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NIST Condemns Paperless Electronic Voting

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the they're-not-the-only-ones dept.

Security 201

quizzicus writes "Paperless electronic voting machines 'cannot be made secure' [pdf] according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). In the most sweeping condemnation of voting machines issued by any federal agency, NIST echoes what critics have been saying all along, that due to the lack of verifiability, 'a single programmer could rig a major election.' Rather than adding printers, though, NIST endorses the hand-marked optical-scan system as the most reliable."

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Don't blame me... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17072752)

I voted for Kodos.

Don't blame me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17073078)

...I voted for Kerry more than 800 times across 5 precincts.

Re:Don't blame me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17073154)

... but Buchanon won in that district. Hunh.

because without a verifiable paper trail... (5, Funny)

holden caufield (111364) | more than 6 years ago | (#17072760)

you can never be certain when duplicate events can occur.

Re:because without a verifiable paper trail... (1)

gwyrdd benyw (233417) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073272)

I think this was meant to be a joke, because this article is a dup [slashdot.org] .

PS. what happened to the karma bonus? :(

Re:because without a verifiable paper trail... (2, Funny)

holden caufield (111364) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073602)

you can never be certain when duplicate events can occur.

Re:because without a verifiable paper trail... (0, Redundant)

erpbridge (64037) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073718)

you can never be certain when duplicate events can occur

Re:because without a verifiable paper trail... (3, Insightful)

Stellian (673475) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073512)

because without a verifiable paper trail... you can never be certain when duplicate events can occur.
You are wrong. You can never be certain of anything. Your paper trail can be counterfeited or destroyed. Repressive governments used to steal elections long before e-voting came along. There's nothing inherently secure about paper voting, except that's been around for long, and people are used to it.
When a single programmer can steal the elections, it's because the electronic voting system is poorly designed.

Re:because without a verifiable paper trail... (5, Insightful)

catchblue22 (1004569) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073896)

Elections can be stolen with paper ballot elections. However it is far more work to do so than with a fully electronic election. To steal a paper ballot election, especially if it isn't close, you would likely have to create a large number of fake ballots manually, and then selectively replace your victim's ballots. When there are many hundreds of thousands of ballots, this is a huge task, and cannot be done quickly. And to really cover your tracks you might want to shuffle the ballots, so they are not sorted by choice. Scrambling a deck of 52 cards is hard enough. Imagine hundreds of thousands of ballots. And of course all of these changes would have to match with the vote tallies. Any errors will be obvious, and could be considered evidence for voting fraud.

Contrast this with electronic paperless voting, where a single piece of software can replicate itself through many voting machines, as was shown possible [princeton.edu] by two Princeton professors. This code can then invisibly alter votes, and then eradicate itself after use. The fraud in this case would be undetectable.

Hand-marked is the way to go (4, Interesting)

koehn (575405) | more than 6 years ago | (#17072772)

Here in Minnesota we use the hand-marked optical scan system, and it's great. There's a high degree of confidence that your vote actually counts for something. That, coupled with a mandated recount in a random sampling of districts in each county after the election.

Old paper ballots were fine. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17073002)

To understand the history of the push for e-voting, we must understand the main event sparking this push. That event is the presidential election of 2000. Several voters who lacked the most basic intelligence in comprehending the shockingly simple instructions on a paper ballot voted in Florida. These voters submitted flawed ballots that, for example, had hanging chads which should have been removed to clearly indicate which candidate should receive the vote.

Unfortunately, the idiots were too stupid to understand the instructions.

So, some good samaritans started the push to adopt e-voting machines as a way to protect people from their own stupidity. Yet, these samaritans lacked the technical good sense to understand the need for a paper trail.

That brings us here today. The old paper ballots were fine. They worked well. There was no need to replace them. More to the point, there is no need to protect a person from his own stupidity. If a person is so stupid that he cannot understand simple instructions, then his vote would likely not have been an informed vote: no vote is certainly better than an idiotic vote.

Re:Old paper ballots were fine. (1)

nuklearfusion (748554) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073128)

So, some good samaritans started the push to adopt e-voting machines as a way to protect people from their own stupidity. Yet, these samaritans lacked the technical good sense to understand the need for a paper trail.

I think that you are blaming the wrong people here. the samaritans are not the ones to blame here. the problem is that people had a good idea, and some other people at the government/contractor level implemented the idea poorly.

Re:Old paper ballots were fine. (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073228)

The reason for e-voting is simple. It avoids the cost of having to design and print paper ballots. It saves money, period. Any suggestion that it is to improve or simplify the election process ignores how government works.

Re:Old paper ballots were fine. (1)

shofutex (986330) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073848)

But in reality it doesn't save money. It may save money in the future, but now we have to buy a new voting machine every time there's a new regulation and after that we'll need to buy new voting machines to have more features just like every other electronics product.

Re:Old paper ballots were fine. (2)

MollyB (162595) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073850)

In your marvelously concise analysis of cost/benefit for e-voting, you seem to have left out the price and maintenance of the voting machines and the cost of their dismal track record in real life.

I don't think it costs very much to design a ballot, unless you're Really Padding. In my state of Vermont, we use recycled paper for ballots which are marked by pencil and placed in a slot-top box. If the power goes out, we could count by lantern light.

Perhaps you've overlooked how government actually does work. We get the best bang for the buck with our system. Can't say it'd work for everyone, but sweeping conclusions don't advance the discourse, either.

Of course, if you're just trolling, ya got me! =)

Re:Old paper ballots were fine. (3, Interesting)

toddhisattva (127032) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073254)

"Why are we doing this at all? is the question people are asking," said Warren Stewart, policy director of VoteTrustUSA, a group critical of electronic voting systems. "We have a perfectly good system -- the paper-ballot optical-scan system."
The parent answers the question from the end of TFA. It needs to be modded up:


To understand the history of the push for e-voting, we must understand the main event sparking this push. That event is the presidential election of 2000. Several voters who lacked the most basic intelligence in comprehending the shockingly simple instructions on a paper ballot voted in Florida. These voters submitted flawed ballots that, for example, had hanging chads which should have been removed to clearly indicate which candidate should receive the vote.

Unfortunately, the idiots were too stupid to understand the instructions.

So, some good samaritans started the push to adopt e-voting machines as a way to protect people from their own stupidity. Yet, these samaritans lacked the technical good sense to understand the need for a paper trail.

That brings us here today. The old paper ballots were fine. They worked well. There was no need to replace them. More to the point, there is no need to protect a person from his own stupidity. If a person is so stupid that he cannot understand simple instructions, then his vote would likely not have been an informed vote: no vote is certainly better than an idiotic vote.

Re:Old paper ballots were fine. (4, Informative)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073310)

Only one thing though: the 2000 election fiasco was caused by punched card ballots, not mark-sense paper ballots. That's why most voting jurisdictions are using mark-sense ballots nowadays, if only because they can be both hand-read and machine-read.

Re:Old paper ballots were fine. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17073322)

Several voters who lacked the most basic intelligence in comprehending the shockingly simple instructions on a paper ballot voted in Florida

Do you actually understand what happened? Do you know how punch ballots work? "Shockingly simple" isn't even funny as a joke. You're given a ballot card with perforations that mark off squares. You're given a round pointy piece of metal. Instructions: Poke out a square hole with a round stick. "Hanging chads" are of course rampant, and for decades, they have been a known problem with a well-established solution for determining whether you voted or not: If the chad is hanging by only one or two corners, you voted whether or not the machine can read your vote. Cue the 2000 election, and Republicans whining about Gore's whining for a hand count for hanging chads. Cue retarded insults like yours that ignores the fact that hanging chads have been around for decades with an established procedure for dealing with them. Cue the supreme court canceling the recount, without any constitutional authority to tell Florida how to run an election or to demand Presidential election results on any particular day prior to the electoral college's ballot.

Re:Hand-marked is the way to go (5, Informative)

vandon (233276) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073150)

That, coupled with a mandated recount in a random sampling of districts in each county after the election.
If you ever get a chance to watch HBOs "Hacking Democracy", you should watch it. It's mainly about electronic voting, but not just about electronic voting. It's about the non-transparency of present day voting.
One of the things they cover is about the manditory 3% or 4% recount to make sure they don't need a full recount. The problem lies in the fact that the ballots selected are not random. The law specifies that the 3% is "randomly self-selected" by the district/state elections clerk. This means that out of 10,000 ballots, they pick and choose 300-400 ballots to have public volunteers recount.
The public volunteers suspected that the ballots were picked specifically to match the final percentages so there would be no recount. Most of the ballots were grouped together by party lines as if they picked out a certain number of (R) ballots, a certain number of (D) ballots, and a certain number of (I) ballots but forgot to shuffle them together.

Re:Hand-marked is the way to go (2, Insightful)

VEGETA_GT (255721) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073452)

I would also like to point out in that same show, they also show a scanner voting style machine being tested and that the thing can also be hacked. they took the memory card and a guy changed the software on the card (note the company swore there was no software on the memory card). the printouts, and everything that was produced by the machine then appeared to be completely valid even if the results where rigged. Only a hand count of the oprigonal scanned ballots would have shown there was a issue. but since the data from the actual peace of hardware gave no reason to do a hand count, this method would easily have been used to scam a election. And the best part is that this study says these style machines are the best, scary an't it.

I do actuality believe that a company could make valid and secure voting machines, but I have not heard of any yet that where not foolproof. My guess is the companies that supply's them just don;t put in the work required to make a secure machine. as that HBO special showed, here is a company that said there machines are secure and there is no code on there memory card,s tho someone showed there was and used this against the machine. but say there was no code on the card, maybe then it would be different, but the company in question chose to Lie directly to people about it instead of owning up and helping make there machines better.

this is where I like being Canadian, we have a agency called elections Canada (think thats right) that takes care of the voting at federal level (not sure about provincial level tho). Its not taken by the individual province and separate laws per area, nope one set of laws, one way one agency. Any place I have voted at just uses paper ballots, no machines or anything. Just hand counts, and guess what, when was the last time in Canada you heard mass issues of rigged elections and such.

Re:Hand-marked is the way to go (1)

SdnSeraphim (679039) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073784)

If you haven't noticed Canada and the US are quite different in many regards. Elections are one of them. This is not to say that the US cannot learn from the Canadian system or even the French system, but there are (probably) fundamental differences between elections in each country that don't make for easy comparisons.

One example is that the US federal system is part of the reason we don't have one unifying body that handles elections at the national level. Even within each state, counties/parishes are the ones that control many aspects of the voting process. I think this is a flaw in the US system. Having so many different systems and a small amount of state oversight is problematic. However, even state oversight is not enough because politicians can be bought or blackmailed. In California we had a problem with our Secretary of State that result because of lack of intelligence or having the "wool pulled over his eyes" by Diebold.

Trying to simplify the balloting would be great, except that each election there are numerous things to vote on, especially in California with a strong ballot proposition tradition. Hand counting all of the propositions and elected offices, some of which can have 12 or more candidates, would be very painful, and likely introduce more error than other technical means.

Ultimately we are to blame because we expect quickness of election results rather than correctness of election results.

Re:Hand-marked is the way to go (1)

raehl (609729) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073790)

I do actuality believe that a company could make valid and secure voting machines

It may be possible to make a secure, paperless electronic voting machine.

But making a secure machine isn't the whole problem.

The problem is that even if you made a totally secure machine, there's no way to prove it actually is totally secure. All you'd know is you hadn't found a way to break it yet - a property all insecure machines have as well, until someone finds the vulnerability.

Re:Hand-marked is the way to go (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17073894)

What do you vote for in Canada? The head Mountie?

Re:Hand-marked is the way to go (1)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073260)

Hand-marked ballots are great except in the last election I voted, I had to mark my ballot on two massive-sized sheets printed on both sides! I think it would be easier if they can figure out a way to reduce the size of mark-sense paper ballots, if only to make hand-counting easier.

Re:Hand-marked is the way to go (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17073390)

I too voted in the fine state of Minnesota. I agree there is a charm in filling out a paper ballot. I do not have a high degree of confidence in the accounting. Counting yes; accounting no. Here's what I mean: there is no way to know if the local scanner machines started out with zeroes across the board in the morning. If you believe that Mary Kiffmeyer's crew (who administer elections in the state and aren't exactly transparent in providing information) honestly selected the recount regions at *random* then there would be confidence. Yes I watched the ticker bump when my ballot was scanned.

I wouldn't be surprised if Karl Rove's ownership of "The Math" in the recent election meant he had engineered a 3% bias in as many states as feasible. Then a 4%-ish loss lead to many close elections which could not be contested/recounted without the bias being found. Karl's smart and he knew when to punt -- if he learned anything from Dick Nixon it's that the crime doesn't kill you it's the cover-up.
I don't think I'm a tinfoil cap wearing paranoid -- I do think power corrupts regardless of party affiliation.
 

Punchscan.org (3, Informative)

themaddone (180841) | more than 6 years ago | (#17072792)

Now might be a good time to point people in the direction of Punchscan.org [punchscan.org] , previously chronicled on Slashdot here [slashdot.org]

Re:Punchscan.org (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 6 years ago | (#17074082)

The 15-second video seems to indicate that I can use punchscan technology to see which way I voted after the election. What's to prevent me from selling my vote, or my boss intimidating me to vote a certain way?

Sleight Of Hand (4, Insightful)

Spinlock_1977 (777598) | more than 6 years ago | (#17072808)

More sleight-of-hand. An election can never be 100% verifiable until and unless the complete list of every vote is published for all to see and verify (privacy protected by numbers and codes of course). Profit Makers and Election Riggers will argue differently, no doubt.

Re:Sleight Of Hand (2, Insightful)

ebyrob (165903) | more than 6 years ago | (#17072988)

Who's to say that Joe, Jim and Jake Schmoe aren't both issued the same "code" while Sally Stockholder's vote is applied to 3 codes?

Note: I'm not saying secure computer-assisted voted is impossible. Just that nothing remotely close has been invented yet.

MOD PARENT DOWN (2, Insightful)

Phroggy (441) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073136)

Vote buying. We've been over this. If you've got some code that will allow you to determine from the published results how your vote was counted, then I can ask you to tell me your code as soon as you've voted (before the results are published), use it to verify your vote the same way you can, and reward/punish you accordingly. Knowing that I have the ability to do this, people without strong convictions will vote how I tell them in exchange for the reward I offer or to avoid the punishment I threaten.

Yes, that would be illegal, and if I'm caught, I'd be in trouble, unless I just got my friends elected to a position where they can get me off the hook.

Moderation isn't for squeltching points of view (4, Insightful)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073444)

MOD PARENT DOWN

Vote buying. We've been over this. If you've got some code that will allow you to determine from the published results how your vote was counted, then I can ask you to tell me your code as soon as you've voted (before the results are published), use it to verify your vote the same way you can, and reward/punish you accordingly. Knowing that I have the ability to do this, people without strong convictions will vote how I tell them in exchange for the reward I offer or to avoid the punishment I threaten.

Yes, that would be illegal, and if I'm caught, I'd be in trouble, unless I just got my friends elected to a position where they can get me off the hook.

"We" may have been over this before, but that doesn't mean you are correct, and it certainly doesn't mean you should be calling for people to be modded down just because you disagree with them.

Letting the voter verify that their vote was counted as cast, might, as you suggest, make vote buying easier. But it would also, as the GP points out, make stealing an election wholesale much harder. To make a rational choice between the two, you have to consider the relative risks, and doing so does not lead to the conclusion you're advocating. Even with receipts of some sort, vote buying is a very risky proposition, since by its very nature a lot of people would have to know about it before the election. If you want to buy ten thousand votes, at least ten thousand people will have to know about it, including who to vote for and what the payoff or threat is. If even a few of them blab, you're goose is cooked.

Conversely, without receipts, elections can be stolen by a small group of people with no witnesses except for the machines, and they can steal as many votes as they want--a million isn't that much harder than a dozen.

--MarkusQ

Fear the Daley Machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17074916)

I must be missing something -- Daley's machine was able to rig election after election in Illinois and yet no one in connection ever got so much as a slap on the wrist. Heck, even today the "machine" in Illinois is up to it's dirty tricks.

Re:Moderation isn't for squeltching points of view (1)

Spinlock_1977 (777598) | more than 6 years ago | (#17075148)

I like the argument this parent makes, for obvious and self-serving reasons.

And if I may reply here to everyone excluding the parent, why all these "vote buying" and "how do you guarantee..." arguments against my statement? So I'll take you to collectively mean you advocate the root of this thread? Yet another piece of perhaps-slightly-harder-to-corrupt technology?

Look closely at what the Profit Makers are offering. Why is that better than a publicly verifiable list? Better for whom? Do you hold shares ;-)

As for the "it-can't-be-perfect-so-let's-do-nothing" crowd, well... I guess that says it.

Re:Sleight Of Hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17073314)

I would argue the "published" idea because at that point you start heading down the dark path of being able to sell your vote. What stops you from giving your key to the "purchaser" so they can verify you delivered the goods? Verifiable, yes, but only at the point of voting and only by the actual person casting the vote. Once you leave the polling place, no more access.

Now I know there are those that say that that only opens the door for shenanigans after the verification. That may be true, but I personally do not believe that there is a "perfect solution". I think it boils down to the lesser of all evils.

Just to play devils advocate, lets look at the economics. Representatives spend 10's of millions of dollars on campaigns were only less than a million people vote. Of those that do, elections are usually won or lost by less than 10,000 votes. Why spend 7 figures on a campaign that won't garrauntee result when you might just need to spend a million to pay 5,000 unethical people that probably wouldn't have voted at all $200 a vote.

Re:Sleight Of Hand (2)

nine-times (778537) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073544)

Even then, how do you verify? Go back and ask every single person who they voted for, and compare against the list? How would you know that the recounting process will be more accurate and tamper-proof than the original election?

Nothing is 100% accurate or 100% verifiable. The best you can hope for is a result where the difference is larger than your estimated margin of error, and then you can feel pretty sure. Even then, you have to just hope that human affairs are not so important or delicate that an error will ruin the universe, because if it's one thing people are good at, it's making mistakes.

Re:Sleight Of Hand (2, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073834)

An election can never be 100% verifiable until and unless the complete list of every vote is published
...and not even then, either.

A tiny bit of fuding the numbers, and you have 5% of votes from people who only exist on paper...

They certainly aren't going to come forward and say that their votes weren't counted correctly...

And no ID verification to boot (at least in MD) (3, Insightful)

galego (110613) | more than 6 years ago | (#17072824)

I *verbally* told them my name and address (I live in MD) ... no photo or other ID required. That has nothing to do with the paper-trail or other verifications that should be built into any voting system. But personally, I think the problem is deeper than paper-vs-electronic.

Re:And no ID verification to boot (at least in MD) (2, Informative)

Bobo_The_Boinger (306158) | more than 6 years ago | (#17072974)

I worked as an election judge in MD, and in the district I worked in someone who came in complained to me that the roll-call judges were just asking for name, then telling the voter their address and just asking "is that correct?". This voter said that she had been trained as a challenger and that was one of the first things they were told to verify. So I brought it up with the roll-call judges (I was working as a unit judge) and they said they hadn't received any real directions that they were supposed to be asking for BOTH items (name and address), so they just asked one and then verified the other. The two chief judges didn't seem to worry about it much, but I think they did change to asking voters for both items for the rest of the day. I never heard any real clarification on what the real rules are though.

Note that MD does require you to present ID the first time you vote in the state from the rules I read. Note sure how the roll-call judges know that or not though when looking at the voter registration machine.

Re:And no ID verification to boot (at least in MD) (1)

buhatkj (712163) | more than 6 years ago | (#17072986)

i find your comment hilarious, since one of the frequent complaints relating to voter intimidation is the requirement for a valid photo ID to vote. i agree with you however, I think it is in no way unreasonable to require valid state-issued photo ID to vote. they require it here in PA, and honestly I just think it's kind of crazy in general to leave your house without ID. It's hard for me to think of a reason NOT to always have it on me.

Re:And no ID verification to boot (at least in MD) (0)

ebyrob (165903) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073166)

and honestly I just think it's kind of crazy in general to leave your house without ID. It's hard for me to think of a reason NOT to always have it on me.

Um... *owning* an ID makes sense, and carrying it to the polls on election day doubly so. But having it all the time? Get real. Why should I need it? More to the point, I purposely don't carry ID when I don't need it just in case someone asks me for my papers. I'd like to truthfully be able to tell them just how hard to stuff it and where.

Re:And no ID verification to boot (at least in MD) (1)

buhatkj (712163) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073494)

ok, let's say you want to walk down the street to your local 7-11 to get a case of soda or a newspaper, who cares what. no need for ID right? as long as you pay cash, maybe. now let's say on the way there, you are struck by a car while crossing the street. If you have ID on you, the cops know immediately who you are, and therefore so do the doctors and EMTs, so they know, if you are perhaps, allergic to some medication, or your blood type if you need a transfusion, etc. thereby making your care go smoother and quicker. also, they know who to notify (your family) that you have been injured.

the reason to have ID, aside from just doing things which require it (buying alcohol or cigarettes, driving, entering public buildings, using a credit card), is to identify yourself in case of emergency. It's a part of just basic preparedness for the unknown, a simple safety precaution for your own best interest.

so tell me again, WHY it's ever a better idea NOT to have ID on your person??

Re:And no ID verification to boot (at least in MD) (1)

nasch (598556) | more than 6 years ago | (#17074604)

How much of a pain in the @$$ are the police if they ask for your ID (you never know when this will happen) and you tell them how hard to stuff it and where? For that matter, how much of a pain are they if you tell them very politely that you don't have it with you? The only people who have any claim to getting your ID from you for any reason other than an optional transaction are the police (I believe their right to demand ID has been upheld by some courts). Your choice of course, but for my money it's not worth risking ticking off the people who at least arguably have a right to see my ID, and certainly believe they have that right and have the ability and probably the will to ruin my day, just for the possibility of getting to tell someone who doesn't have that right to blow off.

Re:And no ID verification to boot (at least in MD) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17073114)

It's not that they trusted you, they just scanned the rfid chip in your butt.

Re:And no ID verification to boot (at least in MD) (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073222)

Anyone who advocates not having to show ID to vote has another agenda.

Take a real close look at the types of activist groups who cry out the loudest whenever someone floats the "show an ID" concept.

Re:And no ID verification to boot (at least in MD) (1)

Orion_ (83461) | more than 6 years ago | (#17074086)

You're incredibly naive if you think the people who are most strongly advocating voter ID requirements don't also have another agenda. They know exactly who will benefit politically from such a law.

And I think it's just sad that there are so many people like you out there (on either side of the political spectrum) that just dismiss the arguments of those who disagree with you as the biased ramblings of "activist groups" without considering that they might actually have a point. Or do you think it's okay to pass a law that arguably would have the effect of disenfranchising certain groups of otherwise voting-eligible citizens?

That said, I'm absolutely in favor of requiring ID of voters -- as I agree that we need to protect the integrity of our elections -- but only if these IDs are actually available in practice to everyone who is eligible to vote. As it stands, in many parts of the country it is difficult or impossible for some people to get a state-issued ID -- people that can't afford the fee, or that don't have a mailing address, for instance.

So yes, until that sort of issue is rectified, I do advocate not having to show ID to vote. Does that mean I have "another agenda"?

Let's see your PAPERS! (1)

MLopat (848735) | more than 6 years ago | (#17074110)

So what piece of ID would you present? I don't recall there being a National Voters ID card.

Oh, right you're probably thinking "any form of government issued photo ID". Well I'm thinking bullshit. Your driver's license is to operate a motor vehicle, your health card (in Canada) is for presentation at a hospital when receiving medical services, and your Passport is required by foreign governments, not your own. Therefore, either you have to be a licensed driver, have a state run medical plan, or interest in foreign travel to vote? That's not in your constitution.

But our politicians are too scared to come right out and make this just like Nazi-era Germany where you have to present your national papers.

I agree (5, Interesting)

Bobo_The_Boinger (306158) | more than 6 years ago | (#17072842)

Having worked as an election judge in Maryland, which is now using Diebold machines, I just don't trust them. I have seen the printed tape shown at the beginning and end of each election, so I know the machine told me that it took X number of votes, and that that total matched my hand tabulated total from who went to each machine, but how do I know that when the button for candidate X was pressed, the machine actually recored it for X. I don't know. No one knows. And furthermore, there is no possible WAY to know after the voter leaves the machine.

It is a stupid system, and I am proud that someone with more authority than me is saying so. I believe all the politicians who decided that touch screen voting was a "great idea" should be voted out of office ASAP.

Re:I agree (1)

jumpingfred (244629) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073324)

In the last election in California. The last step in voting was for the voter to verify that what was printed on the tape is what the voter wanted did they do it differently in Maryland?

Re:I agree (1)

Bobo_The_Boinger (306158) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073560)

The voter doesn't get to SEE any paper receipt in maryland. The paper receipt I am talking about is printed when the machine is first turned on (to verify the memory card has no votes on it at the start), and at the end of the day (to show the total number of votes cast). So, yes, it is done differently in maryland.

Re:I agree (2, Interesting)

Detritus (11846) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073686)

I voted via the Diebold machine in Maryland. It didn't have a paper tape that could be examined by the voter. The election official gave me a smart card that I inserted into the machine. After casting my ballot, it ejected the smart card, which I then returned to the election official. The whole process relied on blind trust that all of this technology was working properly.

Re:I agree (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17073578)

I don't understand why I can walk up to any bank ATM in the world, withdraw or deposit money with or without a paper receipt and have nearly absolute confidence that my account has been altered accordingly but nearly identical technology can't be deployed to capture my vote.

Re:I agree (1)

larien (5608) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073728)

Touchscreen voting isn't a bad idea in itself - computerised voting where the entire voting trail is in volatile computer storage is a bad idea as it's trivial to forge.

There's multiple ways to get it "right" - these include paper "receipts" that the voter can check & put in a ballot box (available for recount) or optical scanned ballot papers printed by the computer, but ultimately, it gives a physical check in the voter's hands to confirm that they are voting for who they believe they are voting for.

You can say that again! (-1)

MarkusQ (450076) | more than 6 years ago | (#17072848)

NIST:

Paperless electronic voting machines 'cannot be made secure!'

/.:

NIST says that paperless electronic voting machines 'cannot be made secure!'

/. readers:

You can say that again!

/.:

NIST says that paperless electronic voting machines 'cannot be made secure!'

/. readers:

Uh, that's just a figure of speech.

/.:

Sure, sure. Did you hear that the NIST says that paperless electronic voting machines 'cannot be made secure'?

/. readers:

Uh, yeah. Great news, isn't it?

--MarkusQ

Whose payroll are they on? (1)

Codename46 (889058) | more than 6 years ago | (#17072880)

The Democrats? Republicans? Both?

Direct Democracy (4, Insightful)

conn3x (989931) | more than 6 years ago | (#17072890)

I remember learning that an effective method of democracy was this, a representative democracy, because of the issue of people not being able to get to a poll to vote, and because people didn't necessarily have the time to learn all of the issues. Certainly information has grown leaps and bounds, and now a lot of us do have the ability to directly represent ourselves. After seeing a special on this very issue about people waiting in line for 5 hours to vote, seeing the corruption of representatives over and over again, and watching the corporations cheat and run america in their best interests, isn't it time that we, as the information community, try to implement a secure, more direct democracy? Just a thought

Representative for hire (1)

John.P.Jones (601028) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073304)

Instead of majority rules, we could each hire a representative (or serve as our own if we so chose) so that if we thought our representatvie was corrupt we could just fire them. This would end the two party monopoly on representative government and hopefully people could still manage to elect only a couple thousand unique representatives (with weighted votes depending on how many people they represented.)

Re:Representative for hire (1)

fl!ptop (902193) | more than 6 years ago | (#17074062)

we could each hire a representative (or serve as our own if we so chose) so that if we thought our representatvie was corrupt we could just fire them
we already have this capability, it's called "vote for the challenger!"

Re:Representative for hire (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17074292)

we could each hire a representative (or serve as our own if we so chose) so that if we thought our representatvie was corrupt we could just fire them we already have this capability, it's called "vote for the challenger!" That says a great deal. It is implying there is only one challenger.

Re:Representative for hire (1)

ewl1217 (922107) | more than 6 years ago | (#17075162)

He meant to fire them immediately, rather than waiting for the next election.

Re:Direct Democracy (2, Interesting)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073356)

At one time I strongly agreed with this position. That time was for about 2 weeks in high school before I paid much attention to the actual process of government. The reason we ahve representitive government instead of direct democracy is because keeping up with issues and bills is a full time job for an entire staff of people. I am sure you feel qualified to vote on a handful of issues that are close to your heart, but what about the other 99.9% of thing going on? What about the really boring stuff that almost no one caress about?

The easiest way to demonstrate this point is to ask you what your opinion is on Congressional Bill H.R. 2862? Do you know? Do any of your fiends know? how about H.R. 2744? or H.R. 2360? No? Leave the job to people who can devote their full time and resources to it.

-Fianlly, I appologise for the spelling of this post. It is being typed off quickly on a terminal without any spell check. Sorry.

Re:Direct Democracy (1)

Explodicle (818405) | more than 6 years ago | (#17074472)

So what does it say about our government when it has grown so complex that even senators often do not fully understand their votes? The problem isn't just the people - there are many different ways to address voter fatigue. The problem is the fact that we have a bloated, corrupt government.

Re:Direct Democracy (1)

repvik (96666) | more than 6 years ago | (#17074390)

Nope. It won't work. People can't be bothered to vote on all issues. Remember that the politicians work _full time_ as politicians. Even then, they suck at what they do. Do you think joe blow spending a couple of minutes to vote on stuff once in a while would work?

Re:Direct Democracy (4, Insightful)

Random Utinni (208410) | more than 6 years ago | (#17074570)

The problem with direct democracy is one of time. The more detailed and complicated the world becomes, the more complex the problems and the solutions. It's why people specialize in tiny little areas of knowledge instead of knowing everything about everything... there's simply too much to know.

Politics and governance is no different. Specializing is a good thing, and representative democracy allows people to specialize in governance. We don't even let generalist physicians do surgery, let alone the average layperson. It's too complicated, and too important... so we give the job to a specialist. Same with government. We could let the average person make decisions about long term taxes, economic growth, foreign policy, and the like, but I think it's too complicated.

I'm in California, and we've got more direct democracy than pretty much any other state in the union. And every election we're bombarded with propositions. No one really bothers to read the text of the summaries, let alone the actual text of the proposed legislation. So people vote based on their instincts, the television ads, and what their friends tell them. These aren't well-considered or thought out reasons... just the reasons that people have time for. I try my best to wade through them, but I've got a job and a family, and there often just isn't the time.

If you've got the time to keep up with all the information that *should* go into making these decisions, more power to you. But I think that the vast majority of the population doesn't have the time, interest, or education to do the same.

We don't need machines (1)

Kim Jong Ill (1033418) | more than 6 years ago | (#17072930)

In my country, we count by vote of hand. Anyone who not raise hand, trying to rig election. Vote not count and they are sent for reeducation. We have had a very very good accounting with this system.

Duuuuuuuupe (1)

El Pollo Loco (562236) | more than 6 years ago | (#17072946)

Re:Duuuuuuuupe (1)

El Pollo Loco (562236) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073014)

NOT a dupe (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073396)

The article you referenced is based on an internetnews.com PREDICTION that the NIST would issue a release saying something like this.

THIS article is based on the actual release, and what the release actually says.

Eh? (1)

jafac (1449) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073004)

Okay - this article's a dupe - but really, we can't talk enough about this subject. Blackbox voting really needs to go. It doesn't take a NIST scientist to see that.

"secure"... depends who you're talking to. (1)

User 956 (568564) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073010)

Paperless electronic voting machines 'cannot be made secure' [pdf] according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Oh, they can be made secure. They can be made to secure the election for whomever you want. That's the whole idea.

Fp s`ponge (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17073066)

haapen. 'At least

Isn't that factually incorrect? (0)

Jim_Callahan (831353) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073106)

"A single programmer could rig a major election."
 
Because all machines are coded by a single person with no error-checking or internal oversight by other members of the machine's design team, yes, sir.

Aside from attacking the technical/business literacy of the publishing organization: The long and short of the issue is that the potential for corruption is identical for paper ballots and electronic ones. The issue with electronic machines is not increased political skullduggery, but increased potential for data loss (1 disk fried = a few thousand votes, one ballot fried = one lost vote). I guess if you sent the data over a public network, that'd be an issue, but that wasn't done in at least the last election in which I participated.
 
P.S. No, I have no idea why I felt compelled to comment on this.

Re:Isn't that factually incorrect? (1)

ebyrob (165903) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073412)

Also... electronic voting is a far more complex, so the number of people who would recognize something fishy going on shrinks dramatically.

As to "one programmer" have you read Ken Thompson's thoughts on trusting trust [acm.org] ? Okay. So maybe it's got to be a *smart* programmer. One guy can certainly do it.

I call bull puckey (2, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073458)

... the potential for corruption is identical for paper ballots and electronic ones.

I call bull puckey.

The potential for corruption is massively greater when THERE IS NO WAY TO CHECK FOR IT.

When it can be detected (and is routinely watched for), trying to rig an election stops being a path to power and becomes a path to jail.

Re:Isn't that factually incorrect? (1)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073528)


Because all machines are coded by a single person with no error-checking or internal oversight by other members of the machine's design team, yes, sir.

Errr.. have you SEEN actual software development take place before? I have, and error checking and internal oversight by others is the exception, not the rule. I sure as hell wouldn't want elections entrusted to companies that're always on the lookout to reduce costs.

The long and short of the issue is that the potential for corruption is identical for paper ballots and electronic ones.

Huh? With a paper ballot election officials can manually count each ballot to verify that it matches what the machine count was.

With a completely electronic system there's no such thing. You simply have to trust what the machine tells you.

So, there's a LOT more potential for corruption with the electronic-only system since we all have to completely rely on the black-box to have registered each vote correctly, and counted it correctly.

Re:Isn't that factually incorrect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17074760)

P.S. No, I have no idea why I felt compelled to comment on this.

Me neither, because you have no idea what you're talking about.

Maryland (1)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073138)

We used the optical scan system in my county in Maryland until 2002, and then for some bizarre reason we switched to diebold. And we've been having a hell of a time getting rid of them because the Governor of MD was against them and the woman in charge of the elections had a personal grudge against him. Anyway, he was just voted out, so maybe we'll have a better shot now.

Savages... (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073142)

Why does the National Institute of Standards and Technology hate trees?

Re:Savages... (1)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073446)

Why does the National Institute of Standards and Technology hate trees?

Because trees don't believe in democratic elections.

Why trust the scanner? (1)

jmichaelg (148257) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073146)

I don't understand why optical scanning is any more trustworthy.

If the scanner is hooked up to a crooked counting algorithm, how will you know unless you actually count the paper? If you have to count the paper to ensure that the scanner is honest, why bother with the scanner at all?

Re:Why trust the scanner? (1)

quizzicus (891184) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073282)

Because if you suspect something, you can then confirm/discredit the suspicion.

Re:Why trust the scanner? (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073552)

I don't understand why optical scanning is any more trustworthy.

Because the human-marked and machine-scanned ballots go into a ballot box for potential counting later.

If the scanner is hooked up to a crooked counting algorithm, how will you know unless you actually count the paper?

If there is a question you actually DO count the ballots. And you count ballots in a few randomly-selected precincts even if there ISN'T a question, just to keep watch.

If you have to count the paper to ensure that the scanner is honest, why bother with the scanner at all?

To get a quick answer and to save money if nobody challenges the result.

NIST also condemned current paper trails! (3, Informative)

VidEdit (703021) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073182)

The headline of the post makes it seem like the NIST thinks that paper trails are the answer. That is not their conclusion, in fact they say the current paper-trail systems don't work.

"The NIST is also going to recommend changes to the design of machines equipped with paper rolls that provide audit trails.
Currently, the paper rolls produce records that are illegible or otherwise unusable, and NIST is recommending that "paper rolls should not be used in new voting systems."

via http://www.bradblog.com/?p=3860#more-3860 [bradblog.com]

We really should just use optical scan ballots. That is a paper trail voters have to verify, and the ballots can be meaningfully recounted. Then Diebold and the other vendors should be sued for knowingly selling defective products--possibly fraudulently.

Verifiability? (1)

Kainaw (676073) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073264)

I keep reading about "verifiability", but what *exactly* do they mean? *Who* is verifying *what*? In my opinion, if it is possible for me to go to some office somewhere and ask them, "Here's my ID. Tell me what you have that computer for my vote." Then, I can verify my vote. I have no right to verify anyone else's vote and nobody should be allowed to verify my vote without my permission. Are the critics claiming that there should be special people who get to look over everyone's shoulders and see who you're voting for? If so, I am very much against it. But, since these critics fail to give a specific definition of "verifiability", I have no idea what it is they are talking about. Of course, I'm probably the only idiot who doesn't get it.

Re:Verifiability? (1)

tilandal (1004811) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073562)

No Verifiability means that if the results of an election are in doubt you can go back and recount the votes to be sure that the published results match the ballots. With the pure electronic voting machines we have today there is no way to know if the election results were altered in any way. What people have been asking for is a print out with each e-ballot that shows in clear, human legible print, who you have voted for. After you have checked the sheet to be sure that it is correct you drop it in a box for storage. NIST wants to take things one step further. Instead of having your vote counted by a machine and then have a receipt for your voting they want the machine to read the actual ballot.

Re:Verifiability? (1)

fl!ptop (902193) | more than 6 years ago | (#17074186)

"Here's my ID. Tell me what you have that computer for my vote." Then, I can verify my vote.

actually, that's not good verification either - what's to stop the person you asked from giving information that's contrary to the vote that was actually cast? or, for that matter, what if the voting machine program was written indicate something different from what's put on the tally sheet?

Wow, just when Domecrats win (3, Interesting)

dcollins (135727) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073362)

Goddam funny that the federal government gets concerned with this just as Democrats are poised to take power in Washington, after several election cycles where it apparently didn't give a damn.

Whatever, it's the right thing to do, finally.

This federal study is a wee bit late (1)

kabloie (4638) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073380)

You think "Congress" back in 2001, when they passed the "Help America Vote Act", might have commissioned some study of the topic, instead of just passing the bill as written by the voting machine lobbyists. But, no. It seems very much like that bunch of idiots and corporate mouthpieces cared very little about the actual effect of their so-called law. God forbid they ask someone with any sense to look into the topic, particularly a useless public servant at NIST who just needs to be downsized anyway.

What a complete fucking waste the last 5 years have been, in *so many* ways.

I Knew It! (2, Funny)

Quantam (870027) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073384)

NIST echoes what critics have been saying all along, that due to the lack of verifiability, 'a single programmer could rig a major election.'

I knew there had to be a reason the Democrats won congress! Hopefully they'll have this fixed by 2008!

This applies to anything we use computers for then (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073392)

Because similar technical processes go on in e-commerce, e-banking, e-government services etc.

I guess we just care more about election results.

Are they really saying there is, theoretically,
no mathematically and logically sound cryptographic solution for ensuring
the validity of this kind of process, or just that we don't know how to do that yet?

Re:This applies to anything we use computers for t (1)

tilandal (1004811) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073628)

This is not ture at all. There is a paper trail for all of the things you mention. If I buy something online and it does not arrive I KNOW it does not arrive and I can contact my credit card company about it. If I have been charged too much it shows up on my bank statement. If I renew my vehicle registration online I get my registration card in the mail. If I cast my e-ballot how do I know my vote got counted correctly? I don't. In fact, no one knows and that is what is wrong with the system.

Optical scanning offers significant benefits (4, Insightful)

hmbcarol (937668) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073448)

1 - Fail-safe. The machine can break, power can go out, etc. The paper ballot still exists and can be easily hand counted.

2 - Inexpensive scaling. Since you mark on paper the polling station can have 20 booths for people which are not much more than a table, curtain, and a pen; yet they can share one or two optical scanners. Touch screen systems require one expensive machine per booth.

Do the math. 20 expensive touch screen machines per polling station, versus 2 less expensive optical scanners.

This cost savings could be used in urban areas where there traditionally have not been enough resources for the election.

3 - Trustable. Any dispute can be settled by the actual piece of paper I wrote on. Optical scanners are based on technology used by schools to grade for decades and require little more than a motor, light sensor, and a very low end CPU. There is little to go wrong and very little which can hide tricks.

4 - Easy to use. I take a pen and fill in a box. Touch screen systems appear to suffer serious "alignment" issues which can cause votes to be mis-registered and which require frequent realignment in the field.

5 - Robust. There is no screen to be scratched, or broken. The voter never interacts with the scanner except to slide a piece of paper into it. There is no printer to jam, or foul, or have other issues.

Re:Optical scanning offers significant benefits (1)

AeroIllini (726211) | more than 6 years ago | (#17075248)

Devil's advocate time, just to spark discussion.

1 - Fail-safe. The machine can break, power can go out, etc. The paper ballot still exists and can be easily hand counted.
The paper can tear, the marks can be incomplete, the building could burn down. A properly engineered mature design will not "break." Think about 5-function calculators... do they crash? Do they give incorrect answers? No. All they need is power, and they work flawlessly, cheap-o stamped-out-of-plastic-in-China-for-three-cents-a- unit issues aside. I see no reason why an electronic voting machine wouldn't be the same, given proper engineering attention.

2 - Inexpensive scaling. Since you mark on paper the polling station can have 20 booths for people which are not much more than a table, curtain, and a pen; yet they can share one or two optical scanners. Touch screen systems require one expensive machine per booth.
Again, the machines need not be that expensive. Hell, we can build an entire damn laptop for under $100 a pop, how expensive can a touchscreen that performs a fraction of the functions of a laptop be?

Do the math. 20 expensive touch screen machines per polling station, versus 2 less expensive optical scanners.

This cost savings could be used in urban areas where there traditionally have not been enough resources for the election.
Urban areas don't have enough resources for the paper process now. This is an independent issue.

3 - Trustable. Any dispute can be settled by the actual piece of paper I wrote on. Optical scanners are based on technology used by schools to grade for decades and require little more than a motor, light sensor, and a very low end CPU. There is little to go wrong and very little which can hide tricks.
This directly contradicts your first point about the voting machines breaking. If a touch-screen can break, so can a scanner.

4 - Easy to use. I take a pen and fill in a box. Touch screen systems appear to suffer serious "alignment" issues which can cause votes to be mis-registered and which require frequent realignment in the field.
Only because the systems are poorly engineered (see my response to point 1). What if the ballot is printed crooked on the paper, or your pen runs out of ink, or someone forgot to bring #2 pencils and the scanner won't recognize the #1 pencils they did bring? Misalignment and ease-of use are engineering problems, not systemic ones.

5 - Robust. There is no screen to be scratched, or broken. The voter never interacts with the scanner except to slide a piece of paper into it. There is no printer to jam, or foul, or have other issues.
Same as point 1.

I agree with you that completely electronic voting is bad, but not for the reasons you stated. The problem is not that we need to vote on paper, it's that we need a paper trail, and I disagree with the NIST that hand-marked, optical scanned ballots are the best way to go. Humans make more mistakes than computers, and there is a percentage of the population that would benefit from touchscreens that printed ballots (I'm thinking here of the disabled). The problem as I see it is that the companies creating the voting machines are approaching the problem from an assembly viewpoint instead of an engineering viewpoint. They are trying to purchase off-the-shelf, multi-function components and then adapt them to their use and lock them down for security. It makes much more sense to design the entire system from the ground up. Hire some proper board designers, and have them cobble together a custom board containing a ROM chip, a graphics chip, and a tiny CPU. Add removable storage that contains the candidates' names and offices, etc. Hook it up to a touchscreen LCD and a custom-built printer, and wrap the whole thing in a box that's easy to stack and carry around. This machine only has to do three things: accept user input on the screen, hold the choices in memory for a short time, and then generate and print a page containing the votes. The printed pages could be counted by traditional optical scanning methods, or they could be stuffed in a ballot box and counted by hand. Either way, the paper trail exists and the votes are verified by the human before they are submitted. Since the company that designs and builds these is being hired by the government to perform a public task, all their processes from engineering to QA to source code to supply chain to manufacturing should be transparent, auditable, and public. The current system of proprietary code, multi-function off-the-shelf components and government kickbacks is broken, and should not be used to judge the worth of all electronic systems.

Paperless voting is bad. But discrediting all engineering solutions based on some very very poor engineering decisions made by one or two companies is just as bad. There is a place for technology in voting, since it can provide foreign languages and assist people with disabilities. It can also enable redundant checks for mistakes that would otherwise discredit a paper ballot, such as incomplete ballots, ambiguous votes, and overvotes. But the need for a paper trail, robust engineering practices, and transparent design and manufacturing should outweigh the allure of a shiny new whizz-bang electronics gizmo which has the sole purpose of making sure grandmothers in Florida don't accidentally push the Pat Buchanan button again.

My Ideal Solution (1)

ReverendLoki (663861) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073490)

What I'd ideally like is a terminal that you could either use as a touch screen to cast your votes, or feed an optical scan ballot into.

Why use it with an optical scan ballot? There's always part of me that nags at me, wondering if "they" are going to correctly interpret my vote when they scan it in. This way, when the terminal scans it, it can show me what it gleaned from my markings, and if it comes up wrong, I can either issue corrections there (which are specially marked as such on the ballot), or it can reject the ballot back to me, and I fill out a new one. If I accept it, it gets spat into the obligatory secure box - preferably through a transparent tube, so I can see it. Even better, put the paper ballot through one more step, say into a clear box where I can clearly see and verify to myself that it is indeed my ballot, but cannot tamper with it further, before it gets put into the secure box. Of course, at this stage if I notice a mistake it would require the intervention of an election official, but then again, there shouldn't be any intervention needed at this point.

Alternatively, I could use this terminal to cast my vote electronically, after which the terminal would print out a paper ballot with my vote on it. Again, this paper ballot is delivered via the above-mentioned system, allowing me to verify that what is printed is indeed my vote.

Either way, the vote would be counted electronically at the terminal first and foremost. The paper ballots would include encoded information about the time, place and terminal used to cast the vote, primarily to ensure there are no discrepancies, or at least to catch them. Hell, it may seem like overkill to some, but it would be worth it.

Question (1)

Delight-Delirium (415145) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073508)

So if the electronic voting was based on an open source system - would that be better or worse?

Re:Question (2, Interesting)

hmbcarol (937668) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073712)

While open source will be a critical part of the solution, most of the practical mechanical issues would remain:

Touch screen requires a complex GUI level machine with hundreds of thousands or even millions of lines of code. Even if the code is "open source" there is still that complexity there. Stuff to go wrong.

Some systems have no paper trail. Open source does not change this.

One machine per voting booth solutions are VERY expensive. Optical ballot systems allow my booth to be a curtain, pen, and table. I can then walk to a shared optical scanner and "cast" my vote.

I happen to take my time to vote. If I am standing in front of an expensive touch screen that they can't afford too many of, I am stopping others from voting. But if the only resouce I'm consuming is a table and pen, more people can vote at the same time.

I personally think the solution is optical scanning. These require very little software, which could easily be open source.

a couple of months late, gents. (1)

SuperBanana (662181) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073690)

http://vote.nist.gov/DraftWhitePaperOnSIinVVSG2007 -20061120.pdf

Election's over, gents. This would have been much, much more helpful more than 12 months before the election...

One does wonder if the report was held until after the election on purpose- possibly to avoid cuts in funding and such under the then-Republican-majority Congress?

A multi tier system is best (1)

BlueCoder (223005) | more than 6 years ago | (#17073862)

Paper is no more verifyable than anything else. The best system would be a multi teir receipt system. An informal electronic count and a read only storage mechanism to record raw votes; a recording media which is physically slow to produce.

Second an electronic paper reciept given out to a voter that kind of looks like the bar codes on a lotto ticket. Second an optional electric reciept, with both a physical or wireless connection to record another kind of coded data.

The one major requirement of the system would be that no one could demand to see your receipt and be able to find out how you voted. Maybe an optional system which stores multiple votes but only you know which is valid. Just has to be something that people could voluntarily divulge outside a voting location that can later be verified against the official raw data record.

Their jobs are gone. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17074360)

It seems like people in NASA lose their jobs for speaking up for using real science connected to Global Warming. In addition, I know that people at the EPA have lost theirs for speaking against the gutting that has been going on. I would guess that these nice folks will be losing their jobs soon.

hmm (1)

kludge99 (196947) | more than 6 years ago | (#17074380)

I find it kind of strange that this didn't come out BEFORE the elections, but now that the Dems have the house and senate and would be able to do what the republicants have been doing for the last 6+ years there is now a real need for a paper trail. pffft

Hybrid between paper and electronic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#17074992)

SETUP

Before the election starts, connect each device to the server (over a wired connection -- obviously not wired) and turn them all on. Each device creates a random ID key and stores it in ROM. Each device establishes a PGP-encrypted connection with the server and sends its ID key over. The server records all those ID keys in a database.

USER INTERFACE

Each device has a small LCD screen and a number pad.
The LCD screen shows a list of candidates and corresponding numbers next to them. The voter will read the screen and choose a number. He will enter the number in using the keypad and press the SUBMIT button. The device will show a confirmation screen, where the user can affirm or deny his choice. When it is affirmed, the device sends a command to the server.

RECORDING EACH VOTE

Whenever a device records a vote, it sends a command to the server -- probably an SQL INSERT statement. This information, along with its ID key, is encrypted and sent to the server. The server decrypts the message sent to it by the device, checks the sent key against the ID key list, and, if it's valid, runs the INSERT command.
There can be a paper trail by having the device spit out a vote slip into a basket behind the machine.

TALLYING THE VOTES

After the election is over, the staff turns off each device. Since the devices don't actually store any data, just take input from the user, no elaborate memory card-removing ritual is needed; the staff can just pull the plug.
The staff presses a button on the server, signaling it to print out a paper slip with the vote totals recorded in its database. This also causes the server to reset its ID key database.

ADVANTAGES

  • Simple.
  • Easy to use.
  • Secure from voters because the data-storing machine (the server) is in the back of the room rather than there being several data-storing machines that the user directly interacts with.

DISADVANTAGES

  • The staff can plug an extra device into the server and enter lots of fake votes on that.
  • They can take the server apart and modify its hard drive's contents, then put it back.

SOLUTIONS TO DISADVANTAGES

  • Have the ID keys preset in all the devices including the server (not a good idea IMO)
  • Have the hard drive be nonremovable (although anyone with enough strength/time could still remove it).
  • Right before the election, manually check that the vote totals for all candidates are 0.
  • Right before the election, load a fresh disk image onto the server. This thwarts someone who tampered with it before the election.

CONCLUSION

I may be missing something, but I don't see why Diebold (and all the other voting machine manufacturers) are having so much trouble making a secure system.
I suspect that the real problem in Diebold's system is that it's possible to "hack" the election if you are a staff member, or you have unrestrained access to the machines prior to the election. This is solved by the last point in Solutions to Disadvantages, and by the paper trail mentioned in Recording Each Vote.

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