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United States Your Rights Online

Can America Trust Electronic Voting? 452

Posted by michael
from the as-far-as-you-can-throw-it dept.
A anonymous reader writes: "The Sacramento Bee wrote an excellent article about the issues surrounding electronic voting. It was written by the Yolo County clerk/recorder and a professor of law at UC Davis. They quote sources such as Peter G. Neumann and Diebold's president Walden O'Dell."
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Can America Trust Electronic Voting?

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  • Redundant, I know (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Trioge (605524) on Sunday November 23, 2003 @05:37PM (#7543977) Homepage
    ... But the only e-voting situation I would trust would be an open source one. Even with paper reciepts, there's still an unprecidented oppourtunity for fraud.
    • by Shakrai (717556) * on Sunday November 23, 2003 @05:44PM (#7544014) Journal
      But the only e-voting situation I would trust would be an open source one. Even with paper reciepts, there's still an unprecidented oppourtunity for fraud.

      Perhaps. But I've said this many times before (as have others) and I'll say it again:

      Why does an e-voting machine have to be anything more then a fancy dumb terminal with a printer attached? Don't record the votes to a hard drive or flash card (or the worst possible idea: networked to some central server). The machine should be nothing more then a gateway to print a paper ballot.

      This ensures that the ballot is filled out correctly, gives the user ample time to correct any mistakes (before printing the ballot) and lets them verify it with their own two eyes before they drop the paper ballot in the lockbox.

      Said ballots can then be counted with OCR software -- or by hand if it comes down to a manual recount.

      Open source or not, I do not trust the vendors of these machines ("I'm going to deliver Ohio's electoral votes to Bush next year") enough to assume that my vote is actually counted on that hard drive. Even if they released open source code, how do you really know that's what's running on the machine itself? Once the election is over it's too late as Florida proved.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 23, 2003 @05:47PM (#7544033)
        So why not just do what we do here in Canada: make the ballot as simple as possible, just mark an X by your candidate. All that's on the ballot is a list of names and a box by each one.

        Why bother with electronic voting? We get our results around an hour after the polls close, plus there's much less room for voting fraud (and I'd assume it's cheaper).
        • Re:Redundant, I know (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Shakrai (717556) * on Sunday November 23, 2003 @05:50PM (#7544046) Journal
          So why not just do what we do here in Canada: make the ballot as simple as possible, just mark an X by your candidate. All that's on the ballot is a list of names and a box by each one.

          I wouldn't have a problem with that either. Problem is, somebody will point out "Ah, but what if people can't figure out how to use it or they mark it incorrectly?"

          Anyway you cut it, voting is not rocket science people. All I want (as a concerned citizen) is someway to verify the process.

          • Let's face it - do we really want the votes of people who can't figure out how to make an "X" mark next to a name to decide the next president/prime minister?
      • Bubble sheets, as easy to use as possible, would be less prone to any sort of error than even a terminal with a simple printer. We use them where I live, and it seems everyone can fill them out fine. If people don't mark them correctly (despite repeated warnings) it's their fault.
      • Re:Redundant, I know (Score:3, Interesting)

        by drix (4602)
        That's an excellent and most obvious point. Yet you would not believe the institutional resistance to this idea among the three e-voting OEMs (Diebold, ES&S, and Sequoia) to the idea of creating some sort of printed record. They insist on doing it all digital, even though their systems are ridiculously, incredibly insecure [avirubin.com]--probably because, in the event of a recount, a paper trail would provide concrete proof of how poorly their systems perform. There was an excellent overview of all this in Act One of
        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 23, 2003 @06:30PM (#7544213)
          "Bush is by far the worst president ever appointed by the Supreme Court. --maddox.xmission.com "

          Whether or not he is the worst president, you are accepting someone's lie as fact. The Supreme Court did not appoint him. The Electoral College did, however, through the usual process of election.

          All the Supreme Court did was refuse to bother with a frivolous appeal filed with them. They in effect did nothing and let the real results of the election stand.

          • Thats the best spin I've heard all year.

            You are right in that the Supreme Court did not appoint Bush. They appointed the Florida electors that appointed Bush.

            As far as frivolous appeals go, it was Bush who appealed a unanimous ruling that got the case to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court got a stay on the counting claiming "irreparable harm". This is the stupidest thing EVER done by the Supreme Court. There was no reasonable way that simply COUNTING the votes could cause an irreparable harm since t
          • The Supreme Court did not appoint him. The Electoral College did, however, through the usual process of election.

            And the Supreme Court - acting in violation of federal, state, and international law, as well as judicial rules of procedure [wsws.org] - selected Florida's electors.

            All the Supreme Court did was refuse to bother with a frivolous appeal filed with them. They in effect did nothing and let the real results of the election stand.

            Your recall of events is hazy. If they'd done nothing, the recount would

      • Actually, all the pieces to build the electronic voting system that you describe are out there and have been in testing for the last 10 years or so... I'm talking about the ailines e-ticket systems. Think about it... kiosks with built in printers. Boarding passes, which would become the ballots, with one whole side to print out who was voted for (for auditing) and a magnetic stripe on the back for easier machine counting. There's even a convenient stub just like ballots have today that can designate the
    • I think you're out of touch with the canvasing process that verifies selected parts of the hard-copy vote with the tabulated vote. It would be virtually impossible to fake.

      Maybe open source is your religion, and that's okay, but don't let it disconnect you with reality.
    • Re:Redundant, I know (Score:2, Interesting)

      by mog007 (677810)
      Another issue brought up is that there's no way of being sure that the source isn't tampered before it's installed on the machines. It isn't like you're going to be givin a root account on the machine, allowed to browse the source, then compile it when you're satisfied.
  • Some paranoia... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zeux (129034) * on Sunday November 23, 2003 @05:38PM (#7543983)
    Maybe I'll be a little 'off-topic' but I would like to add some reflexion to this article.

    E-Voting and its problems are a clear example of what is happening: we are giving to our computers and networks more and more 'power' over our own lives. This wouldn't be a problem if security was some exact science.

    We still have big problems with computer security and while we didn't fix them yet (anyway can we really fix them ?) the overall 'value' of the data that goes through our networks is fast increasing.

    This, I think, will be even worse in the near future because the software, systems and networks we use will be more and more complex and it will be harder and harder to maintain a good level of security on them.

    You could argue that the problems exposed in the article are not related to security. I would say 'not yet'.

    But something really interesting is said: "These machines leave no 'paper trail,' that is, no voter-verifiable record allowing a retrospective audit of the votes recorded as cast for each candidate or ballot proposition.".

    Everything in these system is 'virtual'. It makes it easier to loose, to replicate (to steal) or to alter information. I'm quite afraid about that.

    Maybe the E-Voting system is not connected to Internet, which increase security of course, but maybe one day it will...
    • I don't think computer security is the first problem when it comes to this type of computer issue. I think the first problem is getting people to trust computers themselves. Lets look at -some- of the computer stereotypes...

      From The Matrix we got : in the future, one way or another humans will all be connected to computers with no free will of their own. They will exist, at least outside of the Matrix, to simply fuel the computers. End result : Computer > Human
      The movie Terminator. SkyNet. Nuff said.
      From

    • I propose that a record should be kept in a database of every single vote that is cast. This record should have a unique identifier that is assigned when the vote is cast that can be used to access the record of the vote if and when that becomes appropriate. As we have today, the voting machine should not know who is in front of it and should have no way to determine who voted for what. What it should do is offer to print out a "vote recipt" for everyone who requests one. These vote recipts could be use
  • No! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by phalse phace (454635) on Sunday November 23, 2003 @05:41PM (#7543993)
    at least not until proper and proven security measures have been put in place and that there is at least a paper trail to follow in the event that the votes are tampered with (a.k.a. Diebold [indybay.org]).
    • Re:No! (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Time for another fucking grammar lesson:

      a.k.a. == also known as
      i.e. == id est == that is, that is to say
      e.g. == exempli gratia == for example

      at least not until proper and proven security measures have been put in place and that there is at least a paper trail to follow in the event that the votes are tampered with (also known as Diebold). WRONG

      at least not until proper and proven security measures have been put in place and that there is at least a paper trail to follow in the event that the votes are t
  • by Yaa 101 (664725) on Sunday November 23, 2003 @05:41PM (#7543994) Journal
    The problem is not the technique, the problem is the fraudulous mentality of the management of these companies...

    • Marketer's Dream (Score:2, Insightful)

      by yintercept (517362)
      The Florida election was a marketer's dream. A good marketer know that the way to score big is to find a problem, then make it five times worse than it is. Finally, it doesn't matter if the product you sell doesn't really do anything.

      As for evoting, why can't we just let the technology evolve? For that matter, the technology should be designed anticipating evolution. For example, maybe the software should not be bought from the same company selling the hardware...keep the programs independent.

      I apolog
  • by Space cowboy (13680) on Sunday November 23, 2003 @05:42PM (#7544002) Journal
    ... for their next election, which seems to be the best option to me. Voter gets a piece of paper (anonymous) which records his/her vote. The slip has to be left at the polling station in a sealed container, and in the event of "it screwed up", the slips get counted...

    Simon.
    • by phalse phace (454635) on Sunday November 23, 2003 @05:48PM (#7544036)
      All I know is that California recently mandated paper receipts [msnbc.com] for all its voting machines. Sucks is that this isn't required for all of them until 2006, which is a little too late for the 2004 elections.
    • by mindriot (96208) on Sunday November 23, 2003 @05:57PM (#7544069)
      ...which brings you back to the question, "what advantage is the electronic system then?" Right now we have a paper trail, and it works well. (OK, maybe you Americans should work on the Usability of your forms :-))

      That we will be able to get voting results faster? Well, let's see. In Germany, polls are always on Sunday and the booths close at 6pm. By that time, you already get projected results that usually differ from the final results by less than one percent. By 11pm the final results ("Vorlaufiges amtliches Endergebnis", "preliminary official results") are available. Is it worth spending millions of dollars just to get the results, say, four hours earlier? OK, there's one advantage if the results can be seen in "real time," e.g. over the day, while elections are still running. Because then the knowledge that the current results are very close to each other (think Gore-Bush) might have an influence on who decides to actually go voting later in the day.

      And then there's the argument that E-Voting will make it easier for people to vote and thus more people will vote. But on the other hand there have been studies showing that when people had to make more of an effort to go cast their vote, turnouts actually increased.

      That being said, www.free-project.org is a good source of pro and contra arguments regarding E-Voting.
      • Real time results (Score:3, Insightful)

        by abulafia (7826)
        OK, there's one advantage if the results can be seen in "real time," e.g. over the day, while elections are still running. Because then the knowledge that the current results are very close to each other (think Gore-Bush) might have an influence on who decides to actually go voting later in the day.

        No, that's a big, big disadvantage, and should be avoided at all costs. Results should not be available before the polls close. If they are, all sorts of tricks can be played, in both close and not-so-close ra

    • ... for their next election, which seems to be the best option to me. Voter gets a piece of paper (anonymous) which records his/her vote. The slip has to be left at the polling station in a sealed container, and in the event of "it screwed up", the slips get counted...

      What happens if the voter doesn't return the slip? It could be that the real winner is different from the paper winner if the vote still gets counted.

      What they should do is to use the touch screen to print a completed ballot, and count thos
  • After the Florida shennanigans, which one of us trusts the current voting systems anymore?
  • by tinrobot (314936) on Sunday November 23, 2003 @05:45PM (#7544017)
    To hopefully fixing this problem. This week, the state mandated that all voting machines print a human-verifiable paper ballot. This is good, but the regulation is supposed to take effect in 2006.

    While it's a step in the right direction, it's also ridiculous. A voting technology that is unacceptable in 2006 is also unacceptable today. I certainly hope they push up the deadline to before the 2004 election. There's plenty of time to fix it by then.

    If you live in California, please bug the appropriate government officials about this.
    • by BrynM (217883) * on Sunday November 23, 2003 @07:07PM (#7544410) Homepage Journal
      "If you live in California, please bug the appropriate government officials about this."
      The problem is getting to the elected officials. The capitol in Sacramento has been locked up tight now that we have a celebrity in office. Bug an official too much and your liable to get a "talking to" by the authorities and still never get to the official. Most of the e-mails and letters are tallied as simply "for" or "against" by some clerk and any insight or message from the writer is lost in the process. The binary for/against, democrat/republican, good/evil and patriot/traitor attitude in our governmental process all the way up to the federal level is genuinely frustrating and I don't know of any way to remove it without the populace becoming more educated and outraged - which is fleeting and hard to accomplish.
  • by toupsie (88295) on Sunday November 23, 2003 @05:49PM (#7544040) Homepage
    Its not the method of voting that matters, its those that manage the polling booths. Vote fraud has a long history that precedes even influence of computers on our society. If the people we intrust to count our votes, be them paper or electronic, are corrupt, the method makes no matter.

    Frankly, I am not as concerned about electronic voting as I am getting Americans to actually vote in the first place.

    • Personally, I wish the general public (i.e. big media) would give some more attention to the way votes are cast [sciencenews.org]. I don't mean paper vs. computer. I mean whether you cast a single vote or multiple for a single candidate/issue, and so forth.
    • Frankly, I am not as concerned about electronic voting as I am getting Americans to actually vote in the first place.

      Are you sure about this idea? The American people - if you read /. are:

      * Lazy fat overweight whopper-bigmac-big bacon chees classic supersize fry eaters who
      * Do nothing but argue the merits of oss vs closed source software while
      * waiting for Duke Nukem Forever and
      * their "exact copy" of the latest DVD or CD to be downloaded from a peer to peer network at the same time as
      * they invade help
  • by morelife (213920) <f00fbug&postREMOVETHISman,at> on Sunday November 23, 2003 @05:51PM (#7544051)
    Yes, if the greedy corporations are removed from the process, and an OSS solution based on an openly auditable platform like Linux or FreeBSD is adopted. We are not too far away from this eventuality.

    • Openly auditable doesn't make it foolproof; there are ways to obfuscate things enough that people wouldn't pick up on them right away. Much like is done with certain things in public records already.
      • here are ways to obfuscate things enough that people wouldn't pick up on them right away

        Name one.

        Just kidding. Not trying to be an asshole. However: why are you being a naysayer?

        With enough changing sets of eyes on the source code, any significant problems would be found, as opposed to being obscured by a commercial interest. As the OSS model has proved for years now, this fact is irrefutable.

        We may end up with a less-than-perfect voting system by using OSS -- but it would be better than the atrocity w
    • I don't want open source voting machines any more than I want closed-source ones. Okay, we can all see the code and look for trickery, but how do I know that the machine I'm about to vote on is actually using that code?
  • by Timesprout (579035) on Sunday November 23, 2003 @06:05PM (#7544100)
    I think its pretty clear that there is a lack of faith in e-voting and also some mistrust of traditional forms of voting after Florida. I therefore propose that all voting be scrapped and the adoption a Supreme Leader to rule. Since its my idea I will be the first leader. My aides will be dilligently selected for their intelligence and integrity, if that just happens to be my old mates then so be it.

    Obviously leadership is a great honour and a burden which I feel I can best fulfill if resident in a luxurious villa on a tropical island paradise surrounded by nubile native girls, with regular entertainment provided by Britney, Beyonce, Kylie etc. and a large collection of expensive playthings (Gulfstreams, Ferraris, Merc's, helicopters, speedboats etc).

    My first order of business will the public execution of the SCO board of directors in a very public and painful manner.

    And remember, we all love the Leader and are dedicated to his happiness.
  • Now, really.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NegativeK (547688) <<tekarien> <at> <hotmail.com>> on Sunday November 23, 2003 @06:08PM (#7544111) Homepage
    Granted, I'm not going to vote electronically without an open source system in place, but this _really_ isn't that hard.

    As an example implementation.. When you register, you get a plastic card with a magnetic stripe on it. It has two 32-bit numbers on the card, with your name, picture, and address. One of the 32-bit numbers is your personal identifier, and the other is your signing key.

    Now, for the ballot, every candidate also has a 32-bit number. When you want to vote for your candidate, you swipe your card, then select the candidate on the screen. Your pid is appended to the end of the candidates pid, and then it is hashed with your signing key. At the same time, a publicly available signing key from the government signs the 32-bit pid of the candidate. Two slips are then printed out, both with one barcode indicating your hash of the candidate + your pid, and a barcode with the hash of the government signed pid.

    One slip is given to the poll people, and you keep the other. Also, a copy of the slip is sent over some network to the vote counting place. If you doubt that your vote has been tallied correctly, all you have to do is search for your signed 64-bit candidate + personal id in some government database.

    Paper trail. Verifiability. Randomness. What am I missing? Was t overly complicated? Input, please!

    P.S.: Want to vote for someone not on the ballot? Do a write in. They're rare enough that counting by hand isn't an issue.
    • Re:Now, really.. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Timesprout (579035)
      Interesting idea but doesn't this remove the anonymous aspect of voting which would make it a very tough sell.
    • One thought - although this is a way of ensuring that your vote was tallied correctly so you can check it, what about padding the ballot box (for example, what about all the dead people that voted the other way?)
    • Re:Now, really.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jtcampbell (199660) on Sunday November 23, 2003 @06:29PM (#7544205) Homepage
      There's one problem with this scheme, namely lack of anonymity. Also if you give a receipt it opens the door to bribery, since an outside party can verify who you have actually voted for. Anyone with access to the database can also see who you voted for.
      Voting has to be anonymous.
      • Anyone with access to the database can also see who you voted for.

        You do have a point. Perhaps the government signed key won't be printed on the voter copy. In fact, you could probably get away with disposed the voter copy all together.

        Unfortunately, I can't see a method of verifying that your hashed vote is still there without having someone else be able to beat you up and do it... Same thing with paper voting, though.
        • Re:Now, really.. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by swillden (191260) * <shawn-ds@willden.org> on Sunday November 23, 2003 @09:15PM (#7545014) Homepage Journal

          Unfortunately, I can't see a method of verifying that your hashed vote is still there without having someone else be able to beat you up and do it... Same thing with paper voting, though.

          Locked metal boxes with a slot into which you drop your ballot, with oversight from all the major political parties whenever the box is closed, opened, transported or stored.

          These problems were very well-solved ages ago.

          Given locked-box technology, your scheme is needlessly complex. Just print a ballot with both human-readable and machine-readable versions of the voter's selections, and also store an electronic copy of the vote. None of these should be personally identifiable in any way, or even timestamped. Hashing and signing are unnecessary. The voter drops the ballot in the box.

          At the end of the day, the electronic votes are tallied, and that's the result. If anyone wishes to contest any part of the vote, that voting district's ballots can be machine-counted. If anyone wishes to claim that the machines are in error, the ballots can be hand-counted. Just for good measure, election officials should randomly select a set of districts for machine counting, with the results to be compared against the electronic totals. Significant discrepancies should invoke a system-wide recount. Also for good measure, election officials should randomly select a set of ballots (making sure there are some from every district) and both hand and machine-count them. Discrepancies should cause a thorough review of the system to determine where/how they originated, and might indicate the need for a system-wide hand recount.

          Technology never provides security. Process is always the source of any security that exists; technology is only a means of making the process more convenient and cost-effective. Note that this is even true of the locked boxes, where the technology is only a means to make the oversight process more manageable.

          For security, focus on process first, technology second.

      • Re:Now, really.. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Aguila (235963) on Sunday November 23, 2003 @07:02PM (#7544382)
        The absentee voter system already opens the door to bribery. I am not a resident of California, but I believe that you can register to be a permanent absentee voter in CA, for no grounds beyond you feel like it. So, if I were a CA resident and wanted to sell my vote, I would register to be a permanent absentee voter. Then, I would fill out the absentee ballot, show it to the person buying my vote, and then drop it in the mail while they watch. They get one confirmed bought vote, and I get my cash...

        Therefore, bribery is equally possible under the current system. I don't even need the California law I cited, it just makes it easier to sell my vote election after election instead of having to obtain absentee voter status for each election.
    • Re:Now, really.. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by djmurdoch (306849)
      Your system doesn't preserve the secret ballot.

      For example:

      I want to be elected, and I want you to vote for me. I offer you a bribe to vote (or threaten to break your legs if you don't). Now I can verify that you did vote for me.

      Voting needs to be secure, but it also needs to be anonymous.

  • I think ... (Score:2, Funny)

    by Zemran (3101)
    that we should have a vote on it ...
  • the real point (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrsev (664367) <mrsev.spymac@com> on Sunday November 23, 2003 @06:23PM (#7544176)
    Most people are missing the point. An election must not only be fair but it must be seen to be fair.

    I have no idea why the US has such problems with their voting. In the UK everyone votes on paper..... with a fucking pen. (No dimpled chads crap!) It is counted by hand and is never out by more than 10 votes in 30,000. We also have the result by the early hours of the morning.

    The point is if you want to go and count all the votes yourself you can. The whole idea of an election is that it is open. For this there must be a paper trail. Why complicate the matter? The other point is that it is secret. Who I vote for is none of anyones bussiness. I would always be nervous with electronic voting for two reasons. I want to know that my vote has really bean counted and I want to know that I am anonymous.

    As regards election fraud it is easier to imagine someone messing with an electonic count than someone turning up with a few suitcases of paper and trying to stuff them into a ballot box in fron t of the election officals.

    .
  • ATM Analogy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BrynM (217883) * on Sunday November 23, 2003 @06:27PM (#7544196) Homepage Journal
    From the article:
    "Dollars and cents are 'commensurable.' A bank doesn't care if it loses $200 to a hacker who makes unauthorized withdrawals, so long as it gains back something more than $200 in cost savings from using the ATM that the hacker attacked. There is no difference except in amount between the dollars lost and the dollars gained. Their value is commensurable.

    But there is no such commensurability between the false vote tallies that electronic voting systems might yield when things go badly, and the benefits of speed and efficiency that they might offer when things go well.

    So the ATM analogy fails."

    I don't think that this analogy fails. From my experience, banks tend to think of the money they hold as "their money". Their business is to use the money that they hold to generate income (fees/investments/interest charges on loans). To me this is the major danger of the voting companies. Do they consider the votes they process as "theirs"? Just look at what O'Dell wrote. To me the issue is control and the ATM analogy fits that well. Ever try to prove a fraudulent transaction to a bank? Were they evasive and controlling of the situation? Did they deny culpability? Did they deny a weakness in their process?

    I think that the voting companies will eventually lobby to regulate out any scrutiny of their process. Will every attempt to investigate the security of such systems by an average citizen be dealt with as a "hacking" crime eventually? With today's fear of the "terrorists" exploiting things, the time for this type of legislation is ripe.

    How's the weather in Ontario? Is rent cheap?

  • by IntelliTubbie (29947) on Sunday November 23, 2003 @06:31PM (#7544214)
    In Diebold America, the vote rocks YOU!

    Cheers,
    IT
  • by Zaphod-AVA (471116) on Sunday November 23, 2003 @06:35PM (#7544232)
    Why can we trust computers to handle hundreds of billions of dollars in international business, but not voting?

    The problem in the equation is the involvment of our government, who have failed to earn our trust in the last few decades, not the concept of electronic voting itself.

    -Z
  • voting (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Gurudev Das (694832)
    how about we vote for which ballot system to use?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 23, 2003 @06:38PM (#7544241)
    Hi all,

    With more and more surprise I am reading all those articles about how the USA (nr 1 in IT in the world) is struggling with E-voting.
    I am 30 years old now, the first time I voted was when I was 19 or 20 yo (first chance), and that was electronical. I have never casted my ballot on paper, ever. At the time, we are talking 1990, about 50% of The Netherlands was using voting machines, a few years after it was 100%. The first machines were installed in 1985.
    Agreed, no fancy touch screens (how would that work?? 15 parties, up to 40 candidates per party - that can never be shown on one normal touch screen, thereby giving an advance to the party first shown of course), though a reliable, robust, and secure way to vote it is. It uses a panel with a huge number of buttons (one per candidate), a display to tell which candidate you are about to vote for, and a "Vote" button. That's all. No Internet connection (what is that good for other than allowing hackerse to access the machine). Never, ever has there been a dispute on voting security with these machines.They work, everyone is happy with it, and they are a great improvement on the paper voting.

    USA is making a true fool of themselves.
    How come they can not even design something simple (not easy, but simple as in few functions needed) as a voting machine? How can we ever trust their electronic "smart bombs" and whatnot? And their computer based aeroplanes? And more computer software which has to be tamper-proof and absolutely safe.

    Electronic voting is not rocket science. Ask the Europeans about it, there the technology can be bought in from the shelf. Not fancy, though tested in several elections and found good.
    Maybe they need another election disaster like Bush to realise it is time to have a look across the border and see how a real election is held.

    Wouter.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      "Maybe they need another election disaster like Bush to realise it is time to have a look across the border and see how a real election is held"

      You are right. The Mexican system is the best example in the world in how to run things.
  • absentee ballots? (Score:2, Informative)

    by forevermore (582201)
    How does any of this help those of us who vote absentee/mailin? My work/life schedule doesn't allow me the time to go in and actually vote with a machine. I'm not about to trust any online voting system (given that such a system would basically be an open invitation to hackers), so what does that leave us with? More and more people over the years are voting absentee, and I don't think I've ever heard of a proposed solution to go alongside the electronic voting machines.

    Then again, I've never had troub

  • NO!!!!!
  • A Christmas Wish (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mcpkaaos (449561) on Sunday November 23, 2003 @07:10PM (#7544426)
    I wish we were as concerned about who we vote for as we are how we vote for them.
  • by Kwil (53679)
    Next question?
  • by dgreenwood (190540) on Sunday November 23, 2003 @07:57PM (#7544655) Homepage
    at http://www.securityfocus.com/columnists/198 [securityfocus.com]

    Electronic Voting Debacle

    Grave concerns over the security of electronic voting machines in the United States means the heart of American democracy is at risk.

    [snip]

    "...The Big Issue: Security

    So, how do you know that the machine actually counted your vote? You don't! Oh sure, you may see a screen at the end of the process that shows you what you selected ... but how do you know that those choices are actually tabulated? The answer: trust the companies that make the machines. But that attitude, if it ever made sense, has been shown to be not just wrong but foolhardy in the past several months... "
  • Verifiedvoting.org - (Score:3, Informative)

    by Speequinox (662721) on Sunday November 23, 2003 @08:41PM (#7544874)
    The org is on the ball: http://www.verifiedvoting.org
  • by Pig Hogger (10379) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [reggoh.gip]> on Sunday November 23, 2003 @08:47PM (#7544900) Journal
    You guys are having it backwards.

    Since 2000, municipal elections here are counted with a mark-sense reader.

    Voters get a letter-sized ballot, and they mark their vote with a sharpie. Then, they insert the ballot in a carrier-envelope.

    Each ballot has a detachable stub with a sequential serial number, which is initialed by the scrutineer. When the voter returns, he tears-off the stub, and hands it to the scrutineer; this way, everyone can be sure it's the same ballot that was given (instead of a telegram, where you put in a pre-marked ballot, and prove you did it by bringing back the blank ballot).

    The ballot is then passed though a mark-sense reader which tallies the counts, and drops into a sealed box, along with the other ballots.

    This way, the results are known within seconds when the polls close, AND you STILL HAVE the paper ballots to be recounted, if the need arises.

    The machines are not open-source, but starting tomorrow, I am pursuing the matter with the authorities.

  • What they need (Score:3, Informative)

    by Todd Knarr (15451) on Sunday November 23, 2003 @11:18PM (#7545474) Homepage

    The only thing they really need electronic voting for is speed. They want the results faster than manual counting would allow. If you want a system at least as good as what we had, all you need is a system that produces machine+human-readable ballots.

    When you vote, the machine when finished prints out a ballot with both machine-readable (barcode, perhaps) and human-readable versions of your vote. You confirm that it matches your vote, then drop it in the ballot box. The voting machine can hold an electronic tally internally which can be read after close of polls for a fast result. If there's a question of validity, you machine-scan the machine-readable portions of the printed ballots. As a check, you can compare the human-readable and machine-readable portions of a sample of the printed ballots to make sure the two really do match. If you select the sample randomly, it'd be statistically improbable for the voting machines to deliberately put incorrect machine-readable versions down without getting caught at it.

    You can use smart-cards or whatnot for enabling a vote on the machine, and the traditional methods work for spoiled ballots. A one-use magnetic card like the airlines use for tickets would be even cheaper.

    Given that it's not all that hard to design a system like that, I have to wonder why Diebold and the rest are so adamant about not doing it.

  • by quonsar (61695) on Sunday November 23, 2003 @11:51PM (#7545604) Homepage
    ever watch the morons try to check themselves out at the grocery store? i actually avoid those lanes now, because there is always some low/normal load ahead of me, inventing new depths of illiteracy and stupidity, and it's faster to wait in a line with a human cashier. now transfer this whole scenario to the voting booth.
  • It's Quite Simple (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Steve B (42864) on Monday November 24, 2003 @12:07AM (#7545691)
    The issue reduces to two questions:
    1. Does the system generate a printed record?

    2. Does the printed record supersede the electronic tally if the two disagree?

    Either the answer to both of the above questions is "YES", without exception or qualification, or the system is not to be trusted.
  • by nich37ways (553075) <slashdot@37ways.org> on Monday November 24, 2003 @04:45AM (#7546401) Homepage
    What I don't understand is why there is not a combined system put into place where the voting machines prints a ticket that can be verified by the voter and then placed in a standard ballet box.

    Afterwards take the total from the electronic system and randomly select a number of areas to be hand counted. This would make it much more difficult for anyone to fix the results as they would need to change both the paper ballots and the electronic count to ensure that their vote fixing is not picked up.
  • No.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anita Coney (648748) on Monday November 24, 2003 @08:24AM (#7546998) Homepage
    Until the software and hardware is totally open for scrutiny, the answer it no.

"No job too big; no fee too big!" -- Dr. Peter Venkman, "Ghost-busters"

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