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7000 e-Voting Machines Now Deemed Worthless By Irish Government

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the nice-doorstop dept.

Security 241

First time accepted submitter lampsie writes "Despite spending at least 51 million euro over the last decade buying and storing 7000 e-voting machines from Dutch firm Nedap, the Irish Finance minister has announced that they are now 'worthless'. The machines were originally trialled in 2002 on three regional elections, but a nationwide rollout in 2004 was put on hold after a confidential report expressed serious concern over the security of the voting machines. According to the report, the integrity of the ballot could not be guaranteed with the equipment and controls used. Several years on, and tens of millions later, it looks like the pen and paper ballot will remain for now."

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Old technology is often still superior technology (4, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | more than 2 years ago | (#38682788)

It's fascinating how old and inexpensive technology, like the pen and paper, can end up being the superior technology due to reasons of practicality and security. It's another reminder to step back and realize that newer, technical versions of things aren't automatically better. There may be secure and reliable e-Voting machines someday, but certainly not with this iteration of the technology.

I had to laugh at the picture caption in the article claiming they hoped there'd be a market for these machines in Irish-themed pubs.

Re:Old technology is often still superior technolo (3, Interesting)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38682882)

Yes, you set up a polling station, have all the parties send in trusted locals to watch, count the pencil on paper votes at the end of the day, send in the count that night.
The staff are let go, hired for the next election.
If its too close, a law to recount. All computers at a local level do is let people who stole postal votes in the past try some new digital hacks on very expensive machines.

Ron Paul Media Blackout - New Jon Stewart Clip (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38682928)

I'm voting for Obama but this is hilarious

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=2cILGviTOTI [youtube.com]

Re:Ron Paul Media Blackout - New Jon Stewart Clip (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38683052)

I'm voting for Obama

Really? Have you learned nothing? Don't vote for republicans, either.

Re:Ron Paul Media Blackout - New Jon Stewart Clip (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38683446)

Yeah! Ron Paul is clearly part of the Republican establishment!
I hear he also drinks babies blood and wears an aborted placenta as a tricorn hat!!!

work an election before you tout pen and paper.... (5, Interesting)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 2 years ago | (#38682930)

I've been an Elections Inspector in New York State since 2004. You are seriously underestimating the logistical difficulties in counting the votes by hand. My precinct has more than 800 registered voters in it. In the last two Presidential elections we've seen 65%+ turnout. The last two Gubernatorial elections both exceeded 50%. The polls are open from 6am to 9pm; we are mandated by law to be there 45 minutes before and after these times. There is no way that we can physically count hundreds of votes in 45 minutes. It would take several hours; now multiply this by our collective $41/hr salary ($11 for the chairman, $10 for each of the other three) and multiply that by the tens of thousands of election districts across New York State. Where is that money going to come from?

The current optical scanning technology is a fair balance. Paper ballots are retained for seven years after an election and are available for inspection by any interested party. The canvassing and certification process is watched by election officials from all major political parties, representatives of the candidates and the media. Elections officials count the votes by hand from randomly selected precincts the very the machine count. All the machines do is speed up the tabulation process.

You'll brook no argument from me on the downfalls of direct electronic record machines where no paper backup is available. Arguing that the election should be run on pen and paper is equally insane though. I can't think of any compelling reason to do so; it opens the door for arguments back and forth on "voter intent" (whereas the machine rejects ballots for ambiguous marks and gives the voter another chance), turns the process of canvassing the votes into a logistical headache and would cost a lot more money.

Re:work an election before you tout pen and paper. (5, Insightful)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 2 years ago | (#38682968)

45 minute count? You can blame your fscking stupid media for that... we publish our count results for a constituency when the count is finished, even if that could be midday the next day...

and as for "voter intent"... anything that is not a clear mark in one box only is a spoiled paper... we don't have many of those here as our voters aren't stupid...

Re:work an election before you tout pen and paper. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38683116)

we don't have many of those here as our voters aren't stupid...

It doesn't have to be stupidity; a pen smudge that crosses into another column or row is an "ambiguous marking". If the voter doesn't catch this then you have no way of knowing what their intent was when you manually count the ballot. Now toss in the consideration that human beings are flawed creatures and most will have a biased interest in the outcome of the election. Now tell me just how you judge such a ballot in a fair and impartial manner?

No, the optical scanning machines are the best way to go. In an ambiguous marking scenario they will reject the ballot and the voter has to start over again with a fresh ballot. The technology is sound, it's verified by human beings from both sides of the political spectrum before, during and after the election. If you really insist on not trusting it the paper ballots are available for your manual counting pleasure. Knock yourself out; all it takes is a freedom of information request to the Board of Elections.

My gods, this technology has been used for decades in academia for test tabulation. Where were all of you conspiracy theorists when your access to higher education and a livelihood were at stake?

Re:work an election before you tout pen and paper. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38683282)

http://i161.photobucket.com/albums/t206/DynOmni/CanadianBallot.jpg [photobucket.com]

That's the canadian ballot. Very simple. It is counted by hand. Takes a few hours. You can't stuff the ballot box and it is verifiable. No "do overs".

Maybe because we don't vote on useless propositions, that we don't need 100 page ballots. And if there are other elections at same time, there are multiple ballots that are put in multiple ballot boxes. It's rather quite simple.

Re:work an election before you tout pen and paper. (2)

mark_elf (2009518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683712)

Multiple ballots are put in mult, iple bal... you lost me.

Re:work an election before you tout pen and paper. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38683546)

Now tell me just how you judge such a ballot in a fair and impartial manner?

Obvious answer: ask the voter (allow revotes for everyone) Not allowing revotes turns the task into a skill and is clearly disenfranchising.

Practical answer: Using the exact same rules you would if you programed a machine to do it.

I have yet to see a machine voting system (scanner or otherwise) that is as cheap, secure, and simple as manual paper ballots.

Re:work an election before you tout pen and paper. (3, Interesting)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683560)

It doesn't have to be stupidity; a pen smudge that crosses into another column or row is an "ambiguous marking".

On a form designed for optical scanning machines it might be. But a hand counted paper ballot traditionally uses a cross to mark the chosen option. And the centre of a cross is accurate to something less than the width of a pencil line.

Re:work an election before you tout pen and paper. (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683146)

That's not particularly democratic of you. The point is that everybody of age is able to vote unless they aren't a citizen or have lost their right to vote.

What about people who change their mind or misread the ballot and have to change it? Under your view those people would lose their vote in many cases.

Re:work an election before you tout pen and paper. (2)

norpy (1277318) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683276)

Normally the solution to that is: "If you make a mistake please ask for a new ballot paper"

The invalid ballots are removed and accounted for and you are given a new one.

Re:work an election before you tout pen and paper. (2)

Tim4444 (1122173) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683472)

That's only relevant if you screw up your own ballot. If the monkeys at the booth smudge your marks or if the voting device malfunctions behind the scenes, you won't know you need to ask for a new ballot. If we didn't consider voter intent it would be awfully easy to selectively mishandle ballots when determining which ones should be discarded for not having clear marks.

Re:work an election before you tout pen and paper. (2)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683620)

Smudges are only a problem for optical scanners. Hand counted ballots typically use a system of marking with a cross. The centre of a cross is pretty accurate and unambiguous, even if smudged.

Re:work an election before you tout pen and paper. (1)

Demonoid-Penguin (1669014) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683692)

Smudges are only a problem for optical scanners. Hand counted ballots typically use a system of marking with a cross. The centre of a cross is pretty accurate and unambiguous, even if smudged.

Are you talking about Ireland or elsewhere. Many civilised countries use numbers. Weird huh?

Re:work an election before you tout pen and paper. (2)

AlXtreme (223728) | more than 2 years ago | (#38682990)

There is no way that we can physically count hundreds of votes in 45 minutes. It would take several hours; now multiply this by our collective $41/hr salary ($11 for the chairman, $10 for each of the other three) and multiply that by the tens of thousands of election districts across New York State. Where is that money going to come from?

From the money saved by not buying e-voting machines? I doubt purchase and 'support' would cost less than a few hours of your time, evened out over a number of years/elections.

Re:work an election before you tout pen and paper. (4, Informative)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683018)

Optical scanning technology != "e-voting machine"; it's a paper ballot that's simply tabulated by a machine. It's no different than the bubble tests that you took in school. If you doubt the results of the machine you are free to volunteer your time to manually count each and every ballot. As I said, they are available for inspection by any interested party.

Re:work an election before you tout pen and paper. (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683628)

If you doubt the results of the machine you are free to volunteer your time to manually count each and every ballot.

Are you? What's the process by which that happens? Who is allowed to handle those papers? Under what circumstances?

One other point I'll make: Handicapped Voters (4, Interesting)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683070)

Our laws require voting technology that is accessible to the handicapped. The machines that we use here have headphones for the blind, foot pedals for paraplegics and a sip/puff device for quadriplegics. If you know a way to enable such people to independently vote without technology the New York State Board of Elections would be interested in hearing it.

And no, this still isn't "e-voting". The ballot marking portion of the machine is exactly that; it prints a paper ballot that matches the selections made by the voter via the handicapped interface. They or a trusted third party can verify this ballot before depositing it into the scanning side of the machine. We can verify it for them as Elections Inspectors provided that one from each party assists the voter (no ballot is ever handled without one Inspector from each party present). Other voters manually mark their ballots with a pen and then deposit it into the scanner. Every piece of paper from the ballots themselves to the poll books and even the notepads the Inspectors use is retained for seven years.

There's no conspiracy at play with optical scanning technology. I decided to become an Elections Inspector specifically so I could observe the process from the inside. Having done it for seven years I'm satisfied that our elections are fair and honest. I can't speak for the other States in the Union but I sleep quite well at night knowing that my vote was popularly counted here in New York.

Re:One other point I'll make: Handicapped Voters (0)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683656)

And no, this still isn't "e-voting". The ballot marking portion of the machine is exactly that; it prints a paper ballot that matches the selections made by the voter via the handicapped interface.

Then it's irrelevant to the counting process. That paper ballot can be scanned or hand counted.

Re:One other point I'll make: Handicapped Voters (1)

Confusador (1783468) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683754)

That was his point, yes. From his original post:

The current optical scanning technology is a fair balance... All the machines do is speed up the tabulation process.

Re:work an election before you tout pen and paper. (4, Insightful)

vux984 (928602) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683100)

There is no way that we can physically count hundreds of votes in 45 minutes.

Meh, my parents worked in the last election, and processed more voters than you did. (Admittedly they had a school gym, and probably 8 booths going, each with 3 staff and 2 ballot boxes divided up alphabetically... (last name Aa to Be voting booth 1 ballot box 1, Bf to Ca booth 1 box 2)... (Ca-De booth 2 box one...

The station EASILY processed some 5000 voters.

each booth counted their own votes, and it didn't take all that long either. 5000 votes, 16 ballot boxes is only 300 or so votes per box. Took about half an hour to count them. Each box got counted twice, and they were out in about an hour and half.

Not a big deal.

You had 4 people doing 800, you say... that scales pretty much right in line with their 25 people doing 5000.

Now, you mention $41/hr to run the election, with say its a 12hrs day... around $500 bucks.

And the voting machine doesn't eliminate everyone... instead of 4 of you, there still needs to be at least to of you...to instruct votes and ensure the machine doesn't break or get tampered with etc... so you only eliminate half the labor cost.

The voting machine is going to have to be less than $250 per unit. And it can't break down or your fucked. And it has to sit in a warehouse for a year or so... so your pretty much gauranteed to need a bunch of technicians check each unit before each election... so there goes the rest of your savings.

Seriously... paper processes get it down to around $2 per vote to count after materials and labour and training. You aren't going to get a machine anywhere near that anytime soon.

Re:work an election before you tout pen and paper. (4, Interesting)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683356)

How many different selections were on your voting forms? Here in AZ, a typical election has dozens and dozens of different people and propositions to vote on; not only the big national candidates for Pres and Congress, but state and local candidates, and several dozen judges. Then there's usually a dozen propositions too.

I really don't think you'd hand-count 5000 votes here in 30 minutes in an accurate way.

Re:work an election before you tout pen and paper. (4, Informative)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683678)

And that's the reason why American views on this story are not very valid. Ireland, like most of the world, have ballots with a single choice. The USA is unusual in having such complicated elections.

Re:work an election before you tout pen and paper. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38683718)

easy: give out one ballot per decision to take. I've participated on election days where there were simultanuously three or four differrent elections, and I simply got four differently couloured paper ballots to vote on. Took them in the cabin, used a pencil to mark my choice, put them all in an envelope, walked out, put the envelope in the box.

If there are literally dozens just glue the pages together so the voter can take each vote out, done.

I realistically don't see your problem.

Re:work an election before you tout pen and paper. (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683138)

Around here we went a step beyond that and built our facilities so that the public can watch from all sides the process and verify that the count is being done correctly. Of course they do use an optical system which is probably similar or the same as the one that you're using.

Ultimately, we had to go that direction of pretty much complete transparency as the GOP isn't going to accept the results that reflect the will of the people without being forced to. They're still yammering on about voter fraud when the only evidence that was ever uncovered specifically was that their gubernatorial candidate had received fraudulent votes which then had to be deducted from his total. That was in pretty much the most conservative friendly court in the state.

Re:work an election before you tout pen and paper. (2)

B1oodAnge1 (1485419) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683616)

You say that like complete transparency is a bad thing. Why?

Re:work an election before you tout pen and paper. (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683186)

That is the way it was done in my area last election and I have to say it was a pleasant experience. Nice easy to read touchscreen that when you chose printed your choice on a nice easy to read ballot, when you were done they took the electronic votes to give the media for early election results and counted the paper ballots with a scanner. the nicest part to me is there was NO disenfranchisement of voters, not at all. While I was in line (which took less than 10 minutes) there were two ahead of me that were in the wrong place. Rather than make them try to find the correct place the officials simply whipped out their cell and had them switched over to that precinct for that election. Took less than 3 minutes to get both straightened out and back in line, just had the whole things smooth as a Swiss watch. Before with the ballots you punched yourself there was ALWAYS hangups and screwups and it was about as pleasant as a trip to the DMV (and just about as long) but now its all in and out, just as pretty as you please.

So I don't even see why there is any debate anymore. With that system you still get a paper ballots which they hand you to check and since its printed by machine no "voter intent" crap, it was plain as day and quite easily read. I'd say that was about as perfect a compromise as i can think of with the security of paper and the ease of electronic.

Re:work an election before you tout pen and paper. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38683300)

A scanner is about as trustworthy as the electronic vote itself, so you are getting a false sense of security right there. Now ponder how easy it is to correlate sign-in with an electronic log. Secure? If you count by hand. Anonymous? If you can trust the machine (so why are you bothering with paper?).

Youa re doing it wrong (4, Informative)

aepervius (535155) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683398)

I have been in many election in france with even *bigger* number of voters. And we had all vote counted in 30-40 minutes. Why ? Because they simply knew participation and numbers, and then simply asked for volunteer to stay longer and help the democratic process. Then they gave ~70-80 stapple of paper vote to a table of 4 volunteer. 2 to count, to to observe, then reverse. There were about 8 table at last election, then those who finish counting earlier get another staples. That is also why big circumscription also do get to vote in big meeting room or similar big room. It is not to give voter privacy, but because once the vote is finished by whatever hour/time they will put a lot of table for the volunteer to count. I have participated in a lot of such a count. It works well and is quick. By the way once they have enough volunteer additional persons are welcome to stay and look as long as they do not disturb the counter..

I have to wonder how it comes you could not come up with such a solution to ask for unpaid volunteer among voters, and would rather rely on a few persons counting.

Re:work an election before you tout pen and paper. (2, Insightful)

1u3hr (530656) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683492)

There is no way that we can physically count hundreds of votes in 45 minutes. It would take several hours

Are Americans really unable to count without a computer?

I've been a poll clerk in several elections in Australia. All by hand. 95% of votes are clear, and take no more than 5 seconds to decide which stack they go on. 12 per minute. One person could count all 800 in just over an hour. The ambiguous votes might be argued over with the scrutineers from the various parties, but unless the count is finely balanced, these are decided quickly.

Re:work an election before you tout pen and paper. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38683540)

I watched the counting of a plebiscite (simply yes/no) just last month. Simple pen and paper, just one question.
The 65 votes cast in that plebiscite were counted in less than 10 minutes, plus 5 extra for the paperwork ("put the yes votes in this envelope, the no votes in another, seal them, put both of them plus irregular votes in a third..." etc)

Procedure for counting is easy: you rotate the ballot box(es), to mix them, mix them a few times after opening, let all officials stand around a large table, open the envelopes the ballots are in, let all officials simultanuously sort the ballots in seven stacks (one for each vote, one for irregulars, one for "not-sure-if-irregular". Afterwards have someone look through the stacks to see if errors were made (quickly possible), count each stack, look after the "not-sure" ones, sum the results and compare to the number of voters who entered that day.
All in all 600 votes should be tallied in far less than an hour.
Take a phone, give the numbers to the city level, who adds the numbers, phones to the county level etc.

That's the way all federal elections are done in germany (where there are even *gasp* two seperate votes on the same ballot - one for a representative, one for a party), and the official results are usually done way before midnight. Including all the stuff like overhang seats etc pp.

Btw: what are you talking about salary? ;-) Election officials (the ones sitting at the room handing out ballots, checking voter registration etc) are done by "volunteers" (officially it's a duty like sitting in a jury, but usually set by people unable to say no :D) getting a small compensation for their time (plus a small buffet, if the city is generous).
Oh, and every citizen has the right to stand there and watch the election officials, including during counting. But it's quite rare that anyone does, since nobody has found a reason to mistrust.

Re:work an election before you tout pen and paper. (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683604)

The polls are open from 6am to 9pm; we are mandated by law to be there 45 minutes before and after these times. There is no way that we can physically count hundreds of votes in 45 minutes. It would take several hours; now multiply this by our collective $41/hr salary ($11 for the chairman, $10 for each of the other three) and multiply that by the tens of thousands of election districts across New York State. Where is that money going to come from?

That's a, probably unintentional, straw man. No one is arguing that you should organise an election in the way you are proposing. Much of the world uses hand counted paper ballots, so clearly it's perfectly workable.

In Britain for example the ballots are not counted at the polling station, but taken to a central count, with a different team to do the counting from those that manned the polls.

Sure there's an extra salary cost on that one day every few years. But there's also a cost in the millions that get wasted on electronic voting systems. Paper ballots and pencils are cheap.

For sure it's more difficult for the USA, because they chose a complicated voting system, where the electorate are asked many questions. But this story was about Ireland, not the USA.

Re:work an election before you tout pen and paper. (3, Interesting)

Demonoid-Penguin (1669014) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683676)

I've been an Elections Inspector in New York State since 2004. You are seriously underestimating the logistical difficulties in counting the votes by hand.

You bet - we've had an Electronic Scrutineering (Vote Counting) system in use for almost a decade in Canberra and Tasmania (Australia). It's fast and accurate, cheap, and a hell of a lot harder (virtually impossible) to cheat

Previously votes were counted by volunteers - it was common practise to dispute unclear numbering, and even "fudge" votes with a quick pencil - very common to invalidate votes for other candidates.

I'm no fan of electronic voting though - that's putting all the eggs in one basket, and I've yet to see a system proposed that was likely to prevent manipulation of the results.

Ballots too complex in US (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38683734)

I don't know about Irish elections but in Finland, the ballot is a folded piece of white cardboard with a large, friendly circle inside. That circle has a single number penciled in. Real quick to sort and count.

American ballots are of course the opposite extreme: literally dozens of multiple-choice questions on a legal-size, multiply folded sheet of cardboard, where your counting is distracted by the lengthy questions.

The American system is so democratic that it renders itself anti-democratic. It takes hours to do the necessary online research to make half-sane decisions on 10% of the questions on the ballot. "Do you agree that never-heard-of-before will be nominated District Jugdge blah blah." "Pick three of the following to be on the park district board." "Should the state borrow 4.37 billion dollars, of which 3.78 billion will go to road maintenance, 582 million will go to hospital emergency services and 8 million to the governor's children's college fund?" And: "By the way: who should be President of the United States of America?"

Re:work an election before you tout pen and paper. (3, Interesting)

digitig (1056110) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683782)

I've been an Elections Inspector in New York State since 2004. You are seriously underestimating the logistical difficulties in counting the votes by hand. My precinct has more than 800 registered voters in it. In the last two Presidential elections we've seen 65%+ turnout. The last two Gubernatorial elections both exceeded 50%. The polls are open from 6am to 9pm; we are mandated by law to be there 45 minutes before and after these times. There is no way that we can physically count hundreds of votes in 45 minutes

I think that most of that is irrelevant to Ireland. As I understand it, in US elections there are usually many posts up for grabs; as I understand it, in Ireland there are usually only one or two, so the count is much simpler. Secondly, as I understand it there's no silly 45-minute count rule. Certainly in the UK we take as long as it takes, which can be days.

You're worried about the cost? $41/h for a constituency of 800? That's about 5 cents an hour per constituent. Suppose it takes 10 hours; that's 50 cents per constituent. How often do you hold elections? Every 4 years? That's about a quarter of a cent per constituent per week. It's sad that you don't think democracy is worth that. In Europe we do.

Re:Old technology is often still superior technolo (-1, Troll)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38682988)

We will hack into your voting machines and pay off your trusted locals, we already are privy to the backdoors.

Then your backdoor, AKA your asshole, will be spectacularly broken into. I speak with authority because I work for the NSA. It's so full of morons, you wouldn't believe how stupid we are. Fortunately, we have a big budget to pay corporations like AT&T, Cisco, and Microsoft for confidential data and our own little rackspaces within their server rooms.

p.s. - you nibble your wife's elbows for fun? You sick, sick fuck.

Re:Old technology is often still superior technolo (1)

mcavic (2007672) | more than 2 years ago | (#38682974)

I agree that legacy technology should not be forgotten, because newer is not always better. But I have to believe that the voting machines would be secure and reliable if they had been designed correctly, and that there are a number of human beings on the planet capable of getting it done today.

Re:Old technology is often still superior technolo (1)

JasterBobaMereel (1102861) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683562)

Paper ballots are a clear transparent verifiable system, I have seen no system that replicates that

The nearest is where you let a machine print your ballot with your choice (so no spoilt papers and easy to count) but then the papers are then counted ....

As soon as a machine counts the papers then accusations of fraud creep in ...and cannot be proved wrong easily so transparency is lost

Re:Old technology is often still superior technolo (1)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683626)

I agree that legacy technology should not be forgotten, because newer is not always better. But I have to believe that the voting machines would be secure and reliable if they had been designed correctly, and that there are a number of human beings on the planet capable of getting it done today.

In a sense that's a fairly simple experimental question. One of those people should build a machine and then, when they are sure it is "secure" they should hand it over for analysis. This won't 100% prove what you say is true, but it will go a long way and it will definitely make the statement falsifiable.

The problem is, that every single person who has claimed to be one of those people so far has built a machine which turned out not to be secure. This isn't proof that a secure machine is impossible, but it's a definite suggestion that it might be and more importantly that we shouldn't put too much effort into buying those machines until the state of the art has advanced considerably. Instead, we should be putting lots of effort into validating computer security generally and making illegal products (n.b. specifically products: things sold for money; as opposed to code given for development reasons) which fail to implement proper security. Once we get more experience with security generally then, in a generation or two, it might be a good idea to come back to the idea of voting machines.

Re:Old technology is often still superior technolo (1)

ettusyphax (1155197) | more than 2 years ago | (#38682986)

I don't see how paper tech is any more secure than these voting machines. I've read the reports on failed machines such as Diebold's and they always assume someone has physical access to the machine, access to nearby computer equipment, access to specific knowledge regarding how the machines are engineered, and a lot of private time. How is this any less secure than storing all the votes on easily misplaced and manipulated paper ballots? Would banks keep buying ATMs from Diebold if they lost money from them frequently? When exactly will security be "good enough?" Where does the battle end? As any good security researcher knows, it doesn't. At some point you have to accept that there will be risk but it is small enough to be within the margin of error in a typical election. Remember the 2000 election? It wasn't just "stuck chads," tens of thousands of votes in key districts were "lost" entirely. This kind of thing happens all the time.

I'm not a security expert by any stretch of the imagination but I could probably make a "good enough" ballot machine with about $1500 and a couple hours time. Secure it physically as much as possible, set up two-factor authentication with a SmartCard and password (or even 3-factor with biometrics if you want to get silly), set syslogd to silently log things remotely, and have the machine dump the votes to a central machine now and then over a VPN. Set up an analytics system which monitors the transactions in real time and reports irregularities to a central authority which can freeze the voting machines if necessary. This is an extremely basic setup but I honestly do not see how it's any less secure than paper ballots.

I can only imagine that it's every company's wet dream to land a gigantic and permanent government contract for voting machines. When there's that much money involved, you can bet there are people working hard on the problem. I would suppose that banks and credit agencies would probably describe my humble setup above as "overkill" for most scenarios, and while they are certainly behind the times security-wise, I'm sure they've done risk analysis to determine that investment in more security measures would not result in a significant amount of money being regained from fraud.

That's what you have to do - calculate your risk and ask if it's worth it. Now obviously that's what the Irish government and various US state agencies claim to have done, but did they calculate that risk against risk associated with paper ballots? Do election officials and politicians want to admit or draw attention to the large amount of fraud that goes on in every election, every year? How much money does Nedap or Diebold donate to the politicians who reject their designs? Not enough, obviously.

Re:Old technology is often still superior technolo (1)

lingon (559576) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683096)

Of the top of my head, I guess the major reason is that with paper ballots there is no attack vector for manipulating the whole system at once. To rig an election, you'd have to bribe a sufficient number of vote counters which isn't easily done without anyone noticing (and the number is quite big for a national wide election, that's why it works so well). When you introduce voting machines, if you discover a hole in the e-voting system you can manipulate the whole system without anyone knowing. Then you introduce a paper trail but (surprise!) you're back to counting ballots by hand anyway. You could of course only count a small subset of all paper ballots but then you make bribing the right people easier. A basic requirement on e-voting machines would, of course, be that they are completely open sourced (both hardware and software) and looked over by the best minds we have. Since that is probably never going to happen, e-voting shouldn't happen either.

Re:Old technology is often still superior technolo (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683158)

I might be mistaken, but I don't believe that evoting machines are typically connected to the internet. At least that's my understanding and the reason why patches are applied directly to the machines rather than across the internet.

The bigger issue is where the manufacturer miscodes the machine or installs patches on some machines in places that are more likely to vote one way or the other. Really, they ought to spit out 3 receipts, one to a roll like they do with security logs sometimes, and two for the voter, one of which would go in a secured bin and the other would be retained for personal record keeping.

If you put a scan code at the bottom which reflects the data on the ticket it should be quite efficient to count as well.

Re:Old technology is often still superior technolo (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683514)

Having the voter retain a copy of their ballot just makes vote buying easier and more practical. "Prove you voted my way before I pay you off."

Re:Old technology is often still superior technolo (1)

putaro (235078) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683522)

The number of holes in the Diebold technology was simply incredible. There were ways to compromise the machines themselves, ways to compromise the software that counted the votes, etc.

There was no way to run a recount. A recount consisted of saying "Yup, I added the numbers again and they're the same". There's no trail of ballots after the election to check. The machines just keep a count and when the election is over, they're wiped.

Add to that the other issues of technology obsolescence and the machines needing to be stored for long periods of time between uses. Add in the difficulties of handing out machines to voting personnel who get an hour's worth of training.

E-Voting is a solution looking for a problem. The paper ballots with optical scanning is as much technology as you need.

Re:Old technology is often still superior technolo (1)

metacell (523607) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683464)

I think paper is safer than e-voting machines, because they can be independently checked by representatives from different parties as they're counted. With electronic voting systems - at least the current ones - you have to give full trust to a single person in each locale (the expert who handles the machine).

Would banks keep buying ATMs from Diebold if they lost money from them frequently?

They do lose money from them frequently. Every now and then there's a newspaper article about how fraudsters skim money from the machines, for example, by placing a false front on them that traps the customers' money. And we only hear about the losses that directly affect customers - the banks keep quiet about the losses that only affects them internally, so as to not lose their customers' confidence.

I'm not a security expert by any stretch of the imagination but I could probably make a "good enough" ballot machine with about $1500 and a couple hours time. Secure it physically as much as possible, set up two-factor authentication with a SmartCard and password (or even 3-factor with biometrics if you want to get silly), set syslogd to silently log things remotely, and have the machine dump the votes to a central machine now and then over a VPN. Set up an analytics system which monitors the transactions in real time and reports irregularities to a central authority which can freeze the voting machines if necessary. This is an extremely basic setup but I honestly do not see how it's any less secure than paper ballots.

It sounds prohibitively expensive, though, when you consider the cost of handing out smartcards to all the millions of registered voters, and then handling millions of forgotten password requests a few days before the election.

It might work in a future where everyone is already using a multi-purpose smartcard.

Re:Old technology is often still superior technolo (3, Insightful)

drkstr1 (2072368) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683014)

There may be secure and reliable e-Voting machines someday,

If some were capable enough to create such system, it stands to reason that some would also be capable of breaking such a system.

Re:Old technology is often still superior technolo (1)

Cigarra (652458) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683284)

There may be secure and reliable e-Voting machines someday,

If some were capable enough to create such system, it stands to reason that some would also be capable of breaking such a system.

I would've modded you, but there's no option "-1 nonsense"

Re:Old technology is often still superior technolo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38683410)

I would've modded you, but there's no "-100 fucking retard." and i'm not the guy in the OP. you're dumb.

Re:Old technology is often still superior technolo (2)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683126)

Theoretically electronic voting machines should be a lot more efficient than pen and paper is. That being said, it's not generally properly implemented and typically you don't end up having any reason to trust the machines.

Diebold for instance patched machines in Georgia during the 2002 gubernatorial race in Democratic leaning precincts. I don't believe that it's ever been properly answered as to why those patches were being made and why they were only patching machines in those precincts, but it does lead to more grave questions about the whole situation. http://rawstory.com/news/2008/Documents_reveal_Georgia_was_warned_of_0730.html [rawstory.com]

With a paper ticket system you can still have the benefits of electronic voting, with verification and the voter should be able to leave the booth with a receipt that can be used to validate results later on if need be.

Re:Old technology is often still superior technolo (2)

lordholm (649770) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683242)

I would suggest the following requirements before anyone designs an electronic voting system:

1. Must allow for anonymous fair voting et.c. (standard stuff from your country's constitution)
2. Should be robust against attacks from individuals.
3. Any attack should preferably leave a trace somewhere.
4. Should a local attack occur, the results should not affect the general results.
5. Voting mechanisms (not necessarily the mathematics, but the actual counting process) must be verifiable by non domain expert. It should be possible to train up an observer in 30 minutes.
6. Voting results should be stored and be possible to be verified and recounted for some time.

It turns out that number 2 and 5 is practically impossible to do with an electronic voting machine, number 6 is also very difficult but could possibly be solved with cryptography, but not without breaking number 1 (anonymous votes). And seriously, what is the point of building an electronic system that can most likely be manipulated without anyone noticing? What is so bad in having to wait a few hours extra for the results, is democracy not worth one hour of waiting?

I suppose that the only argument would be that you can carry out public votes more often, but do people really want to move away from democracy in the direction of ochlocracy?

What may be interesting if you want to speed up the counting process is to make the ballots machine readable, still on paper though.

Re:Old technology is often still superior technolo (2)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683704)

I would suggest the following requirements

There's some things which you are missing:

7) Must be fully understood by and explained to all of the people responsible for running the election, including all of it's basic security implications.

8) those people must have the full capability to monitor and verify all of it's functions whilst at the same time not being able to actually see who has voted for what.

Elections are mostly run by retired people and, to some extent the unemployed, who are responsible for defending against, identifying and mitigating fraud. There is no way to guarantee that these people have CS degrees. At the same time, if a novel attack happens in their particular area, they are likely to be the only people who have the ability to intervene at the right moment.

Imagine, for example, an attack where someone makes it seem like a particular machine has been overvoted on. A person comes along and manages to advance the voting tab by several hundred votes. In a physical situation it is reasonably obvious what to do: lock the ballot box away; when opening it preserve the order of the ballots; attempt to look for fingerprints etc. In an electronic situation there is a high risk that the people will do the wrong thing (e.g. reset the machine or take it out of the count). Until the less computer skilled members of the community can be trusted to do computer forensics; at the very least evidence preservation; voting machines are always going to have serious risks to contend with.

Re:Old technology is often still superior technolo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38683744)

You seriously underestimate the current state of the art of voting cryptography. I will not go into more detail here, however there is enough there that makes only 5 hard, it may take someone with much more skill here, however there can be multiple people who release independant verification tools that verify an election.

Re:Old technology is often still superior technolo (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683340)

Not exactly. Newer technology can be better if it's done right, but can be worse if it's done half-assed. In the case of voting machines, the idea is quite sound, but every implementation we've seen so far has been anywhere from half-assed to totally horrible.

Re:Old technology is often still superior technolo (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683460)

That's an overly simplified view of the issue. The question comes down to what we expect of the technology. Is it practical to hand count millions of pieces of paper when computers exist to sum everything ? No. It's also quite error prone. Security is also a big question. With every election there are many human elements each of which can be compromised. Did Russia used e-voting in their last laughable election? No. The election was still plagued with fraud.

Our problem is that we won't accept a e-voting roll out that only matches what we have now. What we EXPECT is that e-voting will fix all the problems and provide a system that's 100% safe and secure.

It's the same argument with self driving cars. We won't accept a self driving vehicle system that reduces our accident rate even by half. The first death at the hands of a computer will result in a technological witch hunt, as will the first failed election.

Re:Old technology is often still superior technolo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38683776)

"I had to laugh at the picture caption in the article claiming they hoped there'd be a market for these machines in Irish-themed pubs."
When Noonan (current Minister for Finance) said about a market for these machines in Irish-themed pubs, he had his tongue firmly in his cheek.

Look it is real simple: Paper Trail (3, Insightful)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | more than 2 years ago | (#38682828)

You have a verifiable paper print out for every person who votes. They validate it is correct info and it goes into a box for storage. The voting machines give a quick result, but you still have people verify the votes in the next couple days to make sure paper matches electronic voting.

I voted "protest e-vote" in the 2008 presidential elections. This problem if not tackled in the US, will tackle us.

Re:Look it is real simple: Paper Trail (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#38682856)

Why not just the count the paper votes and wait those couple of days to see who wins? And skip the machines entirely.

Re:Look it is real simple: Paper Trail (2)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | more than 2 years ago | (#38682932)

Waiting is for chumps. Also, if you don't have a proper way of marking the paper, you end up with malformed votes which are hard to count: Look at Florida. An evoting machine with a printout will not have these problems.

Re:Look it is real simple: Paper Trail (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683026)

Note that Florida was a voting machine. Use paper and pencils and you have no such issues (sure the odd person who fills the thing in incorrectly, but do you really want their vote to matter anyway?)

Re:Look it is real simple: Paper Trail (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683162)

Because if the machines are working, they're more accurate than a hand count. They need to be spot checked to make sure there aren't any bugs or fraud occurring, but you could just check 10% of the precincts at random (plus any that seem odd) to be reasonably sure of that.

Re:Look it is real simple: Paper Trail (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683172)

Because if the machines are working, they're more accurate than a hand count. They need to be spot checked to make sure there aren't any bugs or fraud occurring, but you could just check 10% of the precincts at random (plus any that seem odd) to be reasonably sure of that.

Re:Look it is real simple: Paper Trail (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683526)

I agree with you but we live in a world of instant gratification. We want everything NOW!

Re:Look it is real simple: Paper Trail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38682864)

You have a verifiable paper print out for every person who votes. They validate it is correct info and it goes into a box for storage. The voting machines give a quick result, but you still have people verify the votes in the next couple days to make sure paper matches electronic voting.
 

I fail to see how using e-ballot+paper trail is superior to plain old paper trail.

Re:Look it is real simple: Paper Trail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38682938)

Because a paperless society ensures that both the electronic folks, and the paper folks get paid. Because going paperless never eliminates the paper, if anything it creates more paper.

Re:Look it is real simple: Paper Trail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38682944)

A quick result and possibly ease of creating said paper trail. A paper trail helps to provide redunancy, security and peace of mind.

Why have more than one door on a car? Whay have more than one email account? Why have multiple phones? Why keep backups of the data on your computer?

Re:Look it is real simple: Paper Trail (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683166)

Basically quick results which can then be audited against the paper trail. Any evote system ought to be mandated to include a paper trail to cover every single vote.

Re:Look it is real simple: Paper Trail (1)

Xeranar (2029624) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683240)

. . .This is one of those "why add X when you're still using Y with it!" arguments that misses the point that Y is now something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT and is used for a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT REASON. The quick results come from the machines and allow the voting process to move faster and with fewer issues (i.e. hanging chads). The paper trail they were referring to is an easily reviewed and printed series of choices on a ravel of paper that is much lighter than the card stock used for voting in other areas. In other words the paper trail they want is more akin to simple review and read while your paper trail is one of a million paper card stock cards with variously confusing ballots printed on them which have to be reviewed and then questioned by both candidates/parties as they see fit.

Re:Look it is real simple: Paper Trail (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683488)

"Verify as correct" is exactly what a large number of these machines can't do. There's been plenty of attacks on machines that have shown to print one thing and record another. So we're back to manual counting. Counting is the very thing you're trying to get rid of. Why bother going digital if you need to manually count.

Ok ok I conceed maybe you should only count when there's a reason to which leads to two questions:
1. When do you decide to do a manual recount?
2. Just how ape shit do you think the country will go if it changes its mind on who is president within a few days of an election?

Re:Look it is real simple: Paper Trail (1)

laron (102608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683700)

In fact, you could use a slightly modified McDonalds cash register as a voting machine, they seem to be designed for just that.

Might I be the first to say... (0, Offtopic)

smi.james.th (1706780) | more than 2 years ago | (#38682836)

In Soviet Russia, the machines vote you!

Re:Might I be the first to say... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38683012)

That's fucking hilarious! I've literally never heard anyone reference that Yakov Smirnoff joke from going on 30 years ago. You're the first. Great job!

Thats alright (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38682862)

Here in America, the republicans have deemed e-voting machines as being wonderful, esp. Diebold's.

At some point (0)

singlevalley (1368965) | more than 2 years ago | (#38682876)

"they" are going to figure out that it is voting that is the problem, and not the machines or the paper ballots, then watch out....

Re:At some point (1)

Xeranar (2029624) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683216)

+1 conspiracy theory
+1 for making a random voting is a threat comment..

I can only hope you meant it in satire... :S

Vote ? No difference (1)

stooo (2202012) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683366)

If elections would make any difference, it would be forbidden.

So... (1)

Ryanrule (1657199) | more than 2 years ago | (#38682880)

Who scored a yacht out of this deal?

The dutch don't use them themselves anymore (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38682946)

Exactly those machines (and others) were outlawed a few years ago by the dutch government, after years of protesting from the http://wijvertrouwenstemcomputersniet.nl/ [wijvertrou...ersniet.nl] action group (translated: 'we don't trust voting machines'). In this action group were a couple of notable hackers and ICT experts - people with some authority when it comes to ICT, who argued that such a black box can not be trusted by the voter in any case.

Options like printing voting tickets - to get both of best worlds (fast counting and verifyable counting) were considered, but quickly dismissed as there was no ready available hardware.

So - luckily - we are now back to voting with paper and pencil. Not everyone is happy with that (because it's slightly more inconvenient - a rubbish statement if you ask me for something you'd do on average once every two years, and especially when you compare it to all other paperwork bureaucracy forces us too). Among the groups against are the more uneducated people (sorry for that statement), and an incidental parlementarian.

I'm glad to see brittain saw the flaws of electronic voting too. I can only hope other countries that still use electronic voting will see it too. If i'm not mistaken, USA has got it's scandals too when it comes to voting machines.

And in practice, voting on paper works out just fine. May take a day longer for the final count, but the newspapers won't complain because now they can bring the news again, instead of the television.

Re:The dutch don't use them themselves anymore (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38683044)

Mea culpa for saying 'Brittain' whereas the story is about Ireland.

Re:The dutch don't use them themselves anymore (1)

laron (102608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683746)

Options like printing voting tickets - to get both of best worlds (fast counting and verifyable counting) were considered, but quickly dismissed as there was no ready available hardware

I find that strange, every supermarket cash register does just that: You (or the cashier) press a button, the item or vote is counted electronically and the machine prints a reciepe that you can check and throw into an urn. Voila: Instant results and you can still count the paper votes.

Did we learn nothing from the Cylon invasion? (1)

flibbidyfloo (451053) | more than 2 years ago | (#38682952)

If only they hadn't network the voting machines the cylons wouldn't have won all the elections and outlawed humans!

Not in America!!! (3, Insightful)

acidradio (659704) | more than 2 years ago | (#38682964)

What the Irish deem to be a tremendous flaw equals profit potential just an ocean away! Security in voting? That's overrated. You could make a mint on these things in the US. One man's trash is another man's treasure! The same deadbeat candidates from one of two overly polarized parties keep winning anyways. Get those questionable voting machines on the next steamer to New York today!

Yawn... (3, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683002)

The only surprise about this is that a public official is admitting it.

No solution selection? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38683008)

should have bought the technology from the brazilians instead, those guys get election results the very same day for years now... and no, paper and pen is not only outdated but plain dumb nowadays...

Wimps (5, Informative)

Bob9113 (14996) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683010)

"the Irish Finance minister has announced that they are now 'worthless'. ... after a confidential report expressed serious concern over the security of the voting machines. ... the integrity of the ballot could not be guaranteed"

Come on, Ireland, where's your sense of tenacity? On this side of the pond we have shown over and over again that voting machines are insecure -- we even had a CEO of one of the voting machine companies promise to deliver his home state of Ohio to to GWB, then had a precinct in Ohio that was using his machines report more votes in favor of GWB than the number of people in the precinct -- and we are still using them.

You can't let a little thing like "failing to provide an accurate and trustworthy tally of votes" keep you from insisting that voting machines provide an accurate and trustworthy tally of votes. There are corporate profits and lobbying money to consider. Are you going to ignore the will of the lobbyists who represent the voting machine companies just because they stand directly opposed to the best interests of the nation? You would not last a second in American politics.

Re:Wimps (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38683210)

Those Irish know NOTHING about the importance of staying the course. Stars and stripes forever!

Why can't anyone get this right? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38683022)

Why not have the government set up a set of requirements after hearing from independent expert. Paper trail, audit capabilities, anonymity and so on.

Then have mathematicians, IT pros, uncle john with his dog and corporations leave feedback on any issue they find.
Fix the problems and keep repeating this until its as good as it will ever get and no one can find a way to tamper with the system.
Then when a complete set of procedures and requirements are available, tender out the manufacturing of any device that is needed.
Give random machine away to anyone who wants to inspect it, including blueprints and source code.
If after a given time, a year, two, five, whatever, accept the machines as approved and use them to hold elections.

It should not be hard or costly.

Re:Why can't anyone get this right? (1)

stooo (2202012) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683382)

>> It should not be hard or costly.
It is impossible.

You cannot make shure the SW is not tampered on the actual machine

Re:Why can't anyone get this right? (1)

metacell (523607) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683518)

What if we do all that, and the best electronic system we can make is less secure than paper, or much more expensive?

resale (1)

baggins2001 (697667) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683110)

I think the Finance Minister greatly underestimated the resale value in the US. But we'll take them for free.

Government wastes money (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683136)

more at 10

Rubes playing a game of false dichotomy (3, Interesting)

Xeranar (2029624) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683202)

Since the 1950s the area of PA I grew up in used electric voting machines (i.e. electric tally machines) that were in fact infallible barring a mechanical breakdown. Nobody could tamper with it, it kept a tally using mechanical reels and could tally into the 10s of thousands from what I understand of it. Each unit would print out a simple list tallying who won in what race by column and number (it was up to the person to put in the appropriate slip for name and position, all were printed at a central place and placed into the machine by verified workers with multiple oversights). The machines were accurate, simple, and they only needed to be plugged in to produce a light, close the shade, and run the reels themselves. Hand ballots are confusing and illogical in that people must either write on them or punch through them. Electronic voting can be tampered with and is utterly insecure by comparison to the other two options. Yet nobody ever contemplates a mechanical solution because that is far too old-fashioned it seems.

I'm sure it is possible to game a mechanical counting machine given enough time and effort but if Florida had had these machines installed the election would have been decided almost immediately and require next to no time to recount. The sorry reality is though that Diebold and their compatriots got paid huge sums to build somewhat secure devices that are too easily tooled with and nothing is going to change that because they have the lobbying power to keep going. To be fair though, I doubt fraud in 99% of cases. I'm more worried for general bugs and failures that cause these machines to malfunction.

Pen and paper ballots. Thanks for keeping them! (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683208)

Pen and paper ballots. Thanks for keeping them!

This will keep the pace at the analogue level and minimize cheating.

I could think of the benefits a decision like this would have on the stock market!

More people employed, slower decisions, worldwide, annual reports, sub-minute transactions not allowed. No electronic gadgets, like the computer machine allowed, cardigans and hot tea. Hmmm...

Can you image what the Anonymous, the fat brats from North Korea, nepotists in Florida, communists in Belorussia, and any other decisive part of the world could do with an electronic version, even smoother.

Pen and paper ballots or any other variant thereof. At least there are something tangible there.

Hrmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38683322)

Wonder what the return policy is...

It's obviously a simple case... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38683328)

of floccinaucinihilipilification.

To the Pubs and Bars with them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38683602)

This is old news in Ireland, already many suggestions are coming out of the regular discussions and chatting that goes on here. I met my neighbour while out walking the dog yesterday and when this subject arose he suggested that there are already plans to install these boxes in pubs and bars to allow the collection of opinion on various topics to be integrated into that particular business sector (badly in need of a shot in the arm since the smoking ban).

Wow, solving two problems with one solution, isn't that a novel idea?

C'mon guys technology hardly ever gets completely worthless, more often misdirected perhaps. Bad management sadly means that the storage of these boxes is a significant cost and the contract to do that continues. A plan to get rid of them will, no doubt, be another cost consideration. What's a few more million?

1+1+1, report, add (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38683720)

Why is counting votes such a hard fucking task?

Voting machines in Ireland and The Netherlands (2)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | more than 2 years ago | (#38683722)

I've kept all the alt.risk from 5-2000 to date. This is from Risks Digest 24.36

Date: Fri, 21 Jul 2006 22:20:30 +0200
From: removed
Subject: Voting machines in Ireland and The Netherlands

According to EDRIGRAM, the on-line newsletter of "European Digital Rights",
number 4.14:

On 4 July 2006, the Irish Commission on Electronic Voting released its
second report on the secrecy and accuracy of the e-voting system purchased
by the Irish Government.

The summary remarks at the beginning of the 200 page report say: "The
Commission concludes that it can recommend the voting and counting equipment
of the chosen system for use at elections in Ireland, subject to further
work it has also recommended, but that it is unable to recommend the
election management software for such use."

The "further work" includes, among others:
1) add a voter verified audit trail;
2) replace the election management software (which prepares election
      data, reads votes from "ballot modules", and calculates results) with a
      version that is developed to mission critical standards;
3) modify the embedded software within the voting machines to bring it
      up to mission critical standard;
4) make certain modifications to the machines themselves;
5) test all components to mission critical standard;
6) modify the specification for the PC that is to be used for vote management;
7) test the system as a whole (including end-to-end testing) to mission
      critical standard;
8) rectify the security vulnerabilities identified in the way data is
      transferred within the system.

This is quite a mouthful. In particular, the "mission critical standards"
may be quite difficult to achieve as a retrofit. The article speculates
that the responsible minister, who declares his intention to continue the
project, "may not realize the extent of the changes required". [Or is it a
polite way of saying "No thank you"? -EK]

Full article at http://www.edri.org/edrigram/number4.14/evotingireland [edri.org]
The article includes several links, including a link to the full report.

As far as I can make out from various sources, the voting machines in
question are essentially the same as the Nedap machines used in The
Netherlands for years. Little public criticism of these machines appears in
the general press.

But they do, indeed, have problems: According to the "Bits of Freedom"
newsletter:

In a local election, one candidate got 1, 3, 7, and 181 votes, respectively,
in the 4 polling stations where he was a candidate. The candidate not only
was en election official in the high-vote station, he operated the machine!

Peter Knoppers, according to the article an expert on voting machines, is
quoted saying that manipulation of the machine by a voting official is "a
piece of cake". For example, if a key is turned at the exact moment of the
vote being acknowledged by the voter, the vote will not be counted. The
missed votes can then be added manually at a later time, for any candidate
of your choice.

Full story (in Dutch) at
http://www.bof.nl/nieuwsbrief/nieuwsbrief_2006_14.html [www.bof.nl]
This article also has several links, all in Dutch.

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