap as dirt and easy to replace.

The likelihood of a major problem is far greater with the Diebold systems than with the older stuff. Trying to get octagenarian poll workers to successfully use hardware that they've used only a few times ever, and with little training 6 weeks prior to the election? Yah...good luck with that.

And uniformity across counties using the hardware? Hah! In the county where I worked, one single individual wrote software to "assist" in tallying the votes. I have no idea what the software did because he refused to document the software, and he refused to comment his code EVER. After he left the office he CONTINUED TO UPDATE THE SOFTWARE. I tried to figure out what it was doing by staring at the code, but that's tough when the code changes every day and the author refuses to explain even the broad outlines of how it works.

I could go on and on...but you get the idea.

Re:How is a Diebold machine like a Pakistani citiz (1)

hellop2 (1271166) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600038)

If your "Tallying" software was more than a case statement, you were being scammed.

Re:How is a Diebold machine like a Pakistani citiz (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33599232)

Rather than electronic voting vs paper ballot, I suggest brick voting: chisel your selection onto a brick. Makes it very clear who you voted for.

Also, imagine the difficulty of sneaking in a large quantity of forged ballot-bricks, or making any significant quantity of ballot-bricks disappear.

No More Bush (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33596378)

Let's all just remember that the last time someone stole the Presidency, George W Bush stole the election thanks to his brother Jeb Bush, and Florida's secretary of state Cruella Deville.

I think we all know how that went...

W - Worst President Ever

R - Retards voter Republican

P - Please stop voting for retards.

For a minute there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33596414)

Am I the only one that read that as "Publisher's Clearinghouse" Proposed For Evoting Failures?

Re:For a minute there... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33596928)

No, you really aren't. It made a whole helluva lot more sense then too :)

eVoting is a scam (4, Insightful)

rsborg (111459) | more than 3 years ago | (#33596436)

Aside from the pure things that can go wrong aspect, there is the fact that requiring independent counting of votes at the local level increases participation in our democracy.

Of course the ruling class (wealthy and political dynasties) wants to sabotage that exactly because it benefits them directly.

Personally, I believe we should have a national holiday for big vote days so we can celebrate the most important function of a citizen in a democracy.

Re:eVoting is a scam (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33596642)

"Personally, I believe we should have a national holiday for big vote days so we can celebrate the most important function of a citizen in a democracy."

You mean, paying for corporate welfare? That's done every April 15th. Oh, you meant in ACTUAL democracies, huh?

Or the US could just use a paper and pencil (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33596468)

It seems a paper and pencil work just fine for Canada, and would be a lot cheaper than electronic voting, a clearninghouse, committees to oversee this crap, etc.

The companies making voting machines sure did cash in on the failure of the Florida paper/punch ballot.

Re:Or the US could just use a paper and pencil (1)

gslavik (1015381) | more than 3 years ago | (#33596626)

Scantron ...

When I was in high school (and junior high school). We took these multiple guess tests (as my physics teacher called them), which used a #2 pencil and were checked using a machine the size of an HP Laserjet 1020 (6" by 6" by 12" thereabout). Why not use the similar technology? Or just give a big screen (24" with all the pictures of the candidates) with a touch screen element and let voters poke the candidate they like. Then give them a review screen at the end with names. ??? profit?

Re:Or the US could just use a paper and pencil (1)

AltairDusk (1757788) | more than 3 years ago | (#33598604)

The scantron approach didn't work out so well for NYC recently. [nytimes.com]

Re:Or the US could just use a paper and pencil (2, Informative)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600236)

I'm a poll worker in New York State and familiar with our system. To address a two of the points in that article:

Some polling sites did not receive the optical scanners needed to read paper ballots by 6 a.m., when voting was supposed to begin.

This is a logistical problem, not an indictment of the new voting technology. Any technology (including pen and paper) is rendered moot if the people in charge of it can't get it deployed on time.

At other polling places, the scanners failed to operate properly when they were switched on, forcing voters to wait while election workers struggled to get the devices going.

The poll workers were not properly trained. We have emergency (pen and paper) ballots on hand for this contingency. If they couldn't get their machines running for whatever reason they should have started issuing these ballots as soon as the polls opened. There is no excuse for requiring a voter to wait. This is a human capital problem and one that can only be addressed by recruiting better people to serve as poll workers. Have you considered volunteering to be one?

Re:Or the US could just use a paper and pencil (1)

AltairDusk (1757788) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600462)

I only saw it in the papers, I live in NJ so I did not experience it firsthand. I find it very interesting to get the point of view from someone who was there, I noticed a few articles mentioned training but most of the information I could find implied issues with the optical scanning.

I do find it curious they went with that method as opposed to a touchscreen solution that would maintain printed record of votes as well (something similar to a cash register ticker tape). Seems like that would cause less problems and confusion so long as the interface was intuitive.

Re:Or the US could just use a paper and pencil (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600548)

I could find implied issues with the optical scanning.

We had issues at my polling place upstate -- the geniuses with the county board of elections gave us the wrong security keys for the tabulators and we couldn't turn them on -- but we just switched to our emergency ballot procedure until they were able to get us the right keys. It was no big deal.

The emergency ballots are the same as the regular ballots, they just get dropped into a separate locked compartment in the machine instead of being scanned. Once the machine is functional again the poll workers feed those ballots into the scanner for tabulation.

Re:Or the US could just use a paper and pencil (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 3 years ago | (#33597566)

Yeah, but if you want Americans to count their votes by hand like in Canada, then you got to start by fixing their public school system so that the people can actually count and then wait 60 years for them to get into the old age homes so they can be used to do the counting, so the next election could only be in 2070. I think that they would be rather tired of Obama by then...

Plus 5, Troll) (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33596568)

Cans can become are about 7000/5 Of the founders of Mistake of electing An operating system

What do you mean Evoting/evoting ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33596588)

Its e-voting if its anything, learn to e-mmunicate

In other words (1)

Aggrav8d (683620) | more than 3 years ago | (#33596602)

What we need to keep doing isn't reject an overly complicated electrical solution that's proven to be a technological dead-end. Instead we need to throw good money after bad and complicate the system even more. More paperwork will solve the problem!

threat (0)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 3 years ago | (#33596608)

Electronic voting is probably the biggest threat to democracy looming in the USA right now.

Re:threat (1, Insightful)

EvolutionsPeak (913411) | more than 3 years ago | (#33596636)

I'd say apathy and ignorance are much bigger threats to democracy in the USA right now.

Re:threat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33596656)

U sure it's not Sarah Palin?

Just sayin

Re:threat (1)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 3 years ago | (#33596676)

Ever heard of sarcasm?

Re:threat (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 3 years ago | (#33596836)

Who's being sarcastic? Electronic voting threatens the very basis of democracy: voting.

Re:threat (2, Interesting)

ImNotAtWork (1375933) | more than 3 years ago | (#33597908)

No it doesn't Electronic Voting with out a paper trail does. In my district we have electronic voting machines that spit out a paper ballet you then verify your vote and then walk over to the ballot box and place your paper trail ballet box. If it fails you contact one of the people that assist and start the process of finding out what is wrong.

Re:threat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33598344)

Exactly what the fuck do you think electronic voting is being used to eliminate? Paper trail. DERP DERP.

Re:threat (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#33598444)

Do, they count the paper ballots? or the electronic one? If they count only the electronic one, how do you know there is any relationship between the paper ballots and the electronic ballots? If they count both, what have we gained?

Re:threat (1)

wierd_w (1375923) | more than 3 years ago | (#33601480)

If you use the computerized voting system to generate the paper ballot, then you gain the ability to have a truly uniform ballot form that can be quickly mechanically sorted and counted, as well as easily manually sorted and counted.

Think something like printing a 2D barcode in the top right corner of the form (containing the digital ballot), and the rest of the form containing the paper ballot data. Throw in some physical differences based major election criteria (like president), such as a unique hole punched in a specific place of the ballot card, and you can readily use a light-beam sorting machine to sort the ballots, then verify sorting using a minimum wage volunteer associate. Humans are pretty good at thumbing through a stack of cards that are all supposed to have "this hole in this place", and put all the others in stack B.

You can then have triple redundancy in counting. the first automated tabulator reads the barcodes and produces a tally. The second one sorts the cards by the punch marks, and generates and tally, and the third utilizes humans to check the human-readable part, and produces a tally. A disparity between any of the tabulations would produce suspicions of voting fraud. The increased complexity of the counting and generation process would make orchestrating bulk voter fraud very difficult.

What is gained is the uniform ballot format, and possible redundancy; not the time invested to read/check both ballot signatures.

Re:threat (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#33603364)

I like your suggested system. It doesn't really have any of the advantages that are touted for electronic voting, but it does allow for easy checking of the accuracy of the ballot results in a manner that is as understandable to, and checkable by, the average voter as the ballot systems that were being used before the 2000 election. However, it is still a paper ballot system (which is fine by me).

Re:threat (1)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600650)

That isn't an 'electronic voting' machine, you idiot.

It's an 'electronic ballot printer'.

It's idiots like you defending 'electronic voting' and saying 'it can work okay if done right', that are the reason places like where I live are subject to such horribly broken electronic voting machines, because you've decided to apply the exact same terms to a totally broken system and a perfectly functional one, and the goddamn public doesn't know enough to make the difference.

We're complaining about lynching and you've decided to use the same term to describe a legal trial by jury, and saying 'lynching is okay if done right'.

Use the right fucking words or shut the fuck up and get the hell out of this discussion. I'm sick and tired of morons like you defending the unaccountable and treasonous systems like Diebold sell because you say "Oh, electronic voting can work, because I've decided to call 'assistance with filling out a ballot' by the term 'electronic voting', because I'm an idiot."

Re:threat (1)

ooshna (1654125) | more than 3 years ago | (#33598092)

If you've seen the state of journalism in America right now you'd understand that with how full of ignorance it is it pushes people to apathy. The closest thing to a fare and honest journalist we have is Jon Stewart and that says a lot, people can try to deny it but he is the only person I see that tells it how it is whether its the democrats or republicans screwing up.

Re:threat (0, Troll)

Dogbertius (1333565) | more than 3 years ago | (#33596648)

Electronic voting is probably the biggest threat to democracy looming in the USA right now.

Didn't Brazil manage to pull off an election with 128 million votes, and zero miscounts?

http://politics.slashdot.org/politics/08/10/07/0029224.shtml [slashdot.org]

I always thought that voting machines, in general, were designed to provide the illusion of democracy:
http://www.theonion.com/video/diebold-accidentally-leaks-results-of-2008-electio,14214/ [theonion.com]

Re:threat (5, Informative)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 3 years ago | (#33596872)

Didn't Brazil manage to pull off an election with 128 million votes, and zero miscounts?

No. They had an election and the people in charge of it claim there were no miscounts. The distinction is important.

With electronic voting machines, in the best of all possible circumstances (open source code) only a very small portion of the population is able to truly understand and verify it, and an even tinier portion of people are able to verify that the code that's available to the public is actually the code that is running on the machines when voters use them. The people who are in the position to verify that either A) have absolutely no idea how to do so, or B) are the people who would have installed the incorrect software in the first place.

If you make the machines output a physical copy of the vote which the voter then verifies then the situation is improved, but with a purely electronic voting system the entire thing is FUBAR.

Re:threat (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33597114)

There was an article+video around a year ago that showed how to change the results of a vote after it was printed by a voting machine.
The whole problem with verifying:
* If the voter can than change the vote on paper, then the machine can also do that after the person has left the booth.
* If the person cannot change the vote, then what do we do? Stop the election?

PLEASE STOP SUGGESTING AN ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINE THAT PRINTS THE VOTE ON PAPER.

Re:threat (1)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600148)

* If the person cannot change the vote, then what do we do? Stop the election?

Pretty much. If the user presses candidate A and the machine prints candidate B, the election honestly should be halted. There is no point continuing an election if votes are not actually being counted.

Anyway, an electronic machine that prints paper copies isn't a silver bullet, it just brings the machines up to the same level as the mechanical machines we currently use. The situation still isn't great, but it is a hell of a lot better.

Re:threat (1)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600912)

Erm, huh?

I don't know what video you're talking about, but voters can 'change their vote' using computer printed ballots the same way they can with with hand-printed ones:

They hand it back in, it gets marked in some manner as VOID and placed somewhere to be counted later, and they get another ballot.

In the case of computer printed ballots, the machine would presumably be reset to allow it to print another, just like for a new voter, although I like the idea of having voters physically carry blank ballots into the booth and stick them in the printer, instead of having a printer with the paper already in it.

This makes the system work exactly like normal voting, except with a computer instead of a pencil, and you have exactly the same, known, security issues. I.e., you protect the blank ballots, it doesn't matter what the hell the computer thinks is going on. it doesn't matter how you fake out the computer, you can't vote more than once. (Whereas if the computer is providing the paper, tricking the computer could let you print a dozen ballots to slip into the ballot box.)

All you really need to do, added security-wise, is add a forced ballot reset to the computer when people enter the booth, so that people can't vote, and then vote again 'halfway' in the hope that someone else comes in and continues that partial vote. I guess the easiest thing is to reset any partial ballots when someone puts in the ballot paper, and require people to do that when first entering the booth.

But all this talk about computer assisted ballots is getting us away from the issue of computer voting, and we really really really should not confuse those issues or pretend they are related at all. One is just a new way of filling out ballots and seems to be a good idea, allowing the least confusion about ballots plus letting the disabled vote easier, the other is a profoundly bad idea.

Why even bother? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33596632)

Evoting is a solution in search of a problem. There's no compelling reason not to use paper ballots.

Re:Why even bother? (2, Informative)

cappp (1822388) | more than 3 years ago | (#33596784)

Cost. That's most likely the driving force. It's hard to find accurate numbers on a federal level but I stumbled across, what I think is, small town [maysville-online.com] coverage of a local special election which included some data:

The Senate election cost Lewis County approximately $22,000

State regulations require each precinct to have at least four workers on election day. Workers in Lewis County receive $115 for their work, including mileage and training costs, according to Lewis County Clerk Glenda Himes. That salary varies from county to county. The state mandates a minimum pay of a $60 salary for election workers. In addition to the four required workers per precinct, two additional people work in Lewis County's Tollesboro precinct because it is the largest precinct in the county, according to Himes. That adds up to approximately $6,670 just to pay workers the day of the election in Lewis County. Carter County is required to have 92 workers for its 23 precincts but also hires a few extras. Each worker receives $25 for attending the mandatory training session as well as $125 for working election day, totaling $150 per worker. That's a minimum cost of $13,800 for the county.

Now apply those kinds of figures on a larger scale - perhaps to NY or even on the federal level. Being able to cut the staff requirements in half by using computers is a tempting goal for cash-strapped areas. Throw in an obsession with the appearance of relevence, a need to differentiate the current administration from those previous, the desire to appear at the front of the technological wave, a lack of transparency from the involved companies, budgetary pressure, and some genuine well-meaners and you have your reason right there.

In Canada the cost of their 2004 election included [www.cbc.ca]

Election delivery activities, including fees to election workers and poll officials, printing lists of electors, and renting offices of returning officers and polling sites:$108 million

. Then you've got the expensive of printing the ballots, packaging, delivery, counting...it adds up.

Re:Why even bother? (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#33598158)

Cost. That's most likely the driving force.

What's the cost of the actual voting system compared to the money spent on campaigns in front of an election?

Make a, say, 10% "campaign tax" that goes to the voting district of the representative. To offset popular districts being able to hoard money, any funds not used within the next election period gets redistributed evenly between all voting areas.
That should pay for a lot of vote counters, guards and statisticians, I would think.

Of course, some of the districts would presumably blow the money on voting machines unless we outright ban them...

My main issue with computerized voting is that it is a slippery slope. You easily go from voting machines to voting receipts or e-voting, and then you have opened the election system to vote buying and coercion.

Re:Why even bother? (2, Insightful)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 3 years ago | (#33601222)

And how the fuck does buying computers, which have to be replaced every decade or so, and require more training and more people, save any money?

All that stuff you listed has to be done anyway. You still need polling sites, you still need election workers, you still need all that.

And then you need computers and servers. The county you mentioned has 23 precincts, so pretending that each voting machine was $1000 (Which is absurdly low), they'd cost more than then the entire rest of the election if each precinct only bought one.

Which is not how it works. Each precinct, I know from experience, has at least two. I vote in a totally empty precinct in Georgia and mine has two. And they cost closer to $3000. Which is $144,000.

Pretending they had no other costs themselves (Which is idiotic, at minimum you have more training, and the cost of programming the machines), and removed all other costs of the election. (We'll do it outside, in the open air, with no staff.), they'd pay off in 6.5 elections, which is right about the time they'd break and need replacing.

In reality, you can save, at most, half the current cost of running an election...you still need locations, you still need roughly the same amount of staff, you still have to figure out the ballots. So it takes 13 years or so to pay off, and even that's somewhat idealized.

No place has ever saved any money by electronic voting.

Inexpensive new gov't agency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33596664)

Many (most?) of these systems run atop Windows. And this new government agency is gonna monitor problems REPORTED by [M$]. Proof positive that a government agency can operate with a budget of zero dollars.

i voted in the new york primaries (3, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#33596672)

with the fill in the oval, scan it system. it worked ok. at least it has a paper trail, and that's all you can ask for

it is superior in that respect to the mechanical voting machines they replaced: mechanical black box has less attack vectors that electronic black box, yes, but mechanical black box has more attack vectors than paper trail. yes, you can cheat in any voting system, but a massive conspiracy of ballot stuffers, drivers losing boxes of ballots, etc.: this can be replaced with a much smaller group of well-placed corrupt bureaucrats to manipulate mechanical voting, and with electronic, one well-placed hacker and a few milliseconds can alter the vote in ways that even statistical analysis can't reveal the manipulations

the lesson being: if your voting system is a black box: votes in, elected representative sausage out, people won't trust the vote. they need something tangible, something they can trust and understand, in their hands, which only a paper ballot is. the most advanced technophilic society 100 years form now should still be using paper, for the sake of legitimacy of the government in the eyes of its people

it's just too easy to hack a machine, and once you place doubt in the legitimacy of your elected officials, democracy itself is in trouble. we have enough angry idiots running around the usa today in the form of the tea party mumbling about "secret muslims." all we need is even the slightest perception of election machine untrustability, and the social unrest will be considerable. the reality or lack thereof of genuine hacking events isn't even the issue: PERCEPTION is the issue. enough people don't have faith in their government as it is, don't give them more reason to spin their paranoid schizophrenic fantasies and rabble rousing hysteria. because they will do it. and idiots will believe it

Re:i voted in the new york primaries (1, Insightful)

tfiedler (732589) | more than 3 years ago | (#33596774)

I've always "placed doubt in the legitimacy of your[my] elected officials"

They're all almost always liars, cheats, hypocrites, scammers, lawyers (evil onpar with pedophiles), or general scum. I don't trust any system where the representation is from a ruling elite, made up of monied families and friends, bought and paid by corporations and unions. Personally, anyone that places any trust in the current system is delusional.

eVoting is just another scam foisted on America that will result in less representative democracy. Any politician in favor of it should be summarily executed.

distrust (2, Informative)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#33596850)

there is trusting too much in this world: a sort of gullibility to someone because you look too much at certain shallow easily manipulated signifiers of what a trustworthy person should be (like: wear a suit)

then there is genuine trust or genuine distrust coming from someone with a competent intelligence: a wise wariness, an awareness of what you lack in knowledge of a person, an emphasis on looking at what they say and what they have done in the past: sound judgment leading to an appropriate trust level

then there is this sort of pathological distrust, the mirror image of gullibility. where even those who are good people are cast in doubt, due to blanket statements about things you don't know, prejudice, mindless negativity, and a dim perceptive ability. all of which are on display in your comment above

there are people in this world who trust too easily, and there are people who trust too hard. both of which being character failures due to psychological imbalance and/ or intelligence defect. you are such a person

Re:distrust (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33596934)

Every once in a while -- like, a handful of times a year -- I see this brilliant post on /.. And then I look at the name, and half of the time it's from you. You'd think I would learn to recognize you from your trademark horrible grammar!

Re:i voted in the new york primaries (1)

Wizard Drongo (712526) | more than 3 years ago | (#33597124)

That's not doubt in the legitimacy of your elected officials. They could be complete out-and-out vermin, but if the people fairly elected them, so be it. That's the danger of democracythe people can speak, but you don't know what they're going to say.

On the other hand, a candidate might win who is everything you could want in a representative; smart, kind, engaging, dedicated, filled with a zeal to make things better etc. and yet be completely illegitimate because the voting system used was riddled with holes and got hacked by someone who didn't like the opposition. Worst of all, if the "decent guy" candidate finds that out, they'll step down. If you get some shitbag instead who finds out their election is dubious, they'll start covering that fact up, so in a dodgy system, you're more likely to get assholes than decent reps.

Party nominations etc. may mostly be in the gift of the political elite, with dodgy deals and all sorts occurring, but the actual vote in most parts of the US is fair, the people really do elect Moron 1 or Moron 2. That's nothing to do with the vote being fair. That's the fault of a third party in the US not doing enough to convince people to vote for them.

At the end of the day, the biggest problem American democracy has is the same problem we have in Scotland (where the Labour party could pin a red rosette to a dogshit and it'll be elected) or France, England, Germany etc. and that is that people are allowed to vote, and sometimes the dumb sheep-like bastards do just that.

Re:i voted in the new york primaries (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600430)

eVoting is just another scam foisted on America that will result in less representative democracy. Any politician in favor of it should be summarily executed.

I like how you bemoan the perceived loss of our democracy while simultaneously advocating for the violation of the 5th, 6th and 8th amendments......

Re:i voted in the new york primaries (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33597820)

No. You cannot as easily deceive people if your electronic voting system is monitorable and verifiable. You can, for instance, disclose the collected but anonymized votes. You can make it so that people can verify that their own vote is in there WITHOUT making it possible for anyone else to guess whose is whose vote. You can verify the total count adds up, and you could establish voter eligibility in a variety of ways. Votes could be sent to two or more independently run counting institutions/machines, and the e-voting source code should be disclosed.
 
  All of this and more is actually possible in electronic voting systems. The point is, you can have BETTER accountability and insight and LESS attack options than is possible with paper-based voting, as long as you don't ignorantly design systems to not allow for such.
 

you're an idiot (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#33598424)

the only way you are not an idiot is if you work for an electronic voting machine manufacturer and are therefore hopefully compromised

look, it's very simple: the more complicated a machine or a process, the more the attack vectors. understand that, or understand nothing

take a ballot box stuffed with papers. list the ways you can manipulate it

take a mechanical voting machine. list the ways you can manipulate it

take an electronic voting machine. list the ways you can attack it

if there are 10 good ways to attack the paper ballots, there are 100 good ways to attack mechanical voting machines, and there are 1,000 good ways to attack the electronic voting machines. understand? more complicated = more attack vectors. its that simple, really. and voting just isn't that complicated a process that improves if unnecessarily mechanized for some reason

in some arenas of life, such as voting in a democracy, technophilicity, loving and embracing new technology, is not a merit, its a danger. that really is the truth

if the people view their voting process as a black box they don't understand and don't trust, this will color the legitimacy of the government in the eyes of the people. its that simple. show me all of the encryption and verification processes you want. its gobblity gook. show me a paper ballot. i can touch, feel it, trust it. this is the only way a democracy should ever function, 200 years ago or 200 years in the future: paper. end of debate

Re:i voted in the new york primaries (1)

timholman (71886) | more than 3 years ago | (#33598784)

with the fill in the oval, scan it system. it worked ok. at least it has a paper trail, and that's all you can ask for

And what happens when the numbers of votes separating the candidates falls with the margin of spoiled ballots? Sure, filling in an oval seems simple enough, but a certain percentage of voters can't manage it.

I can tell you exactly what happens - both sides start fighting over how to interpret and count the spoiled ballots, leading to gridlock and accusations of cheating and vote tampering. I know it will happen, because that exact situation happened in Florida during the 2000 election, leading to the adoption of electronic voting machines in the first place.

Too many people seem to have forgotten this history, or maybe too many Slashdotters are too young to remember it. There's a reason for the switchover to electronic voting, and it's to avoid the inevitable spoiled paper ballot margin of error, and know precisely what every voter intended. Is electronic voting perfect? By no means, but it can most certainly be fixed, and made secure, traceable, and verifiable. Let's not throw out the baby with the bathwater.

you're talking about chads, not ovals (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#33599362)

and you accuse me of not remembering?

furthermore, for the sake of argument, i grant you complete acknowledgment of every concern you have just raised with the gore-bush florida fiasco of 2000...

and electronic voting is STILL worse and more delegitimizing for democracy. really

think about it: with a black box electronic voting process, voted go in, legislator sausage comes out. what happens in between?

at least with a hanging chad, you can look at the damn hanging chad and try to interpret intent. bt with electronic voting no one really knows what happens inside except some government bureaucrats who aren't paid enough. and we're supposed to trust that? really?

paper now. paper forever: you can TRUST paper. without trust in the voting process, there is no democracy. and electronic voting is inherently opaque, unnecessarily complex thereby exposing myriad of attack vectors, and therefore essentially untrustworthy

Re:you're talking about chads, not ovals (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600636)

There is another problem with paper - it is slow. Al Gore was announced as the winner in 2000 by CBS long before Florida was done counting.

What do you think the result would be in 2012 if Obama was announced as the winner at midnight and then at 2:00 AM the real results were in an Sarah Palin was then announced as the winner? With all the newspapers saying Obama won but the TV news in the morning saying Palin won. There would be rioting and people killed.

I know for a fact that the first Obamite that got in my face would be bruised. And a lot of those people can't help but getting in your face, it is who they are.

So, how do you think this problem should be handled, considering the 1st Amendment pretty much lets the TV news make up anything they want if there are no official results?

so you say the choice is (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600954)

1. speeding things up and destroying the perception of trust in the voting process
2. slowing things down, but garnering trust amongst the voters

i would rather the vote take 3 months myself. because i think i have my priorities in order a hell of a lot better than you do

"I know for a fact that the first Obamite that got in my face would be bruised. And a lot of those people can't help but getting in your face, it is who they are."

well you know, the tea party has a reputation as a bunch of angry hysterical thugs. which is a shame because there are genuine grievances in what they stand for. unfortunately, words like yours simply means the thuggishness is real with threats of physical force. so even though i'm not a tea party fan and am glad to see their name and character besmirched by the likes of you from the inside, i'll still say a big "fuck you" to you for helping to destroy the civility of the political landscape in this country by being a testosterone-addled asshole

Re:i voted in the new york primaries (1)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 3 years ago | (#33601444)

The way to get rid of that is to have a computer print the ballot.

Which is not 'electronic voting'. Do not confuse them. Saying 'electronic voting is okay if we print ballots' means people just hear the first four words, and then get reassured that actual electronic voting is 'safe'.

That is not eletronic voting, anymore than paper voting is called 'pencil voting', or scantron voting is 'pencil voting'. You don't refer to it by what makes the marks, you refer to the ballot.

It's paper voting. The ballot is paper. You can look at it, make sure it says what you want. We can even maintain control over the unprinted paper ballots for security, which is as circletimessquare points out we already have experience with. All we added is a fancy printer so people don't make hard-to-read marks.

With OCRable fonts, we could even run the ballots through a computer to get a quick tally, although they should also be hand counted.

Re:i voted in the new york primaries (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600394)

it is superior in that respect to the mechanical voting machines they replaced

I would dispute this. The old lever machines were far more intuitive. They would physically not allow you to overvote -- you could not pull down multiple levers for the same position. The new system does nothing to prevent you from corrupting your ballot. The machine will catch said corruption and offer you the chance to get another ballot but I regard that as inferior to the previous system and a huge waste of resources (we had 800 ballots on hand for the primary this Tuesday and only used 120 of them....)

this can be replaced with a much smaller group of well-placed corrupt bureaucrats to manipulate mechanical voting

Except in the case of New York those "well-placed bureaucrats" come from each major political party and have no interest in working together to rig an election. There are multiple layers of checks and balances in place to prevent such rigging:

1) Custodians program and zero the machines, one from each political party.
2) Elections employees verify said programming and zeroing, one from each political party. The machines are then sealed with numbered seals.
3) Poll workers re-verify the programming and zeroing of the machine when they break the seals on the machine to open the polls. We also verify the numbered seals against our paperwork and operate under the same "two-man rule" as the elections commissioners and custodians.

It would be extremely difficult to co-opt all of these people into rigging an election.

Is it just me? (0, Redundant)

TheLongshot (919014) | more than 3 years ago | (#33596692)

Am I the only one who read the title as "Publisher's Clearinghouse Proposed For Evoting Failures"? I was wondering how Ed McMahon was going to be involved with it...

Re:Is it just me? (1)

DavidTC (10147) | more than 3 years ago | (#33601758)

YOU MIGHT ALREADY BE A WINNER!*

*If you filed your intent to run by the August 10th to your state's election board. No purchase necessary.

next step (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33596762)

Allow me to sign into vote.gov with a government-provided Ubuntu/Chrome LiveCD for that election, my SSN, and a strong password for voting over https.

Just make everyone make a key when they register (1)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 3 years ago | (#33596972)

I don't get it. Why don't we all just get a public rsa type key when we register, then use our private key to submit our votes, at either a public terminal or via the Internet from home?

Re:Just make everyone make a key when they registe (2, Insightful)

migla (1099771) | more than 3 years ago | (#33596994)

Being able to vote from home would open up the possibility for unscrupulous types with access to violence to force you to vote their way.

Re:Just make everyone make a key when they registe (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 3 years ago | (#33597738)

Right, because they can't do the same by holding your family hostage while you paper-vote. (And before you argue with this, what's to stop you from contacting the police after both situations are over?)

There's a billion ways to make that happen and it doesn't require voting at home to do so.

Re:Just make everyone make a key when they registe (1)

arth1 (260657) | more than 3 years ago | (#33598216)

Right, because they can't do the same by holding your family hostage while you paper-vote.

That's not "the same". If you hinder someone from voting, you get at most 1 vote (yours) for your preferred candidate. If you coerce someone to vote, you get their vote AND yours, at least 2 votes.

(And before you argue with this, what's to stop you from contacting the police after both situations are over?)

The same reason why harsher sentencing and other reactionary measures is not the answer to domestic violence and rape: The victim often (a) cares deeply for the abuser, and (b) doesn't trust a system that was unsuccessful at preventing this from happening in the first place to be successful at preventing reprisals.

Re:Just make everyone make a key when they registe (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#33598484)

Right, because they can't do the same by holding your family hostage while you paper-vote.

Because, if I go to the voting booth and vote with a paper ballot, they have no way to know how I voted. If I am voting over the Internet from my home computer they can look over my shoulder to see how I voted.

Re:Just make everyone make a key when they registe (1)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 3 years ago | (#33601854)

I really don't see this as being an issue... You'd have to go through so much effort to have any visible effect on the vote that it just wouldn't be worth it. Not to mention if you coerced enough people to actually have an influence on the vote, I really doubt you could keep it from leaking to the authorities. Somebody would talk.

too much "money" involved... (2, Insightful)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 3 years ago | (#33597044)

so it ain't gonna happen... the lobbyists will ensure it dies before ever getting debated...

solution without a problem (1)

DaveGod (703167) | more than 3 years ago | (#33597752)

I really don't see the point in these machines. In the UK votes are counted by volunteers, with quite basic fundamental (i.e. strong) overlapping controls. I fail to imagine an approach that could be any more secure, cheaper or better suited to audit.

Better yet it's obviously so. People can observe the entire process in motion, volunteer yourself and take part if you like. With an electronic system everyone's utterly reliant on controls implemented and only observable by other people who they don't know the names of and will never meet.

Sure it takes at least a day to get through it; almost certainly the day of the most interest and participation of the voting public. Between that and the volunteering, votes feel like they are conducted by the public (it also helps voting centres are usually community centres), not merely having one input to a government activity.

Why would anybody want a machine for a problem that is already optimally solved?

Re:solution without a problem (1)

Le Marteau (206396) | more than 3 years ago | (#33599386)

> I really don't see the point in these machines. In the UK votes are counted by volunteers, with quite basic fundamental (i.e. strong) overlapping controls. I fail to imagine an approach that could be any more secure, cheaper or better suited to audit.

Most of the push to move to electronic voting machines is to comply with the "Help America Vote Act" which requires that handicapped voters (including blind people) be able to vote without assistance.

Precedent in Medical Devices (2, Interesting)

necro81 (917438) | more than 3 years ago | (#33597826)

It seems to me that the organizers of such a system could look for precedent in the medical device industry. There is a central repository for medical device problems, the MAUDE database [fda.gov], that keeps track of adverse events, and is searchable by anyone. Any respectable medical device manufacturer will consult that database to make sure that their new wiz-bang product isn't susceptible to the same failings as existing products, and you can bet the FDA will do the same before approving a new device. Practitioners and users can search the database to see if there are issues with a particular device (or class of devices).

It doesn't mean that problems with medical devices don't still exist, but at least there is mandated uniform reporting.

Another key issue here is that the FDA is empowered to take devices off the market if enough serious problems come up. As far as I know, there is nothing like that in voting systems (but damn well should be).

Re:Precedent in Medical Devices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33598632)

It seems that people with the least knowledge hold the strongest opinions. All voting systems need to be certified by a controlling state authority and this certification has been withdrawn on several occasions.
Note that losing candidates and others who suspect voting systems have generated invalid results often sue where the results are debated in an open setting. The recent Minnesota Senatorial election is an example of the process which as is typical did not invalidate the results.

Re:Precedent in Medical Devices (1)

necro81 (917438) | more than 3 years ago | (#33599698)

All voting systems need to be certified by a controlling state authority and this certification has been withdrawn on several occasions.

Part of me to give deference to individual state voting commissions, truly. But the rest of me really wants to demand that we have one unifying certification process for the whole country. We have national standards for all manner of other important equipment (again, medical devices come first to mind, transportation is another), why not here? Sure, we have the Federal Election Commission, but their jurisdiction does not extend to the mechanics of voting, just campaigning.

I'm not saying that all elections across the country must be run exactly the same using the same equipment. But it seems to me that, since the outcome of federal elections is based on how elections are run at the local level, the federal government ought to have some jurisdiction, with teeth. The Help America Vote Act ought to have done that, but all they did was give states a lot of money, with voluntary guidelines and almost no restrictions, and told them to buy whatever whiz-bang technology from whichever company had the slickest salespitch.

EU (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | more than 3 years ago | (#33598032)

I once asked a gentleman from Norway if they use electronic voting machines; he said they just use paper ballots. I just don't understand what is wrong with staying with paper (optical scan for high volumes, though even that could be hacked). The right wing claims this leads to voter fraud, blatantly ignoring that pulling off a large enough fraud to affect an outcome would be akin to herding cats. On the other hand, with a purely digital system from cast vote to final tally, it can be altered anywhere along the line with any margin you wish; from skin of teeth to 101% for Kang. Lastly, there should be a 24 hour moratorium after any national or state vote: no polling and definitely no projected winners 'with 5% of the vote'. The Forth Estate has a valid role, but when it comes to US politics, they make stacks of cash on selling political ads (TV, radio, print) and then engage in rumor, speculation, and flat out guessing while the voting is still going on!

Re:EU (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 3 years ago | (#33600500)

You have hit on the reason for electronic voting, or at least some sort of automation. The TV and cable news services require immediate results because if they do not get them from official sources they will make them up.

CBS announced Al Gore as the winner in 2000 around 1:00 AM Eastern time. Lots of people went to bed after that and woke up with the election undecided. The result was these people "knew" the election had been stolen because CBS told them who the winner was before they went to bed. The next time this happens there will likely be rioting in the streets with stuff getting burned.

You can't pass a law shutting off the TV news - it is against the 1st Amendment. So in the US there really is no choice - immediate results and as accurate as they can be. Immediate takes precedence, with accuracy being sort of a followon. Because if they don't have official results, there will be made-up exit-poll derived results announced.

Sure, it would be nice if you could just shut off the news for a while, but that isn't going to happen.

Essay (2, Funny)

samsonaod (1794936) | more than 3 years ago | (#33598264)

Ok this will never happen, but..... we shouldn't have a "Multiple Guess" ballot. People should be educated and informed enough before they walk in the door. Upon entering each voter should be handed a ballot (a blank piece of paper) where they need to list the candidate they want elected and for what position they want them elected. They also need to list 3 reasons they want them elected. "Ballots" should be water marked to ensure that voters aren't just using the a given parties cheat sheet. A cheat sheet can be brought in, but must be hand copied. If you're illiterate too bad. If you have a doctors note indicating a disability where it's not possible to write dictation should be available. ahh well

Re:Essay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33598358)

If you're illiterate too bad

Yeah! Let's bring back the poll tax, too!

Re:Essay (1)

fyngyrz (762201) | more than 3 years ago | (#33598848)

Not the same thing at all.

You'd scream like a scalded baby if we let some character work on the electrical system in your house who wasn't certified as qualified to do so; understands the job, won't set your home on fire, etc. You'd shop around for the one who does the best work you could afford even so, and why? Because you don't want to die in a fire.

But you're perfectly willing to let someone with any degree of incompetence adjust how the most powerful entities in the state, and country, work.

Here's the problem, see: Our system is one which allows any two incompetents to outvote a competent person, in an environment where competence is rare. This goes for electing politicians, and because of that, it also goes in the halls of congress and state legislatures when they get around to voting.

Re:Essay (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#33598536)

I see some benefit to your proposal, but I would suggest a much more basic change that would help. Let's stop with "motor-voter" and other ways for people to register without having to go out of their way. If you want to vote, you have to go down to the county courthouse (or other designated location) as a special trip and register. Let's stop with making registering to vote something that is so easy that you don't have to think about it and then make at least some effort to do so. If people can't be bothered to find out how to register to vote and then to take the effort to do so, what makes anyone think that they will take the effort to make an informed vote?

Re:Essay (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 3 years ago | (#33599776)

True democracy gives the village idiot the same rights as the genius, and IMO that's how it should be. You have a RIGHT to vote, and having to take a literacy test was found unconstitutional over a century ago.

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