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Judge Voids Un-Auditable California Election

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the recount-or-rerun dept.

The Courts 177

For only the second time in California history, a judge in Alameda County voided an election result and called for the election to be re-run, because the e-voting tallies from Diebold machines couldn't be audited. The vote was on a controversial ballot measure addressing the operation of medical marijuana dispensaries, and the result was a close margin. Activists went to court to demand a recount, but after the lawsuit was filed, elections officials sent voting machines back to Diebold. The court found that 96% of the necessary audit information had been erased. The judge ordered the ballot measure to be re-run in the next election.

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Nothing new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20850265)

This happened in Alabama in 1965.

Why (5, Insightful)

SimonGhent (57578) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850661)

Why is this put to a public vote?

If the medical establishment say that something has a clinical benefit, what business is it of the public?

Should we have a referendum for every new drug?

Re:Why (3, Insightful)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850729)

Because there was a clear law that stated the drug was illegal. New drugs already have a approval process, but you can't just erase old laws without a vote of some sort.

Re:Why (2, Informative)

cez (539085) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850827)

illegal for recreational use... I could be wrong, but oxycotin is considered illegal as well if you do not have a prescription.

Re:Why (5, Insightful)

sexybomber (740588) | more than 6 years ago | (#20851465)

You're absolutely right; OxyContin is illegal without a prescription because it's a Schedule II substance. Marijuana, on the other hand, is on Schedule I, which is where they put drugs that:

# The drug has a high potential for abuse.
# The drug has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
# There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug.

(from Wikipedia)

Schedule I drugs are illegal, period, because the government feels that there's no legitimate reason you should be using them. They consider any use of a Schedule I substance a "recreational" use, because in their opinion, you couldn't possibly be using that substance to treat any illness or condition.

Of course, pure THC (aka Marinol) is Schedule II, so you could get a prescription for it if you wanted to. But Marinol is manufactured by the drug companies, whereas you could theoretically grow your own marijuana and cut out the middle-man. Hmmmmm, I'm beginning to see a pattern here...

Re:Why (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20852829)

You mean kind of how the sale of the ephedra plant has been outlawed for use as a medicinal herb because it is "dangerous" yet ephedrine hcl which is far more potent and dangerous remains legal.... that couldn't possibly have had anything to do with pharmaceutical companies wanting a cut of the energy / diet pill market. Of course it left allergy and asthma sufferers out in the cold.

Re:Why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20853459)

you can't just erase old laws without a vote of some sort

Why not? Activist judges have been striking down laws and ruling from the bench for years. What makes this different?

Re:Why (1)

jahudabudy (714731) | more than 6 years ago | (#20853983)

Why not? Activist judges have been striking down laws and ruling from the bench for years.

You know, I see/hear this sort of comment a lot, almost always as a criticism of "activist judges". And sure, some judges abuse their power (just as do some presidents, mayors, dog-catchers, etc.). But I gotta say, as a general sentiment towards the judicial branch, this is a retarded complaint. Striking down bad laws is EXACTLY what judges are supposed to do. It's one of those checks-and-balances thing-a-majigs put into that Constitution thingy most people are sort of fond of.

Meh. (0, Flamebait)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850289)

I can think of another close vote they should do the same with.

Re:Meh. (2, Insightful)

Doonga2007 (1049016) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850821)

That would apply if the popular vote in that case was actually what elected the given candidate.

Re:Meh. (0, Troll)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 6 years ago | (#20851081)

This is Alameda County, CA. Home of the People's Republic of Berkeley. Believe me, nothing would've changed if they redid 'that' vote.

Corporations (5, Insightful)

ZuG (13394) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850299)

Unfortunately, the corporations seem to win no matter what you do. Running a ballot measure is incredibly expensive. It costs a lot of money to raise public awareness of an issue and run things like get out the vote measures.

Dragging out a measure with a revote tilts things well in favor of corporations, who have the cash to sustain such an operation. Now the reformers are going to have to fundraise all over again so they can try to put forth an effort in the next election.

Re:Corporations (5, Insightful)

spazmolytic666 (549909) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850453)

Superior Court Judge Winifred Smith also said county officials should pay attorneys' fees and reimburse a medical marijuana group more than $22,000 for the costs it incurred during a disputed recount shortly after the November 2004 election.
At least the medical marijuana group got reimbursed for their attorney fees but... You are right, they now have to campaign to get people out to vote for this again and that equals $$$. It's hard enough to get around all the government disinformation about marijuana, so many people have been brainwashed into thinking the "war on drugs" is doing something good for us. The "war on drugs" is sending non-violent drug users to prison where they learn to be criminals and are more likely to turn into criminals because now their job options are limited by going to prison. It also creates a large black market (aka gangs and crime). Just look at what happened during the alcohol prohibition.

Re:Corporations (-1, Troll)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 6 years ago | (#20852257)

Yes because people who undergo psychotic episodes [timesonline.co.uk] are never violent. [/sarcasm]

It's a question of degree (3, Insightful)

paladinwannabe2 (889776) | more than 6 years ago | (#20853347)

Reasonable intelligent supporters of marijuana legalization don't think it's harmless, they just think it's less harmful than alcohol, which is legal. I don't know enough say for sure that marijuana is less harmful, but I've never seen any good studies suggesting that it's more harmful. (Certainly the study you link to could have been about alcohol instead, and no one would bat an eye).

Re:Corporations (4, Funny)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850557)

the corporations seem to win no matter what you do

You'd think that Frito-Lay would be all over this initiative. And Dominos. While it may be hard to re-muster the Stoner Caucus to do this all over again, perhaps the Munchie Cartel can pick up the slack.

California. *sigh*

There's plenty of reasons to re-invent electronically-assisted voting (I like the also-spits-out-paper variation, myself), but it really doesn't help the cause when - to a casual newsreader - an important test case seems to be about weed.

Re:Corporations (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850793)

"but it really doesn't help the cause when - to a casual newsreader - an important test case seems to be about weed."

Seems to me a lot of "important test cases" are about social taboos, the woman in the bus, Larry Flynt, Roe vs Wade,....umm I forget but you know fair's fair an all..."casual newsreader" = bubble, bubble, toil and trouble...zzzzzzz.

Re:Corporations (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#20851425)

There's plenty of reasons to re-invent electronically-assisted voting (I like the also-spits-out-paper variation, myself), but it really doesn't help the cause when - to a casual newsreader - an important test case seems to be about weed.
The illegality of Cannabis is one of the greatest fraud of our time. The fact that it is connected to the case of a brave new world of election fraud doesn't diminish anything.

Re:Corporations (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 6 years ago | (#20852929)

The illegality of Cannabis is one of the greatest fraud of our time.

No, I'm pretty sure there's no fraud involved. It actually IS illegal. You have not been defrauded, the laws actually are as written. Or is that not what you actually meant?

Re:Corporations (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#20853295)

The illegality of Cannabis is one of the greatest fraud of our time.

No, I'm pretty sure there's no fraud involved. It actually IS illegal. You have not been defrauded, the laws actually are as written. Or is that not what you actually meant?
So you do think that smoking one marijuhana cigarette will render the smoker hopelessly addicted, and violently insane, and that a rise in its use would lead to a wave of axe murders?
Because those are the fraudulent reasons for which it was first made illegal, provisionally, pending a revue. When revues were done, and said that it shouldn't be classified in the same category as heroin, new fraudulent reasons to keep it illegal were invented. When these were scientifically proven false, new fraudulent reasons were invented, etc.

It is now illegal to eat pot in the USA because (I kid you not) smoking tobacco causes cancer.

Re:Corporations (4, Insightful)

Deagol (323173) | more than 6 years ago | (#20853391)

I think he meant that the history behind the demonization of weed has been solely to the benefit of big business, the prison industrial complex, and big government, while at the expense of taxpayers and the freedom of many individuals. All with a host of evidence supporting that, in terms of substance with abuse potential, pot should be *way* down on the priority list, if on the list at all.

Re:Corporations (2, Insightful)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 6 years ago | (#20852371)

"but it really doesn't help the cause when - to a casual newsreader - an important test case seems to be about weed."

Why not? The reason the election result was contest in court to begin with was because of how close a vote it was, suggesting that "to a casual news reader" it's something contentious and debatable, rather than simply the refuge of scoundrels.

Re:Corporations (1)

Explodicle (818405) | more than 6 years ago | (#20852735)

Perhaps it will seem more important when the medicine you have been prescribed becomes unavailable.

Re:Corporations (-1, Flamebait)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 6 years ago | (#20852869)

Perhaps it will seem more important when the medicine you have been prescribed becomes unavailable

Nah. This will still be funny.

Because no matter how pious the Nausea Consortium sounds, this is mostly about the non-nauseated (if still frequently nauseating) people who've decided that lowering their IQ with weed is worth it for whatever enjoyment they get out of it, and they want it to be treated like carrots, or lemons, or something else nutritious from the produce stand. So, grandstanding (and squabbling over losing a voting intiative) over making pot more readily available, and noticing that the most vocal proponents you catch at a pro-"medicine" event or protest all appear to have the name "Dude" is going to continue, indeed, to be funny.

Re:Corporations (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20853129)

Idiot stoners were idiots before pot, smoking pot didn't make them dumber.

You'd be surprised at the number of the worlds brightest minds (surely brighter than yours) who smoke pot and / or support reform.

Re:Corporations (0)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 6 years ago | (#20853449)

You'd be surprised at the number of the worlds brightest minds (surely brighter than yours) who smoke pot and / or support reform.

What's frustrating is how much brighter still many of them would be if they didn't (they'd probably even remember to use an apostrophe in that form of the word "worlds"). Also frustrating that some people whose minds are still very much in developmental stages (say, teenagers) hear comments like that and treat it like an endorsement of impairing themselves when they have no idea of the actual consequences or physiology, and the long term impact on their cognitive skills. Do I care as much about some luke-warm kid amounting to somewhat less than he might have? I suppose. Probably not as much as I care about the costs we all pay - in cash and otherwise - for kids that end up a train wreck, medically, from meth or some opiate or another.

Re:Corporations (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20853545)

I've smoked marijuana off and on since high school. I'm 34 now. This year I'll be making over 250k working as a graphics programmer for feature films, and I've made over 125k a year since I've been 27. I have a great house (not a McMansion), a nice car, a loving wife, and a kid on the way. Most people would kill to get where I'm at in life.

So don't tell me that enjoyment of an 'illegal' substance has somehow turned me into a vegetable and hurt my chances to be a productive person. It's bullshit and you know it. You seem to have swallowed the idea that illegal drugs=bad, no matter what the political ramifications are of that illegality. You should do a little research on why pot was made illegal.

Re:Corporations (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 6 years ago | (#20853733)

So don't tell me that enjoyment of an 'illegal' substance has somehow turned me into a vegetable and hurt my chances to be a productive person

Gee, it's almost like I didn't say that, isn't it! Because I wasn't talking about YOU. I'm talking about exactly what you KNOW I'm talking about. It's not, in general, a motivating thing to consume. It impacts different people in different ways, much like alchohol. There's ample evidence that, among (especially) kids who smoke it regularly, it can dramatically impact cognitive development, memory, and more. Out of curiosity, at what age will your kid start smoking it? Have you settled on that yet?

Re:Corporations (4, Funny)

cez (539085) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850855)

Plus... this is for a medical marijuana vote... I'm sure it was tough enough for supporters to make it to the polls the first time! Who imagines they'd actually remember when the revote will be...

Re:Corporations (4, Funny)

mrogers (85392) | more than 6 years ago | (#20852067)

This is a rare case of Diebold tallies matching the exit polls: the machines couldn't remember how the votes were cast and neither could the voters.

Yay! Now ban the machines (4, Insightful)

Reality Master 201 (578873) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850303)

I'd be nice to eliminate the source of the problem, rather than have to litigate over the after-effects.

Re:Yay! Now ban the machines (3, Funny)

RandoX (828285) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850329)

Yes, you would.

Re:Yay! Now ban the machines (4, Informative)

will_die (586523) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850365)

If you had read the article, you would know that the problem was not the machines.
The city did perform a dump of the data before they returned the machines to Diebold; that was the responsibility of the people in california. Diebold was clearing the machines and when told to stop they did, however only 20 of the 400+ machines had not been cleared.

Re:Yay! Now ban the machines (5, Insightful)

sacrilicious (316896) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850513)

If you had read the article, you would know that the problem was not the machines.

But the problem really was the machines. Diebold's machines don't create paper trails. If there'd been a paper trail, that paper wouldn't have gone back to Diebold HQ and would not have been erased.

Why hasn't this been fixed? (1)

eMartin (210973) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850957)

Maybe I missed something, but it seems to me that this is simply an issue about whether the machines should have a printer attached.

Obviously many people think that would be a good idea.

Do others suggest it would be a bad one? Why? What is the reasoning behind that? Or was it just that nobody thought of that when designing the machines?

Why hasn't this been fixed already?

Re:Why hasn't this been fixed? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20851085)

Do others suggest it would be a bad one? Why? What is the reasoning behind that? Or was it just that nobody thought of that when designing the machines?
Yeah, what were those guys smoking? Oh, wait...

Re:Why hasn't this been fixed? (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 6 years ago | (#20851139)

Maybe I missed something, but it seems to me that this is simply an issue about whether the machines should have a printer attached.

Actually the issue is more one of "why use a machine for something better done by humans".
Redoing this election as pen/pencil on (hemp) paper. Would be far more reliable than messing about with any of these machines. Even if they need to employ Canadians to do the job.

Re:Why hasn't this been fixed? (2, Informative)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 6 years ago | (#20852071)

Maybe I missed something, but it seems to me that this is simply an issue about whether the machines should have a printer attached.

Obviously many people think that would be a good idea.

Do others suggest it would be a bad one? Why? What is the reasoning behind that? Or was it just that nobody thought of that when designing the machines?

Why hasn't this been fixed already?


Obviously someone who has never watched or read about the Diebold systems. They already have printers attached! Which proves it's not a technical issue at all, since part of the process is to print out a "zero tape" to prove that the totals inside the machine are zero. (Whether or not such thing is useful is debatable, since a zero tape proves nothing. It's trivial to change the software from printing the actual total to actually print a literal zero... more complex if you want to pass by an audit, but not terribly difficult to make a simple slip-up and actually print zeros when the internal totals aren't zero).

I think the printers even have a little window to which you can peek at them, and they don't necessarily output a slip, but remain in a locked box, too... (well, as secure as the memory card lock, anyhow...)

Re:Why hasn't this been fixed? (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#20852217)

Why hasn't this been fixed already?

Because the people responsible for it have a vested interest in not fixing it.

Re:Why hasn't this been fixed? (3, Insightful)

sacrilicious (316896) | more than 6 years ago | (#20852411)

Why hasn't this been fixed already?

It really makes one think, doesn't it? I'll quote a slashdot entry from an earlier related discussion [slashdot.org] :

The e-voting machines produced by Diebold are deeply flawed in concept.

The "e-voting" concept should be that the computer prints the ballot and that paper ballot is your vote. That ballot lists ONLY the names you chose. You read that and drop it into the ballot box.

The computer counts the number of paper ballots it has printed for each candidate. This number can be released to the news agencies. But the real vote is the paper ballot.

At the end of the day, the names of the voters who used that machine are counted, the paper ballots are counted and both of those are compared to the total number of votes the machine says were cast. If they don't match, there is a problem.

In case of recount, the paper ballots are hand counted.

A random number of machines are checked against the ballots cast at them.

The fact that this is such an obvious solution and that it is so trivial to implement is what makes the chosen convoluted, hackable, no-recount alternative so suspicious. What company would choose (and what government would allow) anything but the easy and elegant solution described if not because they plan to perpetrate election fraud?

Re:Yay! Now ban the machines (1)

julesh (229690) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850433)

I'd be nice to eliminate the source of the problem, rather than have to litigate over the after-effects.

This will be enormously expensive for the state government. You can bet that they'll be seeing what steps they can take to prevent something like this happening again, and switching to a voting machine with an auditable paper trail will probably be one of the possibilities they consider.

Re:Yay! Now ban the machines (1)

OldeTimeGeek (725417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20851017)

They already have - Alameda County stopped using Diebold electronic systems two elections ago.

Last election they used the Sequoia Optec voting system - which uses a mark-sense ballot - for most voters and AVC Edge with VeriVote Printer for vision-impaired voters. Prior to that, they used the old-fashioned mark-sense forms that they use for absentee voters for everybody. Vision-impaired voters could have their ballots read to them or use one of the few remaining Diebold systems in local city halls.

I haven't heard yet what system we're going to be using for the Primaries in February, 2008.

Re:Yay! Now ban the machines (5, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850939)

'd be nice to eliminate the source of the problem, rather than have to litigate over the after-effects.

Agreed but it's highly illegal to take all politicians and corperate executives and kill them on pikes in public.

Re:Yay! Now ban the machines (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 6 years ago | (#20851251)

Agreed but it's highly illegal to take all politicians and corperate executives and kill them on pikes in public.

Would a Jury convict? As a practical issue you might need to ensure you had enough pikes.

Re:Yay! Now ban the machines (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 6 years ago | (#20851809)

It would set precedent for the "But he really needed killing" defense.

Re:Yay! Now ban the machines (1)

pintpusher (854001) | more than 6 years ago | (#20853173)

Agreed but it's highly illegal to take all politicians and corperate executives and kill them on pikes in public.
It is only illegal if you don't get *ALL* of them and leave enough behind to carry on the current government. Once you institute a new government, then it is up to that *new* government to determine whether the public pike thing was illegal.

Its all a matter of perspective. :)

Info on the ACTUAL measure being voted on (2, Informative)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850315)

Here's some info on what was actually being voted on, because both the SLashdot and EFF summary treat it as a virtual irrelevance:

The plaintiffs were backers of Measure R, which would have allowed medical marijuana clubs to move into retail areas in Berkeley without public hearings and would have erased limits on the amount of cannabis that patients could have.

According to the county's certified results, the measure lost, 25,167 to 24,976. The initiative lost again in a recount.

Re:Info on the ACTUAL measure being voted on (5, Insightful)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850421)

I think so far as Slashdot and EFF are concerned, the actual issue is a virtual irrelevance. Whether you're voting on a world-changing issue in the seat of national government or a proclamation to put an extra stop sign on the corner of Turkey and Buzzard streets in Bumsville Idaho, the damn things need to work correctly.

Re:Info on the ACTUAL measure being voted on (0, Offtopic)

poena.dare (306891) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850477)

Too bad we can't mod that parent message "virtually irrelevant".

Re:Info on the ACTUAL measure being voted on (1)

cain (14472) | more than 6 years ago | (#20852785)

That's a good idea. There's *always* accidents at that corner.

Re:Info on the ACTUAL measure being voted on (3, Informative)

Secrity (742221) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850425)

"The initiative lost again in a recount."

The judge ruled that it did not lose on a recount and that the measure is to go back on the ballot in the next election. It was found that it was impossible to do a recount because the data had been erased.

Re:Info on the ACTUAL measure being voted on (1)

xilet (741528) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850485)

The thing is the primary interest to the EFF here is not the ballot measure it is the lack of the audit trail in it. Granted the initiative might be of interest to some slashdot posters, but to the EFF it does not matter.

Re:Info on the ACTUAL measure being voted on (1)

topham (32406) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850707)

How the f*ck can you say they lost again in a recount when a recount was never performed?

They tallied up the totals twice; that isn't a recount.

Shame on... (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850319)

Shame on Diebold. Why did they ALLOW them to send back the machine before things were taken care of. Why did they ERASE the machines before things were taken care of?

Do they have any clue whatsoever about what they are doing? Has the nation not bitched enough about paper trails and how precarious votes are already? It doesn't take much sense to see that you can't take chances like this on a product that isn't proven and is under -heavy- scrutiny.

I'm in favor of electronic voting machines in general, but it's obvious that Diebold has not produced a worthy machine yet, and I find it unlikely that they will any time soon.

Re:Shame on... (3, Informative)

will_die (586523) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850413)

From the article it was the responsibility of the place holding the vote to do the dump of the data.
Diebold was responible for clearing the machine once it was returned, which they did.

Re:Shame on... (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850523)

That's great. If they go to court, that'll probably hold up.

It won't do jack shit for their reputation, and that of their machines. All anyone will know is that this election had to be redone, Diebold could have prevented that, and if they'd used paper ballots, it wouldn't have had to be redone.

When creating a new system that -has- to be reliable, it also has to be as fool-proof as possible. Writing blame into the contract is not an acceptable solution. Proper training, supervision, and backup systems would have prevented this, and it appears none of that was done.

Again, shame on Diebold for not having a fscking clue how to make and sell their product.

Re:Shame on... (3, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850685)

It won't do jack shit for their reputation, and that of their machines. All anyone will know is that this election had to be redone, Diebold could have prevented that, and if they'd used paper ballots, it wouldn't have had to be redone.

So, you're in favor of the equipment vendor actually having a hand in the policies and practices of running the elections themselves? This is exactly the sort of thing that people have been screaming about - too MUCH influence by the hardware vendor.

Again, shame on Diebold for not having a fscking clue how to make and sell their product.

Except, they made it just fine (it did just what it was asked to do), and they sold it just fine, too. You seem to be suggesting that they should have their own people sitting in election board offices, monitoring the ups and downs of a political process at the local level, and consulting on how the local election board should carry on with the daily activities that they are paid to conduct. Is it your perception that part of Diebold's sales cycle and contract with the entities that use their gear is that they should be on call to direct those districts/states/municipalities/counties in making election process decisions - relative to local statutes and election rules and particular events - about when and how in-machine data should be handled after the election is over? Was that part of the sale - such relatively open-ended consulting services? How many election board meetings should thousands of Diebold employees attend in order to save people from themselves? How many tinfoil-hat conspiracy nuts would then see their involvment in such proceedings to be just another case of elections being 'stolen' by whoever it is they hate that week? Can't have it both ways.

Re:Shame on... (1)

Jtheletter (686279) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850911)

Diebold creates ATMs with paper trails. They don't need to attend every council meeting or voters' rights group association to know that paper trail == good. Additionally even comparing their recount process to a regular paper-vote process would immediately show that there are edge cases where they would be unable to perform a recount but a paper-trail election would be able to.

It seems pretty obvious that having a hard-copy of critical data makes sense for the use cases of voting. It doesn't cost hundreds of millions of dollars or require Diebold to have any more than a handful of engineers/representatives to figure that out and maintain a Functional Requirements Specification that covers this. You ranting about how "How many election board meetings should thousands of Diebold employees attend" is baseless if you understood how writing and maintaining technical requirements work. It requires neither "thousands" of employees be directly involved, nor does it require day to day government meetings to maintain a process that has an auditable paper trail for any vote, regardless of how any given county conducts said vote.

Re:Shame on... (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 6 years ago | (#20851375)

Diebold creates ATMs with paper trails.

And they can build voting machines that way too, if their customers ask for them. Again, that's a policy and procurement issue at the election board level. If the election board can't imagine that they want a particular feature, despite years, now, of experience on the part of voters and media coverage galore, then who exactly are you saying should be making those decisions? The equipment vendor? And when the equipment vendor is the one telling election boards what their policies should be, how do you address all of the shrill people who scream that Diebold is running the elections?

Re:Shame on... (1)

Jtheletter (686279) | more than 6 years ago | (#20853255)

And they can build voting machines that way too, if their customers ask for them. Again, that's a policy and procurement issue at the election board level.
I agree 100% with that statement. Your original post, however, seemed to imply that the only possible way Diebold could achieve such a request was through a rediculous amount of manhours and attending every single council meeting, which is false.

And when the equipment vendor is the one telling election boards what their policies should be, how do you address all of the shrill people who scream that Diebold is running the elections?
There is a HUGE difference between making a feature available and dictating election procedures to election boards. While it is not Diebold's responsibility to make such a feature on their own dime and without a request, it hardly implies that they would be dictating its use.

Diebold is not blameless in the electronic voting security arena either, lest [freedom-to-tinker.com] we [bradblog.com] forget [securityfocus.com] , they have dragged their feet repeatedly in implementing even basic security for these machines. Basic security for a voting machine is something that shouldn't have to be defined by every election board. Diebold is well aware these machines are to be used in state and national elections, that should demand a certain level of confidence in security measures without being told explicitly. Again, these machines are less secure than even the ATMs they produce.

Re:Shame on... (1)

ScentCone (795499) | more than 6 years ago | (#20853595)

Your original post, however, seemed to imply that the only possible way Diebold could achieve such a request was through a rediculous amount of manhours and attending every single council meeting, which is false.

No, my original post spoke to the issue at hand, here. The people USING THE MACHINES decided it was time to send them back to Diebold, where - as always - they are wiped. The decision about when the local election board, in the context of how well-settled a given election/issue is or is not, considers it safe to blow away the auditable voting records as recorded in the machines is a user/management decision. It has nothing to do with the hardware vendor. The implication that Diebold should have stopped them from doing so implies that they should be in on the decision-making process. That process occurs locally, and is the responsibility of the election boards that (happen to have) purchased/rented Diebold's equipment, as opposed to some other vendor or technology. Unless Diebold is involved in a given district's decisions about when - for a given specific locale and election cycle - to pack up and ship the gear back for record-nuking, then you can't blame THEM for that district's decisions. And if you WANT them in that decision-making process, then you have to speak to the issue of having the vendor involved in election policy. Which is nonsense.

Re:Shame on... (1)

sacrilicious (316896) | more than 6 years ago | (#20852683)

From the article it was the responsibility of the place holding the vote to do the dump of the data. Diebold was responible for clearing the machine once it was returned, which they did.

Which in my opinion simply becomes an argument against paperless machines... so that this very brand of finger-pointing can't be used to cover up the stealing -- or even just the screwing up -- of elections.

Re:Shame on... (2, Insightful)

rucs_hack (784150) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850665)

Why did they ALLOW them to send back the machine before things were taken care of

Because once the machines were back they could be sent somewhere else and make more money

Why did they ERASE the machines before things were taken care of?

Because the last thing they want is definitive proof that their equipment is in error, that would cut their profits. Better an election be voided then that.

Has the nation not bitched enough about paper trails and how precarious votes are already?

No

Do they have any clue whatsoever about what they are doing?

Making craploads of money? Yup, they know that well enough.

It doesn't take much sense to see that you can't take chances like this on a product that isn't proven and is under -heavy- scrutiny.

There you go with that sense thing. Let me explain, if they can make money selling badly made unproven kit they will, and this will continue so long as there are people willing to rent it.

Re:Shame on... (1)

LynnwoodRooster (966895) | more than 6 years ago | (#20852765)

Shame on Diebold. Why did they ALLOW them to send back the machine before things were taken care of. Why did they ERASE the machines before things were taken care of?

And I assume that you, of course, never wipe any machine you ever touch. Even if it's a production machine that needs to be updated, you keep everything on it forever even when your client - the machine's owner - tells you they have everything they need and that you can wipe and reinstall...

Re:Shame on... (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 6 years ago | (#20852835)

I'm not running elections on equipment that is getting a TON of bad press. I'm also not selling said equipment.

first post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20850323)

Yippe First post

Wow, a whole new level (1)

faloi (738831) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850353)

Now instead of politicians kicking stuff around forever so that no action is taken, we're also getting entire results voided until another election cycle comes around to clean it up. That's true progress! A whole new level of inneficiency is being introduced.

Conspiracy hat ON! (0)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850357)

Any coincidence that this corporation erased the trail of a vote was over a plant that other large corporations/industries lobbied hard to have banned because it could be a competing product?

Its a shame that people have to attack this issue under the guise of 'medical'. I don't even smoke tobacco and this irrational fear of MJ gets under my skin.

Re:Conspiracy hat ON! (-1)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850437)

and there are many drugs far safer than MJ that are even more illegal.

Something give me the idea that the man doesn't want us thinking outside the box after taking hallucinogenics.

Re:Conspiracy hat ON! (3, Insightful)

faloi (738831) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850449)

What's the old adage? Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity. I'm betting there was a lot more than just the results of this ballot measure stored on the machines. They get 'em back, because the clerk sends it back, they start erasing the machines because...well...it's what they do. Then they get flagged that there's this lawsuit going on, and they shouldn't start erasing them yet. Next thing you know, you go another election.

I have a much easier time believing there was a lot of stupidity on the part of a lot of people than I do believing they were able to successfully orchestrate something that would only end up forcing a re-vote anyway.

Re:Conspiracy hat ON! (1)

poena.dare (306891) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850933)

Malicious conspiracies use stupid tools
a shield of flesh and gullible fools
so when the public takes offense
they trot out a perfect defense

To those that think it is well known
stupid tools never act alone
the hands that wield them for evil intent
are so evil that they make me unable to finish this rhyme.

Re:Conspiracy hat ON! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20852167)

What's the old adage? Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

Of course, malicious people really like that adage.

Sometimes it really is malice, folks. Maybe not in this case, but be careful when wielding a meat cleaver as a scalpel, right?

Re:Conspiracy hat ON! (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 6 years ago | (#20852285)

I have a much easier time believing there was a lot of stupidity on the part of a lot of people than I do believing they were able to successfully orchestrate something that would only end up forcing a re-vote anyway.

Do you really think it was just stupidity that caused them to design voting machines without a paper trail? You think the people who make our ATMs and slot machines are too incompetent to design an auditable system?

New business model (1)

loafing_oaf (1054200) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850409)

Diebold is pretty damn lucky with their taxpayer-money business model. They would be bankrupt several years ago if they actually competed in the private sector. Maybe they could make arcade boxes. Street Fighter 14?

Re:New business model (1)

Hanners1979 (959741) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850551)

Maybe they could make arcade boxes. Street Fighter 14?

That would be no fun, you'd completely paste the other guy, then just as you were about to finish him off, all your health would disappear... YOU LOSE.

Re:New business model (2, Informative)

gmack (197796) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850605)

They do compete in the private sector.. Diebold is a major producer of ATM machines.

Re:New business model (1)

MrP-(at work) (839979) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850631)

Yep.. The ATM I go to every payday is a diebold.. however I only noticed that 2 weeks ago even though I've been using it for years.

Re:New business model (2, Interesting)

loafing_oaf (1054200) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850755)

The ATMs I use print receipts. I wonder why Diebold doesn't do the same with voting machines. I mean, stick with what works.

Re:New business model (1)

Random832 (694525) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850611)

They make ATM machines, and they actually do quite well. You have probably typed your PIN number into a Diebold ATM machine.

Re:New business model (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850675)

Actually, given how many ATMs I see around that say "diebold" on them (and how many people I see using said ATMs) I think they are clearly able to compete in that sector. And, unlike their paperless voting machines, their ATMs will happily give me a piece of paper telling me how much money is left in my account.

Re:New business model (1)

avirrey (972127) | more than 6 years ago | (#20851383)

I would prefer "Diebold Fighter 2" in which unsuspecting politicians press Down + tap A+B+C on the machine, and shock the hell out of themselves.

On a professional note, I do agree on your comment. If they had been competing in the private sector they'd have been blown out of the water by now. That's not to say that I prefer Motorola, Nokia, and Samsung to set up cell-voting systems... that'd be as lame as American Idol.

--
X's and O's for all my foes.

Just look at the paper ballots! (4, Insightful)

frdmfghtr (603968) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850447)

Why bother with all that when you can just look at the paper ballots that where printed when...oh wait...there AREN'T ANY!

This is a prime example of why a purely electronic record of the vote is a Bad Idea. If paper ballots had been printed, reviewed by the voter before being deposited in a secure ballot box, and retained for a recount, there would be no issue.

Against the cost of re-running a vote, those printers are starting to look pretty chap, I'd wager.

Re:Just look at the paper ballots! (1)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 6 years ago | (#20851417)

Why bother with all that when you can just look at the paper ballots that where printed when...oh wait...there AREN'T ANY!

This is a prime example of why a purely electronic record of the vote is a Bad Idea. If paper ballots had been printed, reviewed by the voter before being deposited in a secure ballot box, and retained for a recount, there would be no issue.
Those Diebold motherfuckers make ATM's. ATM's have paper trails. To say that they're incapable of creating paper records for audits or that it's too complicated of a task to solve with their technology is a lie worthy of Republican sympathizers. You think banks would put up with this kind of failure rate, with these inaccuracies? Do you think they'd put up with hackable ATM's?

The people responsible for promoting these failed electronic voting machines are committing treason by attacking the heart and soul of a representative democracy. If you cannot trust the vote, all else is meaningless.

The solution (3, Funny)

clickety6 (141178) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850559)



We need to get rid of these electronic polling machines.

They should raise a proposition on this so that we can vote on the issue.

Look at how other industries work. (4, Insightful)

zerofoo (262795) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850603)

Most industries (finance, law, medicine, accounting...etc) would laugh at the idea of IT systems that have no audit trail. In the worst case scenario, the business could be held liable for damages (sometimes criminally) if certain controls and audit functions are not in place.

The fact that these machines were ordered, designed, and implemented without these controls shows incompetence (or corruption) at every level of the process - from voting administration, to the manufacture, sale, and installation of the equipment.

Those who allowed this to happen, should be the subject of investigation by the Department of Justice. Unfortunately, we may have to wait for another administration to do the right thing.

-ted

Re:Look at how other industries work. (1)

Dusty00 (1106595) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850709)

Those who allowed this to happen, should be the subject of investigation by the Department of Justice. Unfortunately, we may have to wait for another administration to do the right thing.


Don't worry, as soon as a Republican canidate wins by a close margin they will be.

Re:Look at how other industries work. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20851259)

Most industries (finance, law, medicine, accounting...etc) would laugh at the idea of IT systems that have no audit trail.

This is very true. FWIW I don't live in the U.S. I run a small, private business, and I would get my ass busted seriously if I couldn't produce accountable and auditable paper accounting records for the past 5 years upon request from the tax office. Even a CD with all data doesn't do. Must have paper, must be auditable. And this is just a one person business with sales less than US$250,000 annually. Small peanuts when it comes to the world of business taxes. Yet, in Soviet U.S. S. A. (forgot to mention I'm American actually...) an auditable paper trail is a mere afterthought. Is this the way taxes are handled in the U.S. recently? I have a hunch the answer is no, but if it is, I'll declare the U.S. a small time tax haven. "Um, no Mr. IRS, I don't have a paper trail. I have it right here on this shiny, er, scratched up CD. Really!"

the sale price of Diebold's election machines unit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20850657)

...just dropped another 40 percent. Call us right now with your credit card handy and we'll throw in a free rotisserie oven for your kitchen! Better hurry. At these low, low, prices, it won't last!

UPDATED!!!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20850715)

I'm a bored housewife....I need to talk to spark my life up.
call me!!!
(740) 354-2095
(740) 352-0322 (Private Celly)

Mention my myspace/facebook page, and I just might show you my ( . )( . )!!!!

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Re:UPDATED!!!!! (0, Offtopic)

Doonga2007 (1049016) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850881)

Looks like you have some kind of "!!!!" growth on the right one there, you might want to get that checked out.

Why is the data held in the machine? (1)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850791)

Why not (if we must do it fully electronic) on flash cards or other removable media, that the election board keeps. Send the bare machine back to Diebold.

Of course, some sort of paper ballot would be better, but election boards seem to be following the "Oooh shiny!" train of thought.

Missing the big picture (1, Flamebait)

CodeShark (17400) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850913)

So Diebold reset the machines without producing a paper trail? Why in the heck would we ever think that would be okay? I say sue Diebold for the entire cost of the new ballot issue, because the county paid for services that have now been invalidated -- and Diebold knew they had problems going into the election.That's like going into surgery with a foot doctor who knows he's not qualified to be part of a heart surgery, methinks.


Change this to a presidential election (circa 2000) and try to recount an unauditable trail. Yeah, they argued about hanging chads and the whole mess, but there was a paper trail that said "absolutely, one voter, one vote, auditable". They even had a non-partisan group do a recount after the fact, and the paper trail showed that Bush in fact did win Florida. (uh oh, forgot to put on the flame retardant overcoat before I said that -- so folks, keep it cool -- I'm not particularly fond of Bush lately anyway!!).


But folks, I think that the significance of this decision is being totally overlooked, which is this: the American governmental system has worked again -- perhaps a rare again lately IMHO -- to let the people's voice be heard, in an accountable way. Good for the judge. Right call.

Media consortium states otherwise: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20851583)

A study done by a newspaper consortium, which included the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, that had the recount proceeded statewide of overvotes and undervotes Gore would have prevailed under 7 different standards. But if there were only partial recounts as requested by Gore then Bush would have won under each scenario.

Much of this is irrelevant at this point because in the end the vote count was really 5 to 4. So much for democracy, eh?

[i]"Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the votes decide everything."" - Josef Stalin

Re:Missing the big picture (2, Informative)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 6 years ago | (#20852063)

They even had a non-partisan group do a recount after the fact, and the paper trail showed that Bush in fact did win Florida.

No.

Data from the NORC recount shows that under the legal standard in force at the time, the "intent of the voter", more ballots were cast for Gore than for Bush. [bushwatch.com]

As the Washington Post [washingtonpost.com] admitted (though only deep into an article whose headline and lead tells how recounts would have favored Bush):

Under several scenarios examined by the consortium, and using a standard in which two of the three reviewers agreed on the markings on each ballot, Gore emerged with more votes than Bush.

The overvotes that could have provided the margin for Gore were on ballots where voters tried to be extra-clear in their choice and ended up nullifying the vote. They filled in the oval next to a candidate and then filled in the oval for "write-in" and wrote the same candidate's name again.

...

The narrowest margin, according to the study, came under a scenario in which at least one corner of a chad was detached from punch-card ballots -- the prevailing standard across the state of Florida at the time -- or any mark on the optical scan ballots showing clear voter intent. In that case, the study showed Gore with 60 votes more than Bush.

Gore's margin grows under three other scenarios. Under the least-restrictive standard for interpreting voter intent, which counted all dimpled chads and any discernible optical mark (which in the case of optical ballots Florida's new election law now requires to be counted as votes), Gore had 107 more votes.

Gore's margin rose to 115 votes in the study under a tighter standard, calling for chads to be fully punched and a more restrictive interpretation of what constitutes a valid mark on optical scan ballots.

But this is one case where disagreements among the reviewers affected the outcome. Gore won under this scenario when two of the reviewers agree on the markings. Under a standard in which all three were required to agree, Bush won by 219 votes.

Gore's largest margin in a statewide recount involving all ballots comes under a scenario that sought to recreate the standards established by each of the counties in their recounts. In that case, Gore emerged with 171 more votes than Bush.

That's not even taking into account the inclusion of illegitimate absentee ballots that favored Bush, or the illegal disenfranchisement of likely Gore voters, or the poorly-designed and illegal "butterfly ballots" in Palm Beach.

It also appears that, emboldened by their success in Florida in 2000, the Bush camp went on to conduct massive vote fraud in Ohio in 2004 [rollingstone.com] , quite possibly enough to steal the election there.

uh oh, forgot to put on the flame retardant overcoat before I said that

Not meant as a flame. The corporate mainstream media did in fact report as if the recount favored Bush, by focusing on what recounts were demanded under Gore's strategy rather than the question of what ballots were actually cast.

But it is clear that in Florida in 2000, more voters went to the polls intending to vote for Gore; despite intimidation and illegal purges of the voter rolls, more voters got to the voting booth intending to vote for Gore; and despite bad balloting technology and practices (which disproportionately affected poor neighborhoods, making a mockery of "equal protection"), more voters voted for Gore than voted for Bush.

But the GOP played better politics than the spineless, gonad-less, soulless thing that is all that remains of the Democratic Party. And so came the point the historians will mark as the end of the "American Century" [wikipedia.org] : the subversion of democratic rule and the installation of the worst American "president" to date, who tore through civil liberties and led the nation into a war of choice that drained both its treasury and its store of respect from the other nations of the world.

why (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20850915)

Funny, their ATM machines never fail to deduct my withdrawal. Why is it that they cant seem to keep votes straight?

For some things, analog is best. (3, Insightful)

pjt48108 (321212) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850941)

The focus of discussions on e-voting machines always seems to come down to the reliability and accuracy of the audits. What this ignores is the potential for the actual voting records to be altered prior to inclusion in the overall voting record.

The problem with e-voting (in my opinion) is not so much the audit trail, but the fact that e-voting adds unnecessary levels of complexity (and obfuscation and unaccountability) to the voting process. This is the result of government leaders attempting to perform vital civic services on the cheap: why pay poll workers and vote counters, when we can just use machines that do this fast and automagically?

What the use of e-voting machines invites is the ability/potential not only to count votes FASTER, but to do so behind a hardware/software interface, where much malfeasance can be conjured in code and executed on-the-fly, beyond the observational capacity of effectively the entire voting population.

Some things are better dealt with in the analog world. A true and accurate accounting of the will of the people is too important to a democracy for us to cut corners. I think it is worth the cost of paper ballots and carbon-based vote counters to effect the will of the people (however much one may or may not agree with the peoples' will).

That's my two cents on a Thursday before 11am (the time of the morning at which my brain always chugs to life).

Re:For some things, analog is best. (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 6 years ago | (#20851129)

It's a service model as opposed to a professional model. Diebold is renting you machines, and it's your responsibility to conduct your election properly and return the machines when you're done. Not when you think you're done, but you're really not. For all I know, there could be auditing facilities (electronic backup, paper backup) that were not used. Diebold chooses to play no part in how the elections are executed with their machines, which, given popular opposition to the voting machine vendor having a hand in managing elections, seems reasonable.

Re:For some things, analog is best. (1)

mpe (36238) | more than 6 years ago | (#20851459)

The problem with e-voting (in my opinion) is not so much the audit trail, but the fact that e-voting adds unnecessary levels of complexity (and obfuscation and unaccountability) to the voting process. This is the result of government leaders attempting to perform vital civic services on the cheap: why pay poll workers and vote counters, when we can just use machines that do this fast and automagically?

Is using these machines actually that cheap. You still need plenty of people and you have to pay for the complex machines.

What the use of e-voting machines invites is the ability/potential not only to count votes FASTER, but to do so behind a hardware/software interface, where much malfeasance can be conjured in code and executed on-the-fly, beyond the observational capacity of effectively the entire voting population.

In the typical US election speed isn't even an issue. Because the results don't take effect for a long period of time.
Efficent and secure manual counting systems are used in many places where the election results take effect within hours. A large part of the security is provided by any results manipulation requiring a large conspiracy where self interest prevents such a conspiracy being likely.

Democracy is working! (1)

ProteusQ (665382) | more than 6 years ago | (#20850955)

Praise God! I love hearing good news for a change.

The good things about Diebold e-voting machines (1)

dtjohnson (102237) | more than 6 years ago | (#20853703)

No one ever talks about the good things about electronic voting machines so I'll try.

1) They save paper. No umpty-ump thousands of paper ballots to print out and truck around.

2) They save time with the vote counting. Computers can tally in an instant while manual vote tallying by an army of poll workers takes hours, and sometimes days.

3) They restrict access to the balloting to just a few people. Instead of all of those vote counters putting their hands all over a mass of paper ballots, there are just a handful of people who operate and service the machines and then report the results.

4) They generate new jobs for technical people as the machines become obsolete every 3 or 4 years and are replaced by the new models.

There are probably more advantages but those are all I can think of. Now, I know what you're thinking: 'So what about the so-called advantages...the process is inherently untrustworthy.' To that we would say...(crickets chirping)
   
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