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New Jersey Residents Displaced By Storm Can Vote By Email

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the early-often-and-insecurely dept.

Security 189

First time accepted submitter danbuter writes "In probably the most poorly thought-out reaction to allowing people displaced by Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey [to take part in the 2012 presidential election], residents will be allowed to vote by email. Of course, this will be completely secure and work perfectly!" Writes user Beryllium Sphere: "There's no mention of any protocol that might possibly make this acceptable. Perhaps the worst thing that could happen would be if it appears to work OK and gains acceptance." I know someone they should consult first.

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I didn't know (4, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | about a year and a half ago | (#41871815)

I didn't know New Jersey had over 5 billion residents.
Or atleast that's my estimate of the amount of votes they'll be recieving.

Re:I didn't know (3, Informative)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year and a half ago | (#41871931)

I think the Swiss have been using online voting for a while now: http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-202_162-645615.html [cbsnews.com]

Re:I didn't know (4, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872019)

Yes, but they are Swiss. They make perfect watches, have an insane amount of automatic rifles in homes while not thinking twice about not committing crimes with those rifles while eating their famed chocolate, and are otherwise generally badass. Take that, New Jersey! Still think it could work there?

Re:I didn't know (5, Funny)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872969)

Yes, but they are Swiss. They make perfect watches, have an insane amount of automatic rifles in homes while not thinking twice about not committing crimes with those rifles while eating their famed chocolate, and are otherwise generally badass. Take that, New Jersey! Still think it could work there?

Of course they don't commit crimes with the rifles. They already have all the criminals' money.

Re:I didn't know (3, Insightful)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872131)

And that has nothing to do with email voting.

Re:I didn't know (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41872313)

And that has nothing to do with email voting.

Yes, you're right. It has absolutely everything to do with sanity, trust and integrity, three things that clearly Swiss law favor over American law.

Those also happen to be three things that are also required to at least try and keep a voting system intact, which is why the decision to allow voting by email in the US has got to be one of the most batshit insane ideas I've ever hear...oh who the fuck am I kidding. Like a goddamn thing is going to change no matter which puppet Lobbyists decide to shove their fist deep into.

Fuck it. Vote away.

Re:I didn't know (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41872733)

Those also happen to be three things that are also required to at least try and keep a voting system intact, which is why the decision to allow voting by email in the US has got to be one of the most batshit insane ideas I've ever hear...oh who the fuck am I kidding. Like a goddamn thing is going to change no matter which puppet Lobbyists decide to shove their fist deep into.

Fuck it. Vote away.

I live in NJ. I'm not concerned with this resulting in "extra votes" (we all know that's going to happen here anyway). I want to know how we can make sure all the votes (or at least legitimate votes) get counted. It's very easy to delete an email or toss a fax.

captcha: erasable

Re:I didn't know (4, Informative)

Albanach (527650) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872185)

There was a project sponsored by GNU to develop software that would permit online voting securely. Obviously this would be hugely useful if it were secure and freely available. http://www.gnu.org/software/free/ [gnu.org]

Production stopped in 2002.

Here's what they had to say, "From my experience of designing and developing GNU.FREE over the past three years it has become clear that creating an Internet Voting system sufficiently secure, reliable and anonymous is extremely difficult, if not impossible. As Bruce Schneier points out "a secure Internet voting system is theoretically possible, but it would be the first secure networked application ever created in the history of computers.""

Of course, it's possible the Swiss know something about secure software development that Schneier doesn't. Or perhaps they're just happy to accept the risks.

Re:I didn't know (5, Insightful)

Derek Pomery (2028) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872781)

Even if an online voting system could be implemented in perfect security, I'm still bothered by the fact that the voting booth is supposed to be influence free.

If you go vote, people pressuring you have to stay like 50 metres away from the polling place.

There is no such protection in online voting. A church could put the computer, oh, right in front of the altar and have the congregation line up. Heck. There's a lot of concern about buying votes (personally I'm thinking if you think someone will stay bought for $100 against their conscience, eh, welcome to try). But that whole situation changes with online voting. Again, can have people vote right at their workstation for a bonus in the next paycheck.

I'm sure there'd be proposals of laws against it, but, enforcement is still an issue. Esp since pressure can be as simple as peer pressure.

BTW, on the buying votes front, supposedly each campaign is spending over $1000 per undecided voter in swing states, w/ actual impact of the ads being very hard to measure. Amusing.

Reminds me of all the concern about rich people being able to self-fund campaigns. Should ask Meg Whitman how that worked out for her.

Re:I didn't know (2)

Voyager529 (1363959) | about a year and a half ago | (#41873235)

I live in New York. President Obama is going to get our electoral votes no matter which lever I pull in the booth, so if someone wants to pay me $100 to flip a particular switch, I'll gladly accept their money and pull whichever lever they ask of me - it boils down to literally whether I want $100 or not.

As for pressure on a poll in a church, I'd assume that any non-personal venue that is stated to be a place where votes can be submitted fall under the 100-foot rule, enforcement could be incentive-based - you get 10% of the fine if you submit a photo of a designated polling place where there are Obama/Romney signs. Now if you're voting on your personal iPhone in Times Square, well then I'd assume it'd be your own damn fault for flipping the virtual lever there.

Finally, there are four basic ways for politicians to receive money to run their campaigns:
1.) lots of people with a little money pay for it.
2.) small numbers of people with a lot of money pay for it.
3.) the person running pays their own way.
4.) the government pays for everyone's campaign.

No matter who pays for a campaign, people will complain:
1.) Anyone who's going to put money towards a campaign is not going to put it towards a candidate they're not already voting for. It basically becomes an informal poll, plus it then turns campaigns into "we need your vote AND your money!". Begging for my vote is already painful enough, the amount of $100-or-less donations it'd require for a candidate to earn enough to run a useful campaign for anything larger than MAYBE a House representative is so high that if you've seen a commercial for them, they've likely already won, and then you have the kind of people who would give money to a politician buying them.
2.) We call these small numbers of people either "The One Percent", "Corporations", "Billionaires", "Billionaires in the One Percent who own Corporations", or some loose variant of that. Effectively, it only becomes feasible to participate in government if you've already got the money to avoid any legislation you don't like anyway.
3.) If a person can afford a campaign out of their own checking account, they're clearly both independently wealthy and bored enough to want a part time job behind a desk pushing paper, and are willing to gamble tens of millions of their own dollars to do it. On the bright side, they don't have much of anyone to answer to, so you won't find megacorps pulling strings to get their votes. Conversely, whatever megacorps they own or have significant ties to will likely be favored, as will bills that facilitate them keeping their own money.
4.) Having the government give a set limit to every candidate seems like the fairest system, but even that has significant drawbacks. If the government gives, say, $100,000 to every aspiring senator, I'd be an 'aspiring senator' and run a bum campaign just to get my hands on the money. How do you filter that? Limit to five candidates? Who chooses them? The political parties? Which three minor parties get candidates? Would it not then be jockeying for the grants that is where the race is fought? Do you make the losing candidates pay the money back? Well then you won't have any candidates who don't have $100,000 in the bank running for office, and if they have that kind of cash to blow, then could already fit in category #3 and not waste taxpayer dollars in the process. Meanwhile, you then have the existing representatives deciding whether the amount goes up or down each year, and then there's reverse manipulation of that. ABC wants the Red candidate to win, his TV spots cost $100, while the Blue candidate has to cough up $5,000 for the same spot. NBC wants the Blue candidate, and the reverse is also true. Oh, they have to charge market value and prove it? Okay...ABC gives the Red candidate the best ad slot during Dancing with the Stars, while the Blue candidate can only get the Tuesday 1:33AM ad spot.

Honestly, I've wondered if Slashdot has the right idea - everyone is a part of the voting process, each having a single bill to vote on, who gets what bills to vote on is a mostly random process (e.g. people could assign themselves to categories; you don't want me voting on a real estate taxation bill but you do want me voting on technologically oriented bills, but that doesn't prevent me from possibly getting a real estate bill and possibly weighing my vote accordingly) and maintaining secrecy as to who gets what. Now the issue here is that you have people who still use the spacebar and enter keys to format text in Microsoft Word voting for or against SOPA, but you've already got that now, and any attempts by the corporations that have a vested interest in a particular bill getting passed would have to make their lobbying public. Still not a perfect system, but I can't think of a way to reliably have a large group of knowledgeable, uninfluenced people voting in a way that will always benefit the most people possible - if nothing else, the term "benefit" is tough to define consistently.

Estonia (1)

ryzvonusef (1151717) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872553)

Apparently Estonians vote online too:

http://techcrunch.com/2012/09/24/report-america-ranks-behind-estonia-in-internet-freedom-heres-why/ [techcrunch.com]

http://www.cnn.com/2011/11/08/tech/web/online-voting/index.html [cnn.com]

[Canada], Sweden, Latvia and Switzerland are among the countries that have tested Internet voting.

But when it comes to national elections, Estonia is the clear leader.

The tiny Baltic nation (its population of 1.3 million is roughly the size of San Diego) has allowed online voting for all of its citizens since 2007. In this year's election, nearly one in four votes was cast online, according to its elections commission.

Note that they have a national ID card, reasoning that it's better to have *one* government controlled database that they can control and monitor, rather than to have a zillion databases that are unconnected and contain various levels of information.

Re:Estonia (1)

ryzvonusef (1151717) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872577)

PS: A link to their National ID card management website: http://www.id.ee/ [www.id.ee]

Re:Estonia (4, Insightful)

plover (150551) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872977)

The reporter is obviously confused about the meaning of 'freedom'. The real problems with online voting have less to do with the technology and more to do with the integrity of the process.

Even if an online system worked perfectly, how do you know that when Joe cast his vote that Frank wasn't standing behind him with a gun in one hand and $100 in the other? You don't.

Now, that's a problem with absentee ballots as well, you might say, and you would be right. But the effective difference is the difficulty of scaling fraud up in the physical world as opposed to scaling up fraud in an online world. I might be a rich gangster and hire 10 thugs to influence 10 votes. But as a crooked employer, I could monitor the voting of thousands of employees, and I'd know exactly who is on the short list to be promoted.

Preventing coercion requires the act of moving a voter into a secluded voting booth, with a truly secret ballot.

Crap (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41871851)

New Jersey has 14 electoral votes. Now Obama will have to win both Florida and Ohio if he wants to win this election.

Official Directive (4, Informative)

Robadob (1800074) | about a year and a half ago | (#41871865)

This seems to be the official thing about it because there's some stuff going around twitter that it's a lie. http://nj.gov/state/elections/2012-results/directive-email-voting.pdf [nj.gov]

So it's much worse... (4, Insightful)

thrill12 (711899) | about a year and a half ago | (#41871909)

..as they ask for a "waiver of secrecy": they actually *realize* that the e-mail voting will need the removal of one of they key things in a democratic election: the secrecy of voting. Now an actual record of the vote is transmitted in the clear (when using e-mail) and if anyone coerced said voter they will have undisputable proof what that person voted. I gues the OSCE will write this down in their report [osce.org] ...

Re:So it's much worse... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41871941)

For what it's worth, absentee ballots can already be returned by fax, and the same waiver of secrecy applies.

Re:So it's much worse... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41871961)

Parent wasn't talking about *fax*, but e-mail. There is a big distinction.

Re:So it's much worse... (1)

Gandir (2766981) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872035)

If it was only that it will remove, how about that you can be forced to wote at a specific canditate? There is a reason why you are not allowed to have another person with you in the voteing booth.

Re:So it's much worse... (3, Informative)

sribe (304414) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872223)

..as they ask for a "waiver of secrecy": they actually *realize* that the e-mail voting will need the removal of one of they key things in a democratic election: the secrecy of voting.

Since when is secrecy of voting key to a democracy? This democracy, for one example, was founded without it...

Re:So it's much worse... (2)

Sabriel (134364) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872479)

It's not the key, it's a key. Defense in depth, etcetera.

Also, if by "this democracy" you are referring to the United States: the names of many of the signers of the American Declaration of Independence were initially kept secret, for fear of British reprisals.

Re:So it's much worse... (2)

sribe (304414) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872691)

It's not the key, it's a key. Defense in depth, etcetera.

I agree that providing people with the option for secret voting is good; but I disagree that it is bad to allow a potentially non-secret method to those who prefer it.

Also, if by "this democracy" you are referring to the United States: the names of many of the signers of the American Declaration of Independence were initially kept secret, for fear of British reprisals.

I am indeed referring to the US, where *after* the establishment of the republic, most votes were town-hall style public votes. (The initial anonymity of the signers of the declaration is not at all relevant.)

Re:So it's much worse... (5, Interesting)

plover (150551) | about a year and a half ago | (#41873067)

Allowing non-secret voting creates the conditions under which coercion can take place.

How do we know Tony Soprano hasn't threatened everyone in the neighborhood to vote for his candidate? Let's say one of Tony's associates is at the polling place, "observing" the election as his right. If he is watching you vote, he can be sure you voted his way. If you have the "choice" of a secret ballot or a non-secret ballot, he could tell you up front "don't be choosing the secret ballot, I need to see your vote. Or else."

If the voter is not given the choice of non-secrecy, that vote can't be subverted. In a secret ballot, the voter can always make their own free-will choice. And only through enforcing ballot secrecy can the election judges be certain that the vote was impartial.

Ron Paul... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41871881)

Might actually win.

Easier To Amend The Constitution (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41871885)

It would be easier to amend the constitution to change the date of the election than to set up a secure method of voting by email.

Re:Easier To Amend The Constitution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41872111)

Amendment not required as Congress sets the date of the election.

It's just absentee voting (5, Informative)

Azathfeld (725855) | about a year and a half ago | (#41871895)

You can't just send an email with your vote in it. They're allowing scanned copies of absentee ballots. It's no less secure than absentee voting in general; they'll check the names against the voter rolls just like they do when you vote in person.

Re:It's just absentee voting (3, Insightful)

mysidia (191772) | about a year and a half ago | (#41871913)

they'll check the names against the voter rolls just like they do when you vote in person.

Unfortunately, the list of names on the voter roles is public.

Will they be smart enough to check that for every ballot received by mail, there was actually an application for a ballot by that person?

Re:It's just absentee voting (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41871989)

All voters in Oregon vote by mail. Each ballot is submitted with a signature on the outside envelope. That signature is matched against the voting rolls before the ballot is counted. The ballot is in a secrecy envelope so the person opening it during the counting process doesn't know whose vote it is.

There are several problems with the process described here that make it different. The first is that an electronic signature can be a scanned copy obtained from a different document. The second, raised elsewhere, is that the ballot is not secret. The third is that someone could electronically modify the ballot during and stage of the process. This seems to be relying on a form of "security by obscurity". For a small number of ballots that is probably sufficient. But if you get a large number of ballots it will be an inviting target for someone trying to alter the outcome of the election.

Re:It's just absentee voting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41872257)

In Texas, yes. An Abscentee Ballot must be in lock-step with the requests for the same or it's rejected.

Now...as we know these days, NJ is what they called a "Rotten Borough" in Black Adder. This just simply is owning that it's a Rotten Borough...

Re:It's just absentee voting (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872787)

A rotten borough with no poll tax and five million voters? It's hardly New Romney or Old Sarum.

Re:It's just absentee voting (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872089)

So that'd require those displaced people to have an absentee ballot already - how does that work? Even if they happened to have applied for it, not likely that this is with the stuff they took with them when fleeing their homes.

Also I wonder in general if there is any emergency plan thought out for just this situation. Elections happen often enough and the US is big enough to sooner or later have one seriously disturbed by some major natural disaster somewhere in the country - could be a hurricane, could also be say an earth quake or even a volcanic eruption.

Somehow it seems like a poorly thought out idea indeed. Why not just require thos ballots to be mailed in? I've heard before that in other elections it also may take days or weeks for the final result to come in due to absentee ballots mainly from overseas military personnel that are stuck in the mail.

Re:It's just absentee voting (1)

truesaer (135079) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872499)

If you clicked on the link, it says exactly how it will work. You email them an absentee application, they email back a ballot, you return the ballot. The only difference is that this is not snail mail (and some states already do this for overseas and/or military voters, so it obviously works well enough without the massive fraud people like to predict).

Re:It's just absentee voting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41872365)

New Jersey's email voters can be confident of as secret a vote as voters already get in Colorado, because only election officials will know who they are. (Look it up, folks, and cry.)

And, of course, they'll have as much reason to be confident their votes were counted as residents of any state that uses slot machine (er, electronic) voting.

It doesn't really matter, anyway. When you want to buy an election, the Supreme Court has provided the way.

Re:It's just absentee voting (1)

mtrachtenberg (67780) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872393)

New Jersey's email voters can be confident of as secret a vote as voters already get in Colorado, because only election officials will know who they are. (Look it up, folks, and cry: http://yro.slashdot.org/story/12/09/22/1419211/federal-judge-says-no-right-to-secret-ballot-oks-barcoded-ballots)

And, of course, they'll have as much reason to be confident their votes were counted as residents of any state that uses slot machine (er, electronic) voting.

It doesn't really matter, anyway. When you want to buy an election, the Supreme Court has provided the way.

Validity (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41871899)

Hey if it helps a democrat win in New Jersey, it's a sound policy.

Lol! don't expect a victory on (2)

metaforest (685350) | about a year and a half ago | (#41871905)

Election Night.

*starts making popcorn.

Oh noes, it's by e-mail... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41871923)

Just like mortgage refinance/etc, places that used to accept faxed forms now accept scanned and e-mail forms. With your signature, just like if you had faxed it, or mailed it, etc.

It's like letting people use gas pedals for acceleration instead of buggy whips

Re:Oh noes, it's by e-mail... (1)

mellon (7048) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872291)

No, it's like letting people control the throttle in their car by reaching down into the footwell and tugging on the cable, rather than using a gas pedal.

The next day.... (3, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year and a half ago | (#41871929)

It is amazing! New Jersey had 100% voter turnout and that ALL voted for Romney! It is awesome to see that this state in the face of disaster can turn out a voting percentage that no other state has EVER turned out!

Pundits point at this as an effect of how the TV show Jersey Shore has given NJ residents that the new president will pass a law to get it taken off the air and the cast exiled.

Re:The next day.... (0)

scottbomb (1290580) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872071)

The discrepencies so far have been in favor of Obama. I've seen two distinct stories about voting machines registering Obama when people tried to vote for Romney. Poll workers blame it on "bad calibration". How the hell does that happen? I can write program in about 10 minutes for something as simple as "choose A or B".

I don't trust electronic voting of any kind. As long as a loosly-knit crew like Anonymous can hack the DOD, I prefer paper ballots whether it be in person or by US Mail.

Fake cover for Republican voter fraud (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41872171)

" I've seen two distinct stories about voting machines registering Obama when people tried to vote for Romney"

Yeh, the usual trick Republicans do of accusing the other guy of their crimes.

We have statistical tools that show voter fraud, those tools work EQUALLY WELL for Democrat as Republican fraud.
When applied to the primaries they showed the Republican primaries were rigged to make Romney win by vote flipping. Making a few sham counter claims and hoping that will cover for voter fraud won't work this time.

http://www.themoneyparty.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Republican-Primary-Election-Results-Amazing-Statistical-Anomalies_V2.0.pdf

If you can get the Republicans out of control of Congress, you can finally eliminate these vote rigging machines and go back to a proper paper count system. Those paper votes didn't show the signs of widespread vote rigging, and where the system flagged fraud in the paper vote, fraud was found and confirmed.

Re:Fake cover for Republican voter fraud (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41872263)

Got proof of that? I'd guess not since you're posting as anon coward.

Lots of actual evidence of cheating including the NAACP running a polling station in Houston for Obama and someone getting caught voting twice.

All you've got? Statistical Anomailes?

PLEASE. Grow the fuck up.

Re:Fake cover for Republican voter fraud (2, Informative)

mellon (7048) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872323)

The NAACP story looks manufactured. It's only about twelve hours old. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, is reported about it once it's been properly investigated. I suspect that there will be no followups on the several dozen right-wing blogs that are currently the _only_ source for this story.

Re:Fake cover for Republican voter fraud (1)

ThurstonMoore (605470) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872425)

Got proof of that? I'd guess not since you're posting as anon coward.

This is stupid, I'm posting under my username but I'm still anonymous. I see people post this shit all the time, do you not realize that most likely the person's username is not their real name?

Scientific proof (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41872459)

Proof to a level where the probability of error is so low it's SMALLER THE 0 IN A DOUBLE PRECISION FLOAT.

So yeh, not just 'balance of probability' proof, not just 'beyond reasonable doubt proof', it's a MATHEMATICAL CERTAINTY proof.

Not only that, where they were caught they fessed up and adjusted the vote:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=whWVCxunvNU

And if that wasn't enough, even video evidence of the teleprompter showing the vote at the RND was a fake
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=77W5OKStO5s

So welcome to the new reality, where every little Republican (and it is Republicans who own ES&S/Diebold, and Romney's family trust who've bought Hart Intervic) voter fraud will be clearly identified by statistical means, and every trick recorded by people with video cameras.

Re:Scientific proof (1)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872835)

perhaps you meant "smaller than epsilon". Or are you suggesting that the system has a " negative fault capacity"?

Re:The next day.... (2)

VanessaE (970834) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872217)

Surely they are referring to the calibration of the touch surface relative to the display screen. I've seen this being done on video slot machines for example. When in calibration mode, the machine asks the tech to touch a few specific spots on the screen, notes where the tech appeared to actually touch at, and adjusts a few variables in the math it uses so that future users' inputs will register correctly. I've done the same myself on a touch pad for an old computer once or twice.

In other words, any surface that sends discrete position information to the computer has the potential to need such calibration.

All of that said, there's absolutely no excuse for allowing a machine to continue operating if it is registering votes other than those being requested (not that I mind a few extra votes for Obama over rMoney, but that's a different matter).

Re:The next day.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41872269)

The electronic voting machines used touch screens, which were the part that became misaligned. The area for selecting each candidate moved down a bit from where it was supposed to be resulting in Obama's being partway over Romney's button while Romney's was partway below his button. Using touch screens for voting seems a bit stupid to me, but since they already used them it's no surprise that this happened and is unlikely to be the result of favoring one candidate or the other. I've encountered similar touch screens at stores and ATMs. (though most of the ATMs went back to using regular buttons)

the voteing systems have cheap touch screens (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872331)

the voteing systems have cheap and old touch screens.

Also in voteing it not as easy as "choose A or B". in some races.

Re:The next day.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41872585)

The discrepencies so far have been in favor of Obama. I've seen two distinct stories about voting machines registering Obama when people tried to vote for Romney.

Oh let me guess, you've not seen the stories about Obama voters being called and mislead about when or how to cast their votes?

Here, go do some reading:

http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2012/10/24/1079391/5-voter-misinformation-campaigns-to-watch-out-for/?mobile=nc

Poll workers blame it on "bad calibration". How the hell does that happen? I can write program in about 10 minutes for something as simple as "choose A or B".

I don't trust electronic voting of any kind. As long as a loosly-knit crew like Anonymous can hack the DOD, I prefer paper ballots whether it be in person or by US Mail.

Well, that's fair enough, but the problem isn't with the selection, but the mechanics of a touch-screen. The same problem could happen with an optical scan ballot too, and if you don't know how bad human error is, well...

Re:The next day.... (2)

Shadowmist (57488) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872841)

The discrepencies so far have been in favor of Obama. I've seen two distinct stories about voting machines registering Obama when people tried to vote for Romney. Poll workers blame it on "bad calibration". How the hell does that happen? I can write program in about 10 minutes for something as simple as "choose A or B".

I don't trust electronic voting of any kind. As long as a loosly-knit crew like Anonymous can hack the DOD, I prefer paper ballots whether it be in person or by US Mail.

You ever use a kiosk? Touchscreens can and DO go out of calibration which means that the virtual pointer does no match the position your finger touches on the screen. In my line of work, fixing touchscreen calibrations on Wal-Mart, Sams Club and Rite Aid photo kiosks are a common call.

Re:The next day.... (1)

Shavano (2541114) | about a year and a half ago | (#41873103)

It's only available as an option for displaced voters and they'll identify those by location (e.g. the Jersey shore.). Obama has about an 11% advantage in New Jersey, so I think his NJ electors are safe. The House and Senate seats look pretty safe too. I guess it could affect some local races.

This has been in place... (4, Informative)

bmo (77928) | about a year and a half ago | (#41871943)

... already. They are merely letting people be treated like overseas military.

FTFA

"Officials say electronic voting is also an option for emergency workers. The option is already open to New Jersey voters overseas and in the military."

It's not like someone just came up with an idea yesterday.

--
BMO

Re:This has been in place... (1)

StormyWeather (543593) | about a year and a half ago | (#41871971)

So how do they reconcile if someone emails a ballot twice from two email addresses? I can see how it's a bit less likely to be fudged if the email was sent from a .mil address because those would be verified email addresses. I'm not so much against it as I'm interested in seeing that it's accurate, and people don't feel disenfranchised by fake votes.

Re:This has been in place... (1)

bmo (77928) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872093)

>So how do they reconcile if someone emails a ballot twice from two email addresses?

I would think there would be some sort of cryptographic signature embedded in the emailed ballot, so they only get that one ballot back and not a hundred copies.

--
BMO

Re:This has been in place... (3, Insightful)

mellon (7048) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872353)

How would that work? Suppose I get a ballot, and scan it, and that scan gets out. The "cryptographic signature" will be on every copy of the scan. How will they know which one is mine? I think in this case, if what you suggest were true, my vote would either not be counted, or would be swamped by all the hacked copies. Either way, I lose.

Cryptography isn't a magic want that you can wave over a security problem to make it go away. It's a useful tool, but this is a _really_ hard problem, and what's been proposed here is not in any way secure.

Re:This has been in place... (1)

bmo (77928) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872827)

>what's been proposed here is not in any way secure.

The article doesn't even get into any security at all. It's just an announcement and I'll bet the reporter didn't even bother to ask.

Come on, man.

You wanna find out? How about you go call up the NJ Board of Elections.

--
BMO

Re:This has been in place... (2)

TheGavster (774657) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872203)

The "From" field of an SMTP transaction isn't authenticated, it's just something that the sender supplies. It works the same way, and has the same reliability as the return address area of a snail mail envelope. Yes, the mail carrier (or SMTP server) could check it against the mailbox it is collected from, but practically that doesn't happen (and in fact for email, as it may have been relayed through intermediate servers, there's situations where the @ clause of the from field wouldn't match the RDNS of the connection). You can send mail that appears to be from your boss, a .mil address, even "marvin@olympus.mars" if you want.

The way I read this was that what they were allowing was to obtain an absentee ballot by email (fill out a web form and they email you a generated PDF); the mechanism for returning the ballot wasn't clear (I assumed that you'd snail mail it back like a normal absentee ballot, but I could be wrong).

Re:This has been in place... (2)

squiggleslash (241428) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872445)

Probably the same way they reconcile it if they get snailed mailed two ballots for the same person.

Look, it's not hard people. This is vote-by-mail with the "Mailbox to Voter Office" part of the process replaced with "scan and fax or email from home to Voter Office." There is no way to commit fraud that wasn't already possible.

Re:This has been in place... (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872005)

Getting all the ballots out and back (ok, they have until the 19th for that part) in such a short time could be an issue. Phone lines and the tubes could get clogged with all the traffic.

Not so shocking as it seems (3, Informative)

yelvington (8169) | about a year and a half ago | (#41871969)

Absentee voting already works this way pretty much everywhere in the United States:

First, you have to already be registered, so the notion that nonexistent people are suddenly able to vote is nonsense.

Second, you must file a request to get the absentee ballot. In most states you do not have to show any form of ID to do so, but your name is checked against the registration records before any ballot is provided.

Third, you fill out the ballot form, sign it, and mail it in. Note that the signature means your ballot is not really "secret."

Fourth, the forms are checked against the registration rolls again when they are counted, and signatures also may be checked (usually a sampling are spot-checked). In many places, absentee votes are counted AFTER the live votes and they may even be skipped if the number of absentee votes would not change the outcome of the election. If a voter has voted at his or her precinct, and an absentee ballot from the "same" voter shows up, that's an obvious case of fraud and the ballot is set aside.

There is no reason to imagine that email makes this any less secure than the snail mail system.

Re:Not so shocking as it seems (1)

metaforest (685350) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872009)

No it is not if the process for handling postal voting is well established for the majority of voters in a district. (Or in my case the whole county) But during a FEMA disaster and an increased need.... there's plenty of room for grubby paws... and I think that is the concern.

Re:Not so shocking as it seems (1)

Entrope (68843) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872081)

There are a number of good reasons to believe that email voting is less secure than snail mail. Among them: it is easier to change, forge or destroy electronic records than physical ones; there fewer legal protections for email than postal mail; and there is much less experience with email voting, so mistakes are easier to make and fraud is easier to commit.

Re:Not so shocking as it seems (2)

Aserrann (1029174) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872183)

I voted absentee this year, and unless my state (New Hampshire) is the odd one out (always possible), you have the process wrong.
I filled out a ballot, which had no identifying marks on it at all. No signature, name, or anything like that.
Then, that was sealed inside an envelope with a statement I had to sign saying that I myself completed the ballot, and it was the only ballot I filled out.
That envelope was then put inside another envelope that could be dropped in the mail or handed in at the town office.
Once the envelopes were stripped out, there was no way to tell who had filled in the ballot.

Plan old absentee mail in voting. (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about a year and a half ago | (#41871973)

How is this any different from postal votes? Who cares if it's sent via email or via the post.

I guess email is more easily intercepted and the contents changed, but standard post isn't immune form that either.

Re:Plan old absentee mail in voting. (1)

demonlapin (527802) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872145)

Intercepting and tampering with an email with an attached image is a lot easier than intercepting and tampering with a physical ballot in the possession of the US Mail. Something placed inside a physical envelope and handed off to a postal worker enjoys enormous protection under US law; email does not.

Re:Plan old absentee mail in voting. (1)

mellon (7048) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872397)

Also, in order to sign a ballot you have to physically handle it, which means your fingerprints will be all over it. And you have to sign it with a physical pen. A suspect ballot should yield a lot of information to a forensic analysis.

Re:Plan old absentee mail in voting. (2)

squiggleslash (241428) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872565)

There are always edge cases, but I can see ways in which postal votes would be less accurate, and emailed votes would be more accurate.

Mail in the US is normally left in householder's unsecured mailboxes for a mailman to pick up during the day and put into the postal system. Checking the mailboxes of homes displaying "Vote {My candidate's opponent}" signs and "disappearing" the easily identified mailed votes before the mailman gets there is certainly a practical concept. You wouldn't get all the votes that way, but you'd get enough to make a difference.

Can the same be done with email? Yes, kinda, but these days there's an expectation that your email is not going to go through, and quite honestly if you don't get an acknowledgement that your ballot was delivered in a reasonable period of time, then you're going to investigate. And acknowledgements themselves are going to be suspected by the more paranoid users who will follow up with phone calls and other contact methods. If someone gets an "acknowledgement", and then calls the polling office and finds it's forged, then - whoops!

Now, you're talking tampering, but actually tampering a scan is relatively hard to do in a way that cannot be detected. Moreover, it takes time, time that would make it uneconomical for most entities to do it. If a rogue sysadmin at Google's GMail department seriously wants to f-ck with emailed ballots, they could easily drop a few thousand with a "misconfiguring" of their MTA, but it would get progressively harder to do in a way that detects votes against their favored candidate, and it would get impossibly hard to do without an army of photoshop experts to intercept, modify, and send, a few thousand ballots (enough to make a difference.)

Also bear that in mind - that the fraud would have to be from someone at Google, Yahoo, Hotmail, or AOL, to stand a serious chance of swaying the vote. A sysadmin at an ISP with a few thousand users or less is highly unlikely to be able to intercept enough votes to make any difference. For all of the faults of "big corporations", few would be in a position to secretly sway an election in this way without a whistleblower calling it, few would have employees in situations where they could sway an election without their employer finding out about it and firing them, and few would actually risk everything in order to change whether tweedledum or tweedledee actually wins.

Given the time constraints with this, I don't see any legitimate reason to criticise NJ on this. If they'd given notice last year they were going to do it, or if they weren't requiring scans of presumably unique paper documents sent to each address, then yeah, there'd be a heavy probably of mass fraud that wouldn't otherwise exist, but I just don't see it here, and Slashdot should probably tone down their hysterical summary on this.

Why even bother (1)

rjejr (921275) | about a year and a half ago | (#41871993)

Unless people live in Ohio or Florida why even bother to vote, much less set up new ways to vote? NJ and CT haven't voted republican since 1988, NY since 1984, anybody think it's going to be any different this year?

Re:Why even bother (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41872107)

There are non-Presidential elections on the ballot, even in New Jersey.

Re:Why even bother (1)

Shadowmist (57488) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872851)

There are non-Presidential elections on the ballot, even in New Jersey.

There are also ballot initiatives in particular, Proposition 1 which is something that sorely needs to pass for the future of higher education in the state.

Re:Why even bother (-1, Troll)

KiloByte (825081) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872115)

Because you currently have the very worst president in your country's history. And with a bar set that high by his predecessor, that's really an achievement. The contender looks like he might try his strength in this competition, though.

And why the worst? Note what other US presidents commonly nominated as the worst did: spying on _one_ hotel rather than on the whole nation, underestimating an internal conflict, accepting bribes from a single minor oil operation. That's all peanuts compared with Dubya or Barrack Hussein.

Who'd have thought Obama could be twice as bad (0)

raymorris (2726007) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872251)

Yep. What makes the fanbois seem so silly is that both Bush amd Obama are indefensible by any objective measure. By many measures, Obama is twice as bad as even Bush was. For example, Obama more than doubled the budget deficit. Hopefully Romney will be better, he could hardly be worse than Obama or Bush. These last two were horrible by any measurement not specifocally chosen to try to make them look good. Clinton, Bush 1, Reagan, all much better than Obama or Bush 2.

obama has a health care plan Romney filp flops on (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872401)

obama has a health care plan Romney flip flops on it.

The gop was 1st with the mandatory health care idea. To get rid of pre existing conditions. But now that obama has is name on that plan based off the romneycare plan. It has to go along with all the sick kids that will get kicked out if it is Repealed and the ER will not cover all there needs.

Re:Who'd have thought Obama could be twice as bad (2)

mellon (7048) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872403)

Bush didn't count the war effort in the budget deficit, so when Obama updated the numbers to reflect reality, the hit showed up on his balance sheet. Similarly, Bush presided over the economy that created the need for deficit spending, but that shows up on Obama's balance sheet. You don't blame the CEO you hire to fix a failing company for the failures of his or her predecessor, even if it takes a while to turn the beast around.

Re:Who'd have thought Obama could be twice as bad (3, Insightful)

meglon (1001833) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872413)

For example, Obama more than doubled the budget deficit.

It's too bad more people don't have a basic grasp of reality. The day Obama took office, the deficit was projected at over a trillion dollars for that year... a deficit on a budget put forward by: Bush.

Lets get to the heart of the matter though. Bush kept his budget deficits low (if you consider half a trillion low) by keeping both wars and homeland security entirely off budget. There's a minimum 300 billion a year that wasn't applied to the deficit as it should have been. I know, fucking idiot republicans believe all the bullshit their told, but reality is reality.

In addition to that, Obama's budget last year added in the interest on the national debt, something that hadn't been done. There's another 250 billion that was going directly to the national debt that wasn't in Bush's budgets (to be fair, it wasn't in anyone's budgets until Obama put it in there... which is why Clinton had budget surpluses, yet the national debt still went up).

Obama's deficit now contains Bush's wars, homeland security spending, and the interest on the national debt. If those numbers were added to Bush's "budgets," his deficits would have run 650 billion to over a trillion EVERY SINGLE YEAR.

Now lets talk about where else our debt came from. The day Bush Jr entered office, the 10 year projected SURPLUS was ~5.3 trillion. The national debt at that time was ~5.7 trillion. So, did republicans step up and make the "hard" choice of leaving in place policy that was projected to pay off almost the entire national debt in 10 years? Fuck no, they're too big of fucking hypocrites, and completely incapable of governing EVERY time they get into power. Those fucks voted in a tax cut that sent massive mounts of your grand children's money to the wealthiest people in this country.

Add in two wars put directly onto the credit card, the drug medicare/medicaid give away of taxpayer money to pharmaceutical companies, and you have MASSIVE DEBT SPENDING that anyone other than a totally fucked in the head conservative ideologue could spot from another galaxy.

...and the worthless republican fucks want to blame Obama for everything. Take a quarter, and go buy a fucking clue... you need one, desperately.

If the USA was a true democracy (0, Flamebait)

tp1024 (2409684) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872011)

If the USA was a true democracy, it would defer the vote until after the clean-up, to ensure a free, fair and equal vote. (Which it doesn't have in the best of years.) But seeing that the USA is very far from being a true democracy and the current situation is deemed to be beneficial by both canidates(*), this is unlikely to happen.

(*)Obama hoping to be seen in a favorable light in response to the hurricane and Romney fearing to be seen in an even worse light with every passing day.

Re:If the USA was a true democracy (4, Insightful)

Guppy06 (410832) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872129)

If the USA was a true democracy, it would defer the vote until after the clean-up,

"For the duration of the crisis?" Who gets to decide when it's over, the Senate or Caesar?

Democracy cannot be considered a luxury that one can "put off" when times are bad. Rather, the government needs to double down and make sure polling places and post offices are secure and accessible, no less so than food, water and shelter.

Re:If the USA was a true democracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41872265)

The UK didn't hold any elections during WWII. In 1940 Winston Churchill became Prime Minister and united the parliament behind a single non-partisan position prosecuting the war against Germany. There was no support for any other position because Hitler had demonstrated (by repeatedly breaking promises not to further expand) that no outcome except war was possible. Holding an election would have needlessly diverted resources needed for the war effort. In 1945, with the war's outcome settled the UK held a fresh election and Churchill's party lost overwhelmingly.

Re:If the USA was a true democracy (2, Insightful)

Svartalf (2997) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872271)

Ah, but we're not a Democracy. Democracy is MOB RULE.

We're a Democratically Elected Republic- and you should learn the distinction and learn it well.

Re:If the USA was a true democracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41872379)

I used to tell people that we are not a democracy but instead a republic. At some point the definition of democracy was changed to make a democracy and a republic synonymous.

Re:If the USA was a true democracy (1)

Livius (318358) | about a year and a half ago | (#41873325)

A plutocracy is neither.

Re:If the USA was a true democracy (1)

tp1024 (2409684) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872359)

How about: When those displaced have had an opportunity to find semi-permanent shelter and the number of people without power has dropped significantly below 100,000? Last I heard, there are still 2,500,000 of those around.

Re:If the USA was a true democracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41872417)

If the USA was a true democracy, it would defer the vote until after the clean-up,

"For the duration of the crisis?" Who gets to decide when it's over, the Senate or Caesar?

Democracy cannot be considered a luxury that one can "put off" when times are bad. Rather, the government needs to double down and make sure polling places and post offices are secure and accessible, no less so than food, water and shelter.

Use your head. January 20th is over 2 months away. As hard as everyone is working to restore some semblance of order, I seriously doubt it's going to take quite that long to get electricity back up and running well enough to have a voting day a month from now when voters in the northeast aren't scrounging in dumpsters for food or standing in line for hours for gas. Yeah, might just be a slight impact on voter turnout with that shit going on. Go fucking figure.

And it's not like Obama needs any "prep" time if he wins, he's already doing the damn job. And Romney won't even be debriefed until he takes the position, so there's only so much prep he can do if he wins.

Re:If the USA was a true democracy (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | about a year and a half ago | (#41873333)

get electricity back up and running

The system for national elections in the United States was established before there were any railroads, let alone electricity. New Jerseyites have been voting in regular elections over two centuries before anybody gave a damn about cell phone reception.

Use your head. January 20th is over 2 months away.

Use yours and ask yourself why there are weeks-long gaps between the day of the election and the sitting of the electors, between the sitting of the electors and the beginning of the new Congress, and the beginning of the new Congress and the beginning of the presidential term. The system was designed around a complete lack of anything a modern person would call "infrastructure."

No priority can be greater for a republican government than protecting the democratic process and, through it, the state's own legitimacy. Without that, the state can't legitimately act to get anything "up and running" again.

Re:If the USA was a true democracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41872147)

You are mistaken, The USA is not a true democracy, it is a Republic.

Re:If the USA was a true democracy (0)

sribe (304414) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872315)

You are mistaken, The USA is not a true democracy, it is a Republic.

It is a democratic republic. If you're going to be pedantic, at least try to be correct.

Re:If the USA was a true democracy (1)

tp1024 (2409684) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872373)

So was the Democratic Republic of Germany ... also known as Eastern Germany.

Re:If the USA was a true democracy (1)

TheGavster (774657) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872219)

While the impact of the storm seems large, it is a fairly small proportion of the country (the most densely populated part, granted) which is affected. And I would ask, is there any part that is more impaired than the normal state of the late 18th-century citizens who voted the first time?

Re:If the USA was a true democracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41872243)

The US has turned the law into a scholastic exercise. The US Supreme Court ruled some years back that the Florida vote recount was not allowed because Florida couldn't finish the full recount by the Constitutionally determined date. Same here, I'm certain the SCOTUS would gleefully disenfranchise the whole East Coast (with a 5-4 vote) rather than violate the election date mandate of the Supereme Court.

Re:If the USA was a true democracy (1)

sribe (304414) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872385)

The US has turned the law into a scholastic exercise. The US Supreme Court ruled some years back that the Florida vote recount was not allowed because Florida couldn't finish the full recount by the Constitutionally determined date.

Florida did not try for a full recount. Had they done so, they would have finished in time--in fact they would have finished before that matter went to the Supreme Court. Instead they tried a bald cheat, only recounting counties that heavily supported the candidate favored by the Florida state Supreme Court. In fact, they tried it twice, despite being slapped down by the US Supreme Court--so they had two chances to do a full recount, and passed up the second one knowing that the plan for a targeted recount had already been rejected.

Why exactly should they have been given a 3rd chance to perform a full recount? (Especially considering that the full recount would have been no more fair. The margin between the candidates was orders of magnitude below the margin of error for Florida's incredibly stupid ballot system, so a full recount would have been not one bit more fair than a coin toss.)

Before you argue this, remember that there were *two* decisions issued by SCOTUS on that case. One was 9-0, one was split 5-4 along conservative/liberal lines. If you understand the decisions and the split, fine, fire away. If you (like every person so far I've heard whine about SCOTUS "stealing" the election) don't know what I'm talking about, then shut the fuck up until you do.

Re:If the USA was a true democracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41872575)

Florida did not try for a full recount. Had they done so, they would have finished in time--in fact they would have finished before that matter went to the Supreme Court. Instead they tried a bald cheat, only recounting counties that heavily supported the candidate favored by the Florida state Supreme Court.

I fully agree that the Florida Supreme Court was playing games, but so was SCOTUS. The "they would have finished in time" should have played no role in the decisions.

Same way here in NJ. Instead of panicking and risking the fairness of the election with half-baked voting schemes, they should have taken a common-sense breather as proposed by the GGP post.

Yeah right (1)

p51d007 (656414) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872325)

2 things.... Oh, I"m sure there won't be any voter fraud from: billsmith@hotmail.com billsmith@gmail.com billsmith@yahoo.com etc.... Second, say a bunch of people in the housing projects, don't have email, or, some of the elderly who still don't have internet or email.

And a delay of voting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41872371)

...would not work why exactly?

Seriously, not like these guys are going anywhere, or the voters for that matter. January 20th is a long way off, and we've had a lot of things cancelled and rescheduled due to it.

No, the storm may not have directly impacted most of the country, but it certainly impacted a good portion of the voting community.

Re:And a delay of voting... (3, Informative)

RightwingNutjob (1302813) | about a year and a half ago | (#41872677)

Because the US constitution says the vote happens on Nov 6. You start making exceptions for hurricanes, do you extend those to nasty thunderstorms, or a little bit of snow on the ground, or below freezing temperatures, or global warming in general? Some things you just have to be a stickler for.

This isn't really that complicated (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41872845)

The thing that makes online voting hard is that people want it to be:
1. Convenient
2. Secure, Accurate, and reliable
3. Anonymous

If you take away #3, then it's pretty easy. (And #3 is already gone if you are using email!).
Since email isn't typically authenticated, a way to make sure nobody is sending in fake emails works like this:
1. You email your vote.
2. The government sends you a confirmation flyer or something with your vote printed.
Then everyone will know their vote was counted properly, and can complain if they get a flyer saying they voted differently than they really did (or received a flyer when they didn't vote at all).
If they want to be even more sure, then they can have an audit after the election where everyone has to come in in person and show their ID and confirm their vote. (When things are stable again). If a significant number of people have different results than they remember, then you have a recount.

how about unique random tokens (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41873091)

Voter mails: "My name is X and I want to vote"
Government replies: "Dear Mr.X your token is 72951413 you may proceed"
Voter mails: "I want to vote Ron Paul, my token is 72951413"
Votes are counted and a list of all tokens with respective votes is published

Voters can then report when votes were rigged

Oblig: What can possibly go wrong? (0)

guspasho (941623) | about a year and a half ago | (#41873185)

Just remember, penile extension ads are votes for Romney, and free credit ads are also votes for Romney.

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