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WI Bill Would Require E-Voting Paper Trail, Source

timothy posted more than 8 years ago | from the small-step-for-cheeseheads dept.

United States 87

AdamBLang writes "Three Wisconsin legislators announced today that they began circulating a memo for cosponsors to a bill that would require electronic voting machines to produce a paper ballot. Additionally, the new bill includes a provision that the source code must be publicly accessible. After the November 2004 elections, there were numerous reports of problems with the new paperless touch voting screens. Problems include machines subtracting or adding votes, freezing up, shutting down and skipping past races."

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and . . . (1)

LBt1st (709520) | more than 8 years ago | (#13216627)

...voting for people that don't exist. I love how acts like this come about After 2 terms.

Paper, we don't need no stinking (2, Insightful)

infonography (566403) | more than 8 years ago | (#13216635)

Paper ballots. If We got paper ballots then how could be fix the elections?

"It's not who votes that counts. It's who counts the votes." -- Joseph Stalin and up till now that's been Diebold.

Fraud is rampant in many ways (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 8 years ago | (#13218057)

and paper ballots have been at the forefront of fraud for ages.

After we ensure that the vote cast is recorded as intended we also need to move on to the most important issue.

Ensuring the person casting the vote is who they say they are and that they are entitled to cast the vote.

I won't be satisfied until we use picture id and get receipts for our votes. If we are to eliminate fraud lets not do it half assed.

Re:Fraud is rampant in many ways (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 8 years ago | (#13218505)

After we ensure that the vote cast is recorded as intended we also need to move on to the most important issue.

Ensuring the person casting the vote is who they say they are and that they are entitled to cast the vote.

Making sure the person is who they say should be done before not after they vote.

Falcon

Round and Round this argument goes (1)

infonography (566403) | more than 8 years ago | (#13219317)

Whenever I hear this little strawman it's from somebody contesting the results. We heard it in Florida in 2000, we heard it just recently in Washington when that crybaby Rossi tried to get the third recount tossed because of alleged voter fraud. You don't get to pick and choose of the results after the election is done. X number of supposed fraud votes does not come off the number of the winners votes. If you suspect fraud stop that vote from going in. If it's in your S.O.L. And if I hear from somebody in person mouth that crap I am gonna take some of their teeth. A hidden vote is a hidden vote. Don't like it, then you don't like the USA and you should get the hell out.

It is not a strawman argument... (2, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 8 years ago | (#13222054)

The issue is that nothing is being done to prevent the fraud NOW. Every possibly means of avoiding identification and eligibility to vote is the norm. Look how many times in the news we see people opposing reform? Right now the big issue is electronic voting mainly because of the fact that Diebold's high muckety-mucks visibly support Bush and too many people want to make it appear Ohio was won by Bush only through Fraud.

Hell we still have the Voting Rights Act nearly 40 years after it was supposedly not needed. Its not being done to protect voters but instead to protect politicians by allowing for current methods of fraud to remain unimpeded. Vote fraud is very real and combining positive voter ID and a paper trail are both required, not one, BOTH.

Here in Georgia we had a major problem with voting fraud. The problem with current computer voting systems is that they could not trace the vote to who cast it. Normally I would be all for that type of privacy but this is a big avenue for fraud.

Now in Fulton county we got 45,907 new registrations to vote. When precinct cards were mailed nearly 3100 were undeliverable. Of those 3100 undeliverable 921 of them voted!

Now of 8100 plus registrations that were missing information on the form they mailed to each and only 55 responded!

Under the old paper ballot system with little to no voter verification there was a slight chance to correct fraundulent elections. The paperless solution we have no provides no means.

What happened in my Grandparents area of Ohio was that a few of them were bussed to multiple voting areas and told to vote in each. They were also told whom to vote for.

This isn't a crybaby ploy and attempts to dismiss the argument as such only contribute to the fraud, after all it is far easier to dismiss the person bringing the claim than to refute the claim.

Actually the Washington case is a good one for why picture Id and instant verification are needed. What was done in Washington is similar to what is done nationwide but usually only for smaller local elections - keep counting until you get the results you want. Extrapolating from my examples of attempted voter fraud in Georgia may explain how vote tallies can change so much. Found votes, lost votes, and miscounts are all part of dirty politics.

What you propose by ignoring the problem is that we keep the politics as usual. This of course walks right into the hands of the politicians in power. They don't want to lose their jobs and will therefor encourage anything which allows them and their cronies to protect those jobs.

Re:Paper, we don't need no stinking (1)

damian cosmas (853143) | more than 8 years ago | (#13220656)

Electoral fraud predates electronic voting machines. If you want to stop voter fraud, focus on the source of the problem: dead people voting, unregistered people voting, intimidation at and outside polling places, and individuals casting multiple "provisional" ballots in different locations. Besides, weren't Saddam and Arafat both elected with 100% majorities on paper ballots?

Re:Paper, we don't need no stinking (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 8 years ago | (#13221099)

""It's not who votes that counts. It's who counts the votes." -- Joseph Stalin"

Now, I don't know any Russian, but I have my doubts that there is a single Russian word that means both "to enumerate" and "is of importance" in the way that "counts" does. Do you have a source for this convenient quote?

Re:Paper, we don't need no stinking (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 8 years ago | (#13235962)

Gee, thanks. 400+ results, not one of which apparently saying anything like where or when the Man of Steel supposedly uttered this. I don't subscribe to the "repetition is truth" idea.

Re:Paper, we don't need no stinking (1)

infonography (566403) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243623)

http://www.google.com/search?lr=&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8 &q=%22Libert%C3%A9%2C%20egalit%C3%A9%2C%20fraterni t%C3%A9%22 [google.com]

Results 1 - 10 of about 115,000 for "Liberté, egalité, fraternité". No clue who said it I guess your on your own. I don't subscribe to the "repetition is truth" idea either. However Ask a stupid question on slashdot get a stupid/flippant answer.

Re:Paper, we don't need no stinking (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 8 years ago | (#13243998)

I asked for a source, you gave an answer that did not contain any sources. I, in my sig, am not the one trying to attribute words to anybody.

Re:Paper, we don't need no stinking (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 8 years ago | (#13229150)

FYI,
During the last election where you had thoses rare occurances of problems with electronic machines, none of thme were made by Diebold. Also the companies that did have problems had ties with the Democrat party.

Re:Paper, we don't need no stinking (1)

demigod (20497) | more than 8 years ago | (#13229997)

... none of thme were made by Diebold. Also the companies that did have problems had ties with the Democrat party.

It is customary to provide a URL to backup such broad statements as those above.

Re:Paper, we don't need no stinking (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 8 years ago | (#13238027)

Here is a URL [votersunite.org] for all the problem. From there is it a simple matter of looking up the names of the companies who provided the machines and who they had ties with.

Re:Paper, we don't need no stinking (1)

demigod (20497) | more than 8 years ago | (#13252001)

According to that site some of them were, infact Dibold machines.

Re:Paper, we don't need no stinking (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 8 years ago | (#13268735)

Thoses were pre-election problems or human caused. The other machines and the ones that made all the news headlines where not.

Re:Paper, we don't need no stinking (1)

PB8 (84009) | more than 8 years ago | (#13265907)

To msquote Ann Coulter, "I don't think I can accept your characterization of the facts!" Ann was having a pretty bad day on the live set when she said that, and it was followed by language that wasn't suitable for the well-mannered to repeat. It may have been a day like yours.

Perhaps working with reports from field investigators, concerning problems with Diebold would be a better use of electrons than fobbing off mere assertion as accepted fact.

We could start with this report on the Florida elections and indications of startling Diebold inadequacies and problems, with field-based documentation:
Florida FEC Report (PDF Format) [bbvdocs.org]

There are plenty of documents on Diebold any citizen interested in fair, open and free elections would find worth reviewing. More can be found here:
Original Diebold Memos -- FULL SET [bbvforums.org]

It would seem when real sunshine is put on Diebold adn the states using their machiens, it's not all that pretty a sight. Getting the paper trail, the electronic audit trails, and the ability to fully observe (within the state laws governing this) the election processing seem essential to preserving the integrity of our elections.

It is important to differentiate between vote fraud, voter fraud and voter disenfranchisement. Vote fraud occurs during the actual counting and/or certification stages and is what election officials can go to jail for doing. Voter fraud occurs at the polls by individual voters, although they may linked in a social group, and the individual voters could go to jail for this. Disenfranchisement occurs between the intended voter and the polls, cutting off a percentage of the eligible electorate from having their chance to be counted in the voting. The issues with the Diebold machines are mostly vote fraud.

Disenfranchisement might be alledged when insufficient machines are assigned to a polling place with a higher percentage of the opposition party and an overage of machines assigned to polling places where the party in power is favored. This in an of itself is not a Diebold problem. It's state election board problem. Now if what happens is lots of malfunctioning machines appear in the opposition polling place while working ones appear in the polling place where the incumbant is favored, and Diebold had certified all the systems as ready for deployment, then we have to ask what Diebold's involvement and interests were.

Yes! (4, Insightful)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 8 years ago | (#13216644)


It's hard to overstate the importance of this--no matter what your stance on any of the multitude of wedge issues, you should be behind this. Only people who somehow expect to gain from rigged elections could rationally oppose it.

So let's keep a list of who objects, shall we?

--MarkusQ

Voting System Rocket Science (2, Interesting)

iendedi (687301) | more than 8 years ago | (#13218349)

In this time of automated exploration of the solar system, robotic probes wandering around on Mars, computer systems decoding the human genome and whatnot, we find that addition in a simple tally of votes is just too damned hard to get right.

Am I being cynical?

Why is it that the American people sit idly by and allow the gutting of America? This Diebold voting scam was about the most obvious and malicious corruption (or coup) of the democratic process in the history of the world. But nobody even bothered to pay attention.

What the hell is wrong with all of us? We should be marching on Washington with pitchforks, torches and hangman nooses!! I'm serious!!

Re:Voting System Rocket Science (1)

sahrss (565657) | more than 8 years ago | (#13218988)

What's wrong, I'm not sure. I could be apathy, or something more scary like this [wikipedia.org] (mercury in immunity shots.)

There were marches (1)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 8 years ago | (#13219299)


There were marches. There was outraged protest. And the only reason I know is that I was there. If you watched the news that day all you heard about was the bread (or was it circus day?) that was deemed newsworthy by our *ahem* free and independent news corporations.

Which leads to the question: If a democracy falls in the forest and there's nobody willing to report it--where'd all the bean dip go--dang, I forgot my question. Who's got the remote?

--MarkusQ

Re:There were marches (1)

zxnos (813588) | more than 8 years ago | (#13221409)

If a democracy falls in the forest and there's nobody willing to report it

i am unsure where you live, but i live in a federal republic. [wikipedia.org]

but yeah, we need election reform big time and there are already alternative sources for info. just convince your friends to get of the couch. you need to start local.

Point taken (1)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 8 years ago | (#13221669)


Agreed, but I kind of felt that "a plurality of the local democracies comprising a federated republic" was a little heavy for the allusion I was aiming for.

--MarkusQ

Re:Yes! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13220684)

It's very easy to overstate the importance of this. I could say that electronic voting is the leading cause of tooth decay, heart disease, and slow, painful death, for example, or that airplanes will spontaneously fall from the sky and land on kindly grandmothers if we don't have a paper ballot.

oh yes, this will solve all our problems... (1)

Khyron (8855) | more than 8 years ago | (#13216759)

Certainly corruption and misreporting on a massive scale can be avoided entirely by "backing up" an electronic process with a paper trail - because paper based voting systems are infallible!

Just ask anyone from Florida.

Re:oh yes, this will solve all our problems... (3, Interesting)

2old2rockNroll (572607) | more than 8 years ago | (#13216925)

Certainly corruption and misreporting on a massive scale can be avoided entirely by "backing up" an electronic process with a paper trail - because paper based voting systems are infallible!

Just ask anyone from Florida.

At least paper ballots never return a negative number [bbvforums.org].

Re:oh yes, this will solve all our problems... (1)

ciroknight (601098) | more than 8 years ago | (#13223587)

I think it's more important to me that someone gets a reciept for voting.. come on, you buy groceries all the time and they give you a reciept that half of the time you don't even keep, but for something as important as voting you don't get one? And that doesn't smell like corruption to you?

An electronic voting system isn't that fucking hard people. But if you contract a company to do it, it's up to the company to be honest and that's not something we should rest on any one company.

So why don't we just make a national standard electronic voting machine, and modify the standard until it works!? It's cheap (hell, you could vote on an ARM processor, nobody needs a pentium 4 and a touch screen to choose what politician they want), and pretty infallable (printed reciept: "Here's who you have just voted for: xxxx", a copy kept inside of the machine, and a copy dispensed to you). At this point the only way to fuck it up is if someone tampers with the machine, which would be pretty evident if anyone tried. Hell, print the results on a paper that's hard to counterfeit (like what our money's printed on).

In fact, why don't we just turn the whole damned thing over to the department of the treasury to take care of, since they are so good at fighting this kind of thing?

P.S. Florida fucked up because they required people to put holes in paper, which is simply retarted, because sometimes holes in paper don't exactly punch well. Printing on a piece of paper isn't exactly something that can fuck up nearly as easily.

Why isn't this already a requirement? (1)

revscat (35618) | more than 8 years ago | (#13216913)

Quick question: Why isn't this already a national requirement? What reasonable explanation is there for such a glaring lack of security in the most fundamental of governmental institutions?

Re:Why isn't this already a requirement? (1)

superpulpsicle (533373) | more than 8 years ago | (#13217027)

The US government is just a mess when it comes to integrating with technology. It thinks of itself as 50 different entity in each state, instead of 1 big network. Every state set up their own org, registry, .gov whatever as radically different from one another as possible. I am glad there is a paper trail.

Re:Why isn't this already a requirement? (1)

AdamBLang (674002) | more than 8 years ago | (#13217150)

The federal government doesn't have the constitutional authority to mandate how states run their elections.

Re:Why isn't this already a requirement? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Custard (587661) | more than 8 years ago | (#13217265)

"Quick question: Why isn't this already a national requirement? What reasonable explanation is there for such a glaring lack of security in the most fundamental of governmental institutions?"

They'll tell you it's too expensive to have printers on all the voting machines. (Even though Diebold is the same company that somehow figured out a way to give you a receipt for every transaction you make at an ATM.)

The real reason is that paper receipts make it too hard to rig the election.

Re:Why isn't this already a requirement? (1)

cheezedawg (413482) | more than 8 years ago | (#13217914)

They'll tell you it's too expensive to have printers on all the voting machines. (Even though Diebold is the same company that somehow figured out a way to give you a receipt for every transaction you make at an ATM.)

Um, no they don't. Diebold is selling a voting machine right now [corporate-ir.net] that offers a paper trail.

Re:Why isn't this already a requirement? (1)

_Splat (22170) | more than 8 years ago | (#13219257)

The paper trail is not an end-all solution. Who says it can't print out one thing while tallying another?

they need to count both then (3, Informative)

zogger (617870) | more than 8 years ago | (#13219493)

the more immediate pure electronic vote can go forward with the machine, but the voters could verify their vote on the paper,then drop them in another tally box if they look good, then those paper votes get manually counted elsewhere and compared against the electronic result within a few days.

That's one way to do it. Of course I am in favor of no e-voting at all. I've voted for decades, and it's only the last three I have been required to be dieboldized. My vote has disappeared, you can't see it, it's gone, poofed away to some closed source machine only used by a few people with an agenda. We have no vote now, we have an illusion of a vote, we traded magic beans voodoo "new shiny" voting for anything resembling a vote. Paper pencil and wooden box are quite sufficient. worked for centuries. I like tech, but I like simple too. The only *need* for diebold is to hack elections, that's it. all the stuff that has leaked out about diebold screams "hacked elections on mass scales for fun and profit". Obvious as all get out. I don't think it was a coincidence that the first state wide all e-voting (georgia) also resulted in major poll busting differences in the vote, all *conveniently* in favor of the party currently enjoying power. Now I am not a D,nor an R, none of my guys every hardly gets elected, but... but this was fairly easy to see happen. It just sucks. pre and post polling for years was always pretty accurate,not perfect, but usually nailed it well. Then all of a sudden these polls "failed" the same time we started using diebold machines.

uh huh

I just don't believe in coincidences with power politics, not with the stakes as high as controlling large states and the federal government. It is beyond even putting a numerical value in dollars to estimate what control of the executive and legislative branches of the federal government are 'worth", and if that continues for some time, then control of the judiciary, then that's it, you got it wrapped up. Only two parties is dismal enough, but just one party would be a disaster, and with the vote controlled, it would stay a disaster.

It's far worse than you think... (1)

Kevin Burtch (13372) | more than 8 years ago | (#13220652)


Check out the results of this this search [google.com].

They want to eliminate limits on tenure.

Re:It's far worse than you think... (1)

zxnos (813588) | more than 8 years ago | (#13221530)

if only we could get limits on senators and representatives across the board. and not pay them. perhaps then people would serve for ideals rather than the power. call me jaded.

Re:It's far worse than you think... (1)

Kevin Burtch (13372) | more than 8 years ago | (#13222167)


Unfortunately, that would get rid of some of the very few good ones we have left, like John Conyers [johnconyers.com]. :(

Pay reform (1)

chihowa (366380) | more than 8 years ago | (#13236743)

If you don't pay them anything, then only those wealthy enough to not work could serve. That wouldn't be much better!

Alternately, I believe that congressmen should get paid the average wage of the residents of their state. That would make the job pay well enough to live off of, but would avoid attracting those who just want the money. At the same, it would encourage raising the standard of living of those in their state (across the board), instead of just sucking them dry like parasites.

Re:Pay reform (1)

zxnos (813588) | more than 8 years ago | (#13240577)

in the church i grew up in, the pastor did not get paid. he was given a modest house, car and what he needed to live on by the congregation. i dont see why we couldnt treat politicians in the same way.

i think politics should be a short term service, not a career. currently only weathly people are typically able to get elected, so that is really a red herring. at the very least we will have have them rotated out. at best a new method of campaigning can be developed where the people of all incomes can get their message and name out. and i think it is emerging through the internet.

Re:Why isn't this already a requirement? (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 8 years ago | (#13229164)

In truth Diebold has long sold electronic voting machines with printed receipts. They cost more and are worthless for anything but making the voter feel good, which is why most places don't get them.

Also how would a paper receipt stop any rigging of the votes? The paper is worthless for accountablity once the voter has it in thier hands. It would be a feel good item that just destroies some trees and creates more garbage that needs to be cleaned up.

Re:Why isn't this already a requirement? (1)

Anonymous Custard (587661) | more than 8 years ago | (#13230475)

Also how would a paper receipt stop any rigging of the votes? The paper is worthless for accountablity once the voter has it in thier hands.

The paper doesn't ever reach their hands. They see it through a window, so they can confirm that their exact vote was recorded in an unalterable way (unlike an insecure ms access database which can be changed without a trace).

If there's any question, or for a spot check, the paper votes can be counted and compared to what the access database said. If the numbers aren't exactly the same, you know the access database was changed.

That is MUCH more secure than only storing the vote history in an access database alone.

Re:Why isn't this already a requirement? (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 8 years ago | (#13238033)

That would be system that has a possiblity of being of some use. You would still have to work out rules on which is the official system of record, and when the paper recording would be used.

However that is not the type of paper system that people are talking about. If you read the orginal post and even the parent of my first post they are all talking about a paper system where the voter gets a slip of paper, like an ATM machine.

Voter does not keep the paper (1)

spitzak (4019) | more than 8 years ago | (#13239848)

No you misunderstood. The voter does not keep the paper, they put it in a ballot box. Keeping a proof of how you voted would allow vote buying (ie your boss insists you show you voted for his candidate or your are fired).

I think having the voter move the paper from the machine to the box would inspire more confidence that it really is their vote (the machine *may* be incinerating the enclosed paper you see and printing another...) However I can see problems with some scheme where many voters are somehow made to submit bogus receipts in place of their real ones, screwing up an election by invalidating many results due to mismatches between the paper and electronic votes. This may be why the "paper behind glass" schemes are being proposed.

Paper trail unimportant, auditability is. (1)

SgtChaireBourne (457691) | more than 8 years ago | (#13220183)

Voting systems need to be auditible whether that occurs through paper or some other methods, the goal is that the authenticity and origin of votes be verifiable with 100% certainty. Anything else is just missing the point. Jumping for specific technologies and methods is still putting things bassackwards.

That said, I do suspect that the current US voting methods do not meet the requirements set out for an open and fair election by both the UN and the US when they go about observing elections. Invited UN inspectors were actually denied access during the 2004 election. Perhaps the US should take Castro up on his offer to oversee the elections if the UN isn't good enough.

In the 2000 and 2004 elections some people claim that there is no evidence of voting fraud or errors on a large scale in the current machines. However, on the other hand, there is no way to provide evidence to the contrary either. i.e. there is not way to prove the votes are valid and/or authentic. And, regardless of whether there was or not, the fact that the authenticity of large numbers of votes cannot be proved or disproved is a terrible and ridiculous situation for any country to find itself in.

Until such time as voting machines can be proven to provide an audit trail (whether paper or not) with 100% certainty as to both the authenticity and accuracy of the votes, the machines should be disallowed. The current ones used for both voting and tallying votes clearly lack the ability for authenticating either the veracity and origin of the votes and tallies, and should be banned and replaced with other methods until then.

Since we're talking lots of paper if the insistence is on a paper trail, why not just go for plain old hand counts. Canada, though smaller than the US, can do it. Either way, get rid of the defective machines and punish their vendors. We can probably never get to the bottom of what really happened in the 2000 and 2004 elections, but we can take proactive steps NOW to ensure that such problems cannot and do not occur again.

Let a thousand ballot-bills bloom... (1)

monomania (595068) | more than 8 years ago | (#13216949)

Even though this particular story is local to the Wisconsin statehouse, it will be interesting to see what actual language ends up in their bill. If done well this could make an excellent template for us to push out to our own state and federal legislators. We've gotta start somewhere with a serious effort to regulate this into openness.

How does this change anything? (1)

servoled (174239) | more than 8 years ago | (#13217143)

Not that I am overly paranoid, but I fail to see how this will change anything.

Even with paper ballots being printed, how are we to know that our vote gets tallied on the right column? What is to stop the program from printing one result while tabulating another?

Furthermore, even if source code is publicly available, what guarantees are there that the publicly available code is the actual code running on the balloting machine?

I would personally have more confidence in the system if completely separate systems are responsible for creating a ballot and for counting the ballot with the only link between the two machines being a printed ballot which is verified by the voter prior to entering it into the counting machine. Although, even then there are no guarantees that it will be counted correctly.

Re:How does this change anything? (1)

AdamBLang (674002) | more than 8 years ago | (#13217189)

When you're in a voting ward where 300 people voted for Candidate A and 100 people voted for Candidate B and everybody in that voting ward knows their neighbors were going to vote for Candidate A, when Candidate B wins, you can say "hey! something's up," pull out your paper trail, recount it, and and put Candidate A in office.

Re:How does this change anything? (2, Insightful)

chriso11 (254041) | more than 8 years ago | (#13217505)

Well - I think that if the election binaries were regulated as closely as the slot machine binaries in Vegas, I would trust it...

Re:How does this change anything? (1)

sam1am (753369) | more than 8 years ago | (#13218825)

Yeah, but be careful - in Vegas the odds always favor the house... :)

Re:How does this change anything? (1)

zeroduck (691015) | more than 8 years ago | (#13217712)

At some point you have to trust someone. Currently in Wisconsin, we use optical reading machines. Think scantron fill in the bubble, but instead of filling in the bubble, you connect a line. When you vote, you're trusting that there isn't a flaw in the machine, and that the machine has been programmed correctly for that election to read the correct place for the correct candidate (the machine "knows" which candidate is which--at close it tells, by name, who won and gives percentages and tally counts). The benefit though, is there is a papertrail. Every ballot that has been marked, whether tabulated or not, is kept. If it's been tabulated, it's kept seperate. If its a spoiled ballot (undervote/overvote) its destroyed, and the remains are kept. Giving a receipt to the elector is useless, but having them see a hard copy of who they voted for before it is tabulated is just... common sense.

Re:How does this change anything? (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#13217930)

To all your questions at once, we can't ever know. If we have secret balloting (which we do, and should, have), no one can know how everyone else voted, except from the tabulation.

You have to trust someone -- whether it is individuals or computers tallying the votes.

Printed records allow recounts. As far as I am concerned, recounts should be mandatory, for all elections. Count once by computer, once by hand. The hand count takes precedence over the computer count.

This bill takes several steps in the right direction.

Accountability. Transparency. Neutrality. These are the pillars of a good voting system.

Re:How does this change anything? (1)

bmasel (129946) | more than 8 years ago | (#13219206)

"What is to stop the program from printing one result while tabulating another?"

This is a Wisconsin Bill. The state's Open Records Law already makes ballots, ie paper and optiscan, public records which can be inspected by anyone who asks to do so.

EFF: verified vote bill introduced in US Congress (5, Informative)

Savantissimo (893682) | more than 8 years ago | (#13217149)

From the EFF [eff.org]:
Best E-voting Bill Reintroduced - Lend Your Support!

Verify the Vote In 2004, thousands of EFF activists helped Rep. Rush Holt's Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act (VCIAA, HB 550) garner immense support before the session ended. The bill contains several critically important election reforms, including the requirement of a paper audit trail for all electronic voting machines, random audits, and public availability of all code used in elections. HB 550 was reintroduced in February, and it currently has over 130 bipartisan cosponsors.

The momentum is on our side, and it's more important than ever to ask your representative to support this bill since many counties across the country are choosing voting equipment now. Tell Congress to stand up for election reform!


There is a link on the EFF page so you can send a canned or customized letter of support for this bill to your Senators and representative.

Andy Stephenson would be proud (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13217185)

Too bad Andy Stephenson [seattleweekly.com] wasn't around for this...

"Voter verified paper ballot" was his mantra to the end.

RIP

E-Vote Programming (1)

BlueCup (753410) | more than 8 years ago | (#13217378)

I'm not by any means an expert programmer, but I can make a program that counts based on a users selections, and I see no possible way for an error to be made.

if(optKerry)
kerryVote=kerryVote + 1;
else if(optBush)
bushVote=bushVote + 1;
else
msgBox("You stupid moron. Please choose one or the other before voting");

None of this leaves any room for votes to disappear, or more than one vote to be tallied per person. Am I missing something here? Is there any reason it should be more complex than this?

Re:E-Vote Programming (1)

Vampyre_Macavity (826127) | more than 8 years ago | (#13217476)

That could easily be modified by someone who had the know-how, like so: Prior to review by supporter of an incumbent politician who's been paid to make sure the incumbent stays in office: if(optChallenger) challengerVote=challengerVote + 1 else if(optIncumbent) incumbentVote=incumbentVote + 1; else msgBox("You stupid moron. Please choose one or the other before voting"); Hmm. Let's fix this so that Incumbent stays in office. C:\evotecode> find "challengerVote";subst incumbentVote=>challengerVote if(optChallenger) incumbentVote=incumbentVote + 1; else if(optIncumbent) incumbentVote=incumbentVote + 1; else msgBox("You stupid moron. Please choose one or the other before voting"); There, much better. C:\evotecode>compile

Re:E-Vote Programming (1)

FiloEleven (602040) | more than 8 years ago | (#13218399)

Yes, you're missing something!  You forgot the code to deal with third party candidates:

if(optThirdParty)
  if (floor(rand()*2)
    kerryVote = kerryVote -1;
  else
    bushVote = bushVote -1;

Only then will it become truly obvious that third parties only steal votes from primary candidates.

=)

Re:E-Vote Programming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13219241)

And if the user input is:
optKerry=1;
optBush=1;
then what? Or the startup code (you didn't show) reads:
unsigned short kerryVote=0,bushVote=0;
Kerry happens to get 65545 votes and Bush gets 20000 votes, you'll display:
Kerry: 10
Bush: 20000

Unfortunately, you're also correct in your observation - any idiot can program up a voting machine....

Wisconsin Rules (1)

Beer Moon (894244) | more than 8 years ago | (#13217418)

Sometimes our senators make me really proud to be from this state. This is one of those times. Screw Diebold. Screw proprietary software. This is a democracy. We need voting machine code that is for the people, and BY the people. No exceptions.

Re:Wisconsin Rules (1)

Vampyre_Macavity (826127) | more than 8 years ago | (#13217530)

Indeed we do. It's about time the Commons were truly common again, instead of pseudo-common by way of corporate control.

Three cheers for Wisconsin! (And I promise to never again make jokes about Wisconsinians and cheese!)

'cause after all (1)

Stanistani (808333) | more than 8 years ago | (#13217800)

<whimsy>

Electronic Polling is Easy, Right?

[ Voting Booth | Other Polls | Back Home ]

This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane.

</whimsy>

e-voting (2, Informative)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 8 years ago | (#13218484)

a bill that would require electronic voting machines to produce a paper ballot.

Good, they should. If atm machines can print a receipt so should e-voting machines. I seem to recall some years back about how Deibolt, one of the companies that makes them, said having these machines print receipts wasn't practical. Funny because Deibolt also makes atms.

Falcon

Help support Black Box Voting [blackboxvoting.com], they guard your right to have your vote counted.

Re:e-voting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#13220042)

seem to recall some years back about how Deibolt, one of the companies that makes them, said having these machines print receipts wasn't practical. Funny because Deibolt also makes atms.

Actually, whats funny is that you are an ignorant sack of crap. Diebold makes voting machines that print receipts [pcworld.com]. This isn't new, either. They made a very public announcement about it 9 months ago.

Retards like you are so busy being outraged that you have no idea whats going on in the world around you.

Re:e-voting (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 8 years ago | (#13223641)

Diebold makes voting machines that print receipts.

Reviewer: hart noecker - 5 out of 5 stars - January 30, 2005 [archive.org]
Subject: Fucking insanity...
So, like, NOW Diebold has to make voting machines that print a piece of paper. Now! How has the lives of billions of people been subject to the wims of a fucking printer? Paper and ink have been forced together for THOUSANDS of years. Why, after cloning animals and traveling to other objects in space, have we just figured out how to print a ballot after a computer records our vote? How many tens of thousands have or will die because of this?

Re:e-voting (1)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 8 years ago | (#13222731)

Having a "receipt" is pointless, except for extortion uses; it isn't a reliable indicator of the machine tabulation and can't be used for manual recounting. Since Wisconsin already uses optical scanning ballots, a far simpler solution that will work with existing equipment is to use optical scanners for all electronic tabulation, but (where appropriate) use electronic voting systems to print the optical ballot. The voter checks in as usual and waits for the next available balloting station, which instead of a pen and paper is an electronic interface. When the voter is done making selections, the balloting station prints out an optically scannable (but still human-readable) ballot. Once the voter has the printed ballot in their grubby little hands, they can visually verify that the marks were made correctly, then walk it over to the scanner and insert it as they currently do with the hand-marked ballots. This system has the following advantages:

Can be implemented using standard off-the-shelf electronic components.

Utilizes existing equipment, reducing the cost.

Can peacefully co-exist with partial implementations.

Can gracefully fail-over to hand-marked ballots in the case of malfunction.

Does not require network or internet infrastructure.

Allows for voter verification.

Most importantly, allows for manual recounting.

Re:e-voting (1)

falconwolf (725481) | more than 8 years ago | (#13223548)

Having a "receipt" is pointless, except for extortion uses; it isn't a reliable indicator of the machine tabulation and can't be used for manual recounting

This is only true if those who control the system won't allow it. The voting machines can have a small window showing the paper record of the vote, with the paper being a roll. Once the roll is used up it can be replaced with an empty roll and the rolls are transported to one place for verification. Where available the machines themselves can be hooked to a tabulating machine at the election headquarters and they transmit the votes as they are made, then the machines themselves also store the votes. Once polling is closed the machines are taken to headquarters or wherever. Then all three records can be compared, if there is any disagreement the paper is what is used, as they are what's seen by the voter. However there shouldn't be any difference between them unless there's something wrong with the software, which is why the paper would be used. Extortion shouldn't even be a factor as the voter doesn't get to keep the paper on how s/he voted, so nobody can say the person didn't vote the way they were "supposed" to vote.

Falcon

Re:e-voting (2, Interesting)

jesterzog (189797) | more than 8 years ago | (#13227942)

Having a "receipt" is pointless, except for extortion uses; it isn't a reliable indicator of the machine tabulation and can't be used for manual recounting.

Well, it's only pointless if it's returned to the voter. I think what was meant by the parent (which wasn't very clear) was to simply allow the voter to confirm that their correct vote is also recorded on paper. The receipt can then be automatically dropped into a paper ballot box. (Or alternatively if it wasn't correctly recorded on paper, the voter indicates this, the receipt and electronic vote are ignored, and the voter votes again.) If there's any significant controversy over the electronic counting, the collected paper receipts can be counted manually as a final authority.

People simply can't confirm that their vote has been correctly recorded inside a computer. I have a computer science degree, and that only makes me even more wary that it might not have been, perhaps because I'm aware of all the ways that it might be abused. There are too many levels of abstraction between the real world and computers, and it takes a lot of training and expertise to properly understand it. Most people will never be able to confidently understand it, either because they don't have the time, or they simply can't think in that way. But they can check that it's correct on paper, and then watch the paper be dropped into the ballot box.

It's pretty similar in many ways to the system you've described for Wisconsin, I think. What really matters is that both of these systems allow for manual recounts of voting papers that have been verified by the voters. Doing this returns the voting system back to a level where all voters can see and understand how it works on at least the most fundamental level where things will be decided in the case of any controversy. Understanding of the system by as many people as possible is where trust comes from, and trust in the election system is one of the big things that's ultimately needed for a fair and respectable democracy.

The Bill was born on /. (1)

bmasel (129946) | more than 8 years ago | (#13218625)

I first became interested in the paper trail issiue after seeing a poting here early in 2001, and began bugging Rep. Pocan shortly thereafter.

Got the Attention of the State Elections Board in Jan 2003, resulting in decertification of prior machines that April.

Pocan had a paper trail bill a little over a year ago which passed the Assembly unanimously, but was not acted upon in the Senate before they closed shop for the year. Pocan at the time told me adding an open source code clause was too late, buy promised to include my language in re-introducing the bill this year.
See my March 18, 2004 post [slashdot.org]

The Elections Board is currently examining equipment to be purchased 1 for each polling place, for handicapped voters. The systems they examined last week provide paper trails, but are closed source code. Elections Board notice to County Clerks [state.wi.us] (Word.doc)

Possible Solution (1)

kponto (821962) | more than 8 years ago | (#13218947)

In order to ensure that the votes are counted correctly, the receipt for your vote should include the total number of votes, including yours, that each candidate has received, including the ones you didn't vote for. This way, if people want to, they can check against the people who voted before them that the tallies reflect the correct vote. The voting could still be anonymous, as all one would need to know is the number of votes that the previous persons receipt reflects, and judge it against their own.

Who counts the paper ballets? (1)

orn (34773) | more than 8 years ago | (#13219748)

One interesting thought, though. It makes sense that the paper ballots will be machine readable. So, who writes the software that reads the paper ballots during the recounts?

Sigh... I hope this gets passed and enacted upon before the 2006 elections. This was introduced by my state representative - that's cool.

R

Re:Who counts the paper ballets? (1)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 8 years ago | (#13222859)

Right, they have to be machine readable, and deposited in a secured poll box.

The reason you cannot allow anyone to leave with a record of their vote, is that that record will be used by the bad guys when they coerce or bribe people into voting for their candidate. If no-one can prove who they voted for, you can't force someone to vote one way or another.

Paper Trail (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 8 years ago | (#13221700)

In my township we already have a highly reliable, open-source voting mschine that provides a complete paper trail. It consists of a 100 year old tin and wood box that we place our paper ballots in.

It couldn't hurt, could it? (2, Interesting)

gimmickless (787930) | more than 8 years ago | (#13224189)

I worked as a local election judge in November 2004. I saw hundreds upon hundreds of people show up at the polls, and I can't remember how many times we cleared the memory of those microship-implanted cards. All told, I think we did a pretty good job at making sure that people at least provided an ID before we let them vote. Could that checkpoint have been invalidated? Sure, but you'd have to do the following:

1) Change the computer printout of our list of names to allow voting at our facility.

2) Pose as someone else, and either hope or ensure the identity theft victim didn't show up first.

When all was said and done, we took each computer voting terminal and got a printout of votes for Bush/Kerry/other. We also had identification sheets of who was registered to vote. This sheet included their listed party affiliation. As a CYA measure, we compared the voting results with the list of people who voted and their party prefreence. The ratios in both cases leaned slightly towards Bush. Could that have been invalidated? Sure, but you'd have to tamper with the list of registered voters as well as the voting machines.

Now I'm still young (23) and don't really know how things worked back in the one-armed bandit days or with simple paper ballots. I'll agree that our voting machines aren't perfect. They're still subject to people in high places with an agenda. I'm convinced there always will be that possibility as long as Americans have the right to vote. At least now I don't have to worry about corrupt local election judges fixing the results to fit their personal prejudices.

A Step in the Right Direction (1)

Kichigai Mentat (588759) | more than 8 years ago | (#13236487)

I think that this is possibly the best thing to happen to voting since... before hanging chads, dimples, and pregnant dimples came into our vocabulary. Also, it's a tried-and-tested system, paper trails that is.

At work, almost every electronic machine we use leaves a paper trail. Our registers print a journal of every purchase we ring up, and mistake we correct, in addition to keeping track pay-at-pump purchases, and the verbosity can be changed. The Minnesota State Lottery Machine produces a paper report for every lottery ticket we cash out or cancel. We then just file those away.

And, (like mentioned below) the paper trail would be computer/human readable, which would make recounts much quicker, more reliable, and less expensive. "Go ahead, have another recount. The results will be in tomorrow." I don't think we can go wrong with this one. As much as it pains me to say this (as a Minnesotan), Go Cheese-heads, Go!

Wired (1)

JCY2K (852841) | more than 8 years ago | (#13237543)

Wired has a running thing on the last page of every issue, Found: Artifacts from the Future. One of them is on this exact subject. It is here [wired.com]. I very much support both of these ideas. Open source makes sure no one's screwing with the machines intentionally and a hard copy makes sure people can't lie. Well not exactly, but it makes it harder.

Controversy (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#13245436)

How can anyone who opposes paper trails for votes, that don't compromise anonymity, possibly be taken seriously for even one second? How is it that these "accountable voting" laws are controversial at all?

Re:Controversy (1)

redlum_jak (905664) | more than 8 years ago | (#13258780)

I would not be in favor of giving each person a receipt because that can be used to intimidate people into voting a certain way. For example, someone stands near the exit for the polling place and beats up anyone that didn't vote the way they were "supposed to". I would be in favor of having the machine print out readable ballots that are then put into a regular ballot box.

Re:Controversy (1)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#13259799)

Sure, but I haven't heard of any auditable voting scheme that lets people take any proof of the nature of their vote away with them. I do think that people should be able to get a floating holiday from work by presenting a receipt that they voted (not what was their vote), whether or not they vote on the day they take off. But if anyone can show that the anonymity of even having voted could be used for or against someone (for example, helping or hurting targetted "Get Out The Vote" crusades in certain statistically favorable neighborhoods/demographics), then everyone should just get a floating holiday in the month of November, during which time everyone can vote on the day they choose.

However, none of these proposed laws has any of those sophisticated provisions. They just say that a paper trail of some kind must be produced, that never leaves the polling place, that isn't associated with a person's identity. Just available for later recounts of a physical, difficult to counterfeit, object.
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