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Voting Machines Vs. Slot Machines

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the we-know-what's-truly-important dept.

Security 299

dmh20002 writes "Being a Nevada resident and knowing people who write code for slot machines, I was aware of the stringent measures the state of Nevada uses to vet the security of slot machines. The Nevada Gaming Control Board audits everything about them, both physical and soft, for unintentional and intentional security holes. Hearing the hoopla on voting machines, the contrast was obvious. Slot machines are about money, which is more important than votes, apparently. Now the state of Nevada is looking at electronic voting machines and plan to apply some of the same safeguards. Just applying the Nevada technical standards for gaming machines and vendors to voting machines would be a start, since there don't seem to be any standards for voting machines. A funny/sad sideline is that in Nevada, every year or two a programmer or engineer goes to jail for exploiting slot machines."

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First (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7629596)


No new technology is required (5, Funny)

Transient0 (175617) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629602)

We can just put slot machines in voting booths and rather than running on a "Republican" or "Democrat" ticket, candidates can run as "Cherry," "Gold Bar," etc.

Hey, you might even get to vote for three different candidates, or WIN a triple vote.

Re:No new technology is required (5, Funny)

nizo (81281) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629633)

Actually, voting machines are already like slot machines, except no matter what comes up you always lose.

Of course, if it comes up Democrat, (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7629849)

then the programmers lose their jobs and are declared enemy combatants.

voting machines much like slot machines (4, Funny)

tuffy (10202) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629640)

Only you put the money in in April and are screwed no matter which button you press.

Re:No new technology is required (2, Funny)

MolecularBear (469572) | more than 10 years ago | (#7630013)

And if you get three Bush's on a diagonal, lights/buzzers go off and $300 in tax refund tokens come pouring out

I've actually programmed slot machines (4, Interesting)

elfuq (89094) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629610)

Now that was a fun contract. However, yeah, the security restrictions were remarkable.

Re:I've actually programmed slot machines (3, Funny)

Frymaster (171343) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629659)

i'm actually programming scratch tickets [] ... we dream of programming slot machines. *sigh*

This a Waste of Taxpayer Money (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7629615)

Slashdot sucks mega-cock

Re:This a Waste of Taxpayer Money (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7629650)

mega slashdot cock suckage indeed

Heh... (4, Interesting)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629623)

Ever heard of 'the magic wand'? Or the 'coin whip'? The minute a slot machine with 'new security measures' is released, there are people that break it the very next minute. The way they keep things going? Good surveilence and good guards.

Good luck putting cameras in every voting booth. People won't mind, right??

Re:Heh... (1)

pegr (46683) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629739)

Apparently Google hasn't heard of these devices... Can you post some links?

Re:Heh... (2, Informative)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629866)

Look for articles on Tommy Carmichael.
Here's a quick bio [] . From that link:
he devised a device that would shine a light down into the slot machine, tripping a switch that would empty the buckets that held the coins
That's Carmichael's "Light Wand" trick.

Ack! I just figured out why you couldn't find it. Its a "Light Wand" not "Magic Wand" (my bad). Google has lotsa results (ie usa today article on Carmichael [] .)

Re:Heh... (1)

bluenova (533033) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629752)

No, I haven't heard of the "magic wand" or "coin whip." Anyone care to elaborate?

Re:Heh... (1, Insightful)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629898)

Sorry, it was 'light wand'. More info in this comment [] .

The 'coin whip' is just what it sounds like. The old fashioned piece of metal just as heavy as a quarter which you could place into a machine, but had a piece of wire or string built into the metal that would allow you to yank it out after the machine counted it.

Re:Heh... (4, Funny)

Kenja (541830) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629793)

"Ever heard of 'the magic wand'? Or the 'coin whip'?"

No, but I'll check the sex shop next time I'm in the area, they sound fun.

Re:Heh... (5, Interesting)

TheCarp (96830) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629806)

And hence... diebold.

If someone has enough interest they will break it. I supose thats really the morla of the story. And if you do come up with a way to make the voting booth secure... well then they will just run candidates in the two most major parties that are each kind of non-offensive in their own ways but when you boiul them down are basically exactly the same....

Oh wait... they have been doing that for years.

Anyone else tired of haviong to choose between the idiot sons of the rich?


Re:Heh... (4, Interesting)

iocat (572367) | more than 10 years ago | (#7630047)

Check out the economic theory called The Hotelling Effect -- if there are only two options, each will become more similar to the other in order to grab the people who are in the middle ground.

A good example is a beach, X units long, with two snack carts on it. Assume one is at .25X and one is at .75X -- they each have access to .5X and will get half the consumers on the beach who want snacks (assuming people walk to the nearst carts, prices, selection and service are the same, etc.). Now say the first guy moves to .33X. He still gets everyone from 0 - .33X coming to him, but now gets half the people from .33X - .75X, stealing business from guy 2, who promptly moves to .66X to make up for it. Eventually they end up at .49X and .51X (or both at .50X if you want), glaring at each other, each still getting 50% of the business, any intermediate gains lost.

And of course, the people at the ends of the beach get screwed. Now think of the snack shops as Republicans and Democrats. There ya go.

Re:Heh... (1)

Firehawke (50498) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629897)

I attempted to google up something in regards to the "magic wand" or "coin whip" but was unable to find anything relevant. Can you provide some details? I'm curious as to these.

Re:Heh... (1, Interesting)

FortKnox (169099) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629943)

I posted too quickly. I replied to this already [] .

I was mistaken on the term. Its 'light wand'. I should have mentioned Tommy Carmichael in my first post. He's the guy that developed almost all the slot cheats there were.

The question is... (0, Funny)

Steve 'Rim' Jobs (728708) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629624)

When I go to vote, will the voting machine make cheesy bloops and bleeps, and when I pull the lever down will three lemons with George Bush's face slide down, causing alarms go off?

And will I have to pay three quarters to vote?

Re:The question is... (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7629703)

I suggest all slashdotters read Steve 'Rim' Jobs' journal [] .
You will see him boasting of karma whoring and making slashdot an unpleasant place (some may argue that it already is but that's besides the point)

Re:The question is... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7629714)

I want to know where the two posts that pointed this out before this post went to...

Re:The question is... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7629799)

I ate them

Re:The question is... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7629896)

Well, Steve, you're still a karma whore. Why do you bother? You brag about purposely coming here, fucking with the karma system, and basically adding nothing of value to Slashdot. You just re-post old comments. You bring everyone down. Why bother? Just go to some other place that will let you be whoever you want. Don't bother with Slashdot. Or at least if you're here, don't bother with the games and the bullshit. Just post, using your own thoughts, and let the powers that be do their thing. If the mods don't think some of your stuff is good, oh well. If your stories are rejected, only to be posted by someone else later, get over it. It happens to everyone. Fuck it...just let it go. It's only a website...

Re:The question is... (1)

coene (554338) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629750)

And will I have to pay three quarters to vote?

Well, it would pay for the cameras and security guards...

To: Whomever modded this "Redundant" (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7630016)

I'll see you during Meta-Mod.

Re:To: Whomever modded this "Redundant" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7630096)

Ooooh, a threat. That'll work wonders over the internet. It was probably just someone trying to get rid of the karma whore...

A "DUH!" moment (4, Insightful)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629626)

This is, what I call, a "DUH!" moment.

We should have thought of this a LONG time ago.

What is possibly even more disturbing is the fact that our paid officials, you know, the ones that are supposed to be looking out for our best interests, didn't think of this either. Or, and this is something that must be considered, they did and didn't do anything about it.

Book quote that I think applies here: "If god had wanted me to vote, he would have given me candidates"

Re:A "DUH!" moment (3, Insightful)

Smallpond (221300) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629913)

Nevada can afford to spend the money needed to check the software because they get a ton of money from the casinos in taxes. How much money does your state spend on elections?

But anyway, think what the voter turnout would be if random voters occasionally won a cash jackpot. I'm guessing over 100%.

Re:A "DUH!" moment (1)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629974)

Many of the great politicians in history made it big by rigging elections. Lyndon Johnson and FDR are two recent examples that come to mind.

Never happen (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7629634)

Isn't it one of the Nevada rules that convicted criminals can't have anything to do with the gambling industry?

Which would remove nearly half the politicians & lobbyists :)

Audit trail (5, Insightful)

So Called Expert (670571) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629638)

When I'm in Vegas, I want to know the odds aren't cheated by the house. I have to trust that some government oversight ensures that the slots haven't been rigged to make me lose more than the odds claim I should.

Similarly, I should know that some standards and enforcement is in place when I vote. Otherwise, I'm putting my trust in someone I don't know and who has interests that are probably different than mine.

Voting should not be about trust, it should be about results. Any third party should be able to verify results, regardless of their interest.

Re:Audit trail (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7629730)

And think about this. Every time you interact with the government, they want to see your ID, from a routine traffic stop, to buying a fishing license. The only time they don't ask is when I go vote in Maryland. What's up with that? They just ask for the name of whatever dead person your are pretending to be.

Re:Audit trail (1)

theMerovingian (722983) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629811)

Um, the odds are definitely cheated for the house. []

I am not familiar with the gambling business, but I know it wouldn't be that hard to alter the slot machine payout ratio from a programming perspective. ~1 line of code, in fact.

PayoutRatio = 97
PayoutRatio = 95

And, watch your stock [] go up a point. Does anyone know if it would be legal to lower the amount of winnings paid out, if your casino is having a bad month?

Re:Audit trail (3, Informative)

monkeydo (173558) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629842)

The ratio of payouts is actually varied based on time of day and day of week. I don't know what the specifics of the law are, but I think it's based on the aggregate payout, not the payout at any given time.

Re:Audit trail (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629870)

> The ratio of payouts is actually varied based on time of day and day of week.

Yeah, and play a machine which is visable from outside, such as those by the door or windows. They pay out more so passers by are more likely to go in and play.

Re:Audit trail (1)

Broodje (646341) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629981)

While this is not at all confirmation of your theory, I do have a story that matches it. I had lost a good bit of money inside the casino on slot machines one day. Just as my brother and I were leaving the casino, my brother decides he needs to take a leak. Stranded by the door, with a 0.25$ machine staring me down, I break down and plop in 50 cents. I was so indifferent to the sounds and hoopla that I remember barely caring if the thing hit. Next thing I know, my machine is dinging $400 winner. That's the only time I won cash (guy walks up, open the machine, writes down the date, hands you cabbage) at a slot machine.

Right next to the door too..

Re:Audit trail (1)

BizDiz (723499) | more than 10 years ago | (#7630121)

There are laws about payouts, I believe. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure there are machines of varying payout (they put the best ones by the door).

Re:Audit trail (5, Interesting)

segment (695309) | more than 10 years ago | (#7630035)

Actually there are a shitload of rules in place to ensure the odds are high but the casino doesn't cheat you. Its pretty much regulated. As for the voting machines, they too have methods of making things secure, and a lot of research is done on the subject e.g:

A public key cryptosystem and a signature scheme based on di.. (context) - ElGamal - 1985
Receipt-free secret-ballot elections (context) - Benaloh, Tuinstra - 1994
A practical secret voting scheme for large scale election (context) - Fujioka, Okamoto et al. - 1992
Multi-authority secret ballot elections with linear work - Cramer, Franklin et al. - 1996
Verifiable secret-ballot elections (context) - Benaloh - 1987
Universally verifiable mix-net with verification work indepe.. (context) - Abe - 1998
Designated verifier proofs and their applications - Jakobsson, Sako et al. - 1996
Elections with unconditionally- secret ballots and disruptio.. (context) - Chaum - 1988
How to prevent buying of votes in computer elections (context) - Niemi, Rendall - 1994
Public-key cryptosystems based on discrete logarithms residu.. (context) - Paillier - 1999
Some remarks on a receipt-free and universally verifiable mi.. - Michels, Horster - 1996
Receipt-free electronic voting schemes for large scale elect.. - Okamoto - 1997
A secure an optimally efficient multi-authority election sch.. (context) - Cramer, Gennaro et al. - 1997
Receipt-freeness in largescale elections without untappable .. - Magkos, Burmester et al. - 2001
An Improvement on a practical secret voting scheme (context) - Ohkubo, Miura et al. - 1999

no matter how valuable your point (4, Funny)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629651)

no matter how valuable your point, and believe me, the parallel you have drawn is striking and insightful, i just can't help myself:

you've permanently fixed in my mind an image of going into the voting booth, pulling the big lever, and seeing three bars with the faces of gw bush, howard dean, al sharpton, etc. spinning before my eyes

offtopic (2, Funny)

mustangsal66 (580843) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629780)

C:\>tracert life.liberty.pursuit-of-happiness

Unable to resolve life.liberty.pursuit-of-happiness

No wonder with Larry, Moe, and Currly running for office next year...

Smart Developers Look for Stuff Like This... (4, Insightful)

dwm (151474) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629667)

You know, this is a really neat example of the kind of thing folks who develop new products should look for -- useful precedents and knowledge from a seemingly tangential field.

Of course, the item about slot machine fraud shows that -- no matter how stringent your precautions are -- if the stakes are high enough, people will try to defraud your system. Some will succeed.

The important thing to keep in mind is that this is just as true for our current voting technologies as it will be for electronic voting.

Sigh, Poor Programmer - Rich Casino (3, Interesting)

Pavan_Gupta (624567) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629671)

Honestly, I felt pretty bad after reading about that computer programmer who had two daughters and stole $50,000 dollars. Yes, it seems crazy, but the guy admitted to everything and he had never been convicted of anything, and then all of a sudden he's in jail for at least 28 months. Poor guy, and his daughters -- I'm sure they were quite shocked.

Sometimes, I think justice in the US may be too harsh. It's a bit out of place when you repent, and obviously don't have a record to show you'll continue with crime, but are still left to rot in a prison where raw grunts rape people. Oh well.

Well, at least he made the casino industry quite rich. They must've been happy.

Re:Sigh, Poor Programmer - Rich Casino (4, Insightful)

IamGarageGuy 2 (687655) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629717)

I don't think the point is the amount of cash, it was the position that he was in. If he was greedy, he could have gotten away with a lot more. If you are put in the position he was in then you should be punished to the full extent. This is not a case of stealing a candy bar but a knowing effort to write a script and involve other people in the conspiracy. I think he got off easy.

Re:Sigh, Poor Programmer - Rich Casino (3, Insightful)

jared_earle (230543) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629786)

Um, he did steal $50,000 for himself and loads more for his pals. That's an income. He took the equivalent of some poor sap's job for a year and continued after he was arrested.

He stole the cash by abusing his government job. Everyone knows you only get away with that if you're at the top.

Re:Sigh, Poor Programmer - Rich Casino (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629843)

RTFA again.

that was oh, FIVE years ago. Going on six. Poor guy my ass, he had a good job with benefits and threw it away because he was a moron.

Re:Sigh, Poor Programmer - Rich Casino (1)

Kombat (93720) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629848)

I thought that too, but then I considered that he'd been doing it for over two years, and could have put a stop to it at any point, but didn't, until he got greedy and got caught. Now I don't feel so bad for him.

Whatever, troll (2, Insightful)

mekkab (133181) | more than 10 years ago | (#7630007)

He got half (7 years) the recommended sentence (14 years, out of a mx of 20) , and will most likely be out on parole in 1/3 the time (approx 2 years).

So lesse, abusing gov't position, and 1/10 the total jail time (2 years out of 20). Sounds about right.

Hmm... (3, Funny)

Steve 'Rim' Jobs (728708) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629681)

Gambling... The voting system in the US...

They have a lot in common.

Re:Hmm... (1)

mackman (19286) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629790)

Actually no. More and more people have access to gaming machines while the trend is that a single company does all the voting. Even Asimov predicted as much (read Franchise).

Engineers Exploiting Machines (4, Insightful)

MonkeyCookie (657433) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629686)

A funny/sad sideline is that in Nevada, every year or two a programmer or engineer goes to jail for exploiting slot machines

Engineers tend not to be highly political, but they certainly are greedy. I think the likelyhood of engineers trying to exploit voting machines is a lot lower than engineers trying to exploit what are essentially money-dispensing machines.

It is true that engineers can be used as tools by those who are more interested in rigging elections, but that's also true with slot-machines. The engineer greed factor is still missing.

Re:Engineers Exploiting Machines (2, Funny)

spells (203251) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629783)

If engineers can't figure out how to make money from rigging elections, the world is in a lot of trouble.

How about bribes? (2, Insightful)

enosys (705759) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629807)

How about bribes? That certainly involves the greed factor!

Re:Engineers Exploiting Machines (1)

Zathrus (232140) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629945)

The engineer greed factor is still missing.

Slip 10% of the votes to X party or X candidate and I'll ensure that you get a multi-million dollar contract to do whatever the hell you want to.

How's that for greed incentive?

Now, it takes someone with even less ethics to take advantage of that than to beat a slot machine. It's pretty damn obvious that people are going to be affected by screwing with the voting system, while with a slot machine you can rationalize it to only affect some big gambling conglomerate (which doesn't have the greatest ethics itself after all). But the factor could still be there.

Wow, very interesting. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7629688)

You are letting the mafia fiddle with your voting machines, now?

Oh, well... can it get any worse...

Never mind slot machines (5, Insightful)

Passacaglia (3824) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629690)

How about state lottery systems and machines? Almost nationwide, these outfits are audited & controlled to a degree which shows where our real priorities are.

Re:Never mind slot machines (1)

happyfrogcow (708359) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629823)

I always questioned the legitimacy of state lotteries. How can it be that jackpots rollover to such huge amounts with the amount of people playing? In Florida, when i was young, i remember atleast one "rich" person who bought a ticket for every possible combination, just so he could say he won. Nowadays it seems most people have the machines automatically pick numbers. How do we know that these machines have equal odds at selecting every sequence? I doubt they do, which leads to these balloned jackpots of 60-100 million and more, which in turn brings more people out of the woodworks hoping to strike it rich, and then the state just again reaps the rewards. Until someone wins, and they end up receiving only a fraction of the "jackpot" for various reasons.

State lottery is such a scam. I'm glad to say I've never bought a single ticket. The state pocketing the rest.

Gambling Addicts (2, Funny)

The_Rippa (181699) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629693)

Let's just hope that gambling addicts don't sit at the booths pulling the lever for 24 hours straight...Bush could win again!

Re:Gambling Addicts (2, Insightful)

FunkSoulBrother (140893) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629997)

I know this is a joke and all, but as someone who is a gambles on sports online and would like to continue doing so, I can assure you that gamblers would rather have someone in the white house who doens't have a christian right stick up his ass about issues of vice.

Barney Frank is the only elected official I've found who talks reasonably about the future of gambling. (Namely, let people do what the hell they want with thier own money) (Funny, you'd think that should be a Republican stance... but it isn't.)

Re:Gambling Addicts (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | more than 10 years ago | (#7630079)

gamblers are losers...jeez otherwise gambling wouldn't exist, eh? oh, I know the deal...everyone loses except me, right?

Re:Gambling Addicts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7630015)

What do you mean, "again"?

Re:Gambling Addicts (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7630048)

Oh boo hoo, the rule of law, boo hoo.

Electronic voting machines are just going to be corrupted to help this miserable failure [] of a campaign.

Re:Gambling Addicts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7630028)

Bush winning again is definetely a one up over this miserable failure [] of a campaign.

it's a matter of who gets cheated (4, Interesting)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629698)

A funny/sad sideline is that in Nevada, every year or two a programmer or engineer goes to jail for exploiting slot machines."

While it's worth noting because it shows the potential to cheat even in a closely watched industry (which the voting machine racket clearly isn't), one should note that programmer or engineer (who) goes to jail for exploiting slot machines is trying to cheat the casino. When the casino uses the software to cheat the player ist's a completely different issue.

It's Broke, Buy It Anyway (4, Funny)

the_mad_poster (640772) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629704)

From the article:

That study also found the system had a "high risk of compromise."

The state [Maryland] decided to buy the system anyway and Diebold is working on fixes for the security problems identified in that report.

Yea! Way to go Maryland! You know, if I went to buy a new car, and the windshield was broken, the locks didn't work, the engine was hanging by two mounts, and it stalled every 100 miles, I don't think I'd say "oh what the heck" and buy it just because it looked real snazzy and drive it around while the company worked on the problems after the fact.

How idiotically negligent do you have to be to look at a MACHINE THAT WILL HELP IN THE PROCESS OF DECIDING OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT POSITIONS and say "well, it's broken, but we'll buy it anyway"!? People like this need to be jailed immediately. That's absolutely innexcusable.

Re:It's Broke, Buy It Anyway (4, Insightful)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629840)

People like this need to be jailed immediately. That's absolutely innexcusable.

True, but instead people like that have come up with a system where they use our money to buy machines that they can rig and stay in office with. You do understand there's a reason why they knowingly buy defective voting machines, don't you?

I'm Paranoid (-1, Offtopic)

Pyro226 (715818) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629705)

If the voting machines were properly regulated then the US (or state) government wouldn't be able to dictate the outcome of votes, as we have all seen that they can; George Bush did win the popular vote, it was 5 to 4.

The federal government is clearly willing to break the law to influence votes in Nevada.

WASHINGTON, (Reuters Health) - A group supporting marijuana legalization filed a federal complaint Wednesday against the White House's drug policy director, alleging that he violated the law by campaigning against a Nevada marijuana ballot initiative in November.

The compliant, lodged with the US Office of Special Counsel (OSC), accuses Office of National Drug Control Policy Director John Walters with breaking a law preventing federal officials from using their office to campaign for or against state ballot initiatives.

It accuses Walters of visiting several Nevada cities on October 10 and 11, 2001, and advocating for the defeat of a marijuana legalization initiative there during press briefings and television appearances.

Walters' office dismissed the complaint, calling it a political stunt and maintaining that the director, President Bush's chief advisor on drug policy, acted within the law.

A federal law known as the Hatch Act prohibits federal officials from using their offices to influence elections.

The ballot measure, which failed 61% to 39%, would have decriminalized possession of less than 3 ounces of marijuana by adults.

The OSC is a independent agency set up to investigate whistle-blower complaints and alleged wrongdoing by administration officials.

Officials found guilty of Hatch Act violations can be permanently removed from office or suspended for not less than 30 days, according to the OSC Web site.

"We want him out of the picture. We want him excommunicated from the federal government forever," said Robert D. Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, the group that filed the complaint.

The complaint cites press reports quoting Walters in Nevada commenting directly on the marijuana initiative, calling it a "con" and "insulting to the voters of the state."

"Walters used the authority and influence of his official title to its full advantage," the complaint alleges.

Steve Fox, an attorney for the Marijuana Policy Project, said that OSC told him their initial investigation would take 2 to 3 months.

The group also complained to Susan Bilyew, the Nevada Deputy Secretary for Elections, that Walters had not filed election expenditure reports detailing political activities as state law requires.

ONDCP spokesperson Jennifer DeVallance called the complaint "nothing more than a cheap political stunt."

DeVallance said that Walters made 15 visits to 10 states in the months before the November elections, some which had marijuana initiatives on the ballot and some which did not.

DeVallance also said cited the 1998 federal legislation creating ONDCP, which requires the director to "take such action as necessary" to oppose attempts to legalize illicit drugs.

"When he goes out and does morning news shows, he talks about the fact that legalization efforts are a bad idea," she said.

Kampia said that the instructions do not give the director permission to violate the Hatch Act and other federal laws.

A statewide initiative similar to Nevada's failed in Arizona failed in November, as did an Ohio initiative calling for drug treatment and not incarceration for users of cocaine and other drugs.

Voters approved some local drug initiatives in Massachusetts, California, and Washington, including one directing San Francisco city officials to begin growing marijuana for medical use in violation of federal drug laws.

Casinos should run all elections. (3, Funny)

spidergoat2 (715962) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629711)

Then, we'd only be paying off one set of crooks.

Nevada hookers have better slot security (4, Insightful)

Mrs. Grundy (680212) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629722)

Consider this:Silicon Crackers Tackle Casinos [] or Revenge On the One-Armed Bandit [] The fact is, in nevada there is a cottage criminal industry which revolves around ripping off slot machines. These are just individuals. Imagine if they were an organization with the resources of a modern political party trying to game the system. Now imagine if the people making the slot machines were contributing to and had a vested interest in that organization.

You've got it wrong.. (1)

Genjurosan (601032) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629764)

"Slot machines are about money, which is more important than votes, apparently"

Votes are money. They cost lots of money to get, and they generate lots of money for the winner; therefore, they are just as important of the slot machine.

The real difference is, people put more hope in getting something from a slot machine than they do a vote.

conspiracy in the making (1)

segment (695309) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629771)

Now the state of Nevada is looking at electronic voting machines Isn't Nevada second to Florida for retirees? I get it now, confuse the elderly people they won't understand a word, get their votes, and another (p)residential term is won.

Well I too will exploit this with the introduction of the Ronald Reagan Super Simon [] now taking orders at the price of... I forgot.

Pull the lever... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7629776)

Damn! Three monkeys, I guess that means Bush gets re-elected...

It just had to be said... (1)

dyfet (154716) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629791)

The difference between voting machines and slot machines is that with voting machines you are almost always gaurenteed to get a row of lemons!

Building Security (5, Informative)

ChicoLance (318143) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629813)

I work as a programmer in the gaming industry, and there is a lot of security in place, but it all makes since. Before I can work, I need to get a state "gaming card" which says that I've had my background check, and I'm generally not a menice to society. The machines have security in place to know if something is wrong (eprom signatures, various locks). Everything we develop also goes through two or three other independent verification agencies make sure it's all legit.

We're proud of making a secure device (at least as secure as we can make it), and it's in ours and our customer's interest to do so. Most of the security built in isn't necessarily hard to do, but it does take planning, foresight, and desire to integrate it all with the final product.

I hope that a voting machine company can say the same.

Election Business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7629828)

While Nevada sends coders to prison for cheating, in the election Business you get "Get out of jail Free" Cards, and you are alright. Just ask Ken Lay. I am sure that the CEO of Diebold has some of these hanging around.

Gaming Control Board: Corrupt? (4, Interesting)

handy_vandal (606174) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629835)

The poster notes:

The Nevada Gaming Control Board audits everything about them, both physical and soft, for unintentional and intentional security holes.

And further:

A funny/sad sideline is that in Nevada, every year or two a programmer or engineer goes to jail for exploiting slot machines."

The sideline article [] notes that convicted slot-hacker Ron Harris was a gaming board official for several years, and that he provided "more than nine hours of videotaped statements concerning questionable activities in the control board and the gaming industry."

Maybe Harris is covering his tracks by spreading dirt. Then again, maybe the Gaming Control Board is dirty. In any case, comparing voting with gambling makes me fear for my country.


Votes and Money (1)

ekephart (256467) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629853)

Slot machines are about money, which is more important than votes, apparently.

What's more important? The money that buys the votes or the votes that facilitate making money.

That said, there are some slot machines programmed to pay out more than they take in. It might be nice if politicians were programmed to do more good than harm.

Don't trust Diebold? Use absentee ballots. (5, Insightful)

RexDevious (321791) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629854)

This is a solution from, and it's both clever and simple. Absentee ballots ARE a paper trail. So if you're worried that voting machines aren't going to count your vote, and won't leave a paper trail which would let election officials catch them at it, vote via absentee ballot and leave your OWN paper trail.

Re:Don't trust Diebold? Use absentee ballots. (1)

wik (10258) | more than 10 years ago | (#7630042)

I'm more worried that election officials will throw out my absentee ballot when it is challenged (not to mention, if I'm around my polling place on the day of the election, I CANNOT vote with an absentee ballot.

See ion1115p1.asp [] for an example. While there may have been a legal basis for throwing out these votes, I've seen it happen for less savory reasons.

Voting vs. Gambling (2, Insightful)

gallen1234 (565989) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629859)

I think the big difference is timing. If the state finds a problem with a type of slot machine then it doesn't go into service. The only person hurt is the machine's developer. If, on the other hand, there's a problem with a type of voting machine then what do you do? You can't just put off an election. The timing of those is usually mandated by law.

Re:Voting vs. Gambling (1)

gnu-generation-one (717590) | more than 10 years ago | (#7630019)

"If, on the other hand, there's a problem with a type of voting machine then what do you do?"

Have a proper election? You know, with votes, and people counting them...

Sign the petition! (4, Informative)

Eraserhd (21298) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629869)

Sign the online petition [] to support HR 2239 [] .

A voter-verified paper trail is the only way to verify that the system is working. Under this system, the machine would produce a paper ballot, which the voter checks then deposits into a locked box. The paper receipts are counted in the event of a recount (unlike our current requirements, where totals from an end-of-night printout can be used, assuming the machines total the votes accurately). The bill also requires a recount in 0.5% of districts chosen at random to verify that the machines are totalling accurately.

Everyone needs to be involved (4, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629892)

The Nevada Gaming Control Board audits everything about them, both physical and soft, for unintentional and intentional security holes.

Slot machine integrity is not verified solely by government oversight. Individual members of the community also make an invaluable contribution. People like William Bennett, who selflessly use their own funds to check, recheck and check yet again the accuracy of these machines' odds. Here is someone who has a real passion for testing these machines, who has the guts to trust his own resources to the integrity of the system, who is willing to invest the time it takes to make huge random samples, and who has the clout to make sure that any irregularities would be duly addressed.

Without people like this who provide major resources to help the gaming industry and the Nevada economy in general, we would all be worse off. The next time you walk down the Las Vegas strip enjoying the stunning display of neon lights, take a moment to think about the dedicated people that provide the funds to pay for them, and be thankful.

Money IS more important than votes (4, Interesting)

Minna Kirai (624281) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629895)

If you look at things statistically, a little money is much more valuable to an individual than his one vote.

Consider first the probability that one vote will actually change the outcome of an election: it's nearly impossible. Odds of 1/10e7 are typical. Mathmatically, a vote is just as bad an investment as a lottery ticket. (Which are, as they say, a "Tax on people who can't do math")

Then consider the real difference choosing a different president or governor will make to your life: not much, really. The two dominant political parties have grown very similar to each other. They'll rarely try to make a significant change (and most changes they attempt will be cancelled out by the other party in the next election). So not only is a vote unlikely to pay off, but that payoff isn't likely to change very much.

Thus, looking at all the possibilities, a rationally self-interested person will not waste his time voting. The hour+ it takes out of your day is actually much more valuable than the tiny chance that the vote you cast actually has a benefit to your life.

This is why explicit selling of votes was criminalized: because if it were legal, the free-market would reveal how cheap each vote really is!

PS. Having computed that voting is a waste of time, why do people still vote? Altruism. They vote not only for themselves, but also to share their wisdom with the rest of the country. And for more selfish reasons- like the feeling of success when your guy wins.

PPS. Several mathmaticians have created alternative voting schemes (different from simple majority) which boost the chance that any single vote will change the outcome of an election. But the public, so far, has rarely been interested.

Re:Money IS more important than votes (4, Insightful)

Capt_Troy (60831) | more than 10 years ago | (#7630119)

Less than half the people in the US utilize their right to vote (38% voted in our last local election). Maybe they all think their votes are insignificant, maybe they did the math like you did? But the thing is, those people could change the course of any election in this country if they decided to vote.

It's not about a single vote, but about the millions of potential votes that don't get cast.

But you're right, this is a "pie in the sky" perspective. From an individual point of view, one or two votes does not make a difference in any election. But what about millions of millions of people ignoring their rights as Americans to vote? Imagine what history would be like if those people voted? I bet, historically, the world would be a different place all together.


vice versa (4, Funny)

Boing (111813) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629903)

So government oversight of casino machines is a good thing. Obviously, the solution to our diebold problems is casino oversight of our voting system. You know, ilke some 80-year-old lady can't read the text, so she's escorted to the back room to get some "assistance" by a guy named Tiny... and George Clooney will organize a team of eleven or twelve guys to steal 150,000,000 votes for his father's congress run. []

Think Lotto machine (4, Insightful)

47F0 (523453) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629929)

We've already got good voting machines here - they're called Lotto machines. Any wino can walk in with a lotto ticket that he's scribbled on with a piece of road tar, and the machines do a great job of reading the ticket - plus, you get a paper printout for verification - plus, the system knows which ticket went to which store. Audit trails, hardcopy - Hmmm,

But we don't need (or want) all that silly accountability stuff to re-elect Bush do we ...?

Please help, I am sigless - will code for sigs.

Re:Think Lotto machine (3, Interesting)

Linux_ho (205887) | more than 10 years ago | (#7630103)

The only change needed would be to have the voters deposit their receipts in a ballot-box on the way out. Most places have laws which prevent voters from getting any kind of receipt for their vote. This is to try to keep politicians from being able to easily buy votes.

New voting machines... (3, Funny)

WaterDamage (719017) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629948)

I have the perfect solution. To be allowed to vote, enter a quarter and pull the lever, if you get three pictures of George Bushes face in a row then you loose your quarter, if you get any other presidential candidates face in a row you win $10,000 and cast a vote for that candidate at the same time. This is a perfect way to vote and pay of the giant deficit that lunar Bush has created. If your desired candidate's face does not appear 3 times in a row then keep playing. Odds of not getting George Bushes face in a row are 1 in 8,000,000. Good luck and be sure to bring lots of quarters to the next election!

The only difference is that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7629950)

Slot machines make lots of money so the manufacturer has an incentive to make them secure.

BTW, I recently voted in Virginia.... (4, Interesting)

snatchitup (466222) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629967)

and experience the problem/controversy. You can do a google on this controversy for more info.

My experience went as follows. I stepped in the voting booth. It was a very nice touch screen layout.

1/2 way through making my selections.. Up popped a message that my laptop battery was about to die, and that I'd better plug the machine in, etc. Well, I looked, and it was plugged in.

It turned out that these were not very secure systems at all. The basic platform was Windows on a laptop running non-networked. Storing the data on each machine, to later be combined / counted.

We're a long way from having anything better than punching a card, and eating chads. A hacker could easily do way more damage.

In the above case.... I was at the voting place early. I was #14 in my precinct to vote.

It isn't that hard, kids (3, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629980)

The voting machine scandal should be raised to the level of a public outrage. It's clear that nefarious corporate interests are foisting inadequately engineered products on the state election commisssions, in their usual, cynical, "good enough for government work" way.

In the weeks after the 2000 Presidential election, I wrote a letter to my congresspeople recommending that the system be rendered electronically by individuals who know about safety-critical, high-availability software. Airplane code, gambling-device code, medical-device code, etc.

This is not by any means new technology or new processes. But because the states see a great need, it has become a new scam for brainless, heartless business jerks to exploit.

Write your state and national legislators. Get the laws changed to ensure that the design and implementation of e-democracy includes the same care that is used when re-counting paper ballots.

Of course Nevada has good security... (2, Funny)

CoderByBirth (585951) | more than 10 years ago | (#7629988)

...they use a security enhancement and validation program which is remarkably unknown to a large part of the computer security community.
It's called "The Soprano Security Management Program", and can be summed up in the following simple decision-diagram:
1) Build a system
2) Make money
3) In case of a situation arises in step 2 which is proving to be detrimental to the main objective of Making Money, two things can be done :
*) Fix bug in system. This is by experience detrimental to the Making Money objective since there will always be bugs, and so this is the wrong decision to make.
*) Find offending individual(s). Apply excessive and lethal violence. Loop to 2.


Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7630002)

Electronic voting machines are just going to be corrupted to help this miserable failure [] of a campaign.

I use to work for a casino company (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7630041)

called Oasis Technologies.

The strictest of reviews are applied at both the hardware and software levels.

We dealt with finite based slot machines (like an electronic scratch-n-win ticket; all of the winners/losers are precomputed instead of relying on normal distribution). All of these winners/losers were stored in a database for later retrieval. The w/l lists are entirely randomly generated based on the number of w/l (essentially the payout) that the client desires.

One of our win/loss lists was rejected because it wasn't "random enough".

And the winner is... (1)

UnAmericanPunk (310528) | more than 10 years ago | (#7630067)

So like... 999 of 1000 votes wouldn't get anything, but then one person (or say a lobbyist/special interest group) would be a lucky winner and win 700 votes (the house would keep like 300)?
Ehh, well sounds about like what we have now... I wonder if the democrats would get any negative votes with this one.... and at least this is probably more accurate than the Diebold machines.

Two years, four years.... what's the big whoop? (2, Funny)

Ride-My-Rocket (96935) | more than 10 years ago | (#7630088)

A funny/sad sideline is that in Nevada, every year or two a programmer or engineer goes to jail for exploiting slot machines.

OTOH, every four years a president gets elected for exploiting voting machines. ;)

Why vote at all? (1)

ellem (147712) | more than 10 years ago | (#7630094)

I will be your Overlord!

This has been suggested by other before (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7630124)

Jack Gansel actually did an article on this in the Embedded Systems Programing magazine. It talks a little about the measures used to test slot machines, and the people involved in desiging and selecting them.

See 201145

and the follow up article eI D=15800231

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