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E-Voting Glitch: 19,000 Voters, 144,000 Votes 601

Posted by timothy
from the that's-some-glitch dept.
nick_davison writes "The Indianapolis Star is reporting the latest case of 'interesting' E-voting results. Tuesday's Boone County election, using MicroVote software returned 144,000 votes from 19,000 registered voters. After much panicking and tracking down the bug, the actual number of votes turned out as 5,352. With yet another mistake, does anyone still trust closed-source electronic voting?"
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E-Voting Glitch: 19,000 Voters, 144,000 Votes

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  • by khalua (468456)
    Have you tried MacroVote?
    • It sounds like Macrovote is what it actually does.

      There no longer seems to be any reason to vote. Since our corporate overlords now control the elections, and control the candidates anyway, we should simply let them choose directly.

      • by Geek of Tech (678002) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @10:44AM (#7453407) Homepage Journal
        Now, electronic voting has something in common with slashdot polls!

        And I quote...

        # Don't complain about lack of options. You've got to pick a few when you do multiple choice. Those are the breaks.
        # Feel free to suggest poll ideas if you're feeling creative. I'd strongly suggest reading the past polls first.
        # This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane.

        Good to see the legal system is getting some ideas from the fine folks of slashdot!

    • With our new patent-pending macro-vote system, you too can auto-vote most of your constituents in a single mouse click. And you can do it as many times as you want!

      Macro-vote, for a macro generation!

      Simon.
    • I can't believe they didn't use SlackVote. Everybody knows MicroVote is evil!
  • by Mantrid (250133) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:22AM (#7452395) Journal
    I remember at our last national election, the voting was simple - make an X on a ballot and put it in the voting box.

    I have to wonder, with all these punch cards, evote, and other problems - why don't they just stick to plain old pen & paper ballots? I mean if you can't figure those out, chances are you'll end up just stuffing your ballot into the funny "circular" ballot box anyways!
    • Pen? We use thick pencils, with fairly soft cores, attached to the polling booth by a long piece of string! No change of the ink drying up, and little chance of the pencil breaking.
    • by EricWright (16803) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:30AM (#7452443) Journal
      Two reasons:

      1) We don't want to have to pay someone to tally all the votes. If its not computerized, someone has to count them all up. When there's around 100 million votes for president, that's a lot of minimum wage hours right there!

      2) The US has turned into a nation full of people with a) no patience and b) a very short attention span. We want what we want, and we want it now! And dammit, if other countries can have computerized voting systems, so should we.

      My thought is that we should all vote on those bubble sheets that are used for every standardized test given throughout our public school system. Everyone who came through the public schools will be familiar with them, and those that didn't are most likely products of private schools/home schooling and thus smart enough to figure it out!

      (Tongue only partially planted in cheek)...
      • I am very familiar with those forms. After answering about 5 questions rows looked the same and it was hard to stay in the same place so i just them sideways and filled them in in a pattern like my initials!
      • by gunga (227260) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:39AM (#7452499)
        1) We don't want to have to pay someone to tally all the votes. If its not computerized, someone has to count them all up. When there's around 100 million votes for president, that's a lot of minimum wage hours right there!

        Are you serious? Are the people who count the votes not volunteers in the US?


        • No, they are.

          And even if they wern't, it would be putting money back into the economy which is never a bad thing...

          I think no one really wants it computerized but the politicians because it's something for them to be like "I support taking our voting system into the 21st century" kind of crap, which makes them sound good.
          • "And even if they wern't, it would be putting money back into the economy which is never a bad thing."

            Unlike letting us keep our money to spend it on food and shelter -- that doesn't put money back into the economy. No, wait....
          • And even if they wern't, it would be putting money back into the economy which is never a bad thing...

            This shows a serious lack of understanding of economic theory. Money never leaves the economy. In fact nothing matters less than that. What matters is mostly what people produce. If people spend their time making some cool consumer goods, someone will get to consume these, which is good. If they do some science, it is good because we will learn something. If people spend their time counting votes, this is
      • by CaptainZapp (182233) * on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:39AM (#7452502) Homepage
        1) We don't want to have to pay someone to tally all the votes. If its not computerized, someone has to count them all up. When there's around 100 million votes for president, that's a lot of minimum wage hours right there!

        So you rather pay voting machine companies some 5'000$ per unit for a glorified Windows CE computer with an Access database that can be hacked by any pimply faced teenager with 100$ worth of computer equipment?

        What a bargain

      • by Wudbaer (48473) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:46AM (#7452543) Homepage
        Your objections are certainly justified; on the other hand Germany where I am living is doing all of its voting the traditionall pen-and-paper-ballot way, and we get first projections minutes after the voting closes, more and more reliable projections shortly after and very accurate (usually 0,x % to the official final results) inofficial final results the same evening (usually our voting booths close at 6 pm). The official results are available IIRC about 2-3 days after the vote.

        The people staffing the voting booths and counting the votes are usually volunteers who get a small payment for their troubles. All in all our systems
        seems to work quite well.

        And even if Germany is far smaller than the US it has still a not too small voting population.
      • We don't want to have to pay someone to tally all the votes.

        If your vote is so important to why don't volunteers count the votes? Several states, Texas example, require a human readable ballot. Smaller cities may use hand counts. Most large cities use a machine/human readable "scantron" type ballots. They mark the ballots with a permanent ink marker. Marking more than one selection for the same race invalidates only the section of the ballot for that race. IF you notice you made a mistake you can get
      • My thought is that we should all vote on those bubble sheets

        I always thought the "bubble sheet" method, which is used where I live, was a great bridge between the need for the low cost electronic calculation of votes, the ability to easily audit, for almost anyone could use and see who they voted for before submitting their ballot. Is there an active patent that's keeping the US from standardizing on it? Does any know of any problems with the "bubble sheet" method except, of course, the inability to vot

      • by hey! (33014) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @09:13AM (#7452713) Homepage Journal

        2) The US has turned into a nation full of people with a) no patience and b) a very short attention span. We want what we want, and we want it now! And dammit, if other countries can have computerized voting systems, so should we.


        Not to rain on your cynicism parade, but quick tallying isn't just a form of political entertainment. The quicker the tally is done, the less opportunity for vote manipulation. In tightly contested elections, it reduces the problem of people forming immovable opinions about who won, and subsequently never accepting the legitimacy of the outcome (e.g. "Not My President").

        Of course, speeding up the process of tallying at the expense of clear auditability is to cure the disease by killing the patient.

        The answer, then, is optically scannable ballots: tallying as fast as any "voting machine" and auditability as good as any paper ballot.

        Personally, if I were to design the system, it would look like this:

        (1)Manually filled in ballot, optically scanned;
        (2)Tallying machines running off of read only media, recording results to write-once media;
        (3) Tallying media, original paper ballots securely stored for a period of several years;
        (4)Voters could optionally tear off a bar coded tag from their ballot. They could then go to a specially set up election facility, present their tag and positive ID, then see how their vote was tallied on a secure, private terminal.

        This last point will raise some paranoid objections; however I think paranoia cuts both ways in this instance.
        • by Washizu (220337) <<ten.tsacmoc> <ta> <yevragneb>> on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @09:55AM (#7453023) Homepage
          "(4)Voters could optionally tear off a bar coded tag from their ballot. They could then go to a specially set up election facility, present their tag and positive ID, then see how their vote was tallied on a secure, private terminal."

          I don't agree with #4, because it allows someone to verify they voted a certain way. This would allow the mob or some other coercive organization to pay for your vote, you give them your slip, and then they check the result. Currently, it's pointless to try and influence voters this way since you can't proove you voted with the mob.
      • by AbbyNormal (216235) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @09:36AM (#7452888) Homepage
        Sir I take particular offense to your statement

        b) a very short attention span.

        I am very well capable of keeping my attention fixated on a point that is well worth my....Hey! Another article on Microsoft doing something bad!
    • by Detritus (11846) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:41AM (#7452510) Homepage
      It doesn't scale to typical American ballots, which can include a huge number of races and questions. You have federal, state, county and city offices. Everything from the President to the dog catcher, plus judges, bond issues, constitutional amendments, referenda, school boards, etc.
      • It doesn't scale to typical American ballots, which can include a huge number of races and questions. You have federal, state, county and city offices. Everything from the President to the dog catcher, plus judges, bond issues, constitutional amendments, referenda, school boards, etc.

        How does presenting the ballot questions on a tiny screen reduce the complexity? Here in San Francisco, you use a sharpie to connect a line, then you feed it through an optical scanner, which will give it back to you if ther
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:46AM (#7452545)
      I used to be a hard core political junky.

      There is a extremely large amount of vote fraud going on now with the paper ballots, mostly for local elections. (nobody in the big parties talk about it because it would cause too much trouble)

      One of the big ideas of computer voting is you remove the ability to add, replace or destroy ballots in the time gap between voting and being tallied.
    • the simple reason is that it gets tedious having to manually count all those ballots - it easily lends itself to human error, though this can be mitigated with multiple people counting, recounts to confirm the original count, etc.

      IMO - any computerized voting must (under all circumstances) produce a paper receipt, but can still produce a vote count report at the end of the day. this way, if the machine crashes or there's power loss or some other fault, the lost votes can still be counted if they get dropp
  • by Bobulusman (467474) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:24AM (#7452406)
    ...That when they 'fixed' the problem, they did it right. Since they probably didn't want the local county's IT guy to look at the source and fix the problem, there's no guarantee they got it right this time, either.
    • by LordBodak (561365) <msmoulton.iname@com> on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:43AM (#7452522) Homepage Journal
      Yeah, the IT director and the software provider "fixing" the problem is a little bit disconcerting.
    • Are you fucking stoned? I work in government software, and every one of the IT guys I've met was hopelessly clueless on everything from how to network a printer to how to give a user privleges on a local machine. Not to discount open source software, but in this case the county would have had to hire SOMEBODY to fix the problem -- if it weren't for the support contract they had with the closed source vendor!

      OSS voting isn't a bad idea, but it's not going to be run like Apache. It's going to have to be s
  • Blackadder (Score:5, Funny)

    by Walterk (124748) <dublet AT acm DOT org> on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:25AM (#7452409) Homepage Journal
    Vincent Hanna: One voter; 16,472 votes. A slight anomaly...?


    Edmund: Not really, Mr. Hanna -- you see, Baldrick may look like a monkey who's been put in a suit and then strategically shaved, but he is a brilliant politician. The number of votes I cast is simply a reflection of how firmly I believe in his policies.


    True politics [powertie.org]
  • by donnyspi (701349) <junk5@donnyspi.cOOOom minus threevowels> on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:26AM (#7452418) Homepage
    "I probably just put a decimal point in the wrong spot. I always forget some mundane detail..." lol
    • Haha, I was thinking of this same quote, but you beat me to it.

      Of course, when keeping track of votes there should be no freaking reason for using a decimal point. Same goes for other characters like multiplication and subtraction.

      If you grep the source tree for * and - and get any hits, the code should not be released.
  • by phooka.de (302970) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:26AM (#7452420)
    Check out BlackBoxVoting [blackboxvoting.com]. They even have the entire book for free as PDF. Very interesting read.

    Personally I like the bit about vote-counting in France. Sounds a lot more advanced (read: secure) than the US way of doing it.

    • And I concur, it works very well.
      The number of persons who would have to cheat to change a vote is high (at least four volunteers, plus the "overseers" from each parties and from the municipality); in addition, the "paper trail" remains behind to allow recounts.
      And in presidential elections (with something like forty or fifty million potential voters, so big if not quite US-scale), projections accurate to the % are available the minute the polls close.
      It's only drawback is that it require a non-ridiculou
  • So ... (Score:5, Funny)

    by cablepokerface (718716) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:28AM (#7452429)
    Is this how Bush was elected?
  • Accounting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lgeezer (168976) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:28AM (#7452433)
    A lengthy collaboration between the county's information technology director and advisers from the MicroVote software producer ... showed just 5,352 ballots
    So an IT director and a number of flunkies have rewritten the results of an election.
    How do the good people of Boone County know that the new answer is correct? Because it's less than the number of actual voters? How can they trust the result of that election at all? And why should those too young to vote until next time bother to vote when next time comes around?
    • by clickety6 (141178)
      So an IT director and a number of flunkies have rewritten the results of an election.

      That's disgusting! Everybody knows that rewriting the results of an election is a job for the courts!

    • by symbolic (11752)
      How do the good people of Boone County know that the new answer is correct?

      Maybe they took a vote.
  • by femto (459605) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:28AM (#7452434) Homepage
    Here it is:

    #include <stdlib.h>

    int main()
    {
    printf( "%i\n", rand() );

    return(0);
    }
  • This would be a great machine, Boss Daly could get back into office without the help of his current constituents... the graveyard vote.

  • by billmaly (212308) <<ten.asudoelcm> <ta> <ylam.llib>> on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:30AM (#7452442)
    What matters is an accurate count. Why oh why is this so difficult? Press a button, tally a vote. Next voter please. Why is this even still being discussed??? Maybe I'm dense, but I just don't get it.
    • It matters because if it's open, and you get a crazy number (like here) you have a chance to see how that happened w/o taking it on faith.

      But if it's closed and you get a reasonable number, it could either be right, or it could be a believable but wrong number.

      I think this is probably what gets people concerned?

    • Seriously, did they not TEST the thing before the election? How could they screw it up that bad, so that the number of votes and the number of voters were BOTH wrong?

      I wouldn't mind a closed source solution to electionic voting if a creditable company actually produced it instead of some lemonade stand.

      If, say, IBM produced a machine, and gave only the local/national governments the source to have it reviewed, that would be perfectly fine by me.
  • by Detritus (11846) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:30AM (#7452448) Homepage
    The new Indianapolis Mayor, Richard Daley Jr., said there is nothing to be concerned about. Indiana Governor Martha Daley called to congratulate him on his victory.
  • by dyfet (154716) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:34AM (#7452469) Homepage
    When software is used to impliment a matter of law, the public must have an absolute right and need to review such software, even before one speaks of issues of software freedom. We don't make closed source or "secret" laws in this country, ie, laws that effect the public in general, and that the public is not permitted to know or examine, but yet will be held accountable to. We don't have anonymous or secret agencies enforcing laws and arresting people, ie, a secret police force. Yet, for reasons I cannot fathom, we now permit machinary with no public means of review to impliment laws, such as voting. No democracy can exist where voting is a secret or unaccountable process to the public that participates in it.

    • When software is used to implement a matter of law, the public must have an absolute right and need to review such software

      Excellent point. The need for public oversight suggests a modified open source development process and secure traceable binaries. Perhaps we might call this model "exposed source" because the code would be publicly accessible but not publicly modifiable.

      I wonder if the FEC (Federal Election Commission) needs to setup a CVS repository to hold voting machine source code. The sou
    • Hehe!

      This is a lovely coincidence.

      Last night, thinking about how to explain the concept of "open source" to a judge (we're in a small legal case, my company), I had exactly this idea: open source software is like open source laws. It's a metaphor that is entirely clear and meaningful. Of course people don't have to read the source code in order to use the product, but when you need to know what's going on, it's the only way you can be sure of your facts.

      Thanks for your comment, it is an excellent one.
    • We don't make closed source or "secret" laws in this country, ie, laws that effect the public in general, and that the public is not permitted to know or examine, but yet will be held accountable to. We don't have anonymous or secret agencies enforcing laws and arresting people, ie, a secret police force.

      True -- we don't have Star Chambers.

      But we do have "Black Budgets" -- many billions of dollars for covert military/spook purposes, approved by small Congressional committees, the details of which are
      • by J. J. Ramsey (658) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @09:44AM (#7452938) Homepage
        But we do have "Black Budgets" -- many billions of dollars for covert military/spook purposes, approved by small Congressional committees, the details of which are hidden from Congress at large and from the public. In other words, closed-source spending.

        True. However, the idea is to avoid that sort of thing unless it is truly necessary, since even though there are good reasons to keep the details of military and espionage spending secret, the secrecy can be abused and used to hide unethical and even illegal actions. It's best to keep government activity public by default and only maintain secrecy if there is a compelling reason to do so.

    • > We don't have anonymous or secret agencies enforcing laws and arresting people, ie, a secret police force.

      Yes, as a matter of fact, in the U.S.A., we do have this.

      And it's so much easier when you can rig an election.
  • Closed source? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mr_Silver (213637) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:37AM (#7452490)
    With yet another mistake, does anyone still trust closed-source electronic voting?

    Sod that.

    With yet another mistake, does anyone trust electronic voting full stop?

    (I think that Open Source might be better, but to the majority of voters, electronic voting is the same thing irrespective of how visible the code is - and quite frankly, even with peer review on open coude this sort of bug might still happen)

    • Exactly. This doesn't need to be turned into a closed versus open argument. The real questions is, "Do we need electronic voting of *any* kind?" Yes, the UI on the voting machines in Florida sucked. The solution to the failure of the public to understand that UI isn't a full scale rush into electronic voting. The UI on an electronic machine can be just as bad as the mechanical ones.
    • Re:Closed source? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AVee (557523)
      even with peer review on open coude this sort of bug might still happen

      But in that case we at least get to see the bug *and* the fix. Now someone has 'fixed' the count and but he could just as well have done that by inserting some hardcoded reasonable looking numbers.
    • Re:Closed source? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by awol (98751)

      With yet another mistake, does anyone trust electronic voting full stop?

      Or as some of the American Electorate might say; "with yet another mistake does anyone trust voting full stop". I think the source of the problem is the perception by various interests in the US that there is some form of money to be made in these systems. This is wrong. Get the _process_ of electronic voting designed right (I mean imagine the first elections back in the year dot. All those who vote for Trevor stand to the left,

  • Ok.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cybermace5 (446439) <g.ryan@macetech.com> on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:39AM (#7452498) Homepage Journal
    So 19,000 voters produced 144,000 votes. That's obviously an error, and was caught and corrected. What you really need to worry about are the little errors; if the votes are off by 500 or 1000 how are you going to know?
  • by mev (36558) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:39AM (#7452500) Homepage
    Having an extra 100,000+ votes clearly stands out as an error. I would have been more concerned if it was a small enough number not to be detected, but a big enough number to affect close races.
  • yet another mistake (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HornyBastard77 (667965) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:40AM (#7452506)
    mistakes happen in all software, open or closed. this one was actually fortunate, because it was out there for everyone to see. at least with this incident these election officials will think twice before they can declare these machines 'virtually infallible.' [shelbynews.com] once can also hope that there will be a thorough audit of how exactly the actual number of votes was lowered to 5352 from 144,000.

    what causes me more worry are the bugs (features?) in these machines that are known only to a select few. i was hoping that after the elections last week more hue and cry would be made in the mainstream media about these machines by the candidates who lost. that doesn't appear to be forthcoming, though. pity.

  • Diebold: Diebold is a global leader in providing high-quality cutting-edge direct recording electronic (DRE) voting solutions to jurisdictions of all sizes

    MicroVote: The leader in Direct Recording Electronic Voting Technology... MicroVote is a leading supplier of Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) voting technology.

    Now for the anagrams
    Diebold [wordsmith.org] My fave: Be Dildo
    MicroVote [wordsmith.org]My other Fave: Evict Room

    slashdot = SAD SLOTH & SHALL DOS

  • This sucks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ripplet (591094) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:41AM (#7452514)
    I mean really, how difficult can this be. Lots of people vote, you add up the totals, we're not talking rocket science here. When was the last time your local ATM machine gave you $1500 instead of the $50 that you asked for. Doesn't happen too often right? Maybe it's because the banks are damned sure they're not going to give their money away. It's a pity the people in charge don't take democracy that seriously.
    • It is harder than you think.

      Votes must not be able to be forged. There must be an audit trail of every vote cast, when and where they are cast. Yet voting must be 100% anonymous.

      I know what you are thinking... PKI. And you are right - but it is still a nontrivial problem. This is almost as hard as true anonymous eCash.

      Additionally, people must (well... should) be able to be sure that the voting system is secure. It MUST be available to public scrutiny.

      Open source is the only way.
    • by roystgnr (4015)
      When you cheat an ATM machine, the ATM machine owner loses money. When you cheat an electronic voting machine, the machine owner may have no stake in the results or may even be benefitted by your action.

      When an ATM machine cheats you, you know it, often immediately. When a voting machine cheats you, in a secret ballot system with the simplistic unauditable voting machines we use now, you never find out.
  • by AVee (557523) <slashdot@NoSPAM.avee.org> on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:42AM (#7452518) Homepage
    The Amount_paid variable was used where it should have been Vote_Count...
  • hanging [cnn.com] chd's [roug.org]? ;-P
  • by m00nun1t (588082) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:45AM (#7452536) Homepage
    "With yet another mistake, does anyone still trust closed-source electronic voting?"

    This infers that open source == no mistakes. That's simply not true. It just means that there *may* be less mistakes as theoretically more people look at it. Think SendMail... that's open source, widely used, but that sure has had plenty of "mistakes".
    • by vidarh (309115) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:55AM (#7452585) Homepage Journal
      No, it infers that with open source anyone who wants to CAN look at it. The number of errors in and in itself is irellevant in the case of a voting application: If there are serious errors, a new election can be held. But with a closed source voting application it is very hard for people who are suspicious about a result independently review the process.

      When the results are blatantly wrong, like in this case, we can be sure that an error will be detected and corrected. However what security do we have that the "corrected" number is truly correct? And what if the result had just been skewed a few percent instead of blown out of all proportion?

      Your argument is like saying that public access to government documents is inferring that public access == no mistakes. As with oversight of voting, access to public documents are important not because we're guaranteed that it will result in fewer mistakes being made, but because more people, including those not in power, are given opportunities to try to verify that people stick to the rules should they choose to.

    • Acutally, it is not about mistakes, but about being able to catch mistakes and security flaws. It is in a closed source's best interest to pretend that a mistake did not happen (even though it accidentaly changes the election), rather than take the glaring lime light. Finally, in an open society, the election is the one true item that should be fully trusted. That way we do not get equipment manufactuers stating that they will deliver a certain politician.
  • I completely agree that closed source is the wrong way to go for such a public venture as voting, but are there any open source products vying for contracts? i mean, we cant really wait around for govt to say "yes, lets use open source universally" if there are no projects out there for them to use.

    If there is one out there, then it needs to be pointed out to the govt buyers.
  • Electronic [slashdot.org] voting [dae.gov.in] done [bel-india.com] right [hinduonnet.com] in [sify.com] India [yahoo.com]

  • Open-sourcing the voting software is important, but in my opinion, not as important as maintaining separate systems for ballot printing and ballot tabulation.

    I wrote about it in this [slashdot.org] journal entry.
  • by Call Me Black Cloud (616282) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @08:59AM (#7452613)
    Ok, not really.

    With yet another mistake, does anyone still trust closed-source electronic voting?

    Open source, closed source, it does not matter. Open source is not a cure for solid software development practices, and open source is not a synonym for solid software development practices. Likewise "closed-source" does not equate to poor practices.

    One of the strengths of open source is the price. Free software probably means more people are using it than would otherwise, so the software is being tested more, and the pool of people available to fix bugs is also larger. This works for software that is generally useful, but consider voting software. Who is going to install the full voting suite (voting software is much more than a voting terminal) and then hold mock elections in their home? Granted, the importance of such software may bring out more people willing to try the software but you are still relying on people to do this in their leisure time.

    The "many eyes" argument is merely a shotgun approach to quality control. What is needed is strong leadership implemeting a plan which includes rigorous and ongoing testing. Open source does not guarantee this any more than closed source guarantees its absence.

    The software was released before it was ready. That's obvious. It seems to me that a closed source shop would be theoretically better positioned to meet an immutable deadline (such as an election date). At least when you own your employees you can mandate overtime and crack the whip harder. When the software is open source you cannot enter "crunch mode" and make the scattered developers put in long hours.

    The fault was not in the development model but in the failure of the project leadership.
  • by handy_vandal (606174) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @09:01AM (#7452627) Homepage Journal
    E-Voting Glitch: 19,000 Voters, 144,000 Votes

    I hate the word "glitch", I really do.

    It's an evasion, a pathetic euphemism.

    What it really means is "bad programming", "fucked up", "profoundly fucked up", etc.

    -kgj
  • Over complicated (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PurpleWizard (643191) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @09:04AM (#7452644)
    How difficult is it to write a system that takes a input selection, submits it to the count and resets ready to take the next vote?

    What is the ridiculuous complexity making these things so easy to fcuk up?

    Combine it perhaps with a bar code scanner so that every individual can have a street bar code. Add a few simple checks like no more bar codes are counted for a paricular street than were issued.

    I still don't see where this becomes a complex task compared to existing systems. Most of the components needed to build a system already existing.

    Some one please tell me what I am missing.

    As for the open source/free software issue. Perhaps the solution is that the requirements for the system should be published so that anyone can right something to conform. (Oh that's like having open standards).

  • testing is the issue.

    Obviously missed the bug in testing - therefore the testing wasn't adequate.

    This is one this I like about the extreme programming methodogies, it expounds testing to start with. Like security, it shouldn't be bolt on the the whole development process, but an integral part.

    just my 2 pence worth...
  • Cartesian Join? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ReadParse (38517) <johnNO@SPAMfunnycow.com> on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @09:18AM (#7452754) Homepage
    Sounds like somebody screwed up the SQL:
    select count(*) as count, candidate.lastname || ', ' || candidate.firstname as candidate from candidate, vote group by candidate order by count desc
    They should have added "where candidate.id = vote.candidate_id". I make this mistake often, but I generally practice my queries before doing them for the press.

    RP
  • by gr8_phk (621180) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @09:21AM (#7452774)
    "With yet another mistake, does anyone still trust closed-source electronic voting?".

    Get off the open/closed source debate already. If you use electronic voting, you open the door to electronic voting fraud. Open source is helpful in this regard, but not as effective as keeping to paper voting. Think about it. You can pay people to commit fraud anyway, but the cost goes up with number of votes altered/subtituted/whatever. With electronic voting, one guy can automate the fraud process with much greater effect. You raise the efficiency of the fraud as well as the voting.

    People will argue the supposed cost and efficiency advantages of e-voting. Think about the cost of counting YOUR ONE VOTE and compare that to what YOU PAY IN TAXES each year - then tell me it's expensive. It's been working fine for over 200 years, there is little to gain from changing and everything to lose.

  • by Dusabre (176445) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @09:23AM (#7452787) Homepage
    The number 144000 has a great significance in many religions/beliefs.

    Google on 144000 [google.com]

    Personally I think that Judgement Day is nigh and that the AntiChrist will use an evoting machine to gain control of the world.

    Or perhaps not.
  • by Yekrats (116068) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @09:47AM (#7452958) Homepage
    I'm an Indiana voter, and the most recent elections in my county (Tippecanoe County, encompassing Purdue University) were a complete disaster. Yes, we can thank our good pal Diebold.

    I went to vote at 7:00 am after the polls had been open for an hour and was turned away because of "computer problems." Apparently one of the "pick X candidates for city council" votes was not allowing a voter to pick multiple candidates. Our election board had to print up paper ballots at the last minute, delaying the opening of the polls for about two hours. When I finally got a chance to vote, it was the good-old-fashioned way: checking off candidates pen and paper, and counted by hand.

    Okay, shame on us for not having a backup in place in case the computer screwed up. But the computer shouldn't have screwed up in the first place. Testing, people?

    Elsewhere in our county, first the machine neglected to tally absentee ballots in a very close race. Then it was discovered that one of the voting stations put the wrong candidates on the ballot, which may lead to a special run-off election. [lafayettejc.com]
    http://www.lafayettejc.com/news20031111/20031111 1l ocal_news1068529632.shtml

  • by Greyfox (87712) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @09:47AM (#7452959) Homepage Journal
    There was a minor fault in the vote rigging module. It's since been corrected. Move along, nothing to see here.
  • Automated testing? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by BenjyD (316700) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @09:49AM (#7452970)
    I would hope that any company that supplied software for something like counting votes would have to provide evidence of a complete testing procedure that would catch problems like this.

    I mean, automated testing of a voting system can't be hard. Build yourself a little network of voting machines in the office, write a bunch of scripts that enter a certain pattern of votes and ensure the correct results come out the other end. Make sure your scripts perform a wide range of possible voting patterns, and do all the 'odd' things your users might do (try to vote twice, mash the keypad with their palm etc).

    Or am I being terribly naive about the way the software industry does things?
  • I give up (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ThisIsFred (705426) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @10:43AM (#7453404) Journal
    So far, I have either read about, or heard about the following problems with these electronic voting systems:

    Machines crashing while the polls were open

    Central collection point jammed with call-in traffic (understandable)

    Machine inflates count almost 30 times the actual figure.

    Alright, I give up. Let us at least try to put a positive spin on this issue. Were there any elections that didn't have problems when using the new electronic voting systems? And what was the ratio of non-problematic electronic voting to problematic electronic voting? I'd say that if more than half of the electronic voting machines had problems, the manufacturer should be sued. I'd advocate a lawsuit to get out from under any contracts that may exist for the installation and maintenance of this equipment.

    An aside: Does anyone know whether or not computer scientists had any input at all on the design of these beasts? If not, then what a terrible waste of good talent. I don't know, maybe I'm wrong there, because I still think an electronic voting machine wouldn't be very complicated to design.

  • by ajs318 (655362) <sd_resp2 AT earthshod DOT co DOT uk> on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @11:08AM (#7453621)
    Back in the days when votes were counted by hand {or today, in countries where they stil are} the whole process was transparent.

    If your country uses electronic voting, you should write to your representative and point out the necessity of opening up the process. Specifically, the need for the public to be able to examine mechanical drawings and software source code. Public scrutiny over the democratic process is more important than any corporate secret.
  • by jmv (93421) on Wednesday November 12, 2003 @12:05PM (#7454164) Homepage
    ...to seeing Bush re-elected with a 2 billion vote majority.

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

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