Beta
×

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

Thank you!

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

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

Microsoft Moves To Change NY State Election Law

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the taking-a-page-from-the-telcos dept.

Microsoft 222

myspace-cn sends us to Bo Lipari's blog where it is revealed that Microsoft has moved forcefully into New York State with proposed changes to NY state election law drafted by Microsoft attorneys. A document has been circulating (PDF) among the legislators for a while now. The proposed changes would gut the source-code escrow and review provisions in current law that were hard-fought-for and passed in New York in 2005. Microsoft is siding with the makers of voting machines that run on Windows — the company doesn't want its code inspected by outsiders. From the article: "Now the software giant has gone a step further, not just saying 'we won't comply with your law' but actively trying to change state law to serve their corporate interests... Adding insult to injury, these changes are being slipped into a bill that may be voted on Monday or Tuesday, June 18 or 19."

cancel ×

222 comments

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

Un. Bee. Leev. A. Bull. (2, Insightful)

Temtongkek (975742) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543845)

Read Subject.

Re:Un. Bee. Leev. A. Bull. (3, Insightful)

HermMunster (972336) | more than 7 years ago | (#19545409)

This is just something Microsoft will have to live with. If they want to provide access to software for that sort of device and that sort of service they need to make the code accessible to the proper authorities, otherwise stay out of that business.

how does this add insult to injury? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19543851)

see subject.

Hahaha... these Americans... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19543857)

I know they would still vote Bill Gates for president.

Just because he had so much TV time...

AARRRRGH!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19543861)

Those goddamned motherfucking bastards!!!

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of blogs. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19543863)

""Now the software giant has gone a step further, not just saying 'we won't comply with your law' but actively trying to change state law to serve their corporate interests... Adding insult to injury, these changes are being slipped into a bill that may be voted on Monday or Tuesday, June 18 or 19.""

OK. So what's the audience going to do about it?

Re:Life, liberty, and the pursuit of blogs. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19544665)

Bend over and take it up the tailpipe.

Seriously, who's even going to KNOW about this? The US is going to end up being the first country to collapse under the weight of all its corporations.

Re:Life, liberty, and the pursuit of blogs. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19544725)

You seem somehow unaware that MicroSoft is the fifth branch of government, after the news media.

Re:Life, liberty, and the pursuit of blogs. (5, Funny)

BakaHoushi (786009) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544789)

It sounds like the only way to solve America's growing problem of corporations taking over is... a good old fashioned rumble.

Microsoft v. Wal*Mart!
GE v. Disney!
Halliburton v. Exxon-Mobile!

This sunday, sunday, SUNDAY, watch white collar workers get red in the face and a bad case of the Mondays! Marketers place ads all OVEr each other's faces! Accountants will be adding up plenty of lumps!

And for the finale, Steve Ballmer v. Eisner! Hold on to your seats, because somebody is gonna get CEOwned!

Re:Life, liberty, and the pursuit of blogs. (1)

VorpalEdge (967279) | more than 7 years ago | (#19545315)

The Gilded Age says otherwise. Have you ever read any old late 1800s/early 1900s muckraker novels?

Things were far worse not so long ago, and I expect that things now will continue to get worse for quite a while until they get better.

Wrong (4, Funny)

Ramble (940291) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543871)

No matter how sympathetic I am to Microsoft and no matter how much I like Vista. This should be illegal and it is most certainly wrong. Lets hope that NY state officials have the sense to stick with open source software.

Re:Wrong (4, Insightful)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543913)

Companies lobby all the time to get laws changed in their favor. This is just "business as usual."

The real cure is electoral reform, including campaign financing. As long as "lawmakers" (I use the term liberally) can be tempted by companies with deep pockets and the hope of a seat on the board of directors after the bums are thrown out, this will just keep happening.

This is a symptom, not the disease itself.

Re:Wrong (2, Interesting)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544049)

Could you name one issue where current law diverges from majority opinion, backed by some recent survey?

Re:Wrong (1)

Associate (317603) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544211)

Some would argue the recently killed and revived immigration reform bill falls into this category.

Re:Wrong (5, Insightful)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544327)

"Could you name one issue where current law diverges from majority opinion, backed by some recent survey?"

Totally irrelevant to the issue at hand, which is that companies have more "access" to legislators than the electorate does.

Electoral laws need reform.

But since you asked - the current war in Iraq. Current law funds it - current public opinion is that the invasion was a mistake and to get out.

Another one - the deficit. Current law says its okay to run huge deficits, and to keep raising the legal deficit ceiling. public opinion is WTF [ttp]

The debt ceiling was raised just over a year ago. It's going to have to be raised again in the VERY near future.

Ten trillion or bust? More like Ten trillion AND bust!

Re:Wrong (1, Insightful)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544551)

otally irrelevant to the issue at hand, which is that companies have more "access" to legislators than the electorate does.

I'd say it's completely relevant -- if the law currently already does what "the people" want, what's the "value-add" of more stringent campaign financing rules?

But since you asked - the current war in Iraq. Current law funds it - current public opinion is that the invasion was a mistake and to get out.

No, it isn't. The Democrats control both houses and would have already done this if they didn't think it would get them kicked out of office at the next election.

Another one - the deficit. Current law says its okay to run huge deficits, and to keep raising the legal deficit ceiling. public opinion is WTF

I couldn't read the link (after trying some variants), but I suspect it simply says the public doesn't like deficits. But it's one thing to favor reducing debt in the abstract; it's quite another to accept the tradeoffs that that would require. Is the public willing to curtail lots of programs or raise taxes to pay down the deficit? Apparently not.

Re:Wrong (4, Insightful)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544633)

The Democrats control both houses and would have already done this if they didn't think it would get them kicked out of office at the next election.

No, that's a balance of power issue. Pulling the troops won't hurt the Democrats in the next elections -- not as a whole, anyway -- but Bush will veto any bill that contains a deadline, and Congress doesn't have a veto-proof majority on the topic. What ends up happening (theoretically) is that the troops eventually don't get supplies, and due to that the Democrats get hurt. The president simply has the upper hand on this issue, regardless of the feeling of the populace or the majority party in Congress.

Re:Wrong (1)

trolltalk.com (1108067) | more than 7 years ago | (#19545057)

missed the h in http [wwwamerica...eficithtml]

You asked if there was any poll that showed a difference between current law and public opinion. While its totally irrelevant to the need for campaign reform (I'll address that in a moment) even one counter-example should be sufficient.

Your response that it is an "either-or" is a "missing middle" logical fallacy. Spending would have been hundreds of billions less if it weren't for the BS that the US pulled on the "missing WMDs" in its headlong rush to go to war with Iraq at any cost. That's a simple fact, and the current polls back this understanding.

Now, back to electoral reform - for people to trust a system, it not only has to work - it has to be SEEN to work. Electoral reform is an essential ingredient to that. Is it that hard to understand?

Re:Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19545307)

don't feed the troll, damnit. This karma whore is pulling the references out of his ass. The only CORRECT links this guy posts are to goatse

Re:Wrong (2, Interesting)

value_added (719364) | more than 7 years ago | (#19545055)

Totally irrelevant to the issue at hand, which is that companies have more "access" to legislators than the electorate does.

While I agree with the sentiment, I think that statement is somewhere between overbroad and naive. Put yourself in the shoes of an elected official (in any level of government) and see if you can answer the Pop Quiz "Whose call would you take?"

(a) Brad and Angelina call to make an appointment to discuss an issue of importance.

(b) A non-profit public interest group calls to advocate their positions on a specific matter of interest.

(c) A vocal and annoying citizens group (one that represents a large voter base) calls to schedule yet another meeting on a series of topics.

(d) A CEO whose business employs several thousand people in your district and generates big tax revenues for the economy calls to schedule an extended lunch appointment.

(e) Numerous well-informed, educated and articulate individuals who want to make the world a better place call to share their opinions.

If you picked (e), congratulations on being well-intentioned, but good luck making up with all those folks (the ones that matter) that are now pissed off. And good luck getting re-elected.

Electoral laws need reform.

Indeed. But getting that done is uphill both ways. Much like getting citizens to actually vote.

Wrong Wong. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19545469)

"Another one - the deficit. Current law says its okay to run huge deficits, and to keep raising the legal deficit ceiling. public opinion is WTF"

Is this the same country whose citizens have a negative savings rate?

Re:Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19544477)

Sure, since I live in Connecticut that's an easy one. Eminent Domain [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Wrong (2, Informative)

Cheviot (248921) | more than 7 years ago | (#19545249)

Backed by a current survey... no... but...

Recently a 14 year old girl was charged with producing and possessing child pornography for taking and sending a topless picture of herself to her 14 year old boyfriend.

Now, no one thinks she should be doing this... but likewise I think the majority of people in this country can agree that not only wasn't she producing child pornography, but that she's also not a sex offender, as she would be automatically classified if she's convicted of the child pornography charge.

Re:Wrong (2, Funny)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 7 years ago | (#19545299)

Duh?

Music Piracy.

Re:Wrong (3, Insightful)

daeg (828071) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544059)

I think having full "cvs blame" on ALL legislation would be a great start to complete overhaul.

Currently we can see some of the evolution of a bill into law, but much of the direct personal responsibility is masked by committee changes. A lawmaker would be far, far more careful if he knew everyone (media, citizens, etc) could see exactly what changes he made, and when.

The "when" is important, for instance, a change of a bill a day before being voted on should be a major red flag.

Re:Wrong (4, Interesting)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544821)

I would like to see reform go even farther. How about, "only one specific topic per bill" no tagging anything on any bill, ever. There would be no need for a line item veto, because there would ever only be one line item. With the enormous bloat of our legislation we don't need to worry about the efficiency with which more law can be passed. But we do need to have clarity in what is being proposed, and voted on.

Re:Wrong (1)

jellie (949898) | more than 7 years ago | (#19545223)

Just to add to that, I think bills should be named after the person or people who introduced it, so that there's some accountability. I know it would definitely lead to cryptic names (though Sarbanes-Oxley, Roth, etc. aren't that bad), but it's still better than having propaganda-like names such as the "USA PATRIOT Act" and the "Help America Vote Act" (which gave financial incentives to use DRE voting machines, though other provisions were certainly beneficial). I imagine that people would accuse a politician of being a "terrorist" for not supporting the "Patriot" act.

Re:Wrong (4, Informative)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544849)

A lawmaker would be far, far more careful if he knew everyone (media, citizens, etc) could see exactly what changes he made, and when.

I have the impression there's a name [transparency.org] for that.
BTW, I think Slashdot and Transparency Intl. should collaborate more closely. Just a thought.

Re:Wrong (2, Insightful)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544277)

The real cure is electoral reform,

And a very significant part of the electoral process is haveing a voting system you can count on. From the proposed changes to the law, it looks like MS would like to make voting software from "off the shelf" Windows components. Why would they push for a differentiation between primarly-for-voteing or not, unless they were not going to be building this 100% custom? Do we really want our voting software to be compatible with home PCs? Do we want that software even based on a system that many many people have years of experience in finding weaknesses? Hell, if we are going to vote that way, just make the presidential election a web survey.

Re:Wrong (1)

bit01 (644603) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544959)

Companies lobby all the time to get laws changed in their favor. This is just "business as usual."

So what? This doesn't change whether particular law change lobbying is ethical or not. In this case it is clearly unethical; openness in every aspect of the voting process is needed for obvious reasons, despite M$' self-serving attempt to obscure that.

Or to put it another way: Why does getting paid to do something automatically make it ethical and right?

The "I was only doing my job" excuse went out at Nuremberg and you're being disingenuous trying to promote it now.

Yes, financing reform is needed. Doesn't change the fact that people at M$ are being unethical also.

---

"Advertising supported" just means you're paying twice over, once in time to watch/avoid the ad and twice in the increased price of the product to pay for the ad.

Godwin's Law (1)

deskin (1113821) | more than 7 years ago | (#19545173)

The "I was only doing my job" excuse went out at Nuremberg

I think you might have just triggered Godwin's Law there. On to the next article...

Re:Wrong (3, Interesting)

IdleTime (561841) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544063)

I can not believe what I'm reading...

When are you American going to say enough is enough and cut down this crap? The US political system is a disaster and designed for corruption and this you think is the best? It's one of the worst political systems I have ever seen.

But I guess, you all feel fine and still think that USA is greatest thing since sliced bread. It is not, I have lived and worked in 6 different 1st world countries and USA is by far the worst.

Re:Wrong (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19544157)

Wow, IdleTime says the USA sucks, so it must be true. You did such a good job of telling us something that is wrong with the US political system, or naming a country who has one that is better. We all learned so much from your comment.

Re:Wrong (-1, Offtopic)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544257)

I've been in five [is Ireland first world? hehehe kiddin] 1st world nations and I can say there are areas of the USA that suck ass. There are areas that are ok, and places that are amazing. Depends on where you are. I can also say the same about Canada [where I live], Ireland, the UK and France.

That being said, no nation is immune from shitty politics. Look at the corruption in the Liberal party of Canada for starters [and the Senate]. Look at the handling of Northern Ireland in the UK, look at the work conditions in France, etc. Bad policies and decisions exist everywhere.

Of course I think e-voting is stupid since distributed vote counting by hand is not only easier and cheaper, but involves the public which is a good thing.

Tom

Re:Wrong (1)

Ajehals (947354) | more than 7 years ago | (#19545125)

Look at the handling of Northern Ireland in the UK
Just out of interest (And I agree that there have been some major issues regarding N. Ireland) what element of the way the situation in N. Ireland has been/is being handled do you take issue with? How does that issue relate to the way legislation is drafted?

Re:Wrong (1)

Tuoqui (1091447) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544523)

No matter how sympathetic I am to Microsoft and no matter how much I like Vista. This should be illegal and it is most certainly wrong. Lets hope that NY state officials have the sense to stick with open source software.

Wait you like Vista? So that makes what? 3 people now.

And yes it should be illegal. So should many other things that companies do like downsizing in the name of profit.

Re:Wrong (2, Funny)

Ramble (940291) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544759)

Three, are you crazy? At least tens of dozens.

Re:Wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19545401)

No, that's just the people who don't particularly hate Vista. We're talking about the people who actually _like_ vista, which would be a dozen at most if you don't count Microsoft's upper management.

That is why we should have stuck with paper ballot (5, Insightful)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544871)

This is just one more reason we should have stuck with the paper ballot. Despite all the complaints about the 2000 election, there was a clear paper trail to follow. I do not believe that there is any way to make an electronic ballot that there is a way to make it so that the average person could be confident that the vote wasn't rigged. Even with open source software, unless you compiled the code yourself (or at least were present when it was compiled), how do you know that the "open" code is actually what they installed on the machine?

Re:That is why we should have stuck with paper bal (1)

carlossch (459196) | more than 7 years ago | (#19545493)

Even with open source software, unless you compiled the code yourself (or at least were present when it was compiled), how do you know that the "open" code is actually what they installed on the machine?

It's worse than that [acm.org] , actually.

Microsoft shouldn't be in the voting business (4, Insightful)

cyberianpan (975767) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543891)

Any form of eVoting will raise trust issues. Without source code there cannot be trust of a complex computer program - testing won't work. E.g. maybe only when sysdate is 15.May.2009 will a particular "feature" manifest. Microsoft are a closed source firm so they shouldn't go near eVoting.

Re:Microsoft shouldn't be in the voting business (2, Funny)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543915)

What's the big deal? It's already a BLUE state...

Re:Microsoft shouldn't be in the voting business (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19543935)

Testing with source code or inspection doesn't work either.

The only thing that works is a verifiable paper trail, so arguing about open vs. closed source on voting machines is totally moot.

Re:Microsoft shouldn't be in the voting business (1)

bit01 (644603) | more than 7 years ago | (#19545073)

Testing with source code or inspection doesn't work either.

It works better than closed source.

The only thing that works is a verifiable paper trail, so arguing about open vs. closed source on voting machines is totally moot.

Nonsense. This is a false dichotomy, beloved of marketing parasites everywhere.

To take just one example closed code could randomly not provide or make inaccessible options so the voter is not even aware their vote is being biased. Even something as simple as changing the colors on the display slightly.

Openness in the code helps. A paper trail helps also. All aspects of the voting process should be open to promote confidence in the voting system.

---

Astroturfing "marketers" [wikipedia.org] are liars, fraudulently misrepresenting company propaganda as objective third party opinion.

Re:Microsoft shouldn't be in the voting business (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19543961)

Even if you get the source code, you still can not trust "eVoting". How do you know the voting machines aren't using modified source code?

Answer: You don't.

Re:Microsoft shouldn't be in the voting business (1)

saibot834 (1061528) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543983)

Parent is right. Any form of eVoting must be free software so that everyone can study it (or learn how to study it first). Besides, Microsoft is a way too big company that has its own political interests.

Re:Microsoft shouldn't be in the voting business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19544397)

Any form of eVoting must be free software so that everyone can study it


Why? How can you be sure that the audited code is actually running on the machine? How do you know that it's not just in a VMM that looks like it is running the right code, when behind the scenes, it isn't. How do you know that that network card (made in China) isn't changing packets?

There needs to be verification outside of the computer. No amount of open source can guarantee that something somewhere isn't being funny. The threat model goes beyond the software involved.

Re:Microsoft shouldn't be in the voting business (3, Insightful)

Tatarize (682683) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544115)

This is a match made in heaven though. The mission critical nature of eVoting combined with the fantastic security of Microsoft.

There's a reason so many Computer Scientists oppose eVoting, we think we could steal an election if we tried... and that's just a wee bit too easy.

Re:Microsoft shouldn't be in the voting business (1)

dana340 (914286) | more than 7 years ago | (#19545271)

being the mis-represented group of computer scientists that we are,why don't we just right the machines to vote CowboyNeal in as President, and the top moderators of slashdot to the legislature. this way, we can fix all these damn issues!

Re:Microsoft shouldn't be in the voting business (4, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544285)

The only thing that keeps the voting system honest is *people* who care more about the accuracy of the results than whether or not a particular party wins. In other words: little old ladies, and they're not the ones pushing for these devices. They're perfectly happy to keep counting the slips of paper.

Re:Microsoft shouldn't be in the voting business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19544503)

http://www.acm.org/classics/sep95/ [acm.org]

source code isn't everything.

and sure, you can claim gcc protects you from this with its multi-pass compile process, but you'd be wrong. at least generally you do get some level of protection by cross compiling a fairly random set of compilers in some sort of interesting chain but how many people actually have enough rare yet open source compilers that they're willing to use to circumvent this?

rent-a-center, or Rent a Senator? (4, Interesting)

v1 (525388) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543943)

these changes are being slipped into a bill that may be voted on Monday or Tuesday, June 18 or 19."

Can someone explain why it is that politicians are allowed to "slip" completely unrelated items into bills that must be voted on all-or-nothing? They do this all the time, tacking on things that only a small minority want, onto a bill that is important and that everyone is going to pass because the main item is needed by most/all.

One reason I could see is if they believed that congress moved too slow to be able to vote on everything unless things were bundled like this. That's a sad excuse still.

The other reason I could see is that there may be too many cases where it was impossible to get a majority vote on any single issue without puting something into the pot for several different interests to help the bill pass.

Anyway, what is this process by which they can just tack on other unrelated provisions? And who gets to say what gets added? Just pay off a senator and it's in basically?

Re:rent-a-center, or Rent a Senator? (2, Informative)

Bender0x7D1 (536254) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544121)

Amendments are reuired to meet germaneness rules [house.gov] . However, if you try hard enough, you can make almost anything sound germane to a specific bill. For example, if you are working on the state budget, you could attach almost anything since the costs associated with it affect the budget. Highway bill - anything related to oil and gas and automotive industry. Heck, even air travel since widespread construction may change the number of people flying. If you are changing the deadline for election paperwork, almost anything regarding elections. Oh, elections might be electronic? Then software laws may be germane. See how easy it is?

You just pay someone like a lawyer or lobbyist to come up with a plausible connection to some bill that is about to be voted on and attach it.

Re:rent-a-center, or Rent a Senator? (-1, Troll)

Actually, I do RTFA (1058596) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544335)

You just pay someone like a lawyer or lobbyist to come up with a plausible connection to some bill that is about to be voted on and attach it.

In Soviet Russia, lobbyists pay you!

What I don't understand (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544421)

Is why aren't the amendments debated and voted on separately? It's completely bizarre that they are just stuck on like used chewing gum.

 

Re:What I don't understand (1)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544869)

It's only bizarre if you are thinking that this part of the legislative process is intended to be clear and concise. But if you look at it as a part of the process intended to allow for the quiet incorporation of personal agendas, it makes perfect sense.

Re:What I don't understand (1)

Bender0x7D1 (536254) | more than 7 years ago | (#19545497)

The problem isn't amendments. For example, you might introduce a bill that addresses repairs of Interstate 80 from Chicago to Nebraska. After you introduce the bills, a Senator from Iowa points out that a part of it dealing with repairs around Des Moines doesn't work for some reason. (Maybe emergency repairs on I-35 would interfere.) The bill gets amended to deal with that problem.

Without the amendment, the entire bill would have to be redrafted, go back into committee and be debated (again) on the floor. Plus, it would open the door for more shenanigans as the entire text would have to be reexamined to make sure someone didn't add something.

I feel the problem is with the people who are trying to manipulate the system for personal or political game, and not with the rules that govern the system.

Re:rent-a-center, or Rent a Senator? (2, Interesting)

Smight (1099639) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544191)

The idea is that in order to get a bill passed in which 45% of the people agree you will add on some things that that you aren't happy about to get the opposition to vote for it.

In practical application though they create a bill that 65%-70% would agree with and then see how many things they can stick on to make their constituents happy or those that give them funding.

Some would argue that items should pass on their own merit. But then how are you ever going to get a $315 million bridge built to an island with a population of 50?

Re:rent-a-center, or Rent a Senator? (4, Informative)

quacking duck (607555) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544197)

They're called riders [wikipedia.org] .

Slashdotters may remember software patent proponents in Europe tried attaching a rider to an agriculture and fisheries bill a few years back allowing them. Because you know, software patents are SO relevant to fish stocks and pig farmers.

These damn things should be outlawed. The supposed benefits are far outweighed by those that think nothing of abusing the good intention of riders ("think of the children!" "it's to fight terrorists!")

Re:rent-a-center, or Rent a Senator? (1)

Pizaz (594643) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544427)

Because they can.

Re:rent-a-center, or Rent a Senator? (1)

evanknight (1070332) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544741)

I don't know where it came from, but it sure as hell made me laugh as kid learning about it. Come to think of it, most of our political process made me laugh the first time it was run by me in school. The general idea sounds great, but you you see what these people do with it in the real world, it's hilarious.

Kent Brockman said it best: (1)

walterbyrd (182728) | more than 7 years ago | (#19545503)

"I've said it before and I'll say it again, democracy simply doesn't work".
-- Kent Brockman

Fine.. (1)

symbolic (11752) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543963)

Just pile the whole mess of these machines into a trailer rig, attach a bill for them to the rear door, and send it off to Redmond. There...no code, no code escrow worries. Next, locate a vendor that will produce a machine *with* a specification so that the software can be developed by any vendor that follows the specification. This would make a great open source project.

Just use avionics (or gambling :) ) standards! (2, Insightful)

PaulBu (473180) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544441)

Given that voting is (generally) considered quite an important activity, with natinal security implications, I see no reason why the relevant software/hardware combination should be held to lesser standards than, say, software in avionics on our planes or on-board software on our satellites, both of which seem to work "just fine" (relatively speaking, yes, you get thousands of newspaper articles when there is a single failure).

Or, (google for the story) apparently writing the e-voting bill was really easy in Nevada, they said "Hey, we'll use the same audit standards that we already have for our slot machines" -- and all the Diebolds decided to skip NV as a customer... :)

Paul B.

microsoft for president! (4, Funny)

widget54 (888141) | more than 7 years ago | (#19543993)

Lets cut out the well bribed middlemen and just elect corporations to run the country...think of the money it would save them!!!

Re:microsoft for president! (1, Informative)

callmetheraven (711291) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544089)

Lets cut out the well bribed middlemen and just elect corporations to run the country

There's a word for this, it's called fascism.

Re:microsoft for president! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19544571)

Lets cut out the well bribed middlemen and just elect corporations to run the country...think of the money it would save them!!!


This is already happening since decades: corporations rule the world, not politicians.
The purpose of politicians, parties etc. is to fool common people into believing they can change the system with their vote.
Every time you see politicians from any side passing a bill helping the interests of a big corporation against those of common people you have a shiny demonstration of that system at work.

The day people realize they can't change anything with their vote, because those who take decisions can't be replaced through a vote, is the day people start realizing what their right to keep weapons is really for. Don't expect this to happen soon though: the bread and circus way of keeping people quiet plus the divide and conquer way of deflecting anger from real enemies and make people hate each other have never worked so well in our western democratic world..

Loaded Words Much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19544009)

Microsoft doesn't "campaign" to change the law, they "move" to change it (as if they have some special law-making power that no one else can use.)
They didn't just "move" into New York State, they moved "forcefully" (as if they needed the submitter's permission.)
They don't "modify" the current laws, they "gut" them (right...like these kinds of phrases are used when the EFF proposes changes to a law.)
The laws weren't just "passed", they were "hard fought for" (as if a law that was "hard fought for" is somehow more valid than the rest of the country's laws.)
They aren't asking for a redress of grievances...they're trying to "serve their corporate interests" (duhh, what to do they want Microsoft to do? Make decisions that hurt their interests?)
They aren't just "adding" the changes to a bill, they're being "slipped in" (as if this isn't exactly the same process used by every single other bill.)

Why is that Microsoft doesn't deserve to have its interests represented by their government the same as every other citizen and corporation. Or should the companies we like be treated "more equally" than the ones we don't like?

Re:Loaded Words Much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19544151)

Why is that Microsoft doesn't deserve to have its interests represented by their government the same as every other citizen and corporation. Or should the companies we like be treated "more equally" than the ones we don't like?

The answer is that NO corporation deserves to have it's interest represented in our government. It's government for the people, by the people. NOT Governement for the people by the corporations.

Re:Loaded Words Much? (1)

budword (680846) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544159)

Because their interest is in screwing us over. Only a citizen should have the right to donate to (bribe) a public official. Letting a corporation have the same rights as a citizen with none of the responsibility is damaging to a democracy. A corporation has sociopathic tendenceys, because of the power/lack of accountability combination. I don't want them bribing public officials who make laws that affect me. You can't throw a corporation in prison.

Re:Loaded Words Much? (1)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544339)

RE:["You can't throw a corporation in prison."]

no, but you can put those in control of that corporation in prison...

Re:Loaded Words Much? (2, Insightful)

budword (680846) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544431)

Which almost never happens. It happens so rarely that it makes the news when it does, and even then, these guys spend years out on bail while they appeal. Then they go to a country club "prison", and get out early anyway, when they aren't out on "work release". They are almost never punished to begin with, and the few times they get busted are not a deterrent to the rest of them.

Re:Loaded Words Much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19544351)

I had no idea that corporations had that ability. Are you sure that it's not people who are running these corporations?

Re:Loaded Words Much? (1)

budword (680846) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544479)

A corporation is a "person" in the eyes of the law.

how convenient (4, Insightful)

hxnwix (652290) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544023)

* Voting machine manufacturers want their code closed so that they can take bribes for deciding the winner.

* Microsoft wants their code closed in order to protect lock-in.

* Those in power take bribes from Microsoft and the voting machine manufacturers, and moreover, they want to be able to hand their offices to friends and supporters when their own terms are up.

Summary: things are happening that appear to be motivated by agendas antithetical to democracy.

Used car salesman (5, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544055)

When the used car salesman if performing gymnastics to guide your eyes away from some aspect of the car, that's where you'd BETTER look if you don't want to be ripped off.

What we have here is a salesman who is desperate to keep us from examining the source of the OS.

Re:Used car salesman (1)

Dr.Merkwurdigeliebe (1055918) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544149)

This is a great comparison. However, remember that Microsoft's code is proprietary and is how they make their living. They wouldn't want someone looking at their code more than an author would want someone reading a book that's still in progress. I can certainly understand their situation, but I think that they did go to far in trying to change the law.

Re:Used car salesman (1)

bit01 (644603) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544891)

This is a great comparison. However, remember that Microsoft's code is proprietary and is how they make their living.

Which is irrelevant to the whether the source is visible or not.

M$ has done a great job the last few decades of obscuring that simple fact to keep their anti-competitive lockin.

The law could mandate that all delivered software come with the source and it wouldn't change the industry much other than substantially decrease the current non-accountability of software vendors and increase the openness of the market. Not something that companies with anti-competitive business models want; a free, open and fair market.

---

"Advertising supported" just means you're paying twice over, once in time to watch/avoid the ad and twice in the increased price of the product to pay for the ad.

Re:Used car salesman (1)

EzInKy (115248) | more than 7 years ago | (#19545239)


This is a great comparison. However, remember that Microsoft's code is proprietary and is how they make their living. They wouldn't want someone looking at their code more than an author would want someone reading a book that's still in progress.


Great analogy! It would even make sense if the author could keep people from reading the words he used to write the book when he distributes it.

 

ATM failures (2, Insightful)

Dr.Merkwurdigeliebe (1055918) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544067)

This is the company that sells software to Automatic Teller Machines, which are very important pieces of machinery in how they can effect a person's life. We've all read horror stories [gizmodo.com] about ATM's running windows crashing, but MS expects people to put their trust in them when deciding who runs the country?!? This is lunacy!

Corporatism (3, Insightful)

k1e0x (1040314) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544387)

Here in Soviet Amerika, Microsoft and Haliburton write our laws. This is Corporatism, its Mercantilism, and its evil.. If we let it continue we will find ourselves homeless in the country our forefathers conquered.

Re:Corporatism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19544673)

Who's forefathers do you speak of? I'm sure Native 'Amerikans' and African 'Amerikans' wouldn't much appreciate your claim.

Re:Corporatism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19544739)

Here in Soviet Amerika,

That's odd, because in the Soviet Union, the state owned the companies, not the other way around.

Re:Corporatism (1)

k1e0x (1040314) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544895)

The state owned everything.

I'm shooting from the hip alright.

Re:Corporatism (1)

Dr. Noooo (90976) | more than 7 years ago | (#19545407)

I think that Fascism is the appropriate term for what you are describing .. the melding of corporate interests with those of government, generally at the expense of the citizens.

The power of the vote. (1)

cyanyde (976442) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544401)

I'd like to say none of this is new. Voting itself has never been all that secure anyways. The only security is that the number of people needed to pull of a rigged election was so large that the probability of someone or many someones spilling the beans kept the completion in check.

Now, with the automation of so many of life's crucial processes, fewer and fewer people are needed to rig any thing.

Everyone seems to be hyping the internet, but you're walking into a mindfield, where the truth will be subjugated beneath all the other junk.

The easiest way to hide a murder is to commit an atrocity. And now thanks to the internet and computers, it takes few like minds to do such.

Re:The power of the vote. (2, Insightful)

tourvil (103765) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544829)

Now, with the automation of so many of life's crucial processes, fewer and fewer people are needed to rig any thing.

Which is why I think we should return to traditional paper ballots, honestly. The field of computer security is simply too new and too fast paced to trust with the foundation of our democracy: elections.

At the very least, I feel that any software used in the election process should have its source viewable by the public. It doesn't necessarily have to be free/open source (though I think it would be beneficial), but people should at least be able to audit the code used to determine the nation's elections.

Contact your NY state representative... (4, Informative)

feranick (858651) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544509)

From Bo Lipari's blog:

"Take Action Now - It's urgent that you call your State Senator and Assembly representatives on Monday, June 18, at their Albany offices, and tell them they must not weaken New York State's escrow and review requirements. Remind them that the Legislature passed a strong law 2 years ago - they must not give in to pressure by voting machine vendors to undermine those protections.

Find your Assembly member's contact information here:
http://www.assembly.state.ny.us/mem/ [state.ny.us]
(Not sure who your Assembly member is? Click here to search by Zip Code)

Find your State Senator's contact information here:
http://www.senate.state.ny.us/senatehomepage.nsf/s enators?OpenForm [state.ny.us]
(Not sure who your State Senator is? Click here to search by Zip Code)"

Does anyone read? (1)

dbergerson (1116701) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544533)

The PDF is fine! Basically MS is saying that we will not release our source code to you for the underlying OS. They still want the APP to have the source code released. Apple would do the same with OSX if it was the underlying OS for the APP to run on. I am not sure how legal the current law is. It states that if a vendor creates an app that runs on any os, the app and the os have to have an audit review and the source code released. IANAL, but I think this would create an issue with the vendors submitting a voting machine that can not comply with the law.

The bill is useless anyway! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19544537)

Even if you have all the source code to Windows and all the source code to the voting application running on it, you may still not be able to detect the routines that may have been inserted illegally. For example, Microsoft could easily insert code into their compilers to insert backdoors into the source code of the compiler itself and any applications being compiled that count votes. By then recompiling the compiler itself without the logic that detects and inserts the backdoor, their compiler source code would have no evidence that the backdoors are inserted, but they would be nonetheless.

For a much better explanation of this, read Ken Thompson's essay "Reflections on Trusting Trust" [acm.org] .

Quick solution (1)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544811)

Get a hacker to hack the said machines and display:

"This voting machine was infected with a virus. Who knows if they're altering the votes? MUAHAHAHAHAH!
P.S. Thank you for choosing Microsoft products :) "

That'll teach 'em. The voters i mean >:D

Re:Quick solution (1)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544943)

You are joking (I think), but just imaging if on election day every e-voting display said something like 'THIS ELECTION HAS BEEN HACKED'.

The uproar would cause e-voting to be outlawed for good.

On second thought... maybe almost nobody would notice at all, and the few who noticed it woule think it was an ad for a new movie.

Re:Quick solution (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#19544999)

Shya. The public would go on a rampage alright.. to lynch hackers. That's the way it works. Hackers are the bad guys, the idiots who make software with big security holes in it because they can't practice well known techniques are the victims.

Heathens! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19544817)

Democracy =! A country in which you can have your political way by throwing money at stuff.

Change your ways, or we'll be forced to come over there and liberate the opressed masses.

Sincerely yours
Denmark

Power needs control (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19545091)

And control needs power. Twice so in a democracy. The foundation of democracy is the free, anonymous voting system. So this voting system has to be testable by anyone in any way.

If the foundation of democracy cannot be tested by the people, the whole system is lacking a solid base to build on. I'd be very wary to weaken this kind of basic foundation of democracy. The building on top might collapse if the base is weak.

Why an OS? (3, Insightful)

Pig Hogger (10379) | more than 7 years ago | (#19545105)

Why an OS for an appliance computer? (Because a voting machine is basically an appliance computer).

I mean, what does a voting machine needs to do? Read a keyboard (or touch screen), write to a display device, print a receipt/results, read and write to a RAM card (to get the candidates and put the results).

So why do you need a whole goddammed operating system to do that? Are programmers becoming sufficiently incompetent to be unable to do those basic I/O tasks from scratch???

What's so difficult in booting from ROM? Set stack pointers, memory access registers, jump to start of POST routine and go.

It's not very hard at all.

So why do you need schwindoze (or schlinux) to do all those basic things????

if you can't vote... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19545221)

......you shouldn't be able to contribute a nickle. Nor a penny. Nothing at all. Corporations can't vote, but they can sure pay for legislation. They shouldn't be allowed to, get them out!

I say, three strikes and you are out, same as with individuals. Once any corporation has lost three court cases for being jerkwads (which is the technical legal term for dinks and assholes, just to be precise), they should be dissolved, their stock rendered legally useless except as curios, and all their physical plant and assets auctioned off.

THAT is the only thing that is going to get bosses/workers/stockholders of corporations to stop being jerks, sudden immediate complete loss of wallet. It's takes all three of those parties combined to makeup a corporation, so everything the corporation does is their fault, and no whining. Don't like your position there, want to be excused? Stop being associated with jerkwads, if it takes a union to do that because you are a "workerbee", and the union (whatever, an employee association, call it that, some deal where joe grunt worker can have a voice in policy) has to threaten a strike to get honesty and responsibility put into the system at a company, then do that. If it takes being a stockholder and actually paying attention to what your hired help bosses do, you'll have to do that if you don't want your "investment" to poof on you. If it takes the bosses to go from huge salary to nothing at all, then we should do that. Three strikes, they are out! Buh bye! Corporate dissolution. MS would be history by now with that.

*Nothing* short of that will rein in the rise of the supranational megacorporation that gets so big they are able to have power such as this over our election system and total economy. It doesn't matter what they do, the government has proven that NO amount of fines or anything else they do can stop corporations from being jerks. so what we have now ISN'T WORKING, which means we need something completely different, and the corporate "death sentence" is the only credible threat that maybe might get their attention. Fines they just pass on to their customers and take it out of employee pay.

  No corporation should even be *allowed* to get this big and corrupt. These guys should have been shutdown years ago when it became more than apparent that at top managerial levels they are chronic liars, crooks, thieves and strongarm extortionists. I feel just a teeny bit sorry for the workerbees, but if they aren't aware of the dismal track record and completely absent set of decent ethics at the top, they are too clueless to be employed as an adult with any adult responsibility. Yes, if you work there, you are part of the overall problem, no matter your job title. You voluntarily work there, or sit on stock, yes, it is partly your fault when YOUR company is such a menace. Blackbox voting is a "clear and present danger" to our entire society right now. This is beyond news, hearing about them being jerks is ordinary now, it is a common occurrence, so no one who cashes their check should be let off the hook.

siderant:

And speaking of bigass totally weird corporations that shouldn't even exist, is anyone getting a little worried over PRIVATE ARMIES like blackwater being created and paid for with your tax dollars? Isn't this rather dangerous long term? I mean, pure physically dangerous? Didn't we fight a revolution, in part, so we wouldn't have damned hessian mercenaries running around? It's bad enough trying to keep regular civilian corporations in line, or various government agencies, but private corporations that have armed helicopters, armored vehicles, full auto this and that? Isn't this kinda stupid to let this go on?

It will be Illegal to test as well (1)

gelfling (6534) | more than 7 years ago | (#19545323)

The other problem with these laws is that they go hand in glove with laws making it illegal to test the system or hack it or to publish the results.

mod 3own (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19545455)

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

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

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

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

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