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French Voting Machines a "Catastrophe"

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the nous-ne-nous-tenons-pas-dans-les-lignes dept.

Input Devices 259

eldavojohn writes "The electronic voting machine has soured another election. Some French voters have reportedly turned away in disgust after facing up to two hours in lines to use the machines. Further, the article reports, 'Researchers at Paul Verlaine University in Metz said that trials on two of the three machines used in France showed that four people out of every seven aged over 65 could not get their votes recorded.' This article concentrates primarily on usability and efficiency, but surprisingly mentions little (aside from user trust issues) about the security embodied in the machines or whether it was satisfactory. I think all three aspects are important to anyone aiming to produce voting machines. The manufacturer of these particular machines is France Élection."

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More Info (5, Funny)

Philotic (957984) | more than 7 years ago | (#18850989)

More information on the French machines can be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guillotine [wikipedia.org]

In Soviet Russia... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18851205)

In Soviet Russia, voting machines didn't need human presence at all to record a vote.

Let me guess... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18851861)

Diebold bought up their surplus?

France Élection = NEDAP distributor in France (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18851367)

They make 90% of the voting machine currently in use in France (where only 1.500.000 citizen vote with computer).

Those NEDAP computer are the same in use and contested in the Nederlands http://www.wijvertrouwenstemcomputersniet.nl/Engli sh [wijvertrou...ersniet.nl] We Don't Trust Voting Computer.

Those are are the same computer aquired and never used due to public pressure by the Irish (see http://evoting.cs.may.ie/ [cs.may.ie] Irish Citizens for Trustworthy Evoting).

Re:France Élection = NEDAP distributor in Fra (2, Informative)

iSoph (1015465) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851571)

France Élection distributes all the machines used in France, the manufacturers are Nedap , ES&S and Indra.

strong opposition in French CS academia (1)

krz99 (842286) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851633)

Before elections, there was quite a strong movement against the electronic voting in France among CS academic community. See the webpage of this guy: http://www.pps.jussieu.fr/~dicosmo/E-Vote/ [jussieu.fr] Sadly, the French love for automatization [slowtrav.com] won again this time.

Google Ads (0, Redundant)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851673)

hehe

Correction: Manufacturer is ES&S (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18851011)

No, France Election is not the manufacturer, maybe the importer or distributor. One of the manufacturers is the US company ES&S, which lead to many problems in the US.

Re:Correction: Manufacturer is ES&S (1, Interesting)

petitpasdelune (1092385) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851411)

France Election company belong to the brother of the small hitler candidate :)
You known, this one who believe criminality and suicide is a
genetic problem. Someone in Deutschland, just before 1936 shared the same stinky ideas.

PPDL

Why is it.... (2, Funny)

stox (131684) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851019)

that what should be the a simple implementation in modern technology is an unmitigated train wreck? Is there a single current voting machine that is considered reliable? Now for the scary thought, the people we trust to chosse are voting machines are making decisions about far more complex issues on a daily basis. I hate to say it, but we're doomed.

Re:Why is it.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18851307)

I believe the one used in the ACT(Australia) elections were meant to be rather good

at one stage they even had the source code available

Re: Why is it.... (0, Flamebait)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851323)

that what should be the a simple implementation in modern technology is an unmitigated train wreck? Is there a single current voting machine that is considered reliable?
Makes you wonder how reliable the old-fashioned mechanical machines actually were, back before there was a film crew looking over every vote-counter's shoulder.

Re:Why is it.... (1)

dfgchgfxrjtdhgh.jjhv (951946) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851941)


they are defective by design, to make election fraud easier for their customers.

bad UI (1)

monkeyos (957157) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851027)

sounds like a UI design problem to me

Re:bad UI (4, Informative)

moro_666 (414422) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851087)

Just look at the thing:

http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Image:IVotronic_img_34 52.jpg [wikinews.org]

It looks like total crap, no wonder that people have difficulties by using it. Why in Bill's name did they start a new design for that kind of machines, ffs. we have had ATM's around for years, just stick to it, they work and people know how they work.

Re:bad UI (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18851223)

Hmm, let's see...well, I obviously grip the panel with both hands on the blue rubber grips provided, then I guess I smash my forehead into the button marked "Vote" at the top.

Re:bad UI (4, Insightful)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851301)

I really think the article is misleading and/or didn't make his study correctly. I am a fervent opponent to electronic voting machines and I had to use these in my French town. So I decided to use them anyway but then I spent the day making people sign the paper version of the petition [ordinateurs-de-vote.org] for maintaining paper ballots. I was outside a voting office and talked to every people coming out that had voted and asked them how they felt about that.

First surprise : 30% of the people I talked to signed the petition, based on their worries about the trust one can have in the system. In these 30%, there are two categories : people with a technical background who already knew the fundamental issues and also old people, who, contrary to popular belief, weren't afraid at all of a new machine but really had a problem with trust.

I have seen a lot of this shocking belief : "If it was not secure, computer people would tell us so". So I did, but most people are ready to hand over control to a small portion of the population. I also had a discussion with an official from the mayor's office telling me that these machines were totally secure because they were not computers but totally electronic machines (which is either nonsense or plain lie)

Re:bad UI (4, Informative)

pe1chl (90186) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851425)

There has been very similar discussion in the Netherlands.
Here, too, the manufacturer said it was not a computer. An investigative group said "give us one, we will convert it to a chess-playing computer". Impossible, said the manufacturer, but denied them a demo machine. Then, they borrowed one from a municipality, and converted into a chess-playing computer. This, of course, lowered some jaws.

Furthermore, they wrote new firmware for it that manipulated the election results, and showed various different techniques for making sure this was not easily detected.
The device widely used in the Netherlands has no precautions at all against manipulation of the firmware by unauthorized parties. The operating lock is a standard C&K lock for which almost all keys are the same. I remembered having such a lock in the junkbox and indeed, its key number is the same as on the voting machines.

But the flaw most easily exploited turned out to be around vote secrecy. The electronics are so badly shielded that someone with a radio receiver within a few tens of meters can detect what vote is being made.

After the usual initial denial, it has been taken up somewhat seriously by authorities. Operational procedures for guarding the firmware have been added (like sealing of the access lid to the electronics).
Furthermore, a certain range of one type of machine and the entire series of another brand were declared unfit for use, because the emission problem could not be controlled by the manufacturer.

http://www.wijvertrouwenstemcomputersniet.nl/Engli sh [wijvertrou...ersniet.nl]

Re:bad UI (1)

koxkoxkox (879667) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851657)

"But the flaw most easily exploited turned out to be around vote secrecy. The electronics are so badly shielded that someone with a radio receiver within a few tens of meters can detect what vote is being made."

In some cases, you don't even need that. During the French elections, some old people unable to complete the different steps were helped by officials, in the polling booth. The vote secrecy is already badly screwed when you arrive at situations like that.

Re:bad UI (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851937)

I'm Dutch too.

To me, the whole deal about "secrecy" seemed more like a clever twist the Dutch government managed to pull off in order to divert from the more serious problem of fraud.

Basically we see three problems here:

1. Usability. There are no votes to manipulate not spy.

2. Security. Who cares if votes can be spied? Without security there's no useful thing you can do with that information. Threaten people who vote some way? If they voted your way, the lack of security would turn their votes into something different anyway.

3. Secrecy. In a weird, twisted form of logic, I'd prefer lack of secrecy as long as security fails; atleast then we'd be able to verify accuracy. Please note that the paper trail that many people want is inherently less secret than the current situation; it just adds another way of votes being identified. What would you prefer?

IMHO, secrecy is the least of the problems.

I voted VVD. Now stop complaining about secrecy and make sure my vote actually counts as I intended it!

Re:bad UI (1)

iSoph (1015465) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851613)

"they are not computers but totally electronic machines" is frequently used by city officials, it must be prominently featured in the manufacturer or distributor glossy leaflets.
At the heart of the Nedap is a Motorola 68000 processsor, when you tell people that it was used in Macintosh and Atari 20 years ago they get a sense that it is indeed a computer.

Re:bad UI (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851755)

I have seen a lot of this shocking belief : "If it was not secure, computer people would tell us so"

We have been for several years now. However it's rather difficult to get the mainstream media to pay attention, because if voter turnout is low, it follows that interest in the election is low. And most news outlets consider technology stuff to be fairly uninteresting anyway.

So interest in "how secure is the computerised voting system?" (and therefore "how worthwhile is it dedicating some time in a mainstream news broadcast?") is considered by the media to be as near zero as makes no odds.

Re:bad UI (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851883)

Well from my experience, 30% of the people who have gone voting are interested into the issue. And this year we had a record participation : nearly 90%.

No Wonder They're Confused! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18851509)

Someone screwed around with the language setting and got the machines stuck in French! I hate when that happens, look for "Anglais" to get back to sanity.

Re:bad UI (0, Troll)

jeremyp (130771) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851515)

Yeah, it's a pile of junk. It looks like the software is buggy too, it seems to have printed a load of random letters on the screen instead of understandable English.

Re:bad UI (1)

pointfiftyae (993509) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851751)

Uh, I voted electronically but the machine wasn't this one at all. It was a Nedap [election-systems.eu] machine, with big fat buttons which had the candidates' names written on them. Then you verify the name you selected on a little LCD display and confirm with another big fat blue button on the top. Moreover, there were explanations everywhere about how the machines work (yeah, I know this isn't enough for some people...) AND everyone recieved a short how-to at home, along with the candidates' programs (so much for paper economy ;-)). If the machines had problems, it certainly wasn't because of their UI.

Of course, there is the problem of no paper trail and non-transparency of the vote. But honestly, the machines were so dumb simple to use, it really felt like there was no way to cheat... And the same machines are already in use in the Netherlands without problems (or so they told us). Anyway, I globally felt they were much more reliable than what I've read about Diebold machines with accessible memory cards and everything... Not that I really know how they're like, never seen one.

I think we should give these machines a try if they're as simple as those used in France last sunday. However, open-sourcing the code would be a good thing.

Additional image here [20minutes.fr]

Re:bad UI (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18851255)

The UI is actually very simple.

I was not able to vote because of my nationality (Swedish) but my French wife did. The machine she used was located in the suburb of Boulogne-Billancourt right next to Issy-Les-Moulineaux mentioned in the article. I don't know the brand of the machine she used. She only gave me a brief explanation on how it worked so the info I give here might not be 100% accurate.

First you go to an official and turn in your voting card. Then you go to the machine. You have nine numbers. Each of the first eight numbers represent a candidate and the ninth represents a blank vote .
Press a number and your candidates name appears on the screen. Confirm your choice. Go back to the official and say you've voted. The official put a stamp on you card and you're done. Next person can now vote.

My wife said it was a simple process but have a few big issues with it.

1. She does not trust that it will keep her vote anonymous.
2. There is no paper trail.
3. Only one machine available, so the waiting time was over an hour and a half.

Re:bad UI (1)

pe1chl (90186) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851823)

This probably was a Nedap machine similar to what we have in the Netherlands. A field of buttons with overlay on which the names of the candidates are printed, a two-line character-only LCD display that echoes the candidate name selected, and a larger button for confirmation. This is not the machine shown in the picture.

This indeed is a quite simple UI that does not cause problems here. What worries people is that there is a strict sequencing of voters: you present your ID, the clerk notes down your details and gives you the clearance to vote and sometimes even a sequence-ticket that you have to present to the person operating the machine.
This at least gives the impression that the entire procedure is carefully recorded and at the end of day all votes can be matched to the voter's names.

In reality, the machine does not record the votes made in sequence, but a voter cannot verify that. Of course, when it would printout votes on a paper trail, it would be much easier to match up votes to voters. For anonymity, paper trails are more risky. They mainly improve the accountability.

So all the parties that polled badly (4, Insightful)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851037)

In the highest turnout since the sixties are unhappy with the machines. Quelle Surprise. Strangely enough none of the main stream media seem to have noticed this 'Catastrophe'.

Re:So all the parties that polled badly (4, Informative)

medoc (90780) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851113)

No mainstream media. Yeah Right.
http://www.lemonde.fr/web/article/0,1-0@2-823448,3 6-900258@51-898967,0.html [lemonde.fr]
It's not the parties who polled badly which complain, it's the electors. I am a Sarkosy elector (polled nice, thanks), and I can tell you I'm not happy with the queuing.

I'll just translate the last phrase from the article:
A 20 h 45, les derniers électeurs du bureau 5 font encore la queue derrière la grille. Les derniers ne verront pas le soleil se coucher.
At 8 45 PM [poll supposedly closed at 8], the last voters from poll place 5 are still queuing behind the closed doors. The last ones will not see the sun set.

Re:So all the parties that polled badly (1)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851235)

So it was a bit slow. How is this a catastrophe? You may recall the recent US presedential election there was also a very high turnout and extensive queues, 5-6 hours in some cases and polling station hours were extended in places to cater for the delay. Not all these polling stations were using machines either. This should have been the end of the world as we know it if a couple of hours is a catastrophe.

Re:So all the parties that polled badly (1, Flamebait)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851353)

The difference is that, in Florida, at least, the polling stations had delays due to deliberate underprovisioning of the machines - poor people vote democrat and there's a definite republican bias in the Florida executive branch.

Re:So all the parties that polled badly (2, Insightful)

medoc (90780) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851357)

I agree that calling it a catastrophe is pushing it. But people are complaining not just because they had to wait but because the queues can't be explained by the high turnout. They put one machine in places where there had been 4 voting booths previously. And voting with the machine is *not* faster. The problem with this is that some people probably just gave up (which had no effect on overall turnout *this time* because the machines are still sort of experimental and installed in few places).

Re:So all the parties that polled badly (3, Insightful)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851555)

So not a catastrophe and not an issue with the machines themselves then. It's just an administration and logistical issue in a limited trial. Bullshit article on one of Slashdots pet hates is basically what you are trying to say I think.

Re:So all the parties that polled badly (1)

246o1 (914193) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851407)

And you may recall that the US election was widely regarded as a catastrophe.

Of course, part of that was due to the clearly rigged nature of the voting machine shortages (Democratic neighborhoods in Ohio, etc.), rather than just the fact of (unconscionably) long waits.

Tiens ça vote Sarko? (-1, Troll)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851289)

Tu aimes payer la taxe Microsoft?
Tu aimes les brevets logiciels?
Tu aimes George Bush?

Qu'est-ce que tu fais, exactement, sur Slashdot?

Re:Tiens ça vote Sarko? (1)

Ghostalker474 (1022885) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851441)

Translation? Anyone?

Re:Tiens ça vote Sarko? (1)

BlueTrin (683373) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851617)

It said:

Tiens ça vote Sarko?(Score:1, Troll) by Nicolas MONNET (4727) Alter Relationship on Tuesday April 24, @09:08AM (#18851289)(http://slashdot.org/)
Tu aimes payer la taxe Microsoft?
Tu aimes les brevets logiciels?
Tu aimes George Bush?


Qu'est-ce que tu fais, exactement, sur Slashdot?


So people are voting for Sarko (ie Nicolas Sarkozy)

Do you like to pay the Microsoft tax ?
Do you like software patents ?
Do you like George Bush

What are you doing, exactly, on Slashdot ?

Re:Tiens ça vote Sarko? (1)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851653)

Oh c'm'on, you know what "aimes", Microsoft, George Bush and "taxe" mean!

Re:So all the parties that polled badly (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18851747)

Well, you can see that in a different light:

All major parties are against voting machines since before the election. The only proponent party is the UMP, lead by Nicolas Sarkozy, who was French Interior Minister until a couple of weeks ago (and the French Interior Minister is the one that is responsible of organizing the elections).

And, well, all major medias have noticed this 'catastrophe' (le monde, le figaro, france inter, etc, etc)

Possible non-technical explanation for queues? (5, Interesting)

ratbag (65209) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851041)

The turnout was reported at 84% - a post-war record and considerably higher than past elections. It could just be that capacity planning was to blame, rather than the voting machines.

Thats the problem with elections... (5, Funny)

patio11 (857072) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851191)

... people turn up and try to vote. The nerve of them.

Re:Possible non-technical explanation for queues? (4, Informative)

phayes (202222) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851557)

I waited for a half an hour because I went in at 8 AM. Going in early also meant that I was called on to count the vote.

Our polling station still uses paper ballots, so the time it took depended on the turnout & not on any machines. As we let everyone vote who was in line at 8 PM, we had to wait until 10 PM to start counting. While waiting, I asked the president of the polling station what the average time was. His answer: 90 minutes on average.

A +2 hour wait was not exceptional.

The major time consumer when waiting is, as always, the verification of the voting rolls which is done by reading a long listing of registered voters. It can take them up to a minute to find your name when you forgot your voters registration card.

As there is no paper trail & the code is not open sourced I wouldn't want to use the machines they used in the areas around Paris where they used electronic voting machines. However, the wait had nothing to do with their use or non-use.

Re:Possible non-technical explanation for queues? (1)

makapuf (412290) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851575)

Sure, but replacing 5 polling booth with 1 machine is not a good way to shorten queues ...

Re:Possible non-technical explanation for queues? (1)

Antity-H (535635) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851597)

I for one would be very interested to see a comparison of the abstention rate in machine equipped voting office versus paper based voting offices...then compare the abstention rate for the same sets of voting offices in previous years.

This should make it quite clear if the machines led to any significant vote drop-out or not.

Re:Possible non-technical explanation for queues? (1)

Demerara (256642) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851999)

The turnout was reported at 84% - a post-war record and considerably higher than past elections. It could just be that capacity planning was to blame, rather than the voting machines.

All elections planning must assume 100% turnout - otherwise, you're planning for disenfranchisement. Typically, over 100% paper ballots will be allocated to polling stations, to allow for spoiled papers etc.

But, I've never, ever encountered an election where they only catered for some percentage above the previous election's turnout. And I work in elections support all over the world.

I will follow this story closely as the pattern (same vendor of e-voting machines) is worrying. Thanks for raising the poor planning issue as a possiblity - but I think that's not the problem here.

Next up.. (1)

Huwawa (923056) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851057)

French Revolution, Part 2.

French Voting Machines a "Catastrophe" (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851065)

If these machines were a total mess here in the US, why did they think it was going to work in France?

230V vs 110V (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851601)

France has better electricity than USA.

Re:French Voting Machines a "Catastrophe" (1)

ThePromenader (878501) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851715)

A note of irony to all this - do you know who makes most of the electronic banking machines for th BNP, one of the biggest banks in France? Diebold. There's one on every Paris mainstreet corner.

Well Christ, no wonder! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18851071)

They only had three machines for everybody to use, and two of them were off being tested in some lab?

It's a wonder any votes were cast at all!

Since when... (0, Troll)

Tehrasha (624164) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851091)

..did the world change just because the French said something was bad?

Re:Since when... (1)

Huwawa (923056) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851131)

Since France helped America during the American Revolution.

Re:Since when... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18851147)

Maybe we should listen more when they say that something will go bad *cough*iraq*cough*

Re:Since when... (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851239)

Advice which would've held a lot more weight if they weren't unethically benefiting from the status quo. And also if they'd given it.

Refusing to join an armed conflict is not the same as predicting its future problems.

Re:Since when... (1)

fbjon (692006) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851559)

French: *benefits from status quo*
US: "Ey, you can't do that!"
US: *starts a war and benefits from it, just to fuck around*


</fling poo>

Re:Since when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18851607)

This is blatlant revisionism. Not only they predicted the war would destabilise the region (instead of creating a democracy that would be an example in the middle-east), but they were not the only ones to do it. How arrogant you are, by not admitting your mistakes!

Re:Since when... (1)

bug1 (96678) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851675)

"Advice which would've held a lot more weight if they weren't unethically benefiting from the status quo"

Your right, from now on, lets do what Halliburton thinks is best, they arent french /irony

Cluster ? (1)

BeoCluster (995566) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851107)

Maybe we need to create a BeoWulf Cluster of Voting Machines so that people can vote at a petaflop rate Anyway France sucks (I know it, I'm french) as Much as America in so many ways so lets add another one

Re:Cluster ? (1)

4D6963 (933028) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851163)

lol, so, you just go around making Beowulf cluster jokes about anything you can? Man, you're the craziest frenchman I've ever seen, I know it, I'm french too ;-).

And the USA don't suck as much as France, are you crazy? (based on my previous comment about your mental health I guess we can consider it a rhetorical question)

I blame discrimination (1)

Koby77 (992785) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851145)

'Researchers at Paul Verlaine University in Metz said that trials on two of the three machines used in France showed that four people out of every seven aged over 65 could not get their votes recorded.'

So the machines are discriminating against old people?!? How do the machines know? If confirmed, these could be some of the most advanced systems in existence!

Btw, what date do they become self-aware and trigger Judgement Day?

if it's hard to use (2, Interesting)

nanosquid (1074949) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851155)

then it's probably very secure :-)

Seriously, developers of security-related software often neglect usability, either making their systems insecure because people just disable or work around security, or making their systems unusable by many people.

Not surprising (1)

arrrrrpirates (1008235) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851165)

I would have had trouble voting in a foreign language as well.

I don't see the problem... (0)

shaitand (626655) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851175)

I didn't see anything that said the machines failed to function properly. If one is too stupid to grasp the concept of electronic menus then one isn't bright enough to making decisions about how the nation should be run.

I would not be at all surprised to find out that most of those 4 out of 7 people over the age of 65 have felt the effects of old age upon their minds. Sorry grey panthers. The elderly deserve respect for their time and we should all do our best to see to it that those in the golden years live comfortably. As a society we owe that to those who built the world we live in today as the following generations will owe it to us for our contributions to the world. That said, the right to make decisions in how society is run should be lost when retirement age comes.

I also think that drivers/pilots licenses should have to be renewed each year in person once retirement age is reached and that the renewal should require passing both vision tests and tests to measure reaction times. Every 5 years a driven test should probably have to be passed as well. The elderly are rarely in traffic accidents but it is not uncommon to find an elderly individual blissfully moving on after causing an accident behind them when they ran a stop sign or red light.

Re:I don't see the problem... (1)

Huwawa (923056) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851249)

My grandfather has dementia and still passed the driving test.

Re:I don't see the problem... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18851679)

A few questions for you:
- Have you ever had any problem with touchscreen in public places (ATM, ticketing machines)?
I'm thinking lag, unresponsiveness, and so on. If you're 65 and you don't have much contact with technology, no wonder it becomes difficult to use.
- If you go the way of removing the right to vote to seniors, where do draw the line? Only people still working deserves the right to vote?
- Also, do you realize that most of the people ruling your country are elder people?

Re:I don't see the problem... (2, Informative)

vux984 (928602) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851803)

That said, the right to make decisions in how society is run should be lost when retirement age comes.

Yeah. And criminals shouldn't be allowed to make decisions either, after all they aren't part of society, even 20 years after they've been released. They forfeit the right, and clearly have nothing intelligent to contribute anyways.

And for that matter, people who don't pay more than 5,000 per year in income tax shouldn't have a vote either; the people paying for government should be the ones who decide how its run.
Oh oh, and only university graduates should be able to vote; dumb uneducated dimwits shouldn't have a vote.
And and anyone under 30 shouldn't be allowed to vote. They lack experience.
And anyone handicapped shouldn't be allowed to vote.
And you've got to own real-estate. If your not a land-owner, you shouldn't have a say in how the country is run. Your just a tenant.
And of course you've got to be in the military to vote, people not willing to fight for the country shouldn't have any say.

Soooo... are *you* still allowed to vote?

Me, I'd prefer it it the other way: all citizens of age get to vote. (fwiw I'm against denying anyone voting rights, even criminals. Seems to me like too great a risk to democracy to make it THAT easy to prevent someone from voting.)

Sure it means a boatload of unqualified idiots and morons get to vote, but hey, its their country too. If they want to vote for the incompetent and corrupt incumbent simply because they recognize his/her name, that's their right.

If you want to improve on how well democracy works, figure out a way of making the voters you have choose better, not a way of eliminating voters.

I also think that drivers/pilots licenses should have to be renewed each year in person once retirement age is reached and that the renewal should require passing both vision tests and tests to measure reaction times.....

Why wait until retirement age? most of the idiot drivers I see on the street who don't belong there are far far younger than retirement age. Mandatory testing on an annual basis would keep a lot of them off the roads.

Security? (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851243)

What use is security if there's nothing to secure?

No to voting machines. (5, Insightful)

cuby (832037) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851253)

You can call me old fashion but I am against all kinds of voting machines.
Democracy works when free elections can be held and its results checked by any common citizen.
I don't know in the US, but in Europe, any participant in the elections has the right to a representative in all the pooling stations. Any common person can count the votes and confirm its results. When voting machines exist there's no real way for this kind of direct check.
First, because even if the code is open source, only programmers can check it. This is unfair to any other kind of citizen.
Second, popular participation. The mobilization of thousands of people in election days, counting the votes is a blessing and a grant of democracy. I've been a representative in several elections and I tell you, people enjoy being there helping and feel proud of it.
Democracy is the power of the people not the machines.

Re:No to voting machines. (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851311)

even if the code is open source, only programmers can check it. This is unfair to any other kind of citizen.
You're so right..

It is unfair that only the mathematicians can check the counting.

It is unfair that only the literate can read the ballot.

Perhaps programming should be taught in public schools.

Oh wait.

Re:No to voting machines. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18851501)

Congratulations, you magnificently missed or avoided the point!

Re:No to voting machines. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18851665)

1+1=2

abc

for($i=0;$i

The first two you learn at age 4, the last you learn at age 18+ (in school). Most people don't get as far as that.

Re:No to voting machines. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18851329)

"Once men turned their thinking over to machines in hope that this would set them free. But that only permitted other men with machines to enslave them." -- Frank Herbert, 1965

Re:No to voting machines. (1)

Animedude (714940) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851709)

You are so right. I really do not understand why people are so dead set on introducing voting machines. Paper ballots work. There is no need to change them, and any kind of machine introduces new chances for errors - and manipulations. Everybody can go to the place where votes are counted and verify that nothing illegal is going on. But no normal voter can verify that a voting machine does not contain code which changes a "0" to a "1" every now and then. Making a cross on a piece of paper and putting that paper into an envelope is wonderfully simple, and whenever somebody questions the result of the election, you can just take those papers and recount. When a machine screws up and somebody says "no way those numbers are correct", what then? If the machine may have been at fault, you need some kind of paper trail. So you recount the printouts, because they are more reliable. Why then not just ONLY count the printouts in the first place? Oh wait, counting pieces of paper with votes on them - that's what we have been doing all along already...

So far nobody brought forth any convincing arguments WHY we need voting machines. Faster results? Why is that so important? Why can't we wait half a day for the results? And it's not exactly as if voting machines make things faster, as we can see...

What are the benefits of these machines? (3, Interesting)

ex-geek (847495) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851291)

I don't really see the benefit of these machines. Sure, you get the results a little bit earlier, but that's hardly important. So why are some countries adopting voting machines, while others don't even think about it?

What is the TCO of these things anyway? These machines are used maybe once a year. Will they still work in ten years down the line? Lots of motherboards don't due to failing CMOS batteries for example. It seems to me that given the rapid pace of changes in the field of computing and networking, it would be very difficult to maintain such a system over decades. Do voting machines use modems? What if everybody uses VoIP and cell phones in ten years?

Re:What are the benefits of these machines? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18851327)

At least in the USA the driving factor must have been that they can't count, as shown multiple times.

In Germany we never had any problems, and since there are SO MANY problems with voting machines, I hope we'll just NOT use them.

Learn to count, and paper voting is totally ok, and fast enough too.

They're not even faster! (2, Insightful)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851433)

There's no fucking point to this machines, esp. not in France, where we only have ONE question per vote, not 200 initiatives like in California. It's a highly parallelizable process. 90% of precincts had preliminary results before many electronic precincts had even finished /polling/, due to delays.

Re:They're not even faster! (1)

Solol (1001970) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851875)

My thoughts exactly (except the sig)

Re:What are the benefits of these machines? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18851843)

> I don't really see the benefit of these machines. Sure, you get the results a little bit earlier, but that's hardly important.

In fact, you don't: in France, the results available based on exit-polls at poll closing are seldom different from the true results, and elections are not as close as in the US (where the two-party line made the 50/50 market share an optimum).

And if the election is close, having to wait for the various cities and regions is, imho, a feature. If the election score is close, it is worth talking longer to settle, and talk about it. And the wait is hardly significant (I recall that close regional elections took 2 or 3 hours to settle down). Nothing important.

Lastly, French election are *very* simple. Twelve papers, one envelope. Who do you want for president. No other questions asked. Zero need for voting machines. *Plenty* of volunteers to count results.

> So why are some countries adopting voting machines, while others don't even think about it?

Money. Lobby. Pork. Fraud.

In other words... (4, Funny)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851333)

Some French voters have reportedly turned away in disgust after facing up to two hours in lines to use the machines.

In other words, they threw up their hands and surrendered.
[Their place in line, of course.]

Quelle surprise!

Re:In other words... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18851605)

Bad french jokes getting modded up.... quelle surprise. That joke never gets old it seems.

Antagonism against a powerful rival nation that goes back hundreds of years, that might explain jokes by the British. But why are have the Americans adopted this view uncritically? The French helped you in your struggle for independence, much of the ideas of your government comes from French enlightenment philosophers, they gave you the statue of Liberty...

Not to mention the many wars where French have fought well and bravely. See the resistance fighters or the free french forces who participated at d-day in WW2 for instance. Or Napoleon who conquered most of Europe.

This doesn't sound very french. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18851335)

Some French voters have reportedly surrendered after facing up to two hours in lines to use the machines.

Thats more like it.

Re:This doesn't sound very french. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18851649)

And if Americans had listened to the french and not gone into iraq it would have saved you from your defeat.

Good ole way works fine thanks (3, Insightful)

Nicolas MONNET (4727) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851355)

I voted on the good ole paper & ballot box system, it took a whole 1 min.

My cousin, in another part of the country, had to vote on a machine. He protested to the head of the polling station, who laughed it off (after all, what does he know about machines, he's just an average electrical engineer), cause, you see, it's been validated by the ministry of interior.

Who's the minister of interior? Oh, that's right, that fascist hugging, Microsoft cocksucking, software patent supporting son of a motherfucking female dog (my apologies to our canine friends). [grioo.com]

Re:Good ole way works fine thanks (1)

Beretta Vexe (535187) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851585)

It's a fake, anybody knows that Sarko is a shorter than that ;-)

Outsource! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18851363)

India's expertise [google.com] in this area is unrivalled.

Paper ballots (3, Funny)

Dobeln (853794) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851375)

One word: Paper ballots.

Re:Paper ballots (1)

kiddailey (165202) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851523)

With counting like that, the paper vote tally will be just as incorrect as an electronic one!

(sorry, you handed it to me and I had to take it)

Re:Paper ballots (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18851567)

> One word: Paper ballots.

And to think nobody saw anything wrong with giving idiots "the vote"...

Re:Paper ballots (1)

ThePromenader (878501) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851757)

That would be: paperballots. There should be SOME sort of trace - and I don't see why they can't use computers to make the system <i>better</i>. For example, why not give each vote a unique ID number, and have the machine spit out a paper 'receit' with that tracking number - and the vote - printed on it? That would both reassure me - and confirm that I placed my vote correctly. And reassure me that, if worse came to worse, there'd be something 'real' to recount.

Computers... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18851409)

...another proof that computers are made for playing WoW... WoW, only!

I don't understand why people keep inventing words like AJAX, Beans or such utter crap I keep hearing.

Computers are build for playing WoW. Everyone who uses computers for work is doomed and will die a serious heart disease.

Computers are made for WoW and nothing else. You play WoW and if you meet a chick there you meet her in real life to have a talk and sex... without a computer.

You don't need to make a living with computers. Chicks don't care about computers.

France-élections is not the manufacturer (3, Informative)

yogikoudou (806237) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851517)

Nedap [wikipedia.org] is. They had to change their machines in the Netherlands after the group Wij vertrouwen stemcomputers niet [wijvertrou...ersniet.nl] demonstrated flaws, especially with the LCD screen - it was possible to detect the selected vote remotely using a Tempest-like effect, if I understand correctly).

Anyways, I voted on such a machine, and saw how old people had trouble using it. It is also the first time I had to wait to vote (15 minutes instead of less than one), because their was only one machine and many people had to be told how to use it.

Two of the main parties called for their removal; I hope this is going to happen.

Re:France-élections is not the manufacturer (1)

malkir (1031750) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851681)

Using this method? [slashdot.org]

it's really very simple (5, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851547)

or at least, it should be

check marks on a piece of paper, that can then be scanned optically, is no more complicated than voting should ever get. it's not a prolem that needs to be solved more efficiently. the more important consideration when it comes to democracy is legitimacy, trust. and if you can't feel it taste it touch it, if it's a voting machine contraption, or an electronic doodad, trust goes down

and for good reason: all voting mechanisms are prone to tampering. even with paper ballots, boxes of them can get lost, they can be scanned improperly, etc. but the point is, the more complicated the process, the more attack vectors you present. KISS: keep it simple stupid. a valuable concept in programming, a valuable concept when considering the voting process

the problem with people, especially on slashdot, is technophilia: we are always trying, almost fetishistically, to mechanize processes, even if they don't need to be. in most cases, this fetishism is harmless. but when faith in democracy is on the line, our technophilia needs to take a hike

Re:it's really very simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18851907)

the more important consideration when it comes to democracy is legitimacy, trust. and if you can't feel it taste it touch it, if it's a voting machine contraption, or an electronic doodad, trust goes down

Actually, the problem with democracy here is a bit worse than that.
We have a multi-party system where after elections the largest party (which still has a vast minority of votes) will negotiate with other parties of its own liking to form a coalition government that represents a majority of votes.
That means that all parties will enter the election with a lot of promises, but none of them will ever have to keep them. The parties ending up in government will claim that their promises were lost in negotiation.

Even worse: as has happened last time, the largest party may be down in percentage from last elections, but even though it has lost it still forms the government. Other parties that have gained significantly can simply be excluded from negotiations by them.

The loss of trust caused by this system is much worse than what an electronic machine can ever cause, because it is clear that the resulting government is in no way determined by the outcome of voting.

Any electronic voting procedure (2, Insightful)

fluch (126140) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851565)

Any electronic voting procedure is a cathastrophy. Plain simple as that. A electronic voting machine is a black box and it is impossible to verify the correctness of the result. Votes have to be counted in public! Nothing less. An electronic voting machine can help to get a faster estimate of the result but without paper ballots being produced and without paper ballots making the only official result a election is worthless. Plain simple as this. Any objection? - Martin

Re:Any electronic voting procedure (0)

Durkheim (960021) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851725)

Yup, mine. Stating that per se electronic voting machines are not reliable shows how little you know about technology. "Black" boxes like that one are used in airplanes, trains, and ARE reliable. To make it reliable some mechanisms exist: use double recording of the results, encode them properly, use a good authentication mecanism to get the results and voila, you're done. Being french, the main problem about the voting machines here has never been security, but bad design. For example, the "vote" button on the top of the machine (wtf?!). Also, many people never use a touch screen, even to get cash from a dispenser. I know some that still ask someone to do that for them or just go into the bank to get it. Electronic voting machines CAN be reliable, and should be a choice in my opinion. I would probably trust more a quite long key to encrypt my result rather than the one who's going to read my vote, because, as all humans, he IS error-prone.

On the plus side (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851787)

Almost all of those 1.5 million people who had to use these machines would have had to have intended to vote for François Bayrou and had their vote cast for Ségolène Royal for this to have affected the result in any meaningful way.

While this is hardly a good thing, at least the officials were sensible enough to try a limitted approach rather than impose new voting machines on every single voter without a little testing first.

Is it that difficult to build a voting machine ? (3, Interesting)

the_masked_mallard (792207) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851819)

In India, we have been using voting machines for quite some time. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_voting_machine s [wikipedia.org]
Probably no election in the Western world can compare with the muscle power, booth capturing and other illegitimate means used in India. A number of people are illiterate and yet there have been no concerns raised about the machine's usability.
It has been used in difficult inhospitable terrain, using batteries where electricity is not available. Perhaps the mindset needs to change to accept this new mechanism of voting.

KIS (1)

dark-br (473115) | more than 7 years ago | (#18851847)

Yes, really, KEEP IT SIMPLE.

The problem with all this e-voting revolution we see now on First World Countries is the obscene amount of money they have at their disposal to develop such technology.

Too much money in this case has been translated into touch screens, fancy hi-tech networked machines that simply have no focus on usability. Take the Brazilian example in contrast, the first country to have a fully electronic election (2000): No money, no touch screen, no networked machine == No problems! 100.000.000 votes counted for in less then 10 hours.

Just my 2c.

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