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Florida Literally Scraps Touch-Screen Voting

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the do-not-want dept.

Security 177

Kaseijin writes "Florida Governor Charlie Crist is getting his wish. The New York Times reports the state will replace touch-screen voting machines with optical-scan models by July 1, 2008 — the most aggressive timetable of any jurisdiciton rethinking this approach to voting. The touch-screen machines most likely will be sold to other jurisdictions or stripped for parts."

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great idea (5, Funny)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967059)

I think we should buy one for each Slashdot 10th anniversary party and smash them.

Much better idea (3, Insightful)

WindBourne (631190) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968825)

is to turn a few of them over to so of the crackers, reverse compile them, and lets see exactly how many bugs there are? In particular, I want to know, were the elections valid. For that reason, I suspect that the courts and the pubs will fight the idea of turning ANY of those over to an academians or crackers.

Translation: (5, Insightful)

urcreepyneighbor (1171755) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967079)

sold to other jurisdictions
We don't trust 'em, but you should!

Re:Translation: (2, Insightful)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967301)

So you'd prefer that his decision be imposed on everyone? Let each district decide what machines they want to use. sold != forced to buy

Re:Translation: (5, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968507)

The decision not to use highly insecure and completely unauditable machines to elect our leaders with? Yes, that decision should be forced an everyone.

And, (1)

gerf (532474) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967781)

You can throw some nasty little virus on there in the meantime :D

Re:Translation: (2, Informative)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968163)

It's actually a component of federal and many state laws - equipment that's not considered sensitive in nature has to be sold to recover what money can be recovered.

I suppose you could use the systems for some non-critical voting purposes.

Re:Translation: (5, Insightful)

Pete LaGrange (696064) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968309)

These should be returned to the manufacturer as unfit for intended purpose and a full refund extracted.

Re:Translation: (5, Insightful)

lenski (96498) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968323)

My favorite use for touchscreen ex-voting machines would be to drive a printer that generates human-readable ballots. Said ballots would be perfectly fine to count either by optical-scan readers or normal unaided humans.

Touchscreen "ballot printers" would go a long way toward eliminating overvotes and reducing undervotes (since a voter must be permitted to abstain from a particular race or issue).

As long as the Official Legal Ballot is durable and readable by unaided humans. The human can then manually scan his/her selections on the paper ballot before committing it to the official count. If the touchscreen system failed to record the voter's intent accurately, the voter can place the the machine-printed ballot in a rejection pile and fill in a paper ballot using manual methods (pencil, pen, etc.)

The point is that the voter must be able to audit his/her voting selections on the official legal record before committing it to the secure but open vote counting process.

Re:Translation: (2)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968325)

I suppose you could use the systems for some non-critical voting purposes.

Sure, like your typical Homeowner's Association:

Item 1: Do you ...

A. think satellite dishes are inappropriate for our community

B. think satellite dishes are unacceptable in our community


They could sell tons of these used voting machines to associations, since it really doesn't matter which way you vote anyway.

!literally; (1)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968423)

sold to other jurisdictions
Cue Inigo Montoya:

crap is a term used to describe waste metal. Old, unwanted metal such as parts of vehicles, building supplies, and surplus materials, are taken to a wrecking yard (known colloquially as scrapyards), where they are processed for later melting into new products.

Even selling them for parts isn't literally scrapping them ;-(

Parts? (4, Funny)

Klaidas (981300) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967085)

Stripped for parts? Am I the only one thinking there won't be much of a demand for those? :/

Re:Parts? (4, Interesting)

rizzo320 (911761) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967105)

I bet the touch screens could be disconnected and used for other purposes.

Re:Parts? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20969331)

Butterfly ATMs, of course!

Re:Parts? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20967123)

just because the touch screens were worthless in voting machines doesn't mean they can't be used elsewhere

Re:Parts? (4, Interesting)

AsmordeanX (615669) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967163)

If they put them on ebay I bet hackers and geeks would swarm the auctions. A cheap (depending on what they want for it) VGA touch screen, small PC that you might be able to install a different OS to?

Sadly though, those $5000 machines will probably only sell for $200 tops online.

Re:Parts? (4, Insightful)

rizzo320 (911761) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967221)

There's a version of linux for just about everything :-)

Re:Parts? (2, Funny)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967227)

My interest waned after looking at the Specs [sequoiavote.com] :
  • 38-40 pounds
  • (possibly related) lead acid battery

Re:Parts? (1)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967473)

the specs look enough to run a lightweight OS (damn-small-linux) and a bit torrent client...

Re:Parts? (3, Interesting)

zig007 (1097227) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967695)

Funny, my interest did the exact opposite after reading the following:
"Proprietary firmware on closed system prevents hacker access"

Hm.. Were have I heard that one before? :-)

Re:Parts? (1)

Bearhouse (1034238) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968681)

Seems to defeat auditing pretty well, though....

Re:Parts? (2, Funny)

thegnu (557446) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968817)

"Proprietary firmware on closed system prevents hacker access"

The proof is in the pudding. The elections were NOT hacked, because it's not hacking if you have a password. :-)

Re:Parts? (1, Insightful)

arivanov (12034) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968339)

You do not like the fact that it has a f*** 16 hour built in UPS? Would you mind sharing whatever is that you are smoking...

Re:Parts? (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967297)

Or a group of unsavory persons could purchase one and find the security vulnerabilities in it to rig an election or two.

Re:Parts? (1)

crowbarsarefornerdyg (1021537) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967211)

Maybe Apple will take the old touch screens?

Re:Parts? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20967585)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of voting machine parts!

Re:Parts? (3, Funny)

nilbud (1155087) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967655)

Performance measured in chads per second.

Re:Parts? (1)

tcgroat (666085) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968043)

There's probably a decent demand for the parts. Only the same type replacement parts should be used in certified systems such as voting machines (fellow cynics please note: should be! ). Since the hardware now is many years old, scavenging cast-off equipment for usable parts may be the best way to keep them running, perhaps the only way.

Budget cuts (1)

Alapapa (723716) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967117)

Way to go, State Government. Drastically cut budgets across the board then throw $20 million out the window.

That makes perfect sense

Re:Budget cuts (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 6 years ago | (#20969227)

Jeb, is that you Jeb?

Bass not biting? So, you been fish'n online, eh?

ah my eyes! (3, Funny)

quaketripp (621850) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967185)

At first I was equating optical to retinal scan voting -- "Sorry, the correct choice was --" "AHHH! MY EYES!" In more rational terms, this is good, there should be a paper trail which is key to our voting process. You fill the circle in with a marker, slide the ballot in the dealy, it counts, and you can do a manual recount if needed. That's what is truly required.

Re:ah my eyes! (2, Insightful)

pnewhook (788591) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968149)

there should be a paper trail which is key to our voting process. You fill the circle in with a marker, slide the ballot in the dealy, it counts, and you can do a manual recount if needed. That's what is truly required.

That's exactly how it worked the last time I voted. I marked the paper, the paper was scanned by the counting computer, the counting computer gave me a receipt to tell me what candidate it had counted. No no manual counting (which is rife for abuse) unless needed, and I get a verification that the machine counted correctly. Can't get much better than that.

say no to registration (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20967187)

MIAMI, Oct. 12 -- It used to be that everyone wanted a Florida voting machine. After the history-making presidential recount of 2000, Palm Beach County sold hundreds of its infamous Votomatic machines to memorabilia seekers, including a group of chiropractors in Arizona, the cable-news host Greta Van Susteren and the hotelier André Balazs. One machine ended up in the Smithsonian Institution. Dozens were transformed into pieces of contemporary art for an exhibition in New York. But now that Florida is purging its precincts of 25,000 touch-screen voting machines -- bought after the recount for up to $5,000 each, hailed as the way of the future but deemed failures after five or six years -- no one is biting. "I think we are going to have them on hand for a while," said Arthur Anderson, the elections supervisor in Palm Beach County, which must jettison 4,900 touch-screen machines for which it paid $14.5 million in 2001 and still owes $4.8 million. "They are probably, for the most part, headed to the scrap pile." Across the nation, jurisdictions that experimented with touch-screen voting after 2000 are starting to scale back or abandon it based on a growing perception that the machines are unreliable and concern that they do not provide a paper trail in case questions arise. California will sharply scale back touch-screen voting next year after a review by the secretary of state found it was vulnerable to hackers. Florida is the biggest state to reject touch screens so sweepingly, and its deadline for removing them, July 1, 2008, is the most imminent. For the 15 counties that must dump their expensive systems, buy new optical-scan machines and retrain thousands of poll workers, hurdles abound. Six counties still owe a combined $33 million on their touch-screen machines, which most bought hurriedly to comply with a new federal law banning punch-card and lever voting systems after the recount. Miami-Dade County alone must cast aside 7,200 touch-screen machines, for which it paid $24.5 million and still owes $15 million. Secretary of State Kurt S. Browning is seeking buyers for the touch screens, but he will not even begin to recoup the counties' losses. Inquiries have come from a Veterans Affairs hospital in Miami, which hoped to convert some of the machines into "learning kiosks" for disabled patients, and the Century Village retirement community in Palm Beach County, which wanted them for condo association elections. Sequoia Voting Systems, which manufactured some of Florida's machines, offered to buy them back for a bleak $1 apiece. "We're not accepting that offer," said Sterling Ivey, a spokesman for the Florida Division of Elections. "We can get more for our money." So far, Mr. Ivey said, the most likely options are selling the machines to recycling companies that would strip them for parts -- from the wheels on the voting booths to the circuit boards -- or reselling them to other states or countries through one of the original vendors, Election Systems and Software of Omaha. "We would expect a number of jurisdictions to be interested in adding to their existing voting terminals as they prepare for the 2008 general election," said Ken Fields, a spokesman for the company. Most of the money for the touch screens came from the federal government, and so will most for the replacement machines, which cost about $6,000 each. But with Florida county budgets tightening due to a state mandate to cut property taxes, election officials are griping. "I think it's a real waste of money," said Kay Clem, the elections supervisor in Indian River County. "I don't have my heart in it, because I think we're going 30 years backwards." Under the state's new election law, disabled voters can keep voting by touch screen -- akin to using an A.T.M. -- until 2012. But everyone else will use them only twice more, for the presidential primaries on Jan. 29 and municipal elections next spring. With optical scanning, voters use pens to mark paper ballots that are then read by scanning machines, leaving a paper record for recounts. The only county that has already switched is Sarasota, where voters last year approved a charter amendment requiring a paper-ballot system. More than 18,000 votes cast on touch-screen machines were not recorded in a close Congressional race in the county last year, raising an outcry that hastened the statewide switch to optical scanning. Sarasota County's touch-screen machines are sequestered under court order while an investigation into last year's election continues. Most of the other counties getting new equipment will ask the state to cart their touch screens away after the presidential primaries. "I will get them off my hands, one way or the other," Mr. Browning said. Like many other county election officials, he said he still believed in touch-screen voting, calling it "a very accurate, secure, reliable system." He supports the switch to optical scanners, Mr. Browning said, only because the public no longer trusts touch screens. "If you were to do a very thorough study of problems with touch screens," he said, "you would probably find that 99.9 percent of them would be traced back to human error." Likewise, 99.9 percent of Rob Malda's sexual partners are men, with a margin of error +-0.1 percent. Public interest groups almost universally supported the move to optical scanning, which is now thought more reliable than touch-screen voting, if only because it leaves a paper trail. One problem that could persist is poor ballot design, which was responsible for widespread voter confusion in Palm Beach County in 2000 and possibly for the not-recorded votes in Sarasota County last year. Mr. Browning said the state would revise its ballot design rule in time for the presidential election in 2008. As for the displeasure of election supervisors, Mr. Browning said it was understandable given that for many this would be the third voting system in eight years. "After a while, you get a little change-weary," he said. "Nothing seems to be stable or constant anymore. But I am very, very hopeful that this is the last major change to voting systems in Florida for some time."

Re:say no to registration (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20967673)

Likewise, 99.9 percent of Rob Malda's sexual partners are men, with a margin of error +-0.1 percent.

Yes, an anonymous coward actually read that poorly formatted post. What is this line doing in it?

Will the new system be any more reliable? (1)

ais523 (1172701) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967197)

There are enough problems with arguments about whether a vote should be counted or not as it is, in any system. With optical scanning of a ballot paper, surely there will be arguments about whether what the scanner counts as a vote or not is actually the correct definition of what is a vote or not? The voting system is likely to be attacked by people who disagree with its definitions whatever it is.

Re:Will the new system be any more reliable? (3, Informative)

PhysicsPhil (880677) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967347)

There are enough problems with arguments about whether a vote should be counted or not as it is, in any system. With optical scanning of a ballot paper, surely there will be arguments about whether what the scanner counts as a vote or not is actually the correct definition of what is a vote or not? The voting system is likely to be attacked by people who disagree with its definitions whatever it is.

The main advantage of the optical scanning system is it leaves a paper trail. If there is a dispute at the end of the election, it is possible to manually recount the ballots. Compare with the touch-screen voting, where no independent verification is possible. The ballots are also plain pieces of paper, so there's no issue of hanging chads or dislodging chads during a recount as in certain elections in the past.

Re:Will the new system be any more reliable? (4, Informative)

jackb_guppy (204733) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967385)

Nope. Not on the ones I have used.

1) you fill them out with a special black pen.
2) if you make a mistake, ask for new sheet and start again.
3) you place it into the optical scanner.
4) Green Light - your ballot is correct and you are done.
5) Red Light - you get a new ballot and start again.

Advantages:
Positive and Negative feedback if the ballot is clean and correct.
Voter SEES what is they choose, clearly.

Disadvantages:
Paper pile. But need only until election is confirmed.

Re:Will the new system be any more reliable? (1)

Ash Vince (602485) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967545)

You seem to have missed out the most important advantage:

If there is any doubt as to the accuracy of the machine you can simply do an old style human based count.

This is the most important feature.

You also mention that you could destroy the pile of paper ballots after the election is confirmed. This is an option, but it is also an option to leave them in secure storage in case anyone ever wants a recount at a later date.

The only downside I can think of is that people are unable to deface a ballot as a protest vote. In the last election I voted in I was so displeased by the appalling choice I was presented with I chose to write on the ballot why I thought both candidates were worthless cretins who should not be put in charge of a piss up in a brewery let alone a country. I know this was a waste of time, but at least it made me feel like I was doing something rather than just being to lazy to vote.

Re:Will the new system be any more reliable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20967617)

Really ?

You Did ?

Re:Will the new system be any more reliable? (1)

konstant (63560) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968201)

Poll workers are volunteers. Instead of inflicting that on them, take a protest sign to your polling place, wave it around and holler a bit, then go home.

Re:Will the new system be any more reliable? (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968221)

The only downside I can think of is that people are unable to deface a ballot as a protest vote.

As you later note, this is absolutely useless except for making you feel better. You'd do more good writing to the paper before the election.

It's not like you could do this with the touch screen machines either.

I figure the whole problem was caused by old machines and politicians wanting the latest and greatest - latching onto a neat phrase. Optical scanning should be familiar to any adult who's passed high school. We've been using it for standardized tests for years.

Re:Will the new system be any more reliable? (2, Funny)

courseofhumanevents (1168415) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968251)

I just drew penises all over the ballet sheet. Accomplishes the same thing, takes less effort.

Re:Will the new system be any more reliable? (1)

k.a.f. (168896) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968389)

Disadvantages:
Paper pile. But need only until election is confirmed.


Dude, that is actually the single greatest advantage.

Re:Will the new system be any more reliable? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20968911)

I've yet to go to a polling place with optical scanners that actually scanned the ballots as people submitted them. I always thought they just ran them all after the polls closed.

And a small yet important quibble with the design - it's not accessible to people with red-green color blindness. Yes, there are things you can do about that, but particularly in voting systems, I think it's important to make the system accessible to as many people as possible. That means the blind, the deaf, the disabled, etc. Maybe that means adding words to the colored lights, a redundant auditory signal, etc. I don't know, I'm not an accessibility expert. But I do know that it's important.

Optical scanners (1)

DragonHawk (21256) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968985)

I've yet to go to a polling place with optical scanners that actually scanned the ballots as people submitted them

I live (and vote) in NH. When I voted in the 2004 election, I had to feed my ballot into a machine of some kind. I assumed it was scanning the ballot when I did so. It certainly did more than just feed it into the lock box. And it didn't sound like a shredder. ;-)

Re:Will the new system be any more reliable? (1)

fwc (168330) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967751)

I'm not sure what technology florida is using, but in most areas here in Montana (other than those so small that it's easier to hand count), we use the ES&S optical scan ballots. These are completed by completing an arrow next to the person or choice you want. The ballots are normally counted by machine, but if a manual recount is desired it can be done directly from the ballots. It is also very easy to determine the voter's indicated choice when looking at the ballot as opposed to say the "hanging chad" system. For disabled people who cannot mark a ballot by hand, they have an Automark system which will actually mark the optical scan ballot with the person's choice. I do understand that there have been counting machine malfunctions (but relatively few with this system nationwide), however, this is common with any automated device. With the paper ballots it allows you to do the manual recount which is not possible with the electronic systems.

Re:Will the new system be any more reliable? (1)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967851)

Yes, those are the ballots in use in Florida--at least the parts I've voted in, it may vary from county to county.

Re:Will the new system be any more reliable? (1)

letxa2000 (215841) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967791)

I agree. Throwing out the machines is an absolute waste of money. If the systems were poorly designed or there isn't a way to validate the accuracy of the election, address that. But an optical voting system is (or should be) far less intuitive to the user than a touch screen system. If that's not the case, it's because the touch screen software was poorly designed--not because there's anything inherently wrong or suspicious with using a touch screen to vote. What could be easier than pressing the name of the candidate you wish to vote for?

Kudos to Florida for wasting taxpayer dollars.

Re:Will the new system be any more reliable? (2, Insightful)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968257)

How is filling in a bubble, oval or line next to your choice 'far less intuitive to the user than a touch screen system'? People have been filling out standardized tests for years.

In addition, it's far easier to handle breakdowns - the markers, whether pen, pencil, or felt, can be replaced quickly and easily. They don't go bad often if they're of a decent quality. Paper ballots are pre-printed and can be replaced. You can have a lot of optical scanners, if one goes down, disregard it's count, feed the ballots it's collected into another(back at HQ).

I've heard of down rates being over 10% with the touch screen machines. Vote counts being outright lost, or worse, corrupted.

stripped... (1)

cosmocain (1060326) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967205)

...for parts? someone should buy all chips containing the software and look for some bogus going on in there.

GREAT: accurate, fast, anonymous, auditable (1)

schwaang (667808) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967209)

At Defcon15 Bruce Schneier has said that he prefers optical scan *by far*.

Potential hacking "opportunity" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20967335)

Great, so now some criminal can steal a machine from the Town Hall basement and aim his attack at all the precincts that decide to buy the machines from Florida. (If you work for the NSA, please note the *sarcasm* when reading this comment. Am I paranoid? Should I be?!)

It wont matter (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967349)

The losing side will contest the results anyway.

Re:It wont matter (4, Funny)

WPIDalamar (122110) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967423)

Also won't matter since Florida voters can't seem to figure out the whole voting thing anyways...

Re:It wont matter (1)

jhines (82154) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967607)

Which is why the ability to recount the ballots is crucial.

More important than rapid counting to make the 11pm news.

Literally? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20967381)

As opposed to figuratively?

Re:Literally? (3, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968135)

"As opposed to figuratively?"

Gah, don't be so literal.

Re:Literally? (1)

taursir (861098) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968459)

I try to reason with myself and say, "Oh, people just use this word for emphasis. This is the nature of language change", but that's fine and dandy for speech. Slashdot seems like it requires a higher register, and an attempt to stick to the standard language (whatever it is), and yet I see literally in these situations, and it irritates me. What does it really mean? They're going to scrap the machines and throw them in the dump? Are they going to sell the metals to countries in the former U.S.S.R.?

Re:Literally? (3, Informative)

HoneyBunchesOfGoats (619017) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968531)

Since the article says that most of the machines will actually be sent to a scrap heap, yes, it is quite literal. (Merely doing away with touch-screen voting and keeping the machines to use for other purposes would be a figurative scrapping.)

Auditing. (4, Insightful)

headkase (533448) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967393)

I'm stunned that in the first place a system that could not be 100% audited was allowed to be used in the first place! Seriously, even though politicians don't seem to give a damn what you think the voting process is supposed to be a key-stone of democracy. If you can't trust the ballots you can't trust the system. It's fundamental.

Re:Auditing. (1)

butlerdi (705651) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967947)

Who the hell trusts the system ?

Do you trust the counters? (0)

tjstork (137384) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967967)

If you can't trust the ballots you can't trust the system. It's fundamental.

Well, that's the thing. And, Nixon could see that in 1960, although Gore could not in 2000. Let's the Dems "win" after 8 recounts, and suddenly Gore is president in 2000. How long do you think it would be, before every Republican on the planet began crying out that the "fix was in", and this was just part of an overall liberal conspiracy. It didn't matter who really won in Florida 2000. Even Iraq is less important, long term, than the national disaster that began when Al Gore's lawyers first contested that vote. From here on out, no matter who wins an election, we will not trust the people that counted the votes. At some point, mute protests from either side will give way to even greater distrust, and ultimately, we'll do what the Romans did in their electoral disputes - spend a century in civil wars until we beg for someone like a Julius Caeasar to come around and save us from ourselves.... at that point, sometime in the distance, Democracy will truly be dead, but nothing will save Al Gore from being the first man arrogant enough to throw the stone against the glass wall of our democracy, and for that, he deserves to be judged quite harshly, indeed.

Re:Do you trust the counters? (1)

Unordained (262962) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968167)

So ... you're saying a rigged system is better than no system, and if you notice that something is rigged/corrupt, you shouldn't demand justice, because that might throw everything into chaos, eventually? Is that what you're saying? Is this "Roman irony"?

Re:Do you trust the counters? (3, Informative)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968209)

when Al Gore's lawyers first contested that vote


You are aware that it was Bush's campaign that filed the first court challenges to the Florida ballots, right?

I'm sure you'll happily apply the entire rest of your comment to Bush now that you know he's the one who caused the inevitable Caesar.

Re:Do you trust the counters? (1)

InsaneGeek (175763) | more than 6 years ago | (#20969329)

Because Gore's lawyers were demanding a recount in only specific areas of Florida, and the local officials started doing that even though it was illegal to do so under the election law.

Re:Do you trust the counters? (1)

thegnu (557446) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968933)

When I voted in 2004, I voted in a poor neighborhood in FL. I was an early voter, and I had a 2 hour wait. My mother and brother had a 4 hour wait, also early voters. My boss Paul, who lives in a rich Republican area (Snell Isle, to all y'all Tampons) left work on voting day, and was back 30 minutes later. I suspect it took him 15 minutes to vote. My then-girlfriend, who lived in a Republican rich neighborhood voted the day of, and she just walked right in.

Their was tons of voter disenfranchisement, specifically of black people, in the 2000 election. There were many leaders of the black community who came before the Senate to request audience, and anyone--Al Gore included--could have stepped forward to grant it. Noone did. Not even Al Gore. Kerry promised he would not remain quiet if there was election fraud. Look into what happened in Ohio, where voting locations in swing districts were shut down by the FBI. More people voted for George Bush than were registered voters in certain districts. Some districts registered negative votes for Kerry. Not a motherfucking peep from that ketchup loving traitor to his people.

The only thing I can conclude with the admittedly spare rationality that the good (non-Judeo Christian) lord has bestowed upon me is that we were put on as a country by the most elaborate scam artists in the world, and Al Gore and John Kerry were merely shills for the Republican party.

How can you fucking lose to a turd sandwich? Honestly. Of all the Democrats, the Democratic party refused to pick anyone with any testicles. Hillary has more testicles than those guys. Though I don't really trust that snizz, either, because she won't tell us what the fuck her plans are in regards to shooting foreigners. Way to inspire confidence.

Do they blend? (2, Funny)

WindowlessView (703773) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967435)

Aggh,someone had to ask it.

Paper? (3, Insightful)

Froster (985053) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967529)

Are paper ballots really that complicated? If there are multiple referendums or positions to be voted for, just use colour-coded ballots and ballot boxes. All this trouble with voting machines is just ridiculous.

As a Canadian, I've never voted with anything other than a paper ballot, and I have never had a reason to question the voting process as a result.

Re:Paper? (1)

Tim Ward (514198) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967841)

Same in the UK.

Pencil and paper.

It Just Works.

Complete audit trail, recounts take from a few minutes to a few hours, depending on the election. Yes, if there are several votes taking place at the same time, it's a little more complicated to separate out the different coloured ballots, some of which are always put in the wrong boxes, but hardly a big deal.

Re:Paper? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20968161)

I think what they are no using and what much of the US uses are those scannable bubble filling in test things. It seems like it has the best of both worlds. The results can be tabulated very quickly and if need be, they can be counted by hand. There are often a couple dozen things to be voted on. School boards, city council, county, judges, state representatives, state senators, US representatives, US senators, president.

Color-Coded? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20968171)

If there are multiple referendums or positions to be voted for, just use colour-coded ballots and ballot boxes.

Shades Red and Green should make it easy.

Re:Paper? (1)

B3ryllium (571199) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968173)

Well, then you run into issues with colour blindness. So there would have to be precautions for that, as well.

I, too, am a Canadian, and I also don't see why the Americans are making this so complicated.

Re:Paper? (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968261)

Choose the right shades and you run into issues with colour blindness hardly ever. Frankly, you have bigger problems with people who are entitled to vote but don't have particularly good motor control, or the totally blind.

Re:Paper? (1)

Lobster Quadrille (965591) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968347)

Well, then you run into issues with colour blindness. So there would have to be precautions for that, as well.
Um... My understanding is that the point of the color-coding is to facilitate faster sorting. I would expect the ballot to have words printed on it as well.

Re:Paper? (1)

FailedTheTuringTest (937776) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968479)

Americans will say that it's more complicated for them because their ballot papers include many offices (president, sheriff, dog-catcher, etc) whereas Canadian ballots only have one office on them.

But I think they are making it complicated because there's no profit in counting the way Canadians do it: by hand, with volunteers from each of the political parties watching. You can make a profit if you make voting machines. The fact that the machines are less trustworthy and verifiable is an unfortunate side effect.

Re:Paper? (2, Interesting)

JimBobJoe (2758) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968689)

If there are multiple referendums or positions to be voted for, just use colour-coded ballots and ballot boxes.

How many do you propose. In my county in November 2004, I voted for 54 different things. (President, Congress, Ohio House, Ohio Senate, State board of education, a bunch of judges, a bunch of county executive offices, several county tax authorizations and a lot of municipal tax authorizations.)

Admittedly, that was particularly severe, even for a presidential election.

I've been a pollworker for several years now, and while I have never worked a paper only election, I've got an idea of what is required as part of the counting process and it's heinous for a big election.

Re:Paper? (3, Informative)

zestyping (928433) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968693)

Ballots in the United States are far longer than those in Canada. Have a look for yourself: NIST has a collection of ballots online [nist.gov] .

Here's one example: Chicago, Illinois, November 2004 [nist.gov] . 10 pages of choices, with 15 elected offices, confirmations of 74 judges, and one referendum. We're talking about 1 or 2 orders of magnitude longer than a Canadian ballot.

I do not support unauditable voting computers. I just wanted to explain why the voting problem is much different in the U. S., and give you some idea why the desire for automation is so strong. (I'm Canadian as well.)

Re:Paper? (1)

sunwukong (412560) | more than 6 years ago | (#20969127)

Here's one example: Chicago, Illinois, November 2004. 10 pages of choices, with 15 elected offices, confirmations of 74 judges, and one referendum.
When I saw how long it took to download plus what it actually looks like, it reminded me of the "personality test" for your avatar in the old Ultima games, i.e., long, excruciatingly boring and opaquely related to the outcome.

I wonder if the American voter knew Lord British had designed their electoral system ...

Re:Paper? (3, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 6 years ago | (#20969175)

"As a Canadian, I've never voted with anything other than a paper ballot, and I have never had a reason to question the voting process as a result."

America is the land of opportunity, like the opportunity to question the integrity of the voting process! I hope I've answered your question.

Another benefit of optical scan counting (3, Funny)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967559)

Is that you can design the voting form in such a way to fix one of the fundamental problems with democracy. You can make it confusing enough that those with insufficient I.Q. [bbc.co.uk] are able only to spoil their ballots, thereby improving the overall level of decision making by the then elected government.

 

Re:Another benefit of optical scan counting (1)

FauxPasIII (75900) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967937)

I doubt I'm the first person to come up with this, but I've been saying for years that the ballot should be a list of names and a list of offices with blanks by them, in random order. You write in the name you want next to the office you want them for. Thus, without having to invalidate a single ballot you insure that all the votes that "count" come from people who at least have the wherewithal to know who is running for what.

For a more aggressive means of filtration, just remove the list of names...

As a FL election clerk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20967593)

I say good riddance. Those things were huge, and ungainly, and the stands always seemed to pinch my fingers on setup and take down.
Nobody will buy them.

Good use for machines (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20967601)

Lets have one of the Universities write ballot marking software for these machines. That way we can reuse them for the disabled and go ahead and get rid of the few touch screen machines that are allowed under the law until 2012 for the disabled.

hacker (1)

sh3l1 (981741) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967603)

it'ld be interesting to see if anyone buys one and is able to find some major problem with it that might cause.... oh, i don't know.... never mind.

They are not going far enough (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20967729)

The need to eliminate ALL touch screen immediately. If you are blind, so fucking what. The blind deserve nothing except a fucking Darwin Award anyways. If you are too fucking stupid to use the pen and paper system, then you have no fucking business living let alone voting.

GO AHEAD FUCKING FLAME AWAY OR
WASTE YOUR GODDAMNED MOD POINTS
FUCKTARDED SHITDOT SHEEPLE!!!!!

Re:They are not going far enough (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20968305)

Haha, you got modded offtopic fucktard so now why not practice what you preach and go earn yourself a Darwin Award.

Epic waste - HAVA made things worse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20967761)

How many of these touchscreens were purchased to replace good old levers and punch cards because of the HAVA act?

Now they spend more money to maybe get things right.

Maybe next time there is a perceived problem, congress wont rush headlong into an expensive act with a fasttrack deadline because we have to "do something!"

Sometimes you have to take the time to figure out what the real problems are and address them properly before pissing your money away on waste and potential changes that make things worse. In the case of lever machines and pucnh cards, the replacements were a waste of money and possibly made things worse.

Re:Epic waste - HAVA made things worse (2, Informative)

lancejjj (924211) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968089)

Maybe next time there is a perceived problem, congress wont rush headlong into an expensive act with a fasttrack deadline because we have to "do something!"

Sometimes you have to take the time to figure out what the real problems are and address them properly before pissing your money away on waste and potential changes that make things worse. In the case of lever machines and pucnh cards, the replacements were a waste of money and possibly made things worse.
Sadly, the real problems were "figured out" long ago, and Congress merely told jurisdictions to take action quickly.

Unfortunately, there were missteps in many jurisdictions. The reasons for the missteps are up for debate, and are very politically charged, but basically includes:
  • Inept analysis and decision making
  • Poor/non-existent understanding of the voting process and related technologies
  • Failure to include any independent experts
In short, their inability to execute wasn't due to the timeline - it was due to the fact that many people who were supposed to be responsible and capable in the area of voting turned out to be inept political appointees who only knew how to listen to the vendors' sales pitch. Instead of involving unbiased experts, they instead portrayed themselves as "experts" and made very poor decisions.

However, to be fair, many districts around the country did make great decisions in upgrading their voting process and related technologies. I think you'll find that those districts performed detailed analysis and included unbiased experts before making a decision.

Isn't Florida... (1)

thepartyanimal (1149043) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967823)

as Jerry Seinfeld put it, "where people go to die?," I doubt they'd be able to understand technology past a paper and pencil anyway.

I LIKE eVOTING because... (3, Funny)

JackMeyhoff (1070484) | more than 6 years ago | (#20967893)

.. I take along my PERMENANT marker and place a HUGE BLACK [X] on the SCREEN :)

New technology not always the greatest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20967953)

Up here in Canada, we still use pencil and paper. Teams of real people look at real ballots and tabulate the results, which still arrive the same evening or early the next day. In return for paying people for a day of work, we get the benefit of a full paper trail, a simple ballot, and vote tabulation that is nearly impossible to fudge. Real democracy costs real money to implement; by cheaping out on elections, Americans get the discount democracy that they deserve.

Re:New technology not always the greatest (1)

JackMeyhoff (1070484) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968001)

I hope the use CHARCOAL and not LEAD for health and environment reasons.

Somebody's Uncle Chad (1)

banished (911141) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968075)

Somebody's uncle got very wealthy marketing touch screen voting machines to state and country governments. Probaby the same guy that sold Broward County their chad-laden punch cards.

Why not manual count? (2, Informative)

SwedishPenguin (1035756) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968107)

Why do they always involve some type of machine to do the counting in the US? Is there a shortage of volunteers to do the counting?
I would never trust a system like that. At the very least, the machine-counted vote should be confirmed later (but before the election is officially confirmed) by a manual count, no matter if there is a dispute or not.
In Sweden, the ballots are counted by volunteers in the precincts on election night under the supervision of observers from the parties and interested citizens (anyone can observe the counting), and the vote is later confirmed when it's counted by the counties, again under the supervision of observers.
The latter process takes several days (it starts on the day after the election) but counting in the precincts is usually done by the end of the day.

Re:Why not manual count? (1)

lenski (96498) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968397)

Many people that my wife and I work with (in the "election protection movement") believe that hand-counting is the only way to go. Their logic is that it takes the cooperation of a much larger number of people to screw with an election that was counted by lots and lots and lots of volunteers.

In America, the ballots tend to be larger, sometimes with many candidates and many issues on in a single election. That was the original impetus for using machines: counting would take "too long" for complicated elections.

I think the scalability and reliability of paper ballots outweighs the time-and-complexity issue. However, for those who like instant results, I am OK with an UNOFFICIAL quick "exit poll" report counted on optical scanners, for the late-night vote watchers.

I participated in a "parallel election" during the U.S. midterm election last November, and we were able to run a classical ballot-on-paper process which included completing the first handcounted results 6 hours after the polls closed (2AM; the polls closed at 8PM).

My favorite story relating to scalability is the under-allocation of voting machines in several districts during the 2004 election. People in urban and progressive distrcts waited an average of 2 hours, and sometimes as long as 9 hours (Kenyon College); people in ex-urban and suburban areas waited an average of 15 minutes. Many here believe that the variance in waiting-time was enough to skew the election. Since then, my primary reason for avoiding machines is the "artificial scarcity" problem. Paper has no such difficulty.

Two things. (1)

/dev/trash (182850) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968775)

Only the retired volunteer.
And yes there is a shortage.

Optical Scanners (1)

Beached (52204) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968245)

We use them here and they work great. You put an X in the circle of who you want to vote for. Very simple and they work well. No screens to navigate and completely verifiable.

You've been Punk'd (2, Insightful)

transami (202700) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968469)

BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!

Oh you poor beguiled Floridians. You've just been taken for the old bait and switch. If you had paid attention to the debacle of the last presidential election you would know that it was the optical scanners that were compromised, not the touch screens! An in-depth statistical analysis was undertaken by a mathematics professor of the exit polls compared to the "counted" tally. A vast number of anomalies showed up in Ohio in districts with optical scanners. Calculating the odds of those discrepancies show that it was less likely for Bush to have won that election than for him to have been hit by lighting and win the lottery on the same day (paraphrasing of course).

It's the people... (1)

greeneggs2000 (739337) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968615)

The basic problem in 2000 was that Florida had stupid people running the election. They came up with the dumbest ballots possible. When they are rebuked, they buy (using federal money) the worst election machines possible. These people are still there.

Back to the Stone Ages... (1)

jcdejongh (909851) | more than 6 years ago | (#20968965)

Why not just go back to using hammers and chisels on stone tablets? But seriously, why can't I fill out my ballot online, print it, and either mail it in or hand deliver it? I can do this with an airline boarding pass...

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