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Maryland Fights to Keep E-voting

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the fight-for-the-right-to-have-no-rights dept.

250

crystalattice writes "Apparently Maryland election officials never have computer problems. That's why they're fighting so hard to keep their Diebold e-voting machines. Washington Post reporter Marc Fisher received nothing but bad attitudes, dodges, and excuses when he attempted to discuss the issue with the state elections administration and Diebold." From the article: "I asked the state's elections administrator, Linda Lamone, whether Maryland wasn't just a bit too quick to adopt electronic voting. Doesn't the computer at your desk ever freeze up on you? 'No,' she replied. Never? 'No.' But surely people in your office have had that experience? 'No.' (Maybe we've found the solution to Maryland's voting problem: Everybody head on down to Linda Lamone's office, where the machines work 100 percent of the time.)"

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could be... (5, Funny)

jdcope (932508) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162641)

Maybe they dont use Windows software on their computers??

Re:could be... (4, Insightful)

epee1221 (873140) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162685)

Or maybe the people making these calls are the kind of people who form conclusions and then look for evidence.
Oh, e-Voting! It uses computers, so it must be better!

When beliefs held this way are challenged, the response is hostility, not a rational defence of said beliefs.

Re:could be... (2, Informative)

ElleyKitten (715519) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162695)

I've seen Linux and Mac computers freeze. Not often, but enough to not say completely dismiss the notion of them freezing as crazy.

Re:could be... (1)

Tharkban (877186) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162758)

Usually right after I recompile the kernel. :)

Re:could be... (1)

O'Laochdha (962474) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162772)

Yeah, on my computer (Fedora), the display environment randomly crashes and reboots so that I have to log back in, then the wallpaper doesn't load until I refresh the desktop. It's a crapshoot whether the toolbar loads, and either way it runs wicked slowly. It happens randomly, but it's almost certain when I go to a page with a large number of CJK characters. It's insane.

Yeah. Every time I tell that problem to techs, they just stare...

don't mind me (1)

alizard (107678) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162936)

I'm just sitting and staring.

Could you provide me with the URL of a webpage guaranteed to freeze your machine? I'm using Fedora Core 3 with the next-to-latest version of KDE. While it freezes occasionally, running Opera in Linux with 50+ open subwindows is kind of asking for it. Are you using the default Gnome window manager? Unless you've got some reason to be really fond of Gnome, you might want to upgrade.

Re:could be... (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16162711)

1999 called, they want their outmoded ideas of desktop computing back.

Frankly, I basically have come to believe that anybody that whines about the stability of Windows is either griping because they can't figure out how to upgrade from Win 98 or because they just don't have any idea how to use a computer. I have never, not even once, in the three and a half years I've owned a version of Windows XP had even one crash that wasn't ultimately traced back to a hardware failure of some sort (most commonly overheating caused by a crappy budget case and a Radeon that was running too warm).

As an amusing side note, the last crash I had on Linux was nine and a half days ago when I accidentally bumped my USB stick partly out of the port and didn't realize it. When I went to do a umount the kernel panicked and the system, naturally, crashed.

Yea, Windows is such crap compared to the competition.

Re:could be... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16162731)

Thanks for sharing your insight, Mr. Gates...

How to have a bad experience with OS X (1)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162817)

I can think of two easy ways off the top of my head to cause MacOS X to get into an unusable state from user space:
1. Draw to the same OpenGL context from two different threads at the same time (i.e. not using or incorrect use of synchronization objects). This will cause a kernel panic from your application. There is a simple reason for this (opengl allows direct access to the hardware), but it certainly allows you to kernel panic the machine without having to be a driver or a kernel extension.
2. Leak a whole bunch of memory - such as from a loop that is always running. Leak enough memory this way and you will have a hard time using the GUI at all from any application. It won't crash the computer - and it is possible to recover (ssh in from another machine and kill the process). But you can easily slow down the GUI enough that most users would call it a "freeze".

Re:could be... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16162737)

you are a very poor liar -- unmounting a usb stick that's not present won't panic the kernel of any linux

I run windows XP at work and it SUCKS! It crashes and also just stops working at least once a day.

Re:could be... (1)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162959)

I run windows XP at work and it SUCKS! It crashes and also just stops working at least once a day.

I put it to you that it is not Windows that sucks, but rather your IT department.

I've never seen even Windows Me crash daily. Weekly, sure, but never daily. And whatever you think of XP, nobody in his right mind could possibly believe it to be less inherently stable than Windows Me...

Re:could be... (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162752)

True, but the point of the article was the women denying she ever had seen a computer crash. Which is reduculus hardware crashes even when the OS is written perfectly. OSs like XP crash frequently when presented with crappy drivers or crappy software (and sometimes just on their own).

Re:could be... (1)

Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162874)

... and they have SECDED memory.

... and redundant power supplies.

Childish attitude (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16162645)

No wonder people never take slashdotters seriously...

Geez that's disturbing... (1)

telbij (465356) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162646)

That's pretty scary. Do you think they're getting kickbacks? Follow the money...

Re:Geez that's disturbing... (4, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162784)

Do you think they're getting kickbacks? Follow the money...
It's not money that's being tossed around here. It's power.

Do you think these officials are outrigh lying and conspiring to subvert the democractic process for a few meager bucks. Most of the subversives in charge of the Maryland voting system recieve no monies, but instead the kudos and respect from their superiors. In time, they may also get a slice of the power for their efforts, and will then be free to stamp on a few faces.

Did the communist revolutionaries get paid? No, they did what they did because they belived what they were doing was right. Just as absolutist Republician party members believe what they are doing by rigging elections is also right, because it helps the "godly and patriotic" stay in power. These people don't believe in democracy or freedom or rights. They believe whatever they want to and have only contempt for those who disagree.

So don't follow the money trail. It won't be that simple, because these people are working on different rules. Their kickbacks will only come after it's too late to expose them.

Re:Geez that's disturbing... (1, Insightful)

operagost (62405) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162802)

Just as absolutist Republician party members believe what they are doing by rigging elections is also right, because it helps the "godly and patriotic" stay in power.
You were doing very well up to that point. If you think that the way to stop corruption in government is to slander one party you disagree with, you are wasting your time.

Re:Geez that's disturbing... (4, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162948)

I don't think he was slandering the party. He was calling out the extremist wing of the party that unfortunately has hijacked the party. No one is suggesting that all Republicans are corrupt, election-rigging holy rollers, but the ones that are doing this crap are.

Also, we aren't talking about corruption in any other party because the Republican party is the one in power here, and they're the ones pulling this shit. Are there corrupt Democrats? Of course. Have some Democrats done nasty things to subvert free and fair elections? Yes. That doesn't mean we have to be "fair and balanced" and bring up what the Democrats did 30 years ago every time we talk about what the Republicans are doing now. What the Democrats do or did has no bearing at all on the fact that what the Republicans are doing now is wrong.

Yes, corruption is rife in government. That does not mean we have to acknowledge every corrupt act by every government official in every party to discuss it. We identify corrupt practices and complain about them individually. Painting the whole government as necessarily corrupt just gives everyone the idea that corruption is just fine because "everyone is doing it." The fact of the matter is that the Republicans are in power, and their corruption is hurting the country more than anyone else's because of that fact.

Re:Geez that's disturbing... (0, Redundant)

operagost (62405) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162990)

I don't think he was slandering the party. He was calling out the extremist wing of the party that unfortunately has hijacked the party. No one is suggesting that all Republicans are corrupt, election-rigging holy rollers,
See, this is ridiculous. What do pentecostals have to do with vote-rigging?

Re:Geez that's disturbing... (2, Informative)

syrinx (106469) | more than 8 years ago | (#16163028)

Also, we aren't talking about corruption in any other party because the Republican party is the one in power here

Maybe you didn't read the article (I must be new here), but we're talking about Maryland here. In fact, Democrats are in power, and in fact the Republicans have been the ones challenging the electronic voting.

Don't let facts get in the way though! No blood for oil! Chimpy McBushitler is the devil!

Re:Geez that's disturbing... (2, Funny)

Malakusen (961638) | more than 8 years ago | (#16163025)

You were doing very well up to that point. If you think that the way to stop corruption in government is to slander one party you disagree with, you are wasting your time.

If the Democrats are hijacking the electoral process, stealing votes, perpetrating widespread electoral fraud, participating in voter intimdation, and just generally doing their best to corrupt free and open elections... they certainly haven't been doing a very good job of it.

corruption is hardly a GOP-only problem (3, Informative)

alizard (107678) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162972)

even if Republicans like Alaska's "Corrupt Bastards Club" and Bush's contract awards to Halliburton and other crony capitalists have escalated this to a new artform.

Look up your favorite Democrats at OpenSecrets [opensecrets.org] and find out about how much of their campaign money comes from the Hollywood content cartel. . . and you won't need to wonder just where bullshit like the DMCA comes from. Hint: In Hillary Clinton's career campaign contribution profile of individual donors, Disney (as in The Path to 9/11) is #15.

Re:Geez that's disturbing... (1)

loraksus (171574) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162838)

Of course they are. Probably lame ones like a couple nice dinners and a few grand in cash under the table (over and above what is legally given), but any time you see a politician spouting something so stupid, there is money involved.
Maybe they were just told to say it, maybe they don't know any better and a lobbyist gave them "all they need to know" or, as in this case, they know they are in the wrong and are trying to cover their ass so the money keeps rolling in.

so.... (3, Funny)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162664)

...everyone in Linda's office uses either Linux, OSX, or BSD?

Re:so.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16162705)

...everyone in Linda's office uses either Linux, OSX, or BSD?

I'd say it sounded like it, however the reality probably is that Linda and her office has never heard of Linux, OSX, or BSD and is most likely running Windows.

So... I assume then that Linda has a direct pipeline to Microsoft where customized (just for Linda!) non-crashing Windows versions are churned out...

Erm, yeah right. All that is mostly likely a lie, especially if they are running Windows.

Re:so.... (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162928)

Well, as long as you don't power up windows boxes...they really are crash proof.

Of course if this is the case, it does not speak loads for how much work Linda and co-workers get done...

Then again, this is a govt. office...I think we now see the true situation.

:-)

Re:so.... (0)

Garse Janacek (554329) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162851)

All three of those have frozen up on me... you're thinking too high-tech: people in Linda's office don't use computers.

Were there payoffs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16162667)

Have there been any investigations into whether or not certain officials involved in this debacle were paid off by various interests?

When we hear repeated answers like "No." over and over again, that would seem to indicate that somebody has something to hide.

Bets? (4, Funny)

CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162672)

Any bets on how long till the underpaid helpdesk personal that are always having to run around and fix all their computers "which never fail" posts the helpdesk logs on the internet?

Problem is... (1)

Mariner28 (814350) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162746)

The problem is that Maryland's state technology help desk most probably went to the lowest bidder. Ergo, the chances their helpdesk know anything about /. are slim. Hopefully, though, they do read the Post...

Ad Campaign (4, Funny)

nickmalthus (972450) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162885)

I believe it was the rousing Ad campaign [mac.com] that has them sold them on Diebold voting machines

Re:Bets? (1)

From A Far Away Land (930780) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162924)

My favourite joke about computers crashing comes from a Canadian comedian in a routine from the early 1990s. He was explaining what a pain it is to go into a business and they tell you, "Sorry we can't help you at the moment, the computer is down." He said, "Back in my day, we'd use a pen and paper. When the pen ran out of ink, 'Oh the pen is down' (He sets imaginary pen down, then picked up another) 'There's a new pen, back in business'.

Paper voting is the only way to go, we have to keep a human readable, verifiable way of tracking votes.

Why isn't there... (1)

Alpha830RulZ (939527) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162683)

an open source voting system development project yet? This seems to be a fundamentally solvable problem, that well thinking people in the open source community care about, and lots of smart people have weighed in. I dare say, that even I, a person of at best high average systems skills, could lead a project that would create a better result than Diebold.

It would be interesting to see if an open source design could be engineered, and then licensed broadly to hardware providers under a GPL style license.

How does something like this get going?

Re:Why isn't there... (2, Insightful)

horster (516139) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162699)

open source is not the answer here. open source only gives you transparency as far as what the author wrote, not what is actually running on the machine.

paper ballots are what are needed. simply to use, proven methodology. count in the open, or under video tape, and only send in the results.

If you trust humans to count more than computers, (1)

openright (968536) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162727)

then I suggest that you throw away all your calculators and computer equiptment, as humans can count better.

Re:If you trust humans to count more than computer (1)

MightyMait (787428) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162823)

"count in the open" does not necessarily mean count by hand. With paper voting, the ballots are still largely counted by machine. However, if there is a discrepancy, the paper votes *can* be hand-counted in a recount. With purely electronic voting, a hand recount is not possible.

Re:Why isn't there... (1)

pixelpusher220 (529617) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162760)

open source gives you the transparency of the code.

Checksums and other mechanisms give you the confidence that the software 'compiled' on the machine is the same software in your open source code base.

That said, I agree that paper ballots are amazingly able to do the simple job of tallying a vote count anonymously. I really wish everything were back to paper ballots; at least until a validated 'open' system of electronic voting is developed.


There is... (4, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162719)

http://www.openvotingconsortium.org/ [openvotingconsortium.org]

But "open source" voting systems are just as useless as proprietary ones without a permanent voter-verifiable paper audit trail.

In fact, given the choice of 1.) open source voting systems, and 2.) a permanent voter-verifiable paper audit trail, you'd be foolish not to pick 2.) every time.

Now if we could have both, fantastic. However, you'll probably go a LOT further arguing for a paper trail in ALL instances than trying to unseat traditional enterprise and commercial vendors in any market.

Re:There is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16162789)

And that's exactly what we did FIRST in Hawai'i, we got paper trails.

Next up, it's time for the open source.

- ac

Re:There is... (3, Informative)

Jackmon (170028) | more than 8 years ago | (#16163015)

The OVC is all about leaving a paper trail...

http://www.openvotingconsortium.org/our_solution [openvotingconsortium.org]

You do get both. But I agree that 2) is the most important part. It would be fine if everyone just put a big X on a box next to their chosen candidate or issue. Really not that hard.

Re:Why isn't there... (1)

Raypeso (851771) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162728)

There is an open source project! [openvotingconsortium.org]

Thier solution as stated on thier site:

Stops Secrecy in Vote Tabulation: OVC has a team of scientists ready to program computer software for voting machines and electoral tabulation that would be publicly owned or open source. Open source software could be checked by any party or group by hiring a capable computer programmer.

Provides Paper Trail: The OVC recommended procedure for tabulating elections relies on a paper ballot that is then fed through a scanner into a locked ballot box so that all originals are saved in case of the need for a recount or audit (See Sample Ballot).

Scientifically Verifiable: In addition to open source voting machine and tabulation software, the Open Voting Consortium is also working on a database checklist for standard practices in vote tabulation that would assure transparency and accountability. Some aspects of the OVC concept will soon be enfolded into California legislation.

Saves Money: Typical voting machines cost between $2,000 and $3,000, but OVC open source software could be run on any personal computer (PC) and ballots could be printed on a normal printer. OVC envisions PCs with tamper-proof cases as the new voting terminals at a savings of hundreds or thousands of dollars per terminal.(See page on OVC Cost Analysis).

Multi-lingual, Handicap Accessible, and Ready for Non-Traditional Voting: Unlike most voting machines and systems, the OVC system can be easily adapted for ballots in multiple languages. The OVC system also provides for the capability for sight impaired or blind voters to have their votes played back to them through headphones at the ballot box. Old voting machines and systems can't accommodate non-traditional elections like proportional representation, but these changes could be easily accommodated with the OVC system.

The solution is all ready exists. (1)

zieggenfus (999310) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162747)

The solution is all ready well known, it gets mentioned everytime in all of the various e-voting threads - a duplicate receipt system. You punch in your votes, you get a receipt, the system has a receipt - probably in a self-contained cartridge - with a window to view the current transaction. If all 3 match, you're golden. This is all old news. The interesting item is, just who voted to eliminate/not require a paper receipt on the current generation of machines. Peel some of the loony left away from the latest 'who REALLY brought down the towers' conspiracy, and put them on that. :)

Re:The solution is all ready exists. (0, Redundant)

operagost (62405) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162833)

You punch in your votes, you get a receipt
... which you hand to the mob boss outside to prove you voted "correctly."

No, we don't need to give the voter a paper receipt, thanks.

Re:The solution is all ready exists. (1)

zieggenfus (999310) | more than 8 years ago | (#16163041)

hrmmm, that be true.

Re:Why isn't there... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16162767)

There already is, it's called 'pen and paper.' So what if the blind can't vote. If someone can't see the ballot, then they have no business voting anyways.

GO AHEAD, FUCKING FLAME AWAY OR WASTE YOUR GOD DAMNED MOD POINTS FUCKTARDED SHITDOT SHEEPLE!!!

Remember... (5, Interesting)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162692)

...that it is the Republican Maryland governor fighting for paper ballots and the Maryland Democrats fighting to keep everything on e-voting [slashdot.org] .

Re:Remember... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16162800)

Yep, A rethuglican is being self serving yet again. Don't you love knowing that the citizens of other countries, including the People's Republic of China, have more saying in (s)electing their leaders than you do in Yankee Imperialist Bastardistan!? Oh wait, I forgot, you all invented freedom and democracy and all that jazz, morons.

Re:Remember... (1)

Mr. Underbridge (666784) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162898)

Don't you love knowing that the citizens of other countries, including the People's Republic of China, have more saying in (s)electing their leaders than you do in Yankee Imperialist Bastardistan!?

Good God, keep your trolls less blatant if you want to actually get anybody with them. That was just moronic.

MOD PARENT DOWN -9999999999 (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16162804)

-9999999999, Fact contrary to the Slashdot Hive Mind line.

Re:Remember... (2, Insightful)

letxa2000 (215841) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162893)

Ssssh, don't tell anyone. That might pop their conspiracy theory in which Diebold is trying to steal elections for the Republicans.

Good. (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162970)

Screw paper ballots. Yes, I've seen computers make mistakes, but the largest source of problems is always between the keyboard and the chair.

Re:Good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16163036)

That's what people are worrying about. The problem between the keyboard and the chair when the electronic systems are being developed, setup, configured, etc.

Embedded systems. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16162709)

""I asked the state's elections administrator, Linda Lamone, whether Maryland wasn't just a bit too quick to adopt electronic voting. Doesn't the computer at your desk ever freeze up on you? 'No,' she replied. Never? 'No.' But surely people in your office have had that experience? 'No.' (Maybe we've found the solution to Maryland's voting problem: Everybody head on down to Linda Lamone's office, where the machines work 100 percent of the time.)""

Show of hands. How many here know the difference between an embedded system and a desktop machine? Now how many know why that difference is important?

Re:Embedded systems. (1)

sqlrob (173498) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162788)

The voting machines are running embedded Windows and using Access to store results.

Not very embedded, is it?

Re:Embedded systems. (1)

hxftw (996114) | more than 8 years ago | (#16163005)

Oh someones in bed all right.

Maryland Fights to Keep Money? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16162712)

I wonder if all those machines were funded with the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). HAVA dangled a bunch of money in front of localities and a fast track process with tight deadlines. Most chose to take the money and run without thinking things through. I wonder if they have to give money back to the feds if they go back. I think HAVA is yet another example of big, top-down government making things worse. Those punch cards and lever machines seem better and better as time goes on.

It's not so simple. (5, Interesting)

yourestupidjerks (948216) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162713)

In Maryland, Deocrats outnumber Republicans 2:1. The Republican governor is in an extremely tight race where turnout could be the deciding factor. Current trends indicate Democrats across the country are set to turn out in large numbers, which would hurt the governor's chances for reelection. So he has called into question the election process, and has been actively telling people to stay away from the polls and instead fill out absentee ballots - despite the fact that he recently vetoed a bill that would make it easier for people to do just that. (The Democrat-controlled legislature overruled his veto.) This isn't just a matter of whether it's a good idea to use electronic voting machines; it's a matter of a seasoned politician trying to exploit the political machine a matter of weeks before an election. Please remember to keep all of that in mind.

Right. In Maryland, the Dems are all honest. (1)

mmell (832646) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162888)

In Florida, the Reps are all election-stealers.

Your standard seems to be a two-edged sword.

Re:Right. In Maryland, the Dems are all honest. (1)

yourestupidjerks (948216) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162968)

The electoral commission is a bipartisan organization.

Also, in Florida, the issue was not e-voting, it was how votes were counted. But nice try to stretch the analogy there, slim.

Re:It's not so simple. (2, Insightful)

operagost (62405) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162896)

The governor vetoed this bill [state.md.us] for the same reason he opposes the electronic voting-- because it has not been proven to be reasonably secure. There is a reason that there are safeguards involved with absentee ballots. We have had numerous elections where people have voted more than once, usually by both absentee ballot and showing up at the polls on election day.

I also don't see the relevance in saying, "Current trends indicate Democrats across the country are set to turn out in large numbers, which would hurt the governor's chances for reelection. So he has called into question the election process." Is it a bad thing to demand a fair, accurate count? If this same Republican was pushing insecure Diebold machines, wouldn't you be questioning whether his cronies has arranged to exploit them for the purpose of compromising the vote count?

Um (2, Insightful)

Silent sound (960334) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162902)

I'm not really interested in which party the presence or absence of e-voting would hurt. I am just primarily interested in the voting process being fair. But:

You claim that what we're seeing here is an unpopular incumbent trying to discourage people from voting at all by waiting until the last minute and then trying to raise questions about the voting process.

So why not just do what the Washington Post reporter suggested and the allegedly unpopular governor appears to be now advocating, and switch to paper ballots for the election? Why can't they do this? Why would this be bad for anybody? How would this benefit the incumbent governor over anyone else?

And I ask you again: (2, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162966)

Would you be defending this situation in the exact same manner as you just did if it the Republican and Democratic tables in this situation were turned?

I will opine that you would indeed not be, and that there are many who would be quick to defend anyone who is non-Republican, and vilify Republicans in any part of this process, even if it conflicts with their other beliefs (e.g., that electronic voting is bad in general).

If electronic voting is so horrible, and indeed, if there really are active conspiracies within Diebold and within the e-voting process that would allow Republicans to steal elections under the radar, it should be no problem for the governor to hold onto power, right?

Even if every single assertion and assumption you make is true, I highly doubt that you, or any others reading it that find themselves rationalizing this in their minds, would be so quick to make this rationalizing argument that is implicitly in favor of Diebold, paperless e-voting if the Republican and Democratic places were switched in this instance.

Re:And I ask you again: (1)

yourestupidjerks (948216) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162984)

Would you be defending this situation in the exact same manner as you just did if it the Republican and Democratic tables in this situation were turned?

If you could find a sitation where Democrats have attempted to systematically disenranchise voters, sure. Good luck with that.

Re:It's not so simple. (2, Informative)

jfengel (409917) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162974)

Maryland having a Republican governor is actually something of an anomaly. The last Republican governor of Maryland was Spiro Agnew back in the 60s. Ehrlich won a race over a Democrat who was said to have run a singularly terrible campaign, and even at that he won only 51-48.

Which means Ehrlich is in trouble now, and the polls reflect that: he's losing 51-44 and 49-42 in the most recent polls.

He's going to need every advantage if he's going to win. In fact, he's almost certain to lose, but his lieutenant governor has a fighting chance to take the Senate seat currently occupied by the retiring Democrat Paul Sarbanes. The last poll was 48-47 in favor of the Republican. The Democrat is still the favorite, but it's a very good reason for Governor Ehrlich to try very hard to take any advantage.

Ah, bureaucracy... (1)

PHAEDRU5 (213667) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162721)

Where civil servants become uncivil masters.

They may have good reasons (5, Informative)

Anonymous Codger (96717) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162724)

I live in Merlin. As I understand it, the following issues are affecting this decision:

1. The election officials don't believe that they can re-gear the process in time for the general election, which is only 6 weeks away. I certainly don't think they can pull it off, given their record so far.

2. The Democratic leadership is convinced that Republican Gov. Erlich is trying to suppress the vote in this majority Democratic state by raising fears about the process. They have good reason to believe this, as he has consistently fought efforts to make it easier for people to vote. Yesterday he urged everyone to use absentee ballots, yet last year he fought efforts to make it easier for people to use those ballots. He also vetoed a bill to allow early voting, which is popular in working districts (mostly Democratic) because some people have trouble getting to the polls on Election Day. When the legislature overrode his veto, he fought the law in court and won.

So as much as I hate and distrust the machines (I'm applying for an absentee ballot myself), I'm on the side of the Dem leadership and the election people (a bipartisan group).

Re:They may have good reasons (4, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162744)

So in other words, electronic voting and Diebold are always evil, except when Democrats support it?

I get it now.

Also, I call total bullshit on this. These machines are either bad, or not. You can't have it both ways. I'm surprised at how many are now coming up with justifications to still vilify only the Republicans in this process, regardless of whether they want - or want to get rid of - e-voting.

(By the way, I'm not a Republican, didn't vote for Bush, etc.)

Re:They may have good reasons (1)

yourestupidjerks (948216) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162872)

So in other words, electronic voting and Diebold are always evil, except when Democrats support it?

I get it now.


No, you apparently don't get it. Electronic voting is generally stupid, yes; however, trying to completely change the way people will vote a month and a half before the election is bound to cause tremendous amounts of confusion and keep people away from the polls. And when you include the fact that the person calling for this action was trying to prevent it less than a year ago, you should be able to see how it is a thinly-veiled and cynical attempt to keep a mostly-Democratic electorate away from the polls to help the governor cling to power. Whether or not electronic balloting is a good idea is not the core issue here: the timing of the governor's proposal and his historical view on balloting procedures is.

Re:They may have good reasons (5, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162910)

No, I do get it.

If the tables were turned here (e.g., Democratic governor fighting to remote e-voting and Republicans fighting to keep it), would you still be justifying keeping Diebold e-voting in Maryland in the same way you just did?

You're quick to defend non-Republicans, because, like many, you want to believe that Republicans' only motivation is illegitimately securing power at all costs and with any dirty tricks possible, and coming up with all kinds of justifications that support that view (like trying to keep working class communities away from the polls, creating fear about the process (which helps only the Republican governor how?), etc.) Well, I have news for you: the Democrats have done, and do, the same things.

(And again, lest the normal commenters who respond to my posts forget, I am not a Republican and voted at least 2:1 Democratic to anything else in the last two elections.)

Re:They may have good reasons (4, Insightful)

daveschroeder (516195) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162865)

For the record, as of 2:30P CT, this is the only +5 moderated post in this story.

Why is it unsurprising that in a group that traditionally lambasts e-voting as essentially a Republican conspiracy to steal elections at every turn would take every opportunity to moderate up the first post justifying *not* getting rid of e-voting when the Republican governor actually wants to go back to all paper ballots?

If this were a Democratic governor wanting to get rid of e-voting and Republicans fighting it, ask yourself: would a post like the parent really be modded up? Think about that and give yourself an honest answer.

Re:They may have good reasons (1)

Z1NG (953122) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162914)

I live in Merlin.
How painful for him.

Re:They may have good reasons (2, Insightful)

wfberg (24378) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162938)

1. The election officials don't believe that they can re-gear the process in time for the general election, which is only 6 weeks away. I certainly don't think they can pull it off, given their record so far.

So.. In the event that it turns out that all the voting machines are controlled by Red China, they have no backup? Even though the backup would be red pencils, some ballots and cardboard boxes with some security tape thrown in for good measure?

Re:They may have good reasons (0)

operagost (62405) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162956)

They have good reason to believe this, as he has consistently fought efforts to make it easier for people to vote. Yesterday he urged everyone to use absentee ballots, yet last year he fought efforts to make it easier for people to use those ballots.
I exposed this argument as flawed in my previous post. You are assuming that making absentee voting easier is always a good thing, while clearly it is not as more lax regulations (indeed, there are essentially no controls on absentee ballots in MD anymore) can result in voter fraud. We only need to look at previous elections where people voted multiple times using absentee ballots (sometimes using both absentee ballots and showing up at the polls) to see how this can be abused. For a forum full of geeks who criticize Microsoft at every turn for their poor security track record, I am dismayed that so many of you would not see the danger in loose controls on voting mechanisms. It becomes ironic when you read an an article deriding Diebold for their mini-bar security model, then in the next breath claim that the Governor of MD should be freely handing out absentee ballots. It's simply partisan politics and it's repulsive to see it coming from allegedly intelligent people.

Re:They may have good reasons (1)

bhmit1 (2270) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162962)

So as much as I hate and distrust the machines (I'm applying for an absentee ballot myself)
On the other side of the river (Fairfax, VA), I tend to do the "absentee in person" where you fill in the absentee application in person, and they let you vote right there, amazingly efficient. But unfortunately, when you do that, you are back to using the electronic machines *doh*. If the machines are able to be trusted, this has to be the best system I've ever seen, whole process takes maybe 10 minutes. Of course the little ole' ladies manning the booths didn't understand the concept that I can't be sure the machine is recording the same vote that I entered on the screen. I didn't really push the issue much with them since, hopefully, they aren't the ones making the decisions. The only way this will ever be fixed is if the majority party has actual proof of tampering by the minority party. Until then, it's politics as usual.

Re:They may have good reasons (2, Informative)

payndz (589033) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162975)

1. The election officials don't believe that they can re-gear the process in time for the general election, which is only 6 weeks away. I certainly don't think they can pull it off, given their record so far.

To re-gear the process for a paper ballot, they'd require:
A: A bunch of metal boxes with a slot in the top, and a padlock.
B: A slip of paper for every voter with the names and parties of the candidates printed on it.
C: Pencils. Lots of pencils.
D: A bunch of volunteers willing to count those slips of paper into piles.

Six weeks to get that sorted out? Hell, for a mere 1% of the $106m they spent on the Diebold machines I'd personally drive to every voting station in the State and hand them their boxes, papers and pencils. And I live in England. Another 1%, and I'd count the ballots myself. It might take a few weeks, or even months, to get the result, but...

Here's your problem (2, Insightful)

TheWoozle (984500) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162738)

Never mind that Diebold's project manager, Tom Feehan, told me it would take four hours to train a computer moron like me to run the voter sign-in machine.

This is probably the number-one reason why electronic voting machines aren't ready for the real world, probably never will be. People understand and can work with paper; no fancy training necessary.

What will happen if people who were trained can't make it on election day (sickness, car accident, etc.)?

Re:Here's your problem (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162932)

The real issue isn't how long it would take to train someone to operate the sign-in machine, the real issue is why are they using a machine to log people in? Why isn't a big book where someone can sign into not being used?

Since I've been voting I have always had to sign my signature under my name in a paper book that is at the table. One book is for people A thru M, the other book is for people N thru Z.

So far as I know, there has never been an issue using this method.

I'm not worried about them not working (2, Insightful)

John.P.Jones (601028) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162740)

I am worried about the possibility of mallicious actions, I could care less if a few machines lock up and people have to wait a bit to vote. And I don't believe the machines will spontaneously make accidental mistakes that lose people's votes. I worry only about humans, whether they be programmers or elections officials purposefully rigging the system.

Thus I don't care if her machine locks up or not. Stupid question that shouldn't have been asked as it sidetracks the issue.

Re:I'm not worried about them not working (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16162994)

Riiiight. Because data integrity issues never result from a system crash. Next time, think first, talk second. It usually works better that way.

She's Following Orders (1)

mpapet (761907) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162743)

She's doing a great job taking the heat on this.

In these situations, the people pushing the project through is intentionally unclear.

This is the beauty of most structured proposal systems that local/state/federal gov'ts. From a citizens perspective, they look like they control graft and corruption. It only creates a level of obscurity.

*sigh* (3, Insightful)

Knara (9377) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162751)

At this point, tech-savvy readers will grumble that I'm an unreconstructed Luddite.

Sadly, I think the tech-savvy readers are the majority of people thinking this whole thing is a really bad idea. Unfortunately, there's not enough of us with deep pockets and loud enough voices to stop this potential train wreck in time.

While I belive this lady to full of it.... (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162765)

I think a more appropriate question would have been:
Do all of your computers in your office freeze up at the same time?
Since there will be more than one machine at any given polling booth. I've never been to a polling place that had all booths open, electric or otherwise.

Re:While I belive this lady to full of it.... (2, Interesting)

Garse Janacek (554329) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162963)

I've never been to a polling place that had all booths open, electric or otherwise.

I know what you mean. Last time I went to an election with punch-out paper ballots, some of the booths were blocked off with "out of order" signs -- the paper wasn't working in those ones. People complain about the unreliability of e-voting, but it's really not any worse than it used to be.

......

Okay, I'm making fun. A little. But really, have you never been to a polling location that had all boths open? Ever, using any (lack of) technology? Granted, I've only been through a few election cycles, but I haven't observed that at all.

On the subject of Voting... (1)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162768)

...I chanced upon this story about the Marble-based voting machines being used in Gambia [bbc.co.uk] .

I found the article very interesting, and adequately detailed. The system seems well thought out and adapted to fit into local conditions (high illiteracy rate, resource crunch, simplicity, etc).

From TFA:
Voters enter a booth and pop a clear glass marble into one of three drums representing the candidates, instead of a putting a ballot paper into a box...snip...The drums are painted in the colour of the candidate's party and have their photograph and party symbol...snip...The marbles are placed into trays with either 200 or 500 holes - similar to a solitaire board - which makes it easy for officials to verify numbers.

Get the scoop from Maryland's expert (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16162774)

He's posted it all here:

http://blackboxvoting.com/s9/ [blackboxvoting.com]

He's been around since the start of the fight.

- j

Kudos Washington Post (2, Insightful)

agent dero (680753) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162777)

I would like to extend a thanks to Marc Fisher for being an actual reporter.

Let's start dragging these guys over hot coals, there's absolutely no practical reason unless you're trying to rig an election (in my opinion) to switch to e-voting.

Re:Kudos Washington Post (1)

devnull17 (592326) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162978)

Or if you or one of your friends is in the business of selling voting machines.

Re:Kudos Washington Post (1)

Garse Janacek (554329) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162985)

I partially agree with you, but there's an important word in your claim you aren't paying much attention to: "there's no practical reason to switch to e-voting."

The switch has already (essentially) been done. The debate here is whether to switch back, so close to the election. The primary person agitating for the change to paper ballots (the current governor) also has an extremely questionable history in the area of voting ethics (as pointed out by other posters), so the issue here is a lot more complicated than just "switching to e-voting," which I would (almost) always oppose. However, the governor is taking advantage of the distrust in e-voting in this mostly-Democratic state to push for his changes, and frankly, I doubt it's because he's had a sudden last-minute change of heart regarding his sketchy behavior of the last few years and is suddenly trying to look out for the average voter.

Which isn't to say that this "No, no one I know has ever had their computer freeze" defense of e-voting isn't downright pitiful.....

Is the election commission itself elected? (1)

Silent sound (960334) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162794)

Where I live, the official that oversees elections is, themselves, elected.

How is the Maryland election commission selected? It may be too late for sanity to prevail in this election, but how much possibility is there that before or during the next major election, some kind of popular challenge could be engineered to replace the Maryland election commission with people who would oppose and remove e-voting systems*?

* To avoid an unnecessary argument, pretend I'm making some kind of distinction between touchscreen and evoting systems here.

Computers work just fine! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16162808)

They make great paper-weights, tho their televisions get in the way of our Underwood typewriters... Freeze up? No, we keep it around 75F in the office, they never freeze up. The only problem we have with them is dusting - they're real dust magnets. And... the cup holders really are not well designed either. What? Turn them on? Er... for what? Holy cow - look at that pretty Blue Screen (tm)!!!!! And there - an aquarium we don't have to feed! Just wish they'd be smaller so our typewriters would fit better on the desks...

I believe her (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#16162829)

Computers can't crash if the users haven't figured out how to turn them on yet.

Sounds like a government attitude (1)

bhmit1 (2270) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162842)

Had the same thing happen while at the DoD.

Me: "So these tools can help monitor for any issues you have on your system. Is there anything you'd like to see from the security side of things?"
Them: "No"
Me: "Have you ever had a security breach?"
Them: "No, we have never had a security breach."
Me: "You mean none that you know of?"
Them: "No, we have never had a security breach."
Me: "Yes sir"

Either they are much better at their job than anyone believes, or it's easier to ignore the truth than to try fixing the problems.

Re:Sounds like a government attitude (1)

Knara (9377) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162987)

Judging from the stories I've heard from former military IT guys... yeah it's the latter.

Americans should watch the brazilian experience (1)

Zaatxe (939368) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162918)

As a Brazilian, I'm very proud of our democratic system. For a country which was under a military dictatorship until 1986, our voting system is clean and everything but messy. We've been using voting machines since 1996 (first in only one State, just a trial then in the biggest cities and now everywhere since 2000) and voting fraud dropped to zero (or something around that). In our last election we had about 87.5 million people voting in a single day (from 8 AM to 5 PM) and we knew the results around 11 PM in the same day and it was uncontested (although the opposition to the current won the elections). It's sad to see a country like the USA (which claims to be a example of democracy) to have elections the way it has. Just sad and pathetic (DISCLAIMER: americans, don't get me wrong. I'm criticizing only the voting system).

If you guys are curious about our voting machines, take a look at Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] . By the way, yes, it does run Linux! ;-)

Maryland's Governor doesn't want Diebold (3, Funny)

Malakusen (961638) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162920)

http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20060922-7803 .html [arstechnica.com]

In the aftermath of a problem-filled primary election caused by defective Diebold voting machines in Maryland, Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. insists that the state should return to paper ballots in order to ensure that the upcoming November election is valid and unhindered by technological failures. ... Maryland's Board of Elections administrator Linda H. Lamone characterized the Governor's suggestion as "crazy." Lamone telling the Washington Post she will "work around the clock" to resolve deficiencies and put pressure on Diebold in an effort to make the machines usable.


If you have to work around the clock to make the voting machines usable, then there was a SEVERE problem with them when they came from the manufacturer. Rushing to get them operable before election, instead of scrapping them entirely, is pretty crazy. There's more.

Diebold's voting technology has received a steady litany of bad press for the past two years. The state of California banned Diebold's products, and then sued the company for machine-related fraud in 2004. Security researchers have illuminated severe flaws in both the hardware and software, recently revealing that Diebold machines are vulnerable to self-propagating viruses capable of altering the outcome of a vote. Diebold voting technology drew sharp criticism in Alaska last month, where elections were also disrupted by the machines. ... Condemning Lamone and the General Assembly for "[setting] dangerous precedents that .. threaten the integrity of November's elections," Baltimore election director Gene Raynor chose to resign earlier this week rather than condone the use the faulty machines. Given the numerous election difficulties attributed to Diebold's products by members of both major political parties in several states, it is clear that these problems represent a pattern rather than a series of isolated incidents. The company continues to claim that its products function adequately when properly configured. In light of the significant risks associated with using Diebold products, Governor Ehrlich's concerns seem more than valid. With critical elections on the horizon, other states should reevaluate their electronic voting plans and consider using paper until they can acquire machines from a reliable vendor.

BSD on the desktop (1)

WickedLogic (314155) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162964)

Leave her alone, maybe it doesn't crash. Ever consider she's runing *BSD on the desktop?

Missing statement.. (2, Funny)

BackOrder (592581) | more than 8 years ago | (#16162993)

Linda Lamone later stated that the buildings are kept to the proper temperature in order to prevent computers to freeze.

Should be fun in Ohio too (1)

ThatDamnMurphyGuy (109869) | more than 8 years ago | (#16163000)

I believe my county in Ohio is moving to some form of new machines this year. Here's hoping that it isn't a total disaster.

Paper ballots are insecure too (1)

iamacat (583406) | more than 8 years ago | (#16163026)

Someone can just go through the box and make a bunch of undesirable ones defective by punching extra holes. Not much difference from tampering with a voting machine. Voting software doesn't have to be "millions of lines of code" to just store a line of CVS for each vote and later add things up. It can authenticate a voter through a cryptographic signature and give him/her another signature that can be verified by the voter or given to a watchdog group without compromising ballot secrecy. Again, cryptography can let a user vote from any personal or library PC to avoid racial intimidation, uncooperative boss or plain laziness/busy schedule. Paper ballot elections can and did have numerous accidents (Florida for Bush and hanging chads), dead people showing up to vote and so on. With open source hardware and software, computer-based voting can be much more secure. If Diebold is not it, it's another story.

Re:Paper ballots are insecure too (1)

iamacat (583406) | more than 8 years ago | (#16163043)

s/CVS/CSV/
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