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Orange County: More E-Ballots Cast Than Voters

timothy posted more than 10 years ago | from the perfectly-normal-orange-county dept.

United States 434

Nofsck Ingcloo writes "Orange County, California has discovered the joys of electronic voting. The story originated in the LA Times, which requires registration to view it. Yahoo News has a copy here. Problems occurred in races throughout the county. Among the symptoms of the problem were turnouts exceeding 100%." Read on for more.

"David Hart, chairman of Texas-based Hart InterCivic, which manufactured Orange County's voting system, said it would be impossible to identify which voters cast ballots in the wrong precincts because of steps the company had taken to ensure voter secrecy. For this reason, an exact account of miscast ballots is impossible. The good news, if the folks there can be believed, is that there is no evidence yet that any result is in jeopardy. In a masterpiece of understatement, elections system analyst Kim Alexander is quoted as saying, "Certainly this kind of problem that's occurred in Orange County doesn't do anything to contribute to greater confidence in electronic voting systems." Steve Rodermund, Orange County's registrar of voters, is quoted as saying that despite the problems, he is satisfied with the performance of Orange County's new electronic voting system."

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Vote CowboyNeal (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8517508)

For GNAA President!

I don't get it (5, Insightful)

skifreak87 (532830) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517514)

how hard is it to have a system that when person A votes for Candidate X, increments X's vote-count by 1? How can something as simple as basic counting fail. How bad are the programmers for this e-voting stuff?

Re:I don't get it (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8517557)

God only knows, since the public isn't allowed to look at the code. We really need to learn from Australia and use open source code. It's the only way to be sure your vote is counted.

Re:I don't get it (4, Informative)

beeplet (735701) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517565)

If you read the story, the errors weren't a programming problem, they originated with the people running the booths. Some of them gave voters the wrong access code (not realizing that some of the polling stations served more than one precinct), and so the person's vote was cast for the wrong precinct.

Re:I don't get it (4, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517849)

And just the fact that you are giving volunteer poll-workers that much power is quite disturbing...

Before now, you stamped your card, and put it in a sealed ballot-box. Nothing could change your vote, nor could they be tallied for the wrong district. Now, you hit a button and can only hope that your vote is going to the right district, that the machine is reporting what you actually voted, and not what some poll-worker wanted, or even that your vote is cast at all, rather than ignored.

If you live in CA, support Barbra Boxer. She appears to be the only politican around here who is calling for a paper-trail requirement for electronic voting machines. That way, if there was any doubt about the result, the paper ballots could be recounted to verify the result was legitimate, instead of requiring a re-vote which (as this article explains) is the only real option with the current system of electronic voting.

All we need is one serious fuck-up, like California (the most liberal state around) being won by Bush, and you'll see voter riots. Which, incidentally, is how the rebellion in Haiti began.

Re:I don't get it (2, Funny)

corbettw (214229) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517950)

All we need is one serious fuck-up, like California (the most liberal state around) being won by Bush, and you'll see voter riots.

Um, except that the people most likely to not want Bush elected aren't quite capable throwing a riot. Remember, one of the requirements to having an armed rebellion, is an armed populace. Who do you think is more, or less, likely to have assault rifles in the home: Bush backers, or Kerry backers?

Re:I don't get it (4, Insightful)

trentblase (717954) | more than 10 years ago | (#8518018)

Yeah, Californians never riot when they feel opressed.... oh wait, nevermind [wikipedia.org]

Re:I don't get it (3, Insightful)

That's Unpossible! (722232) | more than 10 years ago | (#8518199)

All we need is one serious fuck-up, like California (the most liberal state around) being won by Bush, and you'll see voter riots.

I don't think it is too far-fetched to see Bush win California. California elected a Republican for Governor, and he's doing a good job. California is made up of a huge latino population, and believe it or not, the Bush family is fairly popular amongst latinos (thanks to W's connection to Texas, and his brother Jeb's hispanic connections via his wife). Why do you think Bush made that effort to 'help' illegals? He wants California. He could get it. I don't think there will be a riot either way, however....

Who do you think is more, or less, likely to have assault rifles in the home: Bush backers, or Kerry backers?

Why do they have to be assault rifles for people to be able to riot? Saturday night specials, hell, GASOLINE AND ROCKS can be used to riot. Pipes. Sheer human strength and madness.

But if you want to insist on guns for a riot, are you trying to say Democratic supporters don't own guns? What about the criminal element, they own guns right? Even illegal weapons. Criminals likely don't vote, but they sure as hell favor liberals over tough-on-crime conservatives.

And statistics plainly show that blacks make up a large majority of the criminal element. (Remember racists, correlation != causation, so you can't use this stat to further your agenda.)

And it is a fact that blacks vote for Democrats.

I think this clearly shows that, gun-control issues aside, a substantial portion of people that favor Democrats -- regardless of whether they actually took the time to vote -- are armed and have the potential to riot.

However, I have a bit more faith in our democracy than the conspiracy theorists on here, already salivating over something new they can use to claim they lost unfairly if it comes to that.

Re:I don't get it (2, Interesting)

evilviper (135110) | more than 10 years ago | (#8518213)

Who do you think is more, or less, likely to have assault rifles in the home: Bush backers, or Kerry backers?

Off-hand I might say Republicans, but that's really not true.

If you've ever been to CA (a strongly democratic state), you know all about the crime rate. There are gang members galore. Not to mention that I believe we are the only state where bank robers have ever been covered in body armor, and carrying assault rifles.

If you were a criminal who carries assault rifles, are you going to support the man who is the strongest supporter of executions?

I can guarantee that there are plenty of law-abiding democrats that have fully-stocked gun cabinets. Thinking of CA as a pacifist state is clearly a mistake.

You don't need weapons to riot you tool. (0)

FatSean (18753) | more than 10 years ago | (#8518249)

I mean...really...put your brain in drive if you're going to bash people based on generalities!

Paper Ballots (4, Interesting)

Detritus (11846) | more than 10 years ago | (#8518043)

Even with paper ballots, the poll workers could have given out the wrong ballot to the voters. It wouldn't have made a difference in the results. It's still the wrong ballot, whether it's paper or bits.

Re:Paper Ballots (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 10 years ago | (#8518244)

Even with paper ballots, the poll workers could have given out the wrong ballot to the voters.

Maybe in some places, but not in the polling places I've seen. They have one ballot and serve one precinct. Even if the ballots were wrong, the contents of the ballot-box will all be grouped together, and noted as a certain precinct. It's hard to screw that up, or if it is screwed-up, it can be easily sorted out, because they are all together, and they all came from the same place.

With electronic voting, it's just another digit, with practically no info asociated with it that could be used to track it down. No chance for a recount because you don't have anything to count. Current electronic voting machines leave no trace of what has happened.

Re:I don't get it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8517943)

From the article it seems that the issue is more than that. The article does not specify what these "anonymity measures" are, but if they are anything like Diebold's where only the totals are retained then there is no way to sort the valid ballots from the invalid ballots.

Unfortunately, that having been said the only technical solution to this would be to tag each vote with a voter ID which would be *ahem* a slight invasion of privacy.

WTF? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8517519)

Why are there no comments? Looks like we need independent auditors for Slashcode!

Re:WTF? (1)

Bob Bitchen (147646) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517672)

A further reflection of voter apathy? Or maybe it just comes as no surprise to anyone that there are snafus whenever/wherever there's a man machine interface. garbage-in-garbage-out

Re:WTF? (1)

Motherfucking Shit (636021) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517722)

I think this story was added to the front page as an afterthought. The SCO/S2 story was directly below the Kodak/Sony story for some time, I could swear on it.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8517941)

Is that a comment, or a hanging chad?

Open Source is the only way. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8518055)

Well, here's my comment: Uh, gee...I guess I already said it in the subject line. Doh!

Re:WTF? (5, Funny)

YetAnotherLogin (534226) | more than 10 years ago | (#8518124)

I think that's because all the initial comments on this story got attached to other adjacent stories. :)

I guess nobody cares.... (0, Redundant)

ameoba (173803) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517536)

Wow. Less than 10 posts on this when the one above it has 200 some odd. This must be some kind of record for the least-cared about story to ever hit the front page.

Maybe it's a first.... (0)

edgezone (51898) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517550)

and Slashdot users feel they've said all they need to on a subject, so no point repeating themselves....nah. there's probably a better chance that it's a glitch in the Matrix.

Re:I guess nobody cares.... (4, Insightful)

wrmrxxx (696969) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517703)

Maybe this is a reflection of society's attitude in general. I sense that a new level of apathy has developed over the last decade or so. Our politicians have stooped to such lows that they have no credibility left at all, and by association neither does the whole political system. We assume that politicians are lying and impotent, but we don't react with horror any more, because we just take it for granted. We assume that the election system is hopelessly broken and probably blatantly rigged, but we don't care anymore. What's the good of worrying about it if we feel there's nothing we can do?

Politicians know this about us too. They know they can rack up a rediculous deficit without getting thrown out of office, because we don't care. They know they can get away with starting a war on false pretenses if they feel like, because we don't care. I sometimes wonder what an elected official would have to do in order to get thrown out in protest. Is there any limit to what they can just shrug off?

Somewhere along the line, whatever systems we used to have in place that gave some power to individual citizens have failed us or disappeared. There used to be checks and balances in the system to stop governments doing rediculous things. Voters used to think they had some power through the ballot box. Individuals used to be able to run for public office and make a difference.

It's a sad thing indeed when a whole society loses faith in an important part of what makes it a functional community.

Re:I guess nobody cares.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8517782)

no doubt someone has commented on this at least once before, but thats a hilarious UID.

Re:I guess nobody cares.... (1)

PsiPsiStar (95676) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517977)

>I sometimes wonder what an elected official would >have to do in order to get thrown out in protest.

Be "out of touch with the avearage American"

Be a racist (Unless your name is Throm Thurmond)

Tell the unvarnished truth about your motivations.

Run against a celebrity.

Remember, it's all about feeling good and being entertained.

Re:I guess nobody cares.... (1)

aixou (756713) | more than 10 years ago | (#8518021)

How's it feel to be drinking from a half-empty glass? if you tilt it a little more, you might actually get some of what you're trying to swallow. :-)

Re:I guess nobody cares.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8517731)

OK, my life is pathetic. I was here a little while ago and that story wasn't there but the one now above it was. /shrug

Re:I guess nobody cares.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8517745)

Man do I suck. I meant _this_ story. Waiter, more sake please...

Wrong access code? (4, Funny)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517756)


Wow. Less than 10 posts on this when the one above it has 200 some odd. This must be some kind of record for the least-cared about story to ever hit the front page.

Not neccessarily. I think it may be because they're giving us the wrong access code or something. At least, all of my posts in this thread so far have shown up under an adjacent story which is posted on the same web site.

I swear, these electronic messaging systems are just too unreliable.

-- MarkusQ

P.S. And darn it, why can't I get a simple paper reciept when I post?!

Re:I guess nobody cares.... (2, Informative)

quacking duck (607555) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517774)

Actually, despite the timestamps on the story I'd swear this story didn't even show up for me a couple hours ago, when the Kodak lawsuit story was at the top, followed by the SCO one. This is definitely a story I'd have clicked on.

Glitch in the Matrix?

3 comments?! (0, Redundant)

r_glen (679664) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517537)

I'm gonna reply because I feel bad for this story's lack of popularity.

Two replies? (3, Funny)

Hays (409837) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517539)

something seems buggy here

GOATSE! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8517542)

Goatse!

We warned you (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8517549)

GNAA's field operators destroyed all the comments, following GNAA's last threat of doing so, if we do not get our fr1st ps0t modded to 5. You asked for it.

Huh???!!! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8517560)

Looks like the the queue for this story to go live go fucked up.

Open source code at its finest!!!

Way to go, edturdors.

The Law of Conservation of Mass, my eye!! (0, Offtopic)

BenSpinSpace (683543) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517570)

Maybe every comment was modded down so heavily that they simply ceased to exist...

Why can't America get this right? (4, Insightful)

ShieldWolf (20476) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517571)

In Canada, for a federal election we record something like 15 million hand-written votes in a few hours.

Why can't the torch-bearer of democracy even remotely get this right? Is it because there is no federal standard, or do Amercians really not care that much?

Re:Why can't America get this right? (2, Insightful)

Lord Haha (753617) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517619)

Quote: "do Amercians really not care that much?"

I am not voting on the matter because I dont care that much.

On a more serious note, no federal standards... Look at Florida with chads, Orange County now with E-voting and so on. Essentially its a big mess, and quite frankly not that many people care about it.

Re:Why can't America get this right? (4, Insightful)

ozric99 (162412) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517622)

It's the same in the UK. Millions of paper votes are counted in a matter of hours. It's a system that works well, so I don't understand the need to force through such obvious broken technology.

Re:Why can't America get this right? (0)

PD (9577) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517925)

OMFG. I just realized it. THAT is what the math teacher meant about arithmetic being important. Wow, it just hit me. It was all just fingers and toes until just now. Thanks.

Re:Why can't America get this right? (2, Insightful)

plopez (54068) | more than 10 years ago | (#8518031)

because it's about profits, not what is logical or reasonable. HTH.

How do either of you know? (2, Interesting)

mdfst13 (664665) | more than 10 years ago | (#8518143)

I never realized how unstable the US voting system was until the Florida incident. How do you know that votes are tabulated correctly in Canada and/or the UK? Maybe your Labour vote was really given to the Tory (or whatever).

Obviously, the problem *in this case* is twofold:

1. They didn't test these systems enough.

2. They have no way of fixing the problem, since they have no audit trail.

Another point is that the problem that arose is not a technological one per se. They could have made the same mistake in previous elections. If people are sent to the wrong voting booth or given the wrong ballot, you have the same effect. This is exacerbated by the fact that this is the first Presidential election since redistricting (in 2000, people may have voted in a different place). Further, the new electronic machines probably increased turnout.

Again, I say: "How do you know that your ballots are counted correctly?" How do you know that you (and everyone else) filled out the correct ballot (the actual problem here)? How do you know that the way you (and everyone else) filled out the ballot is the way that the ballot is meant to be filled out (the problem in Florida)?

Are you really so sure of your system that you can say absolutely that it is working? On what do you base this? Lack of complaints?

Re:Why can't America get this right? (2, Insightful)

petabyte (238821) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517739)

Well, the problem isn't whether they are hand-written, digital with tape, mechanical, or carved in stone, etc - The problem most people have with digital voting is that it needs to have a secure paper trail or some sort of auditable record. Just to make sure people aren't being fishy.

That doesn't seem to be the issue here as people voted outside of their precinct. Hand-written ballots could conceivably suffer the same problem.

The real question is: Why were these people allowed to vote in areas they aren't permitted to? I usually have to show some ID and they check a record book when I vote. If people are getting around that, then it really doesn't matter what type of ballot it is. People can just go vote in each different polling location. *sigh*

Re:Why can't America get this right? (1)

pyrrhonist (701154) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517854)

The real question is: Why were these people allowed to vote in areas they aren't permitted to?

They weren't. They were improperly enabled to vote in the wrong precinct. From the article:

5,500 voters had their ballots tabulated for the wrong precincts.
Election officials acknowledged that poll workers provided some voters incorrect access codes that caused them to vote in the wrong legislative districts but said there was no evidence yet that any result was in jeopardy.
Several workers who handled this stage of the process -- including some who said they didn't know more than one precinct had been assigned to their polling place -- gave voters codes for the wrong precincts, causing the wrong ballots to appear on their screens.

Re:Why can't America get this right? (1)

pyrrhonist (701154) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517747)

Is it because there is no federal standard, or do Amercians really not care that much?

We care. FAQs are here: Federal Election Commission [fec.gov]

Re:Why can't America get this right? (5, Funny)

woverly (223564) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517808)

We're not so much the "torch-bearer of democracy" anymore as we are a mob with torches. And proud of it!

Re:Why can't America get this right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8517810)

Is it the number of different elections being held at once? In Canada are there fewer different races that must be tallied?

We were getting it right (4, Informative)

John Jorsett (171560) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517971)

Why can't the torch-bearer of democracy even remotely get this right?

We were getting it right before this. We had minor problems here and there, but nothing that drastic. Then, Florida. Because it was the deciding state, the vote was extremely close, and it had no uniform standards for what counted as a 'vote,' it became a battle to the death that had to be settled by the courts finally. And because of inherent "flaws" that hadn't caused any big problems up to then, the ACLU sued everyone who was using the punch bllot and forced them to go to new methods which produced (surprise) chaos the first time out. My city had clueless poll workers who couldn't even boot their machines for hours at the beginning, turning away hundreds or thousands (no one is sure even now) of voters. Even scarier, the poll workers were getting assisted by walk-in voters who had technical knowledge and were helping them to fix the problems. I heard one guy on the radio talking about how he'd poked around in the OS (WIndows CE, no less) on the Diebold machine, looking for the missing application. A number of poll workers took the manines home after they were trained and stored them in their garages until voting day. The 'seal' was a sticker that could be easily removed and reapplied without detection. Not exactly what you'd call secure. Tell me this is better than what we had, I dare you. Thanks, ACLU!

Actually, we were not getting it right (5, Informative)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 10 years ago | (#8518138)

>Thanks, ACLU

This is bullshit. The ACLU and NAACP wanted shorter lines [63.135.96.161] and a felon list that included only, you know, felons.

In fact the debacle in Florida showed us we WEREN'T getting it right and we needed a federal standard, like most western nations, but the states were sold on the 'digital voting' snake-oil and here we are. And make no mistake about it, they were sold on this knowing full well how easily these machines can be manipulated.

'Tis politics as usual.

Re:Why can't America get this right? (1, Flamebait)

T3kno (51315) | more than 10 years ago | (#8518042)

Yes we know, and as Canadians you are far superior to the rest of the world in everything else you do. A perfect example is the superior way that you point out how superior you are to every one else.

In Canada we don't need elections because we all agree that Canada is superior, and anyone who believes otherwise must be a facist American.

Sorry, for the rant, I'm married into a family of Canadians, actually ex Canadians, and they agree with me.
$_ ~= s/Canadians/Canadiens/g if $province eq 'Quebec';
You could probably make a case for substituting Quebec for Canada as a whole too, but I wont go there.

Re:Why can't America get this right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8518229)

"A perfect example is the superior way that you 0point out how superior you are to every one else."

Bahaha, i hope your not from the U.S....

Re:Why can't America get this right? (1)

UpLateDrinkingCoffee (605179) | more than 10 years ago | (#8518059)

Corporate interests seem to rule these days... new fancy expensive voting machines mandated for every district means a lot of money to the selected few. They can outsource the coding to communist China and make even more! Oh, the irony...

We get it right! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8518071)

We have been sucessfully voting when Canada wasn't even a country founded around a conference table yet. Please pass the Caviar! We kicked ass for our country. Maybe we should take Canada over. Nah, nothing worth while up there since they stopped making 20 minute workout videos. That show was really a work of art.


You have to realize that there are over 3000 counties in the United States. In each county, it is divided up into small pieces. There are literally thousands upon thousands of polling places for a state. Electronic voting is very new - this is just a trial run so to speak, the primaries. Most people don't vote in the primaries anyhow, especially now since their vote doesn't matter. The candidates have had it locked up for at least a week now. Unfortunately they often overlook other local races - like Senator (if they are up for election this time) and Represenative races. Perfectly good oportunity to get some buttheads out of office and they blow it. Guys that have been fooling their own people for decades.


On the flip side, we have cast millions of votes so far without a problem. Even in Maryland where a bunch of lefties predicted it would be a fiasco because of the Diabold machines. Somehow they seemed convinced the Republican's controlled them. Then again, they probably believe in the tooth fairy too.... They looked secure to me.


However if you mean that a lot of people don't care enough to vote you are right, unfortunately. Lots of people like to bitch, few actually do something about it. I understand in Australia they will send you a $40 ticket for not voting. They should do that here. Use the money to buy Electronic voting machines (-:

Re:Why can't America get this right? (1)

kaleth (66639) | more than 10 years ago | (#8518208)

Well, part of the problem is the shear complexity of elections over here. This wasn't just a federal election, it was also for state and local offices as well. According to the article, there were 22,000 different ballot combinations, depending on where you lived. The problem was not counting the ballots, but making sure everyone got the correct one.

Additionally, the population of Orange county is about 3 million, so this was not a small election.

Voter Secrecy (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8517584)

/puts flame shield on
This seems to be, though the very idea may anger many on Slashdot, a situation where the application of technology is bad because we are trying to fix something that is not broken. Regardless of your personal party affiliation, what happened in Florida was at least mitigated by the availability of some kind of paper trail for the votes - once the electrons flow from the voting machine switch, there is no positive record that they ever existed. Also, it is important to remember the fact that people too stupid to manipulate a paper ballot probably will also have trouble with E-voting (reference recent Slashdot story "Fixing your parents PC"). /removes flame shield

Re:Voter Secrecy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8517735)

Well what we NEED is an electronic voting system that prints out a "reciept" when you punch in your choices. You would put this reciept in a box next to the machine, and should the need arise, a recount can be done. Congressman Rush Holt proposed a bill that addressed this dire need, and many others: http://holt.house.gov/issues2.cfm?id=5996

I don't see why that should annoy anyone. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517766)

Not every problem can be resolved by adding technology.
-and-
Not every situation is a "problem" in need of new technology.

Paper voting seems to work just fine in most cases. If there is a suspected problem, then the specifics of that (those?) problem(s) need to be discussed.

Does anyone know of any "problems" that are supposed to be addressed by electronic voting?

Re:Voter Secrecy (4, Insightful)

John Jorsett (171560) | more than 10 years ago | (#8518028)

Agreed. What really blew Florida up was lack of standards in doing the hand counts. In California, many counties used punch ballots without problems for many years. The trick is that the state has a standard (3 corners of the chad have to be detached) for how to hand-count a vote. Florida, not having that, was at the mercy of whatever standard the individual county officials decided to make up. Naturally, with an election teetering in the balance, the two parties pulled out every stop to influence this process, including pressuring the officials, sueing, screaming all over the press, marching into the buildings, etc.

We'd have saved ourselves a lot of agony if we'd just had the states create uniform standards for recounts instead of thinking magic voting machines would fix our problems.

Re:Voter Secrecy (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 10 years ago | (#8518224)

The more I know about computers, the less I trust them. For a while I have not trusted them as far as I could through Colossus. That also sucks for me since I am a Computer Engineer.

E-voting problem, Slashcode problem... (1, Funny)

jacobhoupt (728382) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517594)

Coincidence? I think. Maybe there are actually only 80% of us replying to this.

An Office Space quote seems to apply here... (0)

pope-on-a-rope (622637) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517603)

"I...I must have gotten a decimal point in the wrong place! I always mess up some mundane detail like that!"

What has the world come to... (1)

PoprocksCk (756380) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517605)

This is just a complete indication on how lazy people have become. I don't know about you, but I enjoy going out to vote, and I find it fun! There are some tedious tasks out there, like banking, that are better suited to the web, but voting? It just seems too dangerous to me, not to mention the laziness factor.

Above 100%? Ugh. I guess their system could have benefited from some good, old-fashioned testing.

So, why doesn't a losing candidate sue? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8517606)

It seems pretty open & shut. They have no clue what the real results should be.

Maybe they can call in some UN observers (or Haitian officials) to supervise the next round of elections.

Re:So, why doesn't a losing candidate sue? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8518175)

I'm kind of hoping they do just that, but something tells me our government is too arroga^H^H^H^H^H^Hprou^H^H^H^Hsuperior to ask for help.

knowing what I do about the OC... (1, Funny)

Chris Morten (723732) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517616)

I have a feeling that either Oliver or Marissa's mom had something to do with this.

least 5,500 voters (1)

bentfork (92199) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517618)

Tallies at an additional 55 polling places with turnouts more than double the county average of 37% suggest at least 5,500 voters had their ballots tabulated for the wrong precincts.

So 5,500 people didnt know where they live? I thought that voters had to know something.
Orange County election worker Darrell Nolta, who volunteered at a Westminster polling place, discovered after voting already had begun that, despite being told there was only one precinct for their polling place, they actually had two.

Who runs elections volenteers... maybe its time to START PAYING FOR SOMETHING. ( no not beer...)

Re:least 5,500 voters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8518173)

I'll donate my spare change to election officials if you'd like them paid.

- Bill Gates

Post misrepresents story (4, Informative)

geekee (591277) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517624)

Once again a post appears which completely misleads /.ers. This time, despite the long post, the poster failed to mention that the reason for the vote discrepancies is that workers gave voters the wrong codes, and therefore, people were voting in the wrong precincts. Most likely, the 1st precinct on the list got vote from other precint voters, resulting in a larger than %100 turnout. Simple case of garbage in-garbageout. There was no machine cracking or even machine errors that anyone has mentioned.

Re:Post misrepresents story (3, Insightful)

plopez (54068) | more than 10 years ago | (#8518074)

But, what about ease of use? Paper and pencil ballots are easy. It sounds like a poorly designed and documented system. Which, while not technically a machine error must be accounted for. If complex codes, sub-menus, small type etc. are in the way of accurrate voting, then the system STIILL is broken.

Remember, it should be simple enough for a person with a 6th grade eduaction or disabilities or computer illiterate or a non-native English speaker to use. A tall order for any software.

My $.02

Re:Post misrepresents story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8518083)

If the election really volunteers can't operate the machines properly, then there is something wrong with either the people or the machines. You could fix that easily by getting rid of the machines.

Someone already suggested getting rid of the people, but isn't that the whole point of democracy ?

Not a problem with electronic voting... (4, Informative)

beeplet (735701) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517630)

I think this story is kind of misleading. There was no error in the electronic voting machines, there was no programming error, no hacked results. As far as I can tell, it seems like the problems came entirely from the people running the polling booths, who hadn't recieved adquate training/instruction. This kind of screw-up could have happened regardless of the method being used to tally the votes! The REAL problem is not that the electronic voting machines are unreliable, it's that humans are, and without the paper trail that normal procedures generate, there's no way to go back and fix mistakes. If people want to implement electronic voting on a wider basis, I think traceability is a key issue. (Provided, of course, that voter anonymity is preserved, but this shouldn't be any more of an obstacle than it is with paper ballots.)

Re:Not a problem with electronic voting... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8517762)

But everybody knows that computers are infallible and user-friendly, so why all this "special training"? Just let them point and click until they figure it out!!!

How do you propose to sell the idea of "special training" to the PHB who has just been sold on how easy these voting machines will be to use, even by illiterate idiots?

There *is* a problem with electronic voting... (1)

Limited Vision (234684) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517894)

Uhhh, if the voting machines don't boot up [instapundit.com] , I'd have to say there's a problem with electronic voting...

I don't have to boot up a pencil or a piece of paper. Hell, I can vote by candlelight if I have to.

Re:Not a problem with electronic voting... (4, Insightful)

quisph (746257) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517895)

This kind of screw-up could have happened regardless of the method being used to tally the votes! The REAL problem is not that the electronic voting machines are unreliable, it's that humans are, and without the paper trail that normal procedures generate, there's no way to go back and fix mistakes.
But the fact that there was no paper trail is a consequence of the fact that they used electronic voting machines. Any other method would have created a paper trail automatically.

Re:Not a problem with electronic voting... (1)

John Jorsett (171560) | more than 10 years ago | (#8518069)

But the fact that there was no paper trail is a consequence of the fact that they used electronic voting machines.

Califoria finally figured out (too late for this election) that this is a problem with their new machines. In future elections (starting 2006, I think), the machine will print out a receipt that the voter can check. The poll will keep it for later recounts. Why they couldn't have required something so obvious to begin with is beyond me.

Do-over! (2, Insightful)

pyrrhonist (701154) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517648)

To successfully challenge the outcome of an election, losing candidates would have to prove in court that the problem was so widespread it probably changed the outcome of the election, said Fred Woocher, a Santa Monica election law attorney.

Why does this have to be up to the candidates? Clearly by the mere fact that incorrect ballots were being shown, the people were not properly given the ability to vote for the candidate of their choice. Their choice may have not even been on the ballot, since many people were shown ballots for other precincts. Shouldn't this automatically trigger a "do-over"?

Re:Do-over! (1)

Kirill Lokshin (727524) | more than 10 years ago | (#8518039)

Clearly by the mere fact that incorrect ballots were being shown, the people were not properly given the ability to vote for the candidate of their choice.

Ah, but do you trust anyone that comes up and claims their vote was miscounted? Without an audit trail, there is no way to prove the votes are correct, but there's no way to prove the reverse either. So the requirement is there to prevent unscrupulous voters from DOSing the election by claiming their votes were counted incorrectly.

Money (1)

Detritus (11846) | more than 10 years ago | (#8518079)

Elections cost real money. Why pay for a second election if it isn't going to change the results? It is also a needless inconvenience for the people and organizations that provide the polling places.

To err is human... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8517662)

Don't forget, folks, when you develop a system, you have to take into account every element of the system - especially one populated by well-meaning, underpaid people. This reminds me of the way my internet banking transfers from Singapore to my credit card in NZ kept getting fouled up because my bank would print them and mail them to the clearing house, where the clerks would MANUALLY RETYPE THEM, occasionally correcting a card number that seemed wrong ... Singapore Amex cards start 3773, while NZ ones start 3774, so the clerks would change 3774 to 3773 because obviously I had made a mistake. Hell's teeth.

speaks for itself. [ACK!] (2, Redundant)

cleetus (123553) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517663)

for those who prefer not to RFTA

"David Hart, chairman of Texas-based Hart InterCivic, which manufactured Orange County's voting system, said it would be impossible to identify which voters cast ballots in the wrong precincts because of steps the company had taken to ensure voter secrecy. For this reason, an exact account of miscast ballots is impossible."

cleetus

This Slashdot article... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8517665)

...sponsored by Diebold voting systems.

Dear God... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8517725)

Steve Rodermund: Complete idiot.

How do they think over 100% turnout won't skew the results? And what is this Rodermund moron saying? This is like saying the guy caught on camera stabbing someone obviously isn't the perp! Give me a break!

hrmm (1)

ShadowRage (678728) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517761)

I live north of orange county, surprised I havent heard anything about this on the local news yet.

another example of how e-voting can screw up or be fixed.

just go with good 'ol pen and paper
or find a better way to ensure a "hanging chad"*coughbullshit* problem doesnt occur again..

This is also very much the same reason we shouldnt be entrusting our cars with computer chips, computers have yet to be accurate in critical situations like driving or voting.

instead of putting an experimental technology out as an official technology, where we have to depend on it, like at my school where they've made it mandatory to pass highschool using this new experimental math program, which sucks.. because it basically says "you missed an assignment! you fail the entire course!" or "you missed a question! you get a 0 on the paper! you fail the course!" crap like that.

bottom line, we shouldnt be using this crap yet.

Re:hrmm (1)

citdude (671496) | more than 10 years ago | (#8518030)

My parents live in South Orange County and I go to school in Pasadena. Let me first mention that it was in the LA Times today. I will give you the benefit of possibly not subscribing it and so you might not have seen the hard copy. However, I would like to point out that the slashdot link took you to latimes.com if you took the time to RDFA. But why would you do that?

Also, if you had RTFA you would know that the technology works perfectly and that the voters were given the wrong ballot (in the form of a 4-digit number to type in) so some people cast votes in the wrong district. If you could explain to me how this is the software's fault I would appreciate it (granted they should make it easier, but it wasn't there fault).

lack of insecurity, (4, Informative)

Wellmont (737226) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517784)

I live in California, and have experienced this situation first hand. When i went to vote (luckily right down the street from my house) I was surprised to see how secure the system was.
(besides seeing that it was manned by a bunch of old ladies who wouldn't know how to operate the machines themselves)
The machines use no internet connection, in fact the number of cards, steps, and the size of the voting system makes it "almost" impossible to hack.
Brief description for those of you who have not come into contact or heard of the system yet:
You walk in and provide them with your name, they hand you a card with a smart chip (flash memory) and you walk over to the tablet-computer-like voting machines to cast your vote. At this point your name is on the flash memory, and when you insert the card you can begin the voting process. the only cord leading away from the unit was a power cord and I didn't pick up any WiFi signals with my ears.
You continue your voting, and the selections you made on the screen are put onto the card when you finish. Then your card is ejected back into your sweaty little palms.
you hand said unmarked card to the attendant and she puts it safely with the others. I've also heard the cards are kept for a manual tally back at the voting offices.
What is so great about this you ask? Well considering that the machines are not biased and that the people who built or were contracted to build them did not tamper with them, there is very little chance for a misread vote, or a "purposefully changed" vote. On the other hand from the information I've gathered the system is also open to a more wide spread hack or foul play because of it's final form: mass data statistics. one file or even multiple files holding numbers...MUCH easier to change as opposed to 6 million ballots, but at the same time much harder unless you have the knowledge or skill set which is (I suppose) very steep, deep, and wide.
Weighing all of the factors, I believe that the system is just about as secure as before, but it still needs a lot of work. (it could be ten times better, easily .

Thanks /. for another misleading headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8517818)

The article clearly states that there was no intentional misconduct here, just that voters were given ballots for the wrong precinct. So, some precinct showed more tallied votes than registered voters, but its not like anyone voted more than once.

Of course you wouldn't know it by reading the headline...

Ancillary Problem - No One Noticed The Candidates? (4, Insightful)

Spanky Lovesalot (121135) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517870)

Another problem I see here that no one has yet pointed out is with the voters themselves. If it was truly a problem that people were voting in the wrong districts/precincts, then that means they would have been voting for the wrong LIST of candidates.


Were voters walking into the election so blindly that they didn't even notice THE WRONG PEOPLE on the ballot?!?! I know it's probably on the difference in something like "Sanitation Commisioner" or some crap, but come on! No wonder the school boards here in South Carolina are filled with people who have last names beginning with a letter before M. They're alphabetically the first people on the ballot!

True cause is apathy leading to 'slow' pollworkers (2, Insightful)

realdddave (733684) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517884)

I was a poll watcher last spring at a polling place for a local election, as part of an assignment for my Political Science class. For the most part, it was very boring, but, like a true geek, I passed the time by recording demographics for my own notes: approx age, gender, couples, singles, kids, who had problems, etc. I also watched the actual poll workers a great deal. In a district where thousands and thousands of potential voters live, turn-out was in the low hundreds. The vast, vast, vast majority of these were elderly citizens.

All of the poll workers were retired. The people who are running our elections at the local level are the ones who a) were thoroughly taught pride in our nation's democratic process and b) have enough time to register to vote, decide who to vote for, and then actually get up off their butts and go vote. It is not surprising in the least that the mostly elderly population of poll watches has trouble doing anything more than the simplest tasks on a completely foreign computer application.

After seeing the way the supposedly 'trained' poll workers at my polling location were left clueless when anything even slightly out of the ordinary happened, it's obvious that some reform is needed in this area (our city used pen+paper voting, counted by machine).

Unfortunately, until more people start to care about elections, poll workers will consist of whoever is willing to sign their name for the job, regardless of whether they are truly able to do what's required.

Re:True cause is apathy leading to 'slow' pollwork (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8517931)

realdddave posting anonymously:

In re-reading, I may come off as age-discriminatory, but that's not my intent. In my experience, older people have less interest in trying to learn about new computer systems. Obviously, a flood of 18-22yo pollworkers, or any other age, is not the answer. What is needed is a larger number of citizens who are voters who are interested and proud of the democratic process to the point that they would be enthusiastic pollworkers. If this were to exist, then there would be more qualified people to choose from.

You could also approach it with training: If the pollworkers were more enthusiastic, then more/better training may be possible, which would also help a lot of these problems.

And, voters are stupid: At least 5% of the people who walked in the door were not at the correct polling place for their district. They all swore up and down that they had voted here ever year since they moved in, which is not possible.

Outrageous (1)

justzisguy (573704) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517940)

If you loose an entire precinct of voters, wouldn't that be a significant fraction of a local race? I know that through redistricting, the results are all guaranteed anyways, but for crying out loud!!!

"From what we have seen so far, we do not believe any of these instances where people voted in precincts they shouldn't have voted in would have affected any of the races," said Steve Rodermund, Orange County's registrar of voters.

I do not live in Orange County and did not get to use their new electronic voting machines, but it seems to me that if each person slides a state-issued ID card or driver's license, the machines could identify the person, make sure they are eligible to vote, and display the proper ballot. The system should check the person's name in a master database for having already voted.

<rant> Take 10 stations or however many you have, toss some wireless networking between them, one base station has the dial-up Internet connection for those polling places that don't have the Internet yet, secure the traffic and you're done! If we can securely have millions of ATM and credit card transactions floating around in cyberspace for banks, surely we can have votes safely cast. From the $1200 units I've seen demonstrated that my county purchased, you could buy a freakin' eMac with Airport. While I'm at it, print a God damn paper receipt for when the thing goes haywire!!! And make it open source! </rant >

Pay a speechwriter, chairman David Hart!!! (1)

the0ther (720331) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517955)

You would think that the chairman wouldn't have made such bumbling comments regarding the situation. Just hire a PR/Speechwriter person. These days every business needs one. What have we come to!?

Problem? (2, Funny)

zygote (134175) | more than 10 years ago | (#8517966)

More people voted than 100% of those registered?
Shocked! I am appalled.

Sincerely,
Chicago

Re:Problem? (1)

paroneayea (642895) | more than 10 years ago | (#8518247)

Dear Mr. Chicago,
I understand your frustrations, but you must realize that this is not cause for anger, but celebration. For ages our country has faced a sort of voter apathy... often less than fifty percent of those eligible to vote bother to do so. Now that we have finally gotten past this you are complaining? I am sorry to say that I have no choice but to be very disappointed in you.

Sincerely,
Whoever won

Voters enter a 4-digit code? (2, Insightful)

rekt (760792) | more than 10 years ago | (#8518020)

Does this worry anyone else?
Orange County election officials have traced the problem to poll workers who were responsible for giving each voter a four-digit code to enter into the voting machines.
Does this mean that, as long as a voter knows the code for some other district, sie could vote on that district's ballot without actually residing in the district?

This seems like a flaw in the technology itself. The old way, you'd have to assert your name and address to a human poll worker, who then gave you the specific ballot.

The method described in the article is equivalent to the poll worker giving you a stack of ballots, one for each district, and just accepting whichever one you decide to give back to hir.

I loved the part (2, Insightful)

netwiz (33291) | more than 10 years ago | (#8518102)

where they say that recounts aren't needed due to the wide margins of victory. Did these braniacs ever consider that maybe the reason for the wide margins IS THAT MORE PEOPLE VOTED THAN REGISTERED.

Poll worker incompetence aside, the only real alternative to this is to start over. I don't care what they think the margin of error is, due to the number of blatantly screwed up ballots, as soon as there's ANY QUESTION, you THROW THE VOTE OUT AND START OVER. This may not be economically feasable; I'm unfamiliar with the frequency of these kinds of problems.

If you've caught this many misvotes that actually hit the system, how many did you miss?

OC Resident (3, Insightful)

eepok (545733) | more than 10 years ago | (#8518118)

Ya, I go to UCI here in Orange County and I know that only 3 (myself, my gf, and my roomie) of the 20 people I know who even care to register, voted. My friends and I saw some scandalous result like this coming a mile away what with other "success" like this having occured in tests and other area around the nation. How could we not see this coming? Just think about it: 1)Needless, expensive upgrade to a faulty, lesser secure technology 2)OLD poll-workers who still believe computers are the internet teaching younger and older voters alike how to use he polls if the voters are to lazy to watch the video [ocvote.org] . 3)The majority of active voters are people of the same demographic. 4)The interface is user-UNfriendly. Watch the video. Access codes, wheels instead of arrows, and a physical end-all-and-submit-ballot-whether-or-not-your-actu ally-done button. It was either doomed from the beginning or planned to fail.

How do the Brazilians do it? (1)

dulles (86837) | more than 10 years ago | (#8518129)

To the best of my knowledge, electronic voting has been used in Brazil with great confidence, near perfectly reflecting the final ballot count (manual count). In the recent Lula election, specifically, I remember being quite impressed with the speediness of the system in determining the candidates of the run-off.

So what are the Brazilians doing that we aren't? How is it different, and how can we make it the same?

Or maybe I'm totally wrong about the quality of their system?

This is really sad. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8518134)

Rather than waste my 1 vote on an independant candidate with regular voting. I can now waste my 6x10^9 votes on an independant candidate with Evoting.

Reality Check Kids.. (3, Interesting)

somepunk (720296) | more than 10 years ago | (#8518159)

So the election officials panic at the problems in 2000 and run out and the newest, slickest gadgets they can find. Somebody should give them some valium, have them count to ten, and show them how NASA does procurement.

You don't use untested technology for something this important. The perception is that all the old voting systems are inadaquate. What a load of bunk. In the Twin Cities, we use optical scanners, which are fast, easy to use, and hard to screw up. The scanning machine can even complain instantly if you do something silly like vote for two condidates in the same race. I'll stop rambling now.

Record turnout (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#8518174)

I don't know, with one precinct reporting a record 290% turnout, it seems like this e-voting stuff is just what we need to get more people involved in their government.

Although the neighboring precinct only had a 9% turnout, so I guess there are just some places where apathy is incurable.

I voted in Orange County this last election (1)

Big Toe (112240) | more than 10 years ago | (#8518212)

and when I saw the electronic voting terminals I asked the guy giving out instructions if there was an alternative to voting electronically and he said no. I told him how horrible electronic voting is and he said, "Oh they're not so bad" to which I replied, "yeah, if you don't care about security." Now that my county has "improved" itself to have electronic voting, I'll be forced to cast the rest of my votes through absentee ballots.
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