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WI Assembly OKs Voting Paper Trail

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the best-city-in-the-world dept.

Security 197

AdamBLang writes "Madison Wisconsin's Capitol Times reports 'With only four dissenting votes, the state Assembly easily passed a bill that would require that electronic voting machines create a paper record. The goal of the legislation is to make sure that Wisconsin's soon-to-be-purchased touch screen machines create a paper ballot that can be audited to verify election results.' Slashdot has previously reported on this bill." More from the article: "Wisconsin cannot go down the path of states like Florida and Ohio in having elections that the public simply doesn't trust ... By requiring a paper record on every electronic voting machine, we will ensure that not only does your vote matter in Wisconsin, but it also counts."

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197 comments

Good idea but.... (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14013860)

Unfortunantly, this paper trail will still record your multiple votes if you live in Milwaukee.

I live in Mexico... (4, Insightful)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#14013995)

and here are more or less the electoral fraud techniques used by the party in power for about 70 years:

* "pregnant urns". Before the votes took place, urns were already filled with votes.
* Operation "Carousel" - groups of persons voting twice, or more
* Operation "Tamal" (a tamal is some kind of corn candy kept inside corn leaves). You grab two ballots and fold them, so now you vote for two.
* Operation "Ratón Loco" (crazy mouse). Some guy steals the urns in strategic areas (specially where the opposition is strong) and disappears.
* Vote rewriting. Before impartial organisms counted the votes, the people in charge would alter votes that were against the party in power, and nullify them.
* Dead votes. People who had died managed miraculously to resurrect and vote in favor of the official candidate.

And the most famous of all... (drum rolls, please)
The system crash. In the 1988 elections, after all the ballots were collected, the computer counting the votes suddenly went down, and when the system was up again, the votes now favored the official candidate.

After having to endure all these forms of electoral fraud, laws in Mexico became stricter to make the elections safe from frauds. These laws were promoted and approved, of course, by the opposition congressmen. One of these measures, was the inclusion of photographs in the voting credential (official ID). Another was having a designated area to vote according to your registered address. The voting areas are usually schools or museums, not farther than 5 or 6 blocks from your home.

As a result of all these measures, we finally had a president from the opposition party in 2000.

And it's kinda ironic that we have surpassed the U.S. (whom we had taken as model for transparency and democracy) because of U.S. problems like electronic voting machines, and because we use the popular vote and have more than two political parties.

Re:I live in Mexico... (1)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014054)

We have dozens if not hundreds of political parties, it's not a failure of democracy if the majority of votes go to two of them. That the votes go to them because they're the best funded is a shame, but the people choose how they do.

It's interesting that you'd bring up the popular vote. America uses the popular vote for everything except the election of the president, and if Mexico has any equivilent to Wyoming, or for that matter, anything that isn't urban sprawl, I bet they'd wish you did the same.

Why not just trust the fucking machine? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14014026)

Does this mean that they try to ignore the voters' obvious will to fill all political positions with "George. W. Bush"? Morons. In real democracy, if the machine says the result is George then the result is George, simple eh?

Re:Why not just trust the fucking machine? (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014186)

You don't know Wisconsin very well. If Madison didn't swing Democrat, there would be all kinds of warning bells and accusations of fraud being thrown around. Hell, Wisconsin voted for Dukakis. What does that tell you about the ticket?

I've always been surprised about the vote in Wisconsin, however. While Madison is extremely liberal, the rest of the state tends to be very conservative. (Thus the phrase, "Madison is 12 square miles surrounded by reality.") Yet the democrats always win in Federal elections, usually by a significant margin. My only theory is that Wisconsinites still have generational memories of Mccarthy. His little witch hunt for communists made Wisconsin look bad, and it didn't help the Republican party either. There had to have been a backlash against Republicans. Now the current generation of voters vote for Democrats because their parents did, and they don't even know the reason why.

It's just a theory, but it would explain a LOT.

this is for you: (1)

master_meio (834537) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014279)

Win or Lose, Kerry Voters Are Smarter Than Bush Voters

NEW YORK--Democratic hand wringing is surrealy out of hand. No one is criticizing the morally incongruous Kerry for running against a war he voted for while insisting that he would have voted for it again. Party leaders have yet to consider that NAFTA, signed into law under Clinton, may have cost them high-unemployment Ohio. No, Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, darling of the "centrist" Democratic Leadership Council, blames something else: the perception "in the heartland" that Democrats are a "bicoastal cultural elite that is condescending at best and contemptuous at worst to the values that Americans hold in their daily lives."

Firstly, living in the sticks doesn't make you more American. Rural, urban or suburban--they're irrelevant. San Francisco's predominantly gay Castro district is every bit as red, white and blue as the Texas panhandle. But if militant Christianist Republicans from inland backwaters believe that secular liberal Democrats from the big coastal cities look upon them with disdain, there's a reason. We do, and all the more so after this election.

I spent my childhood in fly-over country, in a decidedly Republican town in southwest Ohio. It was a decent place to grow up, with well-funded public schools and only the occasional marauding serial killer to worry about. The only ethnic restaurant sold something called "Mandarin Chinese," Midwestese for cold noodles slathered with sugary sauce. The county had three major employers: the Air Force, Mead Paper, and National Cash Register--and NCR was constantly laying people off. Folks were nice, but depressingly closed-minded. "Well," they'd grimace when confronted with a new musical genre or fashion trend, "that's different." My suburb was racially insular, culturally bland and intellectually unstimulating. Its people were knee-jerk conformists. Faced with the prospect of spending my life underemployed, bored and soused, I did what anyone with a bit of ambition would do. I went to college in a big city and stayed there.

Mine is a common story. Every day in America, hundreds of our most talented young men and women flee the suburbs and rural communities for big cities, especially those on the West and East Coasts. Their youthful vigor fuels these metropolises--the cultural capitals of the blue states. These oases of liberal thinking--New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Boston--are homes to our best-educated people, most vibrant popular culture and most innovative and productive businesses. There are exceptions--some smart people move from cities to the countryside--but the best and brightest gravitate to places where liberalism rules.

Maps showing Kerry's blue states appended to the "United States of Canada" separated from Bush's red "Jesusland" are circulating by email. Though there is a religious component to the election results, the biggest red-blue divide is intellectual. "How can 59,054,087 people be so DUMB?" asked the headline of the Daily Mirror in Great Britain, and the underlying assumption is undeniable. By any objective standard, you had to be spectacularly stupid to support Bush.

72 percent who cast votes for George W. Bush, according to a University of Maryland's Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA) and Knowledge Networks poll, believe that Iraq (news - web sites) had weapons of mass destruction or active WMD programs. 75 percent think that a Saddam-Al Qaeda link has been proven, and 20 percent say Saddam ordered 9/11. Of course, none of this was true.

Kerry voters were less than half as idiotic: 26 percent of Democrats bought into Bush-Cheney's WMD lies, and 30 percent into Saddam-Al Qaeda.

Would Bush's supporters have voted for him even if they had known he was a serial liar? Perhaps their hatred of homosexuals and slutty abortion vixens would have prompted them to make the same choice--an idiotic perversion of priorities. As things stand, they cast their ballots relying on assumptions that were demonstrably false.

Educational achievement doesn't necessarily equal intelligence. After all, Bush holds a Harvard MBA. Still, it bears noting that Democrats are better educated than Republicans. You are 25 percent more likely to hold a college degree if you live in the Democratic northeast than in the red state south. Blue state voters are 25 percent more likely, therefore, to understand the historical and cultural ramifications of Bush's brand of bull-in-a-china-shop foreign policy.

Inland Americans face a bigger challenge than coastal "cultural elitists" when it comes to finding high-quality news coverage. The best newspapers, which routinely win prizes for their in-depth local and national reporting and staffers overseas, line the coasts. So do the cable TV networks with the broadest offerings and most independent radio stations. Bush Country makes do with Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity syndicated on one cookie-cutter AM outlet after another. Citizens of the blue states read lackluster dailies stuffed with generic stories cut and pasted from wire services. Given their dismal access to high-quality media, it's a minor miracle that 40 percent of Mississippians turned out for Kerry.

So our guy lost the election. Why shouldn't those of us on the coasts feel superior? We eat better, travel more, dress better, watch cooler movies, earn better salaries, meet more interesting people, listen to better music and know more about what's going on in the world. If you voted for Bush, we accept that we have to share the country with you. We're adjusting to the possibility that there may be more of you than there are of us. But don't demand our respect. You lost it on November 2.

.

Ka-Ching! (2, Funny)

Ossifer (703813) | more than 8 years ago | (#14013870)

The folks over at Diebold are happy to hear this--now they can charge a whole bunch extra for printers...

Of course they may have to spend it on software fixes...

Re:Ka-Ching! (2, Funny)

Waffle Iron (339739) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014005)

The folks over at Diebold are happy to hear this--now they can charge a whole bunch extra for printers...

Actually, the printers will be provided at no extra charge. However, the consumables will be a different story. Diebold predicts that by 2009, ink and paper refills will generate 87% of their revenue and over 94% of their total profits. The remainder of the profits will be generated largely by sales of extended warranty plans.

Good but not great (5, Insightful)

katana (122232) | more than 8 years ago | (#14013886)

While this will help people put greater trust in the system by providing a paper trail, the core problem is still there. If you can commit fraud by altering a computer system, surely you can commit fraud by altering the part of the system that generates the paper trail, or by altering/switching the paper trail itself. This is a limitation of technological solutions to problems of trust and reciprocity. They always encounter the problem of infinite regress, where the technological solution to a problem (often a problem generated by a previous technological solution) is always able to be undermined. This is one of the arguments why DRM is doomed to fail (eg DVD Jon can always hack the next "improved" version of DRM). In this sense, electronic voting systems are much like DRM: an inevitably limited and imperfect techonological solution that gets in the way of an important process of trust and reciprocity.

Re:Good but not great (1)

Ossifer (703813) | more than 8 years ago | (#14013910)

How about giving voters the opportunity to verify their machine recorded votes (i.e. let them look at the printout)?

Re:Good but not great (1)

xTown (94562) | more than 8 years ago | (#14013928)

Pardon the bad pseudocode...


send_to_printer($vote);
if ($vote=="Candidate A")
then record_vote($vote)
else record_vote("Candidate A")


The only way to ensure that this doesn't happen is to have the source code 1) available; and 2) reviewed by experts. Even then, it's spoofable unless the experts can verify at each stage of compilation and assembly that the code is unadulterated, and that that code is successfully downloaded to machines, and that that code is then used by those machines. Letting people see a printout is just cosmetic IMHO.

Re:Good but not great (2, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 8 years ago | (#14013949)

The REAL way to verify is to audit a random selection of precincts. Compare the recorded electronic vote count with the paper records.

Select a group of 10 local voters, at random, and have THEM select 10% of the relevant precints to audit.

Re:Good but not great (1)

Ossifer (703813) | more than 8 years ago | (#14013961)

You don't think would get caught when they compare the print out counts to the machine counts at the end of the day?

Re:Good but not great (2, Informative)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 8 years ago | (#14013969)

Re:Good but not great (2, Informative)

aywwts4 (610966) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014000)

Great link!

(not to steal your thunder) For the lazy, and those who hate PDF's the relevent paragraph:

The bill also provides that the coding for the software that is used to operate the system on election day and to tally the votes cast must be publicly accessible and must be able to be used to independently verify the accuracy and reliability of the operating and tallying procedures to be employed at an election. In addition, the bill provides that each municipal clerk or board of election commissioners of a municipality that uses an electronic voting system for voting at an election shall provide to any person, upon request, at municipal expense, the coding for the software that the municipality uses to operate the system and to record and tally the votes cast.

Re:Good but not great (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14013924)

Here's my question. A national election happens what, every 4 years? It's the single most important event in any country. One might say that no expense should be spared to conduct it fairly and effectively right? So why the electronic voting machines? Do they make it more reliable? No. Do they make it more accurate? No. Do they make it easier? No.
Do they make it cheaper? No. So what's the advantage here other than that the CEO of Diebold has his fingers up the ass of some politicians? It's obvious from here that America is corrupt and rotten to the core.

Re:Good but not great (2, Insightful)

aywwts4 (610966) | more than 8 years ago | (#14013983)

Yes, because we all know machines suck at tasks like accurately counting numbers in the millions, a situation that simply humans excel at.

We also know that it will only be easier to use some archaic punch card system than simply touching your candidates name and confirming it.

We also know that hanging computer code is a frequent problem, requiring many votes to be discounted regularly.

Also, since many places already use a computer to read analog votes; That doesn't add any extra possibility for error.

In conclusion, what the hell are you ranting about?

Re:Good but not great (1)

Red Alastor (742410) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014050)

In Canada, we get the result when one candidate have enough votes counted for that the others can't catch up. We always end up getting the results before the voting period is over. And we don't use plain paper.

I heard on the news that it's fast because the system is 100% uniform.

Re:Good but not great (1)

PygmySurfer (442860) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014403)

We don't use plain paper? I recall placing a big X in the circle next to my candidate of choice in the last federal election.

Or was that paper not plain? Maybe it was recycled?

Re:Good but not great (4, Insightful)

saskboy (600063) | more than 8 years ago | (#14013943)

The only solution to a paper trail that the public can trust, is to have the paper marked in front of the voter, and have it inserted into the ballot box in front of their eyes, so they can be confident that a machine isn't mis-marking their ballot, or discarding their ballot for another that's put into the ballot box.

Punch cards are really a good way to do a paper trail, as it's visible to the voter, and if there's a dimple or pregnant chad it's clear the voter meant to mark that one. If there's more than one dimple, it's spoiled. In Canada if there's any kind of a mark in the designated area, the ballot is considered valid, it doesn't have to be an X. But if there's marks outside of the Voting O circle for the candidate, then it's bad, or if there's more than one marked. It's not rocket science, it's democracy. Diebold just gets it very, very wrong.

Re:Good but not great (1)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014011)

Good point, then the only people who can screw with the system are corrupt poll workers and ballot counters rather than corrupt software programmers.

Not to mention the corrupt voters in either scenario.

Re:Good but not great (1)

j1m+5n0w (749199) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014083)

Good point, then the only people who can screw with the system are corrupt poll workers and ballot counters rather than corrupt software programmers.
Fortunately, individual poll workers have very little influence over the outcome of an election. Given the safeguards that polling places tend to employ, skewing results of a paper election by a significant margin would require a large conspiracy with significant cooperation between many people -- such a thing would be hard to keep secret. On the other hand, bad software can easily skew an election if there are no safeguards in place to verify the count.

Re:Good but not great (1)

arothstein (233805) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014163)

Oh, so the solution is to have a $5000 machine that collects the voter's input via touchscreen and produces a paper punchcard ballot that the voter must review to ensure there are no mispunches (due to fraud and/or error in the voting machine) and must review to ensure there are no pregnant chad or dimples due to mechanical failure and/or misfeeds???

So we spend $5000 per machine for what? A glorified holepunch? A holepunch that's subject to fraud, manipulation, and just as many techinical problems as the 30 cent piece of metal this overpriced piece of shit replaced?

Progress indeed.

Re:Good but not great (1)

Doppler00 (534739) | more than 8 years ago | (#14013970)

I think you underestimate the "next" improved DRM. Manufaturers now easily have the ability to encrypt the entire signal stream from the media all the way to the display devices. The only reason that DVD's were cracked was because that software was sold that could decode them under an "untrusted" computing environment that the user controls. Once this control is eliminated, it would be virtually impossible to hack. They may even design the decryption IC's to self distruct if an attempt to open them is made.

There's more in the Bill (1)

bmasel (129946) | more than 8 years ago | (#14013998)

As originally introduced, Representative pocan took my suggestion of publicly viewable code. As amended in Committee, we got something less desirable, but adequate.

Analysis from the Legislative Reference Bureau

..provides that if an electronic voting machine is used at a polling place, the board of canvassers must perform the recount using the permanent paper record showing the votes cast by each elector, as generated by the machines.


  and

The substitute amendment also directs the Elections Board to promulgate rules to ensure the security, review, and verification of software components used with each electronic voting system approved by the board for use at elections in this state. Under the substitute amendment, the board must require each vendor of an electronic voting system to place its software components in escrow with the board. The substitute amendment prohibits the board from providing access to the components to any person except in a recount of an election. If a valid petition for a recount is filed in an election in which an electronic voting system is used to record and tally the votes cast, the board must provide access to the software components used to record and tally the votes to one or more persons designated by each party to the recount if each designee first enters into an agreement with the board under which the designee agrees to maintain the confidentiality of all proprietary information provided to the designee. The substitute amendment permits a county or municipality to contract with the vendor of an electronic voting system to permit a greater degree of access to software components used with the system than is otherwise authorized under the substitute amendment.


Full text of AB 627, in pdf [state.wi.us]

Re:Good but not great (1)

bergeron76 (176351) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014018)

If you can commit fraud by altering a computer system, surely you can commit fraud by altering the part of the system that generates the paper trail, or by altering/switching the paper trail itself.

The introduction of difficulty (and complexity) creates a de-facto checks and balances system. Accountability is a core value of patriotic Americans, and as such, having an auditable trail is fundamental.

The right to/ability to/integrity of/ the voting process is the deepest core of our country (as our founders intended). If there's anything we can all agree on, it's that every person have a "say"/vote in the overall direction of the Nation/homeland/Country.

Re:Good but not great (1)

quentin_quayle (868719) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014426)

Black-box electronic voting simply abolishes democracy. No electronic system can approach the public certainty that the announced result is true; they can only take us away from it. And certainty of the result, in a publicly verifiable way, is the only thing that gives any election any legitmacy (in the political-science sense).

But never mind that! Suppose we have to live with the machines. Can a "paper trail" give that approximation to the legitamateness of simple paper-ballot voting?

Well, no, clearly it cannot - for a simple reason that no one above (high-modded at the time I started writing) seems to have noticed. All U.S. states today have laws saying that no contest of an election is allowed unless the election is within a few percentage points. So any nefarious characters manipulating the results (that's a whole other discussion) would merely have to make their candidate win by less than that number of points.

Also good for error checking? (5, Interesting)

Deathbane27 (884594) | more than 8 years ago | (#14013889)

I assume that after the vote is cast, the voter can view the receipt. That way they can make sure their vote registered (no more dimple or chad issues). Also, if there's a discrepency between what you actually voted and what the receipt says, you can take it to the election judge.

Re:Also good for error checking? (3, Informative)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 8 years ago | (#14013933)

Yes. Usually, the paper copy of the ballot feeds up behind a plastic window, allowing the voter to view the receipt for accuracy. When they indicate that they are satisfied that the ballot is correct, the machine then automatically feeds the ballot into a box. The paper ballots can then be used if there is doubt as to the accuracy of the electronic vote tally kept by the machine.

Re:Also good for error checking? (1)

addaon (41825) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014429)

Of course, who knows how many votes print into the box after everyone's done voting for the day.

Re:Also good for error checking? (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014087)

Do not confuse a paper trail with a receipt. You don't get a receipt with paper ballots, and you should never get one with an electronic ballot.

(Receipts open up way more potential for vote buying, - take the receipt down to your friendly campaign headquarters for a quick hundred buck, - in a sense creating a bigger problem).

You might get to view the paper trail before it advances to hide your vote, but even this is uncommon.

Paper trails are so that there can be a hand count, and that is all the were meant to provide.

Re:Also good for error checking? (1)

Eric Smith (4379) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014207)

Actually, every time I've voted with a paper ballot (not punched card) in California, I have in fact gotten a receipt. The receipt doesn't show my votes, though; it just has the serial number of the ballot.

CE? (2, Funny)

divisivemind (888140) | more than 8 years ago | (#14013890)

"And best of all, the next system is built from a modified version of Windows CE to ensure all votes are counted."

Oh...nevermind. I made that up. ;P

Now If Only.. (4, Insightful)

TheFlyingGoat (161967) | more than 8 years ago | (#14013896)

This takes care of one issue. Now they need to start requiring a photo id to vote. A couple of state politicians have presented plans that would work, including ones that provide free photo ids to anyone who doesn't have a driver's license. People who didn't have a photo id when they went to vote would still be able to cast their vote, but it would be flagged in case of a recount. The vote would be unflagged if the voter provided a photo id at any point after the vote.

It makes sense, especially when there were many cases of voter fraud in Milwaukee during the 2004 election. Many votes were cast from addresses that don't exist. Granted, a photo id won't solve all the issues with voter fraud, but neither will a paper trail. Both are still a step in the right direction.

Re:Now If Only.. (2, Informative)

bitingduck (810730) | more than 8 years ago | (#14013918)

The vote would be unflagged if the voter provided a photo id at any point after the vote.

Except then you no longer have secret balloting if you can connect people back to their votes after they've been cast.

Re:Now If Only.. (2, Insightful)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 8 years ago | (#14013955)

The balloting at my polling place isn't any more secret. I have to register beforehand, and then when I arrive, I have to give my name and sign a voter roll before I cast my ballot. There's even a number on the top stub of the ballot that matches a number they write down in their records. The only time that my identity and my ballot are separated are at the very end, when the poll worker tears the top stub off the ballot and drops the rest of the ballot into the box.

And since it's generally illegal to vote by proxy, forcing the voter to show ID before they vote to prove their identity doesn't add any more anonymity concerns than what the current system already has.

Re:Now If Only.. (1)

bitingduck (810730) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014030)

separated are at the very end, when the poll worker tears the top stub off the ballot and drops the rest of the ballot into the box.

And at that point it becomes a secret ballot, and nobody can match you back to your ballot.

That you voted isn't secret, how you voted is secret.

Mine works the same way. While the number is still attached to the ballot, the ballot is either in my hand or in a little envelope covering the markings, or folded over, covering the markings. At no point during that can someone try to see how I voted without it being very obvious, and they can't accidentally see. Then at the end they tear off the numbered tag and voila, secret ballot.

If there were a requirement that your ballot be flagged if you showed up without ID, but you were allowed to bring ID before the results were finalized there would have to be some way to connect you back to your ballot.

I suppose you could take those ballots from people without ID and put them in sealed envelopes with their identity on the outside, and if they show up later with ID they get to watch the envelope be unsealed and the secret ballot tossed into the anonymizer (ballot box). People without ID then get to cast their vote on time, but it doesn't get counted unless they show up with ID later.

Then again, it'll probably become moot as everyone moves to absentee voting anyway.

Re:Now If Only.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14013946)

Photo ID to vote. Hah! It'll never happen in Wisconsin without a veto override. Doyle, the governor, has vetoed a number of senate-and-assembly-passed PIDTV bills already.

But, since a reasonable person might ask if he isn't in office because of vote fraud in the first place, at least his position on the matter seems consistent.

Re:Now If Only.. (1)

Re-Pawn (764948) | more than 8 years ago | (#14013948)

While there were some cases of voter fraud in Milwaukee - along with every other major metro are in the US - I don't think an ID is the answer - it certainly wouldn't have stopped both Dems and Reps from giving cigarettes and alcohol to indigent and poor individuals to cast there vote. Adding even more red tape to the mix is not going to solve any voting issues - the major voting "problem" is that the country is pretty evenly divided - and there is no longer a middle or common ground. So - it really doesn't matter who wins or loses - people will be bitching about voter fraud or vote rigging (that is not to say it isn't happening) In theory a paper trail will at least confirm what vote was cast.

Re:Now If Only.. (2, Insightful)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014144)

There's also the whole thing with having a corrupt two-party political system, but we'll just ignore that for the purposes of your point.

Thank god... (3, Funny)

chriswaclawik (859112) | more than 8 years ago | (#14013914)

...everybody knows that votes on paper can never be tampered with.

Re:Thank god... (1)

Mateorabi (108522) | more than 8 years ago | (#14013973)

But for physical things, at least the evidence is harder to get rid of. What evidence do you have of a bit flip? Also, with both an e and p trail, you can check them against each other. It may be more dificult to figgure out which one is wrong if there is a discrepancy, but at least you'll know to look for a problem.

Re:Thank god... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#14013997)

everybody knows that votes on paper can never be tampered with.

Traffic signalling systems use an electronic conflict detector, in addition software conflict detection. This is to ensure that the system can not display crossed green signals.

As a last stage safety measure, the relay which enables green for (say) south, also switches off green for east.

My point is that where you want to be absolutely sure of the behavior of a system, it pays to mix different technologies. Perhaps having three totally different layers of safety.

I think a paper trail is part of the way there but I would like to see a proper design with multiple independant audit trails.

Makes you wonder... (1)

Pichu0102 (916292) | more than 8 years ago | (#14013971)

What would happen if the printer messed up and started printing on the paper ballots a few inches off?

Re:Makes you wonder... (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014039)

What would happen if the printer messed up and started printing on the paper ballots a few inches off?

You seem to be assuming that the paper log will look like the sort of multiple choice ballot paper which people fill out. I don't think it has to be like that.

If it uses a dot matrix printer then a paper jam can result in thousands of lines of records being printed in one place until the paper wears through. I have seen that a few times on remote sites.

Re:Makes you wonder... (1)

Phroggy (441) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014290)

How many times have you had an ATM misprint your receipt? The same company makes those, you know.

Re:Makes you wonder... (1)

frause (234486) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014395)

How many times have you had an ATM misprint your receipt? The same company makes those, you know./p>

None. It's always out of paper.

Have the OSCE watch over US presitential elections (1)

Crouty (912387) | more than 8 years ago | (#14013989)

The OSCE has done it before, they have experience and manpower to do this. I say let them survey the next elections in the US. Ironically the US go to war allegedly to bring democracy to other countries.

Ohio? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14013992)

Machines in Ohio do create a paper record.

Re:Ohio? (1)

saundersr (842208) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014049)

at least in my county they do... machine prints the record which is then viewable to the voter.

Re:Ohio? (2, Interesting)

stinerman (812158) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014253)

I asked a poll worker how everything worked and he explained how it was all "triple redundant" and that "my vote would count this time". Other than that, I couldn't get much more out of him as he was busy. I'd like to know what role the paper copy plays in the official results. If the paper copies are only used in recounts, then all a crafty attacker would have to do is make sure he altered the votes enough that any recount would not need to be triggered.

Issues 2-5 went down hard when there were some polls that showed them ahead a few days before the election. I'm a bit suspicious when I hear issue 2 is going to pass 60/40 and it gets shut down 35/65 (or something similar).

information (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14014008)

Brazilian's electronic voting machines create a paper ballot that can be seen.
I believe its a nice security measure and give me more trust in the system
They almost never use the paper, except when the machine brokes or when someone suspects some fraud

Re:information (1)

sophuslie (826054) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014082)

Brazil was the first country to use electronic voting system in 1996. In the last election 175 millions of people has vote. Its used on the president election and all others. About 0,5% of the voting machines has some problems in this election. And sometimes this votes really matters, most on some municipal elections, where the differences are really small. Unhappily they used windows...

Re:information (1)

daniel422 (905483) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014274)

Exactly! The US has a huge amount of people voting as well (100+ million) -- electronic voting allows decreased costs (know how much the paperwork for voting takes to publish and distribute every election?) and a highly accurate vote count. I've used electronic voting in the last few elections here in California (and used again last week) -- no paper trail, simple touch-screen voting process -- easy to read, choose, and verify (it reviews my selections at the end). Having used electronic systems for tests, company questionaires, and other data-recording purposes I have no problem or discomfort with this. 0.5% of the voting machines have problems? Now I'll admit that 0.5% of 175 million is still a pretty big number (I work in the semiconductor industry -- we strive for 0.001% failure rate or better) it's miniscule compared to the failure rate of paper ballots. I'd say the whole concern is media hype, but reading here on slashdot (which I would have thought to be less technophobic) proves otherwise. Maybe we're just more paranoid?

technophilia (4, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014037)

what we need is simplicity when it comes to voting, not complexity. i believe we should never go to electronic voting, and even get rid of mechanical voting booths, which has a sordid history of tampering

fraud happens in all forms of voting mechanisms, and voting is just too much of an important and vulnerable part of our social cohesion and the source of so much faith in and integrity of our government. being so vital and vulnerable, the point in my mind would be to oversimplify the voting process on purpose. the more complex the system, the more points of failure and the more possibilities of fraud. so make the process very simple: paper ballots

i mean seriously, why the technophilia? voting is a problem that is not solved better with more technology, just made more complex. paper ballots i say. the slashdot crowd of any crowd of people should know all about the various and sordid ways malfeasance can be achieved in electronic communication and electronic storage. voting is not a complex math problem. it's very simple. no computer need apply

the slashdot crowd, as technophilic as it is, should know better than any crowd of people why electronic voting can be a downright scary prospect. don't mess with it, simplify it, which means avoiding computers in the voting process like the plague. i'm not a luddite, i am simply saying that specifically in reference to the voting process, it must be simplified technologically to ensure faith and integrity in our government

Re:technophilia (1)

bitingduck (810730) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014076)

i mean seriously, why the technophilia?

You're right that technology makes accurate voting harder rather than easier, but we also have this culture that wants instant results.

The combination of electronic machines that produce a human (and maybe machine) readable paper ballot that the voter verifies gives you both. The electronics count the votes on the fly and give you a preliminary result, then the paper ballots are the official votes and used in case a recount is needed.

i'll grant you half of what you said (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014108)

reading all the blasted things requires a machine

of course, the reading machine is a source of fraud and failure right there, but i don't want 100 old ladies tabluating precincts for four months, so automatic reading becomes unavoidable. scanning a bunch of paper ballots might take a few hours, while tabulating a database might take a few minutes, but hours versus minutes is a tradeoff that SHOULD be palatable to people. even though we both know somebody somewhere will be impatient, but fuck them, they can stew a bit. so not instantaneous, but speedy enough to get results the next day

as for preparing the paper ballot, no machine need be involved. it's just as time consuming and, a case could be made, LESS daunting and complicated for voters (and costs a hell of a lot less) to fill out a paper ballot with a number two pencil than it is to tap on a screen

what do you trust? a machine controlled by the government? or a number 2 pencil? opportunity for fraud is increased with a complex machine involved in any part of the process

No Machine Required (1)

bitingduck (810730) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014240)

reading all the blasted things requires a machine

A machine will make it a little faster, but it's not required. With machines counting what amount to scantron sheets, we start getting returns as little as a few minutes after the polls close. With paper counted by humans it might take a few hours, but you can still have pretty complete results in the morning.

Canada, which has a population similar to that of California, still uses paper for federal elections. They're counted by pairs (or more if their are more candidates) of real live people, who are party reps, at the end of the night. They don't even use a machine to mark the ballots-- just a pen.

I'd be more than happy to mark my ballot with a pen and have opposing party reps sit and count them together (along with whoever else wants to watch).

I don't even care if it takes a couple days to get the results. The less hype around instant knowledge of the outcome the better. People can take their time and get the count right.

But if you do the math, it's entirely possible to count each precinct accurately by hand at the end of the night. The throughput for voting is really low--it takes a long time to get people checked in and get the ballots marked up, but they all get marked in the 12 hours from 8 am to 8 pm, with a lot of dead time when most people are at work. Counting them is a much higher throughput activity, and there isn't the built in dead-time that goes with having a polling place waiting for people to show up.

How many offices in 1 election in Canada? (1)

bmasel (129946) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014340)

For a regular November election in the States we may be filling 20 -30 offices, plus a referendum or 4, or 15 in California or Oregon, so hand counting's not so simple. If you pass the paper ballots to pairs of humans each counting a distinct office, you end up with "Did i count that stack yet?" Canada doesn't map.

Re:technophilia (1)

sophuslie (826054) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014139)

Using electronic voting you can cut the costs, improve the speed of counting and give people more security.... The problem is not with the tecnology, but how its used

huh? (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014165)

cut the costs

how much does 100 number two pencils cost versus a touchscreen?

improve the speed of counting

i'll grant you that

give people more security

no: the more complex the system, the more avenues for exploitation

so you have 1 out of 3, i have 2 out of 3

Re:huh? (1)

sophuslie (826054) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014288)

I don't know if you feel this way, but the international perception of the last two presidencial elections os USA has been of fear and doubts... (Florida was a shame) I believe that you can give more secureness with a electronic voting system (with paper safeguard). With the old system its almost trivial to modify some votes... With a electronic one, i believe is more difficult to change a small part of votes... But if you believe in conspiration, yes is more easy to change a large part of the votes if you have money and power. The cost? Brazil could implement this.... I believe this show that its not too expensive.

Re:technophilia (1)

pesc (147035) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014209)

what we need is simplicity when it comes to voting, not complexity

Amen!

The elections in Sweden uses paper ballots that you put in envelopes. Usually, very accurate preliminary results are available just some hours after the election is closed. And the counting is done by people, not machines. I would say that the public trust in the election procedures is very high although there have been cases of cheating (a case when a party person "helped" mentally handicapped people to vote).

In the Swedish elections, you (1) choose a party by selecting a ballot and (2) optionally select a person from a list on the ballot by using a pen. In cases where the pen markings are illegible, the party still gets the vote.

If there is a Yes/No election, we have Yes ballots and No ballots.

One thing that differs from the American system is that Swedish elections normally vote on three or four things at the same day. I believe that Americans vote on many more things.

If you are interested, visit the election web site and click on "international" for english text. ("val" means "election")

http://www.val.se/ [www.val.se]

Re:technophilia (1)

Phroggy (441) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014331)

Done properly, electronic voting could be a good thing. An electronic voting machine can easily be made accessible to people who are physically handicapped, blind, or speak a language other than English. Ideally, the machine used by the voter should present their options in a clear intuitive way, then print a paper ballot and give it to the voter. The voter should then be able to review their vote, and if they see a problem, get a new ballot. After the voter has verified their ballot, they feed it into a second machine, which scans the vote, counts it electronically, and stores it securely so it can be recounted.

This is really not that difficult a concept, but it'll be years before it's implemented properly, because the people with money and power aren't particularly interested in doing this properly, they're only interested in acquiring more money and power.

It Takes a George (0)

Doc Ruby (173196) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014046)

The sad Bush GOP legacy: no one trusts the voting system.

The silver lining: no one trusts the government. That's the entire basis for the American Revolution and our innovative constitutional democratic republic.

Re:It Takes a George (1)

corrosive_nf (744601) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014269)

Yeah like when Aaron Burr was so pissed about losing his election he had to duel someone, or when Nixon and Kennedy had the same issue. Yeah GWB sure introduced disputed elections.

It's so simple... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14014047)

I don't see what the fuss is all about. Many retail stores use (or used to use) a receipt system that is exactly what we're looking for. It was a roll of two-ply paper. One ply came out of the register as the receipt, the other ply spooled up inside the machine as the register journal. SInce both layers were printed to at the same time (the top layer got hit by the inked print head, and the bottom layer was carbon-less carbon copy), both said the exact same thing.

Think about it. You choose your candidate and the receipt prints. You look thru the 'window' and confirm your vote. The 'public' receipt emerges, and you take it home. It contains nothing but the vote, the serial number of the voting machine, and some sort of timestamp, all in english and a machine-readable barcode. This allows for 'manual' recounts, while eliminating the possibility of vote selling (there is no link between the vote and you).

The other copy of your vote remains in the machine, on a big roll of paper. This roll can be run thru a machine reader after the election to verify the votes. Any inconsistancies, and you perform a manual recount (see above).

See? It's really quite simple.

Re:It's so simple... (2, Insightful)

John Marter (3227) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014088)

I can't think of any reason why you should be able to take a record of your vote with you, but I have heard of one reason why you shouldn't. Allowing the voter to take proof of their voting choice allows for vote buying.

Re:It's so simple... (1)

sophuslie (826054) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014119)

They will not give you a paper with your vote! It will be stored in a bag like a normal & old vote...

Re:It's so simple... (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014107)

Yes, and take your yellow copy down to the campaign headquarters and get your fresh crisp $50 bill for voting the way they wanted you to.

No thanks, Receipts are a fundamentally stupid idea that just screams VOTE BUYING on a grand scale.

Re:It's so simple... (1)

Mnemia (218659) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014439)

How about a system where they don't give you an actual receipt but instead they just let you check that your vote was accurately counted later? It could be just a random number assigned to your ballot that you can then go online and check in a downloadable huge list of all the voters in the country. The numbers could be assigned in such a way that there are no duplicates but that there is no way to extract any information about who a voter was from the number.

Then, they don't give you an actual printed receipt. You just have the option of writing your ballot number down on your own piece of paper. Then, if you tried to sell your vote, there is no way for the party machine boss to actually verify how you voted and that you are not lying to them, since they cannot verify that the number you are giving them is actually the number you were given when voting.

There's also the added bonus that if enough people checked their own votes that there is an extra check on the credibility of the official count. If widespread instances of people not finding their vote or having it reported wrong were reported, there would be evidence of fraud. And people could use their own verifed outside algorithm to count the votes.

Of course, there is still the problem of what to do if someone does claim fraud, since there is no way to verify this claim. But that would at least warrant independent investigation. Maybe the goal of our current system (though people don't know it) is simply to make people trust the official count regardless of whether they have any reason to believe it should be trusted (for stability/power reasons). Would it undermine stability and faith in the process if people were able to see all the fraud that DOES go on?

We almost as democratic as Venezuela (0, Redundant)

Serveert (102805) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014109)

they had paper trails for their last election.

Re:We almost as democratic as Venezuela (1)

Phroggy (441) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014355)

Pat Robertson said the United States should assassinate the president of Venezuela. You know what pisses me off the most about that? If I tell people I'm a Christian, they'll think I agree with people like him. :-\

Re:We almost as democratic as Venezuela (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14014376)

i'm sorry, but the united states is no longer any where near venezuela in this respect

Business regs require audit trail; what of govn't? (1)

Money for Nothin' (754763) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014143)

In any decently-sized business in the financial services industry, it is generally corporate standard to have audit trails for any non-trivial work that is done.

For example, software that is more than 50-100 LOC and not written as a "one-off" app generally must be documented with a project proposal, requirements, design, and testing docs, and so forth. It depends on the size, scope, business need, computing environment impact, etc. of the app, but other documents -- such as a cost/benefit analysis, architectural board approval doc, a traceability matrix, etc. -- may be required too.

What about government? Why should the process by which the democratic part of the election of our republican form of government be subject to any less oversight and bureaucracy than the financial industry?

It should not be news that the government is finally getting around to doing what it has demanded of industry via burdensome regulation for years or even decades... It is hypocritical and -- for a supposedly "free market" economy like that of the U.S. -- economically bass-ackwards to have such a situation as this.

Electronic trail (2, Funny)

toddlll (709332) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014146)

In other news, Gov. Jeb Bush has signed a contract with Diebold for a system that can provide an electronic audit trail for Florida's paper ballots. Gov. Bush said "This is a great day for democracy. We will now have the capability to handle vote recounts in a fraction of a second."

What good does this do? (1, Insightful)

ShatteredDream (636520) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014148)

Most states don't even really try to keep illegal immigrants from voting! The voter fraud in this country is getting out of hand and it has nothing to do with voting machines since it's a basic human problem. The bleeding hearts want the illegals to have a legal ability to drive or to pander for their illegal vote and the fat cats want the cheap labor.

Why don't we instead hear about them passing a new law that abolishes the old voter fraud statute and instead puts "intentionally false voting or aiding and abetting the same" as a possible condition for being prosectued for attempting to overthrow the democratically elected government? Seriously, what is voter fraud if not a low level attempt at a coup, especially if it actually changes the outcome of an election?

If there was any justice in this country, anyone convicted of organizing voter fraud would be given life in prison or, depending on the scale executed, and the regular plebes would be slapped with a minimum of a five year felony prison sentence. Of course part of the common excuses that the politicians and workers use is that people show up demanding their right to vote without having registered or that certain groups scream "disenfranchisement!" If you haven't registered to vote, tough luck and if you don't have an ID on you, I don't care what your skin color is, get out of the precinct as you have no right to participate if you won't prove that you're a citizen with the legal right to vote.

Re:What good does this do? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14014208)

People are people. If somebody lives in a place, should they have the right to vote for the local government just as many times as everybody else?

Also, can't wait for the point that the US gets so bad that everybody is migrating to Canada. (It could happen!) And then you are the "illegal immigrant". See how you like scrub'n floors, pluck'n chickens, and not being allowed to vote.

Tough luck, buddy.

Re:What good does this do? (1)

Cheapy (809643) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014232)

It's too late to do anything now about illegal immigrants. The economy is too dependent on them for ANYTHING to change the policy towards them.

And changing the law to what you propose? If you've left your house in the past...oh say...twenty years, you are aiding illegal immigrants.

Yes, they are illegal. No doubt about that.
Yes, they aren't citizens of the United States of America.
No, there isn't a thing we can do about it without seriously hurting the economy.

Off-topic question (1)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014159)

Does anyone else think we should simply abolish political parties? Enough infrastructure has grown up outside of them to publicly, privately and illicitly back and fund any candidate that a particular think-tank, movement, foundation, PAC or other organization wants to see in office, so what purpose are parties serving other than being nuclei for political machines and holding back the entire system of government through allegiance catfights?

All we'd have to do is declare all political parties null and void and let the new political institutions drop into place where they already were.

Re:Off-topic question (1)

Eryximachus (819128) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014422)

We didn't used to have political parties. In fact one of the founding fathers, I do not remember which, said that a two party system would be the death of this democracy. I believe that the reason that there are official parties today has to do with ballot printing. Each party used to print its own ballots, but that lead to problems and so a centralized agency took over the printing proccess, but which candidates do they put on the ballots? Any native born citizen over, I think 35, can run to be president. They had to decide how to choose which candidates were serious enough to put on the ballot. They needed to keep costs down, if nothing else. Can you imagine a ballot with even 500 candidates for one position?

So someone... (1)

intangible (252848) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014189)

So someone in power in WI finally got hit with a "clue-stick"? I mean, wow, this kindof thing should be so obvious; I'm amazed they actually allowed a real vote in some states last election with zero audit-trail. Luckily I was able to vote in NV last election (all the electronic vote machines here had to have a paper audit trail last election).

Damn, people, this is a no bainer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14014190)

You go to the machine. You vote for Thief #1. It spits out a piece of paper that says "THIEF #1!".

You look at the piece of paper, verify that you did indeed vote for Thief #1 and not Thief #2.

You go over to the ballot box. You put that piece of paper in the ballot box.

Done deal.

In the event of a contested election, you count all the pieces of paper in the ballot box.

Duh.

California already did this (0, Troll)

shanen (462549) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014201)

There were a bunch of articles that mentioned it just in the last few days. Here's the first one I picked up with Google News:

http://www.berkeleydaily.org/text/article.cfm?issu e=11-11-05&storyID=22730 [berkeleydaily.org]

That only mentions it in passing, though in the headline part of the passing. The earlier story I saw on it was more amusing. They wanted to pretend it was "balanced" coverage, so they had to find a quote from someone who was in favor of paperless voting and sorry to see it going away. Guess who? They closed with a quote from some honcho from a paperless voting machine company. Balanced coverage in a pig's eye.

Just a coincidence, but something I wrote for a different forum today. Not perfectly on topic, but close enough (and I'm too busy to do more rewriting just now):

A lot of pundits are saying that this week's election shows something new or a surprising change in voter trends. The only surprising thing is that anyone still listens to such stupid pundits. All this election shows is that money buys votes and that modern American politics is just a war of big money. This is true in all of the elections, but the mayor's race in New York City is the best example. The only interesting question there is why he wanted to spend so much money to buy the relatively minor office of mayor.

I'd give the voters more credit if they had sold their votes for cash on the barrelhead. That's illegal in these "enlightened" days, but it doesn't change the big money reality. The political-power-buyers just have to disguise it a bit now. As a candidate, it doesn't matter what your policies are or what kind of person you are or anything else. The only thing that matters is coming up with the scratch--millions of dollars. (It does matter a little bit what kind of person you can pretend to be, but the Reagan/Dubya problem is relatively minor compared to the overwhelming influence of big money.)

Root cause? Easily manipulated voters. Show the voters enough of the appropriate ads, usually slash-and-burn attack ads, and many of them will even vote for a total incompetent and loser like George Dubya Bush.

Deeper root cause? "Free" advertiser-sponsored radio. An innovative (~70 years ago) economic model that ultimately led to rightwing talk radio. Finest propaganda ever! It was also propagated into TV where it led to increasingly mindless programs, and now it threatens the intellectual foundations of the Internet, too. The funny part is that the policy-makers of those days understood the risks and required that the public's interests should be protected. Thus started an erosive process that culminated when Reagan's handlers stripped off the last major protections. The negative dynamic is pretty obvious, however. Advertisers do not want well-educated and thoughtful citizens. They want easily manipulated suckers. That's how you get the most bang for your advertising buck--and the bucks have finally won out. Intelligent voting has to be reality-based, but advertising is NOT about the truth.

In conclusion, nothing matters except for the money. Good for a 20% margin in NYC! The only problem in New Jersey was that the Republican couldn't afford to run the ex-wife-attacks-ex-hubby ad enough times. If you actually believe (as I do) that freedom and democracy are good things and that they confer competitive advantages on the societies that have the most of them, then the sad conclusion is that America is doomed.

Re:California already did this (2, Informative)

corrosive_nf (744601) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014282)

The new printers on the Sequoia machines worked. Well worked well enough. I work as a ROV'er for my county's registar of voters, and we had 5 out of 25 printers jam in the 4 precincts I covered. Replacing them was as simple as turning the machines off and replacing the printer, which used a lpt cable. The machines run linux on AMD Geode 300 MHz procs with 64 megs of ram.

Now to get the Photo ID bill passed (1)

dhartman (635124) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014235)

Three times Governor Doyle vetoed the requirement for a photo ID. The fiasco in Milwaukee wasn't enough. This idiot Gov'nor won't allow us to validate the people who are voting! Currently the state allows same day registration. You can walk up to the voting booth (even if you don't have an ID) and register to vote. All you need is someone else there to "vouch" for you. ...It's corruption at the highest level. Make people prove who they are if they want to vote!

Re:Now to get the Photo ID bill passed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14014337)

Or they could stamp everybody's hands like all the other amusement parks.

What about... (1)

charlie763 (529636) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014278)

What about electronic scanning of paper ballots. I remember in college some of my libral arts courses had massive amounts of students and we would take our multi-choice test on ScanTron cards. I don't see what would be so hard about putting a stack of cards through a reader. The voter would know that there vote is recorded on the card correctly, the counting would be quick and not error prone. All we would need to do is check the source code and we could all be happy, happy voters. Why not?

You Fail It (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14014313)

con5istent with the little-known came as a complete

No chance (1)

kanweg (771128) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014339)

"we will ensure that not only does your vote matter in Wisconsin, but it also counts."

Sorry, but they may be able to guarantee only the last part of the statement. Voting is a way of reducing a big number (the votes) to a small number (the elected). As this reduction factor is usually in the order of thousands (local) to even milions (presidential elections), the chance that your vote has any effect is likewise one in thousands to milions. Democracy is a way of deluding individual people that their single vote can influence the powers that be. That is not true: You can stay at home, and the outcome of an election will be exactly the same (minus that one vote).

The only way we can achieve a form of democracy in which your opinion may make a difference, is by creating a kind of moderated idea outliner where people can bring in their arguments and facts regarding any subject. Each fact/argument would be included only once. You would create openness, and improve the quality of decisions because smarter solutions can be considered. Even if those are not available, the stupidity of some solutions brought clearly forward helping to prevent politicians from implementing them.

Dutchmen can see a (primitive) example at www.democratie-nu.org

Bert

really serious (1)

slam smith (61863) | more than 8 years ago | (#14014411)

If they were truly serious they would also require photo id's to vote, and eliminate same day registration.
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