Beta
×

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

Thank you!

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

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

US Elections Dominated By Closed Source. Again.

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the pay-no-attention-to-the-bot-behind-the-curtain dept.

Open Source 403

An anonymous reader writes "Another American election is almost here, and while electronic voting is commonplace, it is still overwhelmingly run by closed source, proprietary systems. It has been shown that many of these systems can be compromised (and because they are closed, there may be holes we simply cannot know about). Plus they are vulnerable to software bugs and are often based on unstable, closed-source operating systems. By the inherent nature of closed software, when systems are (optionally!) certified by registrars, there is no proof that they will behave the same on election day as in tests. The opportunities for fraud, tampering and malfunction are rampant. But nonetheless, there is very little political will for open source voting, let alone simple measures like end-to-end auditable voting systems or more radical approaches like open source governance. Why do we remain in the virtual dark ages, when clearly we have better alternatives readily available?"

cancel ×

403 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Because... (4, Insightful)

twilightzero (244291) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962364)

Why do we remain in the virtual dark ages, when clearly we have better alternatives readily available? ...there's lots of money and power behind closed source, which leads to corruption and back-room deals. QED.

Re:Because... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33962456)

And open source company are really bad at lobbying.

Re:Because... (1)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962640)

Or, more succinctly, Money Talks.

And, as we all know, money is the root of all evil.

But then, everybody needs roots...

Re:Because... (0, Troll)

twilightzero (244291) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962772)

I beg to differ. Women are the root of all evil OR equal to evil, depending on how you do your proof.

Women = Evil [vecordis.nl]

Re:Because... (3, Insightful)

jra (5600) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962776)

"The love of money" is the root of all evil.

Getting that particular quote right matters.

Re:Because... (2, Insightful)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962512)

Exactly. Democracy in this country was bought and sold a long time ago, along with most of our other rights. But considering how little anybody gives a shit, it's no less than we deserve.

Re:Because... (3, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962548)

Why do we remain in the virtual dark ages, when clearly we have better alternatives readily available? ...there's lots of money and power behind closed source, which leads to corruption and back-room deals. QED.

And so far, no believable evidence that any errors actually changed the outcome of any election other than in those cases where it was so close that even human error could tip the balance. That's why mandatory recount rules kick in, in most states when races are very tight.

At least with the paper ballot reader systems you have the actual documents to count, and could count them on by hand or by an Open Source device after an election to prove or disprove any claims of errors.

But until that happens, even on a small scale, and demonstrates that the closed source systems delivered the wrong result there is just no motivation to do anything.

Of course the totally electronic voting systems, with NO physical record remains pretty much un-audit-able.

Re:Because... (3, Interesting)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962632)

Really? Might want to look into voting irregularities in Ohio in 2004. Documented proof exists that thousands of votes were either altered or outright made up.

Re:Because... (1)

davev2.0 (1873518) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962672)

Citation needed, from a reliable, non-biased source.

Re:Because... (1)

schon (31600) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962702)

Citation needed, from a reliable, non-biased source.

Every True Scotsman knows that any source that is reliable is alwayes biased, and vice-versa.

Re:Because... (2, Informative)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962966)

Re:Because... (0, Flamebait)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962644)

here in Minnesota, with the Al Franken debacle, even having paper ballots didn't help so much. With every successive challenge and recount, more ballots were magically found with Franken's name on them that had been previously undiscovered. Oh, but these were left in someone's car! Oh, these were found in a closet!

Paper doesn't ensure integrity.

To me the conflict is between the secrecy of the ballot and the ability to verify results. If there is no way to link a completed ballot to an eligible voter, you can never be 100% sure.

(Personally I'm just as worried about eligibility - it was shown positively that enough felons voted in this election to tip the scales to Franken, but once an election is certified - even if verifiable fraud happened - there's no way to change anything.)

Re:Because... (1)

jra (5600) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962790)

> To me the conflict is between the secrecy of the ballot and the ability to verify results. If there is no way to link a completed ballot to an eligible voter, you can never be 100% sure.

Correct. But there are ways to do even that, most of which, alas, involve crypto that the civilians won't trust.

Re:Because... (1)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962916)

Is the secrecy really necessary?

What if the ballot had your name and Voter ID # on it, and those records existed until the election was certified, at which point the records were destroyed.

Legislation could make it a felony to access the information in an unauthorized way or to proliferate it to anyone.

Re:Because... (1)

twilightzero (244291) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962794)

Unfortunately, you can have good privacy or good security. Not both.

Re:Because... (4, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962876)

But again, that is not germane to the question at hand, because you need a really REALLY close election to pull off that kind of tom foolery.

Even manual counting with 5 sets of eyes on every ballot would not protect against this kind of corruption in a tight election.

Even if you could link ballots to voters (and were willing to suffer the inevitable intimidation and reprisals and vote buying of that practice), there is no way to assure the ballots found in the trunk are not tied to people who ALSO have other ballots tied to them, perhaps in different precincts, or different counties.

Close elections are a fundamental problem not solvable by technology, and for the most part, in the grand scheme of things, if society is unable to clearly choose between A and B there is probably no significant difference anyway, and you end up with a tempest in a tea pot over an emotional issue.

Re:Because... (3, Informative)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962888)

Oh geez, you're one of those Coleman Kooks.

Coleman is a carpet bagger. He moved here from new york, pretended to be a democrat to get elected into local politics then changed parties once he was elected. Franken moved here as well, but at least he was born and raised here. The guy is dishonest, a cheat, and even if he'd won the election he'd have serious legal issues to deal with that came to light during the election. Anyone that could support that in a candidate should just crawl in a hole and die.

And you're being dishonest about "found" votes as well. That was bogus talking points the republicans spread and you believe it.

Re:Because... (1)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962930)

Where did I claim to be a "Coleman Kook"?

Your qualms about what you perceive to be my political positions are not relevant to this discussion.

Re:Because... (1)

twilightzero (244291) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962662)

Personally I'm a big fan of the old Scantron-style systems that some states still use (Minnesota in particular). It's read electronically but still gives you a physical paper record to go back to. But then again some people are too stupid to fill in ovals correctly. Come to think of it, I'm not sure why they should be allowed to vote...

Re:Because... (4, Informative)

Sigma 7 (266129) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962758)

And so far, no believable evidence that any errors actually changed the outcome of any election other than in those cases where it was so close that even human error could tip the balance.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volusia_error [wikipedia.org]

The error cropped up in Volusia's 216th precinct of only 585 registered voters. A Global Election Systems (acquired by Diebold Election Systems now Premier Election Solutions) voting machine showed that 412 of those registered voters had voted. The problem was that the machine also claimed those 412 voters had somehow given Bush 2,813 votes and in addition had given Gore a negative vote count of -16,022 votes

This margin of error alone was greater than the population of the affected riding, and is well beyond human error. It also caused a riding to appear it supported the candidate they didn't vote for.

Of course the totally electronic voting systems, with NO physical record remains pretty much un-audit-able.

Actually, they can be audited if you want your vote as part of a public record. In that case, the parents/employer/mafia/dictator will demand you vote in a certain pattern.

Re:Because... (-1, Flamebait)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962926)

I'm sorry, but you can not quote Wikipedia on any political issue. Just don't go there. You should know this by now.

Common misconception (3, Informative)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962366)

I think a big part of it (from the public's perspective, anyway) is a misconception about open source. Many non-technology-oriented people I know think open source automatically makes it less secure, since "anyone can see what makes it tick."

Personally, I think it has to do with money more than anything else (duh.)

Re:Common misconception (1)

Nerdfest (867930) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962430)

First you get the money, then you get the power, then you get the women.

The attitude towards open source seems to be changing .. it's getting almost trendy, with people mentioning it when they don't even know what it means. The big software companies seem to be using the buzzwords to get contracts, but behinds closed doors are doing everything they can to reverse the trend.

Re:Common misconception (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33962492)

people I know think open source automatically makes it less secure, since "anyone can see what makes it tick."
 
That's funny because that's how it becomes more secure, and probably the only way you can tell it's secure. With closed source, it's up in the air.

Re:Common misconception (2, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962516)

I know, right? I had to argue with the company I work for FOREVER to let me use Audacity at work.

IT guy in charge: "It's open source, anyone could look at it and exploit it!"
Me: "Or, since you seem to know everything, you could look at it and see if it's exploitable."

Re:Common misconception (1)

twilightzero (244291) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962684)

I've been working on Audacity for years and love it. I've also been working for years to get my dad to use it for his audio business instead of buying Sound Forge or Pro Tools. It's slow progress...

OT: Audio Editing (1)

jra (5600) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962816)

For competing with Protools, wouldn't Ardour be a better choice?

Re:OT: Audio Editing (1)

twilightzero (244291) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962838)

Unfortunately, needs to run on Windows. And he primarily uses Sound Forge. Now the studio he works at part time, however, might be HIGHLY interested in Ardour. Thanks for the info!

Re:Common misconception (1)

BStroms (1875462) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962500)

I strongly support open source for electronic voting systems; what gets me is the cry for a paper trail. Unless they have some way to identify who voted for whom on the paper trail (something I strongly oppose) it's just as subject to tampering as a computer run tally, possibly more so. Obviously you don't want the voting machines networked in any way to make it harder to significantly alter the outcome.

However, I would actually consider the inability to have a recount a positive. It saves money for the taxpayer and reduces confusion and legal challenges after the election. People also seem to forget the fact that recounts can be tampered with as well. There will be more scrutiny for sure, but everyone who wants to cheat in order to help their side from all around the country can now converge on the few elections they know are close enough for them to make a difference on. There's really no guarantee the recount will be more accurate than the original.

Re:Common misconception (4, Insightful)

jra (5600) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962648)

> However, I would actually consider the inability to have a recount a positive. It saves money for the taxpayer and reduces confusion and legal challenges after the election.

You sound like Tampa mayor Pam Iorio, who actually said that in public, and still got elected.

Would you both please go jump off a bridge, now?

Everyone else, repeat after me:

A VOTE IS A PHYSICAL OBJECT.

That's your mantra; use it well.

Re:Common misconception (1)

BStroms (1875462) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962840)

If you feel that way, could you explain to me what benefit a paper vote actually has? You can confirm your vote was recorded correctly when you drop it into a box, but how do you know that box doesn't get swapped out? Or that another stuffed box doesn't get set right next to it? I don't see the benefit in knowing it's accurate when you voted if you don't know whether or not it's accurate when it's counted.

Re:Common misconception (1)

gfreeman (456642) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962936)

Easy, because at every voting station there are representatives of all parties, who can watch the boxes at all times, right up until the point it's tipped out and the votes counted, live on TV. At least that's the way general elections were held in the UK when I lived there.

Re:Common misconception (0, Troll)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962826)

However, I would actually consider the inability to have a recount a positive. It saves money for the taxpayer and reduces confusion and legal challenges after the election.

Written like a true neo-con. Of course, it's even more efficient if a court decides that the votes don't need to be counted at all. Recent history: check it out. Just don't call it democracy.

Re:Common misconception (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962534)

I don't understand why they can't use some Open Source Single Purpose Hardware - All it's supposed to do is tally votes!

That way - any tampering would mean someone literally has to attach something on the board to alter the results. And would be obvious upon investigation.

The whole "Connects to the internet" or "Antivirus" or "Pac-Man Simulation" things really bother me.

Is everyone too silly to realize that these things basically operate like a glorified turnstile?

Re:Common misconception (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33962554)

...think open source automatically makes it less secure, since "anyone can see what makes it tick."

We have a winner. These are the same (mostly Republicans) who dismiss Wikipedia outright, because "anyone can write anything they want to".

Re:Common misconception (1)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962688)

(Literally all) of my university professors will be surprised to learn they are Republicans! Could have fooled me!

Re:Common misconception (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33962802)

(same AC) - I can guarantee that your professors did NOT use "anyone can write anything they want to" as their rationale for dismissing Wikipedia. In their case it's simply job security/self-interest/professional jealousy.

Re:Common misconception (1)

Americano (920576) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962954)

Or it could be that encyclopedias are NEVER acceptable as primary sources for research? Doesn't matter if you've got the oldest working copy of the Encyclopedia Brittanica Super Deluxe Edition on gold-plated acid-free paper - it's still not a primary source.

Just like wikipedia, being an encyclopedia, is not a primary source. It may help you flesh out your understanding of a particular subject, but it should be a starting point which allows you to dive deeper into a subject & find legitimate primary sources, not the end-point where you cut & paste your research papers from.

Re:Common misconception (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962590)

For most people, open source voting software for electronic voting is no more secure than closed source. In both cases they have to take someone else's word for it that it accurately reflects the will of the voters.

Additionally, even if the software that is used in electronic voting machines is open source, how do you know that the software installed on any voting machine is the same as the published source code?

Re:Common misconception (1)

jra (5600) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962676)

If you design the system properly (no counting in the terminals at *all*; they merely remember ballots, count printed ballots and spoils, and speak to blind people), then it doesn't matter: you have a Physical Vote, and *humans* can read it and count it if necessary, cause it's printed in OCR-A.

Re:Common misconception (1)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962910)

Being open source doesn't magically make it any better. In fact, there was an article recently about an open source based voting system in (i think) Washington DC that was found to be riddled with security flaws and problems as well.

http://yro.slashdot.org/story/10/10/05/2246215/DC-Suspends-Tests-of-Online-Voting-System?from=rss [slashdot.org]

Because Nobody Cares (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33962404)

Nobody cares whether voting machines are open or closed source. In theory yeah, there may be potential exploits, but there are much easier and more obvious ways to detect fraud and tampering than looking through the source code.

Get over it people. Open source isn't a magical cure-all for anything. Hasn't the failure of widespread Linux adoption vs. Windows proven that?

Re:Because Nobody Cares (0, Troll)

bonch (38532) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962598)

Get over it people. Open source isn't a magical cure-all for anything. Hasn't the failure of widespread Linux adoption vs. Windows proven that?

It's never open source's fault. There's always an excuse blaming something else.

Re:Because Nobody Cares (1)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962722)

So the fact that open source "isn't a magical cure-all" is the reason Linux hasn't taken off and not because of the massive marketing and propaganda mill that is Microsoft actively fighting against it, interesting.

Re:Because Nobody Cares (2, Insightful)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962744)

The failure of Linux on the desktop is not due to the viability of the platform itself.

It's due to the militant ideology that keeps content and functionality that people expect, and that work, out of the distributions.

Computers are all content and experience. Linux has a decent experience but little content. Windows has content but a generally poor experience. Neither has solved all the problems.

Huh? (1, Troll)

Badbone (1159483) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962434)

Who's "we"? The American people aren't choosing to have the current, unverifiable voting systems in place. They simply have no idea of the alternative, and no power to bring it about even if they did. Frankly, I don't think it matters. The American political system is broken. What does it matter how they count the votes, when those votes mean so little?

Re:Huh? (1)

jra (5600) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962694)

No.

It was the Help America Vote (The Way We Want Them To) Act that is responsible for most of it.

Alternatives? (3, Interesting)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962440)

So here's a question:

Does there currently exist a complete open source voting solution? Something that you could drop in in place of a Diebold or what have you.

It seems like we'd make more headway with local governments if we could say, "Here it is, it's free, it's ready to go, all you have to do is okay it." and I'm not sure if that solution yet exists?

Re:Alternatives? (1)

Desler (1608317) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962510)

Exactly. Whinging about the current systems but providing no credible alternative isn't going to get people to come to your side.

Re:Alternatives? (1)

mark72005 (1233572) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962780)

Even if the government commissioned some kind of task force to create it and purchase it, the whole thing would be a government project by the end - bloated, over budget, wouldn't work, end up being trashed.

Re:Alternatives? (1)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962570)

Even if there was a complete replacement ready to just drop in, as you say, it still wouldn't happen. Too many politicians are beholden to Diebold and other amoral corps to ever allow it. Money has been spent and they intend to get its worth. Right, justice, and fairness be damned, this is a world of greed.

Re:Alternatives? (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962636)

You might be right, but until there's a viable choice, we won't know for certain.

If you build it, they might not come, but if you don't build it, they definitely won't come.

Re:Alternatives? (1)

spidercoz (947220) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962886)

There are viable choices, but they won't get off the ground without some interest, so it becomes a chicken-and-egg problem.

Re:Alternatives? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33962578)

Yes, it's called the goddamn paper ballot.

Re:Alternatives? (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962600)

Yes, it's called the goddamn paper ballot.

Some ten year old hanging chads would like to have a word with you.

My local district still uses a paper ballot, but let's not pretend it doesn't have its own limitations, too.

Re:Alternatives? (1)

Colonel Sponsz (768423) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962812)

Some ten year old hanging chads would like to have a word with you.

My local district still uses a paper ballot, but let's not pretend it doesn't have its own limitations, too.

And hanging chads are an artefact of - guess it! - voting machines. In this case mechanical ones. Pure paper ballots work just fine all over the world - voting machines are needless automation, and can and will fuck things up.

Re:Alternatives? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33962620)

Yes, there is. In Brazil, elections are fully electronic with Linux-based software and all the source used is public available.

Re:Alternatives? (1)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962680)

Yes, there is. In Brazil, elections are fully electronic with Linux-based software and all the source used is public available.

Can you provide a little more information on this? Are there any known obstacles to using it for American elections?

My take is, if I didn't know about this, most of the people setting up local elections certainly don't.

Re:Alternatives? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33962878)

Yes, there is. In Brazil, elections are fully electronic with Linux-based software and all the source used is public available.

Can you provide a little more information on this? Are there any known obstacles to using it for American elections?

My take is, if I didn't know about this, most of the people setting up local elections certainly don't.

Here is a link with pictures of the machines used:
http://br-linux.org/2009/video-e-fotos-do-boot-do-linux-em-uma-urna-eletronica-brasileira/

And an /. story about the system:
http://hardware.slashdot.org/story/09/10/31/0120223/Contest-To-Hack-Brazilian-Voting-Machines

I don't know how you vote in the US (here we use numbers to identify candidates), but probably the machines could be used there too, without any problems.

Re:Alternatives? (1)

man_of_mr_e (217855) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962952)

Question: How do you know that this is the source used and not a modified version? How does anyone know? At some point there is always going to be opportunity for corrupt officials to "fix" things.

Re:Alternatives? (1)

coolsnowmen (695297) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962682)

i don't think that is the point. With the amount of money states/countries have spent renting/licensing these solutions. One of them, or a collection of them could have contracted the work for hire, and stipulated they receive the source code.

Re:Alternatives? (2, Insightful)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962762)

With the amount of money states/countries have spent renting/licensing these solutions. One of them, or a collection of them could have contracted the work for hire, and stipulated they receive the source code.

Probably, but that's not really the way local government works. Custom software development tends to be reserved for things for which there can be no shrink-wrapped-ish universal solution, usually because that city/county/etc. has unique laws that make the more established solution somehow incompatible with how they have to do things.

The most effective way to get people to do the right thing is to make it easy for them to do the right thing.

Re:Alternatives? (2, Informative)

Enigma0498 (1572247) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962822)

The Belgian government publishes the source code of its voting machines after each election: http://www.elections.fgov.be/index.php?id=627&L=3 [elections.fgov.be] . You still need dedicated hardware (which basically is an antique Pentium 1, 4 megs of RAM, some serial interfaces, a lightpen interface and a magnetic card reader)

Re:Alternatives? (1)

kevinNCSU (1531307) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962864)

Does there currently exist a complete open source voting solution?

Yes, but you have to write it yourself. Oh, and once you finish if you wouldn't mind committing that back here that'd be great. God, don't you know anything about how open source works? ;)

Re:Alternatives? (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962868)

The thing is, even if there was such a thing, there is still the issue of verifying that all of the code installed on the device (including OS, Rom's, etc..) during the election is actually the result of a fair and honest compile of said source code, and then further than the hardware itself (cpu, etc..) is actually vanilla specification.

I'm not sure how you go about verifying any of that in a satisfactory manner. Even if you did shit like making sure the CPU's were acquired with a randomized off-the-shelf method, you still have to later verify that those same CPU's were the ones installed on election day, and so forth. For software authentication, do you trust all the people that do the authentication?

Its no-win. The safest way to do things is with physical ballots, hand counting, and as many eyes as possible on the entire process from start to finish. Even then there is risk of tampering.

Insiders (2, Insightful)

schmidt349 (690948) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962448)

Why do we remain in the virtual dark ages

Because those in power don't want transparency to be a two-way street. They want to be able to peek into every aspect of our private lives, ostensibly to seek out some tiniest sliver of evidence that we maybe once upon a time didn't think it was necessarily all that great an idea to disembowel Osama bin Laden and stuff him with pork sausage on live TV. But they don't want us to be able to peek into their private lives, or even the seedier aspects of their public ones, so they take any opportunity to shut us out. The closed-source voting machines are just one facet of a much larger situation.

A great example of the way public officials form a "blue [pinstriped] wall" has just come up in the news again, Anita Hill's accusations of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas. A right-wing bloc in the all-male Senate of the day tore into every minor aspect of Hill's own sex life to try to discredit her in the eyes of the American public. They protected Thomas partly because he was a Republican but mostly because they knew how they would feel if their own mistresses (or male lovers, for that matter) came to Capitol Hill and aired out their dirty laundry, and how they would want the Congress to deal with those situations.

Re:Insiders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33962784)

A great example of the way public officials form a "blue [pinstriped] wall" has just come up in the news again, Anita Hill's accusations of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas. A right-wing bloc in the all-male Senate of the day tore into every minor aspect of Hill's own sex life to try to discredit her in the eyes of the American public.

Any idea as to why this is coming up *now*? Smells like a distraction to divert attention away from the stupidity that is Palin or O'Donnell. Plus, it gives the TeaPartyers a way to put down a black woman.

Malice vs. stupidity (1)

dcavanaugh (248349) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962938)

If the insiders really wanted to systematically exploit the voting system, I don't think they would be dumb enough to rely on MS Access like Diebold did. The project would be a big budget extravaganza, managed by $POPULAR_MGMT_CONSULTING_FIRM. The complexity would be enormous, and there would be some sort of bizarre "national security" black box requirements that would be where all the dirty stuff lived.

Never attribute to malice that which can be just as easily explained by stupidity. Idiots outnumber evildoers by a wide margin.

The voting machine software I have seen looks like somebody drafted a half-baked specification, sent it to the offshore bargain bin and waited to see what they produced. Idiots.

Re:Insiders (1)

Nimey (114278) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962974)

There are some ordinary people whom I will call "collaborators" who think that we don't need to know the sordid details of how government works. These folks believe that we must trust the people we elect and then if the results are not to our liking, then they can be replaced with someone else when the next election comes up.

Doesn't occur to them that it's helpful to know /why/ we got to the point we don't like, or why we got somewhere we like.

Because: (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33962468)

> Why do we remain in the virtual dark ages, when clearly we have better alternatives readily available?

Because. We are still in the dark ages. We are still ruled by the same tyrants as back then.

Democracy is just an evolved form of Feudalism.

It is a way of enslaving people, yet convoluting and making non-obvious that fact, thus leading the people to believe they are free. It also protects the tyrants from beheading by the people, as the people can not easily figure out who the true rulers are.

Any transparency would be the opposite of them having absolute power and possibly expose the fraud of democracy.

Thing is... (1)

stazeii (1148459) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962496)

I've still yet to see any open source alternative though. I mean, there are projects, but it seems they haven't actually developed anything to show and say "this could be an alternative, and it's secure!". It's a chicken and the egg, but counties aren't going to throw away their contracted, and expensive voting machines until there's a real alternative that they can actually know will be available next voting cycle. It's a crappy situation, but complaining it hasn't happened yet is not productive. Talk to your Senator, Congressman, etc. Except, of course, if they LIKE unverifiable voting. Then, umm, call your AG or THE National AG.

In Former U.S.A.: ( +1, Informative ) (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33962502)

Closed source outsource YOU !

Yours In Vladivostok [youtube.com] ,
K. Trout

Does it really matter? (1)

cpghost (719344) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962508)

Let's see: those closed source voting machines will either be biased towards Big Oil (Republicans) or towards Big Entertainment (Democrats). Open source voting machines won't be biased: they'll pick up the winner using the random(3) function (hopefully properly seeded). OR... let's follow the example set forth in Asimov's story Franchise [wikipedia.org] and let Multivac decide and save the costs of elections.

Re:Does it really matter? (1)

snookerhog (1835110) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962848)

Does it matter indeed.

Should we instead be worried that voters are still choosing candidates based on height [wikipedia.org] , order on the ballot [uvm.edu] , the last commercial they saw on the boob tube, or other sadly irrelevant issues.

If you don't know who to vote for in your area based on your values and beliefs, check out VoteSmart [votesmart.org]

Republicans are in the lead... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33962522)

Looks like its time to trot out the "voting systems are prone to hacking" stories again... Slashdot stories that were popular in the 2002, 2004, 2006 and now the 2010 US elections...

Re:Republicans are in the lead... (1)

jra (5600) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962746)

If you are suggesting that such stories are apocryphal *merely* because Republicans are in the lead... then you've made the point, because they are documentarily not apocryphal, and you are clearly so implying merely because you're a Republican partisan.

Read, um, *the links in the lede*.

I guess we know your party of choice... (1)

Infonaut (96956) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962764)

... but coverage of this topic in Slashdot has been consistent across election cycles. Check out these examples from the 2008 campaign:

Fact checking isn't difficult. Here's a list of Slashdot articles about Diebold [slashdot.org] , if you don't believe me.

Because it helps the incumbents. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33962532)

"Why do we remain in the virtual dark ages, when clearly we have better alternatives readily available?"

Because it helps the incumbents.

AMAZING video on this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33962556)

You guys that want to learn a bit more, check out the documentary titled: Hacking Democracy.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7926958774822130737#

Just goes to show that this article couldn't be more spot on!

The real reason..... (1)

ogar572 (531320) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962560)

The I.T. friends of the government don't use open source products or implement open source solutions therefore neither does the government.

YES the White House used Drupal (or whatever they used) for there website but that isn't nearly "as critical" or "as important" as "the integrity of a voting system".

Bureaucracy my friends, bureaucracy.

Because that's the way they like it (4, Insightful)

Agent0013 (828350) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962572)

"Why do we remain in the virtual dark ages, when clearly we have better alternatives readily available?"

Because it would take a politician to change the law. But both parties like the broken system we have now because they each want to game the system for their own advantage. Fair and accurate voting doesn't help the political parties or the candidates, it only help the voters!

Widescale sabotage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33962596)

I'm curious what crime a person would be charged with if, upon Nov. 2, wide scale uncoordinated sabotage of e-voting machines occurred. Of course those locations would have paper ballots as backups, right?

/this message now monitored for future investigatory reference

Even open source has bugs (1)

js3 (319268) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962602)

what's the big deal. Most of you don't vote anyway.. what does opening the source do? it won't prevent bugs or hacking or cheating (which has nothing to do with the source). There are many things that affect our lives that aren't open. Why voting?

Re:Even open source has bugs (1)

kellyb9 (954229) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962706)

Agreed, but if they opened up the code, there's more people available to check for mistakes in the code or even worse potential fraud by the company writing the code.

Digital Voting in Elections = No Win Game (1)

eepok (545733) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962606)

If Closed Source:
Con - Companies can secretly build in flaws to exploit trust.
Pro - A chance at security through obscurity (not too much, of course, because exploiters KNOW the code exists, just not what the code says exactly)
Con - Companies can unknowingly build in flaws that can be exploited by those in the know.

If Open Source:
Pro - Everything is known about the code so any potential flaws are widely known and can be fixed.
Con - Fixes can be flawed, too.
Con - No standard will likely be settled upon-- partially because of the nature of the Open Source community and partially because for-profit companies will interfere as much as possible.

If hard-copy votes only:
Con - More human effort required.
Con - Human error expected.
Pro - There's also a LOT more oversight.

~~~
Still, I only vote on paper.

Don't Forget Paper Trails (2, Insightful)

joebok (457904) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962610)

There are generally 2 main points that electronic voting needs - coding available for public scrutiny is one, but in my mind a more important one is a paper audit trail - the vote is recorded electronically, but the voter gets to see a paper record of their vote (they either see but can't touch or carry it to a ballot box) which can be used later for recounts and verification.

I'd rather have a proprietary system with a paper trail than an open system with no paper trail. But really we need to insist, at a minimum, on both.

I'll tell you why we remain in the dark ages... (2, Insightful)

g0bshiTe (596213) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962614)

Why do we remain in the virtual dark ages, when clearly we have better alternatives readily available?"

The reason is simple. Our government would not be able to fix elections if it were more transparent or had adequate auditing.

easy because people tolerate it. (1)

BlueshiftVFX (1158033) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962634)

Not enough people stand up and demand it, but even still when that happens they will just run some sort of back room deal and pass it through congress on Christmas eve when there is only like 3 people left in the building.

Oh also legally "protest" means that you don't like it but you'll do it anyways. so if you claim to be protesting, you are basically giving them an A-OK!.

Do you really want to know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33962642)

Who rigs elections? incumbents. Who selects how people vote? incumbents. What is the easiest way to rig the election?

perspictive (1)

McGiraf (196030) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962710)

"Why do we remain in the virtual dark ages, when clearly we have better alternatives readily available?""

Better for who? The answer ti this will give a hint of why...

I'm tired of these closed sourced candidates (1)

zill (1690130) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962720)

I'm still waiting for Obama to post his genome.

McCain posted his, and all the little clones proved that he has 100% pure American genes.

Risk taking (1)

Aggrav8d (683620) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962806)

hack the systems on election day.
Get scoobey doo elected.
go to jail.
Improve the state of affairs?

Thanks for saving me lots of time again (1)

frist (1441971) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962814)

Hadn't read Slashdot in a while, checked back today and the summary again reminded me why I stopped visting.

Plus they are vulnerable to software bugs and are often based on unstable, closed-source operating systems.

/barf
Yes the problem with voting machines is the unstable closed-source operating systems, as opposed to the ultra-secure ultra-stable open-source operating systems that fix all of your crappy application programming issues.

New signature idea - TRY LINUX, IT'S MAGIC!!! PROPAGANDA INCLUDED AT NO EXTRA CHARGE!!!

iPads (1)

lowrydr310 (830514) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962874)

All somebody needs to do is write an iPad app, and polling locations could be fitted with iPads behind the curtain booths. What could possibly go wrong?

Use paper ballots, dammit! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33962884)

Electronic voting machines serve no other purpose than making money for their suppliers. Paper ballots systems have the following advantages:

1) The supervisor needs no technical training - in fact, you could choose anyone among the voters, like juries are chosen.
2) virus free
3) The only way to destroy the information is by burning it.
4) The election can't be rigged electronically
5) Absolute Confidentiality (asumming, of course, that no fingerprints are scanned on the papers)
6) Can be implemented in poor zones with no electricity. Also, blackout-proof.

There is no problem, until there is a problem (1)

Anon-Admin (443764) | more than 3 years ago | (#33962900)

No one in government sees it as a problem because there has been no issue involving the units.

If, for instance, There was a call for all Hackers and Tech people to rig the election.
Lets say they were asked to Exploit the system and force a third party like the libertarian party (www.lp.org) to win (They are on most if not all the ballots)

And say it just so happened that the Libertarian party won by a land slide. There would be a call to recount, with out the ability to recount all hell would break loose. Those in charge would be forced to review the whole mess and then we may see some standards arise.

But no one would ever openly call for the rigging of a US election ;)

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

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

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

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

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>