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E-Voting Raises New Questions In Brazil

kdawson posted about 8 years ago | from the how-to-handle-diebold dept.

158

Zaatxe writes, "Today is election day in Brazil. About 125 million people are expected to vote for president, governor, congressman (for both state and federal levels) and senator. The Washington Post has some interesting details about the electronic voting machines used in Brazil. From the article: 'Elections in Brazil used to be a monumental challenge, with millions of paper ballots to count by hand, many of them delivered by canoe and horseback from remote Amazon villages. Fraud was widespread, and it often took a week or more to determine the winners. Latin America's largest country eliminated many of these hassles by switching to electronic voting a decade ago, long before the United States and other countries... Some computer programmers who have closely examined Brazil's system say... confidence is misguided... Some Brazilians are lobbying... to switch from Windows CE to an open-source operating system for the voting machines, since Microsoft Corp., citing trade secrecy, won't allow independent audits to make sure malicious programmers haven't inserted commands to "flip" votes from one candidate to another.'" Read more below.

As a Brazilian voter, it was a shock for me to see that the voting machines here are made by Diebold. But what makes me confident in the system can also be found in the article: "Given the choice of picking a system where wholesale rigging is easy, versus one where it's impossible, why has Brazil gone with the system where it's easy? Brazil did build in some safeguards during its transition to electronic voting — protections that still don't exist in the US. While the code behind Microsoft's operating system remains secret, independent auditors must approve of the overlying voting software before it is inserted into the nation's 430,000 machines. The software remains open to inspections for three months before election day. And hours before the polls open, randomly chosen voting machines are tested 'to verify that the software inside does what it is supposed to do.'"

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fp? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16274691)

fp?

Simplicity is important ... (5, Insightful)

Gopal.V (532678) | about 8 years ago | (#16274711)

India has been using an EVM [wikipedia.org] for a while, it has no operating system and is a bare-bones equivalent of a calculator with a line printer attached. Hook it up to a standard dot-matrix printer and get voting. It is probably as simple as a system can be.

No government which outsources its technology to vote can remain soverign. Machiavelli didn't go on and on about mercenaries, for nothing. And all said & done, this doesn't actually mean an honest election brings up a good government - we're intelligent induviduals, who form dumb mobs, pulled & manipulated by politicians with electoral issues (which are non-issues in the real sense).

Re:Simplicity is important ... (2, Interesting)

giorgiofr (887762) | about 8 years ago | (#16274847)

Mobs are more than happy to let themselves be manipulated. Then they can give free reign to all that's socially unacceptable but that they really feel like doing, because the responsibility does not lie on them any more. See, they are being *pulled*. Recently, it looks like people are too tired to even switch their brain on, so they fall back into mob mode very quickly indeed.
I've had enough with the "I'm being manipulaaaaaated!!11" excuse. Grow a fucking spine and admit that you do what *you* want to do.

Re:Simplicity is important ... (2, Interesting)

Zaatxe (939368) | about 8 years ago | (#16275107)

If memory servers, the first voting machines here in Brazil were ordinary 386 PC's with no operating system, it booted with the voting software. I don't know for how long this model was used, anyway. Maybe it was just the first prototypes.

What about pencil and paper? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16275691)

India has been using an EVM for a while, it has no operating system and is a bare-bones equivalent of a calculator with a line printer attached. Hook it up to a standard dot-matrix printer and get voting. It is probably as simple as a system can be.

Between the printer and the input device, that setup sounds far more complex than a mere slip of paper and a pencil.

I voted today and... (4, Interesting)

julioody (867484) | about 8 years ago | (#16274787)

I find it's somewhat weird that one can't directly vote as "null" (this means, in other words, you're refraining yourself from participating). In order to vote as "null", you have to pick an invalid candidate number. It's been like this since the last election (or maybe before, but I can't recall). There's apparently not much press on the fact. So I guess most uninformed people (majority, as usual) would simply do otherwise just thinking "they've done something wrong". For some reason, it seems to be this is a form of pushing the nation into voting *for someone*. Call me paranoid, but I can't see a good reason for that. It reminds me of that quote: "if voting worked, it would be illegal".

And yes, I'd rather not participate. There may not be any evidence of fraud in our elections, but I don't see the point in participating in the circus of lies that is politics in Brazil. If after all these years no one has realized politicians (right/left wing, doesn't matter) aren't out to help anyone there, they well deserve what's happening now.

The soul of South America lies within Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, and Argentina.

Re:I voted today and... (5, Informative)

Zaatxe (939368) | about 8 years ago | (#16275159)

I find it's somewhat weird that one can't directly vote as "null" (this means, in other words, you're refraining yourself from participating). In order to vote as "null", you have to pick an invalid candidate number. [...] For some reason, it seems to be this is a form of pushing the nation into voting *for someone*.

1) A nullified vote means you made a mistake picking a candidate. This "mistake" can be delibered or not.
2) If you are not willing to participate (considering that voting is mandatory in Brazil), the voting machine has a "blank" button.
3) The voting machines have the "blank" button since the first prototype in 1996. Actually, the design of the voting machine hasn't changed much since then.
4) The blank vote has always existed, since the paper ballot and it has the same effect of nullified votes. But the blank votes were the fraud source in paper ballots: some dishonest vote counters would fill the blank votes during counting. Believe me, that happened much often than you can imagine. With voting machines, that's impossible.

Re:I voted today and... (1)

doti (966971) | about 8 years ago | (#16276035)

Blank votes are very different from null votes.

A blank vote means "I don't care". A null vote mean "I'm not satisfied with any of the candidates".

Blank votes goes for the candidates with the most votes in the last turn. On the other hand, if in the last turn no candidate reaches 50%+1 votes (because of the null votes), the election is cancelled, and the current candidades may not run for the next one.

Re:I voted today and... (2, Informative)

Zaatxe (939368) | about 8 years ago | (#16276193)

Blank votes goes for the candidates with the most votes in the last turn. On the other hand, if in the last turn no candidate reaches 50%+1 votes (because of the null votes), the election is cancelled, and the current candidades may not run for the next one.

My dear heavens! Where did you take this idea from? The election could be cancelled if, and only if, more than 50% of total votes were null. "Could be cancelled", it's not for sure. It's up to the Supreme Electoral Court to decide what happens if more than 50% of the votes are null. (I'm not linking the official page on this information because it's in portuguese and wouldn't be fair for most slashdotters.)

MOD PARENT UP (1)

fmobus (831767) | about 8 years ago | (#16276291)

There is no law stating that 50%+1 null votes would block candidates from running the next election. This is purely an urban legend.

Re:I voted today and... (1)

Rato Ruter (1008363) | about 8 years ago | (#16276849)

Thats BS... Blank votes are counted as valid votes, since they dont count to anyone its as if, statistically I mean, they were split proportionally among all the candidates. On the other hand, null votes are not valid and are excluded from the statistics to determine the winner candidate.

i think you're mistaken about the "null vote" (1)

bodrell (665409) | about 8 years ago | (#16277263)

According to the Portuguese wikipedia page [wikipedia.org] , which actually cites Brazilian statutes, the null vote is not the same as the blank ("white") vote. A blank vote doesn't count for anyone in particular. It's the same as if the person hadn't voted, since all blank votes are tallied for the winning candidate. The null vote, on the other hand, could actually win the election, requiring a new election within 20-40 days. One thing I'd like to know is whether the blank votes can put one candidate over the edge, giving him a majority. Lula was less than 2% from getting a clean majority, so if 2% of the population voted blank, would that have avoided the need for a runoff?

Whether a null vote win requires all the previous candidates to drop out of the next race, I don't know. But it is definitely not the same as the blank vote [wikipedia.org] .

By the way, it might be of interest to some /.ers that not only is voting in Brazil mandatory between the ages of 18 and 70 (if I remember correctly), but so is polling-station duty. It's like jury duty. Yesterday my girlfriend was the "president" of her local polling station in Rio. Looks like she'll be back there in a few weeks for the runoff. Even worse than jury duty, however, is the fact that poll duty is for three consecutive years.

Re:I voted today and... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16275515)

The soul of South America lies within Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, and Argentina.

The very same governments that the US denounces. Could it be that the two are related?

It always been that way (1)

Wooky_linuxer (685371) | about 8 years ago | (#16275563)

You always had to pick a invalid number since we started using eletronic ballots here. 0, 00, 000 or so on will do fine.

Re:It always been that way (1)

Hal_Porter (817932) | about 8 years ago | (#16276325)

So any C NULL pointer value will do find then?

Re:I voted today and... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16275853)

Null or not was always an issue since the people who count the votes could assign the vote to another candidate. Not to mention the days after the election where PURE BLOOD BATTLES were done in order to guarantee that votes were honestly being counted and assigned to the right people.

Switching from MS to Open Source means that no company owns the underlying OS of the system. But if we think about the massive servers that are probably IBM mainframes how can we replace them ?

If we started with WindowsCE and currently there are 430.000 voting machines it would be a great deal of work to switch to OSS.

And this BS of soul must come from a complete retard !

Re:I voted today and... (2, Interesting)

Allah Lah Ow (956238) | about 8 years ago | (#16276363)

Brazil is just as good as your vote, dude. And, btw, the reason you have to pick an invalid candidate number is to emulate the paper ballots where anything but what you're supposed to write there nullify the vote. It's just sad to see how many people give up their sacred right of choosing their leaders blaming the status quo. You're not a paranoid, you're just apathic. PS: The last line doesn't make any sense.

Why Does Diebold Oppose Printers? (3, Interesting)

logicnazi (169418) | about 8 years ago | (#16274821)

I mean on the surface it would seem that this is a perfect opportunity for them to sell more hardware and make more money.

The only explanation I can think of is that they are afraid their buggy voting machines will give different counts than the paper ballots. Despite all the worries and fuck ups with Diebold machines people won't really believe that the machines are problematic until they can see they screwed up in a real life situation. Sure there were a couple incidents where a machine started counting backward or people fucked up but this doesn't necessarily seem any more serious than the flaws in paper voting and after all these problems were caught.

Yes if problems are caught there are probably others that aren't but it doesn't have the same PR effect.

Re:Why Does Diebold Oppose Printers? (3, Insightful)

bremstrong (523910) | about 8 years ago | (#16274907)

For something as important as voting, it sure seems like the US as a country could afford printers.

Anything to make it more likely that every vote is accurately tallied sounds like a worthwhile use of taxpayer dollars.

Electronic voting machines that can't be audited--why again?

Re:Why Does Diebold Oppose Printers? (1)

expressovi (952511) | about 8 years ago | (#16276529)

My county just recieved brand new electronice voting machines from Deibold. Our county required that these machines leave a paper tail. Having seen one demonstrated to me about 3 weeks ago I can confirm that they do have machines with a small printer of some sort attatched to the right side of the machine.

Re:Why Does Diebold Oppose Printers? (3, Interesting)

Angry Black Man (533969) | about 8 years ago | (#16276751)

You are completely right about the fact that both paper ballots and comptuer ballots have some margin of error, and as an engineer i have to wonder why this margin of error is not known.

Any approximation is useless without knowing the limits to which it applies. What needs to happen is a study needs to be done to find the percent error in the voting process (paper or electronic), and if the final votes are within this percent something needs to happen.

If Bush wins an election by 1.0% of the population, while the margin of error on the voting process is +/-3.0%, well then did he really win the election?? Any counting process is useless without knowing error margins, voting included. What if the margin of error is +/- 10%?? This needs to be figured out.

Re:Why Does Diebold Oppose Printers? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 8 years ago | (#16277087)

IIRC, Diebold has had the printer-models since the begining. It's been the choice of the counties buying them to go with the printerless models to save money.

MS Ain't So Bad Here (3, Insightful)

logicnazi (169418) | about 8 years ago | (#16274875)

Frankly I think the concern about using an MS OS rather than an open source OS is misplaced. In fact despite my general dislike for MS I have to say that in this situation MS is probably a better choice than a Linux based OS.

Sure people are going to claim the 'lots of eyeballs' effect makes linux more secure. However, there are major sections of the code that are deep vodoo and very very few people understand. An attacker would of course choose to put his code in one of these sections and if you are really running this code atop a full blown OS and you know (because the government has demanded it be published) the software that will run on top of if there are probably tons and tons of innocent looking ways to screw with the results.

I don't know if this would really work but one might imagine a situation where the ballot will be divided into two pages. Likely whether or not the vote was recorded and sent to permanent memory before the page is flipped or after will have some statistical difference in memory reservations or paging or some subsystem like this. One could code a race condition that scrambles the cast vote which while rare is slightly more statistically likely to happen in these situations than the other ones. Hell in an election often the young have different voting patterns than the old so you could just have some statistical relation to the speed at which options are picked.

The point is the bad guy is likely to have lots of resources and be able to concentrate them in one very small area of the code in a way that looks valid or if discovered innocent. The eye balls need to look over all the code. Yet we know from the number of bugs found in the linux kernel that many bugs do make it past without even being engineered to like innocous.

While the MS kernel is likely to be more buggy it is much harder to contribute a patch to the MS kernel making it more difficult for a bad guy to slip the code into the kernel in the first place. So while it would be nice if the kernel was visible to everyone I think not accepting third party patches is a more important security feature than being open source for a situation like this. Getting someone hired as part of MS's OS team or corrupting one of them is way harder than getting a patch acceted to the linux kernel that delibrately contains a very subtle area.

Of course what they really should be doing is not using anything complicated like a real OS anyway and instead an EVM.

Re:MS Ain't So Bad Here (3, Interesting)

logicnazi (169418) | about 8 years ago | (#16274893)

More preciscely unless you plan to eliminate all errors that could affect the kernel running in the voting machine (impossible for either linux or windows kernel) the battle is between the eyeballs trying to find bugs that might affect voting and the bad guys trying to make bugs that affect voting.

In an election situation there are just TONS of correlations between voting patterns and the state of the voting machine (how quickly people select options, how busy the machine is, how warm the machine is etc.. etc..). The bad guys just need to pick one correlation to use in their attack. The eyeballs need to look for every exploitable correlation making their job very very hard.

This asymetry means that it is more efficent to raise the barrier to inserting the bug in the first place by using code that doesn't accept third party patches than to try to find the bugs once they are in there.

Of course the right kind of OSS kernel would be even better, e.g., minix (I don't think tannenbaum accepts 3rd party patches) or some other closed development community but between linux and windows here windows wins for all the reasons that make it worse other places.

Re:MS Ain't So Bad Here (2, Interesting)

bky1701 (979071) | about 8 years ago | (#16275113)

"While the MS kernel is likely to be more buggy it is much harder to contribute a patch to the MS kernel making it more difficult for a bad guy to slip the code into the kernel in the first place." You seem to forget how easy it is to hex-edit and such. Pirates hack copy-protection far more sealed up then MS software, and all they are is a set of random people trying to give out free warez. A true conspiracy to hack the vote of a whole country is NOT going to be stopped by hex-editing vs. C editing, and while dark spots in the Linux kernel maybe hard to pick apart, a compiled window kernels is near imposable. So would Linux be better? It probably doesn't matter - if it's going to be hacked, it's going to be hacked.

Re:MS Ain't So Bad Here (1)

James McGuigan (852772) | about 8 years ago | (#16276081)

One of the reasons the pen and paper anonymous ballet system has lasted so long is that its a tried and tested system. People trust it, its very simple, and is fairly difficult to subvert/corrupt.

Look at NASA, when they send up a space probe, the computer on board are not the latest and greatest, but more likely 486's. This is because you are are a tried and tested system and any bugs or issues are very likely to be already known.

In a voting, just as in space flight, reliability is more important than efficency. Simple systems tend to be more reliable (less points of failure). Electronic voting is an attempt to improve the efficency of the voting process (quicker and less costly), but its no good optimizing a function if it ends up being more buggy.

Probably simplistic but MS=USA=bad? (3, Interesting)

fantomas (94850) | about 8 years ago | (#16275117)

I wonder if some of the concern by the critics is that the software running the voting machines is opaque, and owned by a US company. US involvement in South/Latin America is quite a politically sensitive issue and the US has historically used covert and military actions to influence politics in the region. So I'm not suprised there are concerns - even if misplaced - over the MS software.

Imagine if there was a borderline vote in some US states and the voting machines were running a closed software package from a country that had potential influence and something to lose or gain over who got elected.

I can imagine concerns might be raised in the voting areas by some people.

Re:Probably simplistic but MS=USA=bad? (1)

jav27 (603992) | about 8 years ago | (#16276441)

for that reason, Smarmatic, the company that sells the electronic-fraud voting machines used by Hugo Chavez has its ownership very hidden from the public. Some journalists have tried hard to find who owns Smarmatic and it's been impossible, since they are shielded behind a web of trustees and corporations to avoid scrutiny.

Re:MS Ain't So Bad Here (1)

rtb61 (674572) | about 8 years ago | (#16275147)

You seriously want to attach something a erroneous as microsoft's warranty to something as important as an election. Manual counting and voting requires fraud on a massive scale, electronic voting , only requires one bug, and the election results are what ever you want them to be. No fraud with electronic voting, get serious, it is just so much easier to hide and produce what ever results you want. Voting, it's about people electing people, why would you exclude people from any part of the process.

Re:MS Ain't So Bad Here (1)

suffe (72090) | about 8 years ago | (#16275341)

Dear company executive, if you by accident would make sure I win the election next yet then there is no end to what we can do together.

Yours truly,
GWB
------

That wasn't very hard or costly.

Re:MS Ain't So Bad Here (3, Insightful)

orasio (188021) | about 8 years ago | (#16275443)

That doesn't make sense to me.
You are saying that in order to hack the linux kernel, you would need to make a patch to the mainstream kernel, and get it accepted. Someone will review your code, and you need to disguise it as a fix for something. For this step alone, that involves deceiving kernel hackers, you need the knowledge of a top level kernel hacker, and there are few of them, and _some_ of them can't be easily bought for any reasonable amount of money, because they are well known people, and have a reputation to protect.
Then you need to make sure that the makers of the machines use a recent enough version of Linux. So you need to send the patch at least one year, and more realistically, a couple of years in advance.
After that, you need to pray that, in the meantime, your code doesn't break anything for any of its millions of users. And some of those millions are actually watching the changelog, and could find some flaw in your patch by chance.

With any closed kernel, there is not known worldwide development process, so it _could_ be much easier to instill a bad patch, you maybe just need to buy one developer for a ridiculous amount of money, and that would be it. Of course, they could have better safeguards, but we don't know anything about that, so we can safely assume the worst.

Aside from that, I think these ways of skeweing the elections are overkill. You can always buy your votes on-site, and find a way to change the software of the voting machines on delivery, or maybe changing the whole voting machine before it goes to its place. You can buy some auditors, or people at Diebold. That would be much easier, safer and cheaper than changing the OS kernel.

Re:MS Ain't So Bad Here (1)

teslar (706653) | about 8 years ago | (#16275857)

After that, you need to pray that, in the meantime, your code doesn't break anything for any of its millions of users

Never mind that, you'd also need to pray that you correctly guessed the candidates and the way people will actually enter their vote all those years before the election...

Mod parent up... (1)

TigerNut (718742) | about 8 years ago | (#16276523)

The reason for using a vanilla F/OSS operating system is that it will, for the reasons described by the parent, be unlikely that it's corrupted specifically for the purpose of throwing an election. The voting application should only make generic use of the OS services so that it is less likely that an unknown or little known weakness of the OS will be exploited or exposed. Other than Diebold's unwillingness to expose the source to their voting machines, the main problem with them appears to be simply that they're way too complicated... all that you need is a screen that presents the candidates and a button beside each candidate's name, which has to be pressed long enough that it can't be an accident. And counting software at the other end, which should be manageable using any competent database app.

Re:MS Ain't So Bad Here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16275851)

I don't know if this would really work but one might imagine a situation where the ballot will be divided into two pages. Likely whether or not the vote was recorded and sent to permanent memory before the page is flipped or after will have some statistical difference in memory reservations or paging or some subsystem like this. One could code a race condition that scrambles the cast vote which while rare is slightly more statistically likely to happen in these situations than the other ones. Hell in an election often the young have different voting patterns than the old so you could just have some statistical relation to the speed at which options are picked.


No, that sort of thing belongs in userspace, not in the kernel.

Re:MS Ain't So Bad Here (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 8 years ago | (#16275977)

Well, you don't need source code to install malware on a system. Think about all the zillions of Windoze viruses out there. Therefore, *not* having the source doesn't make you any more secure. However, having the source code, does make it easier to spot trouble and fix it.

Uhhh, invalid assumption (1)

Gription (1006467) | about 8 years ago | (#16276191)

You are making the assumption that the Linux base used for a voting machine would be getting updates from the 'real world' distribution. There is nothing that says you have to use outside code after you start developing. In fact I can't imagine any project manager who would accept any outside code once the OS base had been selected.

Electronic voting machines are all about eliminating variables. The only variable in the system should be the the candidates.

The biggest objection to Microsoft is that you are working from code that is doing things that you don't know about. In addition Microsoft isn't going to give you an explanation either...

Someone here mentioned that HEX code wouldn't be more secure. If it was as large a bloated as a higher level language that might be true. The hole in that argument is that large monolithic code by its very nature has all sorts of hidden surprises. Small machine/assembler code programs don't have fat to hide surprises. Why do we need a huge fat GUI for a voting system? There are much easier and secure ways to do this.

The basic problem with every part of this is the logical flow of the overall voting process hasn't been analyzed in an open forum to break the problem down to the most basic, simple, and secure process.

Re:MS Ain't So Bad Here (1)

baboonlogic (989195) | about 8 years ago | (#16276237)

Frankly I think the concern about using an MS OS rather than an open source OS is misplaced. In fact despite my general dislike for MS I have to say that in this situation MS is probably a better choice than a Linux based OS.

The concern here is that all the voting machine software should be available for audit. Thus a MS based solution is not feasible.

Re:MS Ain't So Bad Here (1)

houghi (78078) | about 8 years ago | (#16276315)

Sure people are going to claim the 'lots of eyeballs' effect makes linux more secure. However, there are major sections of the code that are deep vodoo and very very few people understand.


Even less people understand the voodoo of the MS kernel and there is no way to examine the kernel later. Say 10 people do understand the kernel voodo and are interested and able to analyze it, that would be enough to detect if somebody changed the kernel or not or did something else with it.

With MS if 10 people can understand it, the likelyhood of them actally telling on their comapny is much slimmer and much harder to proove. This would be no problem if the comapny is completely honest and has nothing to gain or loose with the outcome.

Now imagine a company that is in a legal battle against several states for e.g. abuse of their monopoly. They might be interested in outcome one way or another. Or if you have a CEO who is in favour of one company over an other. He might be intersted in favouring one or the other.

Both can do this for anyone and they can do it all on their own, completely independent from whatever or whomever they favour and perhaps even against the will of the person they favour.

I will put it in another way. 10 people put 10USD in a pot. I will put 10 in as well. I will make the papers who go into the hat. Any of the ten people will pull out one paper. I will immediatly brurn the 9 other papers the moment someone pulles out a paper, so I can't switch them later.

Will you trust me in this closed source program? Won't you think it was strange that I won 27 times in a row? Can you detect what I did? Sure you can. Can you PROOVE it?

That is what Diebold could be doing. That is what Microsoft could be doing and we have no way of knowing.

The alternative of my 'election' is that the 10 people look how I write the papers, look how I fold them and look how put them in a hat. That is open source.

I dont understand... (1)

TechnoBunny (991156) | about 8 years ago | (#16274927)

Why do they need access to the OS code to determine whether the voting applications are fair? Surely some auditors could be given access to the relevant codebases (presumably under an NDA) to ensure that the code accurately records votes, and that once those votes are recorded they cannot be altered?

Re:I dont understand... (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 8 years ago | (#16276015)

All you need is a printed paper trail. Then the system can be subjected to random inspections: Count the paper, look at the electronic tally and compare, to make sure it is within a margin of hand counting error. That is why Diebold *doesn't* want paper trails. They are afraid that it will show just how bad and unreliable their systems are.

Re:I dont understand... (1)

pembo13 (770295) | about 8 years ago | (#16276411)

I do not understand your post. How is "need access to the OS code" different from "given access to the relevant codebases" ?

diebold only _MAKES_ them but don't have the IP (4, Interesting)

C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) | about 8 years ago | (#16274985)

the development of the system, and all the intelectual property associated, belong to the electoral justice.

when the system was first develop and used in capitol cities in the 90's, procomp (one of the manufacturers hired to develop the system) was not a diebold subsidiary yet. the other two were Itautec (subsidiary of the 2nd largest private bank of brasil) and Unisys.

all the intelectual property developed by the 3 companies was transfered to the union.

since the IP belongs to the government, they can choose to hire other comapnies to manufacture the units in the future if they son choose.

The Weak Link Should Be Eliminated. (0, Troll)

twitter (104583) | about 8 years ago | (#16276575)

all the intelectual property developed by the 3 companies was transfered to the union. ... they can choose to hire other comapnies to manufacture the units in the future if they son choose.

That's nice but your software is not the problem, using Wince is. People have shown how easy it is to physically break into Dibold systems, but that would not matter if there was decent code auditing in place. Your chances of getting that to work with WinCE are about as good as Dibold's. Bill Gates will have something to say about the ownership of WinCE and how it works, so it might be easier to start from scratch than transfer your source code out of that black hole. The ease of hacking into WinCE is another giant problem you won't have with other software. You can only trust a system as much as you can trust it's weakest part, regardless of what company builds the rest. The effort required to secure WinCE would be like rewriting the OS. It would be easier to start your code from scratch with an OS that works.

How hard can voting machine software be? (1)

oliverthered (187439) | about 8 years ago | (#16274993)

Randomize the buttons so that the order of candidates changes every time, store the order in a table.
When a button is pressed run a lookup on the table and increment to count for that candidate.
Send some text to a line printer with details of the vote.
Repeat untill end of election.
Have a button inside that dumps the vote count out to the line printer.

That's going to be a few hundred lines of code at worst, surley it doesn't take that long to pick up any bugs.

Re:How hard can voting machine software be? (2, Funny)

mrogers (85392) | about 8 years ago | (#16275101)

That's going to be a few hundred lines of code at worst, surley it doesn't take that long to pick up any bugs.

Actually it's only one line - but it's a line of Perl.

Re:How hard can voting machine software be? (2, Informative)

Zaatxe (939368) | about 8 years ago | (#16275331)

Randomize the buttons so that the order of candidates changes every time, store the order in a table.

Forgive me, but that sounds like a VB programmer idea. Anyway, Sao Paulo state had about 1000 candidates for congressman. Are you sure putting them in the screen in with no preditable order would help anyway? It would only happen to make large lines in the voting precintes!
In Brazil every party has a 2-digit number that identifies it. For executive candidates (president, governor and mayor) they use the party number. Senators use 3 digit numbers, federal congressmen use 4 digit numbers, city counselours and state congressmen 5 digits, being the first 2 from their parties.
When you enter the numbers, the voting machine shows their name, party and a picture, because Brazil still have lots of illiterate people. Besides the voting machine's buttons are large and have the numbers in Braille for the blind, along with a audible feedback.

Touch screen with the name of the candidates? Bah! This is unnecessary excess of technology and source of problems.

Re:How hard can voting machine software be? (1)

SocratesJedi (986460) | about 8 years ago | (#16275367)

Wouldn't this expose the voting pattern of individual citizens? If it's being printed out on a printer in a sequential order then all it's going to take is for one poll worker to keep highly detailed records about the order in which machines were used by individuals.

As simple as a POS (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 8 years ago | (#16276097)

I believe that one can program an off the shelf point of sale system to do a vote count without much effort. You don't even need to write any software. Just get something from Sharp, NCR, Citizen, Canon, or any other of a whole zoo of commercially available POS machines. Also, anyone that can do: "Ya'want fries wizzat?", can then run an election, but that would be real grass-roots democracy and we don't want that, now do we?

Re:As simple as a POS (1)

pembo13 (770295) | about 8 years ago | (#16276451)

That's what I always thought. I just assumed there was more to it than that, so I was wrong.

Fraud is the lesser of Brazil's problems... (4, Interesting)

Stormwatch (703920) | about 8 years ago | (#16275037)

No candidate reached 50%+1 votes, so we will have a 2nd round with the two leading candidates.

Yet, the leading candidate is the current president, whose government was swamped by all sorts of scandals -- the most recent being that members of his campaign's staff were arrested while trying to buy a (probably forged) dossier against the main opposing party's candidates.

In any decent country, such a man would not have reached the end of his term. Compared to Lula, Nixon was a saint! But here, reached the point where tons of people seem to believe honesty is not relevant to a politician. Or maybe they don't bother looking for it because they believe it's impossible to find...

Re:Fraud is the lesser of Brazil's problems... (1)

ParnBR (601156) | about 8 years ago | (#16275601)

People do mind about honesty, but they're rather vote for someone who "steals, but does" like Maluf than a seemingly good-intended less-known politician. And people can't remember stuff for much longer than a goldfish. I live in Brasília and I'm completely ashamed to know that people here elected someone like Arruda as a Governor. He violated the secrecy of the electronic voting panel, a few years ago, and lied about not being responsible for it. When undeniable evidence was found later, he admitted having done it. He was likely to be prosecuted (and bound to be punished), but resigned and charges against hill were dropped. Ex-president Fernando Collor de Mello was elected senator for Alagoas. Paulo Maluf was elected congressman for São Paulo.

The Carta Capital weekly magazine made some researches about scandals in the last three governments: Lula's, Collor's and Fernando Henrique Cardoso's. Unlike most people seem to believe now, the scandals in the other two governments involved much bigger sums of money. The difference is that Fernando Henrique's was much quicker to react and cover the scandals up, and we all know how Collor ended up. Let us not forget that Marcos Valério worked for FHC people too, that the ambulances scandal began while José Serra (elected Governor of São Paulo) was Minister of Health for FHC, and that Roberto Jefferson, who started the first big scandal of Lula's government, was the biggest defender of Collor's misdoings.

This is a very dark time for Brazil. I'm not happy with Lula's government, but I voted for him since I can't trust Alckmin (he has a very Maluf-like way of doing politics), neither Heloísa Helena (she seemed to be angry all the time, could never give a good answer when asked HOW she intended to do the things she promised, and surprisingly has some conservative support), neither Cristovam (I know him, he was principal of University of Brasília and Governor here for four years) would make a better government. It's so difficult to advance that we have to make it by small steps. I believe Lula's government is one of those small steps. Probably you think otherwise, but I respect your opinion. Let us hope that the next government be better than the last ones.

Cheers!

Re:Fraud is the lesser of Brazil's problems... (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | about 8 years ago | (#16275929)

Alckmin is definitely not Maluf-like.

His main proposal is to reduce taxes, which may be the best thing a politician can do (and Brazil DESPERATELY needs); he intends to stimulate trading with rich countries, rather than third-world ones like Lula did; as governor of São Paulo, he reduced the state's payroll; and above all, as far as I know, he is a honest man.

About Heloísa Helena, let me tell you something. One of PSOL's founding members is a runaway italian convict named Achille Lollo. In 1973, he and two others set fire to the house of a political enemy, killing two children. Of course, Heloísa Helena doesn't care. For "the cause" (socialism), anything goes.

Lula is indeed a step forward, but toward the abyss! Geraldo Alckmin would be instead a major change of direction.

Re:Fraud is the lesser of Brazil's problems... (1)

ParnBR (601156) | about 8 years ago | (#16276499)

I admit he's not *exactly* Maluf-like. Maluf is a traditional conservative politician, of course. But when he talks about his achievements as governor of São Paulo, his speech does sound pretty much like Maluf's, especially when talking about the stuff he built. Please forgive me if I don't quote him, but I wasn't very interested about how many hospitals he built and such. It did remind me, though, when Maluf was a presidential candidate and talked about the same subjects, in 1989.

I thank you for highlighting those Alckmin's proposals. Such proposals are clearly a neoliberal agenda, and I don't intend to say it as a criticism. I don't agree with those proposals, and I believe this is more of a matter of personal belief. Just to make clear, my political inclinations are completely opposite. But I think this doesn't prevent us from having a good talk. :) I really hope he is a honest man. I know people who know Lula personally and would say the same. Too bad we can't really know for sure. But even if Alckmin is more honest than Maluf (and I admit this is very likely), I still can't trust him, because I don't agree with his proposals and don't see them as the best for Brazil.

Heloísa Helena is another story. I used to sympathize with her, but when I noticed she waved some conservative banners despite her socialist upbringing, I grew very suspicious of her and her incoherences. I like the socialist ideology, but I don't like a lot of stuff some self-called socialists did in the past. For true ethical socialists (not that I'm one, mind you), fighting for the cause isn't anything-goes. I can't vote for PSol.

At least we agree on this: Geraldo Alckmin would be a major change of direction, but I think it would be for the worst! :P I don't expect him to do any different from Fernando Henrique Cardoso, and I don't think FHC's government was good, either. But if he is elected, I sincerely hope I'm wrong, for the good of Brazil. :)

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, and please forgive me for my poor English skills. If you misunderstand me, it's my fault for being unable to perfectly express myself. I hope this doesn't get in the way of a respectful understanding (even if we disagree). :)

Best regards

Re:Fraud is the lesser of Brazil's problems... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16277207)

Ugh. Reducing taxes isn't always a good thing. When we're talking about Brazil, where there are so many government-owned programs people depend on (like health care), the money has to come from somewhere. Yes, public health care there sucks (at least it sucked when I was there), but reducing their funds isn't a step towards fixing the problem. By the same token, throwing more money at the problem also isn't the answer. Essentially, what I'm saying is that although reducing taxes may be a good thing, I hope you're considering his entire plan before voting, instead of having the short-sighted reaction so many people have ("hell yes, my paycheck after taxes will be bigger!!!!!"). How exactly is he changing the budget to accomodate for the lower funds? What programs does he intend to cut?

Next, stimulating trading with "rich" countries instead of the "third-world ones" is the worst thing you can do. The rich countries have the upper hand and tend to pressure other countries into changing their laws to suit them. If they refuse, the trade they've come to depend upon will suffer.

Re:Fraud is the lesser of Brazil's problems... (1)

praedictus (61731) | about 8 years ago | (#16275685)

Tell me about it, both Jader Barbalho and Collor got elected yesterday. I get the impression a lot of people vote based on publicity, not on ethics. That and a lot of free cestas basicas discretely passed. It's similar to the pork barrel politics in the US. Roubo, mais faz - "He's a crook, but he gets stuff done"

Re:Fraud is the lesser of Brazil's problems... (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | about 8 years ago | (#16276005)

The correct portuguese is "rouba mas faz" ("robs but does"). Actually, the equivalent to the pork barrel are the "emendas do orçamento" ("ammendments to the budget"). The "rouba mas faz" thing is the blatantly illegal part, bribes and backstage dealings.

Re:President is the lesser of brazil's problems... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16276357)

they elected Maluf,Collor and 15 guys directly envolved into corruption schemes in the power again :/

maluf is like a black hole,hes unoficial motto is "he steals but does it",but he steals a lot and do little,its probably that he stealed close to 300 million of dollars from são paulo city alone

Collor is a former president that froze all the accounts in brazil and then cleaned em,like the "ultimate hacker" XD

It was better before (1)

protomala (551662) | about 8 years ago | (#16275063)

The machine is in constant evolution, but some of them aren't very good, and I belive the machine is loosing it's safety guards. The original machine had a system read-only for the operating system, now it's stored on a SD card, still it's locked with a seal, and when election os over (by the way the election was yesterday and all results are already out) all machines are verified to see if there wasn't any violations.
It's possible yes, to compromise a voting machine, but doing the same for a dozen of them is really hard. The transmassion system is still hacker-proof, mostly because Brazil is very advanced at digical certification and have a good understanding of security in this area. This is the weak link on the chain, but still, after voting the regional and national data are matched often, so if you hack a transmission, it simply will appear, as will exist a difference in numbers.
All in all the system works pretty well, the operating system on the machine really dosen't matter much (even the I like it to be linux instead of winCE), and most contries around here in south america are already adopting it, I hope others with fraud problems (did I'd said USA?) will turn to at least learn some lessons Brazil already know.

Re:It was better before (1)

Zaatxe (939368) | about 8 years ago | (#16275247)

It's possible yes, to compromise a voting machine, but doing the same for a dozen of them is really hard.

Just to provide some extra information, they put one voting machine for every 450 voters in average. This would make a large scale fraud much harder if it's not an inside job. And inside fraud would be even harder, since the parties can inspect the software, if I'm not mistaken.
Personally, I don't believe that has ever happened, because the last party in power lost the elections and this can also happen this year.

Good and secure machines (3, Informative)

FFFFHALTFFFF (996601) | about 8 years ago | (#16275195)

Well, I worked with that machines and I can say they are secure. They dont have any output with external world, like ethernet and others kinds of communication. The votes are stored in floppy disks, with a big seal. If the seal is broken, the votes cant be official. But the seal is big and hard to damage. I believe today we have a great vote system, because we have the results in 13 hours after the election.

Microsoft has a reason to be worried (-1, Troll)

MikeRT (947531) | about 8 years ago | (#16275275)

Brazil has shown little respect for foreign IP in the past [bbc.co.uk] . It was an AIDS drug, which allows all of the lefties to argue that "the people" have a "right" to the research of others. Funny how these are often the same people who complain when their employer generously hires 5 Indians in India to work on their work for the cost of their salary... but don't get me started on the standard hypocrisy here.

Yeah, if I were a Microsoft executive, I might be worried that some left-wing nutjob in Brazil would nationalize that source code and fork in a "fuck the yankee imperialist capitalist" move that Latin America loves so much. OSS fans should be leery as well, since these governments have not historically demonstrated an appreciation for the requirement to give code back either. Remember Red Flag Linux?

Re:Microsoft has a reason to be worried (1)

alexgieg (948359) | about 8 years ago | (#16275439)

Please note that not only left-wingers are against intellectual property. A lot of libertarians and classic-liberal conservatives also oppose it on the grounds that IP violates private property. The reasonig is basically as follow:

"Thy should a 3rd party tell me how I should use the xerox machine I own, the paper I own, the powder I own, and the book I own, in the way I choose to? Why should a 3rd party forbid me to resell whatever I made with property I possessed? After all, who own these things? Me, or that shadowy 3rd party, that exists as such only because the government created and sustains pro-monopolistic, anti-private-property laws?"

The only way a right-winger can defend IP is by giving up on the private property principle and adopting utilitarianism. This is what, for example, the Ayn Rand Objectivists do. Which is the same as saying:

"Yeah, we know IP is a violation of privarte property, that it's something that can only exist because it's state-sponsored, and that this sponsorship also goes agains the doctrine of minimal government, and also that this makes us inconsistent, but IP is usefull anyway due to 'x' and 'y' and 'z', so we're for it."

Needless to say, I'm a conservative, I sympatize with libertarianism in many aspects, and I'm against IP.

Re:Microsoft has a reason to be worried (5, Informative)

Zaatxe (939368) | about 8 years ago | (#16275461)

I might be worried that some left-wing nutjob in Brazil would nationalize that source code and fork in a "fuck the yankee imperialist capitalist" move that Latin America loves so much.

You are american, right? You must be, because you show little knowledge of foreign politics. Sure, Latin America has its share of "left-wing nutjobs", like Evo Morales in Bolivia and Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. But that's not the case in Brazil. We also have our left-wing nutjobs (and one of them ended in third place in yesterday's election) but they seldom achieve anything important.

About the "little respect for forign IP in the past", it didn't matter if it was foreign or national, it was a question of public health, which should be one of the top priorities in any government. AIDS strikes harder on poor people, and the pharmaceutical industry doesn't seem to be willing to spread the return of their investiment for too long.
And just for you to know, the Minister of Health that made this move was a center-right wing politician (which by the way won the election for governor in Sao Paulo, where 1/4 or Brazil population lives).

Re:Microsoft has a reason to be worried (1)

alexgieg (948359) | about 8 years ago | (#16275865)

Wrong, wrong, extremely wrong! The party of the ex-Minister of Health, newly elected governor of the Sao Paulo state, Mr. Jose Serra, from which our former president, Mr. Fernando Henrique Cardoso, is also a member, is the PSDB. What "PSDB" means? It means "Brazilian Social-Democratic Party". Yes, social-democracy. Were it not enough, Mr. Serra was one of the left-wing exilees who departed Brazil on 1970's when our (this time correctly named as such) right-wing dictatorship was hardening.

It has been some 20 years since Brazil had an actual right-wing politician in power. That's why many people nowadays, unaware of what "right-wing" really means, call these soft-left politicians "right". They don't know better.

By the way, they also don't know well what "extreme right" is. They think our dictatorship of the 1960's and 1970's was of the extreme right, when it was far from it. The actual Brazilian extreme-right, the fascists of the Integralist Movement, were crushed by our right-wing dictatorship much in the same way the extreme-left was crushed. And what was this "crushing" anyway? Around 15 deaths per year (little more than one per month) for 20 years: the lightest dictatorship of the whole XX century actually.

Pay no attention to this disinformation on what PSDB is. It's soft-left, democratic left, but left nevertheless. The most "right" thing we have these days is the PFL, "Liberal Front Party". It's hardly more than center of the center, and is crashing anyway, having lost a lot of power in the 2006 election. The future of Brazil is to be fully left-winger.

Too bad for Brazilians. We'll suffer a lot and won't know why.

Re:Microsoft has a reason to be worried (1)

Zaatxe (939368) | about 8 years ago | (#16275959)

People shouldn't be fooled by the parties names in Brazil. And as physics say, it all depends on your point of reference. Inside Brazilian politics, PSDB has a slight right-wing bias. They wouldn't join forces with PFL (the most right-wing party in Brazil, among the ones that deserve attention, in my opinion) if they didn't have a right-wing bias. If you say that all parties are left-wing, you are contradicting yourself. After all, if they are all on the left, there is no sides, therefore, no left or right to consider. "Center" is half way from the leftmost wing and rightmost wing.

Re:Microsoft has a reason to be worried (1)

alexgieg (948359) | about 8 years ago | (#16276877)

Lenin, after the Communist Revolution in Russia, strenghtened the property system in his NEP policy. Why? Because that way he would be able to get tons of money from international capitalists. When he gathered enough to make the revolution completion possible, then he eliminated private property.

Your argument is weak. No left party in history avoided making alliances with what they consider to be the right. The Brazilian left-wing parties are no exception. And in regards to social-democracy, don't forget that its banner is to bring socialism by way of political reforms, not of political confrontations, which necessarily means alliances with forces "in the right".

In regards to the names left and right, yes, you're correct if we think of Brazil only, because there're always two "extremes" and a "middle" no matter what the range of possibilities is. But I'm thinking in terms of the worldwide political spectrum, not the local one. The whole of the local Brazilian political spectrum is a subset of the global one, and a subset located into what, on the global scale, is commonly called "left". That's the point. Something as the British conservatism, or the the American one (which is center when compared to the former), are nowadays devoid of any formal political representation in Brazil. There's simply no conservative party in Brazil at all. And as a result, what we have of most "right-wing" here are some parties without any ideological identity, with no philosophical basis for their beliefs and actions, and with zero militancy. How "right-wing" is that? None.

Re:Microsoft has a reason to be worried (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16275765)

It was an AIDS drug, which allows all of the lefties to argue that "the people" have a "right" to the research of others.

I'll tell you this: if you had a treatment for a terminal disease and I needed it but couldn't pay your extortionate price (most of which is to cover profit and marketing, research on drugs is third on the list of expenses) I'd fucking shoot you, your wife, and your dog if I had to and take it. And I'm quite sure you'd do the same if the positions were reversed, cunt.

It's worse! (2, Interesting)

alexgieg (948359) | about 8 years ago | (#16275667)

Some years ago, those who distrust e-voting machines managed to put into votation in the Brazilian Congress a proposed law who would require 10% (yes, only 10 percent) of the machines to come with printers. The idea was for those machines to print two copies of the vote: one for the voter, who would have confirmed his vote, and another to be put into a sealed urn by the voter (who would be able to check whether the printing was correct). If doubts arose on the results of an election, those urns could then be opened for manual counting, and if big differences were found between these 10% of printed votes and the full results, the election would be cancelled and redone (probably with paper balots).

A sound idea, don't you think? But, guess what? Yeah, the law wasn't approved. And as a result, there's absolutely no written proof at all of what or whom people actually voted for.

Also, there's a law around that forbids independent research of voting intentions to be spread in news some days before an election. I'm not sure whether this law is being enforced right now, but the official reason behind it is that such researchs "interfere" in the voting decision of the people. Now, just imagine what this means: e-voting machines registering "votes" that cannot be traced, plus voting researches disallowed days before an election. Yes, you're right: if someone that was far behind in the voting intentions got elected, it might be alleged that the people changed their mind between the last allowed research and actual election day. How can you argue against it? You can't.

This is the recipe on how you can build a dictatorship that has no appearance of being a dictatorship. You don't need to be violent. All you need is to put some clever technology into it, and you're done. Government becomes a permanent ownership of you and of your associates. After all, who said that multiple "competing" parties aren't really a single entity with lots of names, existing only for the people to believe they have choice?

In the last two presidential elections (2002 and this 2006 one), all the four presidential candidates were from left-wing parties. There's a range: from soft left-wing to extreme left-wing. But it's all left. Different parties, or single-party with four different names for you to "choose" from?

Who knows?

Re:It's worse! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16275935)

Of course. Having a proof that you voted on X candidate is a wide open door to start corruption on the election. There has never been such a thing as a PROOF.

Votes were in paper and had only 1 copy. Since we changed to eletronic voting the process became more transparent even thought there were concerns about hacking the voting machines.

But the reality is that people are voting on their candidates and many time of them are being elected where in the polls are not necessary in the first place. So again from a risk a point of view the media has many downsides than an electronic voting system.

Re:It's worse! (1)

alexgieg (948359) | about 8 years ago | (#16276635)

Yes, I concede that having two prints isn't good. However, I might be remembering the event without much precision. AFAIK it was two prints, but it might actually have been one. I'm not sure now.

Re:It's worse! (1)

Zaatxe (939368) | about 8 years ago | (#16276069)

A sound idea, don't you think? But, guess what? Yeah, the law wasn't approved.

I remember that... too bad you just decided not to say why it wasn't approved. They tested this system in places where most voters are simple-minded people (for the Brazilian readers, it was in Sergipe and Distrito Federal) and they did it on purpose. It didn't work because it confused people. Instead of confirming the vote, most of them (for reasons I don't remember now) cancelled it, making the paper to be sheredded and the process to restart from beginning, leading to huge lines and voting happening until 10 PM, when they should end at 5 PM.

The technology wasn't the problem there, it was the level of education of people voting. There is no technology that can turn dumb people in smart people.

And it's sad that there are people with karma-modifying bonus who try to make a (wrong) point using only half of the information. No voting system is perfect, but you, as a brazilian, should know ours is much better than most voting system out there.

Re:It's worse! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16276455)

There is no technology that can turn dumb people in smart people.

Presumably these people had trouble with the paper conmfirmations because they were illiterate. This would be generally due them being uneducated. Calling someone 'dumb' (and earlier 'simple-minded') because they have not had a chance to even learn to read and write is insulting, verging on racist in the context, and inaccurate. 'Dumb' (still insulting but at least accurate) should only be used for people who have been given an education but have failed to learn.

As you clearly failed to learn any of the above during your (presumed) education then I guess you qualify as pretty 'dumb' yourself.

Re:It's worse! (1)

alexgieg (948359) | about 8 years ago | (#16276591)

I don't see your point. This problem is nothing that proper TV-training cannot solve, as was the case with the use of the e-voting machines themselves has shown. Had these "dumb" people been trained for weeks before having an actual contact with the machine? No. There's no surprise then that they didn't manage well in actually using them.

And no, as "a Brazilian" I shouldn't "know" any of it. As "a Brazilian" what I have is a duty to speak loudly on what's wrong. Paper balots are the best thing for democracy, period. No easily-hackeable technology should be in charge of the voting itself. If you want technology, put it in assuring the manualo vote counting of the paper balots isn't tampered. Not on the voting itself.

Re:It's worse! (1)

Zaatxe (939368) | about 8 years ago | (#16277117)

If you want technology, put it in assuring the manualo (sic) vote counting of the paper balots isn't tampered. Not on the voting itself.

Excellent idea! But how to implement it? Removing the humans from the equation?

Every voting system is flawless by itself. It's the human factor which messes everything. Are electronic voting machines hackeable? Probably. How much they can affect an election by tampering individual voting machines when there are 126 million voters and an average of 450 voters per voting machine? Maybe too little.

Sure, they can tamper the system at the root, tampering the basic software and therefore tampering all the voting machines. But how long do you think this could fool everybody, specially when the voting machines can be audited and the whole voting process is controlled by an independent power branch?

This thread is getting long and so far I can't figure out your point. You seem to be against the current electronic voting model but I still can't figure out why. You say it's fraud prone and I agree with you, but paper ballot used to be much more fraud prone in Brazil, historically speaking. I can only imagine you are young, in your early 20's and don't remember how elections used to be, because you have too many good arguments to have a bad memory.

Re:It's worse! (1)

alexgieg (948359) | about 8 years ago | (#16277253)

But how long do you think this could fool everybody, specially when the voting machines can be audited and the whole voting process is controlled by an independent power branch?
We're talking about Brazil, remember? There's no real opposition, only an "opposition" that signed the "governability pact". The auditors can be buyed, and there's no guarantee that the independent government branch is actually independent. On the contrary, everything points to it being very little independent.

And the why is simple: because there's no accountability. If the electronic voting was simply a speed up process, with a 100% paper-trail of votes for manual counting if required by a judicial mandate, for example, then I wouldn't have anything against it. But a purely electronic voting without any physical evidence of the actual votes is extremely dangerous, and by this sole reason shouldn't be allowed to exist.

Re:It's worse! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16276129)

Well, not having the paper trail was a shame. But the law that forbids the spread of researches of voting intention is against the Constituion, and, so it is no more...

Also, there are strong signals that the system is working well. There where already 2 elections where the results are against the expectations of the party at power (2002 & 2006).

And if you consider both PSDB and PT left-wing partyes, who do you consider rigt-wing? PFL, that is (and always was) allied with the "left-wing" PSDB, or the small (and almost invisible) extreme right PRONA? There is no other party at Brazil that could be called "right-wing" by that definition.

Re:It's worse! (1)

alexgieg (948359) | about 8 years ago | (#16276439)

Good to know. But I know Lula has already mentioned he'd like to see a new Constitution. Since he's the same guy who tried controlling the newspaper with the "National Council on Journalism"...

And regarding parties, PFL is center, yes. A center party, having no position on anything, always aling himself with whoever can give it power. That's the case also with Maluf's PP, which is aligned with Lula's PT.

PRONA is a joke. But it's hardly a right-wing party either. The ideology of PRONA is based on the ideas of Lyndon LaRouche [wikipedia.org] , a member of USA's Democratic Party. LaRouche cannot be called a right-winger by any stretch of imagination [wikipedia.org] , except if you focus on very specific aspects of his ideology and ignore everything else. Also, see here LaRouche defending Eneas [larouchein2004.net] for some interesting details.

So, yes, there's no right-wing party in Brazil.

Re:It's worse! (1)

fmobus (831767) | about 8 years ago | (#16276373)

leaving um copy of the vote with voter is an open door do VOTER COERCION. Period

Re:It's worse! (1)

alexgieg (948359) | about 8 years ago | (#16276483)

Hmm... yes, I can see how's that. The obvious solution would then be for a single copy to be printed and put into the urn. Actually, now I'm not sure whether the proposal was for two prints, my memory can be tricking me there.

Side-channels in Brazilian's Diebold machines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16275713)

I was told by a voting-booth clerk that it was easy to identify which 2-digit president's id was entered by anyone in the keyboard by just listening to the different sound each keypad key would produce. No anonymity at this last Brazilian election if you had a clever clerk.

tinfoil hat time (1)

sydres (656690) | about 8 years ago | (#16275733)

all these countries, including the U.S. that are having electronic voting issues are being used by less democratic nations to prove that democracy is bad. Slashdot is playing right into the hands of people like Kim Jong Il, and Hugo Chavez (yeah I know he was democraticaly elected but he has since legislated the country to the point he can't lose again". one thing that might help though it may be unpopular is a voter ID card if done right it could help alleviate the most blatent human issues, such as voter fraud. If not done right could become a source of discrimination. another issue that is getting out of hand is either party automatically screaming voter fraud every time a candidate loses a race, then sending in hordes of lawyers to try to prove their case. oh well what do I know.

Re:tinfoil hat time (1)

ben there... (946946) | about 8 years ago | (#16275889)

all these countries, including the U.S. that are having electronic voting issues are being used by less democratic nations to prove that democracy is bad. Slashdot is playing right into the hands of people like Kim Jong Il, and Hugo Chavez

Yeah. If you question the legitimacy of electronic voting without a paper trail, you are a terrorist.

I say we report CowboyNeal to DHS for harboring this kind of terrorism.

Re:tinfoil hat time (1)

sydres (656690) | about 8 years ago | (#16276029)

I'll bite. I was not speaking of terrorism. And A paper trail may damn well work I was just making the point that the world is looking at democracy as it stands and scratching their heads over all the issues that are cropping up over voting. and besides with all the dupes and links to other message board sites I am about terrified to log into slashdot anymore

Re:tinfoil hat time (1)

ben there... (946946) | about 8 years ago | (#16276133)

Nah. It was a joke. What you posted just sounded similar to something GWB would say.

I can see how failures in voting processes could make democracy not look as grand as Americans say it is, but I don't see how not voting at all could be more favorable than voting with flaws.

5 words: Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (1)

davidwr (791652) | about 8 years ago | (#16275797)

With it, even Microsoft-run boxes are safe from everything short of a fire or other paper-ballot-tampering.

Without it, the most open-source system may still be vulnerable to a subtle bug.

The real story here. (1)

WgT2 (591074) | about 8 years ago | (#16275827)

About 125 million people are expected to vote...
I think we found the real story here: 125 million out of an estimated 186,405,000 (2005) [wikipedia.org] ?
Doesn't seem to add up with the percentage of their population under 15 years of age [iwhc.org] (30% according to that website).

Even if it's only somewhat off:

THAT'S A HUGE VOTER TURNOUT!
HOW DO THEY DO IT?

Re:The real story here. (1)

kalirion (728907) | about 8 years ago | (#16275885)

How do districts in the U.S. count several times more votes than they have registered voters? Yup, the same way.

Re:The real story here. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16275903)

In Brazil you can vote if you are:

* between 16 and 18
* over 70
* illiterate
* blind or otherwise disabled

And you must vote if you are between 18 and 70 and literate.

The numbers do add up, if you consider that the groups for which voting is optional are not required to register as voters. So, the number of voters is in no way directly related to the number of people over 15.

Re:The real story here. (0)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | about 8 years ago | (#16275939)

Honestly? Because it's such a crappy place to live. The worse it is, the more people are going to vote, hoping things will change.

In Brazil, people STILL fight over land. They have a HUGE squatting problem. In the developed world, invested capital has increased productivity to the point where no one cares who has the most land. You know who has the most land? Farmers. Think they're living high on the hog?

Now, there are big real estate moguls, but their land is valuable, not incredibly large.

The point is, all of Brazil's problems look pretty trivial to an outsider.

Re:The real story here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16275969)

186,405,000 * 0.7 = 130,483,500.

130,483,500 > 125 million.

No magic at all. You may need to notice that anyone at least 16 years old can vote.

Re:The real story here. (1)

keeboo (724305) | about 8 years ago | (#16275985)

I think we found the real story here: 125 million out of an estimated 186,405,000 (2005)?
THAT'S A HUGE VOTER TURNOUT!
HOW DO THEY DO IT?

That's very simple: voting is mandatory in Brazil.
If a person doesn't vote (and does not fill the justification form for not voting), he/she loses the right to a number of things including opening bank accounts, getting a new passport, etc... And if you're a public servant, you immediately stop receiving your salary.

Re:The real story here. (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 8 years ago | (#16276165)

Ooooh, and without a paper trail, how do you prove that you did in fact vote, if your salary payment is suddenly stopped? Something tells me that mandatory voting may be the law, but it is not enforced.

Re:The real story here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16276623)

Its the law, its enforced (maybe one of the few that *are*). You get a voting receipt, pre-printed, just after typing the numbers in the voting machine, proving that you were there and choosed the next leading gang. (And after all, only public employees can have the salary blocked, and the fine for not voting is something less than two us dollars...)

Re:The real story here. (3, Informative)

Dr.Potato (247646) | about 8 years ago | (#16277229)

"Ooooh, and without a paper trail, how do you prove that you did in fact vote, if your salary payment is suddenly stopped? Something tells me that mandatory voting may be the law, but it is not enforced."

I worked in the elections ( I was drafted..) and can tell you how it works. The person who comes to vote brings his 'Voting card' (lacking a better translation for Titulo Eleitoral), presents it to a person of the voting staff (like me) who checks in a list if he is scheduled to vote in that area. After, and only after, he votes, he gets a 'voting certificate, which is a small stub that can be detached from the area close to his name in the list.

The person voting is required to sign the list, and this signature is checked against the signature in the voting card. If there is any doubt in the identity of the person, we can request further prof of identity (ID card, driving license...).

This list is sent from the central voting tribunal to each election region, which is divided in smaller 'sections'. In my sections there were approx. 400 voters. More or less 90% appeared, the others probably justified for not voting in other sections.

And just to make another point: every political party is entitled to have a person checking the voting procedure, in each section. I had 2 people (one form each party) looking over my shoulder almost all the time.

And they cheked when the disk with the voting machine results was removed from the machine and placed in a sealed envelope . And they further followed the guy who took the disk to the central processing center of the Electoral Tribunal.

Apart from the software side, the process if very difficult to
be tampered.

Re:The real story here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16276107)


>> HOW DO THEY DO IT?

It's basically illegal NOT to vote. That's how.

In my opinion, Brazil knows quite a bit more about democracy than the US ever will.

Re:The real story here. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16276245)

First, the population estimations are the ones that are probably wrong. Brazilian electoral data is very accurate (it is even used to check fiscal data).

Now, the hight turnout is because most brazilians (the ones between 18 and 60 years) are oblied to vote.

Re:The real story here. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16276323)

Voting is mandatory in Brazil for anyone between 18 and 65 years old. From 16 to 18 it's optional.

I think your 30% mark is off.

Trust (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | about 8 years ago | (#16275967)

You mean that a broad, automatic, transparent tampering, is difficult because it requires the tampering software to be concealed ? The fact that it would require to hire a few competent and dishonest developers surely doesn't make it secure enough to use it in any serious election.
Also, why do the ballots move to the counters where counters could go themselves to the preccinct ?
Stop thinking that democracy is a complex thing to organize. When one can have an army, one can have a voting system that is reliable and fast. I wouldn't say inexpensive, but since when do we discuss budget when we talk about Democracy ?

...Summary... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16276447)

...Too... many... ellipses... in... summary...

OS is not Win CE (1)

eduardodavis (1008365) | about 8 years ago | (#16276901)

Most part of all this discussion is based on wrong information: the operating system of the Brazilia voting machines IS NOT Windows CE. It is VirtuOS, an old DOS like operating system... I have read and discussed about Diebold voting machines before on my blog (http://macarronada.blogspot.com/2006/09/voting-ma chines.html#links) and I understand that the process and hardware of the Brazilian machines are much better than the AccuVote-TS for example. They are simple, but better ( just remember: K.I.S.S. - Keep It Simple Stupid). Just see the tests Princeton University professors did: http://itpolicy.princeton.edu/voting/ [princeton.edu]
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