Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

E-Voting Glitch Alters Election Outcome

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the you-never-know dept.

Politics 139

An anonymous reader writes "According to a local news source, 'A recently found computer glitch in the voting machines in Franklin County, Indiana has given a Democrat enough votes to bump a Republican from victory in a County Commissioner's race.' Any ideas on how we can check for similar problems in other close elections?"

cancel ×

139 comments

More info? (1)

empaler (130732) | more than 9 years ago | (#10833635)

It's nice to see that they're able to recount there, but it would be nice with an article about it that was longer than the /. summary.

Re:More info? (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 9 years ago | (#10835227)

Interesting, the picture shows a DIEBOLD machine. All of the counties should be checked, and the machines should be confiscated immediately.

How to correct glitches (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10833645)

hack diebold:

while (republican == winner) do
demvotes := demvotes + 1
repeat until (lawsuits stop OR
democrat(VictoryStatus) == true

Apply routine to all voting machines to achieve desired results.

Re:How to correct glitches (2, Insightful)

Jason Ford (635431) | more than 9 years ago | (#10833733)

My desired result is that the voting machines accurately record and tally the votes as the voters intended. Your code doesn't do that.

I'd like to see their code to make sure that it does just that.

Re:How to correct glitches (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10833851)

Why don't you at least choose a single language to write your pseudo code in. After choosing one, write code that some entry-level VB programmer wouldn't laugh at.

Re:How to correct glitches (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#10834019)

Why? It's pseudocode, and anybody with a software engineering degree knows enough C, Pascal, and Basic to read it just fine. It doesn't need to compile.

Re:How to correct glitches (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10834766)

at least close your parentheses! that just hurts.

Re:How to correct glitches (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#10835268)

It's a code snippet, it doesn't need to compile, and human beings don't need to match parentheses to understand it. Are you sure somebody didn't come by, scoop out your brain, and replace it with a LISP machine?

Re:How to correct glitches (1)

aelbric (145391) | more than 9 years ago | (#10834770)

Hell. I don't have a software engineering degree, I need references to write batch files, and bash totally confounds me sometimes. All that having been said even I can understand the damn thing.

Re:How to correct glitches (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | more than 9 years ago | (#10836505)

It's pseudocode, and anybody with a software engineering degree knows enough C, Pascal, and Basic to read it just fine.

Even college dropouts who make their living coding (like me) can read it.

LK

It isn't red vs. blue (4, Insightful)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 9 years ago | (#10834859)


It isn't about red team vs. blue team, or sore losers, "desired results" or any of the other nonsense that is being thrown about to cloud the issue. I happen to be a republican, but I'm adamant about wanting this looked into. Why? Because honest matters more to me than "winning."

The way I was raised, if you cheated you didn't win, no matter what the score board says.

I have yet to hear a rational reason why anyone should oppose doing whatever it takes to make sure elections are fair, unless they are either cheaters or suspect that their side cheated and value victory more than integrity. What bothers me is that there are so many people in both parties that seem to fall into the later category.

-- MarkusQ

AMEN! (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 9 years ago | (#10835043)

It's essential that the process be trustworthy.

Not having a trustworthy election is how revolutions get started.

Re:AMEN! (1)

Drakon (414580) | more than 9 years ago | (#10835914)

ergo, it is essential that the process be untrustworthy

Re:It isn't red vs. blue (1, Troll)

jmccay (70985) | more than 9 years ago | (#10836657)

I find it funny that they only talk about Democrat shorts by electronic voting. No mention of Republican. No mention that there is possiblities that in the inner cities some democrats voted more than once. We need a stronger system to insure each U.S. Citizens gets one, and only one vote. Although, any attempt to do so will be met with accusations of racism voter suppresion, etc. The fact is that we don't know how many of those votes are really legal votes.

Re:It isn't red vs. blue (0)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 9 years ago | (#10837729)


I find it funny that they only talk about Democrat shorts by electronic voting. No mention of Republican.

Not so, unless if by "they" you mean the popular media. There seems to be a strong effort to characterize this as "whining Democrats" which I (as a Republican who values integrity over party politics) find disgusting. Most of the people actively involved in this are concerned not about who won any given election, but about how can we insure that the process is honest. I don't care what party somebody is with, if they cheated I want them nailed.

There's no reason any honest American shouldn't demand that these issues be resolved, and refuse to take "shut up at watch TV" for an answer. Painting this as a partisan issue just makes me more convinced that some people (in politics, and the media) don't want the exit polls/voting machines/vote counting machines looked at too closely.

-- MarkusQ

Re:How to correct glitches (1)

Xel'Naga (673728) | more than 9 years ago | (#10835349)

democrat(VictoryStatus) == true
Actually, you could just write democrat(VictoryStatus), that would produce the same result.

Its been said before... (2, Insightful)

Froze (398171) | more than 9 years ago | (#10833705)

Paper trail!

Re:Its been said before... (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 9 years ago | (#10834807)

yea because at least paper trails are not curreuptable and 100% accurate at all times.

It is strange to me that Slashdot of all places prefers a dead tree format to a technical one. Both are going to be able to be fixed. Both sides of the big government federlist party will sway it pretty much evenly so we still have a mostly fair election.

paper trail vs. computer (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 9 years ago | (#10835126)

I don't care if the voter-verified audit trail is paper or microfilm that the voter reads through a microscope, as long as there's no way to hack the voter-verification process and no way to hack the voter-verified ballot afterwards.

For better or for worse, this means either the original ballot or the voter-verified audit trail MUST be stored in a human-readable form. For all practical purposes, this means in print. In theory, it could be in a computer-readable form that the person "plays back" on an independent-of-the-recording-machine playback device before signing off on it, but that opens up a whole new batch of "do you trust the machine" issues.

Re:Its been said before... (2, Insightful)

Froze (398171) | more than 9 years ago | (#10836955)

Let me rephrase then.

What we need is some form of write only media that can be cached for later verification. Paper is just the most redily available form that I know of, not to mention that it is already widely accepted.

Re:Its been said before... (2, Funny)

schmink182 (540768) | more than 9 years ago | (#10837669)

What we need is some form of write only media...

That's all well and good, but what if we actually want to read the election results?

Sounds like a programming error. (1)

artifex2004 (766107) | more than 9 years ago | (#10833718)

The voting software itself may be fine, but the instructions given it by the person in charge may be wrong. Don't forget to investigate the person, not just the machines.

Not just a glitch, it's failure (4, Insightful)

kherr (602366) | more than 9 years ago | (#10833726)

I don't think these electronic voting machine problems should be characterized as trivial "glitches". They are complete failures of the software, since the whole purpose of these machines is to accurately count votes. Would losing a few hundred database records at your company be considered a glitch?

By referring to these problems as glitches, the media are downplaying the severity of the problem. Regardless of the candidates, if voting can not be reliable and verifiable people lose trust in the process and the outcomes will always be questioned. We either want democracy in the United States or we do not. But using technology that fails in its basic function should not be acceptable.

Re:Not just a glitch, it's failure (1)

RealityMogul (663835) | more than 9 years ago | (#10833969)

Please define the basic function of an OS. Then point out an OS that is capable of performing that function without suffering from "glitches".

I'm actually on your side, but software fails. I know it sounds simple enough to count votes, but you need a communication layer, customizable forms, user input, authentication, storage system, graphic interface, etc. It's much more than iterating through a collection and incrementing totals.

Re:Not just a glitch, it's failure (2, Insightful)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 9 years ago | (#10834220)

Well it would be interesting to find out what the glitch was. If it was a communiction to the mainframe glitch where the votes wern't lost, just not sent, I could see that as reasonable, maybe. But if a machine "glitched" in its couting of the votes, which should have gotten serious rigor, thats unacceptable really.

Re:Not just a glitch, it's failure (1)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 9 years ago | (#10834408)

Yeah, but to find that out you'd have to *gasp* RTFA.

"The glitch in the machines recorded straight Democratic Party votes for Libertarians."

Come on people, it's not even a long one!

Re:Not just a glitch, it's failure (1)

Robert The Coward (21406) | more than 9 years ago | (#10834411)

What if it was a simple database issue. The mainframe database said if field 5 was a 5 then Libertarians but the version on the machine said Democratic. There are several simply but stupid ways to for something like this to happen the fact is the proble was found and fix. The real question is are the items that weren't found and fixed.

Re:Not just a glitch, it's failure (1)

Atzanteol (99067) | more than 9 years ago | (#10833988)

You're exactly right.

How in the hell hard is it to write software that counts votes? I mean, sure, it's a distributed app and all. But fscking distributed.net wrote an app that uses thousands of unreliable machines to crack encryption for crists sake! This really shouldn't be too difficult by comparison!

Unless, of course, there's a lot more that I'm just not thinking of? Sure, it's not *trivial*, but it should be going a lot better than it is.

Re:Not just a glitch, it's failure (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#10834699)

It helps if you don't assume you'll only get 2^15-1 voters in any given precinct.....

Re:Not just a glitch, it's failure (1)

klui (457783) | more than 9 years ago | (#10836372)

Maybe it's the bug + dirty cache syndrome. Counts are buffered for a set time/amount and then it sends results to a server somewhere. While counts are buffered, software bug occurs and either the box reboots or some supervisor/IT specialist mucks with the controls (rebooting or "resetting") losing votes.

Of course, I have no idea how those guys write their software so it's pure speculation. Just thinking up of a possiblity.

Re:Not just a glitch, it's failure (1)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 9 years ago | (#10837856)

Distributed? In this case (as in most others) it's just one single machine not properly counting the votes. There isn't even as much to it as you thought ;-)

Re:Not just a glitch, it's failure (1)

Robert The Coward (21406) | more than 9 years ago | (#10834027)

It is a glitch maybe not a trivial one but it is a glitch. Why because they were able to get the real number just the automated systems the broke down. There was a way to recount the votes and figure out what they were supose to be. Grated I think there is room for failure in the system but in this case they were able to do a recount and fix the problem. So it can't be called a failure. An if you think the old system didn't make mistakes I have some news for you. I still agree that a paper trail is important and needs added to the next generation of systems.

bear in mind, no system is perfect (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 9 years ago | (#10835211)

Even paper ballots have a "failure" rate, due to voters not marking the ballot as instructed - e.g. circling instead of marking an "x" - and anbiguity in election law on whether such marks are legal votes.

If, say, paper ballots have a 3% throwaway rate and a 0% error rate of good ballots, but a technological solution has a 0% throwaway rate but a 0.5% error rate due to voter error and bugs in the system, then it is better than the paper alternative. It's still not as good as it should be:
The only errors in voting should be voter errors, and if these errors are due to anything the state can prevent (e.g. confusing instructions), the state should prevent it.

No matter what you do, out of every million voters, some will simply mark the wrong choice and not realize it until it's too late. That's just tough.

Perfect vs. Honest (1)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 9 years ago | (#10835631)


This isn't about some small percentage of ballots being "spoiled" or some nebulous "voter error"; this is about the systematic miscounting of ballots, giving votes cast for one party to another. And it raises an interesting question:

If this is a bug in the software-as-certified, did it happen in every other machine of this make and model--which should have been identical? If not, why not? And how did software with such an eggregious error get certified in the first place? And if the bug wasn't in the software-as-certified, why and how did this machine come to be running uncertified software that systematically miscounts ballots?

These aren't the sort of things that can be explained away as "glitches"--they are examples of either fraud or gross incompetence on someone's part, and given the stakes I'd doubt gross incompetence.

We aren't asking for a perfect system, but we can quite reasonably demand an honest one.

-- MarkusQ

mechanical counters have problems too (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 9 years ago | (#10835758)

The old lever-system machines were notoriously inaccurate.

Any counting system will have tabulation errors, the question is, will they be 1 in a hundred or one in a million?

Furthermore, will they be due to design or manufacturing error (e.g. a gear that consistently slips in one direction on all units, shifting the outcome in the same way, or as in this case, a coding error) or wear-and-tear error (e.g. a gear that wears out on one machine, causing mis-counts or mis-recordings).

It's my understanding that the pull-lever machines had a paper trail of sorts, for use in recounts.

mechanical counters have fraud too (1)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 9 years ago | (#10837402)


The old lever-system machines were notoriously inaccurate.

Furthermore, will they be due to design or manufacturing error (e.g. a gear that consistently slips in one direction on all units, shifting the outcome in the same way, or as in this case, a coding error) or wear-and-tear error (e.g. a gear that wears out on one machine, causing mis-counts or mis-recordings).

It's my understanding that the pull-lever machines had a paper trail of sorts, for use in recounts.

What's more interesting is that the old pull-lever machines had confirmed cases of intentional errors--election rigging. What's even more interesting, Ransom Shoup was convicted in 1979 of conspiracy and obstruction of justice one of these cases. He's the CEO of Advanced Voting Systems, one of the fine voting machine companies that provided equipment used in the most recent election.

-- MarkusQ

Re:Not just a glitch, it's failure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10835344)

voting has never ever in the history of man been a reliable and honest occurance.
no one has cared in the past, no one cares now.

I beg to differ (1)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 9 years ago | (#10835674)


no one has cared in the past, no one cares now

I beg to differ. People have fought and died over this very issue. Perhaps you honestly don't care, or perhaps you just wish that others did not. But the fact of the matter is that the importance of honest elections may be the one issue that almost all Americans agree on.

-- MarkusQ

Not just software either (3, Insightful)

Flexagon (740643) | more than 9 years ago | (#10835558)

They are complete failures of the software, ...

These are system failures. The entire workflow and resulting system design is plagued with deficiencies that many have reported. The software is only a tiny part of the problem. And, while e-voting greatly increases the number of potential failure points (many of which aren't software related), it's not just about e-voting. We have moved more rapidly to e-voting because of an equally bad paper-based design (punched cards with poor visual layout), but an election can also turn on something as seemingly trivial as washable thumb-print ink in Afghanistan [cnn.com] . In every one of these cases, the state of the art at the time was much better than the poor systems that many people actually got. The major problem as I see it, at least in the US, is lack of pressure from vigilant voters on decision makers who should know better.

But the TV said it was OK (2, Insightful)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 9 years ago | (#10837457)


The major problem as I see it, at least in the US, is lack of pressure from vigilant voters on decision makers who should know better
But the guy on TV said it was all OK. Those people complaining about the voting machines are just sore losers. At least, that's what I think he said. It was the guy that does the news right before the show with the girl who swears a lot.

-- Joe Average

Journalism 101 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10833757)

That description is poorly worded. It clearly states that the glitch caused the Democrat to win the election. Is this supposed to be the meaning? Or is it really supposed to say that the glitch caused the Republican to win, and getting rid of (bypassing) the glitch puts the Democrat in victory? In this case, the Republican wins with the glitch.

Re:Journalism 101 (1)

adjwilli (530933) | more than 9 years ago | (#10834270)

Yeah, that's Fox News for you. Here's another link at WISH TV/CBS [wishtv.com] .

Re:Journalism 101 (1)

InfiniteWisdom (530090) | more than 9 years ago | (#10836546)

I think they found a very clumsy way of saying "finding the glitch gave the democratic candidate enough votes to bump the republican candidate from victory"

Incidentally, I find it interesting that practically every EVM story seems to favor the Republicans. Is this just because those are the stories that get reported, or is it really the case that the EVMs vote republican?

More clumsy wording :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10836564)

"Incidentally, I find it interesting that practically every EVM story seems to favor the Republicans"

This story does not favor the Republicans. The glitch itself did, however.

Re:More clumsy wording :) (1)

InfiniteWisdom (530090) | more than 9 years ago | (#10836689)

I did say practically every :-P

Re:Journalism 101 (1)

Robert The Coward (21406) | more than 9 years ago | (#10837238)

Or Republicans won more elections overall so that had the highest % of having a problem.

Let's recount! (1)

HexaByte (817350) | more than 9 years ago | (#10833785)

You have to love the ability to recount. No matter who wins, I want the election to be FAIR. You can only assure this with a paper trail for a re-count.

Some areas use only computerized systems, and how do you recount when you have a recording media failure?

Re:Let's recount! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10835387)

how is a paper trail any less corruptable?
because massive voter fraud never existed before evoting or what?

Massive voter fraud in a paper count (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 9 years ago | (#10835820)

In a close hand-counted election, where lots of eyes representing all candidates are on all the counters at all times, it's quite hard to pull off voter fraud.

Massive voter fraud using paper comes about because of a lack of checks and balances, not because of the technology used.

The same can be said for e-voting. One of the checks and balances missing from most e-voting is a voter-verified audit trail. Until that is fixed, it represents an opportunity for fraud.

Before everyone screams go back to paper... (4, Insightful)

Beatbyte (163694) | more than 9 years ago | (#10833823)

Remember that human volunteers have a high chance at screwing up also. Most of the volunteers in my area are over 60 years old (yes I live in Florida... LOL) and had huge glasses and were kinda crazy... like remember Will Ferrell as Harry Caray on SNL? yeah anyways..

of course there were a high percentage of the voters that were like that too...

Anyways, the best perfected machine (read most accurate) for counting votes should be the one we use. It should be the 99.9% accurate reflection what the votes were.

So what I say is, how can we tell these closed source systems work to 99.9% accuracy? Oh we can't.
So we're just supposed to close our eyes and trust the outcome we see on TV? Oh we are... hmm ok.

Makes me feel all tingly inside!

Re:Before everyone screams go back to paper... (1)

Methuseus (468642) | more than 9 years ago | (#10833924)

I live in northeast Illinois and I think I got the same exact volunteers as you....

Re:Before everyone screams go back to paper... (2, Funny)

TykeClone (668449) | more than 9 years ago | (#10835901)

In Iowa we have their parents.

Re:Before everyone screams go back to paper... (1)

taitertot (823964) | more than 9 years ago | (#10833985)

I'd like much better accuracy than 99.9%. Getting one vote in every thousand wrong (0.1%) can easily alter a close election. The standard for a tabulator should be a 100% accurate reflection of the input. Of course, you also need to make sure that the input mechanism (i.e., pen on paper, punched out card, touchscreen, etc.) is unambiguous and easy to use.

Re:Before everyone screams go back to paper... (1)

rueger (210566) | more than 9 years ago | (#10834040)

Anyways, the best perfected machine (read most accurate) for counting votes should be the one we use. It should be the 99.9% accurate reflection what the votes were.

The concern is less with the accuracy of any given technology, than with the ability to confirm that accuracy.

Paper ballots can be recounted. Or more importantly, you can see them being recounted and confirm that it was done right.

I really can't think that designing a software package to count up votes should be very difficult. It's certainly an order of magnitude simpler than say the backend of Amazon.com.

Why then have there been so many boneheaded problems? These machines should have worked perfectly the first time out.

Re:Before everyone screams go back to paper... (1)

Beatbyte (163694) | more than 9 years ago | (#10834366)

how is it going to be different the SECOND time humans count the votes?

Re:Before everyone screams go back to paper... (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#10834743)

Why then have there been so many boneheaded problems? These machines should have worked perfectly the first time out.

A possible hint: All three major voting machine companies are well into the cheap labor movement, and use recent graduates from third world countries for programming. It's possible that they simply haven't got the experience necessary for the job.

Poor quality control (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 9 years ago | (#10835525)

Software projects should be tested for correctness to the extent necessary to keep the customers happy.

For voting machines, this means they should be tested with correctly- and incorrectly-marked ballots in many combinations.

Furthermore, during the first years in the field, a sampling of elections should be partially (e.g a random 5% of actual ballots used) by hand and again by machine at the expense of the manufacturer, to validate that the equipment is still doing its job. Of course, the manufacturer is entitled to build this "post-sale quality control" cost into the cost of his equipment.

Re:Poor quality control (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#10835889)

Where back in reality- most software projects are only tested for correctness according to the contract written to the outsourcing company, not compared with the end customers at all.

In other words, the software is written to the specs provided- and once the bill is paid there's no real way to hold any single programmer responsible.

Re:Before everyone screams go back to paper... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10834578)

of course there were a high percentage of the voters that were like that [kinda crazy] too...

Yeah - approximately 51% . . .

of those 51% crazies how many voted Kerry? (1)

CreamOfWheat (593775) | more than 9 years ago | (#10835165)

idiot

machine-counting ballots and quality (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 9 years ago | (#10835454)

Unless they are improperly calibrated or mis-programmed, most vote-counting machines are very very very reliable with correctly-marked ballots. They use technology similar to what banks have used for decades.

The problems usually come with ballots that are not clearly marked. If there's 2,354,365 votes for A, 2,354,301 votes for B, and 3,123 votes that got kicked out by the counter as too-hard-to-read, you can bet there's going to be a political cat-fight over hand-counting those 3,123 ballots - if the voter circled names instead of filling in the computer-readable fill-in bubble, does the vote count? What if he made a big circle that included parts of 3 candidates' names but 1 of the 3 was in the middle of the circle? At what point is the voter's intent "no longer clear"?

NOT voter error (1)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 9 years ago | (#10837803)


The problems usually come with ballots that are not clearly marked
But in this case, it came from software systematically giving one party an other party's votes. I don't think this is "voter error" unless the error is in blindly trusting our election officials.

-- MarkusQ

Re:Before everyone screams go back to paper... (1)

Jherico (39763) | more than 9 years ago | (#10836077)

Remember that human volunteers have a high chance at screwing up also

When humans screw up they tend to do it randomly, and therefore not affect the outcome. When computers screw up they tend to do it non-randomly, as in this case where staight party votes for dems went to libertarians instead consistently.

Add to this that a paper trail can be rechecked as many times as is required to ensure its accurate. Certainly if the difference is a single vote out of 100,000, then the human error in vote counting comes into play, but then by the same token, so does voter error, such as pressing the wrong button. But the vote is almost never that close. When it is then you just have to accept that the margin is below statistical margins and live with whatever the certified result is because there's no way to determine the truth.

Re:Before everyone screams go back to paper... (1)

cicho (45472) | more than 9 years ago | (#10837786)

"Remember that human volunteers have a high chance at screwing up also"

Yes, but only by making honest mistakes. Not in a systematic and/or massive way.

Easy (2, Interesting)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#10833950)

In any county where there is a close race, check the laws on recount and find enough people to insist upon a recount. Should be done countrywide at this point, given the problems we've seen.

Why the whole freakin' country can't just go to a proven system like Oregon's mail in ballots checked by scantron is beyond me. If it's good enough technology for SAT tests, it's damned well good enough technology for elections.

Re:Easy (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 9 years ago | (#10834004)

Not to mention that in Oregon, I don't have to spend my lunch waiting in line to vote, I drop my ballot off in the mail a week before the election, or, if I don't have time, I just swing buy a county office or library and drop it off in one of the big, flag-painted mailboxes. That way I don't have to pay postage!

Re:Easy (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#10834239)

AND to top it off, we only had one ballot measure with any contraversy over the vote at all- and that's because it was so poorly worded that nobody could figure out how to vote on it. Never did find out- did 35 pass or fail (it was within 500 votes either way two days after the election, depending on the newspaper you read or the TV station website you hit).

a problem with mail-in ballots (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 9 years ago | (#10835559)

Mail in ballots are subject to fraud, intimidation, and even theft.

Can you imagine an control-freak head of household stealing all the ballots that come to his home then forging the signatures on each? You can't do that in a voting booth. Sure, family members could go to the police, but would they?

Re:a problem with mail-in ballots (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 9 years ago | (#10835968)

Mail in ballots are subject to fraud, intimidation, and even theft.

Or so claim the mail-in ballot opponents.

Can you imagine an control-freak head of household stealing all the ballots that come to his home then forging the signatures on each?

Yes, but I fail to see how this is any different than the control freak telling his wife how to vote beforehand and then beating her up afterwords if she fails to vote properly or tell him how she voted.

You can't do that in a voting booth.

You damn well can if you're a high tech enough control freak who has access to standard consumer electronics. Combine a 2.4Ghz camera, with electronics from a toy, in a gaudy broach and you'd have no problems seeing how the person you are controling is voting, AND placing punishment on site before they finalize the vote if they do it wrong.

Sure, family members could go to the police, but would they?

Probably as often as they go to the police for my other two examples...which is damn well not often enough. HOWEVER- it doesn't take going to the police to correct your example- it takes being aware enough to notice that your ballot failed to come when all of your friends got their ballots, and going down to the county courthouse or local balloting station to find out why. In Oregon, if you were registered and your ballot failed to arrive, you can vote in person at any county ballot drop off for the entire three weeks of the election. Sure, the control freak may prevent the person from doing it- but that's no different than with a traditional polling place either.

Re:a problem with mail-in ballots (1)

Robert The Coward (21406) | more than 9 years ago | (#10837150)

I think you are out there alittle. But I can see problems with peoples votes not getting counted because it relies of USPS. You also can't forget how many votes don't get counted because someone forgot to fill in some section of the form. When you show up to vote alot of that it delt with by the fact that you are there and if there is a questions then it get cleared up will you are there at the vote place before you vote.

Programmers mantra (2, Funny)

MarkGriz (520778) | more than 9 years ago | (#10834047)

The glitch in the machines recorded straight Democratic Party votes for Libertarians.

That's not a bug... it's a feature.

Re:Programmers mantra (1)

deus_X_machina (413485) | more than 9 years ago | (#10834698)

It appears that democracy, however, is not a "feature" of these machines...

Re:Programmers mantra (1)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 9 years ago | (#10835083)


That's not a bug... it's a feature. I think that's what we're all afraid of.

-- MarkusQ

Votergate (1)

Cow4263 (312716) | more than 9 years ago | (#10834164)

My friend sent me this, I only watched like 5 minutes because it seemed like propaganda but take it as its worth.

Votergate [votergate.tv] - a 30 minute video about the evils of electronic voting. The gist of it was bad computer, bad.

Propaganda? (1)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 9 years ago | (#10835019)


It seemed like propaganda? Normally when someone says that, they mean that someone was trying to convince them of something that wasn't true for nefarious purposes. What do you claim wasn't true? And more importantly, what sort of nefarious purposes to you suppose people have for wanting to make sure that elections are fair, or at least not quietly rigged?

And the point isn't that computers are bad, but that trusting a machine that was programmed by someone you have no reason to trust to do a process that you have no way to verify, when you are not allowed to see either the code or the data, is foolish. When the stakes can be valued in the multiple billions of dollars and some of the third parties have fraud convictions on their records, it's a little worse than just foolish.

-- MarkusQ

Challenges Happening Throughout the Country (3, Interesting)

jezor (51922) | more than 9 years ago | (#10834269)

There are a number of voting machine-related challenges on the national level. Ralph Nader has successfully requested a recount in New Hampshire, and groups like BlackBoxVoting [blackboxvoting.org] are working on fraud audits. Also, in Ohio, the Libertarian and Green Party candidates are reportedly [times-standard.com] joining together to demand a recount. There are local challenges going on as well. {Jonathan}

-------------------
Prof. Jonathan I. Ezor
Assistant Professor of Law and Technology
Director, Institute for Business, Law and Technology (IBLT)
Touro Law Center
300 Nassau Road, Huntington, NY 11743
Tel: 631-421-2244 x412 Fax: 516-977-3001
e-mail: jezor@tourolaw.edu [mailto]
BizLawTech Blog: http://iblt.tourolaw.edu/blog [tourolaw.edu]

Re:Challenges Happening Throughout the Country (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 9 years ago | (#10837309)

How are they going to recount diebold machines? And do the challenges include the central tabulators, and are there any plans to demand a code examination and audit from an independent party not connected to the state or diebold? I would think the latter issue is prime for a case to go all the way to the supremes. It's a public trust, so therefore the public should be able to examie it. I have been first in line at the polling station and got to examine the empty wooden box for a paper vote election. this isn't possible with computer code. I was seriously hoping (didn't happen) I'd get to be an official this year, I was going to refuse to verify anything out of our diebold machines at the end of the day and try to force it into court. I protested last election and zero happened, they just brushed me off. I did get forwarded to a diebold employee who got pretty exercised when I told him that I know and he knows and any geek knows that the way it is set up now is insecure and wide open to pre election or post election tampering and fraud. He just sputtered around indignant for a bit. The poor lady poll official was all confused, she thought along the lines of computers=infallible and default "ethical". I asked her if she would buy a new truck with the hood welded shut. That made her think for a second but she went on to still defend "the computer".

Kinda funny stuff if it wasn't so serious

I'm confused (1, Funny)

blahlemon (638963) | more than 9 years ago | (#10834719)

What is a "straight-democratic party vote"?

Rigged Election (1)

natoochtoniket (763630) | more than 9 years ago | (#10834745)

I don't believe it was an error. I do believe it was just their bad luck that they got caught, this time, in this one election. I do believe that they didn't get caught, this time, in many other elections.

The purpose of an election is to collect and count the votes. Anything less than absolute accuracy is, or should be, completely unacceptable. Anything less that total transparency is, or should be, completely unacceptable. The process should produce enough documentatary evidence so that any disputes can be decided, without any doubt at all, in any court of competent jurisdiction.

Rigging an election should be a capital crime.

Re:Rigged Election (1)

Robert The Coward (21406) | more than 9 years ago | (#10834918)

Then we should thought out the last 6 Elections for certain then. I worked for at the poll in several elections and mistake are common place. We are see them more since 2000 because of all the eyes on the system. But mistakes have happen for years. Can we make a process that is better yes. Was this year better then others. I don't known I have a new job this year and couldn't work the polls. There is no way to be completely correct unless you assign something like a voter ID number to every voter and have a vote assocated with that number but that will never happen so you try and make a system that does the best that can be done. Even paper has problems look at abesettee and how well they get counted.

Michigan had such an audit trail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10835591)

I used to live in Michgan.
You had a voter registration number.
When you voted, they gave you a ballot that had a number on it.
I think they recorded the ballot # with your name.

In practice, this information was kept far apart enough to ensure a secret ballot.

In principle, it was open to abuse. I didn't like it.

I don't know how they do it now.

Re:Michigan had such an audit trail (1)

Robert The Coward (21406) | more than 9 years ago | (#10837285)

They do something like that in MD. You sign in and they had right a vote number. It would take effort to attach that number to a human being as the boxes would have to be entered into a database as well as that data. That isn't the same as something like a voter SSN number that you get and can only us in one place and can be attached to how you voted.

Re:Rigged Election (1)

DmitriA (199545) | more than 9 years ago | (#10834935)

I've got news for you. There has NEVER been an election in this country that achieved absolute accuracy. And it's unlikely there will ever be one

Not true with small elections (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 9 years ago | (#10835776)

Many small elections are done with 100% accuracy.

If it's a local tax-increase election on paper ballots, it's not hard at all to see that 123 people voted for the increase and 124 voted against, with zero unclear ballots.

Honesty, not accuracy (1)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 9 years ago | (#10835133)


Anything less than absolute accuracy is, or should be, completely unacceptable.
I agree with all your points save this one. I'm not expecting 100% accuracy, but I am demanding 100% honesty.

-- MarkusQ

Horrible article wording (2, Informative)

ApharmdB (572578) | more than 9 years ago | (#10834965)

The text:

"A recently found computer glitch in the voting machines in Franklin County, Indiana has given a democrat enough votes to bump a republican from victory in a County Commissioner's race.

The glitch in the machines recorded straight Democratic Party votes for Libertarians.

The votes were re-counted last night, by hand.

The company who made the voting machine is also checking into programming of it's equipment in nine other Indiana counties. "
---------------

Doesn't this sound contradictory to everyone? The machine accidentally counted straight democratic ticket votes as libertarian while accidentally giving the democrat enough votes to beat the a republican?

I realize what it says is that after correcting the glitch the democrat gets enough votes to beat the republican who was previously determined to be the winner, but man that was horrible wording.

Re:Horrible article wording (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10835394)

Well you are talking about Fox "Fair and Balanced, My A$$" News coverage....

Re:Horrible article wording (1)

Chop (211528) | more than 9 years ago | (#10836028)

The way I read it was... "Everyone that voted for the Libertarian was recorded as a vote for the Democrat; Because of this 'glitch' the Democrat beat the incumbant Republican".

I had to read it three times just to get that...
Chop

Re:Horrible article wording (1)

cicadia (231571) | more than 9 years ago | (#10836040)

Odd - I read it as saying that it recorded the votes of libertarian voters as "straight democratic party", thus the glitch bumped the republican from his rightful victory.

I didn't even realise you could read it the other way as well. Nice work there.

Re:Horrible article wording (1)

burns210 (572621) | more than 9 years ago | (#10836716)

I was only able to read it as follows:

Ballots that were all-democrat were mistakenly tallied for the libertarian party. Fixing this error gave the Democratic candidate enough votes to win the county office over the republican candidate.

Re:Horrible article wording (1)

Kris_J (10111) | more than 9 years ago | (#10836760)

"Found" should be "fixed", then I believe it says what it's supposed to say.

Re:Horrible article wording (1)

zogger (617870) | more than 9 years ago | (#10837363)

the difference might be in the difference between the numbers in a straight ticket and a split ticket. The statement could still be true if enough people voted split ticket.

Manual recounts (1, Insightful)

Pan T. Hose (707794) | more than 9 years ago | (#10835094)

"Any ideas on how we can check for similar problems in other close elections?"

Unfortunately, there is no other solution than manual recounts. Not only in "close elections" because how do you differentiate a "far" (not "close") election from a large "glitch"? The only solution is to always do manual recounts--or just always count the ballots manually in the first place, skipping the "e-counting" step altogether.

The only way to make sure the votes are counted correctly, is to have a group of people representing all of the competing parties to witness and take part in the actual counting of physical ballots, look at each other while counting, compare the results, when they differ start from the beginning, and finally agree on one exact result. We cannot trust electronic counting the same way, because no one can witness and observe the counting process, no one can see the electrons being shuffled to eventually form a final outcome, just like we can see the paper ballots being shuffled and counted by people observed and verified by other people.

It doesn't even have anything to do with the source code being open or proprietary, the system being secure or vulnerable or the hardware being robust or faulty. It has nothing to do with the system being trustworthy or "trusted." The point is that being able to observe and verify the entire process we don't need to trust anyone or anything in the first place. And it means that the only way to have a solid democracy based on an e-voting system is to always do manual recounts, which obviously makes the whole e-voting idea quite counterproductive, to say the very least.

Re:Manual recounts (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 9 years ago | (#10836542)

Ever use a calculator? Do you trust the results? Yes you do, because the accuracy of it's results are well known and trusted.

In the same way e-voting will become trusted.

The problem here is that the state's are all using different code sets.. not necessarily a problem if there is a standard spec.. but there is no standard spec as yet.

Our federal government and other governments should be regulating the voting systems in the same way as they always have.. with standards. Which is what they are working on.

Now these standards should have been in place before e-voting was adopted and they should have been enforced over several years of QA... in some states they were, in others not so much.

A standard will come about though and it will be trusted.

The standard should not only be developed it shoud be exemplified with a standard case demonstration... all other systems should need to be verified against this standard demo system (which may or may not be the cheapest or easiest to use but it is verified).. in other words e-voting machines should be able to be re-counted against a verified case demo unit and come up with the same results.

Corrupt metadata, not corrupt software (1)

G4from128k (686170) | more than 9 years ago | (#10835243)

The glitch in the machines recorded straight Democratic Party votes for Libertarians.

This sounds like the core software was fine, only the configuration file for that election was erroneous. No amount of OSS on the platform level can catch the problem of misuse/errors at the election level. Even a paper receipt, scantron, punch card, etc. is no guarantee for forestalling this type of mistake. It's too easy for someone or something to misinterpret a mark on paper or in a computer file because of a miscommunication in the format, layout, or semantics of the ballot.

Details are easily Googled (2, Funny)

yelvington (8169) | more than 9 years ago | (#10835431)

A simple search of Google News reveals it was a optical scanner, not a Diebold touchscreen system. Of course, if it had been a Diebold system, we wouldn't have this problem. No one would know the results were screwed, and no recounting would be possible.

URL:http://www.pal-item.com/apps/pbcs.dll/articl e? AID=/20041116/NEWS01/411160333/1008

URL:http://www.indystar.com/articles/1/194039-44 21 -098.html

Dig even further... Diebold is the parent company (2, Informative)

cybrthng (22291) | more than 9 years ago | (#10835946)

Diebold OWNS the company that produce(d) these optical scanners.

We need non profit & organized voting standards. If corporate america can stand behind ISO standards why can't the federal government do the same?

If states require the rights to decide individually the votes (and laws) they cast for federal offices i'm not sure we can ever have a trustworthy system in the foreseeable.

I also believe we should streamline voting and make sure the right is protected and if people vote illegally it is punished for the crime it is. Partisan vote police shouldn't be allowed.

confusing, brief _story_ (1)

blunte (183182) | more than 9 years ago | (#10835568)

Here's the "whole story":


A recently found computer glitch in the voting machines in Franklin County, Indiana has given a democrat enough votes to bump a republican from victory in a County Commissioner's race.

The glitch in the machines recorded straight Democratic Party votes for Libertarians.

The votes were re-counted last night, by hand.

The company who made the voting machine is also checking into programming of it's equipment in nine other Indiana counties.


Not much information to make a story out of. Are they saying that a Rep should have won, but a Dem won instead because all Lib votes were counted for Dems?

Re:confusing, brief _story_ (1)

Analog Penguin (550933) | more than 9 years ago | (#10835678)

Other way around. A Rep was thought to have won, but they now now that a Dem actually did win.Many Dem votes (the ones included in a straight party ticket) had instead gone to the Libs.

Franklin County, Indiana (3, Interesting)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 9 years ago | (#10837691)

Not Franklin County, Ohio [cnn.com] , where Bush got 666% of the vote. (well 667.3981%, but who is counting ;-).

According to USA today [usatoday.com]

Franklin is the only Ohio county to use Danaher Controls's ELECTronic 1242, an older-style touchscreen voting system.
So it must be the name of the county, not the technology, because the machines are from different manufacturers. Errm, yeah.
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...