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NYT Notes Flaws In Current Electronic Voting Methods 121

Posted by Zonk
from the judge-carefully dept.
dstates writes "The New York time has an informative article on electronic voting with some frightening statistics and interesting anecdotes. Printers on Diebold machines in Cayahoga County OH jammed 20% of the time, making paper trail recounts suspect. Crashing voting machines in California reportedly resulted from Windows CE sensing fingers sliding from one key to another as a drag and drop event, and the Diebold software failing to handle the event. Of course, rather than just ignore this unanticipated condition, the OS did the right thing for a voting machine and crashed."
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NYT Notes Flaws In Current Electronic Voting Methods

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  • Absentee Vote! (Score:5, Informative)

    by rthille (8526) <{gro.tagnar} {ta} {todhsals-bew}> on Saturday January 05, 2008 @02:34PM (#21924878) Homepage Journal

    In California, you can be an Permanent Absentee Voter, which guarantees a paper trail for your vote. I deliver mine directly to the County Registrar of Voters, but I believe you can drop them off an any polling place, or mail them, though they have to arrive by the deadline, postmark does not count.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by corsec67 (627446)

      or mail them, though they have to arrive by the deadline, postmark does not count.


      Doesn't that open up a whole bunch of ways to do fraud?

      In the post office, possibly:
      "Here are the votes from the very (hated political party) area"
      "Put them behind box over there, I will get to them next week"
      "But they have to be counted by tomorrow"
      "Yeah, so?
    • Re:Absentee Vote! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mOdQuArK! (87332) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @02:47PM (#21925012)
      Unfortunately, being an absentee voter doesn't really guarantee you much more of a paper trail - not only is the anonymity protocol violated (there's no way to make sure people aren't forcing or bribing you to vote a certain way), but there is also no way for the counters to make sure all of the absentee votes make it to the counting table (or whether they have been selectively pruned).

      Also, many places use the optical scanning machines to sum up the absentee ballots, then add the votes to the database of the central tabulator machine being used to count the votes from the balloting machines.

      That being said, at least the paper is existing somewhere at some point (and the voter has had a chance to look at it), so it could be looked at as a marginally better process than the paperless machines. Absentee balloting is just the best of a bad process though.
      • by opec (755488) *
        Absentee voting can be a real sham.

        As a college student away from home, I wanted to vote for the first time in my life. I called my home county's (duly elected) official clerk's office and requested an absentee voting form. I had to explain that I was in college away from home. Surprise, no form came. And no form came after the following two times I requested one.

        It's enough to completely demoralize me from voting any more [wikipedia.org].
      • by will_die (586523)
        Most places will not even count the abentee votes, before announcing how the vote went, unless there are enough of them that in the even all of them voted one way they be within a few percent of changing the general vote.
        Most places will count them for afterwards to get the official number but some places are not required to do so.
  • by Wonko the Sane (25252) * on Saturday January 05, 2008 @02:38PM (#21924918) Journal
    I found one already without even reading the article:

    ...reportedly resulted from Windows CE sensing fingers sliding...
    • yeah seriously why the hell would you put Windows on a voting machine?!?! What a bunch of morons. The simpler the better. All it has to do is record a goddam vote and print something. You don't need internet protocols and windows update and Free Cell on it.
  • by compumike (454538) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @02:38PM (#21924926) Homepage
    I am totally shocked that even Diebold could screw up this badly, making systems that crash under normal usage conditions. But the design philosophy they took is the wrong one. Look at the complexity behind these things! Keep it simple and they might have done much better. Why base something like this off of Windows CE? How many megahertz do I need to do a voting machine? Seriously, all of this extra hardware and software means more abstraction (which is considered a good thing in the computer science world), but it also means more abstractions that can be misinterpreted and misused. For a system whose job is so simple, keep the product equally simple.

    --
    Coder? Want to learn electronics? Microcontroller kits. [nerdkits.com]
    • I am totally shocked that even Diebold could screw up this badly

      At this point I wonder why Microsoft doesn't enter the market of voting machines. Even they wouldn't fuck it up this badly.

      • by doom (14564)

        At this point I wonder why Microsoft doesn't enter the market of voting machines. Even they wouldn't fuck it up this badly.

        And the 2008 results are just in -- it's the write-in candidate, our new president, William Henry Gates!

    • A vote counter could be done in 1980:s technology using Basic - except that you may want to use more than a 16 bit integer to count the votes or you will get a rollover into negative after 32767 votes. Not a big problem...

      Anyway - when it comes to voting machines the requirements should be that they are mathematically verifiable [tfhrc.gov] for correctness [correctnes...uction.com]. This essentially rules out Windows CE and a lot of other systems. Mostly since the complexity of those systems are too large.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Z00L00K (682162)
        Berkeley has produced a document that's even more specifically addressing the voting machine verification [berkeley.edu].
      • when it comes to voting machines the requirements should be that they are mathematically verifiable for correctness

        And how will that keep the printer from malfunctioning, or the ram from spiking under a very specific, untestable state (include temperature and a particular set of bits that causes the CPU to malfunction?

        Your solution sucks. The issues are not from mathematical failures, but from mechanical/electrical ones.

        These machines should consist of a single MCU which is connected to pushbuttons and fee
        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          Why not just use paper? Any use of computers means that nobody can verify what software is actually running when they walk up to the machine on election day. There is no problem with paper and pen, and hand counting. It is completely verifiable, completely transparent, and with people watching the polling stations, ballot boxes, and counting, is actually quite hard to cheat the system. It's also very hard to do cheating en masse. Sure you could stuff a couple ballot boxes, but it is very hard to stuff
          • There is no problem with paper and pen, and hand counting.
            It's fantastically expensive, and hard to back up.

            It is completely verifiable, completely transparent, and with people watching the polling stations, ballot boxes, and counting, is actually quite hard to cheat the system.

            There can only easily be one copy, so it isn't easily verifiable, transparent, or independently watchable. Only one group can be responsible for keeping track of the actual votes, and if they lose any, then they're gone. The diffic
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      For a system whose job is so simple, keep the product equally simple.

      I have already proposed a new hardware solution: using a core component based on carbon nano-platelets, encased in a security layer composed on bio-cultivated fibres, coated by a impact resistance plastic polymer coating. This can be used to encode ultra-high resolution glyphs at the atomic level onto a wafer of specialised high contrast bio-cultivated fibre sheets. These sheets are collected in high security aluminium casings, with secured access points.

      For vote counting, these casings are accessed

    • "But the design philosophy they took is the wrong one. Look at the complexity behind these things!"

      Do you really think that the designers at Diebold are stupid? I don't. I think the unnecessary complexity is purposeful. Much like modern legislation, if you make it a bloated hypercomplex thing, it's much easier to hide and manupulate things in there. Now of course this sounds like conspiracy theory, but there is another very simple thing that occurred to me in the first ten seconds of reading the article.
    • I am totally shocked that even Diebold could screw up this badly

      Nah, I worked for 2 Fortune 500 companies ($LargeHardwareAndServicesProvider and $WeMakeHighendElectronics) and the arconyms SNAFU, TARFU, BOHICA, TAFUBB etc. were par for the course.

      Combine poor communications, bad management, short deadlines, sale of vaporware or processes, over selling of the product, political infighting and a blind gold rush mentality and this isn't really surprising. What is surprising is after all these years the custome
  • As a voter (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Z00L00K (682162) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @02:41PM (#21924948) Homepage
    can I refrain from using the voting machine and request that my vote is registered by other means?

    Just curious since I can't vote - but is there legal room that allows it?

    What about disabled people that for some reason can't use a voting machine - what are their options?

    • by rthille (8526)
      A lot of the reason behind the push for voting machines was supposedly to be easier for disabled people to use to vote. After all, a blind person will have a lot of trouble with "scantron" or other "visual" type ballot.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by CastrTroy (595695)
        In Canada, disabled may get somebody to help them. Almost all polling stations have level access (so wheelchairs can access them). There are also mobile polling stations for those who are unable to travel to their polling station. I understand how a computer might help some disabled people, but it would probably be better if it was just used to mark a ballot which would be the same as those marked in pen by the non-disabled voters. Then they could all be counted by hand.
        • In Canada, disabled may get somebody to help them.

          That's true in the United States, as well. Disabled groups have pushed for electronic machines precisely because they do not want to require the help of others. As the argument goes, such a system necessarily makes them beholden to others and casts disabled voters as second class citizens.

  • by Bananatree3 (872975) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @02:42PM (#21924964)
    Why the hell do you need Windows CE to count votes? Can't you just flash a chip and use basic hardware? The developers of this stuff are too lazy. They just want to open Visual Studio, make some code and then be done with it. They don't see that if you go minimalist, work from the hardware up and just use the bare minimum software needed to count the votes you get even better security.
    • by _KiTA_ (241027)

      Why the hell do you need Windows CE to count votes? Can't you just flash a chip and use basic hardware? The developers of this stuff are too lazy. They just want to open Visual Studio, make some code and then be done with it. They don't see that if you go minimalist, work from the hardware up and just use the bare minimum software needed to count the votes you get even better security.


      I think you're missing the point. [commondreams.org]
    • Why the hell do you need Windows CE to count votes? Can't you just flash a chip and use basic hardware?

      You don't. ES&S iVotronic machines (as of at least 2004) don't have an operating system. They consist of a custom system board with the embedded version of the 386 processor. I assume Diebold chose their path to jumpstart the development process, avoiding the need to work out a file system, hardware drivers, memory management and the rest that using an OS brings.

      A lot of the ES&S iVotronic em

    • by symbolic (11752)
      That would suggest something that has nothing to do with Windows. Let's say an embedded version of Linux. These are extremely pared down with only the essentials. Add one more component to handle the counting, and there you have it. There's FAR less chance that something will go wrong with a setup like this. The fact that it's open source is icing on the cake, since it makes the counting process a bit more verifiable.
  • I understand the need for machines which make it easier for disabled people to vote, but the only "safe" machine is a machine which just marks ballots in a human-readable manner. The machine can ensure that ballots aren't created in an invalid state (multiple candidates when only one is allowed), and that non-vote selections are explicit (voter must choose 'none of the above' to proceed). The machine then prints the ballot in a human readable form and makes it available to the voter. The voter inspects it and either places it in the ballot box, or takes it to another machine which reads the ballot and makes the selections apparent to the voter (think vision impaired voter needing the ballot to be 'read' to them) and then after they confirm the ballot is accurate, places it in the ballot box.

    This still doesn't deal with the fact the many voters will vote without making 'hard' selections. Candidates at the top of the ballot get a 'bump' just by their position. There are other ways which a machine could subtlety influence an election, as well as marking some percentage of the ballots "erroneously" in hopes that voters wouldn't inspect the ballots closely and find the errors.

    In short, accurate elections with anonymous, non-voter-provable (to prevent blackmail/vote purchasing) votes are hard, but since they are the basis for our system of government, we need to do the work to do it right.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      ``In short, accurate elections with anonymous, non-voter-provable (to prevent blackmail/vote purchasing) votes are hard, but since they are the basis for our system of government, we need to do the work to do it right.''

      The good news is that the hard work [wikipedia.org] has [wikipedia.org] been [wikipedia.org] done [votehere.com].

      The bad news is that none of the better systems have taken off yet. Part of the problem is that people really don't care. Part of the problem is that politicians actually don't _want_ to admit there is something wrong and fix it (that, at lea
      • by rthille (8526)
        I'm fine with simple paper ballots, but there definitely are issues with them for the disabled. Also, you have trouble with ballots which can be 'spoiled' to a variable extent. If 'spoilage' were simply binary, then deciding when to just throw out the ballot (at least for the spoiled contest on it) would be easy, but since it's not, you get people arguing about 'the intent of the voter'. Ballot marker machines are supposed to solve that.
  • Is this the same band of rat monkeys at The New York Times who were busy ridiculing all of us in the aftermath of the 2000 and 2004 Presidential election who were crying foul and fraud and who were to a man and on every detail proven right?

    And now they want to pose as the guarantors of our future democracy?

    Why? So they can build back up their cred so when next racist Jews lust for Muslim blood they are better able to flip the switch?

    God Damn The New York Times.
  • by youthoftoday (975074) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @02:50PM (#21925032) Homepage Journal
    Now, I'm not a US citizen, but the way I see it, Company X convinced officials A and B to buy these machines. The machines were bought, company X was paid by the taxpayer, officials A and B were paid by company X, the board, employees and shareholders of company X were paid. The voting machines went wrong so more money will have to be spent on them.

    Who cares about right and wrong? Rich people and public officials made themselves some money.

    Surely an American dream. What could be more perfect?
    • It would be more perfect if company X was also the company that has an affiliation with the vice president and he is also getting kick backs from Company x for every machine sold. There was a similar slashdot article about how there were numerous reports of votes flipping one way without warning, but never the other...
    • by Bananatree3 (872975) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @03:47PM (#21925614)
      Imagine Diebold going to NASA/Air Force and trying to peddle their sub-standard hardware for mission-critical situations. I'm sure they would be given the boot faster than they can cry in pain. Why should our nation's most critiqued software/hardware (Think: Space shuttle computer, NORAD tracking software) work 99.99999% of the time, but our Elections hardware/software is bought only on the good faith of some business executive?
      • by dprovine (140134)

        Imagine Diebold going to NASA/Air Force and trying to peddle their sub-standard hardware for mission-critical situations. I'm sure they would be given the boot faster than they can cry in pain.

        You might be interested in reading up about the use of Microsoft Windows by the US Navy, which you can read about at http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/1998/07/13987 [wired.com].

        Also of interest is the NewsHour's report on body armor, in which it turned out that the colonel in charge of approving the armor reti

    • by Daimanta (1140543)
      I don't get it. Can you produce a deeply flawed car analogy instead so my sleep deprived understand it better?
  • hooray for Canada! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by vajaradakini (1209944)
    I'm so very glad that we do our voting by putting a little "x" in a box and they're then hand counted by thousands of election workers while representatives of each party scrutinize each ballot to see if they're acceptable instead of this electronic no paper trail machines that screw up crap.
  • i am no luddite (Score:5, Insightful)

    by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Saturday January 05, 2008 @02:56PM (#21925100) Homepage Journal
    i am also no technofetishist

    sometimes, more tech thrown at a problem makes it worse, not better

    there is no compelling argument, NO COMPELLING ARGUMENT to use anything more than

    1. pencil
    2. paper
    3. optical scanner

    there is however, with electronic voting, AND mechanical voting something else:

    1. increased number of attack vectors
    2. loss of transparency in the voting process, and therefore mistrust in democratic results, and lingering lack of faith in government

    the only arguments for electornic voting are:

    1. kickbacks to officials
    2. increased business for a business that shouldn't exist

    no electronic voting. ever. anywhere

    accepting it means that people will begin to erode their fatih in democracy

    if they can't see it, smell it touch it, they won't trust it

    once again:

    1. pencil
    2. paper
    3. optical scanner

    anything else represents an eroding faith in democracy
    • Please mod the parent up.

      I've yet one single good reason for using touch screens that can't be (simply) solved by other means. My county uses paper ballots that are optically read. After they are read the drop in a sealed bin. Hand recounts are no problem.

      Technology does not always equal better. Sometimes it's worse.
      • *I've yet to see*
      • Re:i am no luddite (Score:4, Interesting)

        by CastrTroy (595695) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @03:48PM (#21925620) Homepage
        My country uses paper ballots that are marked by pen, and optically scanned by the human eye. I don't see any reason why we need machines at all. Votes are counted so fast. That they had to make a law that results couldn't be reported before all polling stations were closed, because they believed the people on the west coast were being influence by the results from the east coast.
        • by lobStar (1103461)
          In my country there is no marking involved, instead there is different ballots for each party, similar in color, layout and size. You put the ballot of the party of your choice in an envelope, walk to the two officials and show your ID. They check you're in the list of voters, takes your envelope (to make sure you haven't got two) and put in in the box.

          When they close at eight, the box and all the envelopes are opened, and it's made sure there is only one ballot in each envelope. It's checked that the num

      • by perlchild (582235)
        Actually, he optical scanner is a technology...

        In this case, it's even
        "more visible technology does not always equal better."
    • there is no compelling argument, NO COMPELLING ARGUMENT to use anything more than

      1. pencil
      2. paper
      3. optical scanner

      You're right. Except of course for the argument in the article:

      Still, optical scanning is hardly a flawless system. If someone doesn't mark a ballot clearly, a recount can wind up back in the morass of arguing over "voter intent." The machines also need to be carefully calibrated so they don't miscount ballots. Blind people may need an extra device installed to help them vote. Poorly t

      • Our ballets have a broken arrow (=== ====>) that you fill in to vote. They are a good 1.5in apart and easy to mark. If you don't mark them correctly, the machine simply rejects the ballot with a loud error beep, from there you can re-try.

        Simple.
      • The hanging chad problem was a confirmation problem: confirming that the punched ballot card would be tabulated by the voter as intended.

        I've never understand why this isn't broken down as a two step process. To me this is a separation of concerns problem.

        One concern is to produce an accurately punched ballot (intentional, complete, unambiguous). This step has no memory of voter actions.

        The other concern is to verify that the punched ballot reads back as intended when tabulated or manually verified. Few
    • by megaditto (982598)
      Right. And there is no good argument for using ATMs or computers either. Or the Internet, fuck it, who needs it.

      You tinfoil liberals are making me sick.
      • What an idiotic comment. I'm far from liberal btw.

        This is about voting, nothing else. Not ATM's and not computers. Voting needs to be 100% transparent, for the people running the election, the people running and the people voting.

    • by stg (43177)
      In Brazil, electronic voting has been used for a LONG, LONG time - on all elections. There weren't any major problems or reports of fraud.

      There weren't any changes in perception by the people. Well, except for the very large lines we had to take when we still used paper ballots...

      Machines do break down, of course. The officials are trained to switch to paper ballots in that case. That do create extra lines and wait, but that's pretty much it.
    • by Troy (3118)
      Well, optical scan voting systems are a business as well. Diebold even has a line out. Don't indulge too much in the "evil corporation and corrupt government" line of thought. While I'm sure it is accurate in some cases, using it as a sweeping analogy just weakens your overall argument.

      Optical scanning seems to be currently in vogue in Ohio. After some controversy, Cuyahoga county (metro Cleveland) is in the process of abandoning its touch-screen voting machine for optical scanning. It won't be ready for th
    • there is no compelling argument, NO COMPELLING ARGUMENT to use anything more than...

      Pen and paper is fine, I'll grant you: everyone, however technophobic, knows how to mark an X with a pencil, and even the illiterates can recognise the insignia of their favoured party. Counting is laborious, but it scales: if your electorate is bigger and thus produces more votes, presumably you can also recruit more volunteers to count. It's why we in the mother country laughed at the silly colonials in 2000; we do it by

    • by Dave Fiddes (832)

      there is no compelling argument, NO COMPELLING ARGUMENT to use anything more than

      1. pencil
      2. paper
      3. optical scanner

      I'd extend your point 3 to require that the optical scanner's be installed in someones skull. In Scotland we replaced our age old, reliable 10,000 grannies in sportshalls approach to vote counting with optical scanners this year. The result was a complete farce with thousands of votes being declared void. Human eyeballs are the best scanner and with appropriate oversight the fairest vote counting mechanism IMHO.

  • by arivanov (12034) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @02:58PM (#21925116) Homepage
    Of course, rather than just ignore this unanticipated condition, the OS did the right thing for a voting machine and crashed.

    That is realtime ebedditis for you. A well known brain rotting disease which affects a specific portion of the programming community which most likely has a bit too much of Klingon blood in their veins. They can program a multitasking system only according to the 17th maxima of Klingon programming. "Klingon multitasking systems do notsupport "time-sharing". When a Klingon program wants to run, it challenges the scheduler in hand-to-hand combat and owns the machine." It looks like in this case they have also followed the other maxima of Klingon programming: "Debugging? Klingons do not debug. Our software does not coddle the weak. Bugs are good for building character in the user." and "Perhaps it IS a good day to die! I say we ship it!".

    On a more serious note this is someone strictly following the specs. There are systems where it if you encounter an unknown situation your spec says that you crash instead of trying to be original and let the watchdog sort it out. Quite common in embedded systems and standard spec requirement in things like voting terminals and ATM.

  • Propbably the most interesting part of the article: "Amazingly, the Diebold spokesman, Chris Riggal, admitted to me that the company is considering making the software open source on its next generation of touch-screen machines, so that anyone could download, inspect, or repair the code."
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by CastrTroy (595695)
      Or so that any polling station could compile their own version of the code, with minor changes, and load it on the voting machines so that they can mess with the results. I would trust electronic voting, if you could provide a way for each and every voter walking up to the machine to prove the the machine was indeed running the correct software.
      • by jargon82 (996613)
        Allow each user to load their own software upon arrival, then record the results on paper ;)
        I can't think of many cases where you would like to mess up your OWN vote...
        On a more serious note, why is there no rfc for voting by avian carrier?
        • by CastrTroy (595695)
          How do you ensure the boot code hasn't been tampered with, and is actually booting your own code, and not some other code. Also, If you thought the voting process was slow before, just imagine the line-ups this would cause, as well as the blank stares when you try to explain it to the voters.
  • Hart Inter-Civic prefers to criticize the test. [timescall.com] Apparently 99% accuracy should be good enough. Would they accept the same from their accountants and bankers?
    • 99% is more than acceptable in King County, state of Washington... In fact, the county executive is on record stating that an error rate of 1.5% is "accuracy any bank would envy"...
  • Cayahoga County???
    It's really Cuyahoga County [wikipedia.org]


    Not that I'm a spelling nazi...
  • by bogaboga (793279) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @03:13PM (#21925272)
    It's good that these flaws have been noted but what saddens me is that nothing might be done. This is what happens in 3rd world countries. Do not laugh. This is serious business.

    These flaws were discovered at least 4 years ago http://www.wired.com/politics/law/news/2003/10/60713 [wired.com]. Like I said, nothing was done!

    After that, we go to those same 3rd world countries "teaching" them about how to serve the common man through democracy, accountability and the rule of law. Very sad indeed.

  • Well, congratulations the to NYT for the extremely timely reporting, more than a year after the elections they're talking about, and more than 3 years after the election when the HAVA voting machines were first used. Also, years after articles in magazines such as Harpers and many progressive sites, not to mention news report the day after the elections about voting machines failures, and statistical anomalies in the declared election results vs exit polls, not to mention anomalies such as number of undervo
  • ... if people are just fucking morons, how hard can it be to setup a vote which is hard to manipulate I mean really? Sometimes I think we should just have a national holiday for one whole week where everybody just goes, gets together and stands and gets counted openly triangulation of picture day via digital cameras, cell phones, etc. (multiple images everyone taking them, etc).
  • machines in Cayahoga County OH

    I would not expect the slashdot editors to know this but FYI it is spelled Cuyahoga County [wikipedia.org] not "Cayahoga" which is roughly correct phonetically but not correct otherwise. For those unfamiliar, Cuyahoga County is where the city of Cleveland [wikipedia.org] is located.

  • by notnAP (846325) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @03:54PM (#21925676)
    I love watching these stories and the threads that ensue.


    How telling is it that the overwhelming majority of /. users seem to despise the idea of technology in the ballot box? We're the group that one would think would be the first to welcome the modernization of voting, the elimination of the "arcane" technology of scribbles on paper as a way for millions of people to vote?

    Surely, we all recognize the benefits electronic voting could offer... With proper UI, disabled voters are given a voice undiminished by their physical limitations. Language barriers dissolve. Costs could be reduced. The environment is saved from literally truckloads of paper per state per election consumed. In theory, we could make voting easier via the internet or some other remote casting of ballots. The ease could even lead to a more democratic society, with voting happening more frequently - wouldn't it be nice if more people in local towns voted in town meetings than the vocal minority so directly benefited by the decisions made? The accuracy and speed of vote tallying would surpass anything we could do manually.

    And yet, the cries against anything more than optical scanning of ballots is so loud here.

    It seems an outside observer - or an insider observer trying to glean some wisdom from the group mentality - could infer one of two things from this behavior. Either this group of knowledgeable technophiles has managed to collectively do a 180 on this one topic, or the wisdom /. members collectively have regarding technology and the way soceity implements it leads us to the inevitable conclusion that while the theory of electronic voting is promising, its practice is doomed.

    So how could such fans of all things technology reach such a seemingly self-contradictory conclusion? Do we really despise the technology behind electronic voting? Or is it just that we realize there are two components when people employ technology: people and technology. And we do seem to like technology. Or would respect be a better word, that "we respect the power technology can give?" We fear the power the abuse of technology can win, and we know enough about this technology to see how easy it is to abuse.


    Disclaimer: I share what I seem to see as the majority opinion. I have counted ballots manually in the distant past, and I'm now employed at a company that prints paper ballots.

    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      ``How telling is it that the overwhelming majority of /. users seem to despise the idea of technology in the ballot box? We're the group that one would think would be the first to welcome the modernization of voting, the elimination of the "arcane" technology of scribbles on paper as a way for millions of people to vote?''

      I much rather think that we are, by and large, a group that understands technology, and makes at least somewhat informed decisions on what is good and what isn't, what to use and what to a
    • by Troy (3118)
      I think the concerns revolve more around how the technology was developed and deployed than the concept of using technology itself. No voting system is tamper-proof, but the current batch of voting systems fail the most basic tests for reliability and security.

      If a system was developed/deployed that was as resistant to electronic manipulation as (for instance) my banking information, I'm sure most of the people here would have few objections (except for the handful who always think they know better than eve
    • by Ken_g6 (775014)
      It's simple, really. We know what hackers can do with computers. Thus, we don't want systems essential to our life [slashdot.org] or liberty to be open to attack from hackers.
  • Of course, rather than just ignore this unanticipated condition, the OS did the right thing for a voting machine and crashed

    Windows message processing is based on a message pump; Windows provides all messages without bias. The process is responsible for handling each message. Any 'unanticipated' messages are unanticipated by the process. Windows has no anticipation for them.

    The best Windows could have done was let the process crash but not the OS. I also don't see how an unexpected message would cause a process to crash Windows. That must have been some seriously horrible programming on Diebold's part.

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Saturday January 05, 2008 @04:15PM (#21925854) Homepage
    First off, it's Cuyahoga, not Cayahoga. The county is named for the Cuyahoga River, best known for catching on fire several decades ago.

    Secondly, there were lots of reasons why this particular county was scrutinized: Ohio was to the 2004 presidential election what Floriday was to the 2000 election, and there were lots of reports of irregularities in Cuyahoga County. Cuyahoga Country is by far the most liberal area of Ohio, so a few thousand votes missing were likely to swing the election. Really the question still hanging over those election results is whether they were the result of incompetent poll workers or the efforts of Ken Blackwell (then Ohio Secretary of State and Bush campaign manager in Ohio). That's what the current Ohio Secretary of State Jen Brunner (a Democrat) is trying to determine.
    • Just so you know, it's Florida, not Floriday. :)

      -Mike

      (Sorry, couldn't resist!)
    • by phorest (877315)

      Just so you know, the democrats have controlled the city of Cleveland for decades. I don't think it was a state-issue at all, especially since the Cuyahoga County Election Board was AND STILL IS incompetant. The new termers can 'investigate' all they want, but the truth is they won't find what everybody wants to paint as the reasons.


      Sorry, I used to live there and still know some of those folks personally.

      • by dkleinsc (563838)
        I'm well aware that the Democrats have controlled the Cleveland area since forever, and I'm definitely not in the "it's all Blackwell's fault" camp. I do however find such obvious conflicts of interest problematic at the very least. One of the reasons I listed Jen Brunner's party affiliation was to make it clear that this could just be a partisan thing.

        Or, of course, the Cuyahoga County Election Board being incompetent. My question in that case is why no one at the state level has done something about it.
  • I'm thankful for Diebold and the other screwups that engineered and produced these machines. Can you imagine what would have happened if they'd produced good machines (and I can't imagine that being too difficult) but that still didn't have a paper trail or a way to guarantee the votes? They would have skated in all 50 states and the democratic process would be in a big mess. Due to their incredible incompetence, the big media is waking up. Seriously, thanks Diebold or whatever you're calling yourself now!
  • The New York time

    Can anyone edit at all? This is just retarded. It's The New York Times.

    Wow. Just wow.

  • American voting system has a huge social flaw that makes electronic voting attractive despite all the added flaws. Vote counting should be a compulsory duty similar to jury duty, and not left in the hands of a few volunteers. All the money wasted on voting machines should be allocated for compensation to citizens called to their vote counting duty. That is how many other countries manage to have results minutes after the polls are closed without the need for flawed technology. Furthermore, citizens may be e
  • Go back to punch ballots and require chads to be completely removed. Throwing money and techechnology at it is not the answer. I know its a foreign concept to most of you but we need to throw personal responsibility at problems of the individual vote validation.

[Crash programs] fail because they are based on the theory that, with nine women pregnant, you can get a baby a month. -- Wernher von Braun

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