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Touch-Screen Voting Snags Continue

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the poke-it-harder dept.

United States 522

micromoog writes "New touchscreen voting machines caused problems last night in the suburbs of Washington D.C.. Several machines failed and had to be rebooted, and nine were actually removed from the site, repaired, and returned, in violation of election laws. The machines also failed to report their results correctly due to network problems. At least one lawsuit is pending. Interesting quote: 'County elections officials said it was the slowest performance in memory for counting votes on election night.'" Read on for more on how the current crop of electronic voting machines are faring.

Not every electronic voting machine misstep comes from Diebold; reader zznate points out that the Virginia machines came from Advanced Voting Solutions (dcw3 butts in: "The slogan on their home page really gives you a warm fuzzy: 'Helping Shape American History for over one hundred years.'"), as well as that the EFF won a decision for an accelerated court date of November 17 in their attempt to stop Diebold from shutting down sites that make the infamous memos available. Let's all hope this is the first in a series of many wins for the EFF against the Diebold folks and crappy e-voting schemes in general. Have you donated lately?"

Reader meadowreach writes points out more trouble on the other coast: "From news.com: 'As voters in California go to the polls, the state is launching an investigation into alleged illegal tampering with electronic voting machines in a San Francisco Bay Area county.' Diebold upgrades software without letting the state know? How reassuring."

Generic Guy writes "CNN is running a story about California not certifying the Diebold voting machines and instead opening an investigation into the use of uncertified systems. Maybe there is still hope for democracy in the U.S."

And from Cambridge, Massachusetts, Peter Desnoyers writes "Cambridge uses an optical scanner system, where you fill out SAT-style ovals with a pen and the election officer feeds them into a scanning machine. From last night's preliminary results on the Cambridge website:

'In two precincts at 7:55 and 7:59pm the memory cards reached capacity. To ensure that every ballot was counted , the Election Commission has decided to rerun the ballots for 9-1, Lexington Avenue Fire House and 11-3, Churchill Avenue. We expect that it will take between one to two hours.'

I interpret this to mean that they took all the paper ballots out of the box and ran them back through the reader. (with a bigger memory card?) In the mean time, voters were able to continue voting and no votes were lost."

cancel ×

522 comments

Don't forget... (-1)

SCO$699FeeTroll (695565) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398801)

...to pay your $699 licensing fee you cock-smoking teabaggers.

Re:Don't forget... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7398835)

Since it's no longer a $699 fee, you fail it to the Jihad.

Fight the war & fuck the norm!

JIIIHHHHHAAAAAAAAADDDDDDDDDD!

fp (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7398807)

fight the war & fuck the norm

JIIIIIIHHHHAAAAAADDDDDDD

Re:fp (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7398821)

uh-huh.

Rebooting the voting machine (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7398819)

"Aww man, Windows crashed again. We probably lost 3000 votes due to the reboot."

"Don't worry about it, 3000 votes isn't enough to make a difference!"

Re:Rebooting the voting machine (2, Insightful)

Jhon (241832) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399100)

I'm sorry -- systems like diebold leave no audit trail. As a voter, this is unacceptable. There needs to be a way to verify the vote count.

The only way I can see that happening is if a verified (by the voter) paper receipt listing the voters choice going in to a balot box and stored. Let the machines tally. Audit random counties every election. Let recounts count the printed votes. At least this way a "crash" wont result in any lost votes.

I just dont trust anything that isn't transparent.

-jhon

Ho. (-1, Offtopic)

nepheles (642829) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398829)

Trinity dies at the start! Then Neo against Smith. Then Morpheus at the very end. The Oracle is totally wrong, it turns out.

Violation of election laws (5, Interesting)

macemoneta (154740) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398844)

OK, I keep hearing about the violations in election laws going on, but I never hear about people being taken away in handcuffs and being brought to trial. If the laws aren't being enforced, then they don't really exist. Might as well vote 50 or 60 times while you're going out; it looks like a free-for-all.

Re:Violation of election laws (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7398954)

And there is the real problem. Even if Diebold did rig the vote what would actually happen to these guys? I can just see judge CKK on this: "well, you're clearly guilty and completely unrepentant but your company is in my pension fund so we're just going to tell you really sternly not to do it again. Let that be a lesson to you."

Re:Violation of election laws (5, Insightful)

kiwimate (458274) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399063)

Such a good point! One of the most telling points was the tale of nine machines being removed from the site for repair and then brought back onsite in violation of election laws. Forget for a moment the problem of the election machines failing. Aren't there supposed to be people supervising who know that you can't do this and who should've stopped the machines from being removed and brought back on-site? If there is a problem, then there needs to be a protocol to follow, and the people in charge at each voting site must know that protocol and enforce it.

By the by, I live just outside of Philadelphia and we had an election yesterday (mayor and various other positions). Listening to the news, I kept hearing the news casters talking about how wonderful it was to be able to participate in this democratic process and just about going into tears over how fabulous it was to have this right. They sounded like they were somewhere that had only had free elections for a few years and everyone was still getting used to the idea.

Re:Violation of election laws (2, Insightful)

pvt_medic (715692) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399173)

people need to get the news out. While the washington post is a news worthy organization... how many people really know about this. Send the article around to friends, family, to just random people you know on your address book.

and especially write to your senators and people in washington. If they argue that they represent the people and they get enough voices saying this is absurd. then things will happen.

We can just complain about what happens or we can spread the word. even the smallest amount of votes make a difference

Thats my 2 cents worth... now i got to go return my soap box

gee look what i just found (-1, Troll)

Sonnenschein (701061) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398849)

diebold software available via freenet ! lucky us

Die bold Software [ FREENET LINK ] [127.0.0.1]

or

SSK@ijROtU5Ksue7Q5N4UZefFioV76EPAgM/diebold_soft wa re/1

mass media of poop (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7398850)

if voting actually changed anything, it would be illegel anyways.

just let them have their dumb show.

What's wrong with (5, Insightful)

reboot246 (623534) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398851)

using paper ballots that are scanned? You can have the results instantly and the ballots are locked inside the box in case of a recount.

Just because the technology of touchscreen voting is considered "cutting edge" doesn't make it better.

That's not my dot-filling style! (1)

FatSean (18753) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398918)

Would also make it easier to expose voter fraud...have everyone sign their ballot.

Re:That's not my dot-filling style! (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398959)

No, anonymous ballots are an important part of our system. That way you cannot be descriminated upon (by the government, or other institutions) because of how you voted.

Re:That's not my dot-filling style! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7399037)

Look... there's this guy named Adolph and this company named IBM [wsws.org] who made really accurate use of census data in the 40s. If people were to sign their ballots, I'll be the neocons would probably use it in exactly the same way. Except this time, the "undesirables" would be anyone who doesn't support the corruption that passes for free market capitalism in the US.

Re:That's not my dot-filling style! (1)

Carbonite (183181) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398992)

...have everyone sign their ballot.

This isn't a workable solution since most countries place a high value on secret balloting.

Re:That's not my dot-filling style! (0)

jobugeek (466084) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399033)

Then insert it face down. Problem solved.

Re:That's not my dot-filling style! (1)

Carbonite (183181) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399109)

By "secret balloting" I meant anonymous balloting. I suppose that although they may be close, they're not the same.

If the ballot is signed, it's not anonymous. If the signature is so unrecognizable that it can't be traced back to anyone, it does nothing to prevent voting fraud.

Re:That's not my dot-filling style! (1)

drakaan (688386) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399030)

But having everyone sign their ballot would mean that they can't have anonymity (one of those guarantees that's meant to stymie repercussions for voting a certain way).

Re:That's not my dot-filling style! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7399075)

But having everyone sign their ballot would mean that they can't have anonymity (one of those guarantees that's meant to stymie repercussions for voting a certain way).
As a compromise, everyone could sign "Anonymous Coward."

San Francisco uses optical scan (2, Interesting)

sulli (195030) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398965)

and results were extremely fast last night. Done by 10:31 pm [sfgov.org] . (And my candidate came in first and my initiative won, which was nice!)

Many SF voters mail in their ballots, which makes it easier with optical scan as they can all be processed immediately after the polls close.

I have heard rumors that SF wants to switch to touch screen, but if they propose this I'll lobby against it. If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

Re:San Francisco uses optical scan (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7399042)

And my candidate came in first and my initiative won, which was nice

Convinient. Do you, by any chance, have controlling shares in the company that made the optical scanners? I bet you use faulty code and wrong wavelength scanners to ensure that less of the votes you don't like are counted than votes that you do like.

Re:What's wrong with (5, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398973)

using paper ballots that are scanned? You can have the results instantly and the ballots are locked inside the box in case of a recount.

My idea (as noted in a previous article about this subject) is to use touch-pad voting machines that print a paper ballot that would then be scanned. In the event of a recount (or a dispute with the e-voting machine) these ballots could be counted by hand.

The machine prints the ballot so there is no chance of user error (unless they can't figure out how to use the bilingual touchscreen). The user gets to see the results before he drops the paper into the ballot box.

Isn't this the best of both worlds?

VOTING IN THE USA (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7398980)

What's wrong with using paper ballots

Then the right (wrong) person could be elected.

Re:What's wrong with (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7399040)

Use of paper ballots can lead to horrible things. Like recounts.

You don't want another national nightmare like last time where people try to cause a *shudder* recount, do we now?

Re:What's wrong with (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7399055)

These two are not mutually exclusive. A touch screen interface that prints a filled-out, user and machine readable, optical scan ballot is the best of both worlds. Easy to use and a paper record (no electronic tally needed or kept).

Re:What's wrong with (5, Insightful)

Flarenet (31299) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399068)

This leads to a question I have: why isn't pencil and paper good enough in the United States?

I'm only familiar with elections here in Canada. Here we have a ballot with X number of names on it with a circle beside each name. You're handed your ballot and a pencil and then go into a booth to mark an "X" beside the name you want. The the ballot is folded and placed in the ballot box. No problems with hanging chads or ballots that are confusing to read. Why isn't a low tech system like this used in the States? Is it a population problem? (Too many people to allow this to scale well?)

This is a non-issue (4, Funny)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398862)

Really, you guys are getting all worked up over nothing. Polls clearly show:

Americans in favor of unregulated electronic voting: 25%
Americans in favor of strict auditing and accounting of electronic voting systems: -75%.

So clearly this is nothing to get bothered about.

Re:This is a non-issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7399053)

-75%?

Re:This is a non-issue (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7399133)

I think that was a joke.

Re:This is a non-issue (1)

smack_attack (171144) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399144)

The dead have risen, and they are voting.

Oh no. (4, Informative)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398869)

Scantron sheets for voting? That's NOT a good idea. I'm currently working for a company that deals with standardized tests, and those things are a PAIN to clean up in the database becaues NOBODY can fill the damn things out correctly. I'd say at least a good 5% of them have messed up bubbles in the user/test-ID field ALONE. The answer fields usually fare much worse.

These aren't just 2nd graders, either. High school tests are usually WORSE in this aspect.

Re:Oh no. (5, Interesting)

cmowire (254489) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399043)

My personal model for the best system is what my county uses.

There's a big fscking arrow with a gap in it, not a little bubble. You have a big black marker of the correct optimal type. They tell you to connect the arrow. We're talking about a broadsheet-sized ballot card here, so space is decidedly *not* a problem. There's no key, everything you need is on the ballot.

When you are done, you put it in the machine. If you screwed up or made some incorrect marks, it tells you, so there's an immediate feedback loop. If you don't mark a candidate, it will require an election official to make sure that you did, in fact, mean to leave it blank.

Paper record, cheaper than a computer, a check to make sure that it will scan before the ballot leaves your sight.

Re:Oh no. (1)

DrEldarion (114072) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399074)

That makes far too much sense. They'd never implement that here.

Re:Oh no. (1)

Llyr (561935) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399105)

Scantron sheets for voting? That's NOT a good idea. I'm currently working for a company that deals with standardized tests, and those things are a PAIN to clean up in the database becaues NOBODY can fill the damn things out correctly.

Ok, then how about a simple machine that you input votes into and prints out correctly filled in ballot forms? You can check it visually to make sure it's what you want (print the questions/answers/names on it), and then it'll scan properly.

It'd be tempting just to count the votes on the same machine, but being able to verify the sheet in between the two parts is better for security and rechecking (would also achieve higher confidence of voters, and can even help them make sure they know who they're voting for).

Re:Oh no. (1)

sulli (195030) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399113)

The Sequoia Eagle [sequoiavote.com] system used in many cities, including San Francisco, automatically rejects overvoted and spoiled ballots. The ballots themselves are very simple to fill out - you complete a black arrow pointing at the candidate's name using a Sharpie or other pen.

The same ballots are used for in-person and mail-in ballots.

Re:Oh no. (1)

drakaan (688386) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399147)

Okay...and an election isn't a test...You're not going to go to the polls and see:

Two trains start out 50 miles apart travelling in opposite directions. If train A is travelling at 50 miles-per-hour, and train B is travelling at 30 miles-per hour, who would you vote for?

  1. George "Dubya" Bush
  2. Al "I have facial hair now" Gore
  3. Scooby "dooby-dooby" Doo
  4. None of the above
  5. All of the above

I'll agree that for testing, there can be issues, but for ballots, I don't see the problem...unless you don't have any idea who you're going to vote for, in which case a different ballot won't make things any better for you.

Re:Oh no. (1)

Bendebecker (633126) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399149)

I hated those things. Even if you managed to saty in the circles, and by some stroke of luck didn't need to erase any of your answers (those erasers were crap), then the force required to completely fill in that circle usually left a balck dot on the opposite side (messing up the answers on the back.)

I Forgot Election Day! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7398876)

I missed election day entirely ... I was hangin' with Chad.

It's a good thing ... (0, Offtopic)

Medcoop (687233) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398883)

I don't vote. Otherwise I would be pissed off.

I predict, however, that even with all the errors and whatnot, the machines will still see fit to elect an affluent, politically moderate, white male.

I'll start giving out my votes once they start giving us candidates.

Re:It's a good thing ... (1)

proj_2501 (78149) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399038)

do you at least show up and visibly abstain? at least that way you're counted.

plus there are local referenda that should be voted upon even if other parts of government disgust you too much

Re:It's a good thing ... (1)

temojen (678985) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399103)

the machines will still see fit to elect an affluent, politically moderate, white male.

They never have before! They've been electing hardline rightwing warmongers.

I'd really like to see a moderate get elected in a G7 country these days.

A solution that cant fail. (4, Funny)

blanks (108019) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398885)

Line the two (or more) candidates next to one another, voters stand in line.

Each voter gets to walk up and hit the person they are against winning to, aka the one they do not want to win. Last man standing wins the election.

Re:A solution that cant fail. (1)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398911)

That would work great with instant runoff voting.

Re:A solution that cant fail. (1)

JPelorat (5320) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398968)

And we'd get great headlines like "Losing Candidate Beaten To Death In Double Overtime Vote"

Re:A solution that cant fail. (4, Funny)

jareds (100340) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398960)

No wonder Schwarzenegger won California!

And the Cambridge optical scanners are.... (5, Informative)

jdreed1024 (443938) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398890)

... made by Diebold, it should be noted. They are the AccuVote OS [diebold.com] models. This is not indicated in the article summary, however it is the case. I voted in Cambridge last night, and noted with mixed emotions the little Diebold logo as I slid my ballot in, and then the machine rejected it. (It worked on the second try)

Hrm... for non-certified machines... (1)

jtnishi (610495) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398891)

I'm pretty sure it was a Diebold machine that I voted on for the gubernatorial recall election in LA County (they had early touchscreen voting down here). Does this mean I can have my vote thrown out and put Gary Coleman in the governorship instead? :P

Re:Hrm... for non-certified machines... (1)

grub (11606) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398916)


I'm pretty sure it was a Diebold machine that I voted on..

Did it let you vote more than once? Change other peoples' votes? If so then it was indeed a Diebold..

yOUR rights onLIEn: pateNTdead PostBlock(tm).. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7398898)

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The March of Technology (5, Insightful)

schmidt349 (690948) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398900)

One potential problem with the rollout of electronic voting hardware and software in this country is that many people automatically assume that electronic devices are more reliable and less prone to failure than the older voting hardware, when it certainly appears that this is not the case.

I'm sure that at least some non-tech-savvy election officials are content with the Diebold machines on the basis that "at least they won't have dimpled chads," or something similar. As a result, the people in the know (ie, anyone who knows the inherent unreliability and insecurity of the Diebold devices) should be making it very clear to everyone else that the superiority of newer technology ain't necessarily so.

Sign the HR2239 petition! (5, Informative)

Eraserhd (21298) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398908)

... and talk to your representatives in the house to get them to sign on. HR2239 requires touch-screen voting machines to print a receipt which the voter can read, then drop into a lock-box. This receipt is then used for recounts, and in a mandatory recount of .5% of districts chosen at random to verify the accuracy of the machines.

While you could theoretically build a cryptographic system to do something similar, I'd rather not have a theoretic democracy!

(Petitions are linked to at the bottom of VerifiedVoting.org [verifiedvoting.org] .)

Re:Sign the HR2239 petition! (1)

ThisIsFred (705426) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399022)

What's the difference between this and a mechanical solution which punches cards?

Re:Sign the HR2239 petition! (1)

Councilor Hart (673770) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399159)

This receipt is then used for recounts, and in a mandatory recount of .5% of districts chosen at random to verify the accuracy of the machines.

recount by hand?
Who says that is more accurate than a computer count?

Politics Over Performance (4, Insightful)

goldspider (445116) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398913)

Since the 2000 debacle, politicians seem to have been clamoring all over each other to be the first to bring electronic voting to their constituants. It is obvious from reading this article (did you?) that these systems are far from ready to be used to determine something as important as the leader of the free world for 4 years.

So a few old goats in Florida don't know their right from their left. Big deal! It was hardly a symptom of a problem that, had it really been a problem, would have plagued the voting system since John Adams was elected president.

So now our politicians have decided that the solution to fix a complicated system is to replace it with an even more complicated system. How this kind of logic keeps these idiots in office, I will never understand, but it is clear that these new voting systems are not ready for next year's election.

Why don't we get our system from Australia? (5, Insightful)

adamfranco (600246) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398917)

Electronic voting in the US is in horrid shape.

Seriously, why don't we get/license the well working system [slashdot.org] that was put in place in Australia? Yes, its not domestically produced, but the source is there and can be verified. If domestic production is an issue, do we have any reason to believe that all of the Windows code in the Diebold machines was written on American soil? Also, it works. When our own system can say that a switch could be considered, but for now I'd like my vote to be counted on software that has proven itself.

I vote by absentee ballot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7398933)

I don't think I would ever trust voting over the net and I will always want to vote by absentee. Going to the polling place sucks. It caused me to miss more votes than not. I have been voting by absentee for 5 years and have not missed a single election.

Now that Revolutions is over... (-1, Troll)

Kedisar (705040) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398938)

Let's welcome the new wave of spoiler trolls! Frodo and Sam have rancid sex in Mount Doom, and Golum joins for a threesome! He uses the Ring as a cock-ring, and the ending comes when Sam spooges on the camer lensa and the movie fades to black set to the mournful tune of "Amazing Grace."

funny (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7398940)

A Russian and an American wrestler were set to square off for the Olympic gold medal. Before the final match, the American wrestler's trainer came to him and said, "Now, don't forget all the research we've done on this Russian.

He's never lost a match because of this 'pretzel' hold he has, whatever you do don't let him get you in this hold! If he does, you're finished!"

The wrestler nodded in acknowledgement. As the match started, the American and the Russian circled each other several times, looking for an opening. All of a sudden, the Russian lunged forward, grabbing the American and wrapping him up in the dreaded pretzel hold.

A sigh of disappointment arose from the crowd and the trainer buried his face in his hands, for he knew all was lost. He couldn't watch the inevitable happen. Suddenly, there was a scream, then a cheer from the crowd and the trainer raised his eyes just in time to watch the Russian go flying up in the air. His back hit the mat with a thud and the American collapsed on top of him making the pin and winning the match.

The trainer was astounded. When he finally got the American wrestler alone, he asked, "How did you ever get out of that hold? No one has ever done it before!"

The wrestler answered, "Well, I was ready to give up when he got me in that hold but at the last moment, I opened my eyes and saw this pair of testicles right in front of my face. I had nothing to lose so with my last ounce of strength I stretched out my neck and bit those babies just as hard as I could."

"So, the trainer exclaimed, "that is what finished him off!"

"Not really. You'd be amazed how strong you get when you bite your own balls."

Something Truly Terrifying (0, Offtopic)

Don Calamari (144891) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398946)

I know, Halloween was last week. Its still funny.
This Modern World Comic. [workingforchange.com]

unexpectedly overloading computer servers (2, Informative)

jdunlevy (187745) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398967)

My favorite part of the Washington Post article [washingtonpost.com] :
The problem came when precinct workers tried to electronically send results from the 953 new machines to election headquarters,
unexpectedly overloading computer servers.
(Italics mine)

"Unexpectedly"?? What, the servers hadn't been set up with the expectation that they'd be receiving results from lots of new machines at the same time?

Coming soon... (2, Funny)

mishehu (712452) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398972)

...to a cemetery near you in Chicago! Now the dead can vote, even earlier and more often!

removing the machines? (5, Informative)

DavidH_Mphs (657081) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398975)

ok -- so the fix-it people removed some of the machines, took them away to the fix-it place, repaired them, and then took them back to the voting sites?

This raises serious questions about the accuracy of the count, no matter how many machines had to be fixed. One machine or twenty machines, if you've got to take one away for repair & then bring it back, the accuracy of the data must immediately be called into question.

If someone has to physically remove a machine, then something must be seriously wrong with it. What if they accidentally erased the data & then, in an effort to cover their mistakes, 'fudged' the votes?

On top of that, election officials made a stupid error -- a preventable error. [Some] memory cards were full before the close of the polls.

Election officials know exactly how many people are registered to vote in a given precinct. Therefore, they have the ability to determine the amount of memory they'd need on the machines. They should have asked the software folks, "how much memory will I need for each registered voter?"

Instead, voters are left to fend for themselves as inept voting officials stumble their way through technology.

This is completely absurd & inexcusable!

How hard is it... (4, Insightful)

ThisIsFred (705426) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398976)

...to design a reliable electronic voting machine? Why does it need a full operating system basic on modern hardware? Why does it need a touchscreen? And for heaven's sake, why does it have to be networked? Maybe I'm just showing my ignorance here, but I would have approached the problem entirely differently. I probably would have ditched any type of video output for a number of labelled buttons, made a simple mainboard based on a reliable, cheap 8bit CPU, and had the results stored in EEPROM, not sent down a network. I also would make the firmware and hardware available to everyone, far in advance of the election. I also would have tested it under many bogus elections, and would have accepted input in the form of peer review.

I can't believe we can't make an electronic voting machine that is as reliable as a slot machine. If we're going to do it this way, I'll show my support for the older, mechanical machines. What are the benefits?

Re:How hard is it... (2, Interesting)

zod1025 (189215) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399107)

Exactly, man. A voting application is maybe ONE step above the ubiquitous "Hello World". You present a list of choices, accept and record the input. Repeat.

How can this crash? Seriously! You can code up something in MINUTES that uses off-the-shelf hardware (say, a Dell box) to present a menu of choices 1,2,3. They send the results off to a server, too, so there's nothing to eat up the local memory. The most complicated part is validating the voter's registration, which is handled by human volunteers anyway.

We are stuck deep in the dark ages of computing, surely.

Re:How hard is it... (1)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399120)

It doesn't even really have to be counted mechanically. Just have a device which is a glorified printer that PRINTS out the selection in both human and readable form, on a card or piece of paper, then FEED that card or piece of paper into a second (again, very simpl) machine like a scantron that does the counting, then put it in a locked box so a manual recount is possible.

Of course there are tons of options (described in Applied Crypto) to allow the voter to independently verify his vote was counted correctly (e.g. a blinded value and a random blinding factor that is randomly generated and printed out ONCE ONLY for the voter who can take it home and/or burn it, whatever, but can later use it to verify their vote was counted correctly electronically).

Re:How hard is it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7399188)

Hey your royal choadness...

I also would have tested it under many bogus elections

That's exactly what Diebold plans to do. They are going to test it under many bogus elections... that WE are going to be participating in.

Hmmm... (4, Insightful)

The Fanta Menace (607612) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398977)

You know, I'm quite happy with voting on paper... why do we need electronic voting?

Re:Hmmm... (1)

anonymous loser (58627) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399179)

Same reason you need a PDA to remember your appointments.

Hmm... (2, Funny)

Kedisar (705040) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398985)

I predict for the 2004 election, there's just going to be 2 buttons:

Bush.

Please send me on a rocket to the moon to work in a rock goulag.

And then Iraq will invade US and say they're liberating us from a leader who always wins. ;)

Re:Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7399080)

sort of like the iraqi ballot [ogmac.co.uk]

fraudulent refudlicking partIE rigs ballots? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7398987)

buy fauxking up the 'elections'?

you can bet your infactdead .asp, that's the ONLY way (besides force/farce) that these MiSguided felons/perpetraitors of life0cide against the planet/population, can stay in power, for now.

no matter. the lights are coming up now. you won't be needing any rigged 'vote' to be able to detect which way the wwwind is bullowing.

you know who to consult with/trust in? see you there.

get over it robbIE.

Jebus jumped up christ (5, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 10 years ago | (#7398990)

it's not that hard, people!

You want 'electronic voting'?

Fine, here it is:
Registered voter gets handed a paper ballot. Completely human readable. Little circles next to each person/issue.
Voter enters the booth
Voter inserts paper ballot into the slot below the (oooh, shiny!) touchscreen.
Voter selects, each person issue they want to vote for. Change at any time.
At the bottom, the voter presses "Done". Maybe even a confirmation "Are you sure?"
Paper ballot is spit out of the slot, with the circles filled in for each item the person has voted for. The touchscreen is merely a printer.
Voter can verify the paper against what is on the screen.
Voter walks out, slides the paper ballot into a ScanTron. Said Scantron counts and tabulates as necessary.
The paper ballot goes into a locked box for future verification if necessary.

Done.

Re:Jebus jumped up christ (1)

Neophytus (642863) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399119)

Heck, even user-filled box things usually/should work. The tests I take where I simply fill in a rectangular box in pencil are wonderful.

The perfect solution? (1)

Astrorunner (316100) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399012)

I have devised a machine that, when a user applies pressure to a compressed wood-pulp interface module, creates a permanent mark, indentation, or hole on said module with a stylus. This single-use module would then be delivered over a I.P.-over-hand network to a voting official, thus ensuring the voter that their vote has been collected. These votes would then be tallied by a separate machine that, by examining the mark, indentation, or hole in the aforementioned hole, would thus tally all votes. Providing the voter did not 'double-click' the stylus, and applied enough pressure while clicking, his vote should be tallied with correctly and accurately.

Re:The perfect solution? (1)

Hard_Code (49548) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399064)

I.P.-over-hand is so passe, jump on the I.P.-over-avian bandwagon of the future!

what is slashdots agenda here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7399015)

to put us all back in the voting booth with a punchcard and a poker? no doubt it is to have these systems be open source which is incredibly ignorant. what better way to get your system hacked than to let everyone with a political agenda see the source code. that might work in the real world where the hole will be found, reported and patched but in the voting world you can bet that the finder of any hole will keep it secret and use it to manipulate votes. open source in this case WILL NOT make anything safer but instead 1000x worse. can somebody please tell me the advantage to open source in this case?

Someone needs to get with the program (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7399026)

And that someone is everyone.

Now, remember... (4, Insightful)

Jerf (17166) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399027)

Now, remember, those hundreds of educated Computer Scientists [verifiedvoting.org] scared of current E-voting trends [verifiedvoting.org] are just morons, and the election companies have it all under control [diebold.com] . (more [avirubin.com] info [verifiedvoting.org] )

These events prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the election companies are completely trustworthy, and public officials should continue to poo-poo the concerns of people who know what they are talking about. After all,
"I don't know what the holdup is," Margaret K. Luca (D), secretary of the county's three-person elections board, said late last night. "I thought we had it covered. We tested all week in the county."
They tested the machines all last week . Obviously electronic voting is working.

(Satire aside: This points out the problem very nicely; the "secretary of the county's three-person elections board" is simply not qualified to assess the ability of a voting system to perform in advance of the actual vote. This is intended as an elitist statement, it's just simple truth. "Secretaries of county election boards" should probably put a bit more trust in the concerns thousands of knowlegable citizens have with no vested interest in selling anything, and a lot less trust in companies trying to sell them snake oil. For one thing, they obviously don't know how to test these systems, or they would have found these problems.

"Stress testing", anyone? If the news report linked to can be trusted, this was nothing more then a bog-stadard "lack of resources" issue, the kind easily diagnosed by a knowlegable tester, and fixed in advance given enough time, but something that most people have no clue about. The idea of "stress testing" may be obvious to most of us, but we are not average.)

Why??? (1)

magarity (164372) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399051)

Why is this so hard? My calculator can increment by 1 for a heck of a long time with total stability. Is electronic voting screwed up for real technical reasons or for some behind the scenes scheming/politicing/pointyhairs?

GOP suit (4, Insightful)

cluge (114877) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399062)


Wait the GOP is suing? What about all that stuff I read on the internet that Diebold is in the pocket of the GOP? How can I believe anything I read on the Internet any more? Does this mean that Diebold is in the Democrats pockets?


Answer:Yes, it's ture, Diebold isn't in anyone's pockets - they are simply incompetent.


I will not vote on any machine that doesn't produce a verifiable paper trail at the time I vote. Neither should you.

Re:GOP suit (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399101)

Answer:Yes, it's ture, Diebold isn't in anyone's pockets - they are simply incompetent.

The more cynical in here would say that Diebold screwed up the tampering to force a GOP victory, not the actual election.

But yes, they are incompetent. Criminally so. And should be prosecuted.

In machines we trust (1)

Logicdisorder (686635) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399065)

The use of computers for voting is such a bad idea. If you look at Diebold and now this, may be keeping it simple is the best way to go. At least with paper and pen you will not get a GPF error and have to reboot it.

Hmm, interesting (1)

downix (84795) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399070)

When Al Gore sued over voting irregularities, these same GOP groups were some of the most vocal in opposing it.

I hate hypocrites.

BLABLABLA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7399079)

nine were actually removed from the site, repaired, and returned, in violation of election laws

It's not a violation. It's the sheer power of technical progress! And you're supposed to like it.

Paper ballots? HAH! Nobody uses paper anymore.

Voting (2, Insightful)

Bendebecker (633126) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399081)

Which canidate will you vote for: 'Carbon Copy Canidate #1' or 'Carbon Copy Canidate #2'? Just don't vote for the independent 'Carbon Copy that got stuck in the printer Canidate #3' cause he'll never win and you'll just be wasting your vote. What if your candiate loses? Doesn't matter, he wouldn't have done any of the things he promised anyway...

But seriously, the fact that the whole country is not in an uproar about this is evidence of the continued decline of our democracy. Quite simply, it appears no one cares anymore who you vote for cause who wins doesn't change anything. The last time I voted, I found half the canidates were running unopposed, most of the other voters were not only uninformed but seemed to have gone out the way to remain ingnorant of the issues, the canidates had almost no distinguishable differences from one another, and just about everyone of them was doing it not to serve the people but to serve themselves. The only difference nowadays is which special interest group gets its needs met at the expense of the public good this time around. Do your duty as a citizen: wipe your ass with your vote - at least it will make a differnce. Don't like the current system? Get yourslef elected by selling your soul to the lowest bidder, do your duty as an purchased official, and then wipe your ass with the consitution.

What should have been done (4, Insightful)

phorm (591458) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399104)

When the first "electronic voting" machines went in, I think that they should have accompanied a paper-vote, or perhaps put out a paper receipt indicating the vote that could be stuffed in a ballot box. This way, you could use the physical (paper) votes to compare to the accuracy/loss in the electronic ones.

Seemed to work in Kentucky (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7399110)


how else would a republican get in with such a massive majority for the first time in 30years, i had no idea that record unemployment and spiralling medicare costs was such a votewinner

expect to see more of this as the corruption spreads and there isnt a DAMM thing you can do about it !

What if you refuse to use the machine? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7399116)

What happens if you get to the polling place and you don't want to use their electronic system? Is there an alternative available?

I know this is old news... (1)

djeaux (620938) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399128)

... but this particular article on the Republican affiliation of Diebold's CEO [portclinto...herald.com] comes from the Port CLINTON News Herald.

** Pulls lever for (take your pick) Democrat, Green, Libertarian, Reform ** ... Machine: BSOD.
** Pulls level for Republican ** ... Machine: "Thank you for being a good American"

Is Brazil that good? (1)

kesler (576674) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399129)

Why not do what Brazil does? They have been having success for a while with computer voting. I know they're on the cutting edge of technology and that the USA only dreams of catching up.

I wonder how they'll explain (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399132)

The 3502 people who voted for "Elvis," even though he wasn't on the options screen.

Faster and Secure my ass... I wouldn't be surprised to see something like this happen.

Face it! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7399137)

America is seriously fucked in the ass.

If you're still in the need of freedom and a life, then you should come to europe where everything is better!

American friends! You're welcome! Really!!!

Now mod me down with your pathetic mod points or go and make your pathetic vote on a touchscreen. It won't make a difference since I'm AC and free.

My SourceForge Project (1)

herrvinny (698679) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399165)

And this is exactly why I started my SourceForge project at https://sourceforge.net/projects/kbvote/ [sourceforge.net] . My voting system is going well, I'm working on interface refinements now. Screenshots are at herrvinny.com [herrvinny.com] . Any UW-Madison people here, feel free to email me. I'd like some feedback too; I'm only an undergrad :-). And yes, I did submit it as a story, but it was rejected...

Let's get this out of the way (1)

The One KEA (707661) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399170)

I for one welcome our new voted-in-by-crummy-electronics overlords.

Seriously though, why is it so HARD for people to get it right? Voting is one of those things that should be summed up with this word: KISS.

Keep It Simple, Stupid.

First-hand account (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7399171)

Okay, I work as one of two computer consultants responsible for overseeing the election tabulation process in my county. Yesterday's election was the first time we used the new electronic voting machines (iVotronic [essvote.com] ).

Things went off without a hitch. We began tabulating at about 6:30 and were done by 8:00. We used to use punch cards, and would normally get done around 11:00. So you can see why a lot of government officials are praising these things. They are faster, easier to use, and less prone to voting mistakes. Last year there were dozens of cards punched backwards or upside-down, hanging chads, and whatnot. That really slows things down a lot.

That said, I don't like these machines. There's a fundamental flaw in the construction that makes the whole thing insecure. Given the incentive ($$$), it would be incredibly easy for an employee of the manufacturer to slip some deviant code into the machine that said, "on election day make every fifth vote go towards this candidate".

I think the best analogy was one I heard on NPR the other day (I believe it was David Dill [stanford.edu] ). The current process with electronic voting is akin to walking into a booth and telling your vote to a person on the other side of a curtain. Did he write down what you told him to? Who knows.

new war driving challenge... (4, Informative)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 10 years ago | (#7399186)

from the AVN web site [enfocom.com]

These things are wireless.

All those that think this is a BAD idea raise your hands...

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