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E-voting Trials and Tribulations

michael posted about 12 years ago | from the push-button-convenience dept.

Technology 286

Alex Susor writes "This article is about the new digital touch screen voting system in Georgia, the first state in the nation to adopt this method of voting statewide. Demonstration machines were set up at the recent primaries to teach voters about the new system (to be in place for the November general election) and had some big problems." Compare and contrast to systems in Florida and Germany.

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hanging chads? (1, Insightful)

Marco_polo (160898) | about 12 years ago | (#4129308)

how long before this system is challenged by someone who lost the election?

Re:hanging chads? (3, Funny)

einer (459199) | about 12 years ago | (#4129338)

Depends... When's the next election?

Re:hanging chads? (3, Insightful)

unicron (20286) | about 12 years ago | (#4129378)

Exactly. It goes without saying that remote voting of any kind will NEVER exist, and even this system is way too easy a target for cries of foul from the losing parties. Anything from sabatouge, hacking, or even something as benign as a short-circuit of the system could happen, and the losing candidate will bring up all 3 if given half a chance, rest assured.

It just leaves the door wide open on challenging a vote, whether you believe someone lost fairly or unfairly due to the machine. I consider myself a reasonable person, and I would challenge it if I lost in a second.

Re:hanging chads? (2, Informative)

The Magic Yak (559288) | about 12 years ago | (#4129613)

The Vivendi hijacking seems like what this system is waiting for. http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/may 2002/tc20020521_3291.htm

I'm skeptical that these.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4129309)

..machines will work, considering that the movie theaters can't keep those movie ticket kiosks working.

/.ed. here's the text (1, Informative)

trollercoaster (250101) | about 12 years ago | (#4129317)

ELECTION 2002 PRIMARY
New machines hit snags in Tuesday tryouts

By MICHAEL PEARSON
Atlanta Journal-Constitution Staff Writer
machine
Louie Favorite/AJC
Touch-screen voting will be used statewide Nov. 5. Hall and Marion counties reported no problems with the system in their primaries.

Software problems and human error prevented some voters in Tuesday's primary from trying out Georgia's new touch-screen election system.

State officials promise the problems should be fixed before the statewide rollout in November. And they pointed out that the machines worked well in Hall and Marion counties, the only counties where real votes were recorded electronically on Tuesday.

In Fulton County, at least 11 percent of the touch-screen machines failed. Some froze up like balky home computers, while others got stuck in a mode that effectively locked up the machines, said Gloria Champion, the county's director of registrations and elections. No one was denied the right to vote because the machines were only being demonstrated for interested voters. The real votes were cast on punch cards.

Chris Riggall, a spokesman for the secretary of state's office, attributed the problems to errors by poll workers, a glitch in the Windows operating system that runs the machines and problems with electronic cards that replace paper ballots and ballot boxes.

Riggall said an extensive training program for poll workers, a planned software upgrade and ample technical support on Election Day should hold problems to a minimum. The training and software upgrade already had occurred in Hall and Marion counties, where actual electronic voting was near- flawless.

"Certainly the best measure of the performance we expect was in the two counties where we were configured to actually hold an election," Riggall said.

Hall County elections chief Anne Phillips said she was thrilled with the system.

"We had a really good day," she said.

But Fulton County officials said they still worry there isn't time to ensure a smooth Election Day. Commissioner Bob Fulton, a Georgia Tech engineering professor, likened the planned November debut to the liftoff of an unproven rocket.

"Once it launches, you don't have many options," he said.

The state purchased 19,015 of the touch-screen machines in May to replace a patchwork of older systems and head off a repeat of the 2000 presidential election, in which old technologies complicated tabulation of an already close vote.

Each of the state's 2,823 voting precincts got one of the machines for voters to try out on Tuesday as part of the secretary of state office's ongoing voter education campaign.

The most common problem was untrained poll workers unintentionally starting the machines in "election mode" instead of "demonstration mode," Riggall said. The access cards needed to display ballots on the machines weren't programmed to work in election mode, and poll workers weren't equipped to override the strict controls placed on machines in that mode.

In Fulton, poll workers also reported the machines mysteriously switching from demonstration mode to election mode, Champion said. But state election officials and the company that makes the machines, Diebold Election Systems of Ohio, said that's virtually impossible and instead suggest untrained workers were to blame.

"It's very difficult to create a problem with it, but sometimes they do it," said Mark Radke, Diebold's director of the voting programs.

The only other reported problem, Riggall said, was power cords improperly attached to the machines.

Diebold officials say its machines have been used in elections in Maryland, Virginia, Indiana and California with few reported problems.

Just to make sure, the Ohio-based company will send 387 support employees to Georgia on Nov. 5, including one roving technical support worker for every 30 precincts. Poll workers will be trained after the Sept. 10 runoff elections and will also have the benefit of a toll-free support line for immediate help, Riggall said.

Couldn't You Just (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4129328)

See the smudges from other people's fingerprints?

Start the M$ bashing... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4129333)

Chris Riggall, a spokesman for the secretary of state's office, attributed the problems to errors by poll workers, a glitch in the Windows operating system that runs the machines and problems with electronic cards that replace paper ballots and ballot boxes.

WHY, oh WHY, did they choose Windows? Probably some M$ money...

Re:Start the M$ bashing... (1)

bigfatlamer (149907) | about 12 years ago | (#4129543)

Don't forget the other two things they blamed...shitty hardware and stupid people. Throw those together with a Windows OS and you're bound to have the BSOEF (election fraud).

E

OMG! (1)

Quasar1999 (520073) | about 12 years ago | (#4129336)

No, seriously, I can't figure out how to operate those stupid touchscreen gas pumps to get a receipt... how the hell am I supposed to vote with this technology?

YOU ARE DUMB, please do not vote (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4129390)

stick to pencil & paper and horse & wagon

Re:YOU ARE DUMB, please do not vote (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4129608)

You are an asshat. Regardless of someone's intelligence, they still have the right to vote. Even Cletus, who flunked out of HS for eating paste should be allowed to vote.

NO! retards should not have rights (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4129625)

Just as dogs and cows who are inferior, retards should not be allowed to breed much less vote!

fp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4129344)

rick austenson is ghey!!

It should be fun (1)

syntap (242090) | about 12 years ago | (#4129354)

Yelling at the 70-year-old polling volunteers that "My screen don't work! Hyelp!"

Re:It should be fun (1)

sfled (231432) | about 12 years ago | (#4129512)

Only 70? I live in Florida. When I moved in I brought the average age down to 85.

Most of these folks would be very happy with the old booth and flick-a-switch machine, the one that closed and opened the curtain [timeinc.net] for the occupant.

systems? (1)

tiedyejeremy (559815) | about 12 years ago | (#4129360)

  • What type of hardware do they use? AMD, Intel, other?
  • Were these built with recycled parts?
  • What operation system?
  • Were they made in U.S.A.?
  • Who has access to their programming?

Re:systems? (1)

bjschrock (557973) | about 12 years ago | (#4129396)

It says they run on Windows... Why they picked Windows, I have no idea. Yeah, I use Windows, but I am definitely not surprised when it locks up/needs to be rebooted/etc, and I wouldn't use it for something like this...

So do we have to call them (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4129363)

E-lections now?

HI did you know linux is for assraping queens (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4129364)

You and your suck-ass inferior OS suck ass!!!


Thank You

Hmm. Your ideas intrigue me. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4129521)

I will subscribe to your newsletter.

good paper == better. (4, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | about 12 years ago | (#4129368)

you should really first develop a paper system that nobody challanges to not work properly, it's not that hard. power shortage and s*** is bound to happen somewhere even with ups. + the (illusion) of real privacy goes straight out of the window.

How to rig an election. (5, Funny)

conner_bw (120497) | about 12 years ago | (#4129369)

1) Be wealthy.

2) Wear a fat man's coat containing 1 blanket, 1 laptop, and 1 custom made USB rubber finger. (if you already are a fat man, wear a fatter man's coat)

3) Place USB rubber finger on winning vote, cover touch-screen with blanket, install laptop with fake voting interface that activates rubber finer for every click...

Ahh, never mind.

Friendly help (5, Funny)

aseh (310939) | about 12 years ago | (#4129371)

As long as there is a talking paperclip at the bottom of the screen to help people out, I think everything will go smoothly.

it's not the machines fault (2, Insightful)

bobm (53783) | about 12 years ago | (#4129372)

this was an interesting quote: In Fulton, poll workers also reported the machines mysteriously switching from demonstration mode to election mode, Champion said. But state election officials and the company that makes the machines, Diebold Election Systems of Ohio, said that's virtually impossible and instead suggest untrained workers were to blame.

Re:it's not the machines fault (3, Insightful)

SimplyCosmic (15296) | about 12 years ago | (#4129594)

As a techinal support person at a company populated by large numbers of non-technically orientated employees, such a situation wouldn't surprise me at all.

That's the very reason we do every bit we can to lock the computers down as much as possible.

Re:it's not the machines fault (2)

st0rmshad0w (412661) | about 12 years ago | (#4129602)

Ah, yeah that would be a standard Diebold response. Everytime something goes wrong with our Diebold system they always try to blame the wiring.

Harry Ass McGee! (1)

Neumann (240442) | about 12 years ago | (#4129373)

And thus the political career of Harry Ass McGee begins...

Re:Harry Ass McGee! (1)

BlackCobra43 (596714) | about 12 years ago | (#4129621)

It's all a big joke anyways,I'm sure you must have found that out by now...

Will they have to re-vote after a STOP error? (1, Troll)

zerofoo (262795) | about 12 years ago | (#4129375)

From the article:

"Chris Riggall, a spokesman for the secretary of state's office, attributed the problems to errors by poll workers, a glitch in the Windows operating system that runs the machines and problems with electronic cards that replace paper ballots and ballot boxes."

A "glitch" in the Windows operating system???? Stupid poll workers around the average age of a walmart greeter! Gee, it's a miracle they didn't have more problems.

-ted

Re:Will they have to re-vote after a STOP error? (0, Troll)

ejaw5 (570071) | about 12 years ago | (#4129446)

Some froze up like balky home computers, while others got stuck in a mode that effectively locked up the machines

Voter: uhh...I pushed the button to vote for Gore, and I got a Blue Screen.

Re:Will they have to re-vote after a STOP error? (1)

+_-repo-_+ (315890) | about 12 years ago | (#4129491)

"Stupid poll workers around the average age of a walmart greeter! Gee, it's a miracle they didn't have more problems."

Actually a few people in my family are volunteer election judges. I don't think I've ever considered them stupid or old as you imply. I think I have been rather proud that these people take their time to show up and help out with "democracy". I know that it's more than I do.

it's only a matter of time (2, Interesting)

Marco_polo (160898) | about 12 years ago | (#4129381)

Until advertising is sold on the kiosks..

until pop under ads for the X10 camera appear

never ending pornsite loops to entertain grandma (since young adults don't vote.. I know.. I waited in line to vote last november, and was saddened by the turnout.. I was the only one under 40 it seemed)

The important part of the article.... (2, Interesting)

gfxguy (98788) | about 12 years ago | (#4129384)

Chris Riggall, a spokesman for the secretary of state's office, attributed the problems to errors by poll workers, a glitch in the Windows operating system that runs the machines and problems with electronic cards that replace paper ballots and ballot boxes. [emphasis mine]
Something just doesn't seem right about trusting election outcomes on a company that recently decided to play politics through large brib^h^h^h^hdonations.

Why do we need to go to polls at all? (3, Interesting)

t0qer (230538) | about 12 years ago | (#4129391)

I don't want to leave my house. Why can't I vote over the internet?

Just mail me my username/password, i'll go to whatever website you want me to go to and vote. I'm sure 1/2 the /. population agree's with me. Are you listening politicians?

Re:Why do we need to go to polls at all? (3, Insightful)

gatekeep (122108) | about 12 years ago | (#4129448)

That'd work real fine until someone;

A - Hacks the voting server
B - DDOSs the voting server
C - Man-in-the-middle attacks the voting server
D - ???? There have to be a ton more security problems with this.

Identity verification would be a bit of a problem too. No way short of mailing out the information short of a courier who verifies identity of the person he hands it to to ensure that someone doesn't simply steal usernames/passwords from all their neighbors mailboxes. At an actual polling place, they can at least compare your photo ID to your voter registration card, etc..

Re:Why do we need to go to polls at all? (1)

nochops (522181) | about 12 years ago | (#4129449)

As soon as you connect a computer system to the internet, you open up to all sorts of hack attempts.

I'll do just fine without voting over the internet, thank you.

Re:Why do we need to go to polls at all? (2)

mekkab (133181) | about 12 years ago | (#4129452)

Actually, I think its the politicians who count on most people staying home.

They target a few specific groups, make them promises and lather them into a frenzy, and then provide special transportation for their constituents.

The more effort needed, the fewer who show up. And if said politician has targeted at those few who do show up, they win. Then its cigars and whores all around!

Re:Why do we need to go to polls at all? (1)

tiedyejeremy (559815) | about 12 years ago | (#4129478)

This should work. Unfortunately, we'll all have to have our IP address tattooed on our asses for identification and then we'll just pass a law making it illegal to spoof ip addresses... Simple. Where do I sign up? :)

Re:Why do we need to go to polls at all? (1)

thefirelane (586885) | about 12 years ago | (#4129486)

I don't want to leave my house. Why can't I vote over the internet?

They already have something like this, only you vote through the mail.
Dallas does this, and might have to redo elections due to the massive amount of fraud it caused.

We probably could impliment a secure system to do this though. Everyone would be assigned a secure public and private key. This would have to be on some sort of "national ID card"... oh wait, bad idea.


---Lane

Re:Why do we need to go to polls at all? (1)

tiedyejeremy (559815) | about 12 years ago | (#4129525)

I know a Lane in Dallas. Are you he?

nope (not anymore anyway) (1)

thefirelane (586885) | about 12 years ago | (#4129585)

I was there for a brief stint in 2001, but no more.

Re:Why do we need to go to polls at all? (1)

t0qer (230538) | about 12 years ago | (#4129566)

ddos, ppl stealin mail, yeah yeah so what? I have faith it could be implemented securly, just nobody wants to do it.

for ddos, get a REALLY big server on a REALLY big internet connection. Run a non bloat os like BSD or QNX.

For mail stealing, well thats tougher, but i'm sure constituants would gladly hire voter registrars to go around to verify ppl for voting. Non issue.

Other than that, private/public keys and it's a secure system. Whats the holdup? I haven't seen a legitimate answer to my parent post yet.

Re:Why do we need to go to polls at all? (1)

Hayzeus (596826) | about 12 years ago | (#4129567)

Great idea. I'm sure b4DD455 h4x0r will make a great president.

Re:Why do we need to go to polls at all? (1)

BlackCobra43 (596714) | about 12 years ago | (#4129651)

Removing the only reason NOT to vote? That'd be encouraging morons to vote,which can't possibly be good!Seriously,how hard is it o drive down to a building every 4 years to push a friggin button?

How does this work? (1)

ejaw5 (570071) | about 12 years ago | (#4129394)

Al Gore: As you can see, the touch screen ballot has a row of square boxes with names on them with their party affiliations. Now what are the voters supposed to do? Are they supposed to scratch the box, sniff the box, color in the box? One lady decided to Lick the box.

..and what if you select the wrong button? Is there an UNDO?

Re:How does this work? (3, Funny)

Jondor (55589) | about 12 years ago | (#4129455)

yeah, and a tetris for those who haven't decided yet and still need some time.. or quake! There are some possibilities.. with skins from the politicians.. "Humpz.. that bush guy fights like a wimpy girl.. He's not gona get my vote!" And of course a random-choise button for those who realy don't know or care..
Hmm.. Maybe a link with a casino. .if you're the thirt in a row to cast the same vote you win! The possibilities of getting people actualy to vote!

2004, counting room (4, Funny)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 12 years ago | (#4129398)

"Hey, Fred, what's with the 200 million write-in votes for Bill Gates?"

-T

We're just seeing the problems now (2, Insightful)

eWalker (585020) | about 12 years ago | (#4129401)

The nice thing about digital voting is that you know that there's a problem with your vote (a frozen computer screen, etc.) before you walk away from the booth. With the current system, how are you know if your chad is punched all the way? ;) Coding errors can be debugged. It's great to be able to _see_ the problem.

Re:We're just seeing the problems now (2)

JWW (79176) | about 12 years ago | (#4129685)

Yeah, that's unless the database gets corrupted at 10:30 PM. Do you suppose they're going to call you to revote?

We don't need electronic voting. The troubles from this will far outnumber the hanging chad problems from last elections.

If you aren't smart enough to punch the card all the way through and check it before you turn it in, or check that you have the circle all filled in with a number 2 pencil in the case of voting where I live, you don't need to vote.

"He who votes has no power. He who counts votes... (3, Insightful)

vkg (158234) | about 12 years ago | (#4129408)

has power."
- Joeseph Stalin

With a computer voting system, there profile of risk for election fraud changes so radically that the folks used to policing these systems will never know what hit them.

We've already had one US election stolen by outright electoral fraud (I'll let y'all verify that Gore won from your own preferred, trustworthy news source).

This just opens up the door for more trouble ahead.

Re:"He who votes has no power. He who counts votes (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4129499)

(I'll let y'all verify that Gore won from your own preferred, trustworthy news source)

Sorry buddy, you should read more.

http://www.cnn.com/2001/ALLPOLITICS/04/04/florida. recount.01/ [cnn.com]

Some florida newspapers did a full recount and verified the opposite of what you said. Wasn't all of this finally over two years ago now?

Re:"He who votes has no power. He who counts votes (3, Funny)

Orne (144925) | about 12 years ago | (#4129666)

In this case, neither side can figure out who has the power...

"The only other reported problem, Riggall said, was power cords improperly attached to the machines."


Re:"He who votes has no power. He who counts votes (0, Redundant)

QuickSilver_999 (166186) | about 12 years ago | (#4129676)

Since the other reply is an AC, here's the link:

http://www.cnn.com/2001/ALLPOLITICS/04/04/florida. recount.01/ [cnn.com]

We've already had one US election stolen by outright electoral fraud (I'll let y'all verify that Gore won from your own preferred, trustworthy news source).

Sorry, but your prejudice against Republicans is clearly showing through.

On the other hand you're right, we've had at least one, if not many stolen by outright election fraud. The election of Kennedy v. Nixon is a perfect example, when the Democrats had whole cemeteries voting for their guy.

Or it could be St. Louis, where the polls were illegally kept open for hours by a Democrat Judge. Or Florida, where Gore tried to use a recount to steal the election. Or Chicago, that great Democratic stronghold, which for decades has been the joke of free elections. (Most cemeteries are a precinct all of their own in Chicago...)

This was settled 2 years ago. BUSH WON! Get over it.

Computerized voting restricts access to voters (3, Insightful)

atrowe (209484) | about 12 years ago | (#4129409)

While computerized voting certainly sounds good to most Slashdoters, we have to realize that the majority of the populace is not as technically oriented is the average Slashdoter. Many older citizens and citizens without any computer training and experience will likely become confused by the new computerized voting devices.

I don't mean to sound like a Luddite, but I'm not sure technology is the best solution in a situation like this. Technology is great for many uses, but for a task as simple as voting, it is much easier and more practical to simply use existing methods which have been proven by their use in the past hundreds if not thousands of years. Voters who are not computer savvy will likely become confused by the unnecessary complication of the new voting machines and many are likely to cast their ballots in error, possibly voting for a candidate they had no intention of supporting. Clearly, in a situation such as this, current paper voting mechanisims are much more accurate and reliable. Furthermore, if voting is to be computerized, we're leaving ourselves vulnerable to all sorts of hacking and digital manipulation of the ballots which otherwise would not exist. It's been said many times here before that no computer system is 100% secure, and I, for one, do not want to trust my country's elections to the likes of Microsoft of Red Hat. Paper elections are much harder, if not impossible, to tamper with.

Re:Computerized voting restricts access to voters (1)

Stonehand (71085) | about 12 years ago | (#4129504)

Hm, why would they be confused? It's not like the voters have to /admin/ the machines -- a voting machine can have an extremely simple interface regardless of type.

In fact, a well-designed voting program could eliminate a lot of double-votes and under-votes, or at least flag them and ask "Are you sure?". For instance, it could present a list of offices. When each office is selected, it presents /only/ the candidates standing for that office, and a number that indicates how many to vote for (since it won't always be only 1, for many local elections). It can then inform you if you're appearing to, say, vote for more than that, and prompt you with "You have voted for (x) candidates, but there are only (y) seats available. This will invalidate all your votes for this office. Are you sure you wish to do this?" et al.

That way, even if the party hacks are stupid enough to give idiotic instructions and the voters clueless enough to follow them, (like the Democratic vote-drivers who told mostly-black first-time voters to "be sure to vote on every page... and some voters took them literally and voted for multiple presidential candidates as a consequence) there are safeguards.

Re:Computerized voting restricts access to voters (2)

t0qer (230538) | about 12 years ago | (#4129516)

Many older citizens and citizens without any computer training and experience will likely become confused by the new computerized voting devices.

Remember Florida? THose were on paper ballots. Usually ballots have small, 8pt text on them. Compare that to an LCD screen using large fonts, help files, I think the old folks will be ok.

Clearly, in a situation such as this, current paper voting mechanisims are much more accurate and reliable. Furthermore, if voting is to be computerized, we're leaving ourselves vulnerable to all sorts of hacking and digital manipulation of the ballots

Well, digital you can go back and correct your mistakes. Again, lets not forget Florida's divits. As with hacking, well, ballots can be counterfieted at a crooked print shop a lot easier than most modern encryption schemes can be broken.

I, for one, do not want to trust my country's elections to the likes of Microsoft of Red Hat.

Who says they have to be trusted? Just use BSD problem solved!

Re:Computerized voting restricts access to voters (1)

scheveningen (305408) | about 12 years ago | (#4129532)

Here are some pics [hoogvliet.nl] and a description [election.nl] of the dutch system.
It's easy to use.

All machines are standalone: hacking is hard, but you still have to do a lot of work collecting the data from all machines.
I can't remember ever voting on paper, so I guess it has been around for at least 8 years. 85% of all cities and villages use the system.

Re:Computerized voting restricts access to voters (1)

autiger (576148) | about 12 years ago | (#4129589)

I am a Georgia voter and played with a demo system. It's literally so simple anyone can do it. It actually will be EASIER than Georgia's current punch card system, particularly for the elderly who only have to touch the screen now instead of manipulating the little hole puncher tool that is currently used. Features included a final review of all your selections, ability to go back and change of coures, and the ability to print a copy of your vote to take with you. As mentioned in the article, the first (not so) smartcard that was tried in my demo machine didn't work. Second one was the charm.

Re:Computerized voting restricts access to voters (2)

mpe (36238) | about 12 years ago | (#4129607)

Clearly, in a situation such as this, current paper voting mechanisims are much more accurate and reliable.

IMHO the best application of technology would be to design ballot papers which can easily be counted either by machine or manually. A sorting machine could also compare ballot papers with counterfoils. If each paper has a random but unique serial number it's going to be hard for anyone to stuff the ballot and any "spoilt papers" can be eliminated.
There are also fewer ways in which you can rig a counter-collator in the first place. It's also very easy to spot since any questions about its sorting and you count manually.

Secret ballots with secret software (5, Interesting)

leighklotz (192300) | about 12 years ago | (#4129411)

I wonder if it's really legal to have votes counted by a machine that has secret software inside that voters are not allowed to examine?

Chris Riggall, a spokesman for the secretary of state's office, attributed the problems to errors by poll workers, a glitch in the Windows operating system that runs the machines ...

Shouldn't voters in Georgia be able to file an FOI request to find out what's happening to their votes?

But the real question is.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4129416)

.. are those voting machines overclocked?

Imagine... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4129484)

Imagine a Beowulf Cluster of these voting machines!!!

no more rigging votes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4129419)

which is why it wont ever catch on.

can you imagine in chicago, the voter turn out would not exceed the registered voters, (or the population of the city)

thats why it wont happen

Idiot-proof? (1)

danielsmc (577116) | about 12 years ago | (#4129429)

It seems that the problems they were having were based mainly on poll worker error. I don't know what they can really do about that. As they say, make it idiot-proof, and someone will make a better idiot! Daniel

Windoze... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4129431)

I guess this says it all: "...a glitch in the Windows operating system that runs the machines..."

Windows?? (3, Interesting)

Doppler00 (534739) | about 12 years ago | (#4129435)

I usually wouldn't bash windows but this is not the right solution for this. Why would you rely on such complexity for a system that is supposed to be simple and easy to use? Just imagine how easy it would be to break into this system and change it.

A better solution would be to use an embedded microcontroller or other simple hardware device for each voting station and then connect that to a central database server running a much more secure operating system. I think that voting and it's integrity deserve as much mission critical attention as safety systems in an automobile. There simply shouldn't be any failure here. Relying on an OS with several millions of lines of code just to input a few votes just doesn't make any sense.

the true voting tech is the method, not machines (5, Insightful)

js7a (579872) | about 12 years ago | (#4129437)

I don't care whether they use paper, plastic, or some newfangled electronic gizmos. :)

What really matters is that they use Instant Runoff Voting; please see:

The Center for Voting and Democracy [fairvote.org]

the Instantrunoff mailing list [4irv.net]

and the California Instant Runoff Voting Coalition [calirv.org] for an example of a good local activism site.

P.S. You can create your own web-based IRV web surveys with DemoChoice.org [demochoice.org] (also includes free downloadable php scripts for your own site.)

Mod parent up, please. (2)

vkg (158234) | about 12 years ago | (#4129465)

This is good stuff.

Approval Voting (3, Informative)

Decimal (154606) | about 12 years ago | (#4129584)

Instant run-off voting is a step in the right direction, but it too is still leagues away from being able accurately representing the will of the voting populace. What about Approval voting [boulder.co.us] ? It is just one of many options [boulder.co.us] out there.

This frightens me (2, Interesting)

gasgesgos (603192) | about 12 years ago | (#4129451)

so now our election system is run by microsoft, yay! now because it's closed source, couldn't microsoft run a service in the backround that changes the vote tallies? or even some of the techs working on it. techs need access to the basic parts of the system, and im sure one could change the number of votes, it has to be stored somewhere outside of the ram. if its stored in ram and the power goes out, the election's screwed. there are so many places where this can go wrong it's sad.

Re:This frightens me (2)

SimplyCosmic (15296) | about 12 years ago | (#4129563)

I think the point isn't that something could go wrong with an electronic voting system.

The point is that, as past elections have shown, something already has gone wrong with the older systems and will continue to do so if those systems are kept in place.

At the very least the attempt at a solution is better than the current problem.

Re:This frightens me (1)

gasgesgos (603192) | about 12 years ago | (#4129658)

that's true, but i would like to see this using open source software so people can find out if the software makers are "modifying" the results a bit. one vote here, one vote there, it adds up, and no one would know the difference. even skewing the votes by adding a random vote for every 40 voters, not everyone votes, so it would just seem that turnout is high. Offsetting the vote by one to the right of the choice would have disasterous (sp?) (and funny) results.

No More Chad!! (2, Funny)

jkusar (585161) | about 12 years ago | (#4129466)

But what happens when all that oil builds up and blocks my keypress???

Usability (1)

Edrick (590522) | about 12 years ago | (#4129469)

The issue when developing new voter systems is to make is completely secure, but user friendly.

Unfortunately, designing anything for use by the general public isn't easy, as there will always be some people that will be confused, and in some cases rightfully so.

Assuming this new system is completely secure, there will need to be explicit instructions and examples to ensure even the most brain-dead person can cast their vote.

With some luck we won't see a repeat of the election insanity we saw in Florida and elsewhere.

Re:Usability (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4129526)

ATM machines seem easy enough to use. How could voting be any more difficult? Or buying tickets with you cc at the movie theatre at the stand-alone box? At every step is the basic question, "xxx is this correct?"

Hackable? (2)

jukal (523582) | about 12 years ago | (#4129495)

I don't know much about electricity, but if I have have understood touch-screens work by using resistive panels. When you touch the screen you complete an electic circuit. I quess the panel then measures the current to know what was pressed.

Ok, if it works like this, can't you do this remotely as well, it should be rather easy make the conduct just before the real vote is given. Then just, voilâ and thank you!

Knowing the average voter ;))) no-one will notice :)

It would be nice to see someone with more knowledge write about his :)

Am I the only one (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4129507)

Who thinks that touchscreens in general are very unreliable and that the technology still needs a lot of work? Haven't any of the people involved in putting together these systems ever used an ATM or kiosk with a touchscreen that's been used more than couple times ?

Do you really want.. (2, Funny)

Angel Hair Pasta (577266) | about 12 years ago | (#4129508)

Do you really want a man named Rigg-All to be in charge of your electronic voting?

Could you imagine... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4129514)

...a beowulf cluster of these things!?

Re:Could you imagine... (2)

Quixadhal (45024) | about 12 years ago | (#4129672)

You won't have to imagine it in MS-Election 2004!

Windows was NOT the problem. (3, Insightful)

Steveftoth (78419) | about 12 years ago | (#4129527)

Though they blame the mistake on the Windows OS for crashing, it's stupid to believe them. Basically whomever decided to push this out there didn't test their product enough. Everyone who has used computers for any length of time realize that a closed system like this should have zero problems if properly tested no matter what the underlying software is, be it windows, linux, HP-UX, or mac.

What does this really mean? That the voting system should go back for yet more testing. QAing software is probably the most boring part of the job, but it's also the more important. If we are to even pretend that we live in a fair society then any voting system should work and work fairly. Be it paper or computer based.

Is America ready for a computer based system? I think a computer based system should be able to replace a paper based system. I think that possiably we should also use paper in addition to the computer system, meaning that they should actually print a reciept of your vote so that in the case of a recount, they have physical proof that you voted for (Gore and not Bush?) the person you said that you did.

Re:Windows was NOT the problem. (1)

gasgesgos (603192) | about 12 years ago | (#4129611)

ive seen windows crash on its own many times, it's not impossible. but yes, more testing is always good. especially with something as sensitive as votes. Even with extensive testing, no system will be perfect. there's always the chance of hardware failing during voting, and yes, software too. Just look at some of the big name apps and games that STILL have bugs. Internet explorer has new bugs all the time, and millions of people use it.

Improperly connected power cords? (2)

anomaly (15035) | about 12 years ago | (#4129555)

This is really frightening. The poll workers couldn't attach a power cord to the PC? That is a really basic interface, and we then trus them to operate the mechanical systems that drive the legacy election process?

I suppose that one possible issue is that there might not have been outlets near the voting booths...

Re:Improperly connected power cords? (2)

SimplyCosmic (15296) | about 12 years ago | (#4129653)

Why not? We trust these people to drive tractor trailers, operate on us, cook our food, defend us in court, fix our cars and care for our children. It's not like you don't know a doctor, laywer, driver or cook who may be ace at their job, yet not know the first thing about setting up those "computer things". ;)

What about people that can't see? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4129562)

Here in Brasil e-voting became a reality in all the country five years ago. But the system was runing in some states some time before.

The guy who developed the thouchscreen system didn't thought about blind people. Here in Brasil we have a numeric keypad wich contains the braile system so even who is blind can vote.

More information and some pictures can be found here

http://www.tse.gov.br

Georgia's voting booth undocumented features (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4129565)

1- Easy to understand symbols for people who can't read

2- Built in bottle opener and free miniture bottle of wild turkey whever you vote

3- "black screen of death", which displays the following error: there was an error at memory address kkk084212: NO NIGGERS ALLOWED!

Next election (5, Funny)

JahToasted (517101) | about 12 years ago | (#4129568)

The next president of the United States: {FATAL EXCEPTION IN 0x0E4F}

Where's the reciept? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4129581)

The only way that "electronic" voting can work, IMHO, is if the workstation prints out a card with both human readable and machine readable information.

You make your vote, hit finish, watch the card print out, check the card, and drop the card in the ballot box. The cards are then collected and counted.

You can easily print out the voting information in one of those 2D barcode clouds like they have on UPS boxes.

If there is a need for a hand count, simply read the names off of the top of the card.

During counting, they should sample the ballots with a scanner to make sure that what the card says in readable format is the same as in electronic format.

This way, everyone in the process can easily check that the ballot says what the voter meant it to say. If there's an error, after printing, go back and get a new ballot.

What we really need is... (1)

program21 (469995) | about 12 years ago | (#4129604)

not a new way to cast votes, but rather a whole new voting system [aodnetwork.com] .

India has been using these since 1982 (1)

xzap (453197) | about 12 years ago | (#4129610)

http://www.rediff.com/election/1999/aug/24evm.htm

Though they were used in a countrywide election for the first time only in 1999

They work in CO --- why is this even on /. anyway (1)

WaxParadigm (311909) | about 12 years ago | (#4129619)

I voted early in Colorado Springs in 2000 at one of the local malls. They had touch screens and they seemed to work just fine.

Why are people acting like this is some new technology? Why is Georgia having so many problems with this...it should be pretty simple / straight-forward.

The only reason this is even news on /. is that it mentions windows bugs. Sure it's neat that a whole state is finally doing this...but it's nothing I'd call exceptionally newsworthy.

--
It's like in Superman III, highly underrated movie BTW.

comparisons. (2, Flamebait)

GoatPigSheep (525460) | about 12 years ago | (#4129628)

Compare and contrast to systems in Florida and Germany

Germany = state of the art open source based system

Florida = unauditable mystery box system

No surprises here, I would expect such systems in America's 'joke' puppet government owned by corporations verse Europe's 'real' and refined governments.

Some obvious pros. (1)

eoeoe (555939) | about 12 years ago | (#4129629)

The internet way is obviously far too susceptible to problems (as previously mentioned many times over and over). But having some kiosks would be wonderful (except for the initial cost to make em).

Many have mentioned concerns with old people, but one nice feature that computers have that paper does not is affirmation-- something that is insanely annoying in computer programs (eg. ARE YOU ABSOLUTELY SURE YOU WANT TO CLOSE THIS WINDOW?) but rather useful when voting (eg. ARE YOU ABSOLUTELY SURE YOU WANT TO VOTE FOR A DUMB TEXAN?).

- Justin

Some froze up like balky home computers! (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 12 years ago | (#4129632)


What a sad commentary, that home computers should be the obvious metaphor for an unreliable piece of junk.

I got a look at one last Tuesday (4, Informative)

The Wookie (31006) | about 12 years ago | (#4129663)

It had a touch-screen with a display that was probably about 18" high and 9" wide. There was a card reader to the right where you inserted your voting card. I'm not sure how the distribution of the cards will work. I don't know if they will issue every voter a card or if you get the card when you go to vote. It looked like it had a smart chip on it instead of a magstripe.

The user interface was pretty easy. It would present one or more categories and all the candidates for each category. You just touched the one you wanted. Once you selected a candidate, it greyed out the others. It took me a few seconds to figure out that if I changed my mind, I had to touch previous selection to undo it. There were "Next" and "Previous" buttons to navigate through the various pages.

At the end, it showed a summary of my votes so I could give a final yes/no to my choices. It printed out some kind of receipt, I think, but I didn't really look at it.

If I had to guess on the platform, I have to say that I did see an hourglass icon that looked just like the one in Windows. Maybe they're running WinCE or something. It looked a lot like one of those "pen computing" devices that never really went anywhere.

I would probably feel a little more secure about the system if it printed out a ballot that I then had to put in a ballot box, so it wouldn't be any worse than what we have now (from a fraud standpoint). It is certainly easier to use than the punch ballots we have now.

Mysterious behavior (1)

Roached (84015) | about 12 years ago | (#4129664)

In Fulton, poll workers also reported the machines mysteriously voted for Bill Gates as congressman of Georgia.

Verification??? Testing??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4129670)

I don't see anything in the article about how they are verifying that the computers' tallies are matching what people actually voted. Shouldn't this be done? I'd think the secretary of state would have thought of this. And shouldn't the "manufacturer" have test results/information available about this product? I know this is not an in-depth technical article, but how in the hell do they know the machines are/aren't working accurately? The article makes it sound like if there's no BSOD everything is working just GREAT, thank-you.

What really pisses me off about this is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 12 years ago | (#4129680)

Why the fcsk is it running microsoft windows. I dont want it to run linux either. Why oh why does this thing need a high-powered commercial os. ALL GOOD HARDWARE HAS ITS OWN OPERATING CODE. Why the hell is this machine different.

The idea of electronic voting is fine by me but every idiot can backdoor a windows system, now couple that with the unpatched vulnerabilities in windows and the fact that NOT ALL EXPLOITS get released. meerely they are kept by people with financial motives keeping it quiet.

Now we can ask does microsofts admitted backdoor keys give them (and through their eula) the right to screw with election votes LEGALLY!.

This is a totally proposterous solution to something that could be extremely effective but it cannot be done on the cheap and by cutting corners. THIS SHOULD BE A PROPER PEICE OF HARDWARE. Using your picmicro or whatever other microcontroller you want. I mean for gods sake you have to press a button and record the result you dont need a full featured and by that i mean buggy operating system.

This is screwed up. Forshame.

now we can all say microsoft owns the government... wait we already knew that...
hmmm

really fast voting? (1)

lawngnome (573912) | about 12 years ago | (#4129681)

Would this make the actual vote calculation fast?
I mean, how long does a SQL query take?
Im reminded of that one futurama where nixon runs for president... "8:00 and now for the robot vote... 8:01 the robot vote is now closed"
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