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United States Government Politics Technology

Maryland Scraps Diebold Voting System 209

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the long-overdue dept.
beadfulthings writes "After eight years and some $65 million, the state of Maryland is taking its first steps to return to an accountable, paper-ballot based voting system. Governor Martin O'Malley has announced an initial outlay of $6.5 million towards the $20 million cost of an optical system which will scan and tally the votes while the paper ballots are retained as a backup. The new (or old) system is expected to be in place by 2010 — or four years before the state finishes paying off the bill for the touch-screen system."
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Maryland Scraps Diebold Voting System

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  • by Recovering Hater (833107) on Monday January 21, 2008 @04:45PM (#22130986)
    -is where the "Suddenoutbreakofcommonsense" tag is?
    • Just 'cause I'm feeling nice, I have tagged it as 'suddenoutbreakofcommonsensejustforyourecoveringhater'. Happy now...?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Deag (250823)
        In a completely unrelated matter, how do I turn off those damn tags?
        • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

          by jlarocco (851450)
          After digging around the page source, I've come up with the following solution.

          If your browser allows user stylesheets (i.e. Opera, Konqueror), adding the following to your user CSS file should do it:

          *.tags,
          *.tagheader,
          *.tagname
          {
          display: none !important;
          width: 0pt !important;
          height: 0pt !important;
          background: white !important;
          margin: 0pt 0pt 0pt 0pt !important;
          • by jlarocco (851450)
            Oh yeah, to block the link in the header you'd need to add the following to the selector list:

            li > a[title="BETA! - Brief labels that you think best describe an article"]
  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) on Monday January 21, 2008 @04:45PM (#22130992)
    I'm sure many of us are aware... but let us not forget who Premier Election Solutions, really are. They are Diebold.

    Changing the name was a sneaky move.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by jrothwell97 (968062)

      I'm sure many of us are aware... but let us not forget who Premier Election Solutions, really are. They are Diebold.

      Changing the name was a sneaky move.
      Strange that while they offer flawed election 'solutions', they also make ATMs and cash deposit machines. HSBC banks here in the Free World use Diebold-badged machines, into which shopkeepers deposit their money every Friday. I dread to think what that may implicate if the ATMs are running similar software.
      • by sconeu (64226) on Monday January 21, 2008 @05:02PM (#22131194) Homepage Journal
        The difference is that both Diebold and their clients (the banks) have a vested interest in making sure ATMs *DO* record every transaction accurately.
        • by Anonymous Coward
          The difference is that both Diebold and their clients (the banks) have a vested interest in making sure ATMs *DO* record every transaction accurately.

          Unlike state government agencies, the banks, especially many of the ones in Chicago, NYC and up and down the east coast of the US, are run by the kind of folks who might be inclined to provide a set of concrete sneakers to anyone who sells them untrustworthy ATM machines. And the ATM makers know this.
          • by Trogre (513942) on Monday January 21, 2008 @05:59PM (#22131756) Homepage
            And why oh why is your country not populated by people who might be inclined to provide a set of concrete sneakers to anyone who sells them untrustworthy elections?

            • by aztektum (170569)
              Ignorance is bliss.
            • by Gyga (873992)
              Not as much money involved. In society it seems money trumps rights.
            • by g-san (93038) on Monday January 21, 2008 @08:32PM (#22132984)
              Well, I assume by your tone you are talking about the US. Here is my anecdote for the day:

              On a recent gameshow (1 vs. 100), first question was who was so and so's step son. Some actress got married and by the marriage the stepson is like 5 yeas younger than the dad. Whatever, I can't remember the question or answer, that is completely useless knowledge (unless you are an agent or something). Out of 100, only 3 people got it wrong. Not bad. 97% of the people in that set knew the answer.

              Next Question: What is the third highest rank in the Senate called?
              Out of 97 people, a third got it wrong.

              Now these are people who were screened for a TV gameshow. They should be smarter than the average bear. A third got it wrong.

              These and people less intelligent (than gameshow contestants) are the voters. What do you think they care about more? What do you think they spend more time exposing themselves to, politics or OJ and Britney? That is the true hopelessness of our situation. If you know of a way to get 200 million people to stop paying attention to a drug-addicted talentless dead-beat mom or other Hollywood scuttlebutt, I would love to hear it. You want us to run a marathon to stop election fraud when most of the public barely knows how to crawl. Nevermind the 100 yard dash to comprehend why our economy and world reputation are crumbling to dust. IMHO, that is the answer to your question.

              Other answers may vary. This answer does not constitute the opinion of my employer or my land lord or my cat. This answer may become invalid in the future and no guarantees are made, either thusly, thisly, or implied. This answer may be copied if it contains this disclaimer. Due to quantum fluctuations, this answer may cease to exit at any time. This answer may cease to have been written in the first place if an unforseen time warp should occur. Do not submerge this answer in water.

              • by rjstanford (69735)

                Now these are people who were screened for a TV gameshow. They should be smarter than the average bear. A third got it wrong.

                What -- exactly -- do you think that they were screening for? I'd be willing to bet it wasn't intelligence. People who make for a fun[ny] game show audience, now, that'd be a pretty good guess.

                What do you think they care about more? What do you think they spend more time exposing themselves to, politics or OJ and Britney?

                While I appreciate the sentiment, you should be a little fair

              • Now these are people who were screened for a TV gameshow. They should be smarter than the average bear. A third got it wrong.

                No, they should be better at memorization than the average bear. Not smarter; there's a difference. Intelligence, in the traditional sense, is a measure of the ability to synthesize new ideas, not regurgitate the original ones.

                The fact that proportionally so many of the people were unable to answer the question has more to do with the lack of decent civics classes (and lack of givin

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by elrous0 (869638) *

                Next Question: What is the third highest rank in the Senate called? Out of 97 people, a third got it wrong.

                Christ, only a third? I am abd on a Ph.D. in history and even I don't know that off the top of my head (minority whip maybe?).

                • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                  by sconeu (64226)
                  It's got to be either Minority Leader or Majority Whip, with 1 and 2 being President Pro-Tem and Majority Leader, respectively.
                • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                  by workindev (607574)
                  This isn't an obvious question, so I too am surprised that that many people got it right. From This Chart [senate.gov], it would appear that the 3rd ranking member is the Majority Leader, behind the Vice President (1st), and the President Pro Tempore (2nd).
        • Maybe they do accurately record every transaction, but they are crappy machines. My bank's old ATMs were fast, dispensing cash and receipts swiftly. Now they've recently downgraded to Diebold machines, which:

          * feature a comically gigantic keypad, making it harder to conceal your PIN as you enter it
          * occasionally fail to debounce button pushes
          * take ten to twenty seconds to count out and dispense a couple hundred dollars in twenties
          * take five to ten seconds to print a receipt
          * emit loud and annoy
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by MobyDisk (75490)
        Their ATM's got a virus [theregister.co.uk] some years ago since they are running Windows Mobile.
      • by Ucklak (755284)
        flawed election 'solutions' according to whom???
        Apparently Diebold and the value in the register that represents something they want to have a higher percentage doesn't see it as flawed.
        It's just following a routine.
  • by jrothwell97 (968062) <jonathan@noSPAM.notroswell.com> on Monday January 21, 2008 @04:47PM (#22131008) Homepage Journal

    Diebold are going to have real trouble building their reputation back up after this; even though other machines may be vulnerable, the fact that this case has been so well publicised is seriously going to damage Diebold's public image.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by mOdQuArK! (87332)
      That's why they changed their name. Now that they have a new name, nobody is going to associate them with the "old" Diebold.
    • by zappepcs (820751) on Monday January 21, 2008 @05:28PM (#22131426) Journal
      Actually, they could have scored a huge boost in credibility *IF* they had said, wait! We'll pay for the NH recounts because we are certain our machines are good, and if anything is found to be wrong, we'll fix it before the next primary or caucus.

      But that is not what they did... instead, there was a conversation in a darkened back room somewhere that went something like this:

      Politician: I thought you said it would be undetectable?
      Company Rep: I thought you said we'd not be prosecuted?
      Politician: You didn't say you'd fsck it up this badly.
      Company Rep: I did what you told me you wanted, give or take a couple of votes.

      Politician: This is not going to be good, you had better hide the evidence now, bury it deeply.
      Company Rep: No problem, we just paid Britney another $2 Million to pee on the courthouse steps.

      profit!
      • Is it a good or a bad sign that I got the same feeling from reading that exchange, that I do when I read the solution to a difficult puzzle?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by NickCatal (865805)
      I read somewhere that Deibold wants out of the business because it is like 10% of their revenue and 90% of their PR headaches.

      I love optical scanners. They are so easy to do, quick to report, and easy to check if there is a problem.

      What a lot of people don't realize is that on election day those boxes are carted around escorted by agents from both parties. There is no funny business to be done because it is being watched the entire election with lawyers for both parties parked around the area ready to respo
      • by DeadChobi (740395)
        What about the other 10 political parties in this country? Where are their representatives? It's not a two-party system despite what the media has led you to believe.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by plover (150551) *

          What about the other 10 political parties in this country? Where are their representatives? It's not a two-party system despite what the media has led you to believe.

          Because the other parties around here can't muster enough people to vote at every polling place, much less provide a volunteer to staff each one and assist in carrying the ballots around.

          Neither the Republicrats nor the Demopublicans currently feels threatened enough by a third party to risk charges of rigging an election. Think about the

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Mitreya (579078)
      Diebold are going to have real trouble building their reputation back up after this; even though other machines may be vulnerable, the fact that this case has been so well publicised is seriously going to damage Diebold's public image.

      And pigs are certain to fly anytime now.
      Some states appear to question their machines. Others don't. But I don't see anything about states demanding their money back for the scrapped equipment. And therefore I don't think Diebold is too concerned! They already sold the f

    • Diebold are going to have real trouble building their reputation back up after this; even though other machines may be vulnerable, the fact that this case has been so well publicised is seriously going to damage Diebold's public image.
      How well is it actually known and understood outside geek circles?
  • Good riddance to bad rubbish. Whatever happened to "If it ain't broke don't fix it"?

    Can this momentum spread to the federal level? Perhaps by having the money given to the states with the express implication that it be used for as secure and verifiable voting device as possible?
    • Can this momentum spread to the federal level? Perhaps by having the money given to the states with the express implication that it be used for as secure and verifiable voting device as possible?


      Whaddya wanna do here, give Ron Paul a coronary?
  • Verified Voting (Score:4, Informative)

    by earlymon (1116185) on Monday January 21, 2008 @04:55PM (#22131102) Homepage Journal
    All this made me start to wonder about voting machine requirements and this turned up - http://www.verifiedvoting.org/ [verifiedvoting.org]

    Thought others might find it interesting.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hedwards (940851)
      Thanks for the info. Nice to see that my home state scores as highly as I would have thought, and that FL was apparently sufficiently embarassed by screwing up the 2000 election to get its act together.

      I do have to say that I find it troubling that so many states don't require either a paper trail or proper auditing of elections. Seems to me that democracies work far better when there's somebody keeping an eye on things to make sure that partisans don't cheat the masses.
  • Thank you.
  • by Ethanol-fueled (1125189) on Monday January 21, 2008 @04:57PM (#22131130) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps the state could sell some of the Diebold devices to help pay the bill that they're stuck with. They may garner a cult following(like the iPhone) of hackers and tinkerers. The devices are worthless as voting machines but they may be coaxed into second lives as kiosk-style internet machines, etc.
    • by KiloByte (825081) on Monday January 21, 2008 @05:00PM (#22131154)
      Or, you see, return them as faulty and demand the (taxpayers') money back?
      • I'll wager that the contract would probably make that impossible, and if the governor and legislature tried it, it would end up in court, and the state would lose big money. It's probably easier and cheaper, though not very satisfying, to swallow the costs of paying for the machines, and hopefully the good people of Maryland have learned a valuable lesson.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Greyfox (87712)
        At some point someone probably signed off that the deliverable had been met. Once you agree that the product meets your needs it's kind of hard to go back on it.

        I like to say "It's OK! This is how we LEARN!" but unless the responsible parties are actually held accountable for their decisions they won't learn either. While in a perfect world this would lead to some people losing jobs or offices, I find that it's quite rare that people pay attention to huge wastes of taxpayer dollars. Putting it in terms th

      • by Amorymeltzer (1213818) on Monday January 21, 2008 @05:18PM (#22131336)
        This is just stupid. Wasting $65M to $90M is pointless, but they deserve it. Moving backwards isn't the answer, and neither is moving only slightly backwards. There's no way that for that kind of money, they couldn't have gotten a series of machines that actually works. I don't want to spit the same old Diebold sucks, yay linux/open source/etc. vitriol but there are a lot of options available to a small business, not to mention a bloody STATE. The instant these things weren't working properly eight years ago, they should've given Diebold an ultimatum and then gone elsewhere.

        Maryland expects to be back on the paper trail, following states such as Florida and California, which have also decided that all-electronic systems make it too easy to compromise elections.
        Hmm... an all-electronic system doesn't work, and neither does all-paper. Gee, I wonder if there's someway to combine the two and maybe get some sort of hybrid, combining the best of both worlds...
        • voting (Score:3, Insightful)

          by falconwolf (725481)

          Hmm... an all-electronic system doesn't work, and neither does all-paper. Gee, I wonder if there's someway to combine the two and maybe get some sort of hybrid, combining the best of both worlds...

          TFA does describe a method of combining electronic and paper, the optical scanners. A person votes on a paper ballot which is then fed into a scanner. The scanner allows for quick tabulation of votes but if there's any questions about the votes the paper ballots are still available. And there's no reason tou

    • Perhaps the state could sell some of the Diebold devices to help pay the bill that they're stuck with. They may garner a cult following(like the iPhone) of hackers and tinkerers. The devices are worthless as voting machines but they may be coaxed into second lives as kiosk-style internet machines, etc.
      Or sell them to a(nother) country where the ruling class considers it important *not* to get accurate vote counts.
    • by mdsolar (1045926)
      I worked on this issue pretty hard. One of the things that I think the legislature found persuasive, especially on the finance committee, was that the optical scan machines would be less expensive in the long run. The Diebold machines were showing signs of aging and needed much more repair than expected. The optical scan machines are known to last longer and work with fewer problems. This is pretty sad considering that voting machines are used quite infrequently. The other arguments were more important
  • Good (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    After the news of two AI researchers committing 'suicide,' we know that they have drawn first blood, and I want machines as far away from politics as possible.
  • by jo7hs2 (884069) on Monday January 21, 2008 @05:02PM (#22131182) Homepage
    Here is question... Before touchscreen voting, our area in Maryland had an optical paper system, which resembled some sort of Star Wars fan video version of R2D2. Why didn't they hold onto these machines, just in case the touchscreen voting devices didn't work out?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by nomadic (141991)
      Before touchscreen voting, our area in Maryland had an optical paper system, which resembled some sort of Star Wars fan video version of R2D2. Why didn't they hold onto these machines, just in case the touchscreen voting devices didn't work out?

      I think they tried, but the Jawas stole them.
  • I'd claim "unsuitable for purpose" and not pay. Except (and I'm sure this is the case...): Maryland probably borrowed money to pay for the system, Diebold has already been given their money and won't give it back, and the creditors don't care how the money was spent.
    • by symbolic (11752)
      Maryland could still take Diebold to court and get a ruling in its favor. Then the fun can really start.
  • Election fraud (Score:5, Informative)

    by Capt'n Hector (650760) on Monday January 21, 2008 @05:08PM (#22131238)
    I don't know if this is common knowledge to informed Americans (I only know of it because it is part of my family lore), but in the 1970s there was another voting machine company, named after its founder, Shoup. They made the voting booths with the pulldown lever, and though I doubt they're still around today, some of you older /.ers may remember them. Anyhow, this company was plagued by scandal. One of the Shoup family, Ransom Shoup was actually convicted of conspiracy to throw an election. The company was also involved in bribing florida politicians. And this was in the era of paper ballots, too. Fast-forward to today: nobody knows if Diebold is up to no good, but that's kind of the point. Without a paper trail, it will be hard to convict anyone of anything, and I think Diebold knows this.
    • They made the voting booths with the pulldown lever, and though I doubt they're still around today, some of you older /.ers may remember them.

      Heck, I only missed by a president or two. My parents used to vote on those machines, but by the time I got around to voting (in 2006) we were using Diebold optical scanners. Frankly they're comforting, because there's a sheet of paper they can read if it gets fucked up.

    • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Monday January 21, 2008 @06:20PM (#22131964)
      Except Shoup is now calling itself, "Advanced Voting Solutions [advancedvoting.com]" (AVS). You've probably heard of them. --The most astonishing part is that Diebold's, Howard Van Pelt and Larry Ensminger left Diebold and were hired by AVS in late 2004. --And not just a small hire either. Van Pelt and Ensminger are now AVS's President and Vice President!

      Here's a little of Shoup's history. [sptimes.com]

      It's a big, hairball of a mess and none of the right people are in jail.


      -FL

      • by Thing 1 (178996)

        It's a big, hairball of a mess and none of the right people are in jail.

        JUST HOW THE FUCK IS THIS POSSIBLE???

  • by Bearpaw (13080) on Monday January 21, 2008 @05:13PM (#22131292)
    FTA:

    "Indeed, it is impossible to imagine a voting system that could be impervious to attack," the report concluded.

    That's true, as far as it goes.

    But voting systems can -- and have been -- imagined that make it much more difficult to get away with such an attack.
    • by Bombula (670389)
      Impervious, no, but any number of simple solutions would be - pardon the expression - nearly foolproof.

      The Greeks and Romans voted with black and white stones. It wouldn't be that hard to implement something similar. Picture vending machines that recognize different coins - they are pretty close to foolproof in as far as not mistaking a quarter for a dime goes. Get to the polling station, get a 'coin' (or stone or ball or disc or bill or whatever). From there, how hard is it to only allow one vote per pe

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by MightyMartian (840721)

        Of course the real way to have accurate elections is to throw out the secret ballot, but that's another argument entirely.


        Oh good, so now my neighbor can know who I voted for. So can my boss and my wife.

        Nothing like good ol' fashioned voter intimidation.
  • On a system that is clearly flawed and does not do what it is intended. I would advocate for a full refund to the state of Maryland for breach of contract.
  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Monday January 21, 2008 @05:16PM (#22131320) Homepage
    What they should do is use this [punchscan.org]. It seems to address all of the problems with machine votes, AND all of the problems of the traditional system.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by fangorious (1024903)
      Separating the human readable and machine readable ballot, and then shredding the human readable one, keeps the door open for tampering with the counting software (you might have marked choice A for your candidate on the human readable ballot but what if the counting software counts choice A as a different candidate). How do you then prove how it was supposed to be counted? If you're going to in some way securely preserve the human readable portion, why bother separating them in the first place? Also if you
      • Separating the human readable and machine readable ballot, and then shredding the human readable one, keeps the door open for tampering with the counting software (you might have marked choice A for your candidate on the human readable ballot but what if the counting software counts choice A as a different candidate).
        True, though both ballots are machine readable and human readable. Either sheet, chosen by the voter, can be shredded. Software can be tampered with, but the people hand-counting votes can a
  • by rtechie (244489) on Monday January 21, 2008 @05:17PM (#22131334)
    Optical scan ballots really aren't a dramatic improvement in reliability. In fact, the touchscreen systems replaced optical scan ballots in many locations.

    Designing a reliable balloting system is really quite easy. The UN nailed it down decades ago:

    1. Printed paper ballots wherein each ballot is marked by grease pencil or felt marker.

    2. Ballots are folded and placed into a slot on top of a locked clear plastic box.

    3. The boxes are guarded, transported to a central location, and then opened and the ballots are all hand-counted by volunteers in front of observers from all parties.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MobyDisk (75490)
      What is wrong with using an optical scanning device to assist the hand-count? So long as a statistically relevant percentage of random ballots are hand-counted to confirm it, I have no problem with those optical systems. Heck -- I don't think most Slashdotters would mind a computerized system so long as it was done properly. The real issue is that none of the closed-source systems proposed today are even close.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rsborg (111459)

        What is wrong with using an optical scanning device to assist the hand-count? So long as a statistically relevant percentage of random ballots are hand-counted to confirm it
        That's the problem. Almost no voting processes in ANY STATE implement random hand-counted audits. I think many people would be happier if your "so long as" was actually the way it worked.
    • by karmatic (776420) on Monday January 21, 2008 @05:33PM (#22131474)
      Optical scan ballots really aren't a dramatic improvement in reliability.

      They can be. Have the touchscreen device print the vote onto the paper ballot, and a barcode with a checksum. Scan it optically and verify it against the checksum.

      Anyone can verify their ballot - they simply look at what is marked. Misreads simply don't happen - if the two don't match, there is a problem. Give they guy a new ballot (replacing the old one), and have him do it again.

      If the hand recount doesn't _exactly_ match the automated totals, it can be scanned in batches (any size). Count X ballots, scan X ballots. If they don't match, there is a problem.

      As a nice side effect, machines don't have to be trusted, and don't have to have a network connection either. The machine can't screw up your vote without marking the wrong thing (or the CRC would be wrong), and you can check that yourself before it's counted. Recounts can be done by hand, and in the event of total system failure, you can still mark the silly thing by hand.

      As a nice bonus to this, you get the benefits of touchscreen voting - secret ballots for the blind (audio), multiple language support, pictures, the ability to offer more in-depth descriptions of line items, etc.

      It's not exactly rocket science.
      • by Kingrames (858416) on Monday January 21, 2008 @06:10PM (#22131874)
        "It's not exactly rocket science."

        No, but if you could do it with rockets, that would be awesome.
      • One step better:

        Have the company that designs and manufactures the machine to print the ballot be a different company from the one that designs and manufactures the counting and checksum machine. (This would require an open checksum algorithm-- another plus.)

        In fact, get two companies to build the counting and checksum machines, and verify them against each other.
    • The point behind optical scan is that it is quick, low cost and still auditable. Hand counting is not quick, and human error can enter into that. Hand counting with lots of observers can be pretty time consuming in terms of man-hours.
      • by rhizome (115711) on Monday January 21, 2008 @06:08PM (#22131854) Homepage Journal
        Hand counting is not quick, and human error can enter into that. Hand counting with lots of observers can be pretty time consuming in terms of man-hours.

        This brings up one of the consistently-unasked questions in debates over electronic balloting: what's the hurry? I don't mean "It would be nice if we knew sooner," but what is it about an election requires that this stuff be done quickly?

        A second unasked-question would be, "what makes hand-counting errors less desirable than electronic-counting errors?"
        • by TempeTerra (83076)
          Also, if you look at countries that actually use hand counting, 'time consuming' usually means the results aren't final until about midnight on polling day. That's long enough for a drinking game, but not long enough for the game to land you in hospital.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rtechie (244489)

        The point behind optical scan is that it is quick, low cost and still auditable.

        It's quick, but the system I propose is considerably cheaper. I disagree with the third point. Optical scan ballots, in practice, are only "audited" by the same scanning equipment used to count them initially. This does not really translate to "auditable" in my mind since equipment tampering is undetectable. The likelihood of observers being able to certify the reliability of the scanning equipment "on the spot" is very low. Voter suppression is the most serious issue in the USA, and as my system is extrem

        • Optical scan ballots, in practice, are only "audited" by the same scanning equipment used to count them initially.

          Humans are capable of reading those ballots. So if there's questions as to the accurracy of the count the ballots can be hand counted.

          Falcon
      • Both the UK and Australia do hand-counting. All votes are piled up in stacks of 100, verified by other people, and then the stacks of 100 are counted. In Australia, we even pull this off with our preferential voting system.

        We know who the winning political party (and thus the Prime Minister) on the night. Sure, some seats take a while, as postal votes have to come in, and the last 1/6th of the Senate takes a while to become known, but the raw figures are known on the night, and the delay for the final numbe
    • guarded, transported to a central location


      Better to count them at the local polling station, observed by local reps of parties.

      Once you have them in a central location, who is guarding them? The incumbent regime, of course.
  • Lawsuit time? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Iphtashu Fitz (263795) on Monday January 21, 2008 @05:21PM (#22131364)
    I wonder if we'll be seeing a slew of lawsuits against Diebold coming in the next few months/years as the states try to recoup the cost of their investments in the Diebold voting machines. I'd bet that they'd have contracts with Diebold that would hold them responsible for failures in the equipment. Given the reports from NH that seem to indicate discrepancies between what Diebold equipment reported and hand recounts I'd think that's a pretty good indicator that the Diebold equipment is faulty.
  • by devjj (956776) on Monday January 21, 2008 @05:32PM (#22131462)
    If the state buys a touch-screen voting system that is later proven (without a doubt) to be flawed in any of a number of ways, all of which contribute directly to an incorrect tally of the vote (the very reason the machines were procured), why does said state still have to pay for that contract? Are states not naturally covered by the same laws we are? Did they not get a warranty? Did no one even stop to fucking ask?
  • 2010? Just in time for the all important Senate and House races.

    I'm sure there will be no problems in the next presidential election.

  • With the farce that any elections are now in USA why not skip the touch screens, OCRs or whatevers in first place? Anyway there is a 100% chance that recount will be requested by ether side.
    Going with paper only in first place will save quite a few million dollars and will be set up in what - 6 months including training?
  • by kcornia (152859) on Monday January 21, 2008 @06:01PM (#22131776) Journal
    Unless this thing was negotiated on handshakes and golf games, there should be a good amount of evidence for the state to press for elimination of that debt due to breach.

    Let's start holding them accountable for their shenanigans instead of just taking our ball and going home.
  • by oahazmatt (868057) on Monday January 21, 2008 @06:31PM (#22132080) Journal
    I always enjoyed my previous county's voting system.

    Here's your paper, here's your marker. Fill in the dot next to who you're voting for. If you make a mistake, please see one of the attendants for a new ballot and we will destroy the old one, and record the action and confirm it with your signature. If you would like to vote and are unable to properly use the marker, please see one of our attendants for assistance. Once you are done, please slip your ballot into the secured box at either end of the room. The "I voted" sticker is optional and will not be forced on you.

    I voted in that county for 7 years, and not once did anyone ever question the authenticity of the outcomes, even when outcomes were close.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by IHC Navistar (967161)
      That is exactly the way we've been voting in my city for years.

      Here is our process:

      1: Show up to the polling place (Some people find this pretty hard to do).
      2: Give them your name and DL, Military ID, State ID card, or Passport.
      3: They look up your name, address, and Party and give you the appropriate ballot in a hard, opaque plastic sleeve with a black marker pen.
      4: You go into a little stall and take as much time as you want figuring out which corrupt blowhard you want to "give" your vote to.
      5: You then b
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by zippthorne (748122)

        How could people find this so goddamn difficult to understand?!
        No one finds it difficult to understand. They just want to create conditions whereby they can manipulate the vote count or create the impression that the other party is manipulating the vote count. Or both.
    • by argStyopa (232550)
      Simply marking down a space next to the name is elitist discriminatory to the handi-capable!

      Blind people can't vote.
      People with no arms or legs can't vote.
      The comatose and brain-dead can't vote.
      People from Florida couldn't understand it.

      Are you willing to nearly disenfranchise these voters (or force them to ask for/have assistance) just for your silly, reliable, simple, and trustworthy system?

      You're PRACTICALLY Hitler!
  • FTA:
    "In every other part of life, we're going the other way," he said. "I think it's a giant step backward. I can predict our elections will be no more secure and they will be less accurate - that's what the evidence shows."

    John Willis, Maryland's former secretary of state and a government professor at the University of Baltimore

    Mr. Willis seems to buy today's system. I do think this can be an asset but buying something like this and they tell you not to look under the hood, thats a problem. Eve

  • by tie_guy_matt (176397) on Monday January 21, 2008 @10:51PM (#22133788)
    Today I am proud to be a Marylander! I would break out singing a round of "Maryland My Maryland" (still Maryland's official song) if it weren't a song written at about the time of the civil war about what a jerk Lincoln is and how we should join the Confederacy.

    Funny in 140 years or so Maryland has gone from that to being one of the more progressive states in the union. Seriously, don't let our past fool you Maryland is a great place to live -- and for the record we never did leave the union. Now let's not get into what the states official motto translates to.
    • by mdsolar (1045926)
      Thank Linda Schade of the Maryland Green Party. http://truevotemd.org/ [truevotemd.org] was all over this. But, defeat could still be snatched from the jaws of victory. Keep calling your legislators.
  • Windows CE insanity (Score:3, Interesting)

    by olman (127310) on Tuesday January 22, 2008 @03:26AM (#22135430)
    While I don't give a hoot about how americans do the physical act of voting, as an electrical engineer I'm appalled about using something like Windows CE to implement a god-darn voting system!

    If the voting system is more complicated than a basic 4-function calculator, you're doing something waaaaaaay wrong. Maybe you should just licence the system Brazil uses? Or India? That's where your hi-tech comes from theses days anyhow.
  • Anybody who thinks that using paper ballots with optical scanners is secure should have a look at "Hacking Democracy":

    http://video.google.de/videoplay?docid=4463776866669054201 [google.de]

    Basically, optical scanners can be hacked just as easily as touch screen voting machines, and election officials can easily prevent effective manual recounts.

    The only reasonable voting system is one in which all counts are conducted by hand, in public view.

    There are some things that don't need to be automated: sex, cooking, hair cutti

The use of anthropomorphic terminology when dealing with computing systems is a symptom of professional immaturity. -- Edsger Dijkstra

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