Beta
×

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

Thank you!

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

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

Voting Machines Banned by Dutch Minister

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the no-business-here-go-screw-up-belgium dept.

155

5heep writes "Dutch Government Renewal Minister Atzo Nicolai has banned the use of one type of computer voting machine in national elections next month. The turnabout came after a group called We Don't Trust Voting Computers protested the vulnerability of electronic voting to fraud or manipulation. The reason for this ban is the radio signals emitted by the machines which can be used to peek at a voters' choice from several dozen meters away."

cancel ×

155 comments

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

Hey Slashdot (3, Insightful)

isaacklinger (966649) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657037)

How about writing to the people responsible [ministernicolai.nl] to show some support?

Re:Hey Slashdot (1)

Zarniwoop_Editor (791568) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657093)

Can we not just submit our support electonically? ;-)

Dutch voting computers remain in use (1)

mcvos (645701) | more than 7 years ago | (#16658045)

Only the Sdu computers (a small minority) are banned. The rather thoroughly hacked Nedap computers are still okay, according to minister Nicolai. Instead of showing him some support, ask him to ban those too, because they're really not any better.

A few minor improvements have been made, but the basic problem remains: voting computers are a black box, and it's impossible for normal voters to check if they work properly, if their vote is being counted, if somebody has messed with it (and it is easy to mess with them), etc.

Better late than never, I guess... (4, Informative)

truedfx (802492) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657053)

According to my local newspaper, these voting machines have been used in the last two elections.

Re:Better late than never, I guess... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16657161)

The worst thing is that the group produces a fairly badly written report that indeed showed some problms with one voting machine, but that was nothing that some rpactical measures (like the ones taken) could help out with.

I found that the "report" on the voting machine was more aimed at improving the "geek status" of the writers than anything else...

Rop is getting old I guess...

Re:Better late than never, I guess... (2, Interesting)

FST777 (913657) | more than 7 years ago | (#16658003)

More information:

There have been roughly two types of voting machines in use in the Netherlands: one produced by Nedap and one produced by Sdu. The latter is the one that is banned a few days ago, because they could be spyed on from a distance. Curiously enough, the platform "we don't trust voting machines" proved that voting machines can be spyed on a few weeks ago, but they proved that with the Nedap machine.

The platform never had a chance to test this problem with the Sdu, since they only had access to the Nedap machine (unofficially, they never had permission or anything but just received one machine from a muncipality when asked for it). The ministry of Government Renewal has not yet made any public comment on the problems with the Nedap machines.

The muncipalities that used the Sdu machines are now forced to arrange Nedap equipment (which will certainly not be possible on such a short term, the elections are on 22 november) or use the old paper-and-pencil method (which will need massive restructuring of organization to arrange that on such a short term). Amsterdam is one of the muncipalities that already declared to go with the latter option, and it is already clear that there are virtually no Nedap machines to spare.

This could become interesting. I predict chaos, but not more than chaos. The counting will take considerably longer (since I think there is not enough manpower to count on short term) but I still believe the results will be correct.

Give me something I can Count! (5, Informative)

Zarniwoop_Editor (791568) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657057)

Paper ballots... you can count them... You can check them, you can verify them.
Computer Ballots don't leave the average Joe with any sense that they can be verified.
Too much potential for problems with Electronic voting from a voter perception perspective.
I like putting my little X on the ballot.

Re:Give me something I can Count! (2, Interesting)

MeltUp (633868) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657265)

Why can't they make these things simple and thrushtworthy for everyone?
It ain't so hard:

- Enter voting office
- Receive a "voting paper"
- Enter voting booth
- Insert voting paper into machine
- Push the button for the candidate you want. (Machine's critical components are covered in faraday cage, to stop any readable transmissions)
- Vote is printed on paper
- Check the print and fold the paper along the prefolded line, so text is no longer visible
- Publicaly put it in the urn (where they just fall in a disorderly stack, so order can't be traced)

Counting (when the election is over, earlier is cheating off course)
- Manually get all papers, and feed them into a counting machine
- Machine sorts and counts all votes. returns each type of vote paper in easily countable stacks. Result is immediatly made public.
- Count a large part of the votes by hand.

Any problem with this type of voting? It offers all benefits of electronic voting, and none of the drawbacks (or so I'd think).

Re:Give me something I can Count! (4, Insightful)

quigonn (80360) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657659)

The only justification (at least in the Netherlands and Germany) for voting computers is cost reduction - adding a voter-verifiable paper trail would completely totally destroy this "advantage" (which is very questionable, anyway).

But, in fact, there is no reason to reduce cost in this process. Cost shouldn't matter here, since secret, equal, free elections are a crucial process within democratic systems. Besides that, the pen and paper method is the most simple method you have, everybody understands it. In fact it's so simple, everyone can audit the whole process. Contrary to that, audits of computer-based systems can only be done by a few experts (and a complete audit goes from a security audit of the software down to as far as checking the hardware for possible modifications).

Re:Give me something I can Count! (1)

Kijori (897770) | more than 7 years ago | (#16658203)

Cost shouldn't matter here, since secret, equal, free elections are a crucial process within democratic systems.

The proponents of an electronic voting system don't disagree about the importance of secret, equal, free elections. The part that causes the disagreement is whether this can be achieved with electronic machines, which would also allow cost savings, faster counting and other possibilities, like allowing people to change their vote, translation into many, many languages at every polling station, etc. Now, I agree there are bugs in the current implementation. I agree that the hardware and software should be auditable and open sourced. I think - and I suspect you agree - that there should be a substantial review period, say 5 years, during which time anyone can challenge parts of the code/machine and receive a reward for demonstrating a problem.

Re:Give me something I can Count! (2, Insightful)

quigonn (80360) | more than 7 years ago | (#16658389)

How can this save costs? Do you know how expensive those machines are? Compared to simple pen and paper, they amortize after about 20 years of operation. And that's the _maximum_ operation period (for XP-based machines like the SDU voting computers probably even shorter). Faster counting? How relevant is that whether the election officials can go home one or two hours earlier? You shouldn't sacrifice something as crucial as _voting_ to getting home earlier. And regarding your "changing your vote" argument: how is that supposed to work? That would only work if the vote was associated with some kind of unique user ID, and that would be totally against the provision of secrecy. So I see no advantages for voting computers, but a lot of bugs in so far _all_ existing implementations, versus a well-known system that just works.

Re:Give me something I can Count! (1)

Borland (123542) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657747)

Or better yet, have a hybrid system that has an electronic tally back up to verify against the paper system. But the unordered system isn't necessary I think. Someone on a different site said that they were more worried about the accuracy of the system rather than the privacy of it. If we're at a state where retaliation for voting is likely, then we have more serious problems then voting integrity.

Not that having a modicum of privacy isn't important, but the priority is lower than ensuring that vote counts are correct.

Re:Give me something I can Count! (1)

nogginthenog (582552) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657985)

Insert voting paper into machine
Machine? Where I live we use a pencil.

Re:Give me something I can Count! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16657317)

I don't get why computerized voting just doesn't print out a little card with your results, and those are what get counted. It could list your results on one side, and have a magnetic strip on the other side so the results can quickly be counted by a machine, or the printed results could just be in a good OCR font. They print out the same sort of card every time I get on the local turnpike, it can't be THAT hard or expensive. It seems to me that the printed, machine readable card would solve all the "hanging chad" and "unable to do recounts on electronic votes" problems at the same time.

OVC and populex do this (1)

goombah99 (560566) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657861)

Open Voting Consortium which needs your donations of time or money to develop the open source implementation of this, and Populex, a commercial product both work exactly as you describe. But plugging all the loopholes in it is trickier than you might think. Go to OVC's site and read up.

Re:Give me something I can Count! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16658029)

"I don't get why computerized voting just doesn't print out a little card with your results, and those are what get counted."

The voter could review their vote and place the ballot, electronically & physically. This would add extra checking between the computer results& physical ballots.

Yeah but then it would be harder to fudge the elections. Why do you think these unauditable machines are being used?

Re:Give me something I can Count! (0, Redundant)

Borland (123542) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657597)

Paper ballots... you can count them... You can check them, you can verify them.

Have you ever read your history? The Democrat bosses in the Kansas City Organization, Chicago, and elsewhere voted multiple times, stuffed ballot boxes, etc. Do you even remember the whole chad debacle? I'm not just pointing fingers at the Democrats; they're just the first historical example to come to mind.

Paper ballots are not some magical shield against cheating and I wish proponents wouldn't chant "paper ballots" like it would solve everything. You either have a human point of failure counting the ballots, or an e-machine doing the vote tallies from a paper source which doesn't gain you much. Recounts can be tampered with too.

The problem with paperless voting machines is that fewer people can possibly commit fraud with a finer degree of control. So demand a better machine or a better system. But don't give me a cry for "paper ballots" like they will solve problems by themselves.

Re:Give me something I can Count! (1)

Borland (123542) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657925)

The problem with paperless voting machines is that fewer people can possibly commit fraud with a finer degree of control. So demand a better machine or a better system. But don't give me a cry for "paper ballots" like they will solve problems by themselves.

I totally agree with this poster and cannot imagine why he was modded as redundant. I feel the slight as if it were my own post.

Re:Give me something I can Count! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16657649)

Even without voting machines, elections are ripe for foul play and manipulation
just take a look a greg palast's amazing investigative journalism of the private company which was hired by the Florida government to produce voter rolls which erroneously labelled tens of thousands of black voters as having federal convictions in 2000, thereby removing them. Thats just one type of sham used. Jeb promised florida for his brother and he delivered.

Adding unauditable voting machines which are easily hacked, its just nuts. Check out ex-NASA programmer Clint Curtis's testimony to the US House Judiciary about being paid to write vote hacking software by Jeb'd old running mate Tom Feeney: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OX0Z8l4apTM [youtube.com]

Mexico right now has formed a parallel government due to their suspicious election and there is great unrest there, of course you will find very little of this reported in the mainstream US press.

At the end of the day, this isnt a party issue, as Im sure the Dems are guilty in the past too of manipulation. Its an issue of freedom. Beh, but what do I care I'll go back to my XBOX 360, and starbucks latte.

Count your blessings: you live in America! (0, Flamebait)

megaditto (982598) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657857)

Why should we take E-voting advice from a Dutch guy who probably thinks our Joint Chiefs of Staff are a bunch of Native American elders rolling extra-large doobies?

And it's not like the Dutch know what a proper voting machine looks like. As Taco himself said, these Dutch diebolds have less space than a Nomad and no wireless: lame

Re:Give me something I can Count! (1)

BlindRobin (768267) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657911)

Agreed!!!!!
Paper receipts are worthless, as well as redundant, as they will only be used in a re-count, which will only be instigated due to a grounded contention which won't arise except when the rigged vote is particularly clumsy.

Re:Give me something I can Count! (1)

Barsema (106323) | more than 7 years ago | (#16658023)

>Computer Ballots don't leave the average Joe with any sense that they can be verified.
Not only the average Joe, they don't leave any Joe with a sense they can be verified becouse they can't!
>Too much potential for problems with Electronic voting from a voter perception perspective.
It's not just preception.

WTF? (1)

Sonic McTails (700139) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657061)

Why would these machines transmit radio signals, and why would they broadcast who someone was voting for?!

Re:WTF? (1)

jbaas (1020697) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657125)

I'm not sure if it's this type of machine or one of the others, but at least one of them doesn't transmit anything on purpose, but there is RF radiation coming from the display, and the chip that drives it. You can't actually read what's on the screen, but you can make a fingerprint and compare it to known fingerprints.

Re:WTF? (1)

rbarreira (836272) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657187)

Read this [wikipedia.org] .

Re:WTF? (1)

jesterpilot (906386) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657189)

It doesn't really transmit radio signals. The little LED screen gives some EM noise which can be detected using a radio. When the screen shows a non-standard character (like à or ë) it has to acces another part of it's memory, and that changes the frequency of the noise. You can hear this difference.

Unfortunately, there is only one party which has a non-standard character in it's full name (an 'è'), so when the noise frequency changes, you know the voter chose that particular party.

Re:WTF? (1)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657405)

Actually, what you describe is how the Nedap machine (which hasn't been banned) works.

The machine that's been banned is the SDU NewVote, which uses a Windows computer and a touchscreen. According to the report, the AIVD could view the entire contents of the screen.

Re:WTF? (1)

isaacklinger (966649) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657207)

Don't get your panties in a bunch; it sounds like Van Eck phreaking [wikipedia.org] to me.
Information that drives the video display takes the form of high frequency electrical signals. These oscillating electric currents create electromagnetic radiation in the radio frequency range. The radio emissions are correlated to the video image being displayed, so in theory they can be used to recover the displayed image.

Re:WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16657727)

It's in no way theoretical. Back in the 80's I managed to tune a TV with a rabbit-ears antenna to show the picture of a computer monitor in the next room. The picture was monochrome, fuzzy and occasionally lost sync, but you could guess the text in 40x25 text mode. And since we're talking about an 1980's home computer, the Amstrad "computer monitor" used TV-level refresh frequencies and was probably technically identical to a cheap TV. But it certainly convinced me that there is no data security without a Faraday cage.

Re:WTF? (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657417)

All electronics emit radio frequency signals. Take an old radio, switch it to 'shortwave', then place it next to some piece of electronics and have fun.

In the US, the common code name for shielding computer equipment is known as TEMPEST. Some Googling will find you lots of information on the problem.

Re:WTF? (1)

quigonn (80360) | more than 7 years ago | (#16658231)

Tempest for Eliza [erikyyy.de] is a very interesting demonstration of the whole problem. You feed it with an audio file, and by showing the right graphics on your screen, it transmits that audio file on a configurable frequency.

In a related story ... (-1, Troll)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657081)

The FCC has banned computerized trading. The turnabout came after a group called We Don't Trust Trading Computers protested the vulnerability of electronic trading to fraud or manipulation.

And the FDIC has banned computerized banking, including ATM machines. The turnabout came after a group called We Don't Trust Banking Computers protested the vulnerability of electronic banking to fraud or manipulation.

And the FAA has banned computerized flight control. The turnabout came after a group called We Don't Trust Flight Control Computers protested the vulnerability of electronic flight control to terrorists' hacking or manipulation.

What next? Seriously, why is voting any different from these other very important uses of computers? Doesn't it make more sense to fix the problem rather than ban the machines?

Re:In a related story ... (1)

Draknor (745036) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657173)

Settle down.

It's not ALL voting computers, just one type, which makes up about 10% of their machines (according to TFA). And that's just for the next election, which comes in 3 weeks. You can't redesign a machine & get it certified & redeployed in that kind of time frame, so banning it makes sense.

Re:In a related story ... (1)

Blue Warlord (854914) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657569)

Of the other 90% (another brand of voting machines) the dutch secret service still has to confirm whether they are safe or not. The action group responsible for this uproar has already demonstrated on television how easy it is to read out some of the information of a vote on this brand.

Re:In a related story ... (1)

netbuzz (955038) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657181)

Why is voting different? If your ATM and stockbroker were not able to give you a paper receipt you wouldn't trust them either. That's why.

Re:In a related story ... (1)

Anonymous MadCoe (613739) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657221)

Ah well, but those systems are vulnerable to similar things as those voting computers...

vulnerable (1)

Phantom of the Opera (1867) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657385)

They may be just as vulnerable, but you can check your balance and know if there is something suspicious going on.

Re:In a related story ... (1)

quigonn (80360) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657451)

You can object to transactions because you usually do get a receipt, but it's much more difficult to object to election results because an inherent property of secret elections is that you get no receipt, meaning that it's _very_ difficult to find any proof if an election fraud was done by modifying the voting computers.

Re:In a related story ... (2, Insightful)

Phantom of the Opera (1867) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657193)



The FCC has banned computerized trading

And the FDIC has banned computerized banking

And the FAA has banned computerized flight control

What next? Seriously, why is voting any different from these other very important uses of computers? Doesn't it make more sense to fix the problem rather than ban the machines?

Think about it. Your examples revolve around money or human life. The manufacturers of those machines __must__ get them right, or there is immediate finantial fallout.

Those examples do not produce hidden results; if your atm gobbles up your deposit without crediting it, you find out. If a plane crashes, you hear about it.

The average voter has no way of knowing if a voting machine is doing it's job. What is the penalty if the manufacturer 'unwittingly' messes up? There is not as much incentive for accuracy in this case.

The average voter? (1)

chocolatetrumpet (73058) | more than 7 years ago | (#16658057)

The average voter has no way of knowing if a voting machine is doing it's job.

The average voter?

Would anyone know if votes were tampered with in software?

Paper and pencil, please! I will count the votes myself if no one else wants to.

Re:In a related story ... (1)

orasio (188021) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657201)


What next? Seriously, why is voting any different from these other very important uses of computers? Doesn't it make more sense to fix the problem rather than ban the machines?


First, they are banning one type of machine, not electronic voting.

And it's different because voting fraud can potentially have worse consequences than those, and one of the fraudsters could be the guy that organizes the event, the governing party, with all the power available.

Plus, voting machines are everyday proved insecure. Of course it's possible that someone comes up with a design that isn't soo prone to fraud, and that machine is actually used, but it hasn't happened yet.

The only sensile way to go should be a mixed system, when you use the electronic part to have a preliminary count of the votes, and then count the papers to have a more reliable number.

Re:In a related story ... (1)

quigonn (80360) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657541)

Plus, voting machines are everyday proved insecure.

Even more so in this special case. I was told by well-informed sources that these machines are actually Windows-XP-based and have GPRS connection. Rumors say that the Dutch secret service had security-audited this type of machine, and seems to have found some potential security holes, which seems to be the unofficial reason for the ban.

Re:In a related story ... (1)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657811)

Secret service involvement is not a rumor. The press release [minbzk.nl] (Dutch only) by the responsible Minister states that the AIVD (Dutch secret service) has examined these voting machines, and has concentrated on whether voting is remotely observable (Van Eck-type attacks). The press release doesn't mention GPRS-related attacks. What the AIVD found officially was serious enough on its own, and very plausible. No need for it to be a cover for another type of attack.

Re:In a related story ... (1)

quigonn (80360) | more than 7 years ago | (#16658059)

OK, then at least parts of the rumor were true.

Re:In a related story ... (1)

jbaas (1020697) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657203)

indeed there are issues with those other appliances as well, but they do usually not compromise one's democratic rights, which we value highly in the Netherlands. We have a lot less reason than some other countries (US is one of them) to suspect someone would even try to fraud elections, because the rest of the system works quite well, and the whole process is quite democratic. This is again, because we value democracy highly, the exact reason we don't want to use machines that can compromise secracy in voting.

Re:In a related story ... (1)

tedivm (942879) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657205)

Having found a problem less than a month from the election, do you honestly think they are going to be able to fix it in time? The article doesn't say voting machines are banned forever, just that this specific kind if banned from this specific election. "In short, the machines made by the company Sdu can now be tapped, and there are no technical measures that can be taken before the upcoming elections that would prevent this tapping and guarantee the secrecy of the ballot." I know when there's few comments on an article, its tempting to post a comment really quickly and get your name up there (oh joy!) but next team RTFA.

Re:In a related story ... (1)

phasperhoven (322499) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657255)

These machined aren't banned for being hard to verify, but for emitting signals that makes it easy to see what vote is being cast, thus compromising the constitutional right to an anonymous vote. This group has demonstrated this to work.

There is no "fix" for voting machines... (2, Interesting)

thrill12 (711899) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657259)

Voting machines can be constructed in any way possible, but never completely exclude the fact that you can commit fraud with them.
 
One solution often presented is the XBOX-type of security - encrypted links between hardware, redundancy etc etc - but as *we* know this type of security is breakable. You only have to do this once to break the security of all voting machines.

Apart from this, some people mention the use of a paper trail. This trail itself has to be counted fully then, irrespectful of the outcome that the machines themselves produce, to verify a correct vote has been cast:

The voting machine in itself can still not accurately or thrustworthingly tell the outcome of the elections and becomes a nice "exit-poll".

Voting also brings with it the right for secrecy: this is something that does NOT occur in your examples. While the data is compartimentalized to certain groups of people, the data is still available on multiple sites and can be cross-verified. Voting machines store the data on 1 place (with or without redundancy) and when the vote has been changed, you can no longer cross-verify whether the voter actually did vote what he appeared to have voted...

Re:There is no "fix" for voting machines... (1)

baboonlogic (989195) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657605)

Voting machines can be constructed in any way possible, but never completely exclude the fact that you can commit fraud with them.

What about the Indian voting machines [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:There is no "fix" for voting machines... (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657749)

But in general, it will be sufficient to re-count the results of some small random sample of the voting machines (which of course may not be determined before the voting ended) to exclude with high probablity that fraud is going on. Note that 100% certainty cannot be achieved with paper voting either. The goal is to get that probability low enough that it can be practically neglected.
If you make the paper trail ballots machine-countable as well, even recounting shouldn't be too hard. Manual recounting would be done on an even smaller subset of counts in order to guard against manipulation of both machines at the same time. And of course if the electronic count and automatic ballot count differ (because that's an indication that one of them is manipulated).
One could make a law that both counting machines should come from different companies, in order to avoid one company being able to manipulate the results.

Re:In a related story ... (4, Insightful)

esme (17526) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657313)

Seriously, why is voting any different from these other very important uses of computers?
Voting is different for a number of reasons:
  • Voting is done in secret, with the only way of knowing the results being the voting machines. And the makers of electronic voting machines are against the only decent way of double-checking them (voter-verifiable paper trail).
  • Voting is only done a few times a year, rather than continuously, year-round.
  • Voting is administered by the people who have the largest incentive and opportunity to cheat.
  • And most importantly, unlike the other examples you list (banking, trading, flight control), electronic voting machines have not been shown to be more reliable and accurate than humans.

This last point is a little fuzzy, because I'm sure electronic voting machines are better than poorly-designed punch-card ballots, and maybe some other flawed mechanisms. But the best system available right now is optical-scan paper ballots that can easily be hand-audited and hand-recounted. They are easy to use, require only a very circumscribed use of technology, and can easily be verified by people if there are any problems or a very close result.

Doesn't it make more sense to fix the problem rather than ban the machines?

Sure -- I don't think anyone is saying we should never use computers for voting. Fix the problems, and then use them for voting. Advocates of electronic voting seem to be saying we should do it the other way around, which is insane.

The current round of voting machines are insultingly under-engineered, considering the problems I listed above. There are many types of threats to the integrity of voting machines, and Diebold et. al. aren't interested in addressing them. They're more interested in shutting down debate and research about them, in fact, which is very worrying to me.

-Esme

Yes they do have a paper trail. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16657639)

Voting is done in secret, with the only way of knowing the results being the voting machines. And the makers of electronic voting machines are against the only decent way of double-checking them (voter-verifiable paper trail).

Yes they do http://www.computerworld.com/printthis/2005/0,4814 ,99290,00.html/ [computerworld.com] .

A problem that has been hapening is that the paper ribbon in the machine will jam frequently or run out. When they run out, many times the polling volunteers don't have a clue on how to fix it.

Re:In a related story ... (1)

Trailer Trash (60756) | more than 7 years ago | (#16658083)

Sure -- I don't think anyone is saying we should never use computers for voting. Fix the problems, and then use them for voting.

Okay, I'm saying it: We should never use computers for voting.

Computers don't really bring much to the table that's positive, but they do bring a lot of potential problems. I would consider it if and only if it were the case that the computer did nothing beyond print out a piece of paper with your choices clearly designated that you could then drop in a box. At least that would fix the hanging chad/erasure marks problems with paper.

As important as this is, we also need to force people to show a government-issued ID in order to vote and make sure the voter rolls are as accurate as possible. There are plenty of ways that people are currently "hacking" our elections which don't rely on computers.

Re:In a related story ... (1)

jchuillier (846178) | more than 7 years ago | (#16658375)

Sorry to say so but the best system is to have 1 paper with "Bush" written on it, 1 paper with "kerry" written on it, 1 envelope and you put the paper with the name of the guy you want to vote for.

Then the envelopes are opened in presence of guys from both parties and the papers are counted.

We do like this in France, we are 60 millions and we have OFFICIAL election results at around midnight when the polls are closing at 20.00, of course in the meantime you have the exit polls estimates but the official stuff comes very rapidly, I don't see why it wouldn't be possible to od this in the US, each voting station would have around 10-20 thousand ballots to count as is the case here and the results would come in quickly...

Of course it would mean bad news for diebold, but I think diebold means bad news for elections....

Re:In a related story ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16657375)

If you truly don't see why voting and free and fair election are more important than those other uses, then I suggest a lenghty review of history.

Seriously, did you take a eigth grade civics?

Re:In a related story ... (1)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 7 years ago | (#16658295)

Seriously, did you take a eigth grade civics?
Yes. I also took an eighth grade grammar and spelling class.

Re:In a related story ... (1)

Ryano (2112) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657393)

"What next? Seriously, why is voting any different from these other very important uses of computers? Doesn't it make more sense to fix the problem rather than ban the machines?"

There's a very good reason why it's different: because in a secret ballot recorded by computer there is no way to verify the integrity of the data. In all of the examples you list above (electronic trading, ATMs), it is possible to compare the data in the computer with the data you expect to be in the computer.

For example, if you take €200 out of an ATM and your bank balance is debited by €500, this error will be pretty obvious to you. If you cast a vote in an electronic election, you can never know if your vote was recorded correctly.

There is no way to get around this problem without a voter-verifiable audit trail (VVAT).

In any case, the election in question is in 3 weeks' time, which doesn't really allow adequate time to fix the machines, even if that were possible.

Re:In a related story ... (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657403)

Seriously, why is voting any different from these other very important uses of computers? Doesn't it make more sense to fix the problem rather than ban the machines?

The automated financial transactions (like your "automated ATM machine teller machine") are auditable.

The life & safety equipment is subject to extensive testing.

Unfortunately, the voting machines are not subject to the same scrutiny.

Have you considered that threatening to ban voting machines might just be one way to "fix the problem"?

Re:In a related story ... (1)

Silver Sloth (770927) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657445)

And the FAA has banned computerized flight control. The turnabout came after a group called We Don't Trust Flight Control Computers protested the vulnerability of electronic flight control to terrorists' hacking or manipulation.
If a group published a method whereby terrorists could take over the flight computer remotely there would be an outcry and you would expect the FAA to act. I'm glad the Dutch government is taking seriously the exposure of a risk to their democratic process.

Re:In a related story ... (1)

kjart (941720) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657753)

What next? Seriously, why is voting any different from these other very important uses of computers?

If voting machines were tested as rigorously as avionics I don't think there would be as much of a problem.

And once again (1)

IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657089)

Europe understands something we (Americans) are still struggling with.

Re:And once again (1)

FacePlant (19134) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657151)

Europe understands something we (Americans) are still struggling with.

Nah. It's just that the Dutch actually value their democracy.

Re:And once again (1)

Brandybuck (704397) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657269)

Yes, the Dutch politicians understand something US politicians don't: cheapass symbolism gets you just as many votes as actual problem solving. Instead of fixing the problem, they *ban* electronic voting.

Re:And once again (1)

boombaard (1001577) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657463)

nonsense. they ban using the machine, since it's crap. that isn't to say there might in the future be found a valid and acceptable alternative

Re:And once again (1)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657501)

No they haven't. They banned one specific voting machine, which has been demonstrated to compromise voter anonymity.

Re:And once again (1)

dmatos (232892) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657539)

RTFA Troll.

Security concerns regarding one particular type of voting machine were raised. They were proved to be valid. It is possible to determine, at a distance of tens of metres, what is on the display of machine. Through this, one can tell who is being voted for at any particular time. The ballot is no longer secret.

Because of this, that particular type of voting machine can no longer be used in elections. Other electronic voting machines will be tested for the same problem before they are allowed to be used. This is not "cheapass symbolism." A problem was identified, and halted before it could affect the fairness of the democratic system.

As for "cheapass symbolism," any politician, US, Dutch, Canadian, or wherever worth their salt knows that it will get more votes than actual problem solving. Won't someone think of the children? Stay the course! Read my lips, no new taxes!

Re:And once again (2, Insightful)

quigonn (80360) | more than 7 years ago | (#16658139)

Actually, banning _is_ the solution. Voting computers make voting less verifiable, less auditable, more expensive (although the Voting machine producers claim otherwise), so why use them? What reason justifies switching from a proven, working, easy-to-use, easy-to-audit system (pen and paper) to a new technology of questionable quality?

What's the big deal adding a paper trail? (2, Interesting)

Panaqqa (927615) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657135)

I know more than a bit about electronics and electrical engineering, having spent part of my early career designing various gadgets. I have to wonder why all this fiasco with these electronic voting machines when it would be so very easy to simply build a small printer which uses a roll of paper (think cash register) inside to create a paper polling record.

It would not add substantially to the cost, and the small rolls of paper that resulted would be perfect in cases where a recount was demanded or required. Why the resistance? Make it too difficult to steal an election?

Re:What's the big deal adding a paper trail? (3, Insightful)

ben there... (946946) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657199)

If the paper were inside, it would be just as useless. All you'd need to do is hack the system to display a different vote than it prints.

Any electronic voting machine should print a ballot that you stuff in a box. Electronic tabulation of votes could be used for preliminary results, but the printed ballot that the voter can read and verify should be the final word.

Re:What's the big deal adding a paper trail? (1)

Benwick (203287) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657363)

No, the paper is printed and is first displayed to the user, behind plexiglass (or such), so it is confirmed after printing but before it drops into the ballot box.

By the way, can somebody please gag Karl Rove? Thx.

Re:What's the big deal adding a paper trail? (1)

ben there... (946946) | more than 7 years ago | (#16658051)

I'd prefer not to even complicate the system with that. While the printed ballots would be viewable, if they drop into a box in the booth, you don't have the chance to observe what happens to the ballots, due to the privacy concerns of its location. It is much easier to secure a ballot box that is right out in the open, and to secure the ballot's complete transit from booth to counting, first by the voter herself, then by election observers.

Re:What's the big deal adding a paper trail? (1)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 7 years ago | (#16658145)

You'd have to be able to observe the entire path of the printout, from the printer to the ballot box.
And even then: what's to stop the machine from printing extra ballots when it detects that no one is watching?

Re:What's the big deal adding a paper trail? (1)

rbarreira (836272) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657227)

Or even better, just ditch electronic voting machines until they can be proved as safe as paper voting in all ways (which might never happen in my opinion). Yes, I'm a geek. Yes I like computers. No, I don't like using computers for voting.

Re:What's the big deal adding a paper trail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16657321)

I have a more radical idea: Let the voters use pieces of paper to vote. Then let other people (a mix of persons from different political parties) count the votes by hand, in the same public rooms where the election was held. Seal the votes and the vote-count documents under public and independent inspection. Then do the final count in a central place under the same public inspection. Completely transparent and with full documentation.

Paper Jams? (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657437)

People not being able to vote due to paper jams. More moving parts will be problematic.

Re:What's the big deal adding a paper trail? (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657471)

Of course a vote can easily be done on a programmable Point of Sale machine of the type used in restaurants. The problem though is that then you cannot sell it for $100,000 each...

Re:Using a Point of Sale Device (1)

Cassini2 (956052) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657755)

The parent makes a good point. Many of those Point of Sale terminals would probably make better voting machines than the expensive $100,000 each voting machines.

- Each of those point of sale terminals has a printer (for paper records).
- Each has been thoroughly analysed to minimize the likelihood of hacking.
- At least here in Canada, many of the communications are encrypted.
- Due to widespread use, we have much empirical data on how hard / easy each machine is to hack.
- Some have even been developed to minimize EMI emissions, so they don't broadcast everyones PIN (vote) around the room.
- Many of the chips inside have been developed to resist hacking. They are designed so people can't easily get access to the firmware and encryption codes. They are designed to resist unauthorized reprogramming and remain a useful (functional) device.

All told, they would be a pretty inexpensive starting point if you wanted to build a secure voting system.

No recount unless it is close (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16657517)

If you jigger the results so your candidate wins by some legally specified margin (say, you fix it so he gets 51.03% of the vote), then in most jurisdictions there is no basis for a recount and no grounds for legal challenge. All you have to do is survive the pre- and post- validity checks (and in some jurisdictions give the right responses to a check during the election), fairly trivial programming tasks. The fact that a vote one way is reflected on the paper and the vote is tallied in a different way electronically will never become apparent unless you hand count every precinct every time--all you have to do to win is to jigger the tally in the precincts that survey in favor of your opponent, and if you are the party in power, you do your check counts where you haven't jiggered the tally. You have to have your eye on the total electoral process when electronic voting is the standard, and you have fairly easy ways of checking paper ballots unless your political leaders have chosen stupid systems which are obivously prone to error, as was the case in Florida in the 2000 presidential election.

Van Eck Freaking (1)

erwin (8773) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657163)

Re:Van Eck Freaking (1)

pw700z (679598) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657377)

If you've never heard of Van Eck Phreaking, it is facinating. I've seen it demonstrated. Scary, indeed. Essentially using some equipment and an antenna, you can view from a distance whatever is displayed on a screen by picking up the EMF emmissions and reconstituting them into an image. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Eck_Phreaking [wikipedia.org] The Wise Wiki references "LCDs" - although I've never seen an LCD eavesdropped in this way. I don't doubt it's possible, though.

Paper vs. Computers (1)

linuxg0d (913436) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657223)

In todays world, you'd think some systems are better closed than open.

In the case of an election, hackers can't hack paper ballots or fiddle with code. Stick with what works in this case.

If you go exposing something this important to an electronic medium, realistically, you risk catastrophy.

Is this flaw only present in E-voting? (1)

rbarreira (836272) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657289)

Can't one do a similar thing with regular voting? X-rays or whatever...

Re:Is this flaw only present in E-voting? (1)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657615)

With tons of money and if the ballot were printed with thick pure lead, maybe it could be theorically possible, and maybe people won't notice the big trucks just outside. But with normal ink, I don't think you could do that without killing the targeted voter with the radiation.

OTOH, a small camera+radio transmitter correctly placed in the booth is just fine for that job and any TLA can have them by dozen.

WHY? (2, Insightful)

Virgil Tibbs (999791) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657299)

exactly what is it that the dutch and the americans find so hard about putting an x on a piece of paper is beyond me next they will be telling us that only 99.9% of them are illiterate!

Re:WHY? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16657685)

It's not the putting x-es on paper we find hard, it's the counting of x-es afterwards.

Re:WHY? (2, Informative)

aadvancedGIR (959466) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657767)

Years ago, I heard about a big election in an african country in which a large proportion of the population was illiterate. The solution was easy, they simply ask every party to choose a distinctive sign. On the ballot, they put those signs in front of the names of the candidates (plus their photos) and it worked rather fine.
Conclusion: illiteracy is absolutely not an excuse for not having correct voting procedures.

Nothing (1)

maxx_730 (909644) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657343)

Nothing in the media about open sourcing the OS that runs on it however. Too bad, it could've been some good publicity for the OSS ideals.

Re:Nothing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16658327)

I doubt there exist one person in the Dutch media that knows about OSS...

Re:Nothing (1)

quigonn (80360) | more than 7 years ago | (#16658629)

The SDU machines run Windows XP. That's why.

taking action works (1)

jbaas (1020697) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657347)

This is a huge victory of the tech people! This shows that if you try hard enough, you can convince people who know nothing about computers, open source, EM radiation, etc.

The guy who started the group is a hacker, who started the best ISP in the Netherlands, XS4ALL. they have a very good record when it comes to consumer privacy and helping the internet evolve. He's a nerd, like most of us, but he can convince other people. We can do more if we try harder.

playing chess on a voting-machine (2, Funny)

SiggyRadiation (628651) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657559)

In the PDF document they tell that they were challenged by the builder of the original voting-machine to turn it into a chess-computer.

Which they did. :)

Re:playing chess on a voting-machine (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657853)

And the winner for the presidency is... Queen to King's Bishop seven?!

Reasonable decision (1)

Zx-man (759966) | more than 7 years ago | (#16657711)

You may disagree, but not using voting machines seems the best idea so far. Hell, our country had an electional scandal because of the vote data being stored insecurely, despite the fact that the elections were paper-based. It is highly unlikely to find the guilty (or even to confirm manipulations) in a voting machine situation as digital voting lets someone to modify the results maliciously without leaving a trace. Is that a right route to take?

Publicity stunt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16657971)

I think its all bollocks. All those voting machines are equal, the only difference maybe the software which is being used but its just that which makes it vulnerable. The software is embedded on an EPROM which is very easily switched which can influence the ellections. By the way; its not the national goverment but a few local goverments (in Dutch "gemeenten", counties I guess, but in a different sense of the word) which decided on this.

Another delicate, yet ignored, issue is the way voting machines are locked down. All those machines can be started and stopped with the exact same key. Naturally this little issue doesn't get any attention from our local goverment. And thats not even getting into more details with regards to storage. Many of those voting machines (yes, the ones which will be actually used in the actual process) are not safely locked away. A report has shown that its rather easy to gain entry to such a storage depot: in many cases all you need to do is climb a single fence.

The last reason I think this is all a bunch of balony is the fact that the producer of this voting machine works and believes in the "Security through obscurity" strategy, our goverment has even bound themselves to that. Concluding that it would be impossible for them to share the actual reason why this particular machine was banned from the elections. Simply because it would mean that they'd have to disclose a difference between them which, alledgedly, isn't there to begin with. So to me its all a bunch of balony. Just taking some action to make the population feel safe again. Well, if I have the chance I too will try to avoid a voting machine and cast my vote the old way. My trust in those cettles has really dropped to below 0.

And in addition to that local newspapers also report that Nedap (company which makes these machines) is already in the process to deliver 500 extra. You can read this report here [telegraaf.nl] (its in Dutch). It basicly says that the counties ("gemeenten") who rejected the machines can get replacements.

You mfail It (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16658221)

News (1)

kaysan (972266) | more than 7 years ago | (#16658287)

hahaha!.. i totally cracked up when the newsreader said: "Voting machines will not be used in a number of 'counties'(gemeenten) due to this group (we hatedigitalvoting .. or whatever) demonstrating of their shortcomings" and then went on: "imagine the horrible vote counting they'll have to do"

MAN!.. it'd be just like the 80's, papercuts and big metal barrels!

This decision isn't about fraud (1)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 7 years ago | (#16658345)

>"What can be detected is the image on the screen that's visible to the voter, by which his voting could be monitored,"

says the government minister. They're talking about van Eck eavesdropping. Think about the cost-benefit ratio for an attacker. The Dutch must take ballot secrecy really seriously.

Tempest equipment is economically out of the question, maybe this is a niche for an e-ink display.

Better idea... (1)

poser101 (982233) | more than 7 years ago | (#16658541)

The government should develop a new "internet" of sorts, give access to every citizen, provide each citizen with a special proprietary "voting box" that is connected to this "internet". Everyone can vote from his or her home. This way, we could also vote directly concerning different bills and acts in congress, instead of having some stupid representative that doesn't properly represent you do your voting for you. They can come up with the ideas, but we can vote for them. I like this idea... Any takers?

Internet democracy (1)

emmanuel.charpentier (36227) | more than 7 years ago | (#16658575)

It's simple really, use our best communication tool to do politics => the net.

How to do that securely?

Well, first of all internet has the potential to bring a *HUGE* change, it could be much much more, a Direct Democracy where everybody could participate on every issue all the time and from every where.

When, Where, What. A revolution.

Of course there is one consequence: votes could be bought. Is it a problem? Can it be fought? To be decided by each group.

Here, I'm working on such an internet democracy tool, in Ruby on Rails, called parlement. http://leparlement.org/ [leparlement.org]

There are ways to secure it quite well: http://leparlement.org/security [leparlement.org]

Basically:
* P2P servers
* PGP signatures
* electoral lists
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

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

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

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

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