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How To Lose An Election

timothy posted about 10 years ago | from the do-math-in-your-head dept.

United States 828

smooth wombat writes "CNN has posted a story to their site about electronic votes from Miami-Dade County's first widespread use of touchscreen voting machines that were lost due to a computer crash.: 'The malfunction was made public after the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition, a citizen's group, requested all data from the 2002 gubernatorial primary between Democratic candidates Janet Reno and Bill McBride.' Other groups are challenging a state rule preventing counties that use the machines from conducting manual recounts from them." Reader fatwater adds a link to the New York Times' coverage.

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828 comments

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I win! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9821535)

I know how to bypass the "Nothing to see here" barrier!

Re:I win! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9821591)

what barier ?I use Gnetoo ,too .Gnetoo r0xxxxxx0rzzz!!!!!

Woo! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9821538)

First post!

Read...How to loose an ERECTION!! EEEK (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9821543)

Read...How to loose an ERECTION!! EEEK

Ha! (3, Funny)

Malicious (567158) | about 10 years ago | (#9821550)

Raise your hand if you're surprised to see 'Computer Crash' and the Surname 'McBride' in the same headline.

Re:Ha! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9821611)

Hm, to me the headline is "How to loose an Election"... :-)

Pah-leeze. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9821636)

Jesus. Putting two random words that have no relationship to eachother together is "insightful"?????

FP YOU ALL SUCK DICK (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9821552)


In corporate USA (-1, Offtopic)

losttoy (558557) | about 10 years ago | (#9821553)

In McIntelsoft-Motors US of A, computer crashes choose the president!!

Re:In corporate USA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9821642)

Probably the best version of the most over used up-mod'ed /. 'gag' I've seen. The only thing which might improve it would be working Coca-Cola in there (the Mc prefix is a good start).

Anybody else read that as... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9821554)

..."How To Lose An Erection"???

Re:Anybody else read that as... (2, Funny)

Dutchmaan (442553) | about 10 years ago | (#9821570)

' ..."How To Lose An Erection"???'

Nope...just you.

Re:Anybody else read that as... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9821655)

Ahh, but that'd be an Ask Slashdot, not a YRO story :)

To err is human... (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9821558)

To really fuck something up, that takes a computer.

-- Anonymous

No recounts in districts with touchscreen voting? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9821560)

What Republican got that law passed?

Re:No recounts in districts with touchscreen votin (3, Insightful)

aborchers (471342) | about 10 years ago | (#9821641)

What Republican got that law passed?


That would be the Republican majority in the Florida state congress.

Re:No recounts in districts with touchscreen votin (5, Insightful)

sc2_ct (626188) | about 10 years ago | (#9821747)

Actually, the election board is controlled pretty overwhelmingly by democrats in the affected areas.

We need a big... (2, Interesting)

scaltagi_the_pirate (777620) | about 10 years ago | (#9821563)

I TOLD YOU SO

This is why there need to be reform (4, Insightful)

SiliconJesus (1407) | about 10 years ago | (#9821568)

Is it all that hard to add a 'print reciept' option to all of these voting machines? Honestly, if they had a ream of paper coming out of the back of the machine, and the option for Voters to print off a copy for their own records (and to verify their vote was recorded as they expected) a lot of the problems with the electronic voting machines would be alleviated. Votes could be recounted by going back over the paper trail, and there would be immediate response for vote tallies.

Re:This is why there need to be reform (1)

Monty845 (739787) | about 10 years ago | (#9821612)

What I don't understand is on what grounds someone could apppose a paper trail of verified printouts... Sure it may cost a few fractions of a cent per voter, but its a small price to pay for the knowledge that a free election has infact taken place...

Re:This is why there need to be reform (4, Insightful)

Steve B (42864) | about 10 years ago | (#9821621)

the option for voters to print off a copy for their own records

Absolutely, positively NOT. Permitting a voter to walk away from the polls with hard evidence of how he voted is an open invitation to corruption and coercion.

Re:This is why there need to be reform (0, Flamebait)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | about 10 years ago | (#9821745)

I call BULLSHIT!

The corruption and coercion come BEFORE the voter has made their vote.

Re:This is why there need to be reform (4, Insightful)

TopShelf (92521) | about 10 years ago | (#9821786)

The problem is that someone could be coerced to vote a certain way, and would be required to show proof. Currently, that is impossible.

"Show me your receipt showing a vote for XXX or else..."

Re:This is why there need to be reform (1)

kmmatthews (779425) | about 10 years ago | (#9821635)

That's not what the people pushing these machines are wanting.

Think about it - is there any logical or technical reason to NOT add an audit trail? No.

The reasons are entirely political.

Re:This is why there need to be reform (1)

cuzality (696718) | about 10 years ago | (#9821659)

I can see it now:

Confused voter: "Excuse me, those election results can't be right -- I voted for Candidate X."
Election Official: "Oh, OK, may I have your receipt?"
Confised voter: "I don't know where that little piece of paper is!"

Re:This is why there need to be reform (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 10 years ago | (#9821668)

Yep, that's the solution. It is mind-bogglingly simple and obvious to anyone who has any interest in fair elections. It follows, therefore, that the voting machine companies, which usually answer such demands with bullshit excuses like "the printer would jam" (that gem comes from Diebold, which also makes ATM's which surely print out many more receipts than any voting machine would be likely to, and do so day after day) do not have such an interest.

One quibble: the voters should not keep their receipts. Voter-held receipts are useless in the event of a recount -- how do you know that the receipt the voter brings in is actually the one he got on Election Day? -- and are actively dangerous, in that they provide a means for influencing elections through threat or bribery. ("Vote for candidate X or I'll break your kneecaps" / "Vote for candidate Y and I'll give you a raise"). The best sequence of events is to get the receipt, look it over to verify that it says what you want it to say -- and there's no reason receipts couldn't be printed in Braille for blind voters; some ATM receipts already are -- and deposit it in a ballot box.

For those who say, "But ballot boxes can be stuffed or stolen!" -- yes, this is true, and no election method yet devised is foolproof. But this would be a hell of a lot better than what we've got now.

Re:This is why there need to be reform (1)

JohnHegarty (453016) | about 10 years ago | (#9821804)

Two points....

1. People should not have anyway to remove the receipt from the machine. This is becuase someone outside with a baseball bat could say vote for the nazi party or i will take care of your legs. Oh and bring me a receipt.

2. If there is anyway to remove the ballet then we could have two figures at the end of the election , and I don't think america needs that again.

A viewing window to see the receipet before it drops into a sealed box would do the trick. Then a manual recount would give the same result as long as there has been no error.

Re:This is why there need to be reform (3, Insightful)

0x0d0a (568518) | about 10 years ago | (#9821683)

Honestly, if they had a ream of paper coming out of the back of the machine, and the option for Voters to print off a copy for their own records (and to verify their vote was recorded as they expected) a lot of the problems with the electronic voting machines would be alleviated.

Absolutely.

Now how, exactly, do you propose to provide a mechanism in which it is guaranteed to the voter that their recorded vote is the same as that which is on their receipt, without throwing away any of the anonymity characteristics that are also crucial to voting?

Re:This is why there need to be reform (3, Insightful)

sphealey (2855) | about 10 years ago | (#9821778)

Now how, exactly, do you propose to provide a mechanism in which it is guaranteed to the voter that their recorded vote is the same as that which is on their receipt, without throwing away any of the anonymity characteristics that are also crucial to voting?
Voter reviews receipt and verifies correct. Voter places receipt in traditional ballot box. Random sample of ballot boxes counted and matched against electronic machine.

Admittedly this is a facile answer to a complex problem, but people like Peter Neumann have thought deeply about the problem for more than 30 years and have developed some solutions - none of which Diebold uses.

sPh

Re:This is why there need to be reform (1)

tuffy (10202) | about 10 years ago | (#9821694)

Is it all that hard to add a 'print reciept' option to all of these voting machines?

A receipt that tells who you've voted for would be quite valuable to anyone who'd like to buy your vote - or threaten you to vote for a particular candidate. Ensuring that all those receipts stay with the election officials is preferable, but then there's no point in using computers in the vote casting process to begin with.

And I don't think that's such a bad idea.

Re:This is why there need to be reform (1)

hackstraw (262471) | about 10 years ago | (#9821699)

The trick is to have a receipt and maintain anonymity.

I never thought that in 2004 that it would be that difficult to count things. I'm not sure if everyone has seen this or not, but I just love this voting machine! [carolontheweb.com] .

Although its funny, its actually not a bad design. Especially for the elderly and visually impaired.

Re:This is why there need to be reform (2, Interesting)

zentechno (800941) | about 10 years ago | (#9821718)

A few comments, in order of increasing concern... Why do they need to back these up daily now - I mean, how often do the votes change. They didn't mention OS, so I wont either, though we've seen stories on these before. Most importantly, how long is it before the 'current' administration (a current administration) declairs voting in-public too risky (e.g. terrorist bait), and declair we all have to vote on-line? Never mind browser/OS requirements (yes, there are those that go to the point of requiring OS). What would a recount look like then, presuming it could even be determined that one was needed?

Re:This is why there need to be reform (1, Insightful)

will_die (586523) | about 10 years ago | (#9821750)

And you would actually believe thoses piece of paper(provided that you could find them) that have no form of accountability.
Also they would be worthless for validating what was actually entered in the database, since if you are worried about people modifing what the people actually voted they would just print out what the person entered while enter into the database the modified results.
If you want to use it for validation, the last time I used electronic systems it had a validation screen for my votes. That worked just as well for validation purposes.

Re:This is why there need to be reform (1)

Sepper (524857) | about 10 years ago | (#9821780)

Is it all that hard to add a 'print reciept' option to all of these voting machines?

Because that would be the logical thing to do... and you don't want tracable logical things when power and money is involved.

When there's not even a standard paper ballot [elections.ca] for the whole 'voting' thing i'm not supprised paper trails and receipt are NOT priorities...

Election Observers (4, Insightful)

Lucky_Norseman (682487) | about 10 years ago | (#9821569)

Maybe UN observers wouldn't be such a bad thing?

Re:Election Observers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9821599)

My god, I agree with you. I am really nervous about this next presedential election. How can we get the UN involved? Start a petition? yeah right..

uggg... I think I'm gonna move to a third world country where you can at least count on the corruption being visible...

Re:Election Observers (2)

sinnfeiner1916 (793749) | about 10 years ago | (#9821769)

undermining soverignty is unpatriotic. pink commie.

What about a crash during an election? (3, Insightful)

rstewart (31100) | about 10 years ago | (#9821572)

The question that no one in this article has asked is what do you do if the voting machine has a hard drive crash during an election so you literally lose all of the votes cast on the machine before it can even report what votes were cast that day.

Multiply the number of machines in use across the country and eventually this will happen.

Do you ask all the voters who used that machine to come back and vote again ? Probably not.

Re:What about a crash during an election? (1)

Dutchmaan (442553) | about 10 years ago | (#9821609)

This is where redundancy comes into play. The more redundant the system the less likely such a scenario is to take place. On the other hand it also increases cost and complexity of the system.

However IMHO redundancy whether it be mirrored hard drives or paper records is a plus in my book when it comes to elections. After all elections are kind of important to our system of government and is one area where skimping probably isn't a good idea...

Re:What about a crash during an election? (1)

MindStalker (22827) | about 10 years ago | (#9821625)

I'm pretty sure I read it records of flash ram, but thats really no more reliable.

Re:What about a crash during an election? (4, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | about 10 years ago | (#9821788)

Millions -- tens or hundreds of millions? billions? -- of financial transactions are conducted electronically every day. These transactions are stored on RAID and other redundant error-correcting systems that are as near to foolproof as any data storage system ever devised by hand of man, and yes, that includes handwritten paper records. Very, very few of these transactions fail, and when they do, there are some pretty serious laws about what has to be done to correct them. Most of these transactions are conducted by businesses that have far fewer resources to throw at the problem than does the US government, or even any state government.

It is entirely possible to produce a reliable e-voting system ... just not if that system is produced by the current crop of voting machine companies. I'm a big fan of "never attribute to malice what can properly be attributed to incompetence," but in this case, malice -- i.e., a desire to produce insecure, unreliable machines that can easily be rigged to produce the "right" electoral outcome -- really is the simplest explanation.

My suggestion (-1, Flamebait)

Billobob (532161) | about 10 years ago | (#9821575)

Nuke Florida. [xmission.com]

The county is 90% DemocRAT (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9821701)

It is thier own fault the ballot was confusing to a buch of bussed in dumbshits.
If you are too stupid to vote, don't vote, or breed, or drive a moving vehicle.
Flame me /. liberals, this is an on topic post.

Re:The county is 90% DemocRAT (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9821781)

Idiot. What sort of elitist world do you live in where only smart people are deserving of a vote? If dumb people are part of a democratic society, they have the right to a vote that is counted.

Time to call for international monitors? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9821580)

For decades the USA has called for international monitors to elections in most 3rd world countries. It is sad to see that the USA's election system seems to be one of the most 3rd-worldish out there, with rampant corruption. Time for the UN to call for international monitors!

Yup, yup... (0, Flamebait)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | about 10 years ago | (#9821582)

This upcoming election is going to be a mess. Of course GWB will steal it, and after much to-do, he will be re-anointed. Just the way they used to do it is South America. Soon, he will even start wearing a military uniform.

Re:Yup, yup... (2)

amliebsch (724858) | about 10 years ago | (#9821610)

So...the only legitimate election is one that Kerry wins?

Re:Yup, yup... (1)

daniil (775990) | about 10 years ago | (#9821737)

No. It's the one that Al Gore wins.

Re:Yup, yup... (1)

FunWithHeadlines (644929) | about 10 years ago | (#9821626)

"Soon, he will even start wearing a military uniform."

I guess you missed his "Mission Accomplished" moment. He's already been known to play military dress up.

Re:Yup, yup... (1)

Merk (25521) | about 10 years ago | (#9821628)

His own military uniform? What, like a flight suit or something?

Re:Yup, yup... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9821633)

God after reading that I have to move my head back to the middle it was so far to the left after reading that...

Re:Yup, yup... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9821667)

much more comfortable up your ass, then?

Re:Yup, yup... (1)

JosKarith (757063) | about 10 years ago | (#9821665)

"Soon, he will even start wearing a military uniform."
Well I guess there has to be a first time for everything.

Re:Yup, yup... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9821674)

so if bush wins, its fraud.
if kerry wins its on the level.

nice,

you know the american public is not going to elect kerry right?

Re:Yup, yup... (2, Insightful)

Monkelectric (546685) | about 10 years ago | (#9821681)

This is my greatest fear. Diebold promised to "deliver electoral votes" to bush.

The only reason I can think of for these voting systems to be *SO* insecure is so they can be tampered with, then if the deception is discovered they will say "oops, can't tell you who did it or how it happened... we don't keep records ;-)"

Re:Yup, yup... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9821719)

you dont actually beleive that do you?

i mean come on, the conspiracy theories are gettng a little old.

especially when people pass them off as fact

Re:Yup, yup... (1)

October_30th (531777) | about 10 years ago | (#9821700)

James Ellroy in the preface of American Tabloid: "The real Trinity of [JFK's] Camelot was: Look Good, Kick Ass, Get Laid."

Look good, kick ass and get laid. That pretty much sums up what a great president is made of.

Re:Yup, yup... (1)

antic (29198) | about 10 years ago | (#9821736)


He's already appeared in a military uniform:
http://www.dailyprobe.com/arcs/050603/bu sh.jpg

And here's him in that same uniform, but alongside some teletubbies!
http://www.davidstuff.com/usa/lincol n/bush-attenti on.jpg

Funny.

Re:Yup, yup... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9821756)

Why is it no one seems to care when the Democrats rig elections and win?

In FL last time they screwed up, that's all. The election was run by Democrats and for decades prior to the last presidential election they had managed to rig things to go their way. It just got out of hand last time.

In Maryland the Democrats are a bit more subtle. They once shut down a conservative 'get out the vote' campaign on the eve of an election by having the state police confiscate all their computers with the phone number database.

Re:Yup, yup... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9821798)

One Word: chicago

Cat got your tongue Florida? (4, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | about 10 years ago | (#9821585)

``Our concern is voter confidence,'' Howard Simon, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, told the court. ``There is no way to know if a vote isn't counted by one of these machines.''

Joining the ACLU in Judge Susan B. Kirkland's courtroom were several other organizations that cited evidence in recent elections in Florida and Virginia that recorded abnormal numbers of blank votes or computer glitches that resulted in incorrect vote tallies.

Under questioning by the groups' attorneys, Division of Elections official Paul Craft said, ``All machines experience problems,'' but he did not know of any problem that had resulted in an inaccurate vote tally in Florida.

George Waas, of the state attorney general's office, told Kirkland that the advocates were suffering from ``the sky- is-falling syndrome.''


Sorry, but due to issues that happened in the 2000 Presidential Election in Florida I would certainly be "suffering" from the "sky-is-falling syndrome" too.

Why the fuck can they not manually recount votes? I honestly believe that when we elect someone to office we should be 100% certain that they were elected fair and square. None of this pre-election bullshit of skimming out legal voters through third parties, none of this "tough, the machines are right" shit, and certainly allow a recount.

Cheating is going to run rampant if there is no manual backup mechanism available. Why the hell was this written into law?

The sky-is-falling isn't exactly the way to describe this. The sky-has-fallen might be better.

Re:Cat got your tongue Florida? (1)

KMAPSRULE (639889) | about 10 years ago | (#9821631)

Why the hell was this written into law?

So Cheating Can run rampant

verification (4, Insightful)

spoonyfork (23307) | about 10 years ago | (#9821594)

if you are a US citizen of voting age...

Who did you vote for in the last election that you participated in? Can you prove it? Can they prove it? Why can't I verify if my vote was even counted let alone who they recorded it for? Why is there no verification or personal audit trail available for elections?

Re:verification (1)

amliebsch (724858) | about 10 years ago | (#9821647)

The reason is historical. The idea has been that a personally identifiable voting record is so prone to abuse, both by the gov't and third parties, that it's better to not have any at all.

Re:verification (3, Informative)

garcia (6573) | about 10 years ago | (#9821672)

Why is there no verification or personal audit trail available for elections?

So that you cannot be held personally responsible by a repressive regime when they find out who you voted for.

Verification? What about anonymous voting?? (4, Insightful)

goldspider (445116) | about 10 years ago | (#9821697)

You forget that an election is supposed to be 100% anonymous. While ideally we would have voting systems that were reliable, a paper trail identifying who voted for what candidate would fundamentally damage the concept of anonymous voting.

I'd rather take the chance that my vote may not be counted due to machine/process flaws than potentially letting politicians, corporations, and political activist groups knowing who I voted for.

Re:Verification? What about anonymous voting?? (2, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | about 10 years ago | (#9821764)

And that is exactly why I don't promote video cameras watching our every move, voter receipts, paper trails, or computer-based voting machines.

The machines we have been using have worked rather well for the many many many years they have been in use. Why should we open ourselves to malicious code, malicious coders under the guidance of malicious politicians, and general problems?

How do we know no one is watching when we pull that lever or touch that screen?

Re:verification (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9821698)

yap yap, yipp-ity yap, blaw, blaw, blaw. Can you prove you actually get laid by a woman? What's that sticky stuff all over your hand?

Re:verification (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9821732)

The flip side of this:

Do you really want a public record stating who you voted for? If the record exists, I guarantee you won't be the only one able to access it.

Being able to 'prove' who you voted for will only result in more bad voting. Examples:

Your boss: "Prove you voted for candidate X or you might find yourself up for review"

Your union boss: "Prove you voted for candidate X or you might find yourself involved in a tragic accident in the workplace"

Random Shady Character: "Prove you voted for candidate X and I'll give you $20"

Random Shadier Character: "I'm coming back here in late November and if you didn't vote for Candidate X, I'm going to break your legs and set your house on fire."

The last one is a stretch, but the first few aren't.

Re:verification (1)

Gannoc (210256) | about 10 years ago | (#9821743)

Can you prove it? Can they prove it?

"Mr. Smithers will give $5 to anyone who turns in their voting receipt saying they voted for X, please spread this among the poor population!"

"We expect all union members to go out and vote for Y, anyone who doesn't turn in their voting receipt is in trouble."

"Hi, i'm your boss. If you want time off to vote, I need to know that you actually voted, so I need to see the receipt. What? You voted Republican? Now I will treat you differently!"

Re:verification (1)

Al Dimond (792444) | about 10 years ago | (#9821748)

It's important, to avoid coersion, to ensure that a person can vote his or her conscience in private. So having a personal vote check would be bad. Having a hard-copy record of how you just voted would be nice.

What would be even nicer is if you could see it being printed after making the vote, but couldn't take it out of the booth... like have a printer spooling off in a direction so that it's easy to read for the voter, but behind glass, and also so that it folds up neatly into stacks when it's done. Seems like it wouldn't be all *that* hard to make, and it would be worth it to ensure the fairness of the election.

Re:verification (1)

laigle (614390) | about 10 years ago | (#9821784)

This is an unfortunate downside to anonymous voting. The upside is that it's the only thing standing in the way of complete corruption of the process, because name-recorded voting would eventually lead to employers forcing their workers to vote their ballot, armed thugs harassing or blackmailing political opponents, and all the joys one normally associates with elections in the Third World.

A permanent, unalterable record solves the problem without needing to be tied to the individual. You check the name off on a piece of paper, you drop it into a secured box (or better yet a glass container that can only be opened by breaking it). At the end of the session the ballots are taken out and counted, with mutliple observers of opposing political factions. You set in place a challenge system beforehand so if there's an issue you're not ad-libbing. At the end of the count, the ballots are placed into another sealed container for storage at a secured site in the event of a future recount.

No shiny, expensive electronics needed.

BSOD (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9821600)

Blue screen of disenfranchisement.

Best quote (2, Insightful)

devorama (625557) | about 10 years ago | (#9821606)

My favorite quote from the article:

In December, officials began backing up the data daily, to help avoid similar data wipeouts in the future, said Seth Kaplan, spokesman for the county's elections supervisor, Constance Kaplan.

Hey, here's a novel IT solution: BACKUP YOUR DATA! Ever hear of fault tolerant disk subsystems? Sheesh!

Re:Best quote (2, Interesting)

neilb78 (557698) | about 10 years ago | (#9821731)

Yep, that caught my eye too. Obviously they do not have proper policies and procedures in place for data backup and retension. I wonder if the new State Technology Office is in charge of those systems, or if the elections dept. gets to do their own thing? I used to work at FDLE (FL Dept of Law Enforcement) HQ in Tallahassee; it was a mess too, and I'm not at all surprised that a Florida State agency lost some data.

why electronic? (3, Insightful)

night_flyer (453866) | about 10 years ago | (#9821614)

what is wrong with a good old paper ballot and a pen to mark your choice(s)?

Re:why electronic? (1)

solive1 (799249) | about 10 years ago | (#9821664)

Hahaha... people are too lazy to sit there and count votes. Also, you have to get unbiased people (not likely in an election, especially for President) and people who aren't going to "skew" the count.

Re:why electronic? (1)

ZX-3 (745525) | about 10 years ago | (#9821757)

One of the major arguments in favor of electronic voting is that it can allow many more disabled people to vote on their own.

Re:why electronic? (1)

will_die (586523) | about 10 years ago | (#9821791)

The biggest problem with pen ballots is that it takes a long time to count. You could go with something like having a machine read the results but then you are running into the same problems they had with the chad based ballots.

Thanks a lot, Florida (1)

cuzality (696718) | about 10 years ago | (#9821619)

From the same state that gave us the mental wizards confused by the butterfly ballots [ton.tut.fi] .

Re:Thanks a lot, Florida (1)

Sovern (631825) | about 10 years ago | (#9821751)

It is pretty sad that an election can swing on 19,000
people who where to dim to punch out hole 21 to vote for Gore.

or waz dat bukana iz spoz tu vote fo.

No big surprise (5, Insightful)

b-baggins (610215) | about 10 years ago | (#9821622)

This is always what happens when you let hysteria and demagoguery drive your decisions.

Punch card balloting is an extremely accurate and economical way to tally votes.

Instead of being men and telling voters to read the damn ballot and punch the card completely next time, we get all boo-hooey over a few idiots who don't do either, and let ourselves get whipped up into making stupid decisions by political opportunists exploiting said idiots.

Other ways to lose an election... (0)

solive1 (799249) | about 10 years ago | (#9821638)

1. Be a known member of the KKK.
2. Promise to raise taxes.
3. ??? 4. Lose election.

One sure-fire way to get re-elected:

Commit adultery in the White House and claim that oral sex isn't adultery. Then ask the people at the hearing to define the word "is".

Re:Other ways to lose an election... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9821721)

Oh, come on. It took this long to get a 'blame the clenus' post? Have you knees finally wore out from all the jerking they've already done?

Backups please. (1)

GerbilSoft (761537) | about 10 years ago | (#9821640)

The crashes occurred in May and November of 2003, erasing information from the September 2002 gubernatorial primaries and other elections, elections officials said Tuesday.

Why the hell didn't they back up the votes after they were taken? That's like the primary rule in ANY business with electronic data storage: back up often.

Another example (2, Interesting)

orthogonal (588627) | about 10 years ago | (#9821643)

Also see this article [lacitybeat.com] , the subject of a Metafilter [metafilter.com] discussion [metafilter.com] today:

At around 8:50, Soubirous's campaign manager, Brian Floyd, received a call from an election observer in Temecula informing him that the vote count had been stopped - apparently by Registrar Mischelle Townsend herself. The reason was not made clear. So Floyd and another Soubirous campaigner named Art Cassel jumped into a car and drove to Townsend's office to investigate. Sure enough, the counting area appeared to be near-deserted. But then they noticed two men huddled at one of the vote tabulation computers.

How hard is it? (2, Insightful)

DigitalGodBoy (142596) | about 10 years ago | (#9821644)

I'm sure designing a voting machine is fraught with rules and regulations I'm not aware, but just how hard is designing a system to keep track of a limited number of choices made avaliable to a user?

One would think with some thought and a little good design practice that a small group could produce a stable system with a paper trail and reproducable results.

Seriously, this is something second year software design / engineering students could tackle. But yet we still here about an extra million votes here, or a crashed machine losting all the votes there...

realtime paper backup? (1)

The_Real_Nire (786847) | about 10 years ago | (#9821651)

an earlier reply suggested having a paper spool coming out of the back of the machine.

I had a similar idea.

What if for every individual voting, after they complete their session, their choices were sent to a local print server, that just printed out a bunch of scantron cards, with the voter id, and the list of their choices.

It would make it much easier to re-digitize the votes later, should the system crash.

I still dont think evoting is a great idea just yet though, too many X factors to be reliable.

But on the otherhand, they seem to have enough problems with out evoting (especially in FL), so who knows.

Sad that we accept this (1)

FerretFrottage (714136) | about 10 years ago | (#9821656)

People in today's society are so use to computers crashing that most of them accept this type of stuff as part of the standard operating procedure of computers. In what other industry would this be tolerated and allowed to continue to go on? Sure when toilets "crash" you use a plunger, but you are throwing away cap to begin with. I hate to say this, but there needs to be better government regualation of this type of use of computers. Perhaps much as the same way the government regulates telco downtime (telcos are only allowed a certain amoing of downtime a year or they get fined up the a$$ IIRC). If a voting system doesn't have 5/6 sigma reliability that why bother using it at all? "We're a democracy and have free elections as long as the computer is running, but if it crashes, we'll just hope it doesn't happen in the next election."

Gee...from hanging chads to hanging prompts...nice improvement.

Why Allow Recounts for "Voter Intent" (5, Insightful)

VeriTea (795384) | about 10 years ago | (#9821660)

According to the article, recounts are only allowed under state law to determine "voter intent". I am completely against the 'no paper trail' voting machine monster that is pushed so heavily, but I agree with the judge when he says that determining "voter intent" is impossible. As a voter, I would be very upset if the election officials started looking through my votes and decided that I voted Republican for 4 offices and Democrate for 1, therefore my true intent was to vote Republican for all 5 offices, or more likely, my true intent was to vote Democrate for all 5 and my first 4 were mistakes :)

"Disaster waiting to happen"? (1)

sczimme (603413) | about 10 years ago | (#9821661)


From the article:

In December, officials began backing up the data daily, to help avoid similar data wipeouts in the future, said Seth Kaplan, spokesman for the county's elections supervisor, Constance Kaplan.

Some more details would be nice, as would some assurance that the people in charge (or at least some individuals involved in the process) are considering redundancy, e.g. RAID, in addition to the daily backup.

The loss of data underscores problems with the touchscreen voting machines, the citizen's group said. "This is a disaster waiting to happen," said Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, chairwoman of the Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition. "Of course it's worrisome."

"Waiting to happen"? It seems the waiting was over quite a while ago. Waiting for the disaster to happen again - without making changes to strengthen the disaster recovery posture of the voting environment - is irresponsible.

Maybe they should (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9821662)

Outsource the voting machines to india. They seemed to have pulled it off without a hitch. [slashdot.org]

Whoops, the Cat's Eaten It! (4, Insightful)

MooseByte (751829) | about 10 years ago | (#9821687)


Does anyone else feel that the November 2004 elections are shaping up to be some twisted Monty Python skit?

And no I'm NOT aiming for +2 Funny. :-/

Seriously, we've got just over three months to go and the system is not only unimproved since the November 2000 disaster, it's actually worse. Now someone can just change the results in critical swing districts without a trace.

Add that with the Florida "Felons Who Can't Vote" rolls that were only released after a court fight, and then immediately abandoned by Florida election officials when it was revealed to be terribly flawed. But only after a court order to make them public, of course.

Maybe we can call in the U.N. to observe the elections for us. This is out of control. Cradle of Democracy my ass. We're heading to be the laughing stock of Democracy. And we're the punchline.

Correction (3, Informative)

travdaddy (527149) | about 10 years ago | (#9821693)

Other groups are challenging a state rule preventing counties that use the machines from conducting manual recounts from them.

The rule exempts not prevents the machines from conducting manual recounts (from paper receipts). Slight difference.

Voter confidence is the key or lack thereof (5, Insightful)

FunWithHeadlines (644929) | about 10 years ago | (#9821695)

Voting officials or voting machine manufacturers who respond to these allegations ususally say those who argue for a voting trail are introducing voter confusion, or underminding confidence in the voting process, or some other Orwellian doubletalk. In fact, what underminds voter confidence is the knowledge that there will be no way to recount votes and verify what happened.

We are talking about electing people to positions of power. If you remove the voting trail, you remove accountability. Power without accountability...saaaay, that's the way to instill voter confidence, huh?

Troubling times ahead (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9821714)

With only months to the next presidential elections in what is supposed to be the world's largest and best functioning democracy, I look at it (from the outside) and am very frightened.

How can you Americans stand idly by with ridiculous laws as the one mentioned that, instead of giving the right to perform a manual recount, actually takes away that right?
How can you have trust in a system that does not dare to have the voters verify that their votes are counted correctly?
How can you have "voting machines" that leave even the slightest doubt about what the voter wants to vote?

Word needed. Fectassertion? Infalliclaimism? (2, Insightful)

dpbsmith (263124) | about 10 years ago | (#9821772)

A word is needed for the, um, logical fallacy? Dishonest rhetorical technique? Honest self-deception? in which administrators, and proponents of policies, use language that automatically asserts the infallibility of the device, technique, or procedure being proposed.

"This couldn't have happened because we have procedures in place that prevent it..."

For example: no recounts are allowed because no recounts are needed because our voting machines are perfect.

This rhetorical technique is used all the time (and on both side of the aisle). For example: who could complain about making sure that felons don't vote (in those states where felons are not allowed to vote?) On the other hand, who wouldn't complain about disenfranchising people whose first four letters of their first name, their surname, and their race happens to be the same as that of a felon?

OBEY (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 years ago | (#9821775)

You know you want to

If no paper trail for voting, no paper trail. . . (3, Insightful)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 10 years ago | (#9821779)

for purchases.

As the submitter for this story (thanks Timothy) I always chuckle when I hear the excuses from Diebold et al for not putting in a paper trail for electronic voting machines. The usual excuse is that computers don't make mistakes.

If that is the opinion of those producing these machines and their backers then they wouldn't mind not getting a receipt when they go grocery or car shopping. In both instances computers are used to calculate the total bill including tax (if any).

By their logic since computers are used to perform this calculation, and, according to them, computers don't make mistakes, then there is no need for a receipt to show how much each item costs. Instead, they're just told how much they owe.

I'm sure grocers and others would love this. A few cents here, a few cents there. By the time the bill is rung up you could end up paying several dollars more than you should.

For all the protestations we make about other countries not having open and fair elections, there are certain parts of this country which aren't too far behind.

This is what we need.... (4, Insightful)

jjh37997 (456473) | about 10 years ago | (#9821785)

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.

With this sysetm even if all the computer records are erased the paper ballots can either be re-scanned or counted by hand.
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