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Senators Clinton and Kerry Submit Open Voting Bill

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the power-to-the-people dept.

Censorship 1037

An anonymous reader writes "DailyKos is reporting that a group of senators and representatives including Hillary Clinton, John Kerrry, and Tubbs Jones, have proposed an 'open-source' voting bill. This bill (The Count Every Vote Act of 2005) corrects many of the problems in the last election. Notably, it requires paper receipts, and that the source and object code of all electronic voting machines to be open and readable by the public. " Commentary on the bill available at the Miami Herald.

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Corporate Lobbies vs. Public Interest (5, Insightful)

smug_lisp_weenie (824771) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796295)

Is it just me, or do all politics lately revolve around this same theme?

Corporate lobbies push for proprietary voting machines, the public interest is for open-source voting machines.
Corporate lobbies want extensions to patent laws, public interest is to reasonably limit patent protections.
Corpate lobbies want to DRM everything with legal enforcement, public interest is to have fair use.

The more explanations I hear as to why corporate lobbying is a necessary evil, the more convinced I become of how much of a negative influence they are having on our society.

...but then, on slashdot we're probably all just hopeless libertarians anyway ;)

Re:Corporate Lobbies vs. Public Interest (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11796335)

...but then, on slashdot we're probably all just hopeless libertarians anyway ;)

They can have my unregulated monopoly when they pry it from my cold dead hands!

Re:Corporate Lobbies vs. Public Interest (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11796353)

"it requires paper receipts, and that the source and object code of all electronic voting machines to be open and readable by the public."

You're not a libertarian Libertarians believe businesses have the right to free speech and intellectual property rights. The phrase "the public interest" is a phrase communists use.

Re:Corporate Lobbies vs. Public Interest (1, Insightful)

bechthros (714240) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796425)

Name one communist alive today besides Fidel Castro that's in ANY position of serious power ANYWHERE in the world. Just one. Anywhere.

Have you no decency? At long last, sir, have you no decency?

Re:Corporate Lobbies vs. Public Interest (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11796473)

Vladimir Putin.

Re:Corporate Lobbies vs. Public Interest (1)

MAXOMENOS (9802) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796480)

Kim Jong Il?

Re:Corporate Lobbies vs. Public Interest (1, Offtopic)

b17bmbr (608864) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796484)

north korea. and they have nukes thanks to failure on the clinton admin. and don't anyone claim that they got them under bush, because clinton sent carter there in 1994 and secured an "agreement". carter's plane wasn't even off the tarmac when noko turned off the inspection cameras and began reprcessing the spent rods. and it was kinda hard to focus on noko after 9/11.

now of course, when you talk about "communists", you're really referring to stalinists. and there're a few left around. chavez in venezuela is close. and they got lots of oil.

Re:Corporate Lobbies vs. Public Interest (1)

smug_lisp_weenie (824771) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796429)

You make a good point, except that I would argue in each of the cases the corporations are asking for non-competitive protections from the government that go pretty strongly against the libertarian ideal.

I have no problem with companies having free speech and selling deficient products (such as with DRM, undocumented code, etc.) but I want to have the option not to buy these products or have my tax dollars go to these products.

Re:Corporate Lobbies vs. Public Interest (1)

bechthros (714240) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796460)

" I have no problem with companies having free speech and selling deficient products (such as with DRM, undocumented code, etc.) but I want to have the option not to buy these products or have my tax dollars go to these products."

Ah, but that would mean there was competition. That would actually be capitalism. Why would we want a silly little thing like market competition get in the way of unrestrained, unregulated corporate hegemony?

"Fascism: Government by corporation" - Benito Mussolini.

Re:Corporate Lobbies vs. Public Interest (5, Insightful)

oirtemed (849229) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796371)

Thats why campaign contributions should only be able to be made by those legally able to vote. That would eliminate corporate donations, and if some CEO wanted to put up their own money, it would be more visible. While this doesn't address lobbying in particular, it is a start.

The best solution would be more Congressional accountability, but that is not so easy to achieve.

Re:Corporate Lobbies vs. Public Interest (1)

lukewarmfusion (726141) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796373)

People are generally selfish. Some of those selfish people are in charge of corporations, levying corporate power to achieve their goals. Some of the selfish people are individuals - cogs in a greater machine, no doubt - which have less power over the system. They have their own selfish goals too, by the way.

Sometimes those selfish goals are in the best interest of the country (or world). Sometimes they're not. Either way, it's not a corporation at fault - it's another person trying to make more money.

Don't get me wrong when I use the word "selfish" - it's not always a bad thing. (Are you selfish if someone tries to rob you and you don't want to give them your wallet? Yes.) Wanting to make more money isn't evil; the way you go about doing it (and what you use it for after you have it) is what makes you evil.

Re:Corporate Lobbies vs. Public Interest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11796434)

> Sometimes those selfish goals are in the best interest of the country

Name 3.

Of Course (1)

Alien54 (180860) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796393)

I have seen comments in other forums regarding this bill.

Basic take being, why should the system be fixed if it isn't broken? Assumption being, they like the results they got the last time, so the system is not broken.

feh

Unions and other groups too (1)

GQuon (643387) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796458)

Quite often, the unions make a common interest with their corporate employers. For example, protectionism and trade barriers that the US steel industry wanted, also benefited the unions.

Re:Corporate Lobbies vs. Public Interest (-1, Troll)

Leo McGarry (843676) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796464)

First, please stop using "public interest" as a code word for "what I want." You do not speak for the public. You have your opinion, and it's valid and all that, but please don't try to pass it off as some universal thing.

For instance, I am strongly opposed to this "paper receipts" idea. The reason why current election law prohibits anybody from taking anything away from a polling place that can be used to determine how that person voted is to prevent vote coercion. "Vote for John Smith or I'll break your kneecaps," says the hired goon. When you come out of the polling place he demands to see your receipt. No receipt, no way to coerce voters.

(This is really beside the point, because as usual the blurb was totally wrong. The bill in question calls for electronic voting machines to produce a paper ballot, not a receipt.)

Opinions vary wildly on patents. I'm not going to get into yet another stupid argument over them, but I will state my opinion: Patents are good things. They encourage innovation and invention. They allow the financial backers of inventors to recoup their investments, which drives capital investment. When you try to convince a venture investor to give you money, the first question out of his mouth is, "Do you have any patentable IP?" Meaning, "Is there anything about your idea that can make me confident that I'll recover my investment?" Patents are a vitally important part of the way we do business. If anybody wants to tell me I'm an idiot for holding this opinion, go right ahead. I'm not interested in arguing, nor am I interested in being persuaded by the "information wants to be free, so give me all your stuff" crowd.

Ditto DRM. As a creator of content, I'm desperate for a sound technological solution to piracy. I literally lose money every single day to piracy, to people who take what I create without paying for it. If I don't find a good solution to this problem soon, I'm going to be unable to continue doing what I do for a living. I'm going to have to find another way to employ myself. Since I happen to think that the works I create are good and worth having around, I think that'd be bad. Again, go ahead and argue with me if you want; I won't even bother reading it.

Bottom line, please stop describing your personal opinions as "the public interest." It's arrogant and rude, and just plain wrong.

Re:Corporate Lobbies vs. Public Interest (1)

lakeland (218447) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796470)

I disagree, I think a lot of corporate lobbying is for things that make sense and few people would disagree with. It is just a small amount that goes against the public inerest.

Of course, the lobbying which you would agree with won't be reported because it isn't of interest (newsworthy).

It is sad that when corporate interest and the public interest are opposed, corporate interest always seems to win nowadays.

OMG (1)

repruhsent (672799) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796297)

MEOW MEOW DANIEL TIGER

Don't listen to Bill Gates rant on communism. (2, Insightful)

qewl (671495) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796300)

This can seriously only help.

I agree with Kerry & Clinton? (5, Funny)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796301)

Will wonders never cease?

Something I agree with Kerry & Clinton on?

Re:I agree with Kerry & Clinton? (4, Funny)

Siniset (615925) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796358)

Hey politicians aren't totally evil, sometimes. Like when they're supporting bills that have no chance in hell in passing.

Re:I agree with Kerry & Clinton? (1)

bechthros (714240) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796498)

Amen to that. They'd never have brought this out if the republicans didn't control all three branches of the federal government exclusively.

Re:I agree with Kerry & Clinton? (1)

Penguinoflight (517245) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796359)

I felt the same way. Honestly the only problem I have with this bill is the paper reciepts (well, other than it being supported by the two premiere democrats.)

I'm sure that this bill will only have a positive effect if it gets voted in, but paper reciepts are pretty useless and a waste of money IMHO.

Re:I agree with Kerry & Clinton? (1)

dabraun (626287) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796424)

It's a good start though - if we can eventually trust the electronic voting mechanism then eventually we can eliminate the paper.

Re:I agree with Kerry & Clinton? (2, Interesting)

Rs_Conqueror (838344) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796449)

I'm sure that this bill will only have a positive effect if it gets voted in, but paper reciepts are pretty useless and a waste of money IMHO. Not exactly. With paper ballets it leaves less room open for fraud. Example:: A hacker breaks into the voting system. Seeing as how the ballot voting system is based on wondows ME, this is not unlikely. With paper involved, if said h4x0r adds on, say 1400 votes for candidate X, they will have a paper trail allowing them recound the ballots quickly, effectivly, and without dragging things on for months and months (florida anyone)? But thats just my opinion based on what little I know...

Re:I agree with Kerry & Clinton? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11796453)

I too am at a quandry. Agree with Senator Clinton. I think hell froze over or something.

But paper is probably required. Simply by law of most states where they must be able to recount. Also if someone is gamming the system it would be a bit more obvious with a paper trail than with 1/0s that can be manipulated to whatever you want.

Allthough what is to say what is printed out is any better as it will be coming from a computer?

Like the paper may say 'voted for X' but the bar code they probably will put on there says 'voted for Y'...

Re:I agree with Kerry & Clinton? (4, Insightful)

plover (150551) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796495)

Actually, paper receipts are the heart of integrity. They provide the doublechecks to the electronic record, and when the typical contested election degenerates into "we counted x", "no, we counted y", the paper ballots can be trotted out and physically counted by everyone. And these paper records (probably printed on thermal tape) will be sealed inside the machine. Nobody should be able to tamper with them, and there shouldn't be big discussions about hanging chads or pregnant punches.

Strangely enough, Open Source voting code is far less important to me than the paper ballots themselves. Code correctness is only a small piece of security. First, I personally have no way of seeing into these voting machines to validate that they're running the code they say they're running. Sure, you can show me a printout of "OSVote2008.cpp", but what does that prove? It proves exactly that you have a piece of paper with code on it. It does NOT prove that's the code running inside the machine.

Or what if it is? What if I have totally trusted, verifiable code running in the typical Windows machine? What's to prevent a virus or other piece of malware inside from hijacking that code and switching enough votes from one candidate to the other to help throw the election?

Code isn't the answer. Physical tokens (in this case paper records) backed by judges performing spot checks, is ultimately the only trustable way to count an election.

Re:I agree with Kerry & Clinton? (2, Informative)

Fjornir (516960) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796509)

A programmer demonstrated how to rig votes on machines in Florida. Washington, Indiana and Florida at least had problems with their voting machines. I seem to recall several machines lost a shitload of votes when they were asked to hold more ballots than they could. You see no value in paper receipts?

Re:I agree with Kerry & Clinton? (5, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796361)

This is an area where reasonable people of all political persuasions ought to be able to come to an agreement. Based on your comment, I'm guessing that you're a conservative and I'd probably disagree with at least three-quarters of your beliefs -- but the one thing we can almost certainly agree on is that every eligible voter who wants to vote should be able to do so in a way that guarantees that vote is counted. We may argue all day about policy, but the mechanisms by which that policy is created and enacted must be trustworthy if that policy is to be anything more than the whim of a few autocrats.

So, what Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens, independents, and, hell, I don't know, Prohibitionists and Natural Law believers all ought to ask themselves is: if anyone, of any party or stripe, opposes this -- what possible reason can they have for such opposition; or whether, what reason that does not mark them as irredeemably evil?

Hmm... well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11796486)

what possible reason can they have for such opposition; or whether, what reason that does not mark them as irredeemably evil?

Sheer laziness is always a reason, though not a justifiable one, for resisting any change to the status quo. "What we have now is good enough!"

Not surprising... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11796368)

The prevailing sentiment on Slashdot is anti-big-business, anti-Republican, and especially anti-Bush, so it's not altogether surprising that a Slashdotter would support something on the Democratic side of things, particularly something that purports to ensure proper vote tallying amid questions of election legitimacy, machine tampering, cover-ups, et cetera.

Re:I agree with Kerry & Clinton? (-1, Flamebait)

jephthah (681398) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796377)

this is modded "interesting"?

jesus christ, slashdot has low standards.

Heh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11796420)

jesus christ, slashdot has low standards.

You mean the editors posting a story about MS AntiSpyware and Firefox that anyone could immediately could see was bogus didn't tip you off?

Re:I agree with Kerry & Clinton? (0, Offtopic)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796395)

Kerry and Clinton are pushing for this not because it's in the public interest, but because they still believe "We were robbed!" They think the Republicans did a better job of cheating on the last two elections than the Democrats did and want to eliminate the possibility of it happening again. They can't admit to themselves that enough people either liked what the Republicans said or disliked what the Democrats said to change the outcome of the election. As long as they fail to learn from the past, they will continue to make the same mistakes over and over and become less of an influence on American politics. This is not a good thing. America needs two parties that are fairly well balanced to keep one party from complete domination of the nation.

Ex-presidents (1)

Mark_MF-WN (678030) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796414)

It seems like ex-presidents are invariably more socially-concious than acting presidents. I guess it's because they can get away with it, whereas an acting president is still under the thumb of the big lobbyists.

Re:I agree with Kerry & Clinton? (1)

bwcarty (660606) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796422)

I was curiously surprised to be in agreement until I got towards the end to catch all the things that get tacked on to the good ideas.

In this case, they want to restore the right to vote to people convicted of felonies. I won't go into all the details, but that section alone will cause enough debate to kill off all the good stuff about opening the source code for voting machines, requiring paper receipts, etc.

Re:I agree with Kerry & Clinton? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11796487)

Of course, they both also want convicted felons to be allowed to vote.

This is all about their bottom line.

Re:I agree with Kerry & Clinton? (1)

fatboy (6851) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796496)


Will wonders never cease?

Something I agree with Kerry & Clinton on?


Naa, even broken clocks are correct twice a day. <GRIN>

This sounds... (3, Interesting)

oberondarksoul (723118) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796302)

...scarily like a good idea. It'll be interesting to see how far this can get, and how long before the inevitable corportate opposition to this begins to mount. I can already see Diebold rallying their forces...

Funny (5, Informative)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796360)

Two TWO YEAR OLD BILLS that have already been introduced in the House and Senate would do JUST THIS, namely, require permanent, voter verified receipts and open source all code on e-voting machines. See my post here [slashdot.org] .

Also, Diebold already has the capability to add paper receipts, WHICH WERE NOT REQUIRED UNDER HAVA, to all of its e-voting deployments. They're just a contractor. They'll build and deploy whatever local governments will buy. But if you're one of those people who thinks that Diebold, a multi-thousand person corporation that prides itself on reliable customer interface systems, is literally conspiring to rig US elections on the basis of offhanded campaign quotes in the context of GOP fundraising by Diebold's CEO, however inappropriate they were, then I suppose none of what I just said will matter to you.

Re:This sounds... (1)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796392)

I wouldn't be surprised if Diebold bows out of the area. They have already receieved a lot of flack over the voting machines, and the machines are far from core to their business(atms are), and the CEO got what he wanted(whether or not he contributed to that through shady voting machines is another story).
Plus, if there is something wrong with their machines and they fight it and lose, the embarassment could cost them bigtime. My armchair quaterback position is that they quietly withdraw from the business of voting machines altogether.

hand count more accurate? (4, Interesting)

fishdan (569872) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796303)

...The Count Every Vote Act of 2005 will provide a voter verified paper ballot for every vote cast in electronic voting machines and ensures access to voter verification for all citizens, including language minority voters, illiterate voters and voters with disabilities. The bill mandates that this ballot be the official ballot for purposes of a recount.

Why should the manual count paper of paper ballots be the official recount. Why would there be a recount of a machine tabulated vote? Does someone think the machine miscounted? And why why why do people keep thinking that a hand count done by humans would be more accurate than a machine count?

Re:hand count more accurate? (3, Insightful)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796337)

And why why why do people keep thinking that a hand count done by humans would be more accurate than a machine count?

Maybe Florida 2000? Where the input method could be more accurately parsed by humans than by machines?

The advantage of a hand count is that if you don't trust it, you can repeat it yourself, or have someone you trust do it. With a machine count, you have only the machine vendor's assurance.

Re:hand count more accurate? (2, Interesting)

fishdan (569872) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796401)

Florida was definitely crazy -- but for me, I thought that once it was in the hands of the "counters" it was now a matter of who THEY wanted to win. The fact that they *could* block or approve a ballot meant that we were now suffering at the impartiality of people. And I don't trust the impartiality of people. At least with an open source machine, the code and the machine can be examined for proof of it's impartiality.

What's to prevent one counter from blocking/approving ballots according to personal preference. The arguement that the other counters stop him is not valid, because he could be "the other" counter who stops legitimate votes for a canidate he opposes.

Re:hand count more accurate? (3, Insightful)

SimGuy (611829) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796342)

It's not a problem of the machine miscounting. Part of the concept involved here is to allow us to be sure the machine is not intentionally lying about the results.

Re:hand count more accurate? (1, Insightful)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796344)

Because only a human hand count, viewed by all interested parties can be verified fair.

Otherwise, what's to prevent joeblow gifted hacker from jiggering the machine, whether that be via mechanical or through code modification, to throw a few votes to his favorite candidate.

I'm not saying that the machine count is bad, just that you really should have auditing. Manual retotaling of all voting districts, some districts selected for a manual recount.

Security in something this important needs to be layered.

Re:hand count more accurate? (4, Interesting)

Fjornir (516960) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796345)

Did you miss the stories about the machines that lost votes? If there had been a paper ballot printed by the machine there would have been no data loss.

Never mind the "Do we trust diebold" conspiracy theories however (in)valid they may be, the voter should have a right to see that their ballot was cast as the intended it to be. Unless you've got some cool superman xray vision or mad van Eck phreaking powers you can't tell what the machine is recording as your vote.

Re:hand count more accurate? (1, Interesting)

damian cosmas (853143) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796363)

It takes a certain kind of naivete to think that paper ballots can't be tampered with any more easily than electronic ballots. Elections have been manipulated at the local level countless times in the past; such legislation is just another excuse to push an anti-corporate agenda under the guise of democracy.

Re:hand count more accurate? (1)

kiltedtaco (213773) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796439)

Supporting a paper ballot backup is anti-corporate?

Re:hand count more accurate? (1)

ergo98 (9391) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796367)

It's generally considered a lot easier to alter electronic records than it is to alter paper records. e.g. If 10,000,000 people vote, and you have 5,100,000 in var A, and 4,900,000 in var B, a couple of ops and you have 4,990,000 and 5,010,000 respectively, with no one the wiser. With paper you'd have to somehow rewrite the entire voting history (you couldn't do it in real time because each voter is a validator that the machine worked as expected).

Re:hand count more accurate? (1)

fishdan (569872) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796456)

Why would no one be the wiser? We're talking about a computer here, not a black box. You'd load the software on a fresh machine the day before hand -- you'd run test before/during/after to ensure the software/hardware remains untampered with, and afterwards you'd test a few more times.

Every hack you've ever heard of has been discovered -- that's why you've heard of it. Let the machine be examined by people to decide if it's "untampered" and then let the impartial machine count the votes. As opposed to letting people decide if the votes themselves are valid. If we can prove the machine to be impartial and accurate -- then let it be.

Exactly (1)

geekee (591277) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796382)

I agree. A paper ballot recount should only be necessary is there is evidence the electronic data has been compromised.

Re:hand count more accurate? (2, Insightful)

mattkinabrewmindspri (538862) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796385)

When you're working with a computer, you don't necessarily get the results you want. You get the results the programmer wanted you to have.

I can write one or two lines of code that would screw up vote counts in any number of ways- adding two votes to the vote count instead of adding one, switching the vote counts at the end, or any of numerous other ways.

Re:hand count more accurate? (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796391)

And why why why do people keep thinking that a hand count done by humans would be more accurate than a machine count?
Elections aren't about accuracy, they are about giving people a warm 'n fuzzy feeling so there isn't civil war. For many people there is still distrust of machines, there is fear about what is really going on behind all those blinking lights.

Re:hand count more accurate? (1)

TVC15 (518429) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796409)

> Does someone think the machine miscounted?

A machine vote and count is for speed and efficiency. Everyone's for that.

However, some way of verifying the results will prevent people from rigging the machines or at the very least allay fears and paranoia that the machines have been rigged.

It doesn't help if someone is voted into office legitimately if there are many people who rightly or wrongly believe the vote was stolen. If anything, a verifiable vote will strengthen the power of the winner and allow people to move forward after bitter elections.

Re:hand count more accurate? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11796413)

Why should the manual count paper of paper ballots be the official recount. Why would there be a recount of a machine tabulated vote? Does someone think the machine miscounted? And why why why do people keep thinking that a hand count done by humans would be more accurate than a machine count?

Because - there is no other way to confirm that a person pressed "Vote for John Kerry", the machine displayed "You have indicated that you are voting for John Kerry. Is this correct (Y/N)", and then recorded a vote for George W Bush. Given that the major manufacturer of electronic voting systems is one of his major contributors, this is a necessary evil. Also, please note that just because the recount is based on a paper ballot, it doesn't have to be done by hand; why couldn't the machine just print out a bar code - in addition to the main, human-readable text - that is scannable (with vote # and person voted for, so the same vote isn't counted multiple times)?

Re:hand count more accurate? (1)

koreth (409849) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796428)

if (ballot.checked("Republicrat")) republicrat++;
if (ballot.checked("Demotarian")) demotarian++;
if (date == "Nov 6" && random() < .05) { republicrat++; demotarian--; }

This is easy to code into a machine. Possible to make nearly undetectable if the machine is closed-source, especially if states are sloppy about allowing unapproved software updates to be applied in the field by vendors (as was documented to have happened in the most recent US election.)

But it's much more difficult to cause humans to do, especially if they're being watched by a bunch of news crews and observers from all the parties involved.

I'm sorry. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11796465)

You are a moron.

Machines are not mythical flawless divinities sent from God to preside over the affairs of men. They are simple beast, of men, and their primary attributes are speed when specialized, and a kind of rote reliability. This doesn't mean they don't make mistakes, it means they make the same mistakes, until a human intervenes. And while it might be very simple for a commodity hardware to evaluate cells in an excel spreedsheet, that's not what we're talking about because that's not how we register votes. There are some parts of the process machines do well, such as reading nearly ideally marked ballots in good condition provided by humans, or adding up the resulting numbers. But there are parts humans do much better. Such as reading ballots that haven't been ideally marked or cared for. Finding ballots that other humans forgot to feed the machine. Noting when the machine grabs more than one ballot at a time. And others.

While it is difficult for humans to individually match a machine in raw adding ability, we in our infinite cleverness can none the less come up with effective counting strategies that match our digital bretheren in accuracy. These are of course labor intensive and thus expensive.

There are many things that contribute their error bars to the result of any recount. That you fail to see this isn't a failing of the system, it's a failing of your imagination.

Lastly, the paper recipts potentially give The People a way to audit the system. And a system with a million auditors with diametrically opposed viewpoints is a system that will quickly become trustworthy.

Re:hand count more accurate? (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796494)

Recounts don't happen all that often, and the idea isn't so much a matter of accuracy as it is transparency. A completely electronic voting system running a closed-source application such as Diebold's is hardly transparent and the fear is that any funny business would escape notice. Furthermore, even if someone did suspect a problem, without some external means of verifying the vote (something that the voter himself approves) there would be absolutely no way to prove it. It's not that we believe that people count better than machines ... they don't. It's that we know and accept that some people are inherently untrustworthy, and that the machines need some defense against them.

Paper ballots served us well for a long time ... if we're going to change that I say let's do it in small steps and make sure we know what we're doing.

please (5, Funny)

MankyD (567984) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796308)

for the love of god, please please please let this happen. just this once let a good bill pass.

Re:please (1, Insightful)

edgarde (22267) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796329)

Hmm. And which party is the majority in Congress?

This bill is a symbol. They don't expect it to pass.

Re:please (4, Insightful)

Fjornir (516960) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796394)

Pick up the god-damned phone and call your congressman, and both of the senators from your state. Fax them and email them as well. Then write and sign paper letters. Mail them.

Re:please (1)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796499)

There are already two two-year-old bills that would have done just this [slashdot.org] . But you're so informed you already knew that, right?

And now ... (2, Funny)

Chris Daniel (807289) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796309)

... We are pleased to present John Kerrry!!!

Re:And now ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11796497)

We are pleased to present.. anal critical guy!

They just can't let it die, can they? (0, Troll)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796314)

Couldn't we just have supported the bills that already would have corrected this, instead of making it a publicity stunt by a Clinton family member and the losing Democratic presidential candidate to play on the emotions of people who think that both the 2000 and 2004 elections were "stolen" by Bush? There were already companion Senate and House bills that propose to add permanent, voter-verifiable paper receipts and open source code. Naturally and not surprisingly, Kos completely ignores this, and makes it seem as if the contents of the Count Every Vote Act of 2005 is completely new[1] (this is the kind of shoddy, irresponsible reporting I was referring to the other day with regard to blogging [slashdot.org] .

Bills have already been introduced to amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) [fec.gov] [2]. H.R.2239 [loc.gov] and its twin Senate counterpart S.1980 [loc.gov] , discussed further here [verifiedvoting.org] , will amend the Help America Vote Act such that there is "a voter-verified permanent record or hardcopy" attached with each and every ballot cast by every voter, and that "any voting system containing or using software shall disclose the source code of that software to the Commission, and the Commission shall make that source code available for inspection upon request to any citizen".

Additionally, the three major electronic voting manufacturers already have the ability to add permanent, individual voter-verified paper audit trails to their products. Some e-voting critics make it seem like vendors are resisting. However, it is the local election boards that are resisting (as well as the slow march of bureaucracy). The e-voting vendors will build - and sell - whatever municipalities will buy.

[1] In fairness, this bill does have a couple of minor differences: it proposes that election day be a federal holiday, and makes doing things that liberals would like to make people believe are routine and widespread, like intimidating minorities and passing out fliers with incorrect voting dates, a felony. It also prohibits executives at voting vendors from being politically active, likely to pander to the people who think Diebold's CEO stole the election for Bush, completely ignoring the impossibility of actually executing on such an allegation statewide. In short, a shameless pandering publicity stunt, which ignores the completely legitimate bills already proposed two years ago above by respected members of Congress that would have addressed the two very topics discussed by Kos and noted in the article summary (namely receipts and open source).

[2] Before anyone decries HAVA: a frequent charge levied after the 2000 election was voter disenfranchisement and ballot spoilage due, in large part, to antiquated, malfunctioning, or broken mechanical voting equipment. Legislation was introduced guaranteeing a minimum standard for the equipment and processes associated with voting in all jurisdictions. Since we are living in the 21st century, electronic systems were specified. $3.9 billion was set aside under HAVA to replace all mechanical punch card systems with electronic systems by 1 January, 2006. The goal is to ensure a consistency and fairness in the appearance and operation of the voting systems, both for voters and local election officials.

After the 2000 presidential election, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) [fec.gov] :

To establish a program to provide funds to States to replace punch card voting systems, to establish the Election Assistance Commission to assist in the administration of Federal elections and to otherwise provide assistance with the administration of certain Federal election laws and programs, to establish minimum election administration standards for States and units of local government with responsibility for the administration of Federal elections...

The putative reasoning for going with electronic systems was likely that since we have managed to design accountable and reliable electronic and computing equipment for the management of our power, medical care, money, etc., it likely was more or less assumed by the legislature that such accountable systems could also be applied to voting.

Disclaimer: some of this content was from a previous post of mine on this topic.

Re:They just can't let it die, can they? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11796348)

There were already companion Senate and House bills that propose to add permanent, voter-verifiable paper receipts and open source code

Yeah, so, what are they and what is their status?

Re:They just can't let it die, can they? (1, Informative)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796381)

Um, I linked them both in the first sentence of the second paragraph of my post, and you can check on that for yourself, can't you?

Re:They just can't let it die, can they? (1)

iBran (763687) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796396)

By your logic, a car manufacturer sells a car for $12,000. However, seat belts are an $8,000 option.

It's the consumer's fault that they're not buying the option package?

Since nobody has disclosed the prices of these voting machines, I'm going to assume that they charge some ridiculous amount of money for them to begin with, say $20,000. And I'd also assume that they do indeed charge a ridiculous amount for the paper-trail package, probably something to the tune of $5,000. Gee, what do you think a cash-strapped city/county/district is going to do?

That's because HAVA initially didn't require it (1, Informative)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796437)

These bills, and frankly this new bill as well, would REQUIRE it, therefore requiring local municipalities to do what they need to do to deploy it. And if you then ask, well, why didn't they require it, as I said, it was likely simply literally overlooked during the creation of HAVA, which was designed to make voting FAIR for the disenfranchised areas that were so bitched about in 2000. The e-voting vendors thought they were deploying reliable systems. These are people who make ATMs and baking systems, for fuck's sake. Just because they're proprietary doesn't mean that every single thing that happens with them is some conspiracy to help Republicans steal elections.

they just won't roll over and play dead (4, Informative)

edgarde (22267) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796410)

Quoth the article:
In particular, the bill restricts the ability of chief state election officials as well as owners and senior managers of voting machine manufacturers to engage in certain kinds of political activity.
This is new. It addresses Diebold's famous conflict of interest.
The bill also makes it a federal crime to commit deceptive practices, such as sending flyers into minority neighborhoods telling voters the wrong voting date, and makes these practices a felony punishable by up to a year of imprisonment.
Another widely-reported concern. The Republican majority will never let this pass.

Re:they just won't roll over and play dead (0, Redundant)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796455)

I also addressed both of those in my post. Apparently no one's read it beyond the first paragraph:

[1] In fairness, this bill does have a couple of minor differences: it proposes that election day be a federal holiday, and makes doing things that liberals would like to make people believe are routine and widespread, like intimidating minorities and passing out fliers with incorrect voting dates, a felony. It also prohibits executives at voting vendors from being politically active, likely to pander to the people who think Diebold's CEO stole the election for Bush, completely ignoring the impossibility of actually executing on such an allegation statewide. In short, a shameless pandering publicity stunt, which ignores the completely legitimate bills already proposed two years ago above by respected members of Congress that would have addressed the two very topics discussed by Kos and noted in the article summary (namely receipts and open source).

Re:They just can't let it die, can they? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11796411)

Listen man...
It's cool if you don't like Kerry or Clinton, but for christs sake, don't trash talk the bill out of spite.
This is a Good Thing, don't ruin it by being a pissy.

Re:They just can't let it die, can they? (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796448)

like intimidating minorities

I'd change a word in this. Minorities -> Voters.

Of course, I'm a equal opportunity supporter of the color blind philosophy.
It proposes that election day be a federal holiday

Now this is an interesting idea. Of course, you'd also have to close down non-essential services. So many places are open 365x7 anymore that simply having federal institutions and places like banks and offices close down really wouldn't prevent many people from still working that day. Maybe require places of work provide the opportunity to vote?

LIBERAL CENSORSHIP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11796462)

Free speach indeed; I guess peer censorship is OK as long as only the "wrong" ideas are censored.

Re:They just can't let it die, can they? (4, Insightful)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796488)

The putative reasoning for going with electronic systems was likely that since we have managed to design accountable and reliable electronic and computing equipment for the management of our power, medical care, money, etc., it likely was more or less assumed by the legislature that such accountable systems could also be applied to voting.

That reasoning is flawed, as Bruce Schneier explains here [schneier.com] :

Some have argued in favor of touch-screen voting systems, citing the millions of dollars that are handled every day by ATMs and other computerized financial systems. That argument ignores another vital characteristic of voting systems: anonymity. Computerized financial systems get most of their security from audit. If a problem is suspected, auditors can go back through the records of the system and figure out what happened. And if the problem turns out to be real, the transaction can be unwound and fixed. Because elections are anonymous, that kind of security just isn't possible.

fourth (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11796318)

fourth

Clinton and Boxer, you mean... (5, Informative)

Faust7 (314817) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796326)

The article indicates that Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) are the primary proponents of this bill - though I'm sure Kerry also supports it.

Re:Clinton and Boxer, you mean... (1)

vomission (785188) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796400)

It's pretty sad, isn't it, when the submitter won't even RTFA.

Indeed... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11796454)

It's pretty sad, isn't it, when the submitter won't even RTFA.

Pretty soon I'll be so desensitized to sensationalistic journalism and a lack of fact-checking that I won't notice it even when it happens in commercial news outlets!

Re:Clinton and Boxer, you mean... (0, Flamebait)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796408)

The article indicates that Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) are the primary proponents of this bill - though I'm sure Kerry also supports it.

This won't go anywhere. It's OBVIOUSLY part of the CONSPIRACY to get Hillary lawfully elected president in 2008- just like Hitler was lawfully elected in 1933.
And you know what happens then. They take all our guns away and our testicles shrink.

voting reform (5, Insightful)

liquid stereo (602956) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796333)

This won't happen. For one, it makes too much sense. But, the biggest reason why it won't happen is because the government has been bought and the owners like what they have.

Re:voting reform (1)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796476)

One of the primary arguments used by the technically illiterate pro-Diebold election commissioners was that fears of votes being lost or stolen were groundless. Because..... "people are delighted to use the new machines."

So unless it has a nice looking interface, you open source programmers out there, it has no chance of being adopted.

gives hackers an advantage (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11796336)

"it requires paper receipts, and that the source and object code of all electronic voting machines to be open and readable by the public."

Since hackers want to break into the system, giving them the source makes their job a lot easier. No one else has any real incentive to atually analyse the code necessary, so this would be a win for the hackers (quit using the term cracker, BTW. It's annoying the way people try to change the definition of terms)

Re:gives hackers an advantage (1)

bender183 (447302) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796379)

Why won't you little kiddies get it into your thick skulls that distrbuting source code doesn't make a system less secure. What would you rather have 10 M$ employees monitoring source code for vulnerabilites...or hundreds upon thousands monitoring it at all times? Mindless kiddies like yourself aren't just slowing down open source movement, you are slowing down the progress of all man kind, you douche. (southpark)

Re:gives hackers an advantage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11796471)

Hacker - a person who enjoys figuring out how things work, usually computers. Cracker - a person who enjoys breaking into things for malicious purposes. Nobody's redefining anything, you're just an idiot.

Open source, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11796341)

This works like Firefox, right? So I can put while (1) personX.votes++; in there?

Typesetting (3, Funny)

Sweed (851139) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796347)

Man, the type-
setting of that
bill is aw-
ful. Do all
bills have stu-
pid margin
sizes?

Re:Typesetting (2, Funny)

madaxe42 (690151) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796387)

Yes - it's a standard school trick - put everything on a page with 3" margins, top bottom left and right, double space it, and go for a nice big font. That way when you hand your assignment (bill) in, it looks like you've done a lot of work, when you've actually been out with your buddies (out *on your yacht* with your buddies).

Re:Typesetting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11796482)

Very funny, but I imagine they leave a lot of space available for writing in the margins and making corrections. The big font is helpful for some of the eyesight impaired members of congress. They are old folks you know.

In other News Cmdr Taco gets Fired (-1, Offtopic)

microbrewer (774971) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796355)

Has Cmdr Taco been fired yet looks like Slashdot is trying to get the Firefox Spyware story off the front page .

how can it be proprietary? (2)

fluor2 (242824) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796374)

How can it be proprietary voting machines?
it's like
Votes counted
and do some small math?

it's not exactly difficult.

Hanging chad to be replaced by... (5, Funny)

ABeowulfCluster (854634) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796376)

"Is that a zero or a one, I think they meant to vote THIS way"

Bear in mind, please.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11796388)

Senator Clinton is the same senator that proposed allowing convicted felons to vote.

If I recall correctly, she also is opposed to accurately identifying legal voters by requiring proper identification.

Really now, do you think the democratic republic that is the United States can survive allowing illegal (and legal) non-citizens and convicted felons to vote in elections?

I don't trust either one of the two senators above (and most of the other senators and congressmen, now that I mention it). YMMV.

Somebody want to trot out that old saw attributed to Stalin about "it ain't who votes..." right about now?

I partially agree (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11796412)

Yes, I agree that there should be a paper receipt. I think that there should also be an identical paper receipt that drops into a locked box at the time of voting to provide a test of the accuracy of the electronic tabulations. This duplicate copy would be shown to the voter to compare to their copy and the vote would only be recorded when the voter was satisfied that they agreed.

I don't agree that all of the source code should be made public. What a great way to invite hackers to find a way to commit fraud. The source code should be made available to a committee with representation from each of the parties involved in the election so that they can verify its fairness.

Good and bad (4, Interesting)

GQuon (643387) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796423)

"Paper records of electronic voting:" Good, as long as voters can't prove to somebody else who they voted for. That would facilitate vote buying.

"Election-day registration": Need to read the bill. If volounteer (partisan) groups get to haphazardly register people at the polls, that's a bad thing. Registrations should be in order some weeks before the elections.

"Election Day as a national holiday.": Good. Productivity could go down, but it could increase turn-out and the importance of the election in people's minds.

"Restoration of voting rights for former felons": Not sure. Is a felon that has served its sentence entitled to the same rights as others?

"the source and object code of all electronic voting machines to be open and readable by the public." Definately good. The many-eyeballs approach to security validation is perfect for this case, since it's an application with such a huge number of interested parties.

Now, how about non-citizens voting and proof of identification? Anything on that?

No acronym? (1)

null etc. (524767) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796463)

I, for one, am disappointed that this act has not been named with a catchy acronym in mind.

I now open this forum up to suggestions.

Count Every Vote! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11796467)

That's right people. Count Every Vote, whether it's made by a felon, an illegal immigrant, a corpse, someone's pet, a fictional character, or just from the same guy who already voted ten times today. As long as they aren't in the military. For them we need to make sure they get their ballots only after the election has been held, so we can feel good about tossing them out.

Okay, open code - what about hardware? (1)

daeg (828071) | more than 9 years ago | (#11796489)

Hardware can have flaws, too, either accidental or intentional. Do we as citizens get the right to inspect the hardware, too, or at least some citizen watchdog groups? IMO, hardware stuff is much more sinister since it would be next to impossible to detect.

Why are voting machines complicated? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11796501)

I've been wondering something about voting machines for a while - why are there so many complications to them? I've heard a lot of mention of security threats, inaccuracies, and so forth, but why is the program any more complicated than just storing a hash table of votes that occurred? It just seems like a really simple app, I don't get how there can be so many problems with it.

It's too late for the FDKAUSA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11796505)

Former Democracy Known As the United States of America
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