Beta
×

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

Thank you!

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

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

Maryland Votes To Ban Diebold Voting Machines

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the now-maybe-they'll-have-real-votes dept.

240

vandon writes "Computerworld.com reports: 'The state Maryland House of Delegates this week voted 137-0 to approve a bill prohibiting election officials from using AccuVote-TSx touch-screen systems in 2006 primary and general elections. The legislation calls for the state to lease paper-based optical-scan systems for this year's votes. State Delegate Anne Healey estimated the leasing cost at $12.5 million to $16 million for the two elections.'"

cancel ×

240 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Hope it doesn't rain.... (3, Interesting)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894130)

Is there no room for tampering with paper ballots? Have you ever taken a fillin the bubble test?
What about the SAT being all screwed up?
http://www.cnn.com/2006/EDUCATION/03/10/sat.scorin g.mistake.ap/index.html?section=cnn_latest [cnn.com]
Rain blamed for SAT scoring error
(AP) -- Blame it on the rain. The company that scans the answer sheets for the SAT college entrance exam said Thursday that wet weather may have damaged 4,000 tests that were given the wrong scores.
Maybe it is because I live in Ohio, and am tired of Diebold being a whipping boy- but seriously- Is there a bigger potential for fraud with an electronic machine? There has always been bvote fraud, since long before the advent of electronic voting.... With a punch card I get no reciept, I just hope that after I put it in the box, it ends up being counted....

Re:Hope it doesn't rain.... (4, Insightful)

murphyslawyer (534449) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894163)

With a Scantron style system, at least you can go back and count the ballots by hand.

The electronic scanning simply speeds up the process.

Re:Hope it doesn't rain.... (5, Insightful)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894181)

There is a bigger potential for covering up fraud with an electronic machine. If a paper ballot is tampered with (or gets rained on, or something else happens to it) it is noticable. The paper will show some sign. With an electronic ballot, you can tamper with the ballots and leave no sign.

It's not that we need the ballots to be impossible to tamper with. It is that we need to know when they have been tampered with.

It's a matter of the 'document of record' (5, Insightful)

TrogL (709814) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894413)

With paper ballots (as in Canada's X on a slip), scannable hand-marked ballots, and paper receipts, the piece of paper is the legal document of record. With fully electronic voting, the electronic log is the document of record. Easily hacked.

Re:Hope it doesn't rain.... (5, Informative)

markdj (691222) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894225)

You, the voter, don't get to keep the receipt. What happens is that you get to see is whether the machine voted for you as you wanted, and then that receipt is kept by election officials to act as backup in case the electronic count fails in some way. Then the receipts are used to recount the election. Because you can't read the machine directly with your eyes, if there is any question as to the tally produced by the machine, the paper receipts can be used to recount. Yes, there has always been fraud, and paper can be compromised, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't be doing better when adopting new methods and better procedures for securing the ballots. The idea that the tally is correct because the machine says so is a myth: "It must be right because the computer says so!" Diebold has consistently denied that their computers could fail and that a backup method for recounts was needed.

Re:Hope it doesn't rain.... (4, Interesting)

Adult film producer (866485) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894303)

But many states have laws saying that a vote recount can _only_ be done if the votes are within 1-2 percentage points. So they can rig the machines to make sure it's 3 or 4% in their candidates favour and any recount would be illegal.. and your paper receipt is hopelessly lost in the void.

Re:Hope it doesn't rain.... (3, Insightful)

Sique (173459) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894561)

If voting fraud is detected, then the voting has to be redone anyway... there is no point in recounting the fraudulent votes.

Re:Hope it doesn't rain.... (5, Informative)

jmcharry (608079) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894441)

North Carolina has gone a bit further and now requires a percentage of random hand recounts to verify the system is working correctly. This provides a check on not just the voting machines, but on the tabulating equipment, which could also be tampered with.

Re:Hope it doesn't rain.... (1, Interesting)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894239)

Jeesh...- when did Diebold become like Microsoft on slashdot. Any post that doesn't follow the miscosoft is bad or "Diebold is hatching a plot take over the world" gets modded down.... That is beyond immature.
I feel bad for whomever modded that post down- Groupthink is a terrible thing...

Re:Hope it doesn't rain.... (5, Insightful)

ShibaInu (694434) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894340)

I think groupthink in this case is exactly the point - the voters don't want Diebold machines counting their votes. Diebold has taken virtually no action to reassure the public that everything is legit - they could release their source code, for example.

Re:Hope it doesn't rain.... (2, Interesting)

PhysicsPhil (880677) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894625)

I think groupthink in this case is exactly the point - the voters don't want Diebold machines counting their votes. Diebold has taken virtually no action to reassure the public that everything is legit - they could release their source code, for example.

Tragically even this isn't enough. Diebold runs on Windows, a closed source operating system. Diebold could well release its part of the vote counting source code, but code auditors still cannot be sure that the OS itself isn't mucking around underneath.

Re:Hope it doesn't rain.... (1)

ShibaInu (694434) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894661)

It may not be enough, but it would be a good-faith gesture on their part. More people would feel comfortable with the process if it were more transparent.

Re:Hope it doesn't rain.... (4, Insightful)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894367)

I've seen plenty of pro-Microsoft and pro-Diebold posts get modded up. All you have to do is have a clear point, and show it. You didn't manage that. You said the fraud happens, and it doesn't make a difference if we can trace it or not.

It does make a difference. With a punch card, or a paper ballot, or even a mechanical voting both anyone can trace when fraud has occured. And in those cases we implement some security, track where the fraud came from (if we can) and redo the election.

With the current generation of electronic voting machines, we can't do that. I don't care who makes a good machine, but Diebold hasn't made one. And they've defended that design as if they think it is a good machine. Geeks don't like people who pretend a bad design is a good design. We'll tear into them. If they routinely defend bad design by saying it is good design and overlooking what we think are obvious flaws we'll notice, and start to expect that. Until they change, a group that decides who they like on the technical ability of a company won't like them. They are lying about their technical quality; at least in our eyes.

This group respects and admires good thought processes. Neither you nor Diebold are showing them at the moment.

Re:Hope it doesn't rain.... (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894477)

This group respects and admires good thought processes.

A lot of this group respects and admires good thought processes. There is a very sizable - and often very vocal - minority who wouldn't know a good thought process if it smashed them in the face, and instead admires and respects anything that confirms their own prejudices, and belittles and derides anything that does not.

Witness the countless tired old arguments that haven't been valid for years, accusations of being a shill or a troll, etc - on both sides of every "debate".

There is a lot that is very good about slashdot, but there is also a lot that is very bad about it, too.

Re:Hope it doesn't rain.... (1)

Daniel_Staal (609844) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894529)

Well, yes. Of course. Those people always exist. But there are less of them in this group than I would expect in a group this size.

Re:Hope it doesn't rain.... (1)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894624)

I would agree that there are fewer of them, however they have the ability to really screw up conversations.

Yes, but not in this case (4, Insightful)

tkrotchko (124118) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894808)

"There is a very sizable - and often very vocal - minority who wouldn't know a good thought process if it smashed them in the face"

Maybe.

But in this case, it doesn't pass muster.

I do computer stuff for a living and if analyst came forward with a business process to handle credit card authorizations that simply authorized it with no audit trail and no means to verify anything about that authorization, you'd reject the design out of hand. You wouldn't even need to see the program specs, or source code or anything to know it's a bad design. You don't even have to ask a lot of questions. It's just a bad design. ...and the more the programmer/analysts would defend it, the more it would make you suspicious about what they're trying to pull. Because you don't have to be a Knuth, Schulman, Appleman, or Berners-Lee to see it.

So when Diebold has a system that raises questions *with everyone who sees it* and won't answer those questions, then it raises concerns about not only their veracity, but their motive.

And given the results of the 2000 presidential election and Diebold's refusal to address legitimate concerns leads to some very uncomfortable questions about their motives. The best case scenario is that Diebold's software engineers are incompetent. That's the best case.

SO I appreciate that there is a vocal minority who would trash anything, however, this isn't a minority of people questioning Diebold. Virtually everyone with a technical and business background is questioning these systems. And Diebold is noticably silent.

Re:Hope it doesn't rain.... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14894537)

You are an asshole. How is that for a thought process?

Re:Hope it doesn't rain.... (2, Informative)

dotslashdot (694478) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894249)

Yes, what could possibly go wrong with computer voting? http://www.bbvforums.org/forums/messages/8/114.htm l [bbvforums.org] Your example is ridiculous. The problem with computer voting using a closed-source voting software program whose data is easily manipulated without leaving any trace is that anyone can more easily alter votes without detection. The fact that it rained on some SAT scores is irrelevant because it doesn't address the issue of manipulating votes. Surely you understand that someone can easily change the outcome of an election by changing a massive number of votes without leaving a trace? Sure, accidents happen, but adding this unprotected, unaudited code in the mix makes manipulating votes easier, not harder, which is troublesome, given Diebold's connections to the Republican party. http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=03/09/0 4/159216 [democracynow.org]

Re:Hope it doesn't rain.... (4, Insightful)

Duhavid (677874) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894304)

Is there a bigger potential for fraud with an electronic machine?


Since you cannot audit the process, the answer seems to be "yes".

There has always been bvote fraud...


True. That does not excuse rectifiable problems with successor systems.
From my reading the vendors of these systems there is no effort to
close the holes, only "trust us".

With a punch card I get no reciept...


And I dont think you will get a receipt with any new systems either.
Only purpose that I know of for printing the vote is so that meaningfull
recounts are possible.

I am sorry that you are tired of Diebold getting whipped. Maybe you
can convince them not to deserve it.

Any system will have it's problems. That does not mean we should not
have a best effort to have as correct and demonstrably correct a system
as human minds can put together.

Bad move motivated by bad politics. (0, Flamebait)

Cornswalled (958023) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894506)

Sputter

Why???

Oh, right, because a bunch of conspiracy theorists are convinces that Bush won because someone cheated in the election.

Re:Hope it doesn't rain.... (5, Insightful)

EvilEddie (243404) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894569)

We are really advanced here in Canada....
1. Paper
2. Pencil

Mark X on Paper.....

No major screwups though......

Re:Hope it doesn't rain.... (0, Troll)

amliebsch (724858) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894879)

No major screwups though..........that you know about.

Re:Hope it doesn't rain.... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14894783)

With the electronic voting you can have the system discard "unwanted" votes, or alter the votes the way you want, or cast additional votes for those that didnt vote in the first place. The amount of loop holes with the electronic systems are just too much, and you can do all that without being seen and leaving behind no trails at all.

Couldn't hack it (5, Funny)

dotslashdot (694478) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894143)

I guess they couldn't hack it.

Re:Couldn't hack it (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14894360)

Diebold is front for the Republican party. It's CEO was committed to delivering Ohio votes to Bush. Looks like he did. This is further supported by the fact that it was statistically impossible for Bush to win Ohio given the exit polling data they used compared to every past election in history. http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=03/09/0 [democracynow.org] 4/159216

Oops... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14894147)

Unfortunately, they voted using a Diebold machine, so it doesn't matter anyway.

Re:Oops... (2, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894215)

Unfortunately, they voted using a Diebold machine, so it doesn't matter anyway.

I toured the House of Representatives, about 10 years ago, and noticed they had buttons to press for voting. I wonder who audits where the wires really go.

Re:Oops... (5, Informative)

Tmack (593755) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894261)

I wonder who audits where the wires really go

If its anything like the one in the Ga House, they go up to a giant light board with the Rep's name, where it turns on either a Red or Green light next to the name, and tallys all the lights of the same color to give a play-by-play of the votes. If the tally is incorrect, its plainly visible. Im sure a rep would complain if their vote shows up incorrectly on the big board with their name next to it...

tm

Re:Oops... (2, Informative)

HUADPE (903765) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894637)

If its anything like the one in the Ga House, they go up to a giant light board with the Rep's name, where it turns on either a Red or Green light next to the name, and tallys all the lights

It is a fairly similar system, with a blue backlit board [wikipedia.org] above the speaker's chair, and members using ID cards to vote. After the 15 minutes of a normal vote expire however, members have to use the old system of handing in a green (yea), red (nay), or orange (present) card.

Re:Oops... (2, Informative)

daveo0331 (469843) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894321)

Their voting isn't secret ballot. If someone was messing around with the wires, it would get noticed, probably by the representative whose vote was counted incorrectly (or their staff/party/lobbyists/constituents/local newspaper).

Re:Oops... (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894548)

137-0!

Actually, they used voting machines made by Diebold's main competitor, Live-light.

The old fashioned ways are still the best (5, Insightful)

InsaneProcessor (869563) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894151)

I'm a technology snob and love the newest and greatest stuff but....
There are places where technology does not belong and the old fashioned paper trail is still the best. I do not trust any voting system that the voter does not mark the paper. Anything else can be hacked or riged too easily.

Re:The old fashioned ways are still the best (3, Informative)

kenf (75431) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894187)

How about using the computer to mark the paper ballot? Use a touch screen computer, similar to the Diebold setup to allow the voter to vote. Then the machine prints out a human readable, but scanable ballot that the voter checks, and deposits in a ballot box. You can use the scanner to count votes, and humans can also count them if needed.

Ken

Because... (4, Insightful)

Junta (36770) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894226)

That is a lot more expensive than a magic marker or hole punch.

Re:Because... (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894825)

Voting is expensive. Period.

The idea is to increase the number of voters per booth/machine while only increasing the marginal cost per vote by a small amount. If you can pull that off, you've succeeded.

Sometimes you have to spend a little money to gain a lot of efficiency.

Re:The old fashioned ways are still the best (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894459)

How about using the computer to mark the paper ballot? Use a touch screen computer, similar to the Diebold setup to allow the voter to vote. Then the machine prints out a human readable, but scanable ballot that the voter checks, and deposits in a ballot box. You can use the scanner to count votes, and humans can also count them if needed.

How about both and we let the voters decide what they want to use? Marking a couple of circles is easy enough for me (native English reader/writer) but maybe not for someone else (ESL/ELL). Let them use the computer screens. I'll stick to my old fashioned ways.

Do both. (4, Insightful)

RealProgrammer (723725) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894779)

If the computer prints out a ballot AND tallies its own score electronically, you get the best of all worlds.

The voter checks the ballot printout and drops it in the box. Those are counted electronically and retained, same as now.

Meanwhile, the touchscreen data has been batched and sent electronically to render the unofficial results the instant the polls close.

The paper, the thing the voter dropped in the box, is the official ballot.

If there's a notable discrepancy, bring in the accountants, alert the media, and wait for the lawyers.

Doing both, counting and sending in the results by orthogonal mechanisms, allows much better security. Someone would have to tamper with both processes, and get them exactly the same, or an investigation would ensue.

Re:The old fashioned ways are still the best (2, Insightful)

Kyrka (20144) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894211)

For every instance in which technology is capable of enhancing an organization, it also introduces the ability to absolutely cripple it.

Diebold is whatever it is... as will be any other attempt as similar technology. What is broken in this context is the _process_ first, and trust second. If they had been willing to address the process, in the open, then perhaps trust could have been achieved.

It doesn't help when the Diebold CEO pretty much stated publicly [to paraphrase], "We _will_ deliver Ohio to the Republicans". I think they should all go read some counterpane blogs...

Re:The old fashioned ways are still the best (4, Insightful)

Crazy Man on Fire (153457) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894276)

I agree. Paper ballots aren't broke. Sure, have a touch-screen system for disabled voters who cannot use a paper ballot. Hoewver, the touch-screen voting system should not tabulate any votes. It should simply print out a paper ballot that is deposited by the voter into the ballot box. Why is that so damn hard?

We must stop the chads! (1)

EatTheSpoon (955722) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894765)

The real reason that touchscreen voting should be used is so there is no error in the ballot. Remember all those hanging chads and invalidated votes? The computer can validate that you voted correctly. Of course, a paper printout is necessary so you can trust them, but this should eliminate any invalid ballots.

Paper good, but not sufficent (-1, Flamebait)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894531)

> There are places where technology does not belong and the old fashioned paper trail is
> still the best. I do not trust any voting system that the voter does not mark the paper.
> Anything else can be hacked or riged too easily.

Paper is a good start, but won't solve the problem of vote fraud. Forget who votes, look at who counts the votes. I'm from Louisiana, where the dead vote early and often.

I could design an electronic voting system that I'd trust and so would 99% of Slashdot, it would even be cheaper than what they are buying now if bought in sufficient quantity, But the problem isn't one of technology, it is a people problem. I would never be dumb enough to believe a perfect system would eliminate voting fraud.

So long as there remains a single city with a Democratic Machine in charge there will be fraud. For all the moonbats howling about Diabold being run by evil Republicans out to steal elections, it remains an incontrovertable fact that every provable case of voting fraud in the last fifty years has been Democrats padding their own totals. Our own Senator Landriau owes her seat to the dead in New Orleans coming out in record numbers back in 96. Most historians now agree President Kennedy won office due to the dead in Chicago and other big Democratic bastions. For all the moonbat wails about the last presidential election, almost every example of clearcut fraud was committed by their side. And lets not forget the numberous 'irregularities' in Washington State recently. This isn't because Republicans are more moral than Democrats, it is because Democrats can get away with it due to their control of the mainstream media. Hopefully the decline of the MSM will bring this sorry practice to an end.

FYI (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894898)

Just so everyone can follow along with by jmorris42 (1458)'s rant:

Democrats traditionally have lots of dead people vote for them
http://www.google.com/search?q=vote+democrat+decea sed [google.com]

Republicans traditionally try to suppress voter turnout.
http://www.google.com/search?q=vote+republican+sup press+turnout [google.com]

Third Party Candidates...
Vote early and vote often?

Re:The old fashioned ways are still the best (4, Informative)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894554)

Unfortunately, while it might be nice to think about just paper ballots, there are expectations in the US that make it almost impossible to continue using them.

First, is the accessability issue. You have voters that can't understand instructions and can't follow them when they are explained. A paper ballot that isn't verified for correctness immediately results in the "undervote" and "overvote" situation where they have either not enough marks or too many marks to figure out what the voter intended. Unless someone or something checks the ballots immediately, this will be a problem.

The next problem is also related to accessability. We are faced with a situation where volunteering to work in a polling place is almost unheard of. So, they go to the Senior Citizens Center and recruit people from there. You would think that people would do anything to get out and do something different - not in the US. They struggle to get the minimum number of people that are legally required for the county and have to live with that.

This means there are no "extra" helpers for people that can't read the paper or can't see the writing there. Or need some other kind of assistance. So any mechanical aid that can work with Braille or whatever else is required (writing 3x the size, etc.) is a requirement. If the machine can talk to them, even better.

The last requirement is that if the legal and accurate results of voting are not available five minutes after the polls close, the news programs will just make stuff up. They will rely on exit polls or talking with party spokespersons to find out what the results might be.

The idea that the voting results could wait for three days (or even a couple of weeks) after voting has completed is utterly unacceptable to the news media. They need results in minutes and they will do whatever it takes to get results to people. Accurate or not, it doesn't matter. Speed is the only thing that counts.

This obsession with feeding results to people has seriously hurt us in the past and most recently in 2000. Announcing the winner of an election or even that a candidate is ahead or behind while the polls are still open should be a crime. It isn't today.

Therefore, we are left with "imaginary results" if the real vote count doesn't come along fast enough. Can you imaging the chaos if the TV news programs announced a winner and three days later when the official count was done - not just the exit polls - it was some other candidate?

Face it, immediate tabulation of vote results is a requirement. We are going to have results at 7:01 PM if the polls close at 7:00 PM, one way or another. And we are going to have "accessible" voting that does not require helpers, because there are no "helpers" - nobody wants to volunteer. We are going to have immediately verified ballots, because to do otherwise results in Florida in 2000 all over again.

The one thing we are not going to have, at any point in the foreseeable future, is nationwide consistency in voting. It will be state-by-state and county-by-county until the end of "State's Rights". Not likely to happen any time soon, because it would require people to give up power they have in public offices. Ever heard of a politician doing that?

Voted? (0, Redundant)

Lxy (80823) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894164)

Maryland Votes To Ban Diebold Voting Machines

The big question is, did they use Diebold machines to count the votes? *ducks*

Re:Voted? (3, Insightful)

hsmith (818216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894193)

The most ironic thing is, the politicians saying the voting machines were untrustworthy.

Ironing 101

Re:Voted? (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894265)

Ironic or sad? If politicians think there is something fishy going on with Diebold's equipment then there has to be some major design flaws(other than using windows as the base OS)

Re:Voted? (3, Funny)

martinultima (832468) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894194)

Allow Diebold voting machines? [ Yes ] [ Yes ] [ Yes ]

(later) "...well, what do you know, due to a horrible software misconfiguration everyone's voted against the machines!"

Re:Voted? (4, Funny)

Kjella (173770) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894214)

The big question is, did they use Diebold machines to count the votes? *ducks*

Well, if they did I'd call it a new world record in incompetence when it comes to vote tampering...

Soon To Be Followed By... (3, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894191)

Soon to be followed by the age-old, tried and true method of picking leaders
Eeny meeny miney moe,
Catch a tiger by his toe,
If he hollers,
Let him go,
Eeny meeny miney moe
this of course is of great relief to many mothers hanging out clothes

Tiger? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14894631)

That's how they said it my neighborhood.

Taking it on the chin (5, Insightful)

Billosaur (927319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894196)

The state House of Delegates this week voted 137-0 to approve a bill prohibiting election officials from using AccuVote-TSx touch-screen systems in 2006 primary and general elections.

137 to 0 -- ouch!!

Diebold has gotten itself into a quagmire and they don't seem to be able to pull themselves out. How hard was it to add a paper trail to the machines to start with?

And yes, there's plenty of fraud with paper ballots and mechanical voting machines. But the idea is that electronic voting machines are supposed to be superior to those systems, and without a paper trail to verify that votes have been recorded properly, they're reduced to being no better and actualy, given their hackability, worse.

Re:Taking it on the chin (2, Informative)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894395)

IIRC, they offered models that had a paper trail, but for whatever reason those models cost more than the non-paper trail models. Many counties opted for the cheaper models for whatever reason.

My guess is that they assumed or were told that the electronic machines would allow them to go "paperless" as in "paperless office" and they failed to consider the ramifications wrt. voting

why the mania of using electronic counting (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14894208)

in the first place? Where I live, all votes are counted manually, and we usually gets results no later than 6 hours after the poll has closed. Size of the electorate can't really be much of an issue, since more people oughta mean more counters as well.

In related news... (5, Funny)

Slipgrid (938571) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894235)

In related news, it seems that Diebold has since started a new [mac.com] ad [mac.com] campaign [mac.com] .

In more related news, stock of the Harland Company, parent company of Scantron [scantron.com] , got a small bump [google.com] today.

Re:In related news... (1, Redundant)

i_should_be_working (720372) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894643)

Wow. Oh wait. I'm dense. Didn't realize it was a joke for a while. I was staring at them, like 'man, do they ever have balls'.
 
The first makes me think how much easier it would have been for Stalin if he had had Diebold machines.
 
The second said "We deliver the vote" reminding me of how some official in Ohio in charge of the voting machines said 'we will deliver Ohio to Bush' or something to that effect.
 
The third: "Life's a crapshoot, elections don't have to be" reads like "why take chances in an election when you can predetermine the outcome?"

Re:In related news... (1)

Jesus_666 (702802) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894775)

Three words concerning that ad campaign: Oh. My. $DEITY. It's as if they wanted to say: "Hey, we don't have arguments but just look at these pictures. Do you see that? Stalin, 9/11? That's what we fight against. You don't want commie terrorists to run this country, do you?"

This just yells "UNPROFESSIONALISM".

Thank God (2, Insightful)

jettoki (894493) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894241)

"We've been hearing from the public for the last several years that it doesn't have confidence in a system without a paper trail," Healey said. "We need to provide that level of confidence going forward."

So open source the voting software, and record electronic votes in two or more remote, neutral party logs. Then you could easily compare the logs to make sure that votes haven't been tampered with. No black box, less chance of human error.

Re:Thank God (5, Insightful)

JavaSavant (579820) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894334)

I don't think that's the complaint. The complaint is that as a voter, if I don't have a piece of paper that I can look at and say "why yes, that's my vote" then as far as I know my vote is just lingering in the ether, vulnerable to hacking and misrepresentation. Auditability on the software side is good, and I think your idea is a good one to regulate what happens with all of the votes after I accept my choices - but people still want to be able to see that what they touched on the screen is what ends up ultimately as their vote.

FURTHERMORE, I'm a strong believer that touch screen systems should only exist to produce a filled out, printed ballot that is then processed by conventional means. The goal here should be to increase the accuracy of the vote, not the speed. Government can wait - I'd rather have it done right than done fast.

Re:Thank God (1)

jettoki (894493) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894389)

Okay, so here's an idea. Each vote is given a unique ID#. Voters are asked to enter their information twice, and each iteration is sent to a different remote log and compared. If the remote logs are not identical, the process repeats. If the logs show identical votes, then the process ends, and the user is given a printed receipt with the ID# of their vote, and the choices that they made.

Perhaps after the election, voters will be able to call in the ID# of their vote to make sure that the logs still match the receipt that they were given.

Dunno if that really solves the issue, but personally, I would be far more satisfied with this system than Scantrons or check-boxes.

Re:Thank God (2, Informative)

French Mailman (773320) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894475)

The problem with that idea is that it requires the system to log who votes for whom, which goes against the principle of anonymous voting.

Re:Thank God (1)

jettoki (894493) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894630)

It wouldn't log any information about the voter. It would only give each vote an ID#. You would only have to identify yourself in order to check your receipt against the logs, and in theory, you could do that anonymously.

one problem i've heard (1)

LunaticTippy (872397) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894774)

If your employer or an enthusiastic supporter demands to see your receipt it could influence the vote.

It seems to be pretty important that there is no way for a 3rd party to determine your vote. Even just a number you remember isn't good enough - if your boss says everyone not giving me a number with particular votes is fired.

Re:one problem i've heard (1)

jettoki (894493) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894850)

Good point. Perhaps the best way would be to simply keep the remote logs but print out a human/machine-readable ballot. Then check the total ballot count against the count in the logs. The logs would safeguard against after-the-fact tampering, and no one is identified in the process.

This way, you've got both a paper trail and automated logging. That's about as safe as you can get...

umm... (1)

WinPimp2K (301497) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894811)

At the next meeting of the local Teacher's Union
"Okay people, lets have your vote ID so we can make sure you voted for the right candidates"

Right outside the polling place:
"Okay give me your vote ID, if you voted the right way, we will have your payment mailed to you after verification"

In a dark alley:
"Hey a vote ID - if our victim voted for the right person, we let em go less their money, but if they voted wrong, we express our opinion foreceully and in a permanemt fashion"

Re:Thank God (1)

Doctor Memory (6336) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894738)

No it doesn't. GP says that each vote is given a unique ID. You get a printed slip with your vote and ID number on it. I'm trying to think of some way that you could take the number with you and verify the accuracy of the record after the election, but I can't think of a simple way to permit someone to carry it out without the possibility of someone physically taking it from them and using it to find out how they voted. I don't think this is a serious concern, but it just seems an unnecessary risk.

Re:Thank God (1)

dynamo52 (890601) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894855)

Okay, so here's an idea. Each vote is given a unique ID#. Voters are asked to enter their information twice, and each iteration is sent to a different remote log and compared

The problem here is that many voters will not enter the same information twice.

Oh fer Gawd's sake (3, Insightful)

WinPimp2K (301497) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894735)

Lose the obsession on using software to vote. When you have to keep complicating the system (multiple remote logs etc) you are actually emphasizing the perceived insecurity of your paperless system. The voting machine itself is the single point of failure. If the feed from that machine is corrupt, your "neutral party logs" are also corrupt. The added layers of complexity do NOT make voters feel more confident that their vote will be accurately counted - it has the exact opposite effect. Because the problem here is one of emotional investment it will not be resolved through "reasoned argument".

Seriously, Paper ballots that are marked on - not punched through. Use a machine and human countable (scantron) format. It is not bright, it is not shiny, it is not new. Howevere it works, and the methods of corrupting it are well understood by all involved - the same is not true of voting machines which will never be perceived as anything other than an opaque black box.

Now if you are just suffering from a common desire to complicate things, why not complicate the democratic process, not the actual act of voting?

For example, elections cost money, lets bring back a poll tax to pay for it. Say two bucks - and allow charities or political party reps to hand out two dollar bills to anyone who asks for one (but at least 100 feet from the polling place)

Runoff elections are expensive too - eliminate them and use an IRV system.

Straight Party Line voting is a pain to count - lets not allow it. If the voter won't explicitly vote for a specific candidate, then that candidate is undeserving of a vote.

Ballots are getting unwieldly, have separate ballots for each jurisdiction (federal, state, county, city, precint, etc). There are never more than 3 races on the federal ballot. Why confuse those races with the JP and Sheriff's races?

It's hard to get on a ballot especially with laws set to favor the major parties. Let anyone get on the ballot if they can pony up a "ballot placement fee". Let's say 1 penny per registered voter in the jurisdiction, but triple that to have party affiliation listed. (It would cost about a million bucks to get on the Presidential ballot, but triple that to run as a Republican, Green, Democrat, Libertarian) It would cost a lot less to get on the ballot where there are fewer potential voters - 5 bucks to run for Mayor of Cut-n-shoot TX for example.

Just a thought or two on how to complicate things.

Electronic Voting, (1)

u16084 (832406) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894247)

Theres JUST some meny issued... Paper trails are one of them.. There was an article stating that some TIMES were off, some machines didnt sync to their NTP servers, times were off, votes are invalid. And if they're connecting to an external NTP server... They are on the net... which opens up ALOT of other (possible) issues...
I dont think the public is ready to throw away those paper ballots.

Re:Electronic Voting, (1)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894435)

> I dont think the public is ready to
> throw away those paper ballots.

Damn straight.... pigs will fly before most Americans would even consider voting for a third party candidate. They'll just keep right on voting for Kang and Kodos.

Diebold is an enemy of the republic (4, Insightful)

revscat (35618) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894251)

Flamebait, troll, yadda-yadda.

It's true.

Black-box voting systems have continually been championed by those who would criminally game the system for their own advantage, democracy be damned. They tend to defend their actions with nothing more righteous than cynicism: we do this because hey, everybody does it.

No, everyone DOESN'T do it, and that is no justification in any event. The ends to not justify undermining democracy. Democracy is a large part of what makes societies strong, not weak, and undermining it only serves to strengthen the enemies of it, whether those enemies are foreign or domestic.

So bravo to Maryland. I hope all states follow their example, and that those citizens who are forced to use unverifiable voting machines take a sledgehammer to them instead.

I didn't see any reason for the upgrade anyway... (5, Informative)

jo7hs2 (884069) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894263)

As a Maryland voter, I was confused as to why we went to touchscreen voting anyway! We had a relatively new optical system (I called him R2D2 because of the size ans shape of the device that ate your ballot) that worked great, and was relatively fool-proof, I mean, it was a huge sheet of paper with big holes. We replaced that simplistic approach where dozens could vote simultaneously with dozens of little computers, of which only two or three were "allowed for use" at any given time, to conserve battery power. Needless to say, the systems were less than fool-proof as well. For once, this GOP'r actually is pleased with the Democratically controlled Maryland legislature.

Too bad Accupoll went bankrupt (5, Informative)

NevDull (170554) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894280)

A Texas company called Accupoll had an electronic voting device which provided a VVPAT (Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail), which was approved in several municipalities, and was certified HAVA (Help Americans Vote Act) compliant.

Too bad "On January 30, 2006, AccuPoll filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Pursuant to this filing, AccuPoll will cease operations and liquidate its assets. Therefore, AccuPoll voting systems are no longer available for purchase."

In related news... (5, Funny)

k4_pacific (736911) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894287)

In other news Diebold announced today the introduction of the AccuVote-TSx-2 touch-screen voting system. The new system boasts the same features and functionality of the AccuVote-TSx, however, it has a different name to comply with a recently enacted law in the state of Maryland.

As a MD voter... (2)

b0bby (201198) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894288)

As a MD voter I have to say, great. I've used the Diebold machines and they are easy to use and helpful for complicated ballots and those who need other languages; I just don't trust that their results can't be manipulated in an undetectable fashion. I really wanted to see a paper trail and now it looks like Diebold will be forced to provide one. You really need to be able to trust your voting system, and having actual paper ballots outside the black box restores that level of trust. If that costs an extra $16 million, so be it.

Re:As a MD voter... (2, Insightful)

BlueRockGirl (960387) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894839)

As a MD volunteer election judge....
I prefer that we don't introduce paper ballots, as discussed in the legislation, because they don't solve any problems. There's a good discussion at http://euro.ecom.cmu.edu/people/faculty/mshamos/pa per.htm [cmu.edu] .
I've got a master's degree in Computer Science, and I've been an election judge for several years, working with the Diebold machines. In my opinion, the procedures established by the election board are sufficient to prevent the general public from accessing and/or hacking the unofficial vote counts.

password in source code (5, Interesting)

demon411 (827680) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894294)

this guy at my company who works on information security found the key [dailykos.com] hard coded in the diebold source code. source code which he found online. for those that don't know about cryptography, this is bad.
He gave a talk about it last year and advocated a paper ballets and optical scanners as others have.

Time for a short sale? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14894318)


137 to 0 ?

Wow, that's a powerful smackdown.

It's hard to image another state moving forward with Diebold voting equipment after that resounding (and well-deserved) defeat.

I wonder if it's time to think about a short sale.

Re:Time for a short sale? (1)

vsimon (638650) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894686)

The vote was actually 0-137, but they used a Diebold to count it...

Halle-frickin-lujah (3, Informative)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894320)

As a Marylander, I am SO happy they they are getting rid of those damn things.

The dumb thing is that the system that we had before wasn't even confusing at all. Each candidate's name had a arrow with a gap in it. You simply used a pencil to complete the arrow for the candidate you wanted to vote for.

You just turn this:

- ->

into this

--->

No one was even complaining about it.

I assume that they just wanted to jump on the electronic voting bandwagon, no matter how much the entire IT community railed against the machines.

the diebold system is simple not secure (2, Insightful)

swschrad (312009) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894335)

and there is no way to recheck the vote.

inability to recheck the vote is prima facie quite enough reason to outlaw those machines.

Interesting Note on Main Diebold Lobbyist ... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14894394)

Diebold's main lobbyist, Harris Miller [miller2006.org] , is running for Senate in Virginia.
Yes, it's the same guy that crushed Cesar Chavez's union movement in California and lobbied successfully for multiple increases in the guest worker H-1B program as chief lobbyist for the Microsoft sponsored ITAA (itaa.org).

What cracks me up is ... (get this) ... he's running as a Democrat.

from cio.com ...


The vendor community doesn't like it. "We oppose the idea of a voter-verified paper trail," says Harris Miller, president of the trade group Information Technology Association of America. Introducing paper into the mix, he says, defeats the improved efficiency and reliability e-voting promises.

from zazona.com ...

Harris Miller, the president of ITAA, worked as a lobbyist/consultant for California agribusiness in the late 1980s. Miller's first big client was the National Council of Agricultural Employers, a group of large growers who use migrant and illegal alien workers. [20]

His firm helped farmers to bring in "temporary" agricultural workers from Mexico. These farmers wanted to undercut gains that Cesar Chavez and UFW had made. This boosted the profits of Miller's agribusiness clients. Harris painted such pictures as "fields full of crops, just lying there, rotting in the sun because of the 'crisis' of a 'shortage' of farm workers." This was a prelude to using the same strategies for an organization that Harris founded in the late 1980s, the ITAA, which is a lobbying organization that represents "high tech" firms. He merely substituted the category of scientist and engineer that was in highest demand for the agricultural worker. He has become very wealthy from the new "high-tech bracero" program.

A spokesman for the Farmworker Justice Fund, Inc. said "he [Harris Miller] was a lobbyist/consultant to the growers and was very active for years on the agricultural guest worker legislation. "

Miller said that critics who deny there's a high tech labor shortage probably also think that the world is flat.[26] We can be thankful that this scofflaw didn't accuse us of believing in the Tooth Fairy.

miller2006.org -- miller2006.net (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14894454)

Oops, the little scumbag moved to
http://action.miller2006.net/miller2006/homepage.h tml [miller2006.net]

sorry

Re:Interesting Note on Main Diebold Lobbyist ... (2, Interesting)

CrazyDuke (529195) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894840)

Aw, hell no. Anyone know the date of the Virgina Democrat primary? I know Virginia will let voters vote in any primary; they do not have to be registered with the party; so, I know I can.

Oh, if he's a Democrat, then I'm the tooth fairy. The K-Street Project purged Democrat lobbiests out of DC. And this is the guy hired to promote the company who's (now former) CEO promised to deliver the votes of Ohio to George W. Bush. The chances of him being a Democrat supporter, much less activist enough to run for office, and still being employed in such a position are extremely low. Both senators for Virginia are Republican. Who is he running against, Allen or Warner? I know one of them stepped on the administration's toes, but I forgot which one. There have been rumors of Republican groups sponcering "Democrats" being run against Republicans that piss off the leadership. I wonder if this is a case of that?

Well, if he's on the ballot in November, I already know who I'm not voting for.

Optical scan is almost as bad.... (4, Insightful)

tinrobot (314936) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894424)

Optical scan is also full of problems because the ballots are still counted by computers. There have been numerous reports of the Diebold Accu-scan system having a back door into the central tabulator, as was shown recently in Leon county, Florida. Optical does have the advantange of retaining a paper record of the vote, but it's still not the most secure method of couinting the votes...

By far, the most secure method of counting votes is by hand. Several hundred people counting the votes (and witnessing the count) is far more secure than one guy in a backroom counting votes with a computer. The more people witness the count, the better.

We need to have total transparency in the process. Hand counts ensure that.

Re:Optical scan is almost as bad.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14894499)

Optical does have the advantange of retaining a paper record of the vote, but it's still not the most secure method of couinting the votes... Exactly. It's not only the machines which register votes, but also the machines that tabulate the votes that need to be verified. The trouble is many states only allow for recounts if an election is extremely close, or if there is evidence of fraud. You can still fix an election, even with paper ballots, if you have a compromised tabulator.

I'm always amazed at this stupidity (3, Insightful)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894794)


many states only allow for recounts if an election is extremely close

Every time I'm reminded of this fact, I just shake my head in wonder. It has got to be one of the dumbest things I've ever heard of. The argument seems to be that, if an election isn't close, fraud couldn't have effected the outcome--which is exactly the opposite of the truth.

Don't believe me? Consider two case, both using touch screen voting machines: in one, one randomly selected million people vote on the ballot issue "Coke vs. Pepsi," and the outcome is a 49% / 49% split. In the second case, all but sixty eight of them vote "Pepsi", with sixty eight abstentions.

Now ask yourself: in which case would you suspect that the voting machines or tabulators or something had been rigged?

--MarkusQ

P.S. A much better test would be mandatory recount if the results differ from the exit polls by more than a small amount.

Re:Optical scan is almost as bad.... (1)

juan2074 (312848) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894795)

Bring all the ballots over here, with enough beer for everyone. We'll get it done.

Why voting *machines*? (4, Insightful)

payndz (589033) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894507)

Every time this topic comes up, I'm always bewildered by the American insistence that there be some form of *machine* involved in voting. You pull levers, push buttons, tap touchscreens, etc, all at what must be surely a ridiculous cost (from TFA, $12 million to $16 million?!?) compared to the British system of a pencil, a piece of paper, a big box with a padlock on it and a bunch of volunteers to count the votes when the polls close. If a recount is demanded, then there's a big pile of papers with Xs on them right there.

But then I remember - this is America we're talking about. The company that *makes* the machines has doubtless bribed... uh, 'lobbied' the relevant politicians to ensure that such machinery is the only possible choice for such an important task...

Re:Why voting *machines*? (1)

moderators_are_w*nke (571920) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894552)

Absolutely, what is wrong with simply putting a cross in a box with a pencil. Sure, you have to physically count the things at the end of the election, but there are usually plenty of civil servants at the town hall with nothing better to do the next day. Old fashoned it may be, but its effective and reliable.

Re:Why voting *machines*? (4, Interesting)

Gid1 (23642) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894796)

Agreed, although I'd point out that it's usually done before the civil servants get into work the next day!

For the foreign-types here, the UK system goes something like this (for a General Election, which decides the Prime Minister, all the MPs, etc.):

  1. Polls open in the morning, usually on a Thursday.
  2. Polls close at 10pm countrywide.
  3. Seconds later, the media start announcing what their exit polls say: that way, the exit polls don't affect the result.
  4. Votes start getting counted by hand immediately.
  5. The first results are announced by 11pm.
  6. Enough results for the winner to declare victory are usually in by 3 or 4am.
  7. Rather than hanging outside with a transition team for a few months waiting for inauguration, the new guy (if there is one) becomes Prime Minister, moves into 10 Downing Street and starts work the next day.
  8. ...
  9. Profit!

(more details) [wikipedia.org]

Fast enough? It's a slick, quick, accurate, well-practised procedure compared to the total chaos, corruption and confusion that is Election Day in the US.

Okay, there are far fewer boxes on the UK form, as the posts of assistant dog catcher, etc. aren't directly elected. Even so, there's nothing fundamentally wrong with a paper system. Oh, and no incomplete arrows, butterfly ballots, instructions, etc. A bunch of names with boxes. Put an "X" in the box next to the guy you want.

I personally wouldn't have a problem with an optical scanner being used with hand recounts done only if the result is within the margin of error. Follow up with a leisurely hand count for statistical purposes at a later date. A hand count isn't going to take *that* long if it's resourced correctly, and accuracy is worth the wait. In the case of the UK it would just mean we'd have to wait until after the weekend to find out who's taking us to war.

I also voted in Riverside County, CA last time around, and the ballot I was posted was pretty straightforward: well laid out, well described, simple to follow. Fill the little box next to the one you want. Saying that, I've got no proof it was ever counted, not that my vote would have made any difference in Riverside.

Re:Why voting *machines*? (1)

bobdinkel (530885) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894705)

Although your question was most likely rhetorical, I'll respond nonetheless. We Americans feel that most if not all problems can be solved by throwing computers at them. You see, kids suddenly become smarter when a computer is in the classroom. Similarly, crappy teachers become excellent teachers when a computer is in the room. It's also important to understand that effects are compounded by adding more computers.

Applying what we've learned thus far...
Vote counting going to slow? Turbo charge it by adding a computer!

Re:Why voting *machines*? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14894876)

Can you put a computer in my car? I'm too drunk to drive.

What's really wrong with voting machines (1)

Bassman59 (519820) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894549)

My musings are here [latke.net] .

Wow.... (0, Troll)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894636)

I'm moving to maryland. It amazes me that all states havn't done this since the 2000 'election' - except texas and florida of course.

NO!!! (1, Troll)

transami (202700) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894715)

NO!!!

It's the paper scanner one's that are the problem!!! Doesn't anyone in the government ever frig'n read?

I guess they're ALL in on it.

Good-bye.

In related news... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14894734)

... the troops have moved in, and Maryland is now known as East Utah.

Paper media more reliable than magnetic/optical? (0, Flamebait)

GodWasAnAlien (206300) | more than 8 years ago | (#14894789)

Yes, verfiable backups are good.

But this whole thing about needing a "paper trail" is a bit political and a bit insane.

Are they really saying that if we print out on paper, or punchcards or punch tape then that is safer or more reliable than backing up to a hard drive and/or CD and/or DVD.

Some people are minds are thinking 50 years ago.

vote fraud programmer whistleblower (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14894872)

Here's a link to a programmer who was hired to actually develop vote fraud software. He quit after awhile and turned whistleblower, and he's being ignored by the mainstream media and the government prosecutors. This case has ties to the abramhoff lobbyist scandal, chinese spies, and the bushes. He is now running for congress in florida against the crooked Rep he wants to replace. I've listened to him being interviewed on the radio, this is a HELLUVA case he has.

http://www.clintcurtis.com/issues.html#votefraud [clintcurtis.com]
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

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

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

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

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>