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Federal Panel [not NIST] Rejects Paper Trail For E-Voting

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the democracy-costs-too-much dept.

Security 191

emil10001 writes "The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has rejected a proposal suggesting that electronic voting have a paper trail. The draft recommendation was developed by NIST scientists, who called out electronic voting machines as being 'impossible' to secure." From the article: "Committee member Brit Williams, who opposed the measure, said, 'You are talking about basically a reinstallation of the entire voting system hardware.' The proposal failed to obtain the 8 of 15 votes needed to pass. Five states — Delaware, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland and South Carolina — use machines without a paper record exclusively. Eleven states and the District either use them in some jurisdictions or allow voters to chose whether to use them or some other voting system." So ... accountability in voting will be a joke for the foreseeable future because it costs too much?
Update: 12/11 03:20 GMT by KD : Correction: It was not NIST that rejected NIST's recommendations, it was a federal panel chartered by Congress, the Technical Guidelines Development Committee.

cancel ×

191 comments

First p (4, Funny)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149522)

Hey! Where did the rest of my subject line go?? It was there! I typed an'o', an 's', and a 't'! These dang computers are so insecure. I want a paper trail of my postings.

Re:First p (1)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149612)

When control of the richest and most powerful country on Earth depends on your Slashdot postings ... let us know.

Re:First p (4, Funny)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149800)

Posting on slashdot probably has more effect than voting.

Parent is insightful (or at least funny). (2, Informative)

darkonc (47285) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149782)

It's a parody of how some votes seemed to just 'disappear' in some all-electronic jurisdictions.

This is one of those situations where knee-jerk moderating doesn't quite work.

In short... Yes .. and ... no (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149524)

So ... accountability in voting will be a joke for the foreseeable future because it costs too much? Yes, its expensive and will remain a joke, not because its expensive, but because politicians want it to be expensive to fix the joke that helps them win elections....

Then There's the Conspiracy Theory (1)

darkonc (47285) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149852)

Have you considered the possibility that the people who voted against the proposal (or their political masters) got into place via a software-rigged vote?

Re:Then There's the Conspiracy Theory (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149948)

My first thought was simple: WTF? Better crack than the mods at ./ apparently.
But you and the GP seem to fit Occam's Razor better, so I think it's likely to be true. Sadly.

-nB

Re:In short... Yes .. and ... no (1, Insightful)

jfengel (409917) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149922)

The administration in power just suffered an enormous loss of power, with these machines already in place. Many of those elections were close enough to tip with only a tiny, hard-to-detect cheat, and the Republicans needed only a single change in the Senate to keep power there.

Are you saying that they're waiting for something REALLY important to come along before they unleash the their cheats?

I do think we need better accountability in elections, because it's terrible that we can't be certain in the country that's supposed to be the leader in democracy. I want to know why NIST is overriding the opinions of its own experts. But to claim that they want the status quo only to win elections is belied by the fact that they're NOT winning elections.

Re:In short... Yes .. and ... no (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150082)

[sarcasm]They cheated alright, but due to a bug with a misplaced decimal or something ("I always do that") they found that they had $300 grand more than planned and thew Dems got the votes.[/sarcasm]

realistically though if you were to cheat you would want it to me hard to detect, maybe if they did the algorithm just needs more tweaking? :-)

I dunno, I simply hope for the big backlash to put indys in office. I bet if Ross Perot ran now he'd take it by a landslide.
-nB

Re:In short... Yes .. and ... no (1)

Thansal (999464) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150086)

Well, obviously the republicans did cheat, just they did not cheat enough! the voter gap was so large infavor of the Dems that those evil repubs lost even AFTER adding lots and lots of extra votes!

Or, if you are a republican:

Well, it is obvious that the dirty dems riged the vote this time around! They stole the election! And we all know that the dems ALWAYS rig elections (*point back to past casses of votter coersion*).

heh, pardon me, just felt like it :D

As for why I think they voted it down?
They don't really get it, whomever explained it to them told them that the money involved in replacing the machines was far to high for a minimal risk, etc etc. I expect incompetince, not maliciousnes

Re:In short... Yes .. and ... no (1)

Ucklak (755284) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150346)

Republicans use virtual votes to win.
Democrats use dead votes to win.

We still all lose.

Re:In short... Yes .. and ... no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17150102)

"Are you saying that they're waiting for something REALLY important to come along before they unleash their cheats?"

No. Only that the 3% bias applied as widely as possible wasn't enough. A 3% pad will only make a race that's really 53.5/46.5 look close. None of the Republicans contested close losses. They couldn't afford to because the bias would have been found. Karl Rove mis-under-estimated the necessary bias when he did "The Math".

Re:In short... Yes .. and ... no (5, Insightful)

ShieldW0lf (601553) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150176)

Committee member Brit Williams, who opposed the measure, said, 'You are talking about basically a reinstallation of the entire voting system hardware.'

You know, if each American who reads slashdot went out and smashed just ONE voting machine each with a sledgehammer, this entire argument would be a moot point.

I do think we need better accountability in elections, because it's terrible that we can't be certain in the country that's supposed to be the leader in democracy.

Is this a joke? America has replaced more democratic leaders with puppet dictators than Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia put together, and their own democracy looks more and more like a trick of the light with each passing day.

Re:In short... Yes .. and ... no (2, Insightful)

killjoe (766577) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150658)

What makes you think they didn't cheat? It could very well be that they rigged to throw one out of ten thousand votes to go republican but it wasn't enough.

I am not saying that they did that, I am saying that just because they won it doesn't mean they didn't cheat. It could mean they didn't cheat enough and maybe next time they will.

Yes... (1)

hummassa (157160) | more than 7 years ago | (#17151052)

accountability in voting will be a joke for the foreseeable future because it costs too much?
No, accountability in voting will be a joke in the foreseeable future because it always was a joke in the past. Go watch "Streets of New York".
Paper ballots == ballot stuffing.

Re:In short... Yes .. and ... no (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17151082)

It already is expensive. When buying votes at $25 per, you can easily see how the costs can go way up. :)

This is why I don't vote... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17149542)

...besides the fact that all the candidates suck, but I did vote AGAINST Bush last time.

Re:This is why I don't vote... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17149694)

Really you think so? That's only what the machine told you [dilbert.com] .

Great quote (4, Insightful)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149558)

"You are talking about basically a reinstallation of the entire voting system hardware."

Um ... yeah, like the switch from paper ballots and/or mechanical voting machines to electronic voting machines in the first place?

Stupidest. Excuse. For. Shilling. For. The. Forces. Of. Evil. EVER.

Re:Great quote (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17149602)

Even if it's not schilling for the forces of evil, it is unwise to admit to an error in judgement and simultaneously claim that it would be too costly to repair your error after the fact.

Re:Great quote (1)

Intron (870560) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150352)

That would be a very curt schilling.

Wasted money going electronic (2, Insightful)

kherr (602366) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149774)

When I voted in the last election my polling place had about a dozen plastic voting booth tables on metal legs and one optical scan reader that instantly verified/tabulated/secured the paper ballot (mis-marked ballots are rejected by the reader). Imagine the costs for that single poll station if there were a dozen complex electronic voting machines instead of the plastic booths. It's also easier to train poll workers how to replace pens and issue new blank ballots than it is to get them to understand complex computing machinery.

Whether or not you think electronic voting can ever work, from a simple cost-effectiveness standpoint it is an asinine goal to pursue. The purpose was to simplify the voting process, but this has clearly been a failure. Costs have skyrocketed and results are worse than from poorly-maintained punch ballot installations. Now we hear the reason not to abandon this crappy technology is because it would cost too much to return to verified voting. And thus, yet another self-spiraling government system of waste and fraud becomes entrenched.

Re:Wasted money going electronic (2, Interesting)

gad_zuki! (70830) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150150)

>Whether or not you think electronic voting can ever work, from a simple cost-effectiveness standpoint it is an asinine goal to pursue.

This is absolutey not true. Electronic voting done right works in many places, most notably Brazil. Theyve had some scandals but now they have paper verified voting. You vote and it prints out a slip of paper. The paper goes in a bag in case of contestment. (is that a word?) Not to mention Brazil is HUGE country. Its almost 200 million. We're at 300 million and we dont even have compulsory voting. So if those cats can get it right so can we. There is also cost savings here.

I believe Australia (or was it new zealand) had to open their voting machine code to satisfy a transparency law. From what I remember security researchers got to analyze it and produce a report to the government.

At the end of the day -some- machine will be reading a voet. Be it a simple scanner that reads dots and outputs its count onto some piece of paper. The idea that involving more humans into the process is good is questionable, to me at least. There has always been x amount of spoilage be it due to incompetence and fraud. Electronic voting isn't much better or much worse. In fact with better logging it could show us who is messing with the votes. Lets not be luddites here.

The problem here is the cronyism. You cant make voting machines in the for-profit/old boys club. These machines (or least their designs) need to be first developed by the government, tested by the government, open to the people, then sent to manufacturers. The top down approach of business approaching government with a machine designed in-house is terrible for this kind of application. There's more transparency in the defense industry than in the voting industry. The American implemention is just flawed . Better to address the flaws than dismiss electronic voting. The genie is out of the bottle.

Re:Great quote (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150250)

Tell Brit Williams [nist.gov] how you feel. His email is on that page.

Re:Great quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17150548)

Oh no! We're going to have to replace all of the voting machines AGAIN!
Boo-fucking-hoo!

You know what they say: anything worth doing is worth doing twice.

Re:Great quote (1)

cptgrudge (177113) | more than 7 years ago | (#17151158)

Yep, all bad excuses.

We're spending 1.6 billion a week [iraqanalysis.org] on a war that will purportedly make us safer. (Irrelevant for our argument here whether it does or not.) But we won't spend several billion to ensure that one of the cornerstones of our democratic system of government, the voting process, is reasonably secure and verifiable?

Wonderful. Just peachy.

It shouldn't only be about cost. (5, Interesting)

Kookus (653170) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149570)

So what if there's a paper trail? It means absolutely nothing unless it's actually used, and is accessible by the people casting the votes! This is something that is wrong with the current system also!

I have no idea who I voted for in any election. I know who I thought I voted for, but I have no idea if it was counted that way. Where can I go to find that out? Let's say there is some way for me to determine if my vote was counted in a certain way. What about everyone else? Is there a way to make sure the vote they think was mine was exclusively mine?

I'd rather have the problems associated with receipts with ids on them that I can log online to see who I voted for instead of the current system.

Re:It shouldn't only be about cost. (1)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149820)

So what if there's a paper trail? It means absolutely nothing unless it's actually used, and is accessible by the people casting the votes! This is something that is wrong with the current system also!
 
I have no idea who I voted for in any election. I know who I thought I voted for, but I have no idea if it was counted that way. Where can I go to find that out? Let's say there is some way for me to determine if my vote was counted in a certain way. What about everyone else? Is there a way to make sure the vote they think was mine was exclusively mine?
 
I'd rather have the problems associated with receipts with ids on them that I can log online to see who I voted for instead of the current system.
That would alloc coercion and vote buying.

Re:It shouldn't only be about cost. (2, Interesting)

Kookus (653170) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149980)

What's a commercial? Why do the big race politicians spend millions of dollars (They sure aren't doing it to get their "message" out)?

You gotta be kidding me if you think they aren't already buying votes.

Let them attempt to buy elections, make it illegal, put out "honeypots", catch the rats and disqualify them from the race! Even if they could directly buy votes, think of how much money you'd need to spend just to sway an election... and there's no way you could do that without getting caught.

I sure hope someone's vote is worth more then a buck. Personally I wouldn't sell mine for less then a grand. Go ahead, buy the indigent! Hell, at least they'd actually improve their meals for a day, which is the best thing those politicians will ever do for them anyways... How sad is that?

Re:It shouldn't only be about cost. (1)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150234)

There is a difference between a political advertisement and saying "If you vote for X and can prove to me that you did, I'll give you $n"

Re:It shouldn't only be about cost. (2, Interesting)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149972)

There are three problems with logging online to see who you voted for:
  1. You could sell your vote, and use the website to verify it to the purchaser.
  2. Your boss or someone else could intimidate you into voting a certain way, and you would keep your job by showing your boss how you voted on the website
  3. The fact that you cast a ballot and your receipt number shows a certain vote on a website may have nothing at all to do with the official tally.
See this post [slashdot.org] for my solution..

Re:It shouldn't only be about cost. (1)

dwandy (907337) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150854)

Check Three Ballot Voting System [mit.edu] (PDF Warning).

It's a paper-based voting system that allows you to verify that your vote was cast but doesn't allow you to prove how you voted.
In general terms you vote twice for guy you want, and once for the guy you don't want, leaving your guy +1 over the other. You then are allowed to take a copy (at random) of one the three ballots to walk out with. It has a serial number that is no way related to the other ballots. You use the serial number to check that at least 1/3 of your vote was cast correctly at some later date by checking a bullitin board.

After that it's just a probability game - it wouldn't take that many people to check before it became highly probable that if there was a problem it would be noted.

Re:It shouldn't only be about cost. (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 7 years ago | (#17151022)

That's a good solution to the problems of vote-selling and voter intimidation, but again, the acts of casting a ballot and verifying it later on a website or by any other method *may not* have any bearing on the actual official tally. You can have all the three-ballot voting and online verification you want, but if the machines verify ballots correctly online but decide to ignore those verified ballots when it comes time to report the tally, you can have a stolen election.

If you have a paper trail, that's good, but if there's no reason to question the official machine-reported tally, there's no reason to start counting the paper trail. Right now, I think the only evidence we would have to distrust the official tally (partisanship aside) are discrepancies between exit polls and the official results, but nobody trusts exit polls :(

re: privacy (1)

MORTAR_COMBAT! (589963) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150000)

come up with such a system that protects you being susceptible to intimidation. your own access to your recorded vote outside of the voting booth of necessity grants access to your recorded vote to anyone who "convinces" you it is worthwhile to show them your vote.

i still don't see the problem with simple scantron "fill in the bubble" voting sheets. fill them in, take them to a machine and feed it in. the machine displays the votes on screen that it is about to record. you confirm that "yup, the machine read it correctly" and hit "submit". the vote is counted and your sheet is held by the machine. if you say "hey, that's not what i voted" you hit "cancel" and the sheet is marked clearly as a cancelled sheet, not counted, and you go get another sheet.

or, we have people count the votes and trust the people to count honestly and correctly.

Re: privacy (1)

Kookus (653170) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150498)

...because you can't confirm that the vote on the scantron was the vote they used in determining who won the race.
With the proper governance in place, you can protect people from intimidation, and even make it worth their while to turn people in who attempt to.

If your boss is the kind of person who would force you to vote a certain way, they are the same kind of person who would make you perform sexual favors for them in order to keep your job... I just don't see it as a problem that has no repercussions.

Re:It shouldn't only be about cost. (0, Troll)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150078)

Let's say there is some way for me to determine if my vote was counted in a certain way.

Then you're an idiot. It isn't even worth responding to this because you obviously haven't spent any time looking into the subject.

Re:It shouldn't only be about cost. (2, Informative)

Kookus (653170) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150316)

I'd rather be ignorant on a subject then a complete asshole like you.

Re:It shouldn't only be about cost. (1)

mdielmann (514750) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150646)

"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them." - Mark Twain

"It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt." - Mark Twain

So, the next question is, are the willfully ignorant worse than those who have tired of dealing with them?

Or, to put it another way. Voting, and the pitfalls inherent in it is a very old topic with lots of information available, and examples to show the pitfalls in practice. Perhaps you should read up on the topic, rather than regurgitating one bad idea or another and causing all the living defenders of freedom to pull out their hair in frustration while the dead defenders of freedom roll over in their graves.

Re:It shouldn't only be about cost. (1)

Kookus (653170) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150926)

Being informed about why you vote is completely different then just wanting your vote to count the way you cast it. Show me the light ye defender of freedom! Comfort me in the knowledge and abilities that I have to confirm my vote was recorded and used in the manner which I intended!

Why don't you understand vote fraud? (2, Insightful)

CrayDrygu (56003) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150344)

"I'd rather have the problems associated with receipts with ids on them that I can log online to see who I voted for instead of the current system."

Fine. In the next election, make sure you vote for the party I tell you to. I expect to see your reciept as proof you voted appropriately. If you don't, I'll break your kneecaps with a sledgehammer. And if I can't find you, I'll just have your family killed.

Or we could just, you know, *not* promote vote fraud. That would be OK too. Whichever you and your family would prefer.

Re:Why don't you understand vote fraud? (1)

Kookus (653170) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150702)

Let's just assume you actually make it to election day without landing in jail. Let's then assume you actually had the influence to threaten a few hundred thousand people. Let's then assume you actually make it to my family and kill them and break my kneecaps. Finally let's assume you are able to repeat that across the board for the other people (Whose family members you killed you have no idea how they voted) also without getting shot by the cops. Then... wow, you really accomplished what you set out to do!

Oh, crap, Let's also assume the guy doing the same thing for the other party doesn't deep 6 you!

That's a lot of interesting problems that you managed to side skirt... I dare say you are a Saint for the miracles you have performed!

Re:It shouldn't only be about cost. (1)

yankpop (931224) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150436)

It is used. Whenever there's a recount.

No, you can't link an individual ballot to a particular individual. That's a feature, not a bug. If you could identify individuals you would enable coercion before the election and reprisals afterwards, hardly favourable conditions for a democratic society.

But while you can't follow your particular ballot through the system, you can do that as a group. If 100 people vote at your polling station and more or less than 100 votes are tallied then there has been some tampering. It is possible that someone could go in and switch ballots, but not without the cooperation of the staff and observers from all the parties contesting the election.

A paper trail provides a means to verify an election. It's not foolproof, but it is definitely better than nothing, which is what you've got in 5 states already.

yp.

Too Costly? (3, Insightful)

gt_mattex (1016103) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149590)

So, disregarding the fact that their own scientists cited the machine's insecurities, the executives feel that the 'cost' of replacing or updating the machines is prohibitive for our countries (arguably) most important decision?

This whole things reeks of pork and the 'old boys' club'

Re:Too Costly? (1)

rcg40 (832633) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150756)

Voter confidence is not a cost item like which brand of parking meter. It is too expensive to play with. The voting should be done on paper - you "X" your choice or you bubble it in. Then you feed it into a scanner which shows you how it will be cast and points out any over-votes or errors. The you push a button and the paper is added to a stack and the vote is tallied.

Wait, there's more!!!! At 7 PM, the county draws five precint numbers from a hat and these five precincts must have their paper ballots hand counted in front of witnesses. When these five precincts are validated and their papers agree with the machine count, then we can see the reports from the other precincts.
The only persons inconvenienced by this are "Bozo and Bozette at 6 and 10". We really should not care if the stinking networks get their stinking stories in on time.

One other thing is that the scanned ballots can be online for inspection until forever.

Things have changed in two days (5, Informative)

DavidinAla (639952) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149594)

That news article was from two days ago. Check out what happened since then: http://www.techliberation.com/archives/041383.php [techliberation.com]

Re:Things have changed in two days (2, Informative)

chrisb33 (964639) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149648)

Hmm... what's the relationship of that article to the original article and this one from a few days ago [washingtonpost.com] ? What exactly are they recommending/rejecting?

Re:Things have changed in two days (2, Informative)

grantus (261016) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150778)

"Hmm... what's the relationship of that article to the original article and this one from a few days ago? What exactly are they recommending/rejecting?"

The committee essentially reversed itself the next day. The second proposal was worded differently, making it clear that only future e-voting machines would be required to have independent audit mechanisms. The second version also addressed some concerns about accessibility of disabled people to the paper trail mechanisms.

So, in short, the story posted on slashdot is old and no longer valid.

Grant

Bad math or uncounted votes? (2, Interesting)

mungtor (306258) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149610)

"Members of the Technical Guidelines Development Committee, a group created by Congress to advise the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, deadlocked 6 to 6 on the proposal at a meeting held at the NIST headquarters in Gaithersburg. Eight votes are needed to pass a measure on the 15-member committee."

How do you deadlock 6 to 6 on a 15 person committee? Were the other 3 votes just not counted?

Re:Bad math or uncounted votes? (4, Funny)

onkelonkel (560274) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149678)

Exit polls show the other 3 members were in favor of the motion, but there was no paper trail to verify this when the votes were recounted.

Re:Bad math or uncounted votes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17149724)

Oh they were counted.

By a Diebold voting machine.

Re:Bad math or uncounted votes? (1)

master_kaos (1027308) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149730)

How do you deadlock 6 to 6 on a 15 person committee? Were the other 3 votes just not counted?
Well since they have no paper trial, I guess we will never find out

Re:Bad math or uncounted votes? (1)

grantus (261016) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150682)

It's a weird voting situation they have there. The chairman only votes to break a tie, and two other members chose not to vote. There was a tie, but under the committee's rules, it needs eight votes to pass any proposal, so the chairman's vote wouldn't have put the vote over the top, so to speak.

But as others have pointed out, the committee essentially reserved itself the next day and will require independent audits.

Grant

The costs shouldn't matter to fix the HAVA mess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17149624)

And next time we have a top-down federal solution to a supposed problem that dangles a bunch of money with an arbitrary deadline, we should ask ourselves if we are making the problem worse.

If we need to pay more to fix the problems of HAVA, we need to do it. The fact that we wasted money on new machines without paper trails is not a good argument for the status quo.

Story is out of date! (5, Informative)

Philom (24273) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149626)

This story is badly out of date. The panel voted again the next day and reached a compromise that will require future electronic voting machines to have paper trails. See:

http://news.com.com/Panel+changes+course%2C+approv es+e-voting+checks/2100-1028_3-6140956.html [com.com]
http://www.freedom-to-tinker.com/?p=1095 [freedom-to-tinker.com]

Re:Story is out of date! (3, Interesting)

emil10001 (985596) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149830)

That's interesting, I submitted the story yesterday at noon, and hadn't seen anything new on it. But reading the update is also quite interesting, because the issue remains that the voting machines which are currently in place, and have no paper trail, will stay there as they are. The proposal that passed leaves it to the "next generation" of machines, and does not seem to affect the ones currently in place. So, this story is still relevant, because those problematic machines are still in place, and will stay there.

Come Again? (1)

Aqua_boy17 (962670) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149650)

The article summary (no, I didn't RTFA) seems to be in direct opposition to a Washington Post article I read today stating that the Technology Guidelines Development Committee wanted to "end the era" of paperless electronic voting and that many politicians wanted to add some form of verification method.

So who's got the real story and who's just spreading FUD? Inquiring minds want to know.

Re:Come Again? (1)

grantus (261016) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150826)

As has been said elsewhere here, the posted story is out of date. The committee turned around and approved a proposal requiring independent audits for e-voting machines on Tuesday.

Grant

Please don't slam this right away (1)

AchiIIe (974900) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149656)

It is important not to go on the offensive right away on this. The rejection is more likely linked to the logistics associated with the proposal. Everyone takes voting seriously, even Georgians. Local legislation in georgia is about to propose mandating paper trails on the three counties that currently use paperless voting machines. Slow and steady pressure will get the job done, outright slamming will not help.

Vote by mail... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149664)

It might be easier to vote by mail instead of having people line up at poll booths. It would take away the intimidation and nuttiness factors of each side having their own lawyers watching to make sure that clueless those chads don't get pregnant.

Re:Vote by mail... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17150180)

What, like Oregon?

Re:Vote by mail... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150328)

Sure. I voted by absentee ballot a month before the election. I enjoyed all the political fliers that came through the mail until Election Day. So did my paper shredder.

Mail voting problems (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150598)

It would take away the intimidation and nuttiness factors of each side having their own lawyers watching to make sure that clueless those chads don't get pregnant.

Problem with mail voting is that ballots could be made to "disappear" outside the election system (for example post office clerks could be bribed to toss them). The more hands sensitive data passes through, the more of a chance there is for corruption of said data, whether accidental or malevolent.

-b.

Re:Mail voting problems (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150734)

True. But it also becomes a federal offense if the mail is tampered with.

Re:Mail voting problems (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150956)

True. But it also becomes a federal offense if the mail is tampered with.

Big deal. Election fraud is also a felony (though not necessarily a Federal one) in most places. Jail is jail - if anything, state prison time is "harder" than Federal prison since state prisons are often old facilities with poor oversight and underpaid pissed-off guards.

-b.

Not cost (5, Insightful)

amigabill (146897) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149698)

So ... accountability in voting will be a joke for the foreseeable future because it costs too much?

No. Accountability in voting will be a joke because that would be an inconvenience to the Inner Party achieving their goals, whatever those may be. Cost is simply an excuse for the public.

No price is too high for securing Democracy! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17149768)

... except when it's our Democracy.

Think about it, we spend more in Iraq each month than this proposal would cost, all in the name of "securing democracy". Not only that, it's perfectly clear at this point that the only "freedom" we are providing the Iraqis is the freedom to kill each other and our soldiers.

How the hell can anyone not support this measure? Or, more appropriately, how are the clowns who don't support it keeping their jobs?

Oh,

yeah,

the easily stealable elections...

Stop getting distracted... (1)

WickedLogic (314155) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149824)

You are talking about basically a reinstallation of the entire voting system hardware.
Although that may be true, it does not address the issues of the study or the studies findings. It does not mitigate the truth about the machines. So the question becomes do we find it acceptable that paper trail voting be required.

Personally, if machine purchasers/builders could not see this being an issue, yes they should have to reinstall the machines and the process should be forced to be open. I wouldn't sell or buy a car without doors for obvious reasons, no matter who tried to tell me it was a good idea. Paper trails are an obvious requirement even if not enabled as a core functionality.

Note he doesn't dispute the issue, just implies that dealing with it would take lots of work...

Really Tired of this Crap! (2, Insightful)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149838)

I'm getting really tired of this crap! Putting the whole country on an optical scanning system would not be expensive at all. No more excuses. I want a paper with the name of the candidate I voted for right next to my mark. I want this to be audited randomly and I want random checks of the random checks. I want to know that my vote was counted. Otherwise this is just a fake democracy.

Re:Really Tired of this Crap! (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150274)

Why do you need optical scanners at all? Why not just have people count the votes? This is the way it works in Canada, and in many other countries.

Re:Really Tired of this Crap! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17150638)

You are both idiots. Both of the systems suggested are just as susceptible to tampering as any other. Optical scan systems, to start with, are unreliable. Even if the ballots are printed by a machine, they face problems when the printers start to run out of ink, or when there are flaws in the paper. Even if you fix the reliability issues, the machine doing the counting is just as open to hacking as any other. There is also the issue of lost ballots, ie. making sure the ballots get to the counting system in the first place. We don't have people count the votes because we don't trust people, there's too much room for error and/or bullshit, and it takes too long. Were you not around in 2000? You're basically asking for manual recounts on everything instead of using machines at all. Canada and others can manage it because they have much lower population density, but it will not work here.

Re:Really Tired of this Crap! (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150902)

Even if the ballots are printed by a machine, they face problems when the printers start to run out of ink, or when there are flaws in the paper.

Easy enough to fix. Hang a sample ballot in each voting machine with a sign: "If your ballot does not look exactly like *this*, please ask for a new one.

Even if you fix the reliability issues, the machine doing the counting is just as open to hacking as any other.

The machines need not be complex or even computerized. They could be as simple as 20 Veeder-Root mechanical counters running off of pulses from photodiodes. For added accuracy, run the same set of ballots through two different machines - if the results don't match, run them through a third machine. And have the machines certified by a reliable repairman before and after the counts.

You're basically asking for manual recounts on everything instead of using machines at all. Canada and others can manage it because they have much lower population density, but it will not work here.

That's a fallacy. The number of election workers per given number of ballots should remain roughly constant. If anything, it'll decrease with in increasing number of ballots since you need fewer trainers and some types of managers. And election workers can be recruited the same way as the census - pay younger people fairly high salaries for the essentially temporary work.

-b.

Conspiracy (2, Insightful)

mulhollandj (807571) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149854)

I haven't yet determined if this is a conspiracy of power mongers or just one of mass stupidity. I think both.

Open Voting (1)

CaptainTux (658655) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149892)

The scientiest at the NIST are right: voting machines *are* indeed impossible to secure. But it's not because of some inherent technical limitation or issue. It's because there is absolutely no way to truely verify the integrity of the machine at its most basic levels: operating system and voting software. There's no way to ensure that either has not been tampered with since both of these two critical pieces of the infrastructure are usually closed source.

Now, while I'm a fan of open source, I can definitely see situations where it doesn't really matter (from a security standpoint) whether you use a closed or open system. This is not one of them. If a complete solution would be developed centered around a completely open system it would nearly totally eliminate the integrity issues surrounding eVoting. And as for software reliability issues like making sure it doesn't crash, all the votes are counted and appropriated correctly, ect, that's really *not* an issue. Reliable and bug free software can be designed - think space shuttle, airplane guidance systems, etc. If these systems can be bug-free (or nearly so) then certainly a voting system (something that counts and catalogs) can be.

The government needs to stop wasting money with do-nothing firms with questionable integrity (I'm looking at YOU Diebold) and look towards a solution with nothing to hide. An open solution.

Re:Open Voting (1)

0xABADC0DA (867955) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150670)

You can't make a computer secure so that's why you make your system not rely on the computer:

Voter ---> Computer --> PRINTOUT --> BOX --> Counting --> Final Tally

I could care less if the computer is rigged as long as the printout say what I actually thought I voted for and as long as I can observe the counting.

if it's already broken don't fix it (1)

callmetheraven (711291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149894)

"Committee member Brit Williams, who opposed the measure, said, 'You are talking about basically a reinstallation of the entire voting system hardware.'

Sure, who would want to spend a few dollars on something as trivial as preventing our (representative) democracy from being hijacked (again).
That money would be MUCH better spent on the Iraq mess and tax breaks for the ultra wealthy.

Secure tallying (2, Interesting)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149900)

I don't think the solution to current-day voting machine problems are a more secure way of voting. I think what we need is secure tallying.

Whatever scheme we dream up, such as punch-card voting, or a paper trail, the fact remains that we really don't know whether our vote will affect the *tally*. A paper trail only comes into play when the official tally is suspect for some reason. What we really need to know is that our vote is counted. Even if we have a bar-code on a paper receipt that shows exactly who we voted for, we have no way of knowing whether or not our little bar-code verified data gets in to the official tally.

Here's what I wrote [slashdot.org] the last time this discussion came up on slashdot:
"What I'm envisioning is some kind of method where votes can be tallied, and the running tally can be periodically published during the count. I imagine it would have some kind of hashing technology, like PGP, where tallies are perhaps encoded in a string, and the string is published. The hashing token, or whatever mechanism allowed a vote to be legitimately added to the tally, would be passed from one voter to another, after they voted. This puts the power to count votes into the hand of the voters, rather than a poorly-trained election volunteer, a partisan, or a hackable machine. Because of the constraints of the token and hashing, a voter can only vote as they are allowed, without destroying the tally hash string."

One problem with secure tallying is that you want to make sure that your vote is counted in the official tally, but you don't want others to deduce how you voted from the official tally. At this point, I imagine one voter passing the official tally to the next voter. That way you can be certain you have affected the tally, and the design of the system constrains you to only one vote. Periodically, perhaps every hour, the official tally is publicly released. Nobody can then figure out how you voted; they only know how the crowd voted in the past hour.

To satisfy the choke point of one voter passing the official tally to the next person, there can be multiple official tallies that are running concurrently, and at the end of voting, they are all added together in a master tally.

Re:Secure tallying (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#17151016)

About 300 people voted in my precinct. Total. It happens to be quite Republican. Imagine a scenario where 10 people vote in an hour and 1 of them is a Democrat. I sure like hiding in the pool of 300 a lot more than the pool of 10 or 20.

Re:Secure tallying (1)

lawpoop (604919) | more than 7 years ago | (#17151072)

Yeah, that's a good point.

Perhaps if your pool is that small, you don't need to report hourly. If you have 10 people voting in an hour, just report at the end of voting. However, if you have 300 people voting every hour, report every hour.

Perhaps the trigger to publish the running tally is the number of people voting, instead of arbitrary time blocks.

What did you expect from NIST? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17149924)

It isn't suprising that they wouldn't want you to vote considering the role they have played in covering up 9/11.

What do you expect from a government agency that is part of the most corrupt and facist government the world has ever known?

$400 billion spent in Iraq... (1)

fuego451 (958976) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149928)

... but we can't afford to fix our voting system, the core of our democratic republic? I say we hang these fuckers!

Wasn't E-voting the promised land? (1)

heroine (1220) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149944)

A few years ago when your candidate lost, you complained about other countries having E-voting and u.s. lagging behind. When your candidate still lost in 2004, you complained about E-voting not working and rushing into it too fast.

Now you're complaining about other countries taxing energy use to reduce global warming and u.s. lagging behind in such taxes. Wonder where this is going.

Stalin was right... (1)

hsmith (818216) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149950)

It's not the people who vote that count, it's the people who count the votes.

If voting mattered, they wouldn't let you vote! Silly to think you actually have choices in an election. Elections are just your high school SGA with older people. Simple popularity contests.

So ... accountability in voting (3, Insightful)

nullchar (446050) | more than 7 years ago | (#17149958)

So ... accountability in voting will be a joke for the foreseeable future because it costs too much?

And accountability in voting will be a joke because the first implementation was a total fuck up?

In software, the solution to this problem would be: eVoting 2.0
Changelog:

  • Added verifiable paper trail for each ballot cast (not a total summary printout at the end)
  • Replaced Diebold with open source hardware and software
  • Restored confidence in democracy

Too Expensive!? (1)

Howitzer86 (964585) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150010)

Politicians would sooner have another quagmire in the middle east than secure the continued function of our Democracy.

Paper trails are bad - think about coercion (1)

tsmoke (455045) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150156)

With a paper trail it becomes extremely easy to sell votes or be coerced into voting. The voter has the receipt to prove to a third party they fulfilled their previously agreed upon obligation.

Take a look at Ben Adida's work on this http://benlog.com/ [benlog.com] http://ben.adida.net/ [adida.net] and http://ben.adida.net/presentations/ [adida.net]

Re:Paper trails are bad - think about coercion (1)

sharp_blue (769985) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150574)

The paper trail is not taken away with the voter!
The voter can see it, but not touch it. It is kept like ordinary ballots, for auditing pourpose, and it is not possible to identify the voter from the individual paper trail.

For fucks sake... (1)

FunWithKnives (775464) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150200)

This just pisses me off so fucking much. I want to punch this guy in the face, whining about having to rethink and reimpliment the entire voting system. And to top it off, stating that it would be "too expensive"? What kind of hypocritical bullshit is that? Look at all of the pointless shit that our government throws money at. Ted Stevens' "Bridge to Nowhere" comes to mind. If this is what needs to take place in order to reassure the American people that their election process is not being raped and murdered, then that's what must happen. This whole thing just stinks to high hell of dishonesty and double-crossing of the American people, from both ends of the political spectrum. Fuck this guy, and fuck the rest of the scapegoating shills. We need reform. Soon. Soon as in now.

Re:For fucks sake... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17150972)

Well how bout email campaign.
Here:
bwilliam AT kennesaw DOT edu
from here:
http://vote.nist.gov/bios/williams.htm [nist.gov]

I'm sure as hell emailing the dumbshit.

Voting Records (1)

Renobulus (470573) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150286)

It doesn't matter either way. If the voting machine gives me a receipt what is that going to solve?

If I can look my vote up on the Internet to "verify" that my vote is recorded as I intended it to be. Nowhere in any of that can you reasonably assert that your vote was actually counted the way it's being presented to you, whether on a paper receipt or pulling it up online.

If I were to "hack the vote" in any system I would make sure that to the voter everything always looked as those his vote was counted as he intended. The only thing I'd change would be the totals.

Paper receipts would only be "verifiable" if you were in a small town and gathered up everyone with proof of who they voted for and matched the results to the totals. But good luck trying that with 100 million people.

Reno.

OSS voting in 1 day (1)

0xABADC0DA (867955) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150382)

Voting machine:

1. Setup linux distro with apache, tomcat, whatever
2. Install ballot web app
3. Install ballot CUPS printer filter
4. Setup firefox for kiosk mode

Counting machine:

1. Setup linux distro with ballot_counter.py
2. Attach scanner
3. Run ballots through OCR software
4. Update counters (in realtime as scanned)

Ballots print like this, one measure per line:

          PRESIDENT: AL GORE
          SENATE: JAMES WEBB
          STEM-CELL: YES

Also the tally program just keeps track of unique lines returned from the OCR and puts this count next to the on-screen list (sorted by count). Thus it doesn't need to know anything about the election. The top N lines on the screen as votes are scanned (after polls close) will automatically show the votes from the ballot followed by the most popular write-ins (ie Mickey Mouse).

You can add fancy CSS styles, javascript to prevent accidental undervoting, screen readers, on-screen keyboard, etc. There... a complete, secure, reliable, OSS, and cheap voting system for a day's work.

An illustration of how stupid this situation is (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150384)

I can walk into a store and buy a postage stamp and get a receipt for it. The receipt uniquely records my transaction and is my proof that I bought a stamp. So how come a voting machine cannot do likewise? It isn't rocket science. It isn't difficult. All it has to do is print a receipt that I put in a box when I walk out of the voting booth. If there is any dispute, the paper receipt can be used independently count the number of votes which should tally with the electronic total.

I do not understand why anybody would object to this unless they had 100,000 paperless machines sitting in a warehouse somewhere.

one man, one vote, once only... (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150472)

You can always change to the system used by most of the rest of the world and just stop voting altogether. Select a president for life and get it over with. This bi-anual media circus is very wasteful.

What's the point of e-voting? (1)

b0s0z0ku (752509) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150718)

If you have a paper trial, you may as well just use paper ballots. Optical scanning equipment can be really efficient and fast. You just need to minimize possibility of incomplete punches - with proper equipment, that's possible with very high certainty. Add to that good ballot design (the Florida example was just poor graphic design) and you have a winner.

-b.

how the paper trail should work... (1)

scharkalvin (72228) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150744)

voting machine looks like it does today, touch screen for example.
When the user presses the vote button the machine prints a ticket with the results.
The ticket is a two part ticket just like the recepits you get at the store.
The top copy goes into a lock box, the bottom copy is handed to the voter.
Before handing in the ticket the voter examines the ticket to make sure it is correct.
If in error the operator can cancel the vote on the machine and the voter makes corrections.
If correct the operator finalizes the vote on the machine and places the ticket in the
lock box. In the event of a recount the tickets in the lock box are used and compared
against the machine tally. The lockbox ticket count would override the machine count results.

More information (1)

ThOr101 (515492) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150770)

1. Was the draft refused for technical merits, or because the solution was simply too expensive?

2. Are they trying to re-write the draft so address the issues that can be addressed without eliminating the solution to the problem?

3. Who do we contact in our government to urge them to get this voting mess corrected? Senators, Congress people, NIST representatives?

You damn betcha it costs too much! (1)

Medievalist (16032) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150792)

accountability in voting will be a joke for the foreseeable future because it costs too much?
Yeah, it'd cost some people their jobs.

Umm, these are computers right? (1)

BlueCoder (223005) | more than 7 years ago | (#17150796)

What's so hard about installing a printer?

What am I missing?

There are simple cheap methods (1)

John Sokol (109591) | more than 7 years ago | (#17151070)


  My Mailclad scheme uses simple random numbers and data bases to make an unbreakable system that allow for clear open auditing while still allowing voters anonymity.

  It's similar to the Autotote system used for betting on horse races and the way some Vegas slot machines print out cash vouchers, also Lotto tickets use a similar random serial number scheme.
  Heck even Mc Donald's Monopoly game pieces uses random serial numbers to ensure anti forgery to prevent cheaters.

I have started a source forge project for this and have www.mailclad.com to make an open source voting system based on this.

john

Why would anyone oppose verifiability? (1)

natoochtoniket (763630) | more than 7 years ago | (#17151118)

An election system is verifiable if the results of the election can be verified by counting the unalterable voter-verified records of the votes that were cast in that election.

There is only one reason why any official might oppose requiring all elections systems to be verifiable. That reason is: That official wants to rig future elections.

Those officials should be tried for treason and shot.

democracy for dummies (1)

joe_schmoe_the_geek (1000927) | more than 7 years ago | (#17151132)

They are perfectly willing to spend millions of dollars on doing recounts, fighting lawsuits, and don't apparently mind that America is becoming ever more cynical about the integrity of our voting system, but they won't spend a little extra money on voting machines? Give me a break. There are some who clearly favor a lack of accountability, and those people are called criminals. This is far too a matter to put into the hands of politically appointees or bureaucrats trying to appease their political masters. We need a Constitutional Amendment making every single voting place have a paper record. There are NO COMPUTERS that hackers can't hack into. I repeat, if you have a computer, then a hacker can break into your system and it doesn't matter how much security you think you have. The only exception could be someone like the NSA and somehow I doubt the polling places will ever achieve that kind of security. What we need are paper ballots and qualified voting place monitors from all parties involved in an election at that voting place, as well as from non-partisan groups that can make sure the independents aren't being cheated. Land of the free and home of the brave, but for how much longer if we allow corrupt people to tamper with the voting box?
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