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Diebold Sued (Again) Over Shoddy Voting Machines

timothy posted about 10 years ago | from the can-we-postpone-the-election-for-bugfixing dept.

United States 314

icypyr0 writes "Computer programmer Jim March and activist Bev Harris have filed suit in California state court against Diebold under a whistle-blowing statue. This is another in a series of blows dealt to the ailing company. March and Harris allege that Diebold 'used uncertified hardware and software, and modems that may have allowed election results to be published online before polls closed.' They are seeking full reimbursement for all of the voting machines purchased in California. March and Harris could collect up to 30% of the reimbursement, under the whistle-blower statute. In an interesting turn, the two are requesting that the state of California join the lawsuit. State officials have spent millions on the paperless touch screen machines; Alameda County has spent at least $11 million alone."

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314 comments

First Backdated Touch-Screen Post from a Dead Jew (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9681640)

Oy!

Vaporware and voting don't mix. (4, Informative)

LostCluster (625375) | about 10 years ago | (#9681641)

The concept is classic in the computer software industry... sales sells a vaporware product that hasn't been built yet, and then the R&D people have to take shortcuts in order to get a product shipped by the date it was promised.

Governments don't take well to such practices. When dealing with a state government, you must cross every t and dot every i in the system. Any bugs, flaws or failures is simply delivering a product that wasn't to spec.

Diebold appears to have their hands caught in the cookie jar here. They've already been caught installing a "patch" on machines that were supposed to be "sealed" and in their final ready-for-voting state. Bev Harris has been the collector in chief of all of Diebold's other mistakes that they've tried to cover up... seeing what they have ready to present at trial should be fun.

Re:Vaporware and voting don't mix. (5, Informative)

MisanthropicProgram (763655) | about 10 years ago | (#9681711)

This doesn't realate to the article but it relates to your post.

Long story short: I was at a company that sold vaporware. When we bitched about the stupid deadlines and what the fuck were the salesguys and upper management thinking, we were told that, "If we don't do it, someone else will and make the sale."

What a rationalization.

Re:Vaporware and voting don't mix. (3, Insightful)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | about 10 years ago | (#9681877)

The concept is classic in the computer software industry... sales sells a vaporware product that hasn't been built yet, and then the R&D people have to take shortcuts in order to get a product shipped by the date it was promised.

The problem here is deeper than that. The simple truth is that voting software is a relativly simple project. EVEN with VB (which is what Dibold is using for their software), it would be simple to build a secure system. The fact is, they don't have the expertise to do so with any tool.

Re: :-( (4, Funny)

NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) | about 10 years ago | (#9681957)

Writing software with VB makes baby Jesus cry.

A little worse then that (5, Interesting)

autopr0n (534291) | about 10 years ago | (#9681935)

Voting machines need to be certified, basically this means someone needs to inspect it and make sure it works correctly, is tamper-resistant, etc. hardware and software is certified together. but Diebold treated their software like many IT products. release what you have and patch, patch, patch. Unfortunately, in the case of election this meant uncertified software (and allegedly uncertified modems as well) was used. Diebold could have put anything in that code.

Of course, whoever did the certification job on the Diebold certainly wasn't doing their jobs very well.

A good model for EVM would actually be the Navada Gaming commission for slot machines and the like. Software updates need to digitally signed and encrypted by both the company, and the commission. Running slot machines without approved software is illegal.

Re:Vaporware and voting don't mix. (5, Insightful)

pjrc (134994) | about 10 years ago | (#9681980)

This statement hardly seems like what's been reported...

Governments don't take well to such practices. When dealing with a state government, you must cross every t and dot every i in the system. Any bugs, flaws or failures is simply delivering a product that wasn't to spec.

Seems like many of the reports so far have shown great support for Diebold at the local and state level. Time and time again, state officials have brushed off complaints and critisms. Even in California, this went on for quite a while. Withness the condition in Florida. The issue is being pressed not be gov't officials, but by grassroots citizen's groups, the ALCU and other non-governmental groups.

Looks who's filing the lawsuit. The plaintifs are Jim March and Bev Harris... activists, not gov't officials. In fact, the lawsuit has been sealed for at least 7 months while the government tried to decide if they wanted to join the plaintifs.

The state of California has STILL not decided if they want to join the plainfits in this lawsuit. That's hardly needing to cross every t and dot event i in the system. It's more a case of needing to hide problems well enough from activists. It's clear the election officials are apathetic and would rather keep any problems swept under the rug than admit they were cheated, purchased shoddy products, and failed to detect accuracy problems.

first post (-1, Offtopic)

WebBORG (682429) | about 10 years ago | (#9681646)

ha

Have to see .... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9681658)

Maybe a cluster of these things..... Oh, never mind

Who was the statue of? (4, Funny)

Scratch-O-Matic (245992) | about 10 years ago | (#9681661)

The whistle blowing statue, that is.

Re:Who was the statue of? (1)

emorphien (770500) | about 10 years ago | (#9681737)

Damn, I wish I had been here earlier, but you beat me to the joke.

Re:Who was the statue of? (4, Funny)

Esion Modnar (632431) | about 10 years ago | (#9681746)

Steve McQueen, from "The Great Escape." (You know, the whistling scene...)

Re:Who was the statue of? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9681765)

Natalie Portman?

Re:Who was the statue of? (3, Funny)

Mikkeles (698461) | about 10 years ago | (#9681815)

'...against Diebold under a whistle-blowing statue.'

Would this [ucar.edu] be it?

Re:Who was the statue of? (1)

BorgCopyeditor (590345) | about 10 years ago | (#9681871)

I don't know, but I'm pretty sure it's the one right next to the statue of limitations.

Re:Who was the statue of? (1)

dhclab49 (567553) | about 10 years ago | (#9681894)

It's "statue" Jerry! Statue!

FINALLY! (5, Informative)

the_mad_poster (640772) | about 10 years ago | (#9681675)

Whether this goes anywhere or not, Diebold's abuses are finally going to the mainstream. The number one weapon that people have on their side to affect a change in an unfair system is information, and this information hitting major news outlets with some degree of regularity is happening just in time to ensure that this nonsense DIES.

Remember, when your friends ask what this is all about, you have everything from blackboxvoting.com to the damning Diebold memos themselves to point to as evidence of the abuse and incompetence plaguing such a vital issue.

Re:FINALLY! (1)

Grant29 (701796) | about 10 years ago | (#9681778)

One thing is for sure, after the last election the Diebold machines will be scrutinized more than ever.

--
4 Gmail invitations availiable [retailretreat.com]

In unrelated news... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9681677)

Diebold has offered to supply test voting machines for use in jury trials in California.

Diebold (5, Interesting)

mfh (56) | about 10 years ago | (#9681678)

Diebold == Dieslow.

Somebody save e-voting... before it's too late. Looks like Florida is going to be in a worse position than in 2000. I know I keep saying this, but someone should create a good Internet voting mechanism, and keep it anonymous yet feasible. I'd like to be sure my vote was counted, and the only way to really do that is by the old fashioned SQL count() function. :-)

At least then I'd know that my vote is my say. Nowadays, you're either black, hispanic, poor, criminal, or you look like these groups so you're unable to vote. It's a crying shame, and in all its flaws, Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 actually does demonstrate the problems with the 2000 election quite intricately.

Re:Diebold (4, Informative)

whoever57 (658626) | about 10 years ago | (#9681758)

Somebody save e-voting... before it's too late.

Why? What is the benefit? Ultimately, you have to have a certain level of trust. Current paper methods reduce the necessary level of trust -- because independent (and non-independent) observers are watching what happens for me.

Frankly, what happened in Florida was not good, but let's face it, when elections get that close, you may as well toss a coin! When things like weather could affect a result, is the accuracy of the count that important?

What is really important, though, is to prevent any person, organization or company getting into a position whereby they can systematically skew the results of multiple elections.

Until someone comes up with an electronic voting scheme that guarantees that no one can fix an election then we should forget about electronic voting and stick with paper.

Even if you consider the problems in Florida to be more of an issue than I do, they don't require electronic voting to fix them -- let's look for simpler, more foolproof solutions.

Re:Diebold (5, Informative)

Barto (467793) | about 10 years ago | (#9681872)

You mean like here in Canberra, Australia [act.gov.au] ?

Linux desktop computers running open source (GPL) electronic voting software, burning the votes AND keystroke logs (to verify each vote if necessary) to CD-ROMs providing an "electronic" paper trail?

It is at least as safe, if not safer, than paper-and-pencil voting. As society continues to move towards staring at computer displays 24/7 electronic voting becomes an inevitability out of inertia, so it may as well be done right.

Barto

Re:Diebold (2, Interesting)

cmowire (254489) | about 10 years ago | (#9681984)

Your CD-ROM can still be tampered with. You just need to re-flash the controller (or the system BIOS) to modify a select number of votes.

The paper trail still works better because it gives you the option of seeing the record, requiring nothing but your eyes.

Re:Diebold (3, Insightful)

Barto (467793) | about 10 years ago | (#9682068)

A paper trail can be tampered with. You just need to make your own voting slips, number say 100 votes with the candidate you want and replace a random selection of votes in a ballot box with the illegitimate votes.

The idea of "just need to" modify the operating system, keystroke logger and voting software - open source software in a heavily monitored environment - is ridiculous. This system is not perfect but the level of conspiracy needed to tamper with the voting system would be in the same ballpark as paper ballots.

Re:Diebold (3, Insightful)

Jason Earl (1894) | about 10 years ago | (#9682044)

Unless I get a paper certificate that I can verify for myself, and that counts as "my vote" in cases where a recount is called for, I am not interested in switching to a new technology.

There are plenty of tricks that can be played unless the voter can verify a hard copy ballot themselves. In nearly all cases these ballots wouldn't be used, but they would allow for recounts of suspicious votes. Keystroke logs are a nice touch. Unless, of course, the keystroke logger is tampered with. hard copy receipts, on the other hand, can be verified on the spot by the voter, and are much more difficult to modify successfully after the fact.

Re:Diebold (1)

N3WBI3 (595976) | about 10 years ago | (#9681919)

Good point especially as elections in NM, WI, and MO could all have been recounted..

Re:Diebold (2, Insightful)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | about 10 years ago | (#9681945)

Why? What is the benefit?

Exactly. Electronic voting as a "solution" in search of a problem. It just isn't needed. And, since thee is no audit trail with the top commercial systems, it is not appropriate for voting at this time.

Actually, I see a great opertunity for a company that wants to do it right. Learn from Dibold's STUPID mistakes, clean up!

What's the joke?

1. Build e-voting system with audit trail. 2. ... 3. PROFIT!

Re:Diebold (4, Informative)

laird (2705) | about 10 years ago | (#9681770)

"someone should create a good Internet voting mechanism, and keep it anonymous yet feasible"

Someone's creating a good eVoting mechanism, the Open Voting Consortium. Go to http://www.openvotingconsortium.org and help out!

I'll also point out that internet voting is fundamentally insecure, but any vulnerability can be exploited infinitely. When voting takes place in polling stations (i.e. offline and under observation), the poll workers can limit the damage of any vulnerability, because they can see who comes in, control who goes into voting stations, for how long, and can stop anyone doing anything too obvious (e.g. unscrewing the voting stations and modifying their internals, for example). Also, internet voting makes any a reliable audit impossible, because there's no voter verified physical record of a vote.

Hear Hear (1)

Mark_MF-WN (678030) | about 10 years ago | (#9682093)

Hear hear. And might I add, we should all be grateful for those people who give up their valuable time to man the voting stations. I don't know about the US, but here in Canada they work largely on a volunteer basis, to ensure that democracy functions as it should. My sincerest thanks goes out to them.

Re:Diebold (3, Informative)

cmowire (254489) | about 10 years ago | (#9681835)

You are under the mistaken assumption that a good Internet voting mechanism is possible and a good idea.

Right now, it probably isn't. Would you want your average PC to be controlling your life support system, where if it dies, you do? The wrong guy in the white house could unleash a nuclear holocaust upon us all; is that any less important?

Really, I'm not sure that it's worth it to do electronic voting anyways. A properly designed machine-assisted paper voting system (big ballots in your choice of languages, mark-sense sense system with no chad, etc) is pretty economical and reasonably hard to mess with -- especially because its functioning and potential for fraud is easier to perceive.

Re:Diebold (3, Insightful)

KanshuShintai (694567) | about 10 years ago | (#9681849)

I don't understand the problem with normal mechanical voting machines. The ones we use in CT aren't difficult at all. What's the point in using computers for voting when there's a mechanical method that works as well already, without the worry of malicious software and the need for an additional paper trail?

I mean.... It's like, what are you going to do when you're trying to vote and the power goes out?

Re:Diebold (4, Insightful)

canadian_right (410687) | about 10 years ago | (#9681895)

You can't currently have a secure internet vote.

What they should be doing is making sure the voting machines are NEVER able to remotely connect to anything. Once voting is done for the night election officials should have to PHYSICALY connect or transfer votes from the machines to a device that sends the tally to the central counting.

Once a voting machine is "certified" it should be LOCKED, taped, and completely inaccesible to remote or phyical tampering.

This excellent article at the Register [theregister.co.uk] explains what a good voting system needs.

Re:Diebold (1)

autopr0n (534291) | about 10 years ago | (#9682010)

What they should be doing is making sure the voting machines are NEVER able to remotely connect to anything. Once voting is done for the night election officials should have to PHYSICALY connect or transfer votes from the machines to a device that sends the tally to the central counting.

Of course, that would let the election admin tamper with the card at his leisure while delivering it to the sending device. If you don't think the machine can be made tamper proof, then I don't see why you think the card could be.

A simpler idea would be an interface on the machine that only had one input line, meaning "send", when the signal goes high, start dumping the data to a write-only line.

Of course, you need a way to input balots and whatnot after the election...

Re:Diebold (1)

elpapacito (119485) | about 10 years ago | (#9682047)

Dude I'm sorry to give you bad news: there will never be a good internet/electronic voting system that entirely replaces paper voting. In a previous /. posting you can read here, I explain why I firmly believe so. [slashdot.org]

In a short summary: I believe it much more difficult to corrupt a paper voting system then a electronic system. If we really want an electronic voting system, then we must use it as a BACKUP to paper ballot, hand counted system with double-checks. I guess a democratic voting system within a strong law system based on individual Rights is worth every extra dime spent ; we can of course optimize such system and make them become less bureocratic and more efficient, but we can't just trust computers to decide the outcome of an election. I want hundreds, thousand of eyes watching every step of the process getting ready to whisteblow any corruption, wrongdoing or plain old error.

Usually apathic people think this is a waste of time of resource, because after all all politicians are the same bunch of liars and thieves ; there's an hint of truth what they say, but if they really think so why don't they move under a tyranny ? They'll have 0 money spent in voting process and a loooot of problems tearing down their apathy in seconds.

They're inviting the state of CA into the lawsuit (4, Insightful)

sharkb8 (723587) | about 10 years ago | (#9681680)

because if the state joins in, the state will pay for and handle the case, and the two who started it won't have to do much. If this happens, they'll only get 20% by the way. They'll get 30% if they handle the case themselves and win though...

Re:They're inviting the state of CA into the lawsu (1)

ForestGrump (644805) | about 10 years ago | (#9681833)

but if its a "big big payout" for them...then that 10% won't make too bit a difference...only a Hummer H2 or a houseboat.

uh no. (1)

autopr0n (534291) | about 10 years ago | (#9682049)

The diffrence is 10%, or $5 million apeace. that would buy at leat 50 loaded H2s.

Condorcet Voting (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9681689)

As long as we're screwing ourselves with these electronic voting machines, why don't we at least switch to Condorcet voting at the same time? Computers could make Condorcet voting really easy.

Then, of course, put in that paper trail thing.

Re:Condorcet Voting (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9681812)

As long as we're screwing ourselves with these electronic voting machines, why don't we at least switch to Condorcet voting at the same time? Computers could make Condorcet voting really easy.

In true geek fashion, let me instead proclaim the superiority of the mean Kemeny order over plain Condorcet.

On the other hand, Condorcet would be a huge step toward allowing the electorate to choose the candidate they want without spoilers or extremists gaining power.

Condorcet Extentions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9681932)

All of those condorcet extentions are just nonsense.

They all deal with what to do in a very unlikely tie election. They all are based on the idea that a tie should be impossible. They are all created by people who look at all the data sitting there in a condorcet election and think "surely there must be some logical way to resolve this tie."

I have a logical way to resolve a tie. Flip a coin. If the election is that close, that there are exactly the same number of votes for two candidates, then what difference does it make?

All these extentions do is take plain condorcet which is already so complex that some people can't understand it and make it so complex that most people can't understand it. We can do without it, especially since the extentions would only get used in about 1 out of every [insert big number] elections anyway.

People need to stop debating over what tie-resolving protocol is best and start trying to get Condorcet elections in their country/state/city/etc.

Re:Condorcet Voting (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9682052)

> Then, of course, put in that paper trail thing.

Hopefully, you do mean proof of what is on the paper is in the machine.......

Bush (-1, Flamebait)

LXAC08 (795996) | about 10 years ago | (#9681697)

I wonder if buh could find an electronic equivalent of a hanging chad in this.

What a crappy company. (-1, Troll)

BlueCup (753410) | about 10 years ago | (#9681698)

Does anyone else think that maybe this company is full of idiots? Any self respecting person would've left them months ago. I mean, sure there are other organizations that get a lot of heat on slashdot, SCO, etc, but it seems to me like we're giving a lot more responsibility to Diebold than SCO will ever have.

Tin Foil Hat: I'm going to go ahead and predict that wherever these machines are used, there will be some pretty lopsided results... I don't think I need to tell you which side I think they'll favor...

Microsofts cue? (4, Funny)

toetagger1 (795806) | about 10 years ago | (#9681704)

used uncertified hardware and software
Lets hope Microsoft doesn't use this as a cue to move thier OS onto those machines. Hell, next thing we know, we'll be able to vote on our X-boxes!

Re:Microsofts cue? (0, Redundant)

vxvxvxvx (745287) | about 10 years ago | (#9681717)

Will xboxes be given to voters, or do they have to provide their own?

Re:Microsofts cue? (2, Informative)

Sweetums (266193) | about 10 years ago | (#9681739)

Too late. As I understand it, they are in fact windows boxes.

Too late... (1)

metallicagoaltender (187235) | about 10 years ago | (#9681965)

Lets hope Microsoft doesn't use this as a cue to move thier OS onto those machines.

I can't speak for Diebold's entire line of voting machines, but the ones used in the last election in San Diego County were running Windows CE.

Steep penalties... (5, Interesting)

LostCluster (625375) | about 10 years ago | (#9681705)

Catching Diebold's products actually being in violation of the law may be a technical matter that might result in lawyers talking for days, but should that burden ever be meant, the penalty is huge, especially in California.

Diebold promised their equipment would be up to spec. If it's found that it's not, then that's just plain simple basic fraud. In CA, the whistleblower law we're talking about makes the company have to refund 100% of the money the state gave it, and 30% goes to the citizens who started the case. More or less, Diebold will have lost all of the revenue it got from CA, plus all of the losses incured due to the fact that they already tried to deliver a product that they now aren't getting paid for...

This is the kind of thing that sends a company pretty close to bankruptcy... good thing Diebold has its ATM product line to fall back on.

Re:Steep penalties... (1)

nolife (233813) | about 10 years ago | (#9681826)

good thing Diebold has its ATM product line to fall back on.

Makes me wonder how that system was developed and deployed..
Maybe the atmosphere within Diebold was different back then.

Re:Steep penalties... (2, Interesting)

Hork_Monkey (580728) | about 10 years ago | (#9681904)

Do you have any idea how insecure they're newer ATM's are?

They're running WinXP embedded, terminal services enabled, and a default password. Take a guess what the default password is.

They're old OS2 ATM's are rock solid. Any of the new touch screen one's you see now, be wary.

Re:Steep penalties... (1)

bergeron76 (176351) | about 10 years ago | (#9681940)

good thing Diebold has its ATM product line to fall back on.

Let's see: ATM monopoly + US Voting Machine monopoly == a good thing?

How do you figure?

Re:Steep penalties... (1)

murgee (615127) | about 10 years ago | (#9681979)

Good for the company. They may not go completely bankrupt.

However, also not good.. if the public catches wind of Diebold's shenanigans in a big way, how much you wanna bet that people will stop using their ATMs too?

The line (0, Troll)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | about 10 years ago | (#9681719)

The line between shoddy and shitty has never been so fine.

DeUCE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9681744)

DuDE!!! Shoddy/shitty/Deuce [urbandictionary.com]

Suck it W (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9681724)

Starting to look a little grim for the prez--ain't that just a damn shame.

I've always wanted... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9681730)

...a whistle blowing statue. It'd look nice next to my tuba playing lawn gnome.

Re:I've always wanted... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9681936)

But does it run leenoox?

Re:I've always wanted... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9681962)

Isn't keeping lawn gnomes enslaved against the statute of liberty?

Money Trail (2, Interesting)

foobsr (693224) | about 10 years ago | (#9681732)

Going after the money trail is cleaner than going after proper procedures.

common && !commonsense

CC.

Re:Money Trail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9681776)

I can't wait until they go after THAT [msn.com] money trail

Re:Money Trail (1)

foobsr (693224) | about 10 years ago | (#9681953)

Presumably you better stop waiting ...

... since, as you know, this is not the only case [fairvote.org] .

CC.

50/50 nation means every vote really matters (4, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | about 10 years ago | (#9681734)

Part of the reason why there was such a big deal over the counting of the Florida votes last year was because Florida's electoral votes were enough to give either candidate the victory in the overall election.

In many past presidential elections, isolated incidents of corruption or other flaws weren't as important because the overall result was a clear landside for one candidate or the other. Even if the irregularities in a state got so bad it tipped their electoral votes in the wrong candidate's direction, that state worth of votes usually isn't enough to tip the entire national election.

This year, with the nation split so tightly, and last time's close call fresh in everybody's mind, the tolerance for such flaws is going to be lower than it's ever been. The smallest election scandal is going to get magnified now.

Re:50/50 nation means every vote really matters (5, Funny)

InfiniteWisdom (530090) | about 10 years ago | (#9681783)

The smallest election scandal is going to get magnified now.
Unless if is in favor of the incumbent president. In that case it would be unpatriotic to talk about it.

Something very misleading in the writeup (5, Interesting)

foidulus (743482) | about 10 years ago | (#9681757)

dealt to the ailing company.
Diebold as a company isn't ailing, it's doing pretty well from what I gather making ATMs...Diebold as an electronic voting manufacturer is ailing. In fact, it's so bad that some people in the company have suggested dropping it altogether because it is making the company look bad. But they persist, which may even bring further question to Diebold's CEO's political motives...

Re:Something very misleading in the writeup (2, Insightful)

LostCluster (625375) | about 10 years ago | (#9681810)

The problem is that ATMs are a device used by the banking industry, and that's an industry that is based on trust. More or less, if customers start telling their banks that they feel funny trusting a machine marked "Diebold" because they got tied up in an election-rigging scandal... they're dead.

Re:Something very misleading in the writeup (1)

foidulus (743482) | about 10 years ago | (#9681836)

Heh, the funny thing is, even though most people probably just toss their receipts, I don't think anyone would really trust an ATM without them. Ironically, Diebold who is so deftly opposed to a paper trail for voting, has a paper trail on every one of their ATMs, amazing.

Re:Something very misleading in the writeup (1)

vxvxvxvx (745287) | about 10 years ago | (#9682004)

I've noticed the ATMS I use now ask if you want a receipt (just like the gas pumps.)

Re:Something very misleading in the writeup (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 10 years ago | (#9682058)

and we KNOW those ATM machines really secure. hmmmmmmmm............

Re:Something very misleading in the writeup (1)

BCW2 (168187) | about 10 years ago | (#9682084)

Not just ATM's, but the vacuum tubes at most drive up bank windows. Thats a lot of credibility to blow on a bad voting system.

Another attempt a diversification that blew up in someones face. Most companies should stick to what they do best.

If you ask me, (0, Troll)

beej_55 (789241) | about 10 years ago | (#9681761)

I think this is just another way to steal the election, but this way is a LOT easier.

A solution in search of a problem (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9681767)

We had the mess in Florida, but instead of identifying the real problem (plurality voting, where voting for two people ruins the ballot and a spoiler can throw the election to the overall loser) we instead looked at one of the symptoms (hanging chads, and whether or not a hole was completely punched through).

Want to fix the real problem? Use Approval voting or a ranked method like Condorcet. Overvotes don't hurt either methon (two "Approvals" or first place votes are easily counted), undervotes are tossed like normal, and a third party candidate won't throw the election to the guy at the other extreme of the political spectrum.

As it is, even if Diebold had an absolutely perfect system, Nader could still throw the election to Bush, overvotes would still be tossed out, and then you *add* the problem of having an untraceable vote that can't be recounted.

If a voter is too dumb (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9681929)

To vote for one person for president, he should have his vote discounted. Why should the dumb-bunnies, too idiotic to vote properly, decide the leader of the free world?

Re:A solution in search of a problem (3, Insightful)

cmowire (254489) | about 10 years ago | (#9681939)

You forget that, really, any voting system is unfair and ends up ruining it for somebody. Well, that, and it would require a constitutional amendment to make it happen.

The real, easy, workable solution is a sanity check at vote-time. They do this out where I live. Once you fill out your large-print paper ballot, they put your ballot in the machine. The machine scans your ballot and lets you know if something's wrong. However, you still have real paper ballots that can be checked for accuracy to make sure that none of the machines have been tampered with.

Re:A solution in search of a problem (1)

and by (598383) | about 10 years ago | (#9682037)

Actually, it would only require that each state adopt such a scheme. The Constitution does not speak to how elections should be held in such detail.

Re:A solution in search of a problem (1)

and by (598383) | about 10 years ago | (#9682069)

I should clarify: the federal constitution does not go into such specifics, state constitutions might indeed and those would need amending before a chage in counting systems could take place.

Re:A solution in search of a problem (1)

mikelieman (35628) | about 10 years ago | (#9681967)

How do you fix the "Out-of-State Operatives Representing A Corporation Coercing Officials to Neglect their Duties" problem?

(I'm thinking John Sweeny from New York, et. al. and the Palm Beach County Board of Elections...)

Maybe the People of Florida should rounded up their OWN Mob, to ensure their votes were counted...

why is it.. (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9681771)

...we can put a man on the moon, but can't make a simple machine that counts "yes/no" votes?

Seriously, any of you slashdotters are MORE than competent enough to design a voting machine. Yet, these dickholes seem to not be able to get it right, after tossing millions of dollars in to it. A simple yes/no question, folks. That's what it boils down to.

God help us all... particularly those that are involved in politics.

Re:why is it.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9681843)

Don't forget about Abstain [votenader.org]

Code (0, Flamebait)

LXAC08 (795996) | about 10 years ago | (#9681913)

private void countvotes(bool vote){
if(vote){
Kerri+=1;
}
else{
bush+=1;
}
}
Not rocket science

Re:Code (2, Insightful)

TedCheshireAcad (311748) | about 10 years ago | (#9681987)

unfortunately, to you, it is. there's no one running by the name of 'Kerri'. sorry, mate.

and why is vote a boolean? if you were trying to make a joke, shouldnt it be if(true)...?

sigh...tell your manager at diebold i said hello.

Re:Code (1)

LXAC08 (795996) | about 10 years ago | (#9682085)

I was indeed trying to make a joke. Oh well. Another -2 karma for me.

Re:Code (5, Funny)

kunudo (773239) | about 10 years ago | (#9682002)

Ah, thank god you have me to debug your code. Here ya go:

private void countvotes(bool vote,SSN){
if(vote){
Kerri+=1;
alert_SS("$SSN");
alert_IRS("$SSN");
}
else{
bush+=1;
echo "thank you, citizen, now go play somewhere else";
}
}

New business plan (5, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | about 10 years ago | (#9681774)

1)Get job at dodgy company.
2)Find out all about their dodgy dealings.
3)Blow whistle.
4)Profit!

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought the whole reason for the whistle blowing law was to protect employees who want to come clean, not for them to make a profit.

Re:New business plan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9681806)

They may make a bit of profit but it's hardly worth it, considering they'll never get another job again.

Re:New business plan (3, Insightful)

complete loony (663508) | about 10 years ago | (#9681949)

Once you're labelled as a whistleblower you may never work (for a large faceless corp.) again. So the reward may have to last you into retirement.

Money is a great 2x4 (4, Interesting)

kmahan (80459) | about 10 years ago | (#9681807)

The OpenVoting folks in the article complained about using the Whistle Blower/Money type lawsuit. But having read a lot of articles on Diebold and its "tactics" it seems like the only thing Diebold will listen to is an argument (court case) that affects its bottom line. That whole "follow the law and do it right" concept is lost on them. Maybe if Diebold has to cough up $100M or more they might consider doing it right. Either that or they'll pay off with vouchers for free voting machines!

Image that (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9681820)

And just yesterday, the 'news' show had a nice report about electronic voting........

Democracy... (5, Insightful)

Drasil (580067) | about 10 years ago | (#9681830)

... A system of government whereby the people get the rulers they deserve.

Seriously though, I'm generally an advocate of using IT to automate boring and repetitive tasks, but as far as elections are concerned I think it's a very bad idea. The outcome of the last US election was effected by the use of 'voting technology', and they (I'm not a US citizen, thank god) ended up having a president appointed by a panel of judges.

If elections are run in the more traditional way of putting an X in a box on a piece of paper and then having an army of people count the ballots then the whole process becomes transparent. Election fraud is made difficult by having many people involved in it's administration, the reverse is also true.

My tinfoil hat is beginning to itch, but if I wanted to rig an election using voting machines I'd like to leave myself an alibi. After all, one should never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence. Think about it.

Re:Democracy... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9681899)

Although it was the supreme court that finally decided the 2000 election debacle, they did not 'appoint' a president. The current sitting president won the electoral colleges needed, fair and square.

What is truly wrong is the electoral college system. Parliamentary systems are far better in my opinion, and far more effective at executing the public will (except in those rare circumstances like Canada in 1992, where the PC's got the majority vote but only 2 seats in the house).

Re:Democracy... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9681914)

You realize, of course, that the whole Florda election thing was PAPER BALLOTS.

Technology had nothing to do with it.

Re:Democracy... (1)

Drasil (580067) | about 10 years ago | (#9681997)

I guess that depends on whether you consider punching machines technology or not ;)

Re:Democracy... (3, Informative)

ROOK*CA (703602) | about 10 years ago | (#9682029)

ended up having a president appointed by a panel of judges
This is a bald-faced "Urban Myth" go back and review the facts of the 2000 election and you'll find the Supreme Court in reality ended up being a non-factor in the outcome of the election.

you make some good points, but as the 2000 Presidential Election demonstrated, some of my countrymen can't figured out
A.) how to make a X
B.) How many X's to put on each line of the Ballot.
In other words the simpler the user interface the more Americans will actually comply with balloting regulations and thus have their votes counted.

IMHO Digital voting systems are VERY feasible as well as a good idea. Just look at the global banking system - primarily digital with systems oversight of other distributed systems and capable of securely moving around trillions of dollars a day almost without incident. If we can do this, it seems to me to be a no-brainer to put together a reliable and secure E-Voting platform.

Re:Democracy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9682076)

> After all, one should never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained by incompetence.

Or think about how these are not mutually exclusive.

> Thank God for Microsoft, they make passable mice.

Hmmm. Passable == 3 months before being replaced (or completely taken apart and cleaned). Glad the parts in my car are more than passable......

This has to happen in many states to be effective (4, Interesting)

kcbrown (7426) | about 10 years ago | (#9681908)

The whole electronic voting setup in the U.S. is just begging to be exploited by the unscrupulous. All they have to do is "convince" the companies that make these machines to put code in them that will randomly change a vote here and a vote there, until the numbers favor whoever "paid" them off.

That's not hard for someone who is unscrupulous and is also already in power to do. Someone who is already in power can grant "favors" to the people in these companies that make decisions, whereas a challenger can only promise future favors. Considering how "business friendly" and "wealth friendly" the current administration has proven itself to be, a promise by said administration to grant favors would be taken very seriously. And since the government today basically answers only to the corporations (especially those that own the media), I think it's unlikely that such "payoffs" would get very much media attention. Furthermore, the administration is in control of a number of agencies that can "guarantee" that anyone at those companies who works on the software in question will not talk. If they try, they'll have an "accident".

Any system that can be exploited ultimately will be, and the more incentive there is to exploit the system the sooner it will happen. In the case of a voting system that is unauditable and easily manipulated, I think there is every reason to believe that it will be exploited in the upcoming election.

The only way to counter it is to make sure that the number of states using them is few enough that they cannot have a meaningful effect on the election.

But so far, only a few states have taken any action against electronic voting machines to my knowledge, and only California has banned their use outright (again, to my knowledge). That's not nearly enough to ensure that the upcoming election is truly fair.

That's why I think Bush will win the upcoming election no matter what the voters actually think -- the current administration is the most ruthless and underhanded I've heard of, and that kind of approach is all that's needed to exploit the obviously vulnerable electronic election system in the U.S.

Tinfoil hat stuff? You bet. But 20 years ago, anyone who suggested that software would be patentable in the future would have been dismissed as a conspiracy theory nutcase. But it happened. 30 years ago, anyone who suggested that the U.S. would pass a law like the USAPATRIOT act would have been laughed out of the room. But it passed anyway. Tinfoil hat stuff is hard to dismiss if it is internally consistent, agrees better with all the facts, and explains current events better than everything else. As is, I believe, the case here.

This is what we need... (5, Insightful)

jjh37997 (456473) | about 10 years ago | (#9681911)

Here's what we need...

A touch screen voting booth that lets voters select the canidates they want.

After the voter casts their vote the booth prints out a ballot that's machine readable yet understandable to the naked eye.

The voter checks to make sure that the canidates they selected are recorded on the ballot and then feeds it into a reader. It's this machine that actually records the voter's vote.

This way not only do we get the benifit of a machine count but a paper trail to boot.

Re:This is what we need... (2, Interesting)

ajm (9538) | about 10 years ago | (#9682041)

But what's the point of electronic voting anyway? Surely it shouldn't just be to speed up the voting process? I think, if we're going to do this, it should be to ensure that everyone's vote gets counted by reducing, as far as possible, the impediments, such as hanging chads or badly designed ballots, that prevent this. So, while I like the first part of your suggestion I don't see why we need the second at the polling place. Simply have the first machine fill in the appropriate checkbox on a paper ballot that is human and machine readable, let the voter check that the ballot is correct and then deposit in a ballot box as normal.

Why bother trying to speed up the counting process? People can just wait for the results, at least this way the East Coast results won't be out till the West Coast polling stations have closed.

Jim March's Comments (5, Interesting)

Maxwell'sSilverLART (596756) | about 10 years ago | (#9681955)

Jim March broke the news last night over on The High Road [thehighroad.org] ; I submitted the story last night, but was rejected. Anyhow, follow the link, and you can read Jim's commentary, and discuss the case with him (he's a senior member and very active participant over at THR). All sorts of little tidbits over there--the suit has been in the works since November, but a gag order was just lifted yesterday. Somebody else mentioned that the plaintiffs get a 30% bounty on the damages, or 20% if the state provides legal assistance (that should be 15%, not 20%, BTW). He also discusses the basis for the fraud suit, and the somewhat unique method (Qui Tam) they've chosen to fight Diebold; he likens it to the tax evasion case against Al Capone. Definitely a good, lively discussion over there; well worth a read.

freshmeat down? (-1, Offtopic)

ryanjulian (796380) | about 10 years ago | (#9681983)

I know this is off topic but is freshmeat.net down? When I try reach the site, I get a response of "Error connecting to MySQL Server". Can anyone confirm this for me?
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