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E-Voting Reform Bill Gaining Adherants

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the paper-trail-and-source-inspection dept.

Security 161

JeremyDuffy sends us to Ars Technica for a look at an e-voting bill making its way through Congress that is gaining the support of the likes of Ed Felten and the EFF. Quoting: "HR 811 features several requirements that will warm the hearts of geek activists. It bans the use of computerized voting machines that lack a voter-verified paper trail. It mandates that the paper records be the authoritative source in any recounts, and requires prominent notices reminding voters to double-check the paper record before leaving the polling place. It mandates automatic audits of at least three percent of all votes cast to detect discrepancies between the paper and electronic records. It bans voting machines that contain wireless networking hardware and prohibits connecting voting machines to the Internet. Finally, it requires that the source code for e-voting machines be made publicly available."

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How to refute the proprietary "rights" argument (5, Insightful)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 7 years ago | (#18580819)

Even if democracy didn't trump trade secrets, the commercial interests of the vendors are safe. If a competitor steals their precious source code, well, the competitor has to publish too and will get caught.

Good law! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18580945)

Wow, they can actually make a decent law if they try? Now, if only they'd pass the damn thing without amending it into a horrible parody of itself or huge piles of pork.

Aww, who am I kidding?

That said, I should probably tell my congressman to vote for it. Not that he's ever actually listened to me before, but...

Re:Good law! (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581231)

You can be sure there will be pork added to pay for replacement machines. Possibly even pork added for the existing vendors even to pay for opening their source. Nothing leaves congress without a huge pricetag.

Re:Good law! (3, Insightful)

canUbeleiveIT (787307) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581633)

Alas, that's probably true...but it's a bargain compared to not knowing if the election is rigged.

Re:Good law! (2, Informative)

trianglman (1024223) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582805)

There is already, just for the hardware, $1 billion worth of funds allocated for this bill; to be used until it is used up (not tied to a budget year). There were other appropriations sections in this as well, auditing and dispute handling were the other two sections I noticed, also how to divvy it up among the states, but I didn't read those sections closely. As someone else has said, that price is worth knowing what is happening to my vote.

Re:Good law! (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18581731)

Just a note about the sponsor and his central NJ district, which should explain how such a sensible bill came to be introduced. The district runs across the state from the Delaware River to within a few hundred yards of the Atlantic Ocean, encompassing Princeton University, and encompassing or abutting the telecom R&D community that had been centered around Bell Labs in Holmdel, including AT&T Labs, Avaya, Telcordia, Vonage, and many small companies founded by alumni of these companies. Also in the area are many civil servants and contractors for the Army's Communications Electronics Research Development & Engineering Command at Ft. Monmouth. In short, it's a real high-tech powerhouse.

The Congressman, prior to his election, was on staff at Princeton University's Princeton Plasma Physics Lab. A popular sight on many cars in this area is a bumper sticker reading (on two lines): "My Congressman is a Rocket Scientist / Rush Holt."

A step in the right direction (5, Insightful)

zarozarozaro (756135) | more than 7 years ago | (#18580975)

This is the sort of law that we need. I urge all Americans who read /. and care about our democracy to write their representatives and tell them to vote for this bill. Voting machine companies like Diebold and Sequoia will surely be lobbying against the bill, so we really need to show them that we care about this issue. This bill is also a great way to find out what your representative is all about. It is often surprising to find which congressmen and women support open source elections. This is certainly an issue that will NOT break down to party affiliation.

Re:A step in the right direction (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 7 years ago | (#18583493)

Linky, [house.gov] for your convenience.

Re:How to refute the proprietary "rights" argument (1)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581337)

Well, then they'll probably just go for the "but we need security by obscurity" defense ... (not endorsing that, OBVIOUSLY)

And maybe it's just me, but the worry about someone stealing your "innovative intellectual property" has always seemed hollow. It's a vote tabulation program for heaven's[1] sake!

[1] I mean "heaven" in the secular sense.

Who cares about OS e-voting software anyway? (5, Interesting)

Alwin Henseler (640539) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581449)

In all these discussions about e-voting, I don't really understand why the emphasis on Open Source software for voting computers. Why? The whole problem with e-voting is in transparency of the process. Does Open Source inside such a machine change that? How?

Can you see what compiler was used to turn source into binary? Can you verify that published source/binaries are the same as what's inside the machine in front of you? Can you verify that the hardware is the same as what the software is expected to run on? Can you verify that the hardware works as intended (like, no memory errors etc)? I expect that for most (or all) of these questions, the answer will be: no, not really.

That's the whole point of a paper trail. Essentially, it makes the counting black box irrelevant (as long as the paper trail is considered the authoritive result, that is). Wrong vote stored on flash? Who cares, as long as the correct vote is written on the paper output (and the voter can verify that before leaving).

At that point, what's inside the black box doesn't matter much anymore, and basicly serves to make voting easier, or help to get a quick (preliminary!) count of what the end result might look like. Closed source software, or unknown hardware inside? What's the problem as long as the correct votes are printed on dead tree, and verified by the voter?

But also at this point, the 'added value' of a voting computer becomes a mystery to me. Why not just ditch them? If you want quicker results, organise better or get more people to count votes. Good organisation (and paper!) is really all you need for elections that are both fair, and with quick results.

Re:Who cares about OS e-voting software anyway? (3, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581771)

The problem with that, is that the numbers coming out of the black box are considered official, and recounts are hard to get done, especially complete recounts. And paper trails sometimes get thrown out. I'd rather just keep it all pen and paper like it currently is in Canada. No complex machinery to get messed with, and if you're worried about your votes not getting counted properly, well there's people watching the actual counting from all involved parties to make sure nothing is getting miscounted.

Re:Who cares about OS e-voting software anyway? (1)

lonecrow (931585) | more than 7 years ago | (#18583653)

Ya, I've never really understood this drive towards e-voting in the US. In Canada we know the results of the election before going to bed. Isn't that fast enough? Its not as if society is going to be any better off if it takes half the time to count the votes. I guess my question is who is leading the charge for eVoting and why? (other then the election machine companies themselves I mean).

Re:Who cares about OS e-voting software anyway? (1)

plover (150551) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582169)

The whole problem with e-voting is in transparency of the process. Does Open Source inside such a machine change that? How?

There is a little more to an electronic voting machine than simple tabulation. There's the presentation of each individual election, and the presentation of the candidates. What if the Demopublican party's candidate's picture was shown colorful and vibrant, while the Republicrat candidate's picture was washed out black and white? What if the major parties get their candidates on giant buttons, while the Yellow party's candidate is in 8-point font?

Imagine a hotly contested state where voter turnout is expected to be the deciding factor in a Senate race. If enough people turn out, it's likely the Demopublican will win; if few people show up the Republicrat will probably win. A Republicrat sympathizer sneaks in and "changes" the code so that the presidential race is displayed first, followed by the house representative, followed by the governor, then the state house, the state senate, then a dozen district judges, the mayor, the city council, the watershed manager, the dog catcher, and finally the senatorial race. On the bottom of each slate is a giant "I'm done, no more voting for me" button. By the fourth judge nobody's ever heard of, lots of people give up and stop filling out their ballots, or they repeatedly hit "next", "next", "next" until they see "done", then grab their ballot and rush off to work because they're already late. By changing the order of the slates, the Republicrat has affected the outcome of the election, yet the tabulation is 100% accurately counted.

That's why Open Source is important.

Re:Who cares about OS e-voting software anyway? (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582355)

Interesting. Based on your comment, I think there should be, close to the end but not at the end. One additional ballot question. "I wish to have my ballot counted." If that's not checked, "yes" then no effort needs to be expended actually tallying the rest of the choices.

Re:Who cares about OS e-voting software anyway? (2, Insightful)

plover (150551) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582605)

That's dangerously close to literacy testing, [wikipedia.org] used to disenfranchise the black voters during Jim Crow. Theoretically, pictures of the candidates could reduce the need to ask an election judge for assistance in voting by someone who is illiterate. And an electronic ballot could ease language issues, especially on non-candidate questions such as constitutional amendments.

But on the whole, I actually agree mostly with the top level poster in that pencil and paper are perfectly adequate to the task of recording elections. I just listed the only advantages I can think of with electronic voting booths over paper and pencil. Otherwise, electronic solutions are trouble-prone, controversial, and will always be suspect. Speed of reporting results to the news media is not guaranteed by the Constitution -- that's why it provides for two months to elapse between the election and the candidate taking office. Last minute candidate changes are similarly not guaranteed -- the secretaries of state are responsible for distributing ballots, and are typically given a month or more by statute in which to do it. The old system is not broken, and does not require electronics to fix.

Re:Who cares about OS e-voting software anyway? (1)

M. Baranczak (726671) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582243)

The whole problem with e-voting is in transparency of the process. Does Open Source inside such a machine change that?
Of course it changes it. Open source doesn't guarantee transparency, it's just one of the basic prerequisites for having transparency. You still have to verify the DB against the paper trail, audit the software that was used to compile the code, audit the hardware, etc.

Re:Who cares about OS e-voting software anyway? (2, Informative)

trianglman (1024223) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582939)

Can you see what compiler was used to turn source into binary? Can you verify that published source/binaries are the same as what's inside the machine in front of you? Can you verify that the hardware is the same as what the software is expected to run on? Can you verify that the hardware works as intended (like, no memory errors etc)? I expect that for most (or all) of these questions, the answer will be: no, not really.

Actually the answer is, in general, yes. The software vendors must turn over "source code, object code, and executable representation of the voting system software for use in an election" (from the bill [govtrack.us] ). And where the answer is no (hardware) it will be tested by NIST. I have dealt with the NIST and they are nothing if not AR.

For once, I have read a technology bill that actually make sense and is well written. What will happen to it in committee and beyond is any body's guess, but as it stands right now, this is a good bill.

As far as your complaints about a paper trail, the point of the paper trail is to have a physical back-up in case of a dispute. In general, the electronic vote is what will be considered. However, at least one precinct per county (plus any disputes) will be audited at random with the results made public. This means that both have their place, the electronic voting machines for easier voter use and verification (the voter has to check the paper ballot and make sure its accurate), and the paper trail, mixed with auditing, to make sure those results are accurate. If this piece of legislation goes through, it will remove the 'hanging chad' issues we saw in Florida, while at the same time giving the people the ability to make sure that their votes don't just go into a black box with the hope that it will come out the same on the other side.

Re:Who cares about OS e-voting software anyway? (1)

ppanon (16583) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582945)

If you want quicker results, organise better or get more people to count votes.
A good idea, and how we do it in Canada (and many other western developed nations). The problem is that you live in the United States of Apathy.

Re:Who cares about OS e-voting software anyway? (1)

neomunk (913773) | more than 7 years ago | (#18583639)

1:Can you see what compiler was used to turn source into binary? 2:Can you verify that published source/binaries are the same as what's inside the machine in front of you? 3:Can you verify that the hardware is the same as what the software is expected to run on? 4:Can you verify that the hardware works as intended (like, no memory errors etc)? 5:I expect that for most (or all) of these questions, the answer will be: no, not really.
I added some numbers to save myself some cutnpaste... :-)

Alrighty, one at a time...

1: Yes. There are plenty of open source compilers available. But what about the compiler THEY are compiled with? Okay then, lets go back a few decades and start compiling up open source compilers in as many steps as you need to compile a compiler for the language(s) that you're writing the voting software in, starting with some old copy of Bell Labs C or something, where the original binary compiler is assuredly not compromised in any way pertinent to the voting software. Do this once, openly, transparently and get a lovely golden and truely sacred copy of gcc or whatever.

2: Yes, with a little LCD screen with the binary's MD5 or something. It can be done if you really want actual VOTER verification of the binaries. Of course, this is not very hard to verify at the factory, or even at startup by administrators that can follow directions.

3: Yes? I don't understand this question exactly. Yes, you can know what machine the software is running on by designing a voting machine and writing software for it. Can the voter verify this? Well, no, not directly. Well maybe, but that would be complex. BUT, the same goes for tabulation of the vote with paper ballots, although the transparency isn't in the hardware, but the room itself. See, you don't necessarily get to watch them count it (at least not here) but a representative of both of the 2 biggest parties do, if I understand correctly. Now, knowing that there is SOME trust involved, you could have a couple of partisan or independant engineers look it over. If you're talking modification on the level of fake processors and such, well, that level of conspiracy will find a way to infiltrate ANY election more complex than a 'raise your hands'

4: Yes. The vast majority of hardware errors are caught in any reasonable production line. Those that are not are usually very evident if the machine undergoes a good burn-in test battery. The probability of a random hardware error changing the outcome of your vote is ridiculously near zero. Papaer ballot doesn't print? Swap in a new printer, like at the grocery store. You have to vote over again (and any decent software will cancel your vote and TELL YOU LOUDLY THAT IT HAS DONE SO (like that, but with bigger letters, flashing red text and maybe even sound!) at the first sign of problems) but that's not asking too much.

5: Well, that's a whole lotta yeses on the board. It's a bit late, and I don't know if I explained myself right, but I think it's about right. Paper ballots are great, except when some court tells you that it doesn't matter that you haven't gotten the same count twice, it's close enough. When the e-voting get to the point (like this law could likely take it) that it displays the ballot correctly, prints the paper correctly, and counts the votes correctly (with the paper ballot counts *gasp* MATCHING the e-votes) you'll find that paper seems to be the stuff that doesn't matter so much anymore... Still though, I'd like to keep it around, err on the side of caution and all that.

Frankly though, paper ballots have their own problems, mostly due to human corruption. With a proper e-voting machine we could make their bastardly jobs much MUCH harder.

Good, but so what? (0, Flamebait)

Seumas (6865) | more than 7 years ago | (#18580825)

I'm all for auditable voting, but what kind of naive idealist would expect this to make any difference whatsoever? And even if it did, there is a worse problem than which of two assholes wins the vote. Such as - you know - which assholes are accepted enough by the corporations, religious nuts and lobbiest groups in the first place to even become viable candidates.

This would be a good move (though a little late), but it's little more than picking one kernel of corn out of a large, steaming pile of political shit.

Re:Good, but so what? (1)

badboy_tw2002 (524611) | more than 7 years ago | (#18580877)

Its not just national politics - the election has to be pretty close and have a pretty far reaching collusion of districts to really make a difference. Its also state & local politics, where fraud at one precinct or county can really make a difference in the outcome of the election.

There is no Excuse for laziness. (4, Informative)

Irvu (248207) | more than 7 years ago | (#18580965)

Yes, this bill will not solve every problem with our political system but what kind of an excuse is there for whining? By your reasoning we shouldn't have bothered with the Clean Air act because it didn't address water pollution or the Clean Water Act because it didn't address air pollution, nor should we have bothered with the endangered species act because it did nothing about outsourcing.

This bill will not fix every problem that plagues our election system. It will fix some of the problems. Is that sufficient reason to pass it? Oh Hell Yes!

Re:There is no Excuse for laziness. (2, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581017)

No, by my reasoning we shouldn't enact legislation when it's just for show and has no actual benefit. Perhaps I will change my tune when there is some challenge made and all of these paper receipts somehow prove useful in changing an unfair outcome.

Re:There is no Excuse for laziness. (1)

Irvu (248207) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581151)

At present the places without paper receips (vis Sarasota Florida, Maryland, etc) are the ones with real problem. States like New Mexico which had up to 10% vote losses among minorities during the 2004 election have switched to optical scanners with audits and have not looked back. Are they perfect? No. Are they a whole hell of a lot better off than they were? Oh yes.

Re:There is no Excuse for laziness. (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18581205)

Frankly, it's amazing that it even took this long to get a bill that's at least partly decent, since the previous electronic voting bills (both passed and proposed) were so weak on common sense and good functionality. Like LBJ said,

You [should] not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harm it would cause if improperly administered.
This bill at least reduces a lot of the possible bads.

Re:There is no Excuse for laziness. (0, Redundant)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581459)

An AC said something that I think deserves a ride on my karmic coattails...

Frankly, it's amazing that it even took this long to get a bill that's at least partly decent, since the previous electronic voting bills (both passed and proposed) were so weak on common sense and good functionality. Like LBJ said,

You [should] not examine legislation in the light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in the light of the wrongs it would do and the harm it would cause if improperly administered.
This bill at least reduces a lot of the possible bads

Re:Good, but so what? (5, Insightful)

zCyl (14362) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581211)

Such as - you know - which assholes are accepted enough by the corporations, religious nuts and lobbiest groups in the first place to even become viable candidates.

What good is a viable candidate if your vote doesn't count anyway? Accurate voting is an essential element of a democracy, and so it MUST be in place.

If you want a better system, you need to support each component of that better system when it comes along. Sticking your head in the sand and waiting for everything to completely match your dream world isn't going to get you anywhere.

One item this bill is missing.... (1)

raehl (609729) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581639)

Voting machines must be allocated to voting districts in a manner proportional to the districts' populations.

That's "Adherents" (2, Informative)

BarnabyWilde (948425) | more than 7 years ago | (#18580827)

Yes, it matters.

Text of the bill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18580905)

HR 811 IH

110th CONGRESS

1st Session

H. R. 811

To amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to require a voter-verified permanent paper ballot under title III of such Act, and for other purposes.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

February 5, 2007

Mr. HOLT (for himself, Mr. TOM DAVIS of Virginia, Mr. WEXLER, Mr. EMANUEL, Mr. PETRI, Mr. WOLF, Mr. LEWIS of Georgia, Mr. LANGEVIN, Mr. COOPER, Mrs. JONES of Ohio, Mr. CLAY, Mr. SHAYS, Ms. KAPTUR, Mr. ENGLISH of Pennsylvania, Mr. HASTINGS of Florida, Mr. RAMSTAD, Mr. MEEK of Florida, Mr. ISSA, Mr. CUMMINGS, Mrs. BIGGERT, Ms. LEE, Mr. CASTLE, Ms. KILPATRICK of Michigan, Mr. KUHL of New York, Ms. CORRINE BROWN of Florida, Mr. MACK, Mr. SCOTT of Virginia, Mr. ABERCROMBIE, Mr. ACKERMAN, Mr. ALLEN, Mr. BECERRA, Ms. BERKLEY, Mr. BERMAN, Mr. BERRY, Mr. BISHOP of Georgia, Mr. BLUMENAUER, Mr. BOREN, Mr. BOSWELL, Mr. BOUCHER, Mr. BOYD of Florida, Mr. BRADY of Pennsylvania, Mr. BRALEY of Iowa, Mr. BUTTERFIELD, Mrs. CAPPS, Mr. CARNAHAN, Mr. CHANDLER, Mr. COHEN, Mr. COSTA, Mr. COSTELLO, Mr. COURTNEY, Mr. CROWLEY, Mr. DAVIS of Illinois, Mr. LINCOLN DAVIS of Tennessee, Mrs. DAVIS of California, Mr. DEFAZIO, Ms. DEGETTE, Mr. DELAHUNT, Ms. DELAURO, Mr. DICKS, Mr. DINGELL, Mr. DOGGETT, Mr. DOYLE, Mr. EDWARDS, Mr. ELLISON, Mr. ENGEL, Ms. ESHOO, Mr. ETHERIDGE, Mr. FATTAH, Mr. FILNER, Mr. FORTUN.AE6O, Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts, Mrs. GILLIBRAND, Mr. GONZALEZ, Mr. GORDON of Tennessee, Mr. GENE GREEN of Texas, Mr. GRIJALVA, Mr. GUTIERREZ, Mr. HALL of New York, Ms. HARMAN, Ms. HERSETH, Mr. HIGGINS, Mr. HINCHEY, Ms. HIRONO, Mr. HODES, Mr. HOLDEN, Mr. HONDA, Ms. HOOLEY, Mr. INSLEE, Ms. JACKSON-LEE of Texas, Mr. JEFFERSON, Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas, Mr. JOHNSON of Georgia, Mr. KAGEN, Mr. KENNEDY, Mr. KILDEE, Mr. KIND, Mr. KLEIN of Florida, Mr. KUCINICH, Mr. LANTOS, Mr. LARSEN of Washington, Mr. LOEBSACK, Mrs. LOWEY, Mrs. MCCARTHY of New York, Ms. MCCOLLUM of Minnesota, Mr. MCINTYRE, Mr. MCNULTY, Mrs. MALONEY of New York, Mr. MARSHALL, Mr. MATHESON, Ms. MATSUI, Mr. MELANCON, Mr. MICHAUD, Mr. MILLER of North Carolina, Mr. GEORGE MILLER of California, Mr. MITCHELL, Mr. MOLLOHAN, Mr. MOORE of Kansas, Mr. MORAN of Virginia, Mr. PATRICK J. MURPHY of Pennsylvania, Mr. NADLER, Mrs. NAPOLITANO, Ms. NORTON, Mr. OBERSTAR, Mr. OBEY, Mr. OLVER, Mr. ORTIZ, Mr. PALLONE, Mr. PASTOR, Mr. PAYNE, Mr. PETERSON of Minnesota, Mr. PRICE of North Carolina, Mr. REYES, Mr. ROTHMAN, Ms. ROYBAL-ALLARD, Mr. RUPPERSBERGER, Mr. SALAZAR, Ms. LINDA T. SANCHEZ of California, Ms. LORETTA SANCHEZ of California, Ms. SCHAKOWSKY, Mr. SCHIFF, Ms. SCHWARTZ, Mr. SCOTT of Georgia, Mr. SERRANO, Mr. SHERMAN, Mr. SHULER, Ms. SLAUGHTER, Mr. SMITH of Washington, Ms. SOLIS, Mr. SPRATT, Mr. STARK, Mr. STUPAK, Ms. SUTTON, Mr. TANNER, Mrs. TAUSCHER, Mr. TAYLOR, Mr. TIERNEY, Mr. TOWNS, Mr. UDALL of Colorado, Mr. VAN HOLLEN, Mr. WALZ of Minnesota, Ms. WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, Ms. WATERS, Ms. WATSON, Mr. WAXMAN, Mr. WEINER, Ms. WOOLSEY, Mr. WU, Mr. WYNN, and Mr. ALTMIRE) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on House Administration

A BILL

To amend the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to require a voter-verified permanent paper ballot under title III of such Act, and for other purposes.

  • Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

  • This Act may be cited as the `Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007'.

SEC. 2. PROMOTING ACCURACY, INTEGRITY, AND SECURITY THROUGH VOTER-VERIFIED PERMANENT PAPER BALLOT.

  • (a) Ballot Verification and Audit Capacity-

    • (1) IN GENERAL- Section 301(a)(2) of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (42 U.S.C. 15481(a)(2)) is amended to read as follows:

    • `(2) BALLOT VERIFICATION AND AUDIT CAPACITY-

      • `(A) IN GENERAL-

      • `(i) The voting system shall require the use of or produce an individual voter-verified paper ballot of the voter's vote that shall be created by or made available for inspection and verification by the voter before the voter's vote is cast and counted. For purposes of this clause, examples of such a ballot include a paper ballot marked by the voter for the purpose of being counted by hand or read by an optical scanner or other similar device, a paper ballot prepared by the voter to be mailed to an election official (whether from a domestic or overseas location), a paper ballot created through the use of a ballot marking device or system, or a paper ballot produced by a touch screen or other electronic voting machine, so long as in each case the voter is permitted to verify the ballot in a paper form in accordance with this subparagraph.

      • `(ii) The voting system shall provide the voter with an opportunity to correct any error made by the system in the voter-verified paper ballot before the permanent voter-verified paper ballot is preserved in accordance with subparagraph (B)(i).

      • `(iii) The voting system shall not preserve the voter-verifiable paper ballots in any manner that makes it possible, at any time after the ballot has been cast, to associate a voter with the record of the voter's vote.

      • `(B) MANUAL AUDIT CAPACITY-

      • `(i) The permanent voter-verified paper ballot produced in accordance with subparagraph (A) shall be preserved--

      • `(I) in the case of votes cast at the polling place on the date of the election, within the polling place in the manner or method in which all other paper ballots are preserved within such polling place;

      • `(II) in the case of votes cast at the polling place prior to the date of the election or cast by mail, in a manner which is consistent with the manner employed by the jurisdiction for preserving such ballots in general; or

      • `(III) in the absence of either such manner or method, in a manner which is consistent with the manner employed by the jurisdiction for preserving paper ballots in general.

      • `(ii) Each paper ballot produced pursuant to subparagraph (A) shall be suitable for a manual audit equivalent to that of a paper ballot voting system.

      • `(iii) In the event of any inconsistencies or irregularities between any electronic vote tallies and the vote tallies determined by counting by hand the individual permanent paper ballots produced pursuant to subparagraph (A), and subject to subparagraph (D), the individual permanent paper ballots shall be the true and correct record of the votes cast and shall be used as the official ballots for purposes of any recount or audit conducted with respect to any election for Federal office in which the voting system is used.

      • `(C) SPECIAL RULE FOR VOTES CAST BY ABSENT MILITARY AND OVERSEAS VOTERS- In the case of votes cast by absent uniformed services voters and overseas voters under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, the ballots cast by such voters shall serve as the permanent paper ballot under subparagraph (A) in accordance with protocols established by the Commission, in consultation with the Secretary of Defense after notice and opportunity for public comment, which preserve the privacy of the voter and are consistent with the requirements of such Act and this Act, except that to the extent that such protocols permit the use of electronic mail in the delivery or submission of such ballots, paragraph (11) shall not apply with respect to the delivery or submission of the ballots.

      • `(D) SPECIAL RULE FOR TREATMENT OF DISPUTES WHEN PAPER BALLOTS HAVE BEEN SHOWN TO BE COMPROMISED- In the event of any inconsistency between any electronic vote tallies and the vote tallies determined by counting by hand the individual permanent paper ballots produced pursuant to subparagraph (A), any person seeking to show that the electronic vote tally should be given preference in determining the official count for the election shall be required to demonstrate, by clear and convincing evidence, that the paper ballots have been compromised (by damage or mischief or otherwise) and that a sufficient number of the ballots have been so compromised that the result of the election would be changed. For purposes of the previous sentence, the paper ballots associated with each voting machine shall be considered on a voting-machine-by-voting-machine basis, and only the sets of paper ballots deemed compromised, if any, shall be considered in the calculation of whether or not the election would be changed due to the compromised paper ballots.'.

    • (2) CONFORMING AMENDMENT CLARIFYING APPLICABILITY OF ALTERNATIVE LANGUAGE ACCESSIBILITY- Section 301(a)(4) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 15481(a)(4)) is amended by inserting `(including the paper ballots required to be produced under paragraph (2) and the notice required under paragraph (8))' after `voting system'.

    • (3) OTHER CONFORMING AMENDMENTS- Section 301(a)(1) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 15481(a)(1)) is amended--

      • (A) in subparagraph (A)(i), by striking `counted' and inserting `counted, in accordance with paragraphs (2) and (3)';

      • (B) in subparagraph (A)(ii), by striking `counted' and inserting `counted, in accordance with paragraphs (2) and (3)';

      • (C) in subparagraph (A)(iii), as amended by paragraph (2), by striking `counted' each place it appears and inserting `counted, in accordance with paragraphs (2) and (3)'; and

      • (D) in subparagraph (B)(ii), by striking `counted' and inserting `counted, in accordance with paragraphs (2) and (3)'.

  • (b) Accessibility and Ballot Verification for Individuals With Disabilities-

    • (1) IN GENERAL- Section 301(a)(3)(B) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 15481(a)(3)(B)) is amended to read as follows:

      • `(B)(i) satisfy the requirement of subparagraph (A) through the use of at least one voting system equipped for individuals with disabilities at each polling place; and

      • `(ii) meet the requirements of subparagraph (A) and paragraph (2)(A) by using a system that--

      • `(I) allows the voter to privately and independently verify the content of the permanent paper ballot through the conversion of the printed content into accessible media, and

      • `(II) ensures that the entire process of ballot verification and vote casting is equipped for individuals with disabilities.'.

    • (2) SPECIFIC REQUIREMENT OF STUDY, TESTING, AND DEVELOPMENT OF ACCESSIBLE BALLOT VERIFICATION MECHANISMS-

      • (A) STUDY AND REPORTING- Subtitle C of title II of such Act (42 U.S.C. 15381 et seq.) is amended--

      • (i) by redesignating section 247 as section 248; and

      • (ii) by inserting after section 246 the following new section:

`SEC. 247. STUDY AND REPORT ON ACCESSIBLE BALLOT VERIFICATION MECHANISMS.

  • `(a) Study and Report- The Director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology shall study, test, and develop best practices to enhance the accessibility of ballot verification mechanisms for individuals with disabilities, for voters whose primary language is not English, and for voters with difficulties in literacy, including best practices for the mechanisms themselves and the processes through which the mechanisms are used. In carrying out this section, the Director shall specifically investigate existing and potential methods or devices that will assist such individuals and voters in creating voter-verified paper ballots and in reading or transmitting the information printed or marked on such ballots back to such individuals and voters.

  • `(b) Deadline- The Director shall complete the requirements of subsection (a) not later than January 1, 2010.

  • `(c) Authorization of Appropriations- There are authorized to be appropriated to carry out subsection (a) $1,000,000, to remain available until expended.'.

      • (B) CLERICAL AMENDMENT- The table of contents of such Act is amended--

      • (i) by redesignating the item relating to section 247 as relating to section 248; and

      • (ii) by inserting after the item relating to section 246 the following new item:

    • `Sec. 247. Study and report on accessible voter verification mechanisms.'.

    • (3) CLARIFICATION OF ACCESSIBILITY STANDARDS UNDER VOLUNTARY VOTING SYSTEM GUIDANCE- In adopting any voluntary guidance under subtitle B of title III of the Help America Vote Act with respect to the accessibility of the ballot verification requirements for individuals with disabilities, the Election Assistance Commission shall include and apply the same accessibility standards applicable under the voluntary guidance adopted for accessible voting systems under such subtitle.

  • (c) Additional Voting System Requirements-

    • (1) REQUIREMENTS DESCRIBED- Section 301(a) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 15481(a)) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraphs:

    • `(7) INSTRUCTION OF ELECTION OFFICIALS- Each State shall ensure that all election officials are instructed on the right of any individual who requires assistance to vote by reason of blindness, other disability, or inability to read or write to be given assistance by a person chosen by that individual under section 208 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

    • `(8) INSTRUCTION REMINDING VOTERS OF IMPORTANCE OF VERIFYING PAPER BALLOT-

      • `(A) IN GENERAL- The appropriate election official at each polling place shall cause to be placed in a prominent location in the polling place a notice containing the following statement, in boldface type, large font, and using only upper-case letters: `THE PAPER BALLOT REPRESENTING YOUR VOTE SHALL SERVE AS THE VOTE OF RECORD IN ALL RECOUNTS AND AUDITS. DO NOT LEAVE THE VOTING BOOTH UNTIL YOU HAVE CONFIRMED THAT IT ACCURATELY RECORDS YOUR VOTE'.

      • `(B) SYSTEMS FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES- All voting systems equipped for individuals with disabilities shall transmit by accessible media the statement referred to in subparagraph (A), as well as an explanation of the verification process described in paragraph (3)(B)(ii).

    • `(9) PROHIBITION OF USE OF UNDISCLOSED SOFTWARE IN VOTING SYSTEMS- No voting system used in an election for Federal office shall at any time contain or use any software not certified by the State for use in the election or any software undisclosed to the State in the certification process. The appropriate election official shall disclose, in electronic form, the source code, object code, and executable representation of the voting system software and firmware to the Commission, including ballot programming files, and the Commission shall make that source code, object code, executable representation, and ballot programming files available for inspection promptly upon request to any person.

    • `(10) PROHIBITION OF USE OF WIRELESS COMMUNICATIONS DEVICES IN VOTING SYSTEMS- No voting system shall contain, use, or be accessible by any wireless, power-line, remote, wide area, or concealed communication device at all.

    • `(11) PROHIBITING CONNECTION OF SYSTEM OR TRANSMISSION OF SYSTEM INFORMATION OVER THE INTERNET- No component of any voting device upon which votes are cast shall be connected to the Internet at any time.

    • `(12) SECURITY STANDARDS FOR VOTING SYSTEMS USED IN FEDERAL ELECTIONS-

      • `(A) IN GENERAL- No voting system may be used in an election for Federal office unless the manufacturer of such system and the election officials using such system meet the applicable requirements described in subparagraph (B).

      • `(B) REQUIREMENTS DESCRIBED- The requirements described in this subparagraph are as follows:

      • `(i) The manufacturer and the election officials shall document the secure chain of custody for the handling of all software, hardware, vote storage media, and ballots used in connection with voting systems, and shall make the information available upon request to the Commission.

      • `(ii) The manufacturer of the software used in the operation of the system shall provide the appropriate election official with updated information regarding the identification of each individual who participated in the writing of the software, including specific information regarding whether the individual has ever been convicted of a crime involving election, accounting, or computer security fraud.

      • `(iii) The manufacturer shall provide the appropriate election official with the information necessary for the official to provide information to the Commission under paragraph (9).

      • `(iv) After the appropriate election official has certified the source code, object code, and executable representation of the voting system software for use in an election, the manufacturer may not--

      • `(I) alter such codes and representation; or

      • `(II) insert or use in the voting system any software not certified by the State for use in the election.

      • `(v) The appropriate election official shall ensure that all voting machines and related supplies to be used in the election shall remain secured within storage facilities arranged for by the election official, and shall not be removed from such facilities until such time as they are to be delivered to the relevant polling place and secured at the polling place until used in the election.

      • `(vi) The manufacturer shall meet standards established by the Commission to prevent the existence or appearance of any conflict of interest with respect to candidates for public office and political parties, including standards to ensure that the manufacturer's officers and directors do not hold positions of authority in any political party or in any partisan political campaign, and shall certify to the Commission not later than January 31 of each even-numbered year that it meets the standards established under this clause.

      • `(vii) At the request of the Commission, the appropriate election official shall submit information to the Commission regarding the State's compliance with this subparagraph.

    • `(13) DURABILITY AND READABILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR BALLOTS-

      • `(A) DURABILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR PAPER BALLOTS- All voter-verified paper ballots required to be used under this Act (including the emergency paper ballots used under paragraph (14)) shall be marked, printed, or recorded on durable paper of archival quality capable of withstanding multiple counts and recounts without compromising the fundamental integrity of the ballots, and capable of retaining the information marked, printed, or recorded on them for the full duration of the retention and preservation period called for by title III of the Civil Rights Act of 1960 (42 U.S.C. 1974 et seq.) or under applicable State law, whichever is longer.

      • `(B) READABILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR MACHINE-MARKED OR PRINTED PAPER BALLOTS- All voter-verified paper ballots marked or printed through the use of a marking or printing device shall be clearly readable by the naked eye and by a scanner or other device equipped for voters with disabilities.

    • `(14) PROHIBITING TURNING INDIVIDUALS AWAY FROM POLLING PLACES BECAUSE OF PROBLEMS WITH OR SHORTAGES OF EQUIPMENT, BALLOTS, OR SUPPLIES-

      • `(A) ENSURING ADEQUATE EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES- Each State shall ensure that the voting systems it uses to conduct elections for Federal office are designed in a manner that ensures that no voter will be unable to cast a ballot at a polling place due to a shortage or failure of voting equipment, ballots, or necessary supplies.

      • `(B) USE OF EMERGENCY PAPER BALLOTS IN CASE OF SYSTEM OR EQUIPMENT FAILURE- In the event of the failure of voting equipment or other circumstance at a polling place that causes a delay, any individual who is waiting at the polling place to cast a ballot in an election for Federal office and who would be delayed due to such failure or other circumstance shall be advised immediately of the individual's right to use an emergency paper ballot, and upon request shall be provided with an emergency paper ballot for the election and the supplies necessary to mark the ballot. Any emergency paper ballot which is cast by an individual under this subparagraph shall be counted and otherwise treated as a regular ballot and not as a provisional ballot, unless the individual casting the ballot would have otherwise been required to cast a provisional ballot if the voting equipment at the polling place had not failed.'.

    • (2) REQUIRING LABORATORIES TO MEET STANDARDS PROHIBITING CONFLICTS OF INTEREST AS CONDITION OF ACCREDITATION FOR TESTING OF VOTING SYSTEM HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE-

      • (A) IN GENERAL- Section 231(b) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 15371(b)) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraphs:

    • `(3) PROHIBITING CONFLICTS OF INTEREST; ENSURING AVAILABILITY OF RESULTS-

      • `(A) IN GENERAL- A laboratory may not be accredited by the Commission for purposes of this section unless--

      • `(i) the laboratory certifies that the only compensation it receives for the testing carried out in connection with the certification, decertification, and recertification of the manufacturer's voting system hardware and software is the payment made from the Testing Escrow Account under paragraph (4);

      • `(ii) the laboratory meets the standards applicable to the manufacturers of voting systems under section 301(a)(11)(B)(vi), together with such standards as the Commission shall establish (after notice and opportunity for public comment) to prevent the existence or appearance of any conflict of interest in the testing carried out by the laboratory under this section, including standards to ensure that the laboratory does not have a financial interest in the manufacture, sale, and distribution of voting system hardware and software, and is sufficiently independent from other persons with such an interest;

      • `(iii) the laboratory certifies that it will permit an expert designated by the Commission to observe any testing the laboratory carries out under this section; and

      • `(iv) the laboratory, upon completion of any testing carried out under this section, discloses the test protocols, results, and all communication between the laboratory and the manufacturer to the Commission.

      • `(B) AVAILABILITY OF RESULTS- Upon receipt of information under subparagraph (A), the Commission shall make the information available promptly to election officials and the public.

    • `(4) PROCEDURES FOR CONDUCTING TESTING; PAYMENT OF USER FEES FOR COMPENSATION OF ACCREDITED LABORATORIES-

      • `(A) ESTABLISHMENT OF ESCROW ACCOUNT- The Commission shall establish an escrow account (to be known as the `Testing Escrow Account') for making payments to accredited laboratories for the costs of the testing carried out in connection with the certification, decertification, and recertification of voting system hardware and software.

      • `(B) SCHEDULE OF FEES- In consultation with the accredited laboratories, the Commission shall establish and regularly update a schedule of fees for the testing carried out in connection with the certification, decertification, and recertification of voting system hardware and software, based on the reasonable costs expected to be incurred by the accredited laboratories in carrying out the testing for various types of hardware and software.

      • `(C) REQUESTS AND PAYMENTS BY MANUFACTURERS- A manufacturer of voting system hardware and software may not have the hardware or software tested by an accredited laboratory under this section unless--

      • `(i) the manufacturer submits a detailed request for the testing to the Commission; and

      • `(ii) the manufacturer pays to the Commission, for deposit into the Testing Escrow Account established under subparagraph (A), the applicable fee under the schedule established and in effect under subparagraph (B).

      • `(D) SELECTION OF LABORATORY- Upon receiving a request for testing and the payment from a manufacturer required under subparagraph (C), the Commission shall select at random, from all laboratories which are accredited under this section to carry out the specific testing requested by the manufacturer, an accredited laboratory to carry out the testing.

      • `(E) PAYMENTS TO LABORATORIES- Upon receiving a certification from a laboratory selected to carry out testing pursuant to subparagraph (D) that the testing is completed, along with a copy of the results of the test as required under paragraph (3)(A)(iii), the Commission shall make a payment to the laboratory from the Testing Escrow Account established under subparagraph (A) in an amount equal to the applicable fee paid by the manufacturer under subparagraph (C)(ii).

    • `(5) DISSEMINATION OF ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON ACCREDITED LABORATORIES-

      • `(A) INFORMATION ON TESTING- Upon completion of the testing of a voting system under this section, the Commission shall promptly disseminate to the public the identification of the laboratory which carried out the testing.

      • `(B) LABORATORIES WITH ACCREDITATION REVOKED OR SUSPENDED- If the Commission revokes, terminates, or suspends the accreditation of a laboratory under this section, the Commission shall promptly notify Congress, the chief State election official of each State, and the public.'.

      • (B) CONFORMING AMENDMENTS- Section 231 of such Act (42 U.S.C. 15371) is further amended--

      • (i) in subsection (a)(1), by striking `testing, certification,' and all that follows and inserting the following: `testing of voting system hardware and software by accredited laboratories in connection with the certification, decertification, and recertification of the hardware and software for purposes of this Act.';

      • (ii) in subsection (a)(2), by striking `testing, certification,' and all that follows and inserting the following: `testing of its voting system hardware and software by the laboratories accredited by the Commission under this section in connection with certifying, decertifying, and recertifying the hardware and software.';

      • (iii) in subsection (b)(1), by striking `testing, certification, decertification, and recertification' and inserting `testing'; and

      • (iv) in subsection (d), by striking `testing, certification, decertification, and recertification' each place it appears and inserting `testing'.

      • (C) DEADLINE FOR ESTABLISHMENT OF STANDARDS AND ESCROW ACCOUNT- The Election Assistance Commission shall establish the standards described in section 231(b)(3) of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 and the Testing Escrow Account described in section 231(b)(4) of such Act (as added by subparagraph (A)) not later than January 1, 2008.

    • (3) SPECIAL CERTIFICATION OF BALLOT DURABILITY AND READABILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR STATES NOT CURRENTLY USING PAPER BALLOTS- If any of the voting systems used in a State for the regularly scheduled 2006 general elections for Federal office did not operate by having voters cast votes on paper ballots (such as through the use of an optical scan voting system), the State shall certify to the Election Assistance Commission not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act that the State will be in compliance with the requirements of section 301(a)(13) of the Help America Vote of 2002, as added by paragraph (1), in accordance with the deadline established under this Act, and shall include in the certification the methods by which the State will meet the requirements.

  • (d) Availability of Additional Funding to Enable States to Meet Costs of Revised Requirements-

    • (1) EXTENSION OF REQUIREMENTS PAYMENTS FOR MEETING REVISED REQUIREMENTS- Section 257(a) of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (42 U.S.C. 15407(a) is amended by adding at the end the following new paragraph:

    • `(4) For fiscal year 2007, $300,000,000, except that any funds provided under the authorization made by this paragraph shall be used by a State only to meet the requirements of title III which are first imposed on the State pursuant to the amendments made by section 2 of the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007, or to otherwise modify or replace its voting systems in response to such amendments.'.

    • (2) USE OF REVISED FORMULA FOR ALLOCATION OF FUNDS- Section 252(b) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 15402(b)) is amended to read as follows:

  • `(b) State Allocation Percentage Defined-

    • `(1) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in paragraph (2), the `State allocation percentage' for a State is the amount (expressed as a percentage) equal to the quotient of--

      • `(A) the voting age population of the State (as reported in the most recent decennial census); and

      • `(B) the total voting age population of all States (as reported in the most recent decennial census).

    • `(2) SPECIAL RULE FOR PAYMENTS FOR FISCAL YEAR 2007-

      • `(A) IN GENERAL- In the case of the requirements payment made to a State for fiscal year 2007, the `State allocation percentage' for a State is the amount (expressed as a percentage) equal to the quotient of--

      • `(i) the number of remedial precincts in the State; and

      • `(ii) the total number of remedial precincts in all States.

      • `(B) REMEDIAL PRECINCT DEFINED- In this paragraph, a `remedial precinct' means any precinct (or equivalent location) within the State for which the voting system used to administer the regularly scheduled general election for Federal office held in November 2006--

      • `(i) did not use paper as the medium for vote casting, or if the system used paper, did not use durable paper of archival quality; or

      • `(ii) did not provide that the entire process of ballot verification was equipped for individuals with disabilities.'.

    • (3) INCREASE IN STATE MINIMUM SHARE OF PAYMENT- Section 252(c) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 15402(c)) is amended--

      • (A) in paragraph (1), by inserting after `one-half of 1 percent' the following: `(or, in the case of the payment made for fiscal year 2007, 1 percent)'; and

      • (B) in paragraph (2), by inserting after `one-tenth of 1 percent' the following: `(or, in the case of the payment made for fiscal year 2007, one-half of 1 percent)'.

    • (4) REVISED CONDITIONS FOR RECEIPT OF FUNDS- Section 253 of such Act (42 U.S.C. 15403) is amended--

      • (A) in subsection (a), by striking `A State is eligible' and inserting `Except as provided in subsection (f), a State is eligible'; and

      • (B) by adding at the end the following new subsection:

  • `(f) Special Rule for Fiscal Year 2007- Notwithstanding any other provision of this part, a State is eligible to receive a requirements payment for fiscal year 2007 if--

    • `(1) not later than 30 days after the date of the enactment of the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007, the State certifies to the Commission the number of remedial precincts in the State (as defined in section 252(b)(2)(B)); and

    • `(2) not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of such Act, the chief executive officer of the State, or designee, in consultation and coordination with the chief State election official, has filed a statement with the Commission describing the State's need for the payment and how the State will use the payment to meet the requirements of title III (in accordance with the limitations applicable to the use of the payment under section 257(a)(4)).'.

    • (5) PERMITTING USE OF FUNDS FOR REIMBURSEMENT FOR COSTS PREVIOUSLY INCURRED- Section 251(c)(1) of such Act (42 U.S.C. 15401(c)(1)) is amended by striking the period at the end and inserting the following: `, or as a reimbursement for any costs incurred in meeting the requirements of title III which are imposed pursuant to the amendments made by section 2 of the Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act of 2007 or in otherwise modifying or replacing voting systems in response to such amendments.'.

    • (6) RULE OF CONSTRUCTION REGARDING STATES RECEIVING OTHER FUNDS FOR REPLACING PUNCH CARD, LEVER, OR OTHER VOTING MACHINES- Nothing in the amendments made by this subsection or in any other provision of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 may be construed to prohibit a State which received or was authorized to receive a payment under title I or II of such Act for replacing punch card, lever, or other voting machines from receiving or using any funds which are made available under the amendments made by this subsection.

    • (7) EFFECTIVE DATE- The amendments made by this subsection shall apply with respect to fiscal years beginning with fiscal year 2007.

SEC. 3. ENHANCEMENT OF ENFORCEMENT OF HELP AMERICA VOTE ACT OF 2002.

  • Section 401 of such Act (42 U.S.C. 15511) is amended--

    • (1) by striking `The Attorney General' and inserting `(a) In General- The Attorney General'; and

    • (2) by adding at the end the following new subsections:

  • `(b) Filing of Complaints by Aggrieved Persons-

    • `(1) IN GENERAL- A person who is aggrieved by a violation of section 301, 302, or 303 which has occurred, is occurring, or is about to occur may file a written, signed, notarized complaint with the Attorney General describing the violation and requesting the Attorney General to take appropriate action under this section.

    • `(2) RESPONSE BY ATTORNEY GENERAL- The Attorney General shall respond to each complaint filed under paragraph (1), in accordance with procedures established by the Attorney General that require responses and determinations to be made within the same (or shorter) deadlines which apply to a State under the State-based administrative complaint procedures described in section 402(a)(2).

  • `(c) Clarification of Availability of Private Right of Action- Nothing in this section may be construed to prohibit any person from bringing an action under section 1979 of the Revised Statutes of the United States (42 U.S.C. 1983) (including any individual who seeks to enforce the individual's right to a voter-verified paper ballot, the right to have the voter-verified paper ballot counted in an election, or any other right under subtitle A of title III) to enforce the uniform and nondiscriminatory election technology and administration requirements under sections 301, 302, and 303.

  • `(d) No Effect on State Procedures- Nothing in this section may be construed to affect the availability of the State-based administrative complaint procedures required under section 402 to any person filing a complaint under this subsection.'.

SEC. 4. EXTENSION OF AUTHORIZATION OF ELECTION ASSISTANCE COMMISSION.

  • (a) In General- Section 210 of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (42 U.S.C. 15330) is amended by striking `each of the fiscal years 2003 through 2005' and inserting `each fiscal year beginning with fiscal year 2003'.

  • (b) Effective Date- The amendment made by subsection (a) shall take effect as if included in the enactment of the Help America Vote Act of 2002.

SEC. 5. REQUIREMENT FOR MANDATORY MANUAL AUDITS BY HAND COUNT.

  • (a) Mandatory Manual Audits by Election Audit Boards- Title III of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (42 U.S.C. 15481 et seq.) is amended by adding at the end the following new subtitle:

`Subtitle C--Mandatory Manual Audits by Election Audit Boards

`SEC. 321. ESTABLISHMENT OF ELECTION AUDIT BOARDS.

  • `(a) Establishment- Not later than 60 days before the date of each election for Federal office held in the State, the chief auditor of each State shall appoint an Election Audit Board to administer, without advance notice to the precincts selected, random hand counts of the voter-verified paper ballots required to be produced and preserved pursuant to section 301(a)(2) for each such election held in the State (and, at the option of the State or jurisdiction involved, of elections for State and local office held at the same time as such election).

  • `(b) Composition-

    • `(1) IN GENERAL- Each political party in the State with a candidate in any of the regularly scheduled elections for Federal office held in the State whose candidates in the most recent regularly scheduled general elections in the State received at least 5% of the aggregate number of all votes cast in such elections, together with any independent candidate who received at least 5% of the aggregate number of all votes cast in the most recent regularly scheduled general elections in the State, shall select a qualified individual for appointment to the Election Audit Board of the State.

    • `(2) UNAFFILIATED MEMBERS- In addition to the individuals serving on the Board pursuant to paragraph (1), the chief auditor of the State shall appoint qualified individuals who are not nominated by any political party or candidate and who are not employees or agents of any political party or candidate to serve on the Board. The number of individuals appointed pursuant to this paragraph shall be sufficient to ensure that the total number of individuals serving on the Board is an odd number not less than 7.

    • `(3) QUALIFICATIONS- An individual is qualified to be appointed to the Board if the individual has professional experience in carrying out audits on an impartial basis, and does not have any conflict of interest with the manufacturer or vendor of any voting system which was used in any of the elections that will be audited by the Board.

    • `(4) DIVERSITY IN APPOINTMENTS- In making appointments to the Board, the chief auditor of the State shall (to the greatest extent practicable) ensure that the members of the Board reflect the demographic composition of the voting age population of the State.

  • `(c) Special Rule For Runoff and Special Elections-

    • `(1) RUNOFF ELECTIONS- If a runoff election for Federal office is held in the State, the Election Audit Board which was appointed for the initial election which resulted in the runoff election shall serve as the Election Audit Board with respect to the runoff election.

    • `(2) SPECIAL ELECTIONS- If a special election for Federal office is held in the State (other than a special election held on the same date as the date of a regularly scheduled election for Federal office), the Election Audit Board which was appointed for the most recent regularly scheduled election for Federal office in the State shall serve as the Election Audit Board with respect to the special election.

  • `(d) Chief Auditor Defined- In this subsection, the `chief auditor' of a State is an official of the State government, who, as designated by the Attorney General of the State and certified by the Attorney General of the State to the Commission, is responsible for conducting annual audits of the operations of the government of the State under the laws or constitution of the State, except that in no case may an individual serve as the chief auditor of a State under this subsection if the individual is the chief State election official.

`SEC. 322. NUMBER OF BALLOTS COUNTED UNDER AUDIT.

  • `(a) In General- Except as provided in subsection (b), the number of voter-verified paper ballots which will be subject to a hand count administered by the Election Audit Board of a State under this subtitle with respect to an election shall be determined as follows:

    • `(1) In the event that the unofficial count as described in section 323(a)(1) reveals that the margin of victory between the two candidates receiving the largest number of votes in the election is less than 1 percent of the total votes cast in that election, the hand counts of the voter-verified paper ballots shall occur in 10 percent of all precincts (or equivalent locations) in the Congressional district involved (in the case of an election for the House of Representatives) or the State (in the case of any other election for Federal office).

    • `(2) In the event that the unofficial count as described in section 323(a)(1) reveals that the margin of victory between the two candidates receiving the largest number of votes in the election is greater than or equal to 1 percent but less than 2 percent of the total votes cast in that election, the hand counts of the voter-verified paper ballots shall occur in 5 percent of all precincts (or equivalent locations) in the Congressional district involved (in the case of an election for the House of Representatives) or the State (in the case of any other election for Federal office).

    • `(3) In the event that the unofficial count as described in section 323(a)(1) reveals that the margin of victory between the two candidates receiving the largest number of votes in the election is equal to or greater than 2 percent of the total votes cast in that election, the hand counts of the voter-verified paper ballots shall occur in 3 percent of all precincts (or equivalent locations) in the Congressional district involved (in the case of an election for the House of Representatives) or the State (in the case of any other election for Federal office).

  • `(b) Use of Alternative Mechanism- Notwithstanding subsection (a), a State may adopt and apply an alternative mechanism to determine the number of voter-verified paper ballots which will be subject to the hand counts required under this subtitle with respect to an election, so long as the National Institute of Standards and Technology determines that the alternative mechanism will be at least as effective in ensuring the accuracy of the election results and as transparent as the procedure under subsection (a).

`SEC. 323. PROCESS FOR ADMINISTERING AUDITS.

  • `(a) In General- The Election Audit Board of a State shall administer an audit under this section of the results of an election in accordance with the following procedures:

    • `(1) Within 24 hours after the State announces the final unofficial vote count in each precinct in the State, the Board shall determine and then announce the precincts in the State in which it will administer the audits.

    • `(2) With respect to votes cast at the precinct or equivalent location on or before the date of the election (other than provisional ballots described in paragraph (3)), the Board shall administer the hand count of the votes on the paper voter-verified ballots required to be produced and preserved under section 301(a)(2)(A) and the comparison of the count of the votes on those ballots with the final unofficial count of such votes as announced by the State.

    • `(3) With respect to votes cast other than at the precinct on the date of the election (other than votes cast before the date of the election described in paragraph (2)) or votes cast by provisional ballot on the date of the election which are certified and counted by the State on or after the date of the election, including votes cast by absent uniformed services voters and overseas voters under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, the Board shall administer the hand count of the applicable voter-verified ballots required to be produced and preserved under section 301(a)(2)(A) and section 301(a)(2)(B) and compare the count it administers with the count of such votes as announced by the State.

  • `(b) Special Rule in Case of Delay in Reporting Absentee Vote Count- In the case of a State in which, under State law, the final count of absentee and provisional votes is not announced until after the expiration of the 7-day period which begins on the date of the election, the Election Audit Board shall initiate the process described in subsection (a) for administering the audit not later than 24 hours after the State announces the final unofficial vote count for the votes cast at the precinct or equivalent location on or before the date of the election, and shall initiate the administration of the audit of the absentee and provisional votes pursuant to subsection (a)(3) not later than 24 hours after the State announces the final unofficial count of such votes.

  • `(c) Additional Audits if Cause Shown-

    • `(1) IN GENERAL- If the Election Audit Board finds that any of the hand counts administered under this section do not match the final unofficial tally of the results of an election, the Board shall administer hand counts under this section of such additional precincts (or equivalent jurisdictions) as the Board considers appropriate to resolve any concerns resulting from the audit and ensure the accuracy of the results.

    • `(2) ESTABLISHMENT AND PUBLICATION OF PROCEDURES GOVERNING ADDITIONAL AUDITS- Not later than January 1, 2008, each State shall establish and publish procedures for carrying out the additional audits under this subsection, including the means by which the State shall resolve any concerns resulting from the audit with finality and ensure the accuracy of the results.

  • `(d) Public Observation of Audits- Each audit conducted under this section shall be conducted in a manner that allows public observation of the entire process.

`SEC. 324. SELECTION OF PRECINCTS.

  • `(a) In General- Except as provided in subsection (c), the selection of the precincts in the State in which the Election Audit Board of the State shall administer the hand counts under this subtitle shall be made by the Board on an entirely random basis using a uniform distribution in which all precincts in a State have an equal chance of being selected, in accordance with such procedures as the Commission determines appropriate, except that--

    • `(1) at least one precinct shall be selected at random in each county; and

    • `(2) the Commission shall publish the procedures in the Federal Register prior to the selection of the precincts.

  • `(b) Public Selection- The random selection of precincts under subsection (a) shall be conducted in public, at a time and place announced in advance.

  • `(c) Mandatory Selection of Precincts Established Specifically For Absentee Ballots- If a State establishes a separate precinct for purposes of counting the absentee ballots cast in an election and treats all absentee ballots as having been cast in that precinct, and if the state does not make absentee ballots sortable by precinct, the State shall include that precinct among the precincts in the State in which the Election Audit Board shall administer the hand counts under this subtitle.

`SEC. 325. PUBLICATION OF RESULTS.

  • `(a) Submission to Commission- As soon as practicable after the completion of an audit under this subtitle, the Election Audit Board of a State shall submit to the Commission the results of the audit, and shall include in the submission a comparison of the results of the election in the precinct as determined by the Board under the audit and the final unofficial vote count in the precinct as announced by the State, as well as a list of any discrepancies discovered between the initial, subsequent, and final hand counts administered by the Board and such final unofficial vote count and any explanation for such discrepancies, broken down by the categories of votes described in paragraphs (2) and (3) of section 323(a).

  • `(b) Publication by Commission- Immediately after receiving the submission of the results of an audit from the Election Audit Board of a State under subsection (a), the Commission shall publicly announce and publish the information contained in the submission.

  • `(c) Delay in Certification of Results by State-

    • `(1) PROHIBITING CERTIFICATION UNTIL COMPLETION OF AUDITS- No State may certify the results of any election which is subject to an audit under this subtitle prior to the completion of the audit and the announcement and submission of the results of the audit to the Commission for publication of the information required under this section.

    • `(2) DEADLINE FOR COMPLETION OF AUDITS OF PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS- In the case of an election for electors for President and Vice President which is subject to an audit under this subtitle, the State shall complete the audits and announce and submit the results to the Commission for publication of the information required under this section in time for the State to certify the results of the election and provide for the final determination of any controversy or contest concerning the appointment of such electors prior to the deadline described in section 6 of title 3, United States Code.

`SEC. 326. PAYMENTS TO STATES.

  • `(a) Payments For Costs of Conducting Audits- In accordance with the requirements and procedures of this section, the Commission shall make a payment to a State to cover the costs incurred by the State in carrying out this subtitle with respect to the elections that are the subject of the audits conducted under this subtitle.

  • `(b) Certification of Compliance and Anticipated Costs-

    • `(1) CERTIFICATION REQUIRED- In order to receive a payment under this section, a State shall submit to the Commission, in such form as the Commission may require, a statement containing--

      • `(A) a certification that the State will conduct the audits required under this subtitle in accordance with all of the requirements of this subtitle;

      • `(B) a notice of the reasonable costs anticipated to be incurred by the State in carrying out this subtitle with respect to the elections involved; and

      • `(C) such other information and assurances as the Commission may require.

    • `(2) AMOUNT OF PAYMENT- The amount of a payment made to a State under this section shall be equal to the reasonable costs anticipated to be incurred by the State in carrying out this subtitle with respect to the elections involved, as set forth in the statement submitted under paragraph (1) a notice submitted by the State to the Commission (in such form and containing such information as the Commission may require).

    • `(3) TIMING OF NOTICE- The State may not submit a notice under paragraph (1) until candidates have been selected to appear on the ballot for all of the elections for Federal office which will be the subject of the audits involved.

  • `(c) Timing of Payments- The Commission shall make the payment required under this section to a State not later than 30 days after receiving the notice submitted by the State under subsection (b).

  • `(d) Authorization of Appropriations- There are authorized to be appropriated to the Commission for fiscal year 2008 and each succeeding fiscal year such sums as may be necessary for payments under this section.

`SEC. 327. EXCEPTION FOR ELECTIONS SUBJECT TO AUTOMATIC RECOUNT UNDER STATE LAW.

  • `This subtitle does not apply to any election for which a recount is required automatically under State law because of the margin of victory between the two candidates receiving the largest number of votes in the election. Nothing in the previous sentence may be construed to waive the application of any other provision of this Act to any election (including the ballot verification and audit capacity requirements of section 301(a)(2)).

`SEC. 328. EFFECTIVE DATE.

  • `This subtitle shall apply with respect to elections for Federal office beginning with the regularly scheduled general elections held in November 2008.'.

  • (b) Availability of Enforcement Under Help America Vote Act of 2002- Section 401 of such Act (42 U.S.C. 15511), as amended by section 3, is amended--

    • (1) in subsection (a), by striking the period at the end and inserting the following: `, or the requirements of subtitle C of title III.';

    • (2) in subsection (b)(1), by striking `section 303' and inserting `section 303, or subtitle C of title III,'; and

    • (3) in subsection (c)--

      • (A) by striking `subtitle A' and inserting `subtitles A or C', and

      • (B) by striking the period at the end and inserting the following: `, or the requirements of subtitle C of title III.'.

  • (c) Clerical Amendment- The table of contents of such Act is amended by adding at the end of the item relating to title III the following:

`Subtitle C--Mandatory Manual Audits by Election Audit Boards

    • `Sec. 321. Establishment of Election Audit Boards.

    • `Sec. 322. Number of ballots counted under audit.

    • `Sec. 323. Process for administering audits.

    • `Sec. 324. Selection of precincts.

    • `Sec. 325. Publication of results.

    • `Sec. 326. Payments to States.

    • `Sec. 327. Exception for elections subject to automatic recount within 24 hours under State law.

    • `Sec. 328. Effective date.'.

SEC. 6. REPEAL OF EXEMPTION OF ELECTION ASSISTANCE COMMISSION FROM CERTAIN GOVERNMENT CONTRACTING REQUIREMENTS.

  • (a) In General- Section 205 of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (42 U.S.C. 15325) is amended by striking subsection (e).

  • (b) Effective Date- The amendment made by subsection (a) shall apply with respect to contracts entered into by the Election Assistance Commission on or after the date of the enactment of this Act.

SEC. 7. EFFECTIVE DATE.

  • Except as otherwise provided, this Act and the amendments made by this Act shall apply with respect to elections for Federal office occurring during 2008 and each succeeding year.

END

Congratulations, you just killed it (3, Interesting)

ericfitz (59316) | more than 7 years ago | (#18580911)

By requiring that the entire platform be open source, the well-intentioned legislators just killed the bill. Do you think Microsoft and Sun are going to sit by and watch a market opportunity vanish? Do you think Linux advocate lobbyists are going to show up at Congressmens' doors with campaign checks?

This is a case of sacrificing the good by demanding the perfect. If the bill had instead required that only the voting software installed on the voting machines be open source, then the bill would not have alienated so many parties with enough money to kill it.

Yes, I did RTFA and I read the relevant text of the bill (section 247(C)9). The languange doesn't differentiate between platform software and software specific to the e-voting task.

Shhhhh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18580989)

Maybe nobody will notice!

Platform software (5, Insightful)

Kuroji (990107) | more than 7 years ago | (#18580997)

For such a specialized task, it shouldn't be hard to whip up some custom-coded OS that doesn't include all the bells and whistles that, say, Vista includes. Or XP. Or Win3.11, even.

But if only the program is transparent and the rest of the code on the machine is not, what's to prevent (for example) Steve Jobs for running for president and including a line of code that tells the MacOS voting machines that he always wins at least 50.1% of the vote?

Re:Platform software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18581927)

But if only the program is transparent and the rest of the code on the machine is not, what's to prevent (for example) Steve Jobs for running for president and including a line of code that tells the MacOS voting machines that he always wins at least 50.1% of the vote?


The paper trail.

The real danger is voters coming to trust this system to record their votes properly. To game the system you'd want to change X% of votes, and rely on voters not checking their ballots. The results will be more natural. You won't get 50.1% across every contested precinct. You won't get 50.1% in a place where polls show you're going to get creamed. You won't even win every precinct. You'll just do a little better in each one than you should. In a close race, this will give you a win. In a landslide you don't want to win by cheating since as a winner you don't need to cheat and as a loser you're more likely to get caught with your hand in the cookie jar.

Relax. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18581005)

That's what amendments are for.

(among other things)

Re:Congratulations, you just killed it (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18581021)

This is a case of sacrificing the good by demanding the perfect. If the bill had instead required that only the voting software installed on the voting machines be open source, then the bill would not have alienated so many parties with enough money to kill it.

Well then the bill is toothless, because the vendor could install 'backdoor' patches into the os and nobody would be the wiser.

A voting machine vendor can just al easily load a version of linux with wine (though maybe clunky) to run their voting machine app. The difference they save on MS licenses can be used for a programmer to do the necessary program.

Really, there is no reason at all to not have any part of not be open source. Of course, congress whores itself out to lobbyists, so who knows.

Re:Congratulations, you just killed it (1, Insightful)

zarozarozaro (756135) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581039)

By requiring that the entire platform be open source, the well-intentioned legislators just killed the bill. Do you think Microsoft and Sun are going to sit by and watch a market opportunity vanish?
Yes, if there is enough pressure from the people to have fair elections, we can prevent Microsoft and Sun from choosing our government for us.

This is a case of sacrificing the good by demanding the perfect. If the bill had instead required that only the voting software installed on the voting machines be open source, then the bill would not have alienated so many parties with enough money to kill it.
This isn't about money, its about fair elections.

Re:Congratulations, you just killed it (4, Insightful)

Checkmait (1062974) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581095)

Perhaps they reduced its support slightly, but no more than a very tiny bit. What good would the source do to anyone? Remember that there is nothing stopping the vendor from copyrighting the source code and adding a provision to the license which says that no one may make derivative works: all the vendor must do is make the code publicly available.

So a competitor can't really gain anything from the code--it can't be overly complicated (this is a voting machine) and even if they do, the moment they release their machine onto the market, their source must be published, and certainly a competing vendor would notice such striking similarities in code.

Of course, who knows, Diebold might sue Congress for a law which they were not expecting..... :-)

Re:Congratulations: they made the right choice (4, Insightful)

erbmjw (903229) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581171)

The bill shouldn't discriminate between the OS and the voting software. This is not a general purpose machine that requires an advanced OS -- it requires a bare minimum system that can count votes and print ballots! The machines that do these very limited tasks should not be something which Microsoft targets as a significant market for their standard operating systems.

Re:Congratulations: they made the right choice (4, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581369)

The bill shouldn't discriminate between the OS and the voting software.

Couldn't agree more, because the two together comprise a functioning embedded system. Auditing the application and ignoring the operating system is pointless, from a secure voting perspective. The Congressman has it right.

Besides, this is not a supercomputer. This is not an accounting system. This is a goddamn electromechanical counter, a mindless device which could be implemented with vacuum tubes, or discrete TTL, or a BASIC Stamp! There doesn't need to be an "operating system", unless you need it to throw up your colorful corporate logo or justify your "Microsoft Vista ready" sticker. I mean, we aren't talking some incredibly complex technological requirements here, although there are those with a vested interest in making it appear so. For crying out loud it's been done for centuries using pieces of paper. Any corporation that manufactures these things that makes "intellectual property" claims about its "advanced software" is FULL OF CRAP and trying to keep the public from knowing what a shoddy job it did, or worse. If you aren't willing to open up your voting system to public inspection from the chips on up, then you shouldn't be allowed to sell them to our government. Any of our governments.

More to the point, this is just the kind of system that should be only as complex as it needs to be ... and not one iota more. Every extra layer of "sophistication" adds more room for error, more places to hide something.

Re:Congratulations: they made the right choice (2, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581849)

There doesn't need to be an "operating system", unless you need it to throw up.

Edited for brevity.

Re:Congratulations: they made the right choice (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582653)

There doesn't need to be an "operating system", unless you need it to throw up.

Edited for brevity.


Edited for hilarity you mean. I say that as my graphics card just reset itself and Windows XP threw up all over me.

Re:Congratulations, you just killed it (1)

paeanblack (191171) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581403)

Yes, I did RTFA and I read the relevant text of the bill (section 247(C)9). The languange doesn't differentiate between platform software and software specific to the e-voting task.

I read the bill too. All it did was remind me of this old automobile law:

The Locomotive Act 1865 set a speed limit of 4 mph in the country and 2 mph in towns. The 1865 Act also provided for the then famous "man with a red flag". Walking 60 yards ahead of each vehicle, a man with a red flag or lantern enforced a walking pace, and warned horse riders and horse drawn traffic of the approach of a self propelled machine.
http://www.nationalnumbers.co.uk/number-plate-hist ory.htm [nationalnumbers.co.uk]

While most of the requirements listed by the bill seem like good ideas, I get the impression the actual purpose of this bill is to make deployment of e-voting machines sufficiently onerous to make the whole idea pointless. Once you enforce the hobbling every potential advantage an e-voting system may have, you can rest secure with any existing investments you may have in the companies manufacturing existing machines. The pessimist in me wonders if Mr. Rush Holt has already planned for that exact scenario.

Doesn't give the source away. (3, Informative)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581541)

By requiring that the entire platform be open source, the well-intentioned legislators just killed the bill.

The version of "open source" required doesn't give away any copyright or patent protection, or transfer rights to USE the code to others - especially the competition. (It does puncture trade secret.)

If the bill had instead required that only the voting software installed on the voting machines be open source ... ... it would have been ineffective against malware embedded in the operating system - by the OS developers or later black-hats.

This is not a minor issue: With control of the US Government at stake a LOT of engineering effort can be profitably applied to attempts to compromise the system - by political, economic, or foreign governmental interests.

Released code != open source (1)

Wordplay (54438) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581561)

I haven't read the actual law. Does it say the code needs to be publicly available for review, or that it actually has to be open-source? These are high-profile applications, and can be controlled strictly through licensing and audits of election equipment.

Re:Congratulations, you just killed it (1)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581585)

How can you trust a voting system if yo udon't know how it works? This is actually the bad part about electronic voting. The general public, even if the source code is available, won't be able to understand what happens to their vote. Not that they understand the backend with other schemes, but at least there is no question when they punch a hole or mark a box with pen and paper.

I can read code, and I didn't know what happened with my vote this past election. Who knows what those machines do? I was given an RFID card, which I used to cast my vote, and then returned that card when I left. It didn'tleave me feeling especially confident.

Re:Congratulations, you just killed it (1)

adrianmonk (890071) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582363)

By requiring that the entire platform be open source, the well-intentioned legislators just killed the bill. Do you think Microsoft and Sun are going to sit by and watch a market opportunity vanish?

What makes you think Sun sells an operating system that isn't open source?

(Actually, they do: when you buy x86 Sun hardware, you have your choice among three operating systems: Solaris, Linux, and Windows. And of course one of those operating systems isn't open source. But by offering two open source alternatives, it seems like they'd be OK with this requirement.)

Re:Congratulations, you just killed it (1)

TheGreatHegemon (956058) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582565)

I honestly didn't rtfa. But, what prevents companies from paying people for their votes directly, and watching as they vote?

WinCE will do. It's semi-open. (1)

r00t (33219) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582647)

WinCE developers can get source code already. So the machine has to run WinCE instead of Vista.

Re:Congratulations, you just killed it (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582695)

Are you suggesting that Microsoft or Sun would make voting software, release the source, and then someone else would take that source code and sell it to the government as their own? Yeah... and nobody would notice that.

Of course, Microsoft would never write such code anyway. Voting machines are probably profitable for the maintenance contracts, not the hardware or the software.

Luddites oppose robotic death machines! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18580927)

"Disability rights advocate Harold Snider compared opponents of e-voting to Luddites and chastised them for their lack of faith in technology."

Because it's better to vote and not have it count than to.. er.. get help voting and have it count?

I really hope that line from the article was a flawed summary from the reporter. If it's an accurate characterization, Snider is missing the point entirely.

Opposition to electronic voting is not blanket opposition to use of electronics in voting procedures. It's opposition to secret devices that follow hidden procedures and proclaim an official result -- without the ability of anyone to verify the correctness of the procedures or the result.

Re:Luddites oppose robotic death machines! (1)

theodicey (662941) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581427)

Snider represents the National Federation of the Blind.

The National Federation of the Blind sold their integrity to Diebold for $1 million dollars [wired.com] . They do not deny that there was a quid pro quo, although they have issued a vague, non-denial denial [nfb.org] .

Re:Luddites oppose robotic death machines! (1)

ISurfTooMuch (1010305) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582673)

A couple of years ago, I viewed a local e-voting demonstration presented by a disability advocacy group. I have no reason to believe that these folks were bought and paid for by a company, but they were solidly behind the idea. I kept bringing up the need for a paper trail, and, to be honest, I'm not sure if the guy fully grasped the significance of what I was talking about. I finally got him to say, yes, this machine could be hooked up to a printer to produce such a trail, but it wasn't easy to drag that assurance out of him.

Here's the thing. Many disability activists are strongly in favor of electronic voting because they see it as a way to allow people with disabilities to vote without assistance. And, yes, these machines can allow for that. I stood there, closed my eyes, and was able to navigate the system and vote without being able to see a thing. Bearing this in mind, we need to make these people aware of the risks that e-voting can create when it isn't implemented properly. As someone else said, what's worse: getting assistance to vote a ballot that will count or being able to independently vote one that may not count?

Ed Felten's comments. (3, Informative)

Irvu (248207) | more than 7 years ago | (#18580987)

Ed Felten's comments on the bill can be found Here [votetrustusa.org] .

Re:Ed Felten. Why is daddy DRM interesting? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18581387)

whatwhy??

voting machines waste of money (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18581041)

So if paper is going to be the final word, why waste the money on voting machines in the first place?

KISS anyone? No, because then there are no kickbacks and bribes to take.

(lol verify word is "paranoia")

Re:voting machines waste of money (1)

Chirs (87576) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581309)

Because in the vast majority of cases no recount will be necessary, so it will be much faster/cheaper to use the electronic records than if you had to manually count each vote by hand.

Re:voting machines waste of money (3, Informative)

JayBat (617968) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581779)

so it will be much faster/cheaper to use the electronic records than if you had to manually count each vote by hand.

False dichotomy. Oregon doesn't use touch-screen machines, we use fill-in-the-bubble paper ballots and machine counters. Works great, and much faster during heavy turnout elections (where from an outsider's POV, touch-screen states just never seem to have enough of those glorified PC's around).

Oregon is vote-by-mail also, but that is an orthogonal issue.

All the same source-inspection criteria should apply to ballot-counting machines also; they are, in general, made by the same corporations that make touch-screen machines.

-Jay-

Re:voting machines waste of money (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581411)

Because:

  - The voting machine result can be used whenever the particular precinct's results are uncontested, leaving all the advantages (except the "advantage" of being able to invisibly rig an election) intact.

  - The auditability of the result will virtually eliminate any utility in rigging the machines (while bringing to bear draconian penalties for attempting to rig them and getting caught), greatly improving the reliability of the machines' results - to the point that they CAN be used without creating the appearance of rigged elections.

Re:voting machines waste of money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18581575)

I agree the legislation is a good way to address the problem. However, why again do we need spend millions of dollars on these voting machines and training and maintenance, etc. jacking up my taxes just so I can play with some new shiny object?

Re:voting machines waste of money (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581769)

However, why again do we need spend millions of dollars on these voting machines and training and maintenance, etc. jacking up my taxes just so I can play with some new shiny object?

Because your elected lawmakers decided that you would.

Accessibility for the handicapped was a major driver. Issues with previous balloting systems were another.

As usual the legislative solution wasn't well thought out and had unintended consequences. Now we have to fix the fix.

Given the importance of visibly accurate elections (which is how republics avoid civil war) it's vitally important to get this done.

Given that reverting to pure paper balloting would regress the improved handicapped access, complete elimination of the electronic voting aids is not an option. (Note that some jurisdictions that have decertified the Diebold mahchines - such as Alameda County CA - still allow their use for handicapped voters until a better solution can be deployed.)

Try a hard question... (4, Insightful)

raehl (609729) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581625)

So if paper is going to be the final word, why waste the money on voting machines in the first place?

Because not all paper ballots are created equal, and paper ballots filled out by humans are more prone to error than paper ballots printed by a machine.

The current paper ballots involve things like hole-punches (hanging chads anyone?), filling in bubbles (fill in too many or too few or only partially), butterfly ballots, etc.

It's the same reason your college professors wanted you to type your papers. The machine, by default, makes the paper much more legible than it would be if the paper were written by hand.

Same with electronic voting. The machine makes the ballot much less likely to have an error on it than if the ballot is done by a human with a pen (optical ballots) or punch (punch cards).

There are other features you get with electronic voting. For example, you don't need to print the ballots in advance. You can just load the ballot into the machine the morning of the election, and when people votes, the machine prints out the office and the selected candidate. So instead of having to 'lock' the ballot a month in advance to allow for the ballots to be printed, you might be able to reduce that lead time to a few days or a week. Then when a candidate dies three weeks before the election, or somebody wins/loses a lawsuit, you have more time to correct the ballot.

You can also do neat things like randomize the order candidates appear on the ballot. One problem with elections is the candidate listed first tends to get more votes than other candidates. With electronic ballots, candidates can all be listed first an 'equal' number of times.

Electronic voting also gives you the ability to accommodate more people with disabilities.

Re:Try a hard question... (1)

aldousd666 (640240) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582389)

Well, if the reason you have to have a paper trail is to prevent programming errors from having an effect, then ok, I can see that. But if it's to 'guaruntee that they aren't hacked' then that's ridiculous. If i'm clever enough to hack one memory location, then I'm sure i'm clever enough to hack two. if you don't know where I'm going with this, then, perhaps you need a paper trail to tell you that that's really coffee you're buying at starbucks and not just what someone told you is coffee... they might be lying, and we need a paper trail to verify!

Re:voting machines waste of money (1)

X-rated Ouroboros (526150) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582387)

Voter 1 needs a ballot for District 13 in Portugese. Voter 2 needs a ballot for District 7 in English. Voter 3 needs a ballot for District 3 in English. Voter 4 needs a ballot for district 3 in Spanish for the Vision Impaired. With a fully realized electronic voting system, all of these people can be served by the same machine, at the same polling station, with the same basic procedure.

The statistical skew from top balloting or voter fatigue can be eliminated by displaying to voters equivalent ballots with the order of candidates and/or races/measures/referenda presented randomly.

A lot of things become enabled by removing the burden of generating and distributing physical ballots.

Re:voting machines waste of money (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582575)

Right.. this whole thing is idiotic. Aside from the redundancy, you have the problem that a paper printout doesn't necessarily reflect the stored vote. I mean, if I compromised the system, I'd just have it print out Bush while secretly recording a vote for Gore. Secondly, a paper recount would never work. You sure as hell can't count the voter's record because he may change his vote ex post facto, unless it printed out two copies: One copy for the voter, and another for safe keeping, and the voter would have to verify that they match. Of course, it would be no less vulnerable to tampering than a regular paper system, so all we're doing is introducting MORE vulnerabilities to the system.

Here's an idea, if you really want to introduce electronics. Make a modern touchscreen front-end that creates punched ballots (OMG punched card ponies), have the voter examine the ballot, and turn it in. No electronic counting, no crazy hanging chads, no butterfly daisies with extra sprinkles.. just a card with holes in it, like this:

1 2 3 4 5
O - - - - 1. Bush 2. Gore 3. Kim Jong Il 4. Nader 5. Yoda
- O - - - 1. Gonzales 2. Mouse, Mickey
O - - - - etc..

France ... (4, Interesting)

koxkoxkox (879667) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581071)

If only the French government did the same thing ... In France, electronic vote will be used for the next presidential elections, without any of these guarantees and without any open debate with the citizens.

A lot of people are against this evolution, as shown by a petition on the Internet : http://www.recul-democratique.org/About-us.html [recul-democratique.org] , and they demand approximatively the same requirements. People have to trust completely the result of the elections and they can't rely on the report of a private expert claiming that the program is secure. So it means open source for the computer scientists originating this petition and paper trail for the vast majority of the population who don't feel completely safe about the whole dematerialisation process.

Excuse me for any spelling or grammar mistake, or correct me in french. :o)

[OT] French (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18581701)

> In France, electronic vote

C'est << voting >>--une verbe, pas un nom.

> will be used for the next presidential elections

<< Election >>, il n'y a q'une president... ou prèmier ministre :)

> without any of these guarantees and without any open debate with the citizens.

Les mots << with the citizens >> sont impliqués.

> A lot of people are against this evolution

<< change >>, pas << evolution >>.

> People have to trust completely

C'est un <<split infinitive>>. On dit <<to completely trust>>.

> computer scientists originating this petition

<<originating>>? C'est un mot un peu bizarre. On dit <<circulating>>.

> dematerialisation process

<<dematerialisation>>!? C'est un mot très bizarre. On dit <<computerization>>.

> Excuse me for any spelling or grammar mistake, or correct me in french. :o)

C'est <<mistakes>>, il y a plus q'un :-) Mais votre anglais... Je pense que vous parlez meillure en anglais que je parle en français.

Feel free to correct me in return :) My French vocabulary has already atrophied due to my lack of practice :( And my grammar? C'est horrible. The only saving grace is that I can pronounce French reasonably well, even that screwball vowel found in words like "feu" (fire) that's damn near impossible until you know the trick[1] because it doesn't exist in English. Though you get to have fun with words with a non-aspirate H, I guess ("air spray" and "hair spray" are NOT the same thing...), so it evens out. And the Germans have a horrible time with the vowels ui in words like nuit[2] because it doesn't exist in German... :-)

[1] Hold your lips in "oooooo" position and say "eeeeee" without moving them. The vowel is just like this, except that you don't hold it for very long. If it sounds like foo or few, you're saying it wrong.

[2] Nuit is pronounced "new E", but it's just one word, for others reading this. The T is silent.

Re:France ... (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582733)

Trust me, your English is a hell of a lot better than my French.

It is time for the /. community to act! (5, Informative)

Irvu (248207) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581131)

This bill does many of the things that we in the /. community have argued for for some time now including open code inspection, reliable voting systems, and yes, reliable recounts and audits. Now is the time for the /. community to act on our endless snarky comments and help to move real change forward.

The Bill's text and record are available at Thomas [loc.gov] . While there you can peruse the list of 200 Cosponsors [loc.gov] to see if your house rep is among them (and should be given a cookie for that) or not (and should be corrected).

If you both support the bill and are a U.S. Citizen or Resident, you can go to the U.S. House of Representatives Website at www.house.gov [house.gov] , and Write your rep [house.gov] or contact them via their website [house.gov] (Recommended) to urge them to support the bill or thank them for already cosponsoring it.

With time to spare you can head over to the Senate [senate.gov] and urge your senators to back the forthcoming companion bill in the senate. Following that a stop off to contact The Executive Branch [whitehouse.gov] (va a aqui [whitehouse.gov] para Espanol) to urge signing of the bill wouldn't hurt.

If you believe in any of the things this bill does then a few minutes on the phone or sending a polite e-mail shouldn't be too much. As cynical as we all can be about the influence of money on elections a groundswell is too costly to be overrun.

Re:It is time for the /. community to act! (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581447)

This bill does many of the things that we in the /. community have argued for for some time now including open code inspection, reliable voting systems, and yes, reliable recounts and audits. Now is the time for the /. community to act on our endless snarky comments and help to move real change forward.

Yes, this *bill* does a lot. It doesn't mean that any of this will actually go through regardless of our contacting those in power.

What I want to know is why there isn't a provision to allow there to be paper ballots for *EVERYONE* that doesn't want to use the pointless machines in the first place. Hell, why are we going to waste tax dollars purchasing these machines, training voting officials and the public to use them, and using additional power (which is such a popular topic these days) to drive these machines when the fucking paper ballots will be the official device used during recounts?

Let's end the bullshit and just continue to use paper. It has worked for ~230 years and just because our society wants "instant reporting" doesn't mean it's a good idea to do this.

No, I'm not a luddite (as many of you know) but there are too many opportunities for even more widespread voter fraud if they use this technology. Just because the source code is released doesn't mean that we'll ever be able to verify that it is actually the code being used when the votes are cast and counted.

Re:It is time for the /. community to act! (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582689)

Let's end the bullshit and just continue to use paper. It has worked for ~230 years and just because our society wants "instant reporting" doesn't mean it's a good idea to do this.


The news media will report the results, real or imagined, instantly no matter what. The news media cannot be controlled by the government or blocked from reporting results based on exit polls and theories. We cannot choose whether or not such results are reported.

We get to choose whether or not the results are real. Imagine if Kerry was the announced winner at 9:00 PM EST and the next night this was rescinded in favor of Bush.

You sunk my battleship (0, Offtopic)

Eudial (590661) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581175)

You sunk my battleship

2B (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18581513)

Your move!

More business (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18581233)

What else would Diebold want? If this bill passes it would invalidate all the machines they
sold. They can then sell new machines to these customers.

Fine by me. (2, Insightful)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581471)

If this bill passes ... [Diebold] can then sell new machines to [all their former] customers.

Or printer and software upgrades.

If Diebold fixes the auditability problem I have no further gripe with the use of their machines. If buying an upgrade from them is 'way cheaper than replacing the machines outright, that's just dandy.

"If it's worth doing, it's worth doing at a profit."

spoofing voting an election (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18581313)

I recently audited a local election in vote-buying prone Eastern Kentucky. Had I access to the voting machines, I could have pre-loaded the paper tapes with my desired results- all the observers would have signed off, seeing the printouts come out of the machines. In order to compare and count the voter sign-in sheet to the count generated by the voting machine, the candidate that lost the election would have had to spend thousands of dollars for a "re-count" (vs a re-canvass). One could not even count the signatures in the sign in sheets and compare that to the voting machine count under the "re-canvass" rules. Requiring a paper trail, and a statistical audit for each election would lower the risk of machine fraud. The recent Scientific American article on voting machines indicates that adding a headphone audio feedback to the e-voting paper trail reduces erroneous votes better than the paper trail alone. Clean elections are a good thing for us all. Support this bill!

Urge all to watch Hacking Democracy 2007 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18581407)

I urge all Americans to watch this video http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0808532/ [imdb.com] called Hacking Democracy 2007 an HBO production.

It will truely open your eyes on these issues and probably make you sick / mad!!!

Wow (2, Funny)

Jonnty (910561) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581425)

It's almost like whoever wrote this bill had a clue.

Nice gesture, but what I would like to see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18581525)

I like that part that tickles the open source advocate in me, but it doesn't really address what I see as a more serious issue: Certification, verification, and accountability trails.

I would like a record of what source/binary is on the machine I place my vote on, all of it, and on every machine that handles the count of my vote all the way down the chain to the machine that tallies and reports the final official counts. No sequence of 1's and 0's should touch that machine without a permanent copy and record of changes kept.

I want a record kept of where each and every machine is and who (excluding voters) even so much as touches it, from the time they receive their final programming, are verified to have the correct program loaded and further change is locked out, until after final counts are tallied and all audits are completed.

Even before that, each and every machine used (not a statistical sampling) should be verified by an independent party to be of certified hardware, unmodified, and to be in proper functional order. There should also be a public standard toward the certification of these machines outside of the legislation, that it can grow and evolve rapidly to account for the rapidly changing IT landscape.

And there should be very real and very sharp teeth standing behind these requirements. If there is any variation found, all those involved should stand before congress and explain why. Period. If any company even so much as ships uncertified hardware, they must have imposed on them a mandatory 6 year ban. Period. And not just the immediate company, but parent companies, their executives and board members, etc. should also face possible injunctions. No shelters, no skirting responsibility.

And let's not just have the source code available, make public all relevant procedures and process used in the development, manufacture, testing, quality assurance, certification, handling, operation, training, etc. related to eVoting. EVERYTHING!

You want to take part in the market for eVoting? These are the terms, take it or leave it.

I don't know about you, but that would give me the the warm and fuzzies about eVoting.

Closed Source Voting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18581641)

All we need to do is to have some ingenious hacker screw up an election by injecting viruses into the voting machines and having the results come back so absolutely outrageous its not even funny. I suggest if a hacker does this they have 'Adolf Hitler' winning, its just fitting considering the path the US is going down.

I can see the newscast now (1)

The Monster (227884) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581897)

All we need to do is to have some ingenious hacker screw up an election by injecting viruses into the voting machines and having the results come back so absolutely outrageous its not even funny
With 90% of the precincts of California in, we're calling the race in favor of the surprise write-in candidates "Heywood Jablome" and "Mike Hunt". Pollsters are at a loss to explain this phenomenon. Attempts to locate the apparent President- and Vice-President-elect have been thus far fruitless.

Dust off those paper shredders (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18581749)

-nt

Audio interview with the sponsor of the bill (3, Informative)

ntk (974) | more than 7 years ago | (#18581845)

Here's an interview we conducted with Rush Holt [eff.org] , the congressman who has been pushing for this bill for years. It's about twelve minutes long, but a little more meaty than usual for a politician: Holt has a Physics Ph.D., so he has something of a scientific background, and walks through many of the problems with e-voting the proposal tries to solve (and is also fairly candid about why his bill took a while to catch on). We recorded it just before the last election.

Re:Audio interview with the sponsor of the bill (1)

Catbeller (118204) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582781)

So what happens if the cheating manipulates the margins smaller than that which would trigger a mandatory free recount? Already being done.
The entire layer of computerized gadgets is not necessary by the accepted logic of keeping the paper ballots as a verified trail!
And if the only way we can trust the magic boxen is to perform recounts by margin trigger or random (not so random, see last election) selection of districts to keep them honest, why then not eliminate the entire electronic cloud and simply count the votes by hand the way Canada does? They get the job done in three hours!

What is there to be afraid of? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18582101)

I think those who oppose this bill need to be asked the question "what have you got to lose?"

Time/cost are not compelling arguments for anyone who cares about the integrity of the election system. It was never a problem to count ballots by hand before the recent past.

Damn (1)

quantaman (517394) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582185)

This bill identifies the specific problems and concerns with eVoting. It addresses them one-by-one in the logical manner suggested by the vast majority of people educated about eVoting. It is simply a well written piece of legislation.

In other words it doesn't have a hope in hell of passing, couldn't someone at least throw in some ammendment about a program to train Arctic monkies to do the recounts so legislators will consider it?

why not paper ballots? (2)

swordgeek (112599) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582229)

First of all, understand that I'm looking at this from an outsider's point of view. That said, this is an excellent bill--it provides accountability and a barrier to ballot stuffing, the primary barriers to responsible electronic voting.

The question I have is why not paper ballots?

Much of the rest of the world (Yes, including the first world) uses paper ballots that are tallied by humans. Electronic ballots can only be secure from abuse by having a per-ballot paper trail, so what advantage does the electronic ballot provide at all?

Honestly, I'm curious about why electronic ballots are a good idea at all, given the present state of the art.

Re:why not paper ballots? (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582651)

How long did it take to count paper ballots in the last election you are familiar with? When did the news media announce the winner - before or after the votes were counted?

In the US there will be a winner announced before the end of the night after the voting is done. The news media will do this and it can be based on exit polls or real results. Real results could be partial or complete.

Electronic voting gets us back away from news media coronations. The last two presidential elections the news media came dangerously close to declaring the winner long before anyone was sure. And make no mistake about it, if the news media announced Kerry won and then the next day said they were just kidding, Bush won there would be violence in the streets.

Do not believe the news media would care - they would just get better ratings for covering it.

Re:why not paper ballots? (1)

Catbeller (118204) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582703)

Canada gets its national elections counted by hand, to final announced totals, in about... three hours. By PENCIL.

The US is slowed because we hold the election in different time zones, and we have to cycle people through, YES, loooonnngg lines to get to the damned machines. A card and a pencil can be used by an entire crowd simultaneously. We are also slowed by our weird voter verification process. More than slowed. Ground to a halt.

Re:why not paper ballots? (1)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582769)

Most of the rest of the world doesn't have to count a hundred and fifty million ballots covering dozens of issues in the shortest possible time.

I agree that "in the shortest possible time" is logically bullshit, but this is what happens when TeeVee gives everyone ADD. The sad thing is that this should be the perfect application for computers, since it's literally nothing but adding 1 to selected counters. *sigh*

It's time for mark-sense ballots everywhere? (2, Insightful)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582231)

I think we should just forget the whole idea of electronic voting machines (which looks like it's just as faulty as the old mechanical voting machines used in much of the USA for many years) and go with mark-sense paper ballots filled out with permanent ink pens or markers.

Not only is it machine-readable, but the ballots can be hand-counted quite easily in case of close elections.

Instead of regulating evoting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18582489)

, eliminate it. It serves no useful purpose and it is more vulnerable to fraud. Best thing to do is to go back to pen and paper.

I just don't get it - THIS ISN'T HARD PEOPLE! (1)

don_in_agoura (927652) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582515)

Why do people pretend like this is hard? I do design engineering for a living so I'm not just talking out of my ass when I say that this is kick-ass easy stuff. Paper requirements? Like that's hard. Confirming paper requirements... just get a damned optical scanner and you can crank though a toilet paper sized roll of paper in no time flat. ("OMG it'll take WEEKS to confirm all the paper backups!!!") Code that is code reviewed by the general public? Using off the shelf electronics (not ASICs) for easy electronics verification? Hash checks to make sure the code is correct? Stable non-volatile system for power outages and the like? It is 100 times more complex to build the stereo in your car than to develop a simple accurate voting machine and yet the whining that is involved with this is amazing. I just don't get it? What are people's ulterior motives in this? With this much BS propaganda flying around there has to be something. don

Re:I just don't get it - THIS ISN'T HARD PEOPLE! (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582603)

Part of the problem is certainly the old public arena requirements/specifications nonsense. But there are also other aspects that drive this. One is the US government is very reluctant to get into the hardware business, either for military or civilian purposes. Public access to the source code would pretty much require that the government take over design. Maybe manufacturing as well.

The problem is that there is no "unique hardware" anymore. Patent protection isn't really going to work either. So someone builds the machine and spends two years developing the software that can be verified according to mil-spec rules. This is also known as "provably correct" and isn't trivial to write code like that. Nor is it easy to collect the requirements for something like that.

OK, then the software is released for review. Two months later, you can buy the same machine for 1/10 the cost with identical software that passes the same reviews. Nobody is going to sign on for that kind of abuse unless the government pretty much guarantees a single supplier. Which would be a violation of so many federal and state laws it isn't funny. Forcing the supplier to be a US based company isn't going to fly either. Ownership rules probably wouldn't really matter. So, this would be a one-time gift to some Taiwanese or Chinese company. Not going to happen.

So the government has to pay for the requirements gathering and the development process. They could then farm out the manufacturing (maybe) the way that tanks were made during WW II. The government provides the specifications and the manufacturer gets to make some small profit on each piece of hardware. Nobody in the US would touch it, but lots of Asian companies would jump on such a deal. Fine, they would get made.

Only problem is the requirements phase of such a government project would probably take 10 years to complete. And it would be the most bloated over-specified piece of junk imaginable because it would embody the compromises needed to get every county in every state to sign on. Even if they got by that, it would still be some topheavy government project. Just like some other big goverment projects we know about for the IRS and FBI.

This could only be done by a private entity that just rams the result down the thoats of the states and counties. Just like what we have today. Keeping the government out of the process as much as possible is where we are today and at least there is something to point at. With the government doing the work or running the show we wouldn't have anything at all until 2012, and it wouldn't see light of day until 2017 at least.

Think I'm wrong? How many goverment projects have been on time and under budget?

Re:I just don't get it - THIS ISN'T HARD PEOPLE! (1, Troll)

Catbeller (118204) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582657)

eVoting is not designed to make things easy or verifiable. It is supposedly designed to solve a non-existent problem, lack of speedy vote counting. In the real world, the code is secret, easily modified by dispatched techs during the election, and the fact of its very existence during the act of voting or accumulation is forever unverifiable. The voting machine companies fought like rabid weasels for years to silence questions about their machines. They bought the regulators.

Don't forget that changes can be made up the line at the accumulator boxen. Don't just suspect the touchscreen PCs.

Amazing things happened during the last few elections. Votes swung republican in key counties in both 2000 and 2004 after a little visit from the company reps in Florida and Ohio. A major stockholder in Diebold ran against a Vietnam vet, Clelland, in Ohio and overcame a pre-election poll deficit of double digit proportions. Boys and girls, those machines are being used to cheat in big races that come down to a few districts. After all that I've seen since 2002, we've had Bush reinstalled through a little magic code.

This legislation will not solve the problem, because automatic recounts were already fraudulently pre-selected by voting companies in the last election to prevent a manual recount. They also can manipulate the totals to *just under* the mandatory margin for a manual recount. Not a theory, its already done and few cared. The men who are making a giant mountain range of cash from this administration aren't going to give up because some paper is kept around. Paper has to be counted, and that takes a margin trigger or a very expensive recount by candidate request.

Do it like the Canadians do. Count by hand, call it in to central offices, count those up by hand. Members of all parties present at all counts. They get their national counts done in HOURS, using pencils. And it doesn't cost them billions of dollars to do it. Techies are blinded by the wonders of their PCs. PCs can't do everything, and they aren't needed to do everything. When something infinitely malleable and secret is introduced to a simple, open process, it isn't done to make things easier or safer, but to hide cheating. QED

Bradblog has been following e-voting for years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18582949)

The scoop: HR-811 does a lot of good things, but it doesn't go far enough. "Paper Trails" are not the same thing as "Paper Ballots".
Read on for more details.
http://bradblog.com/ [bradblog.com]

That's odd.. (1)

aero2600-5 (797736) | more than 7 years ago | (#18582995)

Hmm.. That's odd.

I thought April Fool's Day was yesterday!

...

Let's hope they manage to pass it. Common sense is hard to come these days.

Aero

standards for paper audit trail (1)

msblack (191749) | more than 7 years ago | (#18583481)

Let's make sure that the paper ballots printed by these machines are not the heat-sensitive paper type. Sun, heat, fluorescent lighting, and age can degrade these ballots fairly quickly. The conspiracy theorist in me says that many big box stores switch to heat-sensitive receipts to reduce customer returns and warranty claims. Should you require a receipt for tax purposes, better keep a Xerox copy.

Los Angeles County uses Ink-a-Vote which replaced those punch cards with ink blot bubbles. Nothing beats paper for vote recounts. The ink takes a few seconds to dry and if you don't hold the marking device completely perpendicular, it can skip marking the ballot.
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