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Unauditable Voting Machines

michael posted more than 11 years ago | from the buchanan-wins-big dept.

Technology 343

CustomDesigned writes "AP news has a story on how the new proprietary voting machines for Palm County, FL are working (or not). It seems that voters are complaining that their votes weren't taken. The company claims that the machines are "self auditing", but won't say how they are "audited". The loser of a mayoral race is suing for a review of now the machines work. But doing so voids the warranty, so the election supervisor won't allow it. So, nobody knows how the machines work, but as long as we don't try to find out, the company "guarantees" that they do - whether they seem to or not. I don't expect are problems this fall, do you?" After the debacle, there was lot of noise about electronic voting systems, even ones which use open-source software and were thus completely auditable. Absolutely none of that talk has made it into practice.

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Jen bush rides again (0, Flamebait)

linuxislandsucks (461335) | more than 11 years ago | (#3921924)

Sounds like Jeb Bush all over again..

When are people going to wake up to the fact that republicans are trying to take away our liberties and rights?

Re:Jen bush rides again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3921951)

Like a government of 100% Democrats will be any better.

Re:Jen bush rides again (2)

sallen (143567) | more than 11 years ago | (#3921963)

>>Like a government of 100% Democrats will be any better.

Actually, the Palm Beach folks are Democrats, who control the election board in the county. And this LaPore is the same one who was there during the 2000 elections.

But that company sure has a good one going, IMHO. You have a device, it decides elections, it is 'self auditing', and if you want someone to review and audit the system independantly, it voids the warranty, etc. I'd love to see Ms. LaPore tell a judge the first time an election is challenged 'we take the answers on faith Your Honor and no, we have no way of knowing if it's right or wrong as there's no way to audit the data and nobody can review the machines or code because there are trade secrets'.

IMHO, I have a strange feeling the 'competitive bidding' process and technically written RFP's weren't exactly the top priority in Palm Beach County in making this decision. It makes one wonder what was.

Don't forget... (2)

Scratch-O-Matic (245992) | more than 11 years ago | (#3921953)

they also want to kill all the old people, and poison the water.

And starve the children.

Damn republicans...I wish they'd leave so the other 50% of the country could grow and prosper.

Republicans take up half the country? (1)

hackwrench (573697) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922154)

And here I thought that most of the country were non-aligned.

Re:Jen bush rides again (2)

fmaxwell (249001) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922158)

When are people going to wake up to the fact that republicans are trying to take away our liberties and rights?

Most thinking people realized that after September 11. The Republicans have turned that one act of terrorism into an excuse to make this a police state. People are being forced to show ID to fly. ISPs are being told to help the government spy on citizens. Phone conversations are monitored without warrants. People flying on airlines can be pulled aside, frisked, and have all of their belongings unpacked and searched without any probable cause.

I think that there are very few thinking people who don't see this.

Co-incidence? (0)

Scrab (573004) | more than 11 years ago | (#3921928)

You decide........

Na, when morons run the show this is the result. (0)

BoomerSooner (308737) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922008)

Who cares really. Next time someone says "Your vote counts!" I'll remind them that all the votes (electoral) went to GWB in my state. Since I voted Gore my vote didn't count. Our electoral process is a joke. No wonder people don't vote.

My Vote (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3921931)

I vote for demise of slashdot, a pathetic shell of the blog it once was.

Slashdot Moderation System is Unauditable (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3921935)

oh please, why don't you guys try to make your own system accountable to the public instead of an absolute and secret rule by the editors.

Please don't throw stones in your own glass house, you hypocrites.

Nearly slashdotted already. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3921937)

Printer Friendly version [mgnetwork.com]

Jul 16, 2002

Expert: Palm Beach's New Voting Machines Have Problems By Jill Barton
Associated Press Writer

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) - The voting machines that replaced butterfly ballots and hanging chads are checked by an "Enron-style of auditing" and don't provide voters any assurance that their votes are being cast, an expert testified Tuesday.

Rebecca Mercuri, a computer science professor at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, said questions remain about the $14 million machines Palm Beach County purchased to improve its voting system because they are designed to audit themselves.

"The problem with the self-auditing machines is if it's broken, how can it tell you that it's broken?" Mercuri said.

Mercuri's testimony provided the latest criticism of a county still embarrassed by the 2000 election debacle. She was called in a Tuesday afternoon hearing to bolster a Boca Raton man's claims that he lost a City Council election in March because the new machines malfunctioned.

Former Mayor Emil Danciu's suit seeks to have the results overturned and a new election held.

The suit includes affidavits from eight voters who said they had trouble casting ballots on the ATM-style machines and says voters should be given paper receipts to confirm their vote was recorded.

It also seeks to allow an independent review of the voting machines and related software and security features.

Supervisor of Elections Theresa LePore says such a review would void the machines' warranty and that they've been reviewed twice by labs appointed by the federal government and also by a state worker.

She says most of the information the plaintiffs are seeking is filed with the state Division of Elections in Tallahassee and even if it were available, she couldn't provide it because it includes trade secrets of Sequoia Voting Systems Inc., which manufactures the machines.

"I'm not willing to let anyone take a machine and take it apart," LePore said. "I don't think the taxpayers would appreciate them taking apart a $3,500 machine and voiding the warranty."

LePore has said the only problems reported to her office following the March election were screens temporarily freezing when voters chose between English and Spanish, which did not prevent voting.

She said the machines further demonstrated that they work Saturday when the county held a mock election in supermarkets and shopping malls allowing voters to try out the machines.

AP-ES-07-16-02 1756EDT

Unaditable Censorship! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3921938)

version 1.2.1, (last updated 20th July 2002) [slashdot.org] Note to moderators : Do not moderate this post down, if you do then you support the editors stance on censorship and you support the end of free speech and support evil organisations like Microsoft, RIAA, MPAA and laws like the CBTBA and DMCA. Moderating this post will only waste mod points, and will not work! Sign this petition, let your voice be heard! [petitiononline.com] Slashdot is using censorship! It is trying to eridicate free and open discussion like we know slashdot to be, it has the following RESTRICTIONS in place to Censor you They claim they don't, but they do, wonder why their are so many trolls, crapflooders and lamers on slashdot, because they are fighting for their rights! Slashdot is trying to silence the trolls. Remove the filters, the trolls get bored, and slashdot will be troll free!
  • Lameness filters (It blocks a lot of legitmate posts)
  • Unnessary posting delays. Hasnt taco learned to touch type? A lot of posts are typed in less than 20 seconds and it is a ANNOYING DELAY! 2 minute ban? Come on, so some are faster then others, big deal, some people have more to say than others
  • Broken moderation system, The whole point is to sort the gems from the crap, yet a lot of posts designed to make a LIVELY DISCUSSION are MODERATED as flamebait! Come on, not everyone likes X, but just because some one bashes it dosent mean its Flamebait. Flame bait is more useful for DIRECT INSULTS and not legitmate discussions.
The "troll" moderation reason is fragmented and broken, why? Because they are trying to use an obsolete usenet term on a realtime discussion, "trolls" can cover a huge blanket of ideas.
  • Crapfloods, a meaningless flood of random letters or text, which the lameness filter does a crappy job at trying to stop, besides trolls have written tools using the opensource slashcode to generate crapfloods which bypass the filter
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Re:Unaditable Censorship! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3921970)

I agree with this post.

Secondly, I'd like to point out that Slashdot these days sucks fat Cowboy ass trinkets. It's like having a white hot brazing rod rammed up your penile open sores hole.

Thirdly I'd like to point out the rampant homosexuality on Slashdot. I am afraid now to post with my real account because I actually get email propositions from GUYS on slashdork now. Can you believe this shit? I cunt

Slashdot at one point actually was cool because of the tension between trolls (good) and compugeek fanboys (bad). If you want to read the funny shit, you read at -1. If you wanted to read Linux tentacle rape fanboy tripe, you read at +2 or higher. Simple. Let the reader censor for himself. Now the Janitors are trying to eliminate the growing criticism of the rapidly failing slashcrap website. I mean really how much Lunix bullshit can you read in one day.

Finally I would to claim this one for TROLLAXOR.COM, all the h0lmZeYz who keep it real, AC style, no sleep till LONG BEACH yeeeeeeeh peace out

Re:Unaditable Censorship! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3921989)

>I mean really how much Lunix bullshit can you read in one day.

I guess this person doesn't want linux to push windows out the door... Bill Gates wouldn't be able to rape this poor AC's arse every day causing him to look elsewhere for his gay sexual fantasies....

Re:Unaditable Censorship! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3922013)

"Arse"? Uh oh, you must be one of those fucking mouth-rotted British queers. Look I dont care about Lunix or Windows either way. I am a mac user. OS X is the most brilliant operating system going. How many OS's can scale to 64 processors like OS X can? How man OS's are actually UNIX branded by the Open Group like OS X is? HUH FUCKWAD? I run my blogger on OS X, I get like 400 hits a day, ROCK SOLID. Every time i tried Windows and IIS, blue screens. Lunix, please.. who has the TIME.

Go back to your cloudy, rainy, drunken, pathetic existence. Shitbag. Be thankful we got Hitler off your back FOR YOU and just shut the fuck up

I don't think... (0, Offtopic)

jedie (546466) | more than 11 years ago | (#3921993)

that insulting, name calling and ungrounded accusations that have no tangible evidence at all and actually completely make no sense can ever be taken seriously by a person with an IQ higher than his own shoesize.

I have some suggestions for you and your fellow "/. is dying/dead" poster:

- Don't come to /. anymore, don't read /. anymore, don't post on /. anymore, don't even think about /. Nobody forces you to come here, or is there some other evil scheme planned by the /. crew to force you into surfing to /. by tampering with your DNS server?

The majority of the people who are decent posters (and actually read what other people have to say) stick to the rules and have no problem whatsoever with /. policy.. Yes you might get modded down once or twice (perhaps often) that doesn't stop anybody from reading your post by changing their settings... take it like a geek, this is Real Life, stuff that you don't like happens...

My ISP got banned once, without me doing anything wrong. I mailed /. they sent a mail back with an apoligy and an explenation why it had happened... truly these are not the signs of evil in any form...

I'm sick and tired of your kind, the people who post something pseudo-intelligent, thinking that if they actually put some structure in their message that nobody will notice that it's pure bollocks...

It seems to me that you are an extremely bored bloke with no purpose in life. Stop wasting your time with useless crap like this, go read a book or watch a movie... hell even rearranging your socks and underwear would be a better use of time.

Sinecerely yours, Baykal E.

Holy moly! (4, Insightful)

MaxVlast (103795) | more than 11 years ago | (#3921940)

Who's responsible for these things? And how much of the taxpayers' money did they cost? I hope the voters pay attention in November.

I'd really like to know why private business has so much sway over government in these sorts of things. I'm quite certain that this county's contract is one of the largest orders that the company has ever gotten. How come the county, as the consumer, doesn't realize that it has the power in the situation, and instead of acting out of fear of the company, should act to protect the interests of its residents.

Re:Holy moly! (2)

flonker (526111) | more than 11 years ago | (#3921949)

Don't open them, or you void the warranty, but we promise that none of our employees have secret backdoors installed that let them modify the poll results.
Why don't I trust these things?

Re:Holy moly! (2, Flamebait)

isdnip (49656) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922200)

Who's responsible? The article points out that the decisions are being made by none other than Theresa LaPore. She's the genius behind 2000's Butterfly Ballot. No, it didn't conform to Florida law, but Jeb was willing to let it slide so long as it benefitted his family. Now there's a voting machine with no real recount possible? Sounds like Jeb must have recommended it.

Schroedingers Cat.... (5, Funny)

Nashville Guy (585073) | more than 11 years ago | (#3921947)

As long as you don't open the box, it is alive. I love to see solid sciences adapted for use by the general public.

Re:Schroedingers Cat.... (1)

Jim Hall (2985) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922021)

As long as you don't open the box, it is alive.

Like Invisible Boy [imdb.com] , it can turn invisible only when you don't look at it!

Eternal vigilence... (2, Insightful)

digitalboy (45495) | more than 11 years ago | (#3921955)

I hope that the recent corporate scandals (Enron, Arthur Anderson, Worldcom, Johnson'n'Johnson) will force people to realize that they can't assume everyone will always follow the rules. There needs to be a reliable & convenient means of verifying that rules are followed or people will break them, hoping they won't be caught. If these 4 giant multinationals could get away with accounting malpractice of such magnitude for this long, there are bound to be others doing the same who haven't been exposed yet.

Similarly, unless it can be proven to the voting population that the election process works as advertised, they should not accept any claims that it does so at face value. Doing so is just begging to be scammed by people willing to take the small risk of being found out, especially when the prize is, in many cases, a great deal of political power.

trust (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3921958)

We are meant to take on trust that corporations always have our best interest at heart? I seem to remember it was a similar reason why we stopped letting kings and queens rule us.

how long will it take?... (1)

Kwantus (34951) | more than 11 years ago | (#3921959)

... for people to figure out that US gov'ts don't want auditable voting machinery, because it won't manufacture the result they want. `The issues are too important to let the voters decide' - Kissinger

Brazil (2, Informative)

lay (519543) | more than 11 years ago | (#3921960)


That's where they should take a lesson from.

They have had electronic voting systems for ages, and I've never heard bad stuff about it. Maybe they have something to teach here, in terms of audits, standard procedures and transparency.

Brazilian people will know what I'm talking about when I say that everyone takes corruption and influence traffic as something that does exist there, so one would have to be at least a bit carefull when implementing a system that doesn't give you phisical voting cards that you can actualy grab with your hands and show them. People will rightfully be wary of electronic voting systems if things are not transparent.

It basicaly gets down to a matter of convenience. In large countries like China, Canada, USA or Brazil, you'll take a substantial amount of time to know the results of an election in traditional voting systems. Electronic voting solves that. Brazilians know who their next president is going to be a couple of hours after the ballots have closed.

OTOH, it introduces the problem of easy tampering. With voting cards, there needs to be a guy (or a gang of them) that steals the votes while nobody's watching and replaces the same number of votes with the result he wishes, and besides being risky, it does not guarantee a result that he wants. With electronic voting, you can add a couple of zeros here and truncate a couple of zeros there.

How can such a system can be implemented without spartan audits, is beyond me...

Re:Brazil (1)

duct_tape_n_wd40 (523724) | more than 11 years ago | (#3921987)

In large countries like China, Canada, USA or Brazil, you'll take a substantial amount of time to know the results of an election in traditional voting systems. Electronic voting solves that. Brazilians know who their next president is going to be a couple of hours after the ballots have closed.

Since you mentioned Canada... We still vote with paper, and it seems to be fairly efficient. Results are usually known a few hours after the polls close on the east coast (which annoys the hell out of people on the west coast).

Of course, we've got a relatively small population, poor voter turn-out and a one-party system (until the left or the right gets their act together)

Now onto the States - can somebody tell me why this particular part of Florida has such a hard time running elections? Up here in the tundra our federal elections are run by a national agency (called, oddly enough "Elections Canada"). It makes things fairly uniform coast-to-coast, though there are usually quite a few dead Quebec residents who manage to vote from beyond the grave.

Do I understand correctly that each county in Florida is responsible for the federal voting in their county, and they can conduct the voting however the heck they want to?

Re:Brazil (2)

Daemonik (171801) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922036)

Pretty much every state in the US is the same.

Re:Brazil (2)

jd142 (129673) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922156)

Do I understand correctly that each county in Florida is responsible for the federal voting in their county, and they can conduct the voting however the heck they want to?

Yes. Every county in every state can have its own method of voting for the president. Some states may have state wide rules so that within that state all counties are the same, but I don't know which ones those are, if any.

We do some damn stupid things here. The electoral college is one of them as well, which is why it is possible for 51% of the population to want candidate A to be president, therefore candidate B is in office. That didn't happen in 2000, but it is possible. [For the nitpickers, in 2000 no one candidate received more than 51% of the votes. Gore won the popular vote, something like 47.5% to 46.5%, with the other 6 percent going to 3rd party candidates.]

What I'd like to see is a voting method that is a) does away with the electoral college and b) allows people to mark second and third choices.

Imagine 5 friends want to go out to lunch:

A wants Chinese, but will eat pizza
B wants Mexican, but will eat pizza
C wants Chinese, but will eat Mexican
D wants Mexican, but will eat burgers
E wants burgers, but will eat Mexican.

There's no clear winner here. No one food got a majority of the vote. So you take the lowest percentage choice and throw it out. BUT, and this is important, you then use the second place votes for those individuals who are clearly in the minority. In this case, we eliminate burgers, because only one person really wanted burgers. Which then makes the votes C-2, M-3. Mexican food is now the clear winner. That was the food that the majority of people put as either their first or second choice.

Under the current American system, the votes for C may have more power than the votes for M, depending on the electoral college. So it is possible under our system for C, which only 2 people out of 5 really wanted, to be the choice for lunch.

This method would also encourage 3rd party candidates since people could vote for them without hurting their second choice. If we had had this system in 1992, Bush would probably have been elected since I seem to remember that the majority of Perot supporters preferred Bush. The Perot votes would have gone to their second choice, which probably would have been Bush. In 2000, Gore would have won, since almost all of the Nader votes would have gone to him. Plus, without the electoral college, pure numbers win.

This one's for Cowboy Neal and CmdrTaco! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3921999)

(Lets Get) Phisical
Olivia Newton John

I'm saying all the things that I know you'll like,
Makin' good conversation
I gotta handle you just right,
You know what I mean
I took you to an intimate restaurant,
Then to a suggestive movie
There's nothin' left to talk about,
Unless it's horizontally

Let's get phisical, phisical,
I wanna get phisical, let's get into phisical
Let me hear your body talk,
Your body talk, let me hear your body talk

I've been patient, I've been good,
Tried to keep my hands on the table
It's gettin' hard this holdin' back,
You know what I mean
I'm sure you'll understand my point of view,
We know each other mentally
You gotta know that you're bringin' out
The animal in me

Let's get animal, animal,
I wanna get animal, let's get into animal
Let me hear your body talk,
Your body talk, let me hear your body talk

Well (5, Interesting)

RetiefUnwound (472931) | more than 11 years ago | (#3921961)

The obvious question is:

How can voters be expected to trust a voting mechanism when there is no accountability? I don't give two sh*ts about the machine being proprietary. If the machine's method cannot be audited publicly it has NO business being used for any public business.

Whoever orchestrated the purchase of these machines: a) has no business in office, and b) probably got a kickback from the manufacturer.

(Yeah I'm cynical. It's a hobby.)

Re:Well (2, Informative)

p3d0 (42270) | more than 11 years ago | (#3921973)

What amazes me is that this is not totally obvious to everyone.

voters trust a voting mechanism (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922003)

99% of voters don't even trust who there voting for, that is if they even know there name,

Re:Well (3, Insightful)

BlueUnderwear (73957) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922147)

Whoever orchestrated the purchase of these machines: a) has no business in office, and b) probably got a kickback from the manufacturer.

Why bother with a kickback? In this case, the manufacturer had something much more valuable than a mere kickback to give to the decision maker. Namely, the promise that from now on, he will win every election in his town...

Paper Trails (1)

ZahrGnosis (66741) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922181)

This is exactly what I said when the first conversations were starting about electonic voting machines.

People may have trouble with paper ballots for a variety of reasons, but at least you can always go back and look at exactly what the person using the ballot did or didn't do. So they didn't punch the hole all the way through, or they punched two holes, or drew too thin a line... there's a lot more auditable data on a piece of paper than on a computer, especially if the computer's "trust" is drawn into question.

Black Box (1)

crowke (300971) | more than 11 years ago | (#3921962)

I think this is an excellent example of Black-Box testing ;-)

Open source anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3921964)

Come on then, make something useful with open source, make an open source voting system to show people that open source works!

Penultimate Inc strikes in Dade county (5, Funny)

satanami69 (209636) | more than 11 years ago | (#3921965)

The parent company subcontracts out the makers of the devices is called Penultimate Inc. They are a shady company that buys off politicians so no one asks questions when things go wrong. The Miami Herald [miami.com] has stories about them a lot:
Excerpt:

Penultimate, Inc., which equipped a Florida jail with automatic garage-opener gates that accidentally freed prisoners in a lightning storm.

They are building a parking garage at Miami Inrt Airport, which is three years behind schedule and 5 times the cost.

They are a shady company that buys off politician (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3922005)

"They are a shady company that buys off politicians"
and this makes them different from most companies in what way?

Re:Penultimate Inc strikes in Dade county (3, Informative)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922078)

I'm not sure how apparent it was in the parent post, but the description is (I'm fairly certain) from a fictional novel by Dave Barry. From the Amazon.com review of "Big Trouble" [amazon.com] :


Dave Barry, the only newsman to win a Pulitzer for exemplary use of words like booger, will please humor and crime-fiction fans alike with this racy debut novel. The scene is Miami. In ritzy Coconut Grove, the teen son of Eliot, a newsman turned adman, sneaks up to spritz a cute girl with a Squirtmaster 9000 to win a high school game called Killer. Meanwhile, two hit men sneak up to kill the girl's abusive stepdad, Arthur. Arthur cheated his bosses at corrupt Penultimate, Inc., which equipped a Florida jail with automatic garage-opener gates that accidentally freed prisoners in a lightning storm.

Re:Penultimate Inc strikes in Dade county (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3922212)

No, this is not Informative, this is Funny. Dave Barry is a well known humor columnist, and the referenced articles are his humor columns.

Here patents would be useful. (4, Insightful)

Krapangor (533950) | more than 11 years ago | (#3921966)

I suppose they don't want the inner workings the box disclosed because they fear that the competitors steal their design.
But if they had a patent on this stuff they could agree to the disclosure without problems.
You see a good example would patent would come in handy and everybody would profit.
But they seem to be always at the wrong places.

Re:Here patents would be useful (or not). (3, Informative)

Tim Colgate (519024) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922030)

The home page for Sequoia Voting Systems, who make these machines is here [sequoiavote.com]

You can have a go with an interactive demo here [sequoiademo.com] and view an automatic demo (with a picture of the machine) here [sequoiademo.com] . These may not be the actual machines used in Florida, but are likely similar.

As you can see it is a simple text-based touch-screen menu system (although elsewhere on the site they talk about showing pictures of candidates). A patent is (or at least should be) only applicable when there is something novel. They might have novel auditing stuff on the back-end, but there doesn't seem to be anything new here.

Cute demo! (2)

BlueUnderwear (73957) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922177)


The advanced features of this application require the use of a modern browser such as:

Internet Explorer 5.x - 6.x

Please log in again using one of these browsers.

Does this mean that if ever Bill Gates runs for President, they will only count votes cast for a "modern" candidate? Scary stuff!

Re:Cute demo! (1)

Tim Colgate (519024) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922202)

Where did you get that message? I'm using Konqueror from KDE 3 and it seems OK (and I haven't changed the user agent setting).

Re:Here patents would be useful. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3922037)

What exactly would you patent?

"A method for adding numbers"?

"A method for deciding who gets to run the country"?

Inaudible (-1)

Troll Messiah (215206) | more than 11 years ago | (#3921967)

I misread this as Inaudible Voting Machines and I figured people were complaining that they weren't making a "kerchunk" sound, leading voters to suspect that their vote didn't really take.

Customary Anderson jibe... (3, Funny)

Yousef (66495) | more than 11 years ago | (#3921968)

Why not get Anderson's to do the Auditing... :-)

Re:Customary Anderson jibe... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3922006)

This logged-in compugeek fanboy pathetic attempt at being funny gets modded UP and while fucking BRILLIANT and HILARIOUS trolls get modded down, IP banned, bitchslapped and so forth????? Hey Yousef, this post was NOT funny, you're NOT funny, I hope you get deported.

Question for Florida (2, Insightful)

reallocate (142797) | more than 11 years ago | (#3921969)

>>"...information the plaintiffs are seeking is filed with the state Division of Elections...she couldn't provide it because it includes trade secrets of Sequoia Voting Systems Inc., which manufactures the machines."

Doesn't the right to vote take precedence over a perceived obligation to protect "trade secrets"?

Sounds like a user training issue (2, Interesting)

joshv (13017) | more than 11 years ago | (#3921972)

Ok, let's get this straight, because some users of the machines think they should get a paper reciept confirming their vote we are worried that the machines do not work? Maybe it's because these things look like an ATM that people think it should function like an ATM - but typically in balloting you are not supposed to get a receipt. If you do, you can prove how you voted, which makes it easier to sell your vote (someone could sit outside a voting locations and pay money for receipts for their candidate).

I am sure the damned machines work fine. I think the company that makes the machines is being unneccessarily cagey about how the ballot machines function - it's not like this stuff is rocket science. I can't see their intellectual property being all that valuable - but hey, it's theirs to protect.

It also seems that the people who were responsible for make the purchase decicison for the ballot machines were privy to the details of their inner workings - but were required to agree to some sort of NDA. So I really don't see a problem here. Just seems like the normal whining that always accompany major changes to the public's interface with the government.

-josh

Re:Sounds like a user training issue (1)

linuxislandsucks (461335) | more than 11 years ago | (#3921975)

Josh it snot the asking of reciept its the waranty of:

If you ask for prooof you void the waranty..

Re:Sounds like a user training issue (1)

joshki (152061) | more than 11 years ago | (#3921981)

The point isn't whether or not you're sure the machines work fine. The public paid money for the devices -- the public should be able to find out how they work.

Any time something like this happens, it only increases mistrust of the government -- whether it's justified or not. Public officials shouldn't be able to sign NDA's for something like this -- a device like this needs to have open standards and peer review of their methods, otherwise they will always be open to the charge that they're being paid off to deliver votes to one candidate or another.

Re:Sounds like a user training issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3922042)

I am sure the damned machines work fine.

Why?

Re:Sounds like a user training issue (1)

Ig0r (154739) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922188)

Maybe the invisible hand will fix them if they're broken.

Re:Sounds like a user training issue (3, Insightful)

Daemonik (171801) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922065)

Even if the actual voter doesn't recieve a reciept, there should be some hard data trail for use in lawsuits and such. "It's true because I say so" will only get you so far in a court of law, or in public opinion.

So what if the public wants to whine about changes in the way they interface with the government they elected to represent them? In a democracy the government is responsible to us, not the other way around. Large changes like this should be able to stand up to any public scrutiny and prove its reliability and accountability.

It's not like anyone would even THINK of altering the software in these machines so they automatically chose the winner based on whichever party has paid off the manufacturer the most. Nah, such underhanded tactics wouldn't get past the high ethical standards that our elected officials and business executives in the US are known for.

Warranty lost? So what? (1)

hbackert (45117) | more than 11 years ago | (#3921986)

If I bought100 machines (Florida has probably many more), I could easily take one apart to find out how it works. This would solve the problem, as then the government knows (or should be able to find out) if those machines are ok or not. Trusting one company which says "Our products are fine. You can trust us." without any verification of that claim by independant auditors is just plain stupid.

By checking out one machine, they can lose at most US$3500 if they break it in this process. But they can win confidence for themself and the public in any case, if they break it or not. Last time I checked, US$3500 was not much for a local government like Florida, so why are they not taking that small risk?

Take one appart (1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922057)

That's not quite an audit, what if you take 99 apart but do look at the one that doesn't work(or is rigged a bit!)

I spent a little time working on one (4, Interesting)

banky (9941) | more than 11 years ago | (#3921991)

I worked on an electronic voting machine for a few years. We did the reporting system and the ballot creation system - another company actually did the device and firmware.

There was no means with which to tell the user what they just voted for, but the system to audit votes (in case of a recount or whatever) was very good. The device itself had triple-redundant everything, and gobs of anti-tamper features. Neat device.

The project was cancelled for two reasons. First, no one could sell an electronic voting machine very well around '99. Local election officials want paper ballots. Then TPTB decided "there's no future in electronic balloting". They cancelled the project.

I just laughed and laughed when I saw them on TV testifying in the Florida election debacle hearings.

It doesnt look: (2)

Maeryk (87865) | more than 11 years ago | (#3921996)

Like the problem is that there is a real issue with the machines, as much as two other things.

1)voters who claim their vote wasnt taken (how do they know? Did the machine go :ding: "you smell.. Im not taking your vote! No vote for you!" or something? Remember.. these people were too stupid in a lot of cases to understand how to poke a hole in a butterfly ballot or to follow a line to a persons name.. you expect them to make a bilingual computer screen work?

2) SOmeone who wanted to get elected did not get elected, and knowing the machines were under an NDA or were otherwise inauditable at the moment (even though they apparently passed all their initial tests with flying colors) started screaming ITS THE MACHINES FAULT!
Great tradition we have started here.. "The people did not elect me by their votes.. I must challenge and challenge until I win!"

Cant we just go back to the days of dropping small rocks into boxes for votes?
*sigh*

Maeryk

all fine and well but... (2)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922022)

1). The adverage IQ is 100 that means half of the people who can vote have below adverage IQ however you measure IQ, thats just the way it is, who's to say you vote is better than somone elses.

2). They should really have thaught about this first, don't forget polititians have an adverage IQ of 90,

anyhow i think there should only be numbers on the ballot and any campains so that you have to know what your voting for!.

Re:all fine and well but... (2)

Maeryk (87865) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922064)

1). The adverage IQ is 100 that means half of the people who can vote have below adverage IQ however you measure IQ, thats just the way it is, who's to say you vote is better than somone elses.


Oh.. no doubt. And I'm not saying anyones vote is "better" than anyone elses.. but I am saying that you have to take into account the fact that a lot of politicians drum up support from sectors of society who cannot figure out how to work a VCR.. and do it intentionally, because they know large *OTHER* sectors of society cant be bothered to go out and vote, because they feel above the system, or are so distrustful of politics in general that they dont trust ANYONE in the office.
Sheep *can* be good for something other than tight sweaters on cute girlys, it appears.

). They should really have thaught about this first, don't forget polititians have an adverage IQ of 90,

I think they *did* think about this. I think they went for the "simplest" and "best" (read, hardest to "misinterpret") method they could find, and it STILL leaves people in the dust as far as satisfaction of voting experience goes.
Bear in mind, that that election (bush-gore) changed the political face of society. From now on it will be accepted that people are going to complain if they lose the election, demand recounts until the end of time, and demand re-votes because they THINK they should have won. Get used to it, because it will keep happening. Sore losers are nothing new to politics, but they are now a dominant force, I am afraid. I can understand recounts and revotes when it comes down to 1 or 10 votes.. but I think it is going to be way out of hand from now on.

anyhow i think there should only be numbers on the ballot and any campains so that you have to know what your voting for!.

Hehehe.. yeah. I agree.. but then, I also think voting should be conducted in english only. See.. maybe I'm an elitist prick, but I figure if you love this country enough to choose the people who run it, you at *LEAST* oughtta learn the national language while you are at it.

(ah hell.. I have karma to burn.. mod as troll if'n ya want, its just my personal opinion)

Maeryk

Never underestimate..... (1)

H3XA (590662) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922000)

...a human's ability to bitch/whine/moan/complain about anything to do with voting.

Seeing how they can't blame machines for miscounting (the usual reason/excuse for a recount) they decided to blame a "confusing" interface. I wonder if there is a relationship between the political preferences of 8 affidavits and the party/person who lost the election......

I would like to see one of these boxes in use... I bet the interface is a simple ATM like one where you press this button for this action..... as simple as crossing a paper box.

oh wait.... this is Tampa, Florida - old people capital of the USA..... another case of technology being "bad" and confusing for old people ?

- HeXa

Suspect Problems (5, Funny)

Lord Bitman (95493) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922007)

That "Nigger: Yes/No" before voting

Asking if you want to recieve important voter product information in your mailbox

Uses CyberAge for verification

You have to agree to a long EVLA which basically states that your Voter Registration Card is property of Sequoia Voting Systems Inc.

Some say that the popup ads for republican candidates violates the 500-yards rule, though advertisers insist that this being a digital medium, the 700-yard long EVLA should be counted in the measurement

Voting System always seems to hang on important issues

Text-feild for write-ins has 3 character limit

Can't really get through the voting proccess without going out and downloading 17 VBRun dll files

Many voters complained of a lack of MP3 support

No confirmation message saying that your vote has been recieved.

Pen and paper? (2)

lpontiac (173839) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922010)

Works well pretty much everywhere else. Clearly written numbers, or ticks, are unambiguous (no "chads") and leave a concrete paper trail that can be audited with ease.

Re:Pen and paper? (1)

FleaPlus (6935) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922049)

I wouldn't say that they're unambigious -- what if somebody smudges the ballot in the wrong way, or someone doesn't write their number clearly? Not to mention the fact that it'd be a bitch to machine-count.

The other problem with pen and paper is that it potentially allows one's ballot to be trackable. For reasons which should be fairly obvious, one doesn't want a situation in which the way one votes can be determined, or in which one can make it known that one voted in a certain way by marking the ballot uniquely. Anything that breaches the anonymity of voting probably isn't a good idea.

Open source solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3922011)

Use the Slash poll for voting.

Pro: it's open source, so nothing's hidden
Con: CowboyNeal will always be one of the candidates

Expert Mercuri, founder of NotableSoftware views (1)

wherley (42799) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922012)

The expert ("Rebecca Mercuri, a computer science professor at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania") that testified in this matter founded NotableSoftware.com [notablesoftware.com] and has this statement
"I am adamantly opposed to the use of fully electronic or Internet-based systems for use in anonymous balloting and vote tabulation applications."
here. [notablesoftware.com] Go there for lots more information and links.

Exactly What Is (1)

The Dobber (576407) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922014)

Enron-esque style auditing? So is anyone surprised that a bunch of florida-tards who can't figure out the complicated process of punch cards is now stymied by the equivalent of an ATM machine?

Oh, and big suprise, the loser is crying foul. Thats one out of the Al Gore playbook.

I can read English. And you ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3922015)

"I don't expect are problems this fall, do you?"

There are 72 comments, and everyone else seems to know what this means. Pardon me, but I don't.

Laws? (1)

Markus Landgren (50350) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922019)

I am curious, don't you guys have laws regulating how an election is performed? Where I come from there is no way in hell an unauditable machine would be let anywhere near the voting process. This should be an open and shut case. If it is not, then you need new election laws and you need them badly.

jamjie is twat hole! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3922020)

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Typical Knee-Jerk reaction (1)

Joey7F (307495) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922024)

We had problems with paperballots in the past; no doubt. However it was never significant. Now we are resting our election results in the future on a machine that has proprietary technology. If there is an open source solution it would not rule out how the votes are stored.

What happened 11/00 will NEVER happen again in any of our lifetimes.

So this happens again in the year 2400, big deal!

--Joey

My Experience: Voting is Inherently Imperfect (5, Informative)

Elias Israel (182882) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922031)

The bottom line: all voting systems have the potential for inaccuracy and abuse, and nearly all of them experience inaccuracy and abuse every time they are used. We have faith in the outcomes mostly because the overall result usually does not differ very much from our shared sense of who really "won."

As the Massachusetts state chair of the Libertarian Party, and a two-time candidate for public office, I have had an exposure to the voting process and the people who conduct it that many other voters have not had. Here's what I can tell you:

At every Libertarian primary, we collect stories of votes not counted, votes incorrectly counted, and voters confused or abused by the system.

In one case, some of our voters reported that they were actually asked to sign their ballots!

In others cases, five people in a precinct will swear they've voted in the primary, but only three votes will show in the official tally.

Then there's the actual abuse.

A fellow who used to work with another party once explained to me how unscrupulous operatives routinely abuse the system by taking advantage of the fact that Massachusetts law does not require voters to present identification when they vote.

I don't wish to give unnecessary detail, but suffice it to say that I do believe that some small level of vote fraud is present in most elections, even here in the United States.

It is interesting to note, however, that when one Massachusetts town tried to mitigate the problem by requiring voters to show ID, the Democrats successfully fought the practice in federal court by alleging that requiring identification is an unfair burden on the indigent.

For the most part, these issues arise not because people are malicious (although some inevitably are), but primarily because poll workers are well-meaning, underpaid, undertrained, and perfectly normal, fallible human beings.

These problems are usually too small to notice against the bulk of legitimately cast and properly counted votes, except when the total number of votes cast is small (like in a small precinct) or when the overall result is very close (as in Florida in 2000).

In general, it is not possible to get a "perfect" result from any voting system. The best that we can do is accept our imperfect knowledge and stand behind the result that most reasonably appears to be true.

That's not always easy. But if you want to make sure the result means something, the best thing to do about it is help to ensure that the result is not small or close by going out and casting your ballot for the candidates you like best.

Re:My Experience: Voting is Inherently Imperfect (2)

Peyna (14792) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922218)

Requiring ID is a problem. How would homeless people vote? I always liked how the voter registration cards said "if you don't have a permanent residence, please draw a map of where you usually sleep."

UK (2, Funny)

saphena (322272) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922032)

Here in the UK electoral law is such that the methods and controls of the voting procedure are laid down in black and white in various legal instruments and the electoral returning officer (a civil servant) must certify that the election was held in full accordance with the rules.

I know little about US law but I would have thought that a similar set of conditions must apply. If so, the elections department *must* have taken steps to satisfy themselves that use of the machines would fully comply otherwise they would not be able to certify the election.

Assuming that US civil servants are upright honest citizens, we must conclude that the machines do infallibly work correctly.

It's simple (2)

smagruder (207953) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922034)

Without open, clear auditability, these machines cannot even be defined as voting machines. It's horrifying that the public officials in charge of purchasing the devices didn't know of auditability being an absolute requirement. Now, Palm Beach County really has no choice but to open the black box!

Isn't this similar to.... (2)

Joel Ironstone (161342) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922040)

Isn't this a similar circumstance to making microsoft divulge their source code to a third party. This third party would have to sign a non-disclosure agreement, but what's the damage there.

I guess htey cannot guarantee there machines secure if someone knows how they work as then that person could find the backdoor. But still is this really security?

Eh? Test it... (1)

martijn-s (456925) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922041)

Am I missing something? Isn't just TESTING the thing all that's needed? I mean, put in a couple of thousand of votes and check the outcome?

I can change the tallys! (2, Insightful)

standards (461431) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922052)

Let's see, I create this voting machine and no one can see how it works.

Happily, I go into the booth to vote. I want Biff Emerson to win the election, so by hitting keys in a certain sequence it transfers 4% of the votes from other candidates to my candidate! After all, my candidat is all for voting machine contracts!

What's to stop it? Where is the public auditability of the system? Should we allow this type of potential in our voting? It sounds like a parallel to the old Enron/Author Andersen deal.

It doesn't really matter anyways (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3922060)

Correct me if I am wrong but our votes do NOT count in a Presidential election. That is what the electoral college is for. Our votes are supposed to be used as a guidline for the electoral college to use, but they don't have to. If we all voted for candidate #1 and the electoral college voted for candidate #2, #2 would win.

Re:It doesn't really matter anyways (1)

hiimlars (114013) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922145)

Technically, and unfortunately, you're correct -

The college, however, is expected to vote representatively of the population that they represent, which I believe they usually do.

Also, I hope that we'll eventually get away from the college altogether and I see (accurate, accountable and reliable) electronic voting as a method to step in that direction.

This is incredible!!! (1, Flamebait)

bmetzler (12546) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922061)

Are people really complaining that their votes aren't being counted? How could they find out? If I push the button, the vote is counted, it's that simple.

For people to claim that they voted but their vote isn't counted is ludicrious. The only way for a vote not to count is to *not* vote. I can't believe the gall of people to claim that they voted, and their vote wasn't counted.

-Brent>

Re:This is incredible!!! (1)

hiimlars (114013) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922133)

You're a very trusting person, evidently, that everything works correctly, always and forever.

Have you ever dialed a phone number (as an example), not immediatly received a ring and looked at the display (assumption) for verification that you've dialed the number correctly?

How about if you had no display on your phone, as the voting machines evidently have no method of feedback/confirmation?

Auditing a voting machine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3922062)

What sort of "Auditing" would you expect?

All it knows, I hope, is the count of votes, and when those votes were made.

Are you expecting a log of who voted for who? Wouldn't *THAT* be more of a problem than an "unauditable" machine? Even a log of what votes were registered at exactly what time would make it possible to figure out who voted for who.

The machines are probably allowing out exactly as much information as they were designed to; seems like anything else would be a problem.

- Steve

Electronic vs. Paper (1)

hiimlars (114013) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922063)

It's not difficult -

Use both systems, the electronic for speed and convenience and the paper for auditing and accountability.

Once the user/voter has made their choice(s) on the computer, they need to sign a paper printout (perhaps with audio for the blind, multilingual choices, etc) that verifies and validates what they've voted for. Perhaps with an ink fingerprint as an option for those who can't sign easily or for speed.

If there is ever a challenge, the paper gets hauled out (or perhaps is hauled out as a matter of course) and the results verified.

The system itself should be developed in the open and standardized nationwide for all levels of government.

Re:Electronic vs. Paper (1)

dowobeha (581813) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922189)

Once the user/voter has made their choice(s) on the computer, they need to sign a paper printout (perhaps with audio for the blind, multilingual choices, etc) that verifies and validates what they've voted for. Perhaps with an ink fingerprint as an option for those who can't sign easily or for speed.

Great idea.

Unfortunately, it would only work in countries (such as the UK) where a voter's vote is not completely secret.

In the US, and other countries where voting is required to be by completely secret ballot, what you suggest isn't legal.

Yay dyslexia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3922088)

I seriously have got to stop reading Slashdot before I've fully woken up - I read this headline as "Auditable Vomiting Machines". The worst part, though, is that my reaction was "wow, cool!!
I need some coffee....

Electing vs. Counting (1)

William Marcy Tweed (594556) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922114)

"You may elect whatever candidates you please to office, if you will allow me to select the candidates." - William "Boss" Tweed

You may elect whatever candidates you please to office, if you will allow me to count the ballots with my self auditing voting machine.

When business comes before government (2)

erroneus (253617) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922138)

This is just a small example of how business interests are over-ruling that of "the people."

Questions to ponder:

"Is this a good thing?" "Is this a bad thing?"

It's good in the sense that there are forces that can keep government in check. It's bad in the sense that they aren't being used that way... they only serve their own interests.

So what is preventing people from getting more involved in more civil liberties unions anyay? I was about to suggest the creation of entities that can have more pull with both business and government interests and then I realized they exist! There's EFF, ACLU and a lot others that do not immediately come to mind.

Maybe it's my age showing in that I see better where things are going and that it's not good. What I see is only natural when "the people" don't care about what's going on.

It's not out of control. It's not beyond our control and never will be. The question is only in how bloody the revolution will be. The more our government points guns at "the people" the worse it all becomes. Get active and make your voice heard and it never has to get "too bad" or too bloody.

Finally, public interest should ALWAYS come before business interests when it comes to "proprietary technology." A government should NEVER find itself in a position such as the one depicted by Robocop2 where the huge corporation literally forecloses on a major city in the U.S. Companies should not be able to hold the interests of the public hostage...and especially not their data.

This is the purpose of open standards. Open standards are best because there is no proprietary scheme which allows everyone to participate. Open standards are best because the public can 'trust' more in the sense that they know the contents and capabilities they are working with. Imagine there being some hidden code in a word processor document, unknown to anyone but the company that created the format, that upon a triggered event that license compliance is found to be too far out of compliance that important documents become inaccessible or destroyed as a result? Such situations could bring government to a hault at times. Do "the people" then take weeks, months and years in court to resolve the problem?

Sure, this is just a voting booth. The next time it's something even more significant.

Closed source voting Wizard: (1)

WCMI92 (592436) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922143)

"I AM THE GREAT AND POWERFUL OZ"

"Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain"

Remember, Stalin said that voters decide nothing, that those who COUNT the votes, everything. Trusting some closed source software, given Microsoft's stellar record of producing bug and exploit free code, is INSANE!!!

The only difference is, a candidate can get screwed and never know how. Why am I not surprised? These machines were put in by the same biased, corrupt elections people who carried out the recount scams...

Democrats almost all of them, BTW. The "butterfly" ballot was designed and approved by a DEMOCRAT controlled board. The recounts ALL run by Democrats.

Not that I have much use for republicans anymore, because I don't see them as being significantly different or "better" than the Dems. Nor any more honest. Dems use government largesse to buy votes, and will comit mass vote fraud when they have to. Republicans run vast corporations that use largesse to buy GOVERNMENT actions, and use mass fraud to fool investors into buying their stock.

The end result is always the same. The individual, who is supposed to be SOVERIGN in this country, gets trampled...

A paper trail (5, Informative)

steveha (103154) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922149)

For voting, it is very important to have a way to re-count the votes. I think a literal paper trail is best.

I cannot imagine a better scheme than what Washington state is using now:

When you go to vote, you get a piece of heavy paper (or maybe it's light cardstock) pre-printed with the ballot. Next to each item you can vote for is a bubble. They loan you a fine-point permanent marker (a Sharpie) and to vote you just fill in the bubble.

When you are done, you take the ballot over to the counting machine. You feed the ballot into the slot. (If this is too technically advanced for you, the nice person watching the machine helps you.)

The counting machine makes sure you didn't make any conflicting votes: for example, voting for both Bush and Gore for President. If there are any conflicting votes, it refuses the ballot and spits it back out the slot. Then you get a fresh ballot and start over.

Assuming all is well, it counts up all the votes, and then drops the ballot into a bag. The bags are locked up and stored, so the actual paper ballots are available for a recount if necessary.

At the end of the day, the counting machine is plugged into a phone jack. It calls in to a computer and reports the votes it had counted all day. The votes can then be quickly summed and you find out how the election went quickly.

You only need one counting machine per voting location, and the voting booths are simple desks with privacy screens; the Florida voting machines cost $3500 each and you need one per voting booth.

The system now used in Washington state is easy to use, not expensive or difficult to implement, gives results quickly, and allows for recounts.

steveha

Re:A paper trail (2)

Johnny Mnemonic (176043) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922183)


Okay, I just put an X through the bubble of a candidate. Will that count as a vote for them?

Perhaps the machine will see that and spit it out. Now, what if I fill in the bubble for Bush, but put a cross through the bubble for Gore?

This is just to show that it is very difficult to make this kind of system infalliable.

Ugh Here It Comes (2, Interesting)

NetGyver (201322) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922153)

I really pitty the poor folks down in Palm Beach, first they get embarressed to hell and back in the 2000 presidental elections, now the taxpayers pay for machines that can't be audited without voiding the warrenty? WTF?

First off, the article doesn't say how the votes on these machines are counted. I mean, it has to spit out results somehow and somewhere.

Second, these machines were developed by a corp. Now-a-days when scandels are a dime a dozen, do we really need MORE CORPERATIONS digging their hands into politcs?

Third, These are digitalized machines. They have the potential to be hacked, crash, and lose data.
And since it's digital that means all three can happen at once or in any combination. I mean yeah it does have a coolness factor, but simplicity is key. It needs to be something that just *works*

Hey, i dunno bout those guys but i can *still* vote with our local lever machine even when the power is out.

If our lever-machine breaks, you'd be the first to know when you can't pull the lever down. Plus, even if it mechanically breaks, you still will always have the votes that have been cast inside prior to the breakage. And if you ever saw one, their monsterous and built like tanks.

If your gonna go digital with voting machines, do it RIGHT. Give the elderly something tangable that assures them that their vote counted, such as a watermarked printout. I mean their gonna expect this now since alot of floridians were so unsure if their votes counted under the old system.

They can't even get an independent review of the voting system's software and security features.

I'd like to know who's bright idea it was to purchase machines with these kind of restuctions and decided to buy them anyway....Oh the the conspiracy theroies one can weave.

Now floridians are going to see every tom, dick, and hairy who loses an election, bitching because the system was flawed, broken, malfunctioned..lets have a recount...a re-re-count, what's that? a hanging system? On to the supreme court!

If I were the people who had to use this machine, i'd demand my representives to get a refund and find a system that's more open. flexable and tailored to the people's choices and expectations.

But I guess that would require their local government listening to *them* instead of *cough*COMPANIES*cough*

I hope they get on the ball with this.

I may not make much sense, but maybe I can make some change.

Open Source A Solution? Not! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3922161)

If you think that "open source" software would make the system completely auditible, then you don't understand the issues.

Open source, closed source, it doesn't matter. If you can't do a recount, it's all just pissing in to the wind.

And beyond that ... any voting system that uses magnetic media in the voting machines is inherently untrustworthy. You need to have a system that runs on paper-tape or something. If the program gets modified, there's evidence left behind. . .

How does this help? (1)

DoctorFrog (556179) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922186)

We had a divisive election with a highly questionable result because the paper ballots were difficult to audit, due to their marking mechanisms sometimes being indistinct. To solve the problem, they replace the sometimes indistinct paper ballots with completely invisible electronic ones that can't be audited at all? This sets a new standard in stupidity.

There are situations where electronics aren't appropriate. In a voting system you should have hard physical evidence of how many votes were cast for each person, so that recounts can be performed in close elections. Anonymity is a desirable quality in a ballot, but intangibility is not. If the chad-punching wasn't effective, then a method for unambiguously marking a ballot is needed. Replacing it with a system like this is simply begging for trouble.

I can only hope that both Bushes lose their elections by some tiny number of votes cast on these machines. We'll see the black boxes taken apart then, I guarantee it.

Ahh... Theresa LePore again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 11 years ago | (#3922187)

Supervisor of Elections Theresa LePore (a registered democrat, designer of the delightful butterfly ballot we enjoyed so much in the 2000 elections and now responsible for these unauditable machines) has to be a Trojan Horse owned by Jeb Bush. In most parts of our society it is not possible to be that stupid and still keep your job.

Even if some public spirited citizen were to buy one of these machines, dissassemble the machine and the code, and publish the results to show that the machine does (or does not) do the job without cheating, there would be no guarantee that the rest of the machines are running the same code. Where the government uses a software based machine for recording votes, there must be some extreme means to confirm that it does this honestly - perhaps by using open source code and MD5 verification of the binary in memory before and after voting to prove that the proper code is being run.

The potential for subverting the process here is disturbing: Is it possible to install new code on this machine through a modem connection from elsewhere (as in widows media player)? Perhaps it is possible to dial into the machine and alter data (using the back door left for customer support)? It's hard to believe the public officials who bought this stuff even have a clue as to what could go wrong, and their acceptance of the manufacturer's insistance on secrecy is frightening. Printing a receipt for the voter would be a nice feature, but how does the public know that it truly reports the proper totals at the end of the day? What happened to "trust but verify?"

That mystery box (1)

thatguywhoiam (524290) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922193)

..

it's a Xbox, isn't it! I just know it.

.r

I don't get it (5, Interesting)

jeti (105266) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922203)

Over in Germany, we have something that works flawlessly. Paper and pen. The forms are counted manually and the results are faxed from the local offices.

And how long does it take to get the results? We can usually vote till 6PM and get the results by 11PM on the same day. There are only 70 million Germans, but I don't see why this shouldn't scale up.

First Principles -- Look at the Requirements (2)

werdna (39029) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922209)

Despite strong standing in the community of an intelligent, technically educated constituency, the enormous political clout of voting manufacturers essentially hypnotized the politically defensive bureaucrats to freeze us out. At the end of the day, this too must result in debacle. If not now, later. The problem with chad was poor rules, poor technology and reliance on case law addressing a much older technology (hand-written ballots).

But the problem was not lack of accountability for absence of evidence -- most of it was there. It was simply a dispute over what it meant, and whether to look at it -- the stuff of which a political or legal decision can be made. Yes, it was a debacle, but the solution is worse than the problem.

There must be auditable physical evidence of a vote if the result is ever to have credibility -- and the public must believe in the technology. The virtue of paper ballots is its comprehensibility to the public. Having a machine with a "he-said," "she-said" dispute (and no physical proofs) of its fairness and the results is a recipe for chaos. Absolute chaos.

The way to begin was simple, routine engineering processes: define and agree on requirements; produce and RFP; accept only conforming solutions and iterate as necessary if requirements change over time.

Instead, Florida, for the most part, went with pre-made and cheap. The public never had any stomach to spend money to vote well, and took whatever was being sold. At the end of the day, these machines weren't even cheap. (And truth to tell, the total cost of ownership has yet to be measured or validated either.)

The public was frozen out of the decision in favor of "blue-ribbon" committees of non-engineers. For shame, all of us. Fool us once ...

GNU.Free for more inforrmation (1)

dowobeha (581813) | more than 11 years ago | (#3922210)

I would suggest looking through the GNU.Free project [free-project.org] for more information.

Jason Kitcat, the maintainer of the project, spoke here in Cambridge (England) a couple months ago. Very informative talk, explaining the merits and pitfalls of electronic voting.

The site contains numerous articles detailing most aspects of e-democracy in action. Most of the information from Jason's talk is available of the GNU.Free site.
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