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Touch Screen Voting Trouble in Florida 574

Posted by michael
from the need-a-florida-topic-like-fark dept.
usn2fsu03 writes "Here we go again with another election controversy in South Florida. Touch screen voting was used in a State House election that was won by twelve votes. Unfortunately, there were 134 people who went through the process of checking in to vote, but either did not vote or cast a vote that was not counted. Without a paper trail it is anyone's guess as to what those voters' intentions were. Obviously, there is work to be done in the Election Supervisor's office before November comes around."
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Touch Screen Voting Trouble in Florida

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  • by fruey (563914) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:02PM (#7929363) Homepage Journal
    They just touched the screen with their whole palm, and expected it to sense who they wanted to vote for :)
  • 12 votes, 134 votes, what's the difference?
  • by KirkH (148427) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:04PM (#7929390)
    If they can't figure out to push the VOTE button to count their selection, maybe they shouldn't be voting anyway...
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:17PM (#7929611)
      Welcome to the vote wizard. This is where you can make your selection for President of the United States. Remember that many others are voting and your selection may not match the final choice for President of the United States.

      What would you like to do?

      • Vote Democratic (Decrease my own personal responsibility but raise everybody's taxes)
      • Vote Republican (Keep more of my own income but increase my own personal responsibility)
      • Help with understanding these options (I live in Florida)
      • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:38PM (#7929935)
        Keep more of my own income but increase my own personal responsibility

        It's not keeping more of your own income; it's continuing to accept the services you formerly paid for with taxes (in fact taking more services), but now paying for them with a cash advance from a multitrillion dollar credit card. You're still going to pay it all back one day with money from your income, but with interest.

      • Vote Republican, hope to cash in on the ripoff of everybody "else", deny any personal responsibility when confronted, and get screwed with practically all "the rest of us" when the politico gets power, and doesn't need you anymore within your delusional event horizon. Are you better off than you were 4 years ago?
    • by Performer Guy (69820) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:18PM (#7929625)
      Without any audit it is impossible to tell if the problem was their stupidity. I have no problem expecting people to be smart enough to do this, but for all we know those votes could have been lost through any number of technical errors, there's absolutely no means to check this with no audit trail and secretive software practices. The only available audit, tallying people showing up vs casting votes shows a significant discrepancy. That is cause for concern, and indicates the need for a better audit trail. Something that is simply being ignored and denied at every request.
    • by alan_dershowitz (586542) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:21PM (#7929674)
      It has been verified that faulty citizen failure has resulted in at least one contested Florida election. It's no surprise. Some of these citizens have been around since the '20s! They cost a fortune to maintain. Clearly we can do better than this.

      I recommend replacing them. Shiny new electronic voters would reduce the problem of incorrect vote selection, as well as ambiguous ballots, or the inability to understand clear, spoken or written English. Computers are far better at binary selection than senior citizens, so they should have no problem.
    • If they can't figure out to push the VOTE button to count their selection, maybe they shouldn't be voting anyway...

      True, but out of all the voting systems, computer systems could be more idiot-proof than any of them. I quickly thought of several simple ways for the system to prevent a luser (I mean voter) from leaving the booth before they actually voted. This same non-voting problem may have happened with the chad-machines. And even pen and paper isn't immune from UI problems.
  • by moitz (65511) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:04PM (#7929396)
    Florida is not allowed to vote in the next federal election. Bad Florida! Bad! Go to your room!

    -moitz-
  • by kevin_conaway (585204) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:04PM (#7929401) Homepage
    -Voter walks into booth
    -Voter touches appropriate button on screen
    -Voting machine records the vote electronically and also prints the vote on paper (maybe in like a scantron type format so it can be easily recounted)
    Done?
    • by Kenja (541830) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:11PM (#7929513)
      -Voter walks into botth, gets confused by the curtain, ends up out side the both, gets it right on the third try.
      -Voter touches the button, gets the one they where aiming for on the second try.
      -Voter forgets to click the "VOTE" button that commits their choice.
      -Voter tackles the curtain problem again, getting out of the booth on only the second try.
      -Voting machine does nothing becuase its only as smart as its users.
    • by dachshund (300733) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:14PM (#7929570)
      Voting machine records the vote electronically and also prints the vote on paper (maybe in like a scantron type format so it can be easily recounted) Done?

      Not done. You still have no idea whether the version recorded on some internal paper spool is actually what you voted for on the screen. If there's a bug, or a malicious hack that can screw up the all-electronic process, then it's equally likely that there's a bug that'll also mess with what goes on the paper.

      Ultimately, you need a machine that prints out a paper ballot that can then be verified by the voter and deposited in a ballot box. This box needs to be at least partially recounted (2%, perhaps) before any result can be certified. If the outcome of the electronic vote is very close, the entire set of paper ballots needs to be recounted.

      • If the outcome of the electronic vote is very close
        Any malicious hack would also ensure that the "vote" wouldn't be close enough.

        The "layered" approach sounds like a good idea. Have it print out ten different receipts and have the person give them to ten different sets of counters. They keep counting until they're all within 5% of each other. Another bonus: instant Condorcet [yahoo.com].
      • Not done. You still have no idea whether the version recorded on some internal paper spool is actually what you voted for on the screen.

        At some point you must trust the election mechanism to work. If you're concerned about the version recorded on some internal spool to differ from what you voted for on the screen then you might as well be concerned with the votes actually being counted properly at the end of the day when all the voters have left the building.

        Yes, election fraud can exist. But I don't

    • In Pennsyvania we did one better.

      The new elecronic voting machines work just like the old mechanical ones. The ballot is a giant 3x3' printout spread over a pushbutton and LED panel. You press next to a candidate (or ballot question) where you used to flip a switch, and an LED glows telling you it understood your selection.

      There are 2 big buttons at the bottom of the device. A red "CANCEL" button, and a green "VOTE" button, right where you used to pull the handle.

      Votes are tallied using the same proce

  • by redtape (37014) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:04PM (#7929404)
    If you don't press vote, you didn't vote. You have to live with this. The instructions are available, so if you don't complete the transaction, you really can't complain. (and I'm sure your local poll worker will help if you have trouble reading the instructions.)
    • Was there a sample machine to show people how to vote before they actually used the machine? I am betting you if such a machine was put for the slashdot crowd, that SOME are going to forget to hit the VOTE button the first time, and even the second time, On a couple of occassions I have almost forgotten my ATM card or cash cuz I had other things in my mind, but usually I remember because I had to get something.

      If the machine gave a paper ticket that said "VOTED" perhaps this will remind people.

      Now, I am
    • by FearUncertaintyDoubt (578295) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:19PM (#7929639)
      That reminds me of the little windows app that made the e-mail rounds a few years back. It was a dialog box that asked "Are you gay?" with a Yes and No. If you tried to move the mouse over the No button, the box moved away from the pointer.

      Another thing that it reminds me of is an news investigation into supermarkets scanning incorrect prices at the checkout. It turns out that almost all mis-scans are in the store's favor (i.e., scans a higher price than the actual item).

      I think my point is that with the machines, how do you know you completed the transaction? There's no receipt or verification. Maybe I pressed vote, but it didn't register. Maybe there's a bug in the code that says:
      if vote != Republican rollback else commit

      And how do you know the system isn't rigged or at least tilted a little? Your post, while correct, assumes that nothing ever goes wrong. See Common Sense vs. H. Chad, 2000. Things always go wrong. These systems have no way to deal with that.

    • They did press "Vote." (I don't personally know how it worked, but the story says they acknowledged a warning screen.)

      Consider that the choices in that race were "Vote for a Republican or don't vote at all!"

      If I was a straight-ticket-Democrat, I think I'd be hopping mad at a voting system that forced me to vote for anyone in the opposition party, and did not allow me to abstain. (I think, in fact, I'd make a Federal case out of it.)
    • by nuggz (69912) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:53PM (#7930144) Homepage
      I disagree
      Voting should be so easy and so simple to do that it is hard to screw up.

      A key part of a fair election is that if someone makes the effort to cast a vote, the system should record that vote.
      Making it unnecessarily difficult risks making it an unfair election.
  • Do it again ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by henrygb (668225) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:05PM (#7929424)
    In the UK, the loser would have the right to go to court and ask for (and probably get) a new election. It happend in Winchester [wikipedia.org] in 1997.
  • by mgs1000 (583340) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:06PM (#7929431) Journal
    It seem quite possible that 1% of the people that went in to the booth just decide that they didn't like any of the voters? It seems like the the moderators on /. are just trying to find problems where none exist. Let's see what happens if a "none of the above" button is added to the UI before we go crying about the inequities of touch screen voting.
    • You're missing the point.

      It's not whether those individuals voted or not.. it's that there's no way to go back and check whether they did or not. There's no way for people doing a recount to go and look for the equivalent of "hanging chads" and such.

      The article even addresses that, it's fine if someone doesn't want to vote. It is NOT fine that there is no way to go back and identify the voter's intent.
    • But...that's the point. There's no paper trail at all, so who knows what those people intended. I don't live in Florida, so I have no idea what their touch-screen system looked like, but maybe there was a "none of the above" button. Maybe they didn't like any of the candidates, and intended to vote for "none of the above", but it didn't work right. Or maybe they thought they voted for someone, but didn't hit "accept" or something similar. Maybe they just got bored and went home... Maybe they hit a wro
    • trying to find problems where none exist. Let's see what happens if a "none of the above" button is added to the UI before we go crying about the inequities of touch screen voting.

      For that matter, let's just add a "none of the above" option to elections anyways. I'm not talking about "no vote placed in favor of any candidate"... I'm talking about an active rejection of all listed candidates. Then, if the "none of the above" options gets more votes than any candidate, the election must be rerun with no

    • In Pennsylvania we have electronic voting machines. They are walls of membrane buttons with little LED's that light when you make a selection. They started using them in 1992, and have since replaced all the old mechanical machines. In fact, they are simply an electronic replacement for the old machanical voting machines, they work the same way. (Just pushing buttons instead of flipping switches.) Instead of pulling the handle to register your vote, you press a pig green "VOTE" button.

      They even tally the votes the same way, through counters that are read off periodically throughout the day.

      One of the selections in every category is "I am not casting a vote." I recall that at the top there is an option to cast a completely blank ballot. (The party lever has been removed, thankfully.)

      Sure it's low-tech. But I like it.

  • If so, whats wrong with the normal voting system. Its not like its ever been that insecure.

    In a way you could call this the eroding of freedom to having your right to vote. I know its a bit of a lame idea though. I have never read the American constitution (as im not American) but im guessing there is no mention of the right to vote in a certain media.

    But, if because you wished to vote using older methods you were denied because using the new method is compulsory is that being denied your right to vote?
  • Christ...why not (Score:2, Interesting)

    just have 2 thing printed out...a computer punch card ballot that is punched out and has the names so people can see that the punch is taken out, and a receipt printed so that the person has a record of their vote?

    it is a high tech interface with mechanical precision for the punch.
  • Has to be said. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hiro Antagonist (310179) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:08PM (#7929465) Journal
    Right. Uh-huh. We never saw *this* coming. No sireeee. Electronic voting is *reliable*, *safe*, and *fun for the whole family*, and anything else is against the word of the Fuehre...er, I mean, is Anti-American.
  • WHY? Is this corporation in bed with the politician's or something? There is absolutely no need for this kind waste of money when a pen and paper would do the job more effectively.

    On another note, when elections are so close, why don't the politicians recognize that they don't have a clear mandate from the people and respect the opinions of the opposition more? It's power gone mad.
  • Voters' "Intent"?? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by goldspider (445116) <ardrake79 @ g m ail.com> on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:08PM (#7929471) Homepage
    "Without a paper trail it is anyone's guess as to what those voters' intentions were."

    I'm sorry, but since when was any vote-counting system designed to interpret what a voter's intent was, beyond correctly-cast votes?

    If people don't/can't vote correctly using even the simplest methods, then perhaps even they did not know what their intent was.

    • If people don't/can't vote correctly using even the simplest methods, then perhaps even they did not know what their intent was.

      Not only that, but assuming an even distribution of morons voting for both candidates, this won't skew any but the closest elections (though admittedly that would be this one). In most elections, if the "moron vote" not getting counted throws the election....good! If I knew that most idiots voted for one candidate, I'd probably vote for the other on principle.

    • by Ephemeriis (315124) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:23PM (#7929708)
      I don't really think its a matter of intent... The problem is that we don't know if it was the machine malfunctioning or not. There is no record. These people signed in and whatnot, but there are no votes recorded for them. Did the system lose the votes, or did the voters just not use the system right? We don't know. We also don't know if anyone manually edited the vote counts. There is no record of what did or didn't happen with those voters. At leas with a traditional paper ballot you can look at the piece of paper and see that yes a vote was made, no we can't tell what it is, someone screwed up.

      yrs,
      Ephemeriis
    • by aborchers (471342) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:51PM (#7930106) Homepage Journal
      I'm sorry, but since when was any vote-counting system designed to interpret what a voter's intent was, beyond correctly-cast votes?


      Vote-counting systems (in the big sense of end-to-end counting and certification, not just talking about balloting hardware) in Florida must honor the intent of the voter as a matter of law.

      The law is designed to address the array of things that can go wrong with the voting process and equipment, and ensure that the intent of the voter is paramount to any vagueries introduced by the equipment or counting procedures. How anyone could think this is a bad thing (unless they were in the process of exploiting such vagueries) is beyond me...

  • Without a paper trail it is anyone's guess as to what those voters' intentions were.

    Obviously, there is work to be done in the Election Supervisor's office before November comes around

    On the contrary. I think everything's going pretty much as planned.

  • When it comes down to it, Democaracy is all about the will of the majority. With such populations as south Florida apparently split almost perfectly down the center, both sides are equally well represented either way the vote goes. As much as electronic voting has its flaws, this is not one of them.
  • Why not just have the voting machines print a receipt for the voter after they cast their ballot? For one, it'd be a great souvenier of the election. Secondly, if there was a challenge to the vote, concerned voters could bring their receipt to a recount.

    Of course, the machine could also print a receipt for the election board as well and put it in a big bin, so that there's a paper ballot that can be recounted or verified by them if the election comes under question.

    Electronic transactions are great,
    • by pangian (703684)
      This has been said before on /. and elsewhere but is worth repeating:

      Paper receipts that stay at the polling place = good. Allows parellel count of small sample to check machine accuracy; allows recount in the event of a problem.

      Paper receipts that go home with you = bad. Potential for intimidation and vote buying.
  • Yes yes yes.. we all know it.

    Cringley [pbs.org] makes a good case about why we believe this might work, but probably won't.
  • by lightspawn (155347) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:11PM (#7929505) Homepage
    I know it's scary that we can tell there's something wrong but there's no way to know the right result -

    But the worse scenario is one where there's no way to tell anything's wrong. No reason to request a manual count, no reason for trusting fools to question the results.

    Most people, it seems, have an "I haven't verified this system, therefore it must be secure" mindset. But don't worry; this particular problem will be fixed and people can go back to assuming everything works until the next time something is obvious wrong.

    Remember - it can't be a problem if nobody knows about it.
  • I guess this is (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Smid (446509)
    Democracy in inaction...

    Still, USA is not a democracy. Its a republic. People seem to forget that...
  • Very good thing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Frobnicator (565869) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:11PM (#7929507) Journal
    This is wonderful.

    All the groups calling for voting reform can point there and say "Electronic voting without proper auditing tools is worse than hanging chads."

    The Canadians will just keep laughing, as more people ask why their pencil and paper system works more smoothly, and in many cases faster, than ours.

    I don't care if we have a fancy electronic system with proper audit trails, or if we go to a pencil & paper system with proper audit trails. I just care that we get there quickly.

    frob

    • I have a feeling that the 2004 presidental election will certainly be another media circus, if these types of holes are introduced into the fabric of electronic voting. What I still can't understand is why after so much infighting and media coverage and other problems, they just can't get it right.
    • Re:Very good thing (Score:2, Interesting)

      by addie (470476)
      Honestly, as a Canadian this all kind of blows my mind. Granted, we have 1/10 the population of the States, but whenever there's a federal election we manage to find out who the next governing party and prime minister all within the same day as voting. The same goes for provincial elections.

      This seems like a lot of cost for very little (if any) benefit. The list of things that can go wrong with a paper/pencil system is much shorter than that for an electronic system.

      What's that saying... If it ain't br
  • Hmm? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tuxette (731067) * <tuxette AT gmail DOT com> on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:12PM (#7929531) Homepage Journal
    Have they actually proved that the voter didn't hit the vote button, or is the claim a mere speculation?

    I kind of get this kooky conspiracy theory feeling where say every 3 votes for the "wrong" candidate is excluded and it's a part of the closed program code. You kind of get that feeling when you see stuff like this: Bogdanoff had a ready explanation for the mystery. She theorized that some of the people who cast nonvotes were among the county's true-blue Democrats who were appalled to find a ballot with only Republicans. Did this really happen?

    I'm otherwise (still) surprised that paper receipts were never given in the beginning, but it's a very good idea for the future. If anything, it should be a requirement.

  • Quote: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by KillerHamster (645942) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:13PM (#7929556) Homepage

    She theorized that some of the people who cast nonvotes were among the county's true-blue Democrats who were appalled to find a ballot with only Republicans.

    How hard is it to have "None of the above" as an option?

    • by FJ (18034)
      If they have a "None of the above" button, it will probably be the most popular vote in every election.
    • by wowbagger (69688) on Friday January 09, 2004 @01:07PM (#7930330) Homepage Journal
      There is a simple reason you won't see a "None of the above" option in an election.

      There are 2 ways you can implement a NOTA - non-binding and binding.

      For the sake of discusson, assume an election is held with Larry, Moe, and Curly as candidates, and the results are:

      Larry: 10%
      Moe: 10%
      Curly: 10%
      None of the above: 70%

      The Non-Binding form works like this:
      Since NOTA won, run a new election with the same bunch. Remember the definition of insanity - doing the same thing, and expecting different results? The only way things change is if the people decide that Larry is better than elections ad infinitum.

      The Binding form works like this:
      Since NOTA won, Larry, Moe, and Curly are out - here's your years supply of Rice-O-Roni and your copy of the home game, bu-bye, mind the door.

      OK, now we have to pick a completely new slate of candidates, and have another round of campagning, and another election.

      Now, Binding NOTA scares the hell out of the big parties, as it gives the smaller parties a real chance to win - during the first campaign, don't have your guy in the election, and run attack ads against the big boys. If you get the people to vote NOTA, THEN run your guy in the new election.

      Since Binding NOTA would force the big 2 parties to be more responsive to the people, you can rest assured it will happen shortly after water freezes on a hot stove.
  • Voter intent? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MoneyT (548795) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:13PM (#7929558) Journal
    Can someone please explain to me when this became a land where we had to determine what a voter intended and not what he actualy voted for (or in this case didn't vote for). Ballots are fairly simple things, and most of us learned about them in 4th grade. If you are unable to comprehend how to work a ballot, by law, polling places are supposed to have someone there to explain and assist you. If you don't take advantage of it, that was your choice. Vote right, or don't vote at all, but don't be bitching when your incorrect ballot isn't counted.
    • Re:Voter intent? (Score:5, Informative)

      by aborchers (471342) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:23PM (#7929704) Homepage Journal
      Can someone please explain to me when this became a land where we had to determine what a voter intended and not what he actualy voted for (or in this case didn't vote for).


      In the case of Florida, it's a matter of law that the intent of the voter is to be honored. The intent stipulation arises out of an acknoledgement that all recording systems are subject to innacuracies, and that the noblest thing to do is to honor the will of the voter, rather than the output of the machine.

      This is obviously an extreme example, but it should be illustrative:

      Imagine a ballot-punching machine where a peg for one of the candidates breaks an hour before the polls close. Noone notices this and the voters go on pressing the button for that candidate until closing time, assuming they voted for him or her.

      In the end, the vote count is wrong, underrepresenting that candidate's support. In this case, the intent of the voters was not registered even though they acted in good faith and without making any mistakes.

      It is this type of scenario that the intent law is intended to remedy. The will of the voters is paramount to the output of a machine that can be tampered with, broken, or buggy.

    • Re:Voter intent? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Tom (822) on Friday January 09, 2004 @01:08PM (#7930345) Homepage Journal
      Well, MoneyT, the outcry here is that we don't know. Namely, we don't know if their ballots were incorrect. We can't prove one way or the other. We can't find out if the voters were stupid, or the system is faulty.

      And that's the point. We ought to know.
  • Whether you vote or not, it really doesn't matter.

    Read the "greatest 50 conspiracies of all time". It talks about public voting being controlled by one private firm up to around 1960s-70s.

    If voting really matters don't you think the government will pump 20x more money into the booths and systems. Make it all starbucks happy, trace finger prints etc etc.
  • is to provide a copy of Voting for Dummies at each voting booth. Or they could just use a machine the prints a final, easy to read, ballot. Imagine that.
  • by Guano_Jim (157555) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:14PM (#7929578)
    For an interesting exercise in direct democracy, check out the Bush in 30 Seconds [bushin30seconds.org] finalists. These have been winnowed down from some 1500 submitted ads.

    All created by volunteers. Registered users get to vote on which ads they like the best, and the winners will be run on TV this election season.

    Just to be fair and balanced, here's a similar conservative ad [clubforgrowth.org]. No voting though.

  • by dachshund (300733) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:20PM (#7929669)
    What people often fail to understand is that voting systems have two purposes. One, to determine the winner of the election. Two, to convince the losing side that they really did lose fair and square.

    If you acheive the first goal, but fail to address the second, you create an increasingly angry and restless population, and that's unhealthy for any democracy. A lesson many politicians seem to have taken from the Florida debacle is that most people will "get over it", and go back to driving their SUVs and watching TV. So far they've been right about this. Unfortunately, that only works if we're talking about an isolated incident; if people begin to develop even the impression that they're being repeatedly screwed, our society will suffer.

  • This is good (Score:2, Insightful)

    by greendoggg (667256)
    Because hopefully it will bring attention to how important a voter audited paper trail is. Hopefully this will gain widespread attention, so that before a more important election (say a national congress seat or presidential election) the people who administer elections will get it right.
  • I know that most folks think the elections are WAY off in November - you could not be more wrong

    Florida's Primaries are March 9th - IF the primaries are tight, there could be problem

    Remember, the first primary of the year is NEXT WEEK (Tuesday - Waskington DC), and the Iowa Caucuses are Monday the 19th

    We are already in full election swing

    Disclaimer - I write software that looks at election data (but does NOT count vote - so don't shoot me) - we have been in testing, 2-3 days/week since 2 months before t
  • Who's actually going to waste^H^H^H^H^Hcast their vote in November?
  • by rufey (683902) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:27PM (#7929771)
    Apparently there is a state mandated recount that has to happen. According to the article (towards the bottom):

    Lieberman has asked ES&S, which also manufactured Miami-Dade County's voting machines, to provide some answers on the nonvotes by 1:30 p.m. today, when the canvassing board meets for a state-mandated recount.

    Hows the recount going to be fair if they can't recount the individual votes? About all they can do is tabulate the total from each voting machine again.

    As many people have already stated, this is exactly an audit trail is necessary with electronic voting.

  • by frkiii (691845) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:30PM (#7929798)

    I live in one of the counties in Florida where 1) the touch screens were piloted and 2) where I have voted with them in two elections.

    There is a print out that is produced as a running record as each person votes, which is the "backup" of data stored in the voting machine.

    The voters that "did not vote" or "voted but it was not counted" should be able to be located and queried regarding that happened at the polling place. Unless there is no way to determine, from this paper printout, which exact registered and present to vote cvoters did not vote or had a problem voting, for some reason.

    • by rusty0101 (565565) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:48PM (#7930072) Homepage Journal
      The requrirement that a persons vote be annonymous implies that if their vote shows up on a paper trail, it be impossible to trace it back to the person who voted.

      If you happen to choose to vote for the Nazi party candidate (Note I am not talking about Republicans, even though that association has been bandied about recently), or the Communist party, (Again, not the Democrats), Voting law (varies by district to be sure) is generally there to prevent someone from taking a baseball bat to your car, or you knees.

      In the district I vote in, there are three steps involved. Make sure you are in the registered voters book, usually a sign in. Go to next table and get a chit allowing you to collect a ballot, or in an electronic ballot case, a number you enter into your electronic ballot. This is unique, but does not identify you. The last step is to collect your ballot, and vote.

      As a result, once you vote, you can't vote again, (your register name is already signed) and they can confirm that the number of chits and the number of ballots counted match. With the electronic ballot, you may be able to say that chits 74, 583, and 1097 did not actually vote, but you can't say that John, Mary, and Bill were the voters who decided to vote, but were incompetent.
  • by Picass0 (147474) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:33PM (#7929854) Homepage Journal
    Most of these people are old enough to have voted in the old voting booths with hundreds of little levers. Rows and rows of them. And then there was the big red lever that commited your vote.

    These people could operate that system, but can't touch a button on a screen? Bullshit. They didn't vote, or the software is fsck'ed. But we'll never know, because there's no hard copy.

    Why are we having this system pushed on us instead of the no.2 pencil and ovals? That system is electronic, it's verfiable, it's an established technology.

    Despite the tin foil beenie cap conspiracy freeks who think tri-lateralists are behind all of this, I think we are seeing an example of government contracting abuse. Florida has paid for a bunch of machines and now finds they don't work.

  • by jdunlevy (187745) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:33PM (#7929858) Homepage
    When voters hit the ''send'' button after failing to select a candidate, the touch screen gives them a warning. But it doesn't prevent them from voting anyway or, in this case, nonvoting.
    That's probably what many did, suggested Gisela Salas, the former Miami-Dade deputy elections supervisor who now works for newly appointed Broward Supervisor of Elections Brenda Snipes.
    ''It happens in every election,'' Salas said. ``There are people who make the choice not to select any candidates.''
    This sounds like a perfectly reasonable explanation of the voters' behaviour and the nonvotes, but it also raises a serious question about the way votes are recorded. Namely: just because a voter chooses not to vote for any candidate in a given race, why on earth would that mean that the voting machine doesn't record that choice? Simply log it as an undervote, "none selected," or whatever, but it would seem a serious oversight if, rather than logging "nothing," the system simply doesn't log anything.

    And yes, a verifiable paper trial sure would help in situations where there are questions like this -- of course the paper receipt would have to be printed for and indicate nonvotes.

  • by rworne (538610) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:36PM (#7929896) Homepage
    Make the voting booths a bit more substantial, like the "man-traps" that are in some banks now.

    Voter enters the booth, booth closes and locks. The booth will not re-open until the person has voted properly or if they page a pollworker to let them out. If the latter occurs, the pollworker can give them additional instructions or let them out and note the incident for any subsequent legal challenges to the election.

    Of course, in all fairness a "none of the above" entry should be made for any one-party election.

    I vote in all local and national elections and my local incumbent "representative" is not of my political party. My party (or any other party for that matter) does not even have a candidate on the ballot! In those cases, I leave the entry blank if I cannot vote "NO" to abstain. Since in the Florida election all the candidate choices were Republicans, I would think that some voters seeing their party was not represented at all on the ballot would abstain in a similar fashion.

    So there's nothing to see here.
  • Arrogant SOB's (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Microsift (223381) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:46PM (#7930037)
    It amazes me how confident people are about their ability to vote. Especially since they have received no validation of this.

    For instance, I know who I intended to vote for in 2000, but I have no proof that my vote was counted that way.

    I assume that I voted correctly, just as all the people who accidentally voted for Buchanan instead of Gore believed they voted correctly.

    The problem, and challenge is providing the voter with some verification that does not lead to corruption(vote selling)

  • by JetScootr (319545) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:46PM (#7930051) Journal
    ''We always pray for large margins,'' said Palm Beach County Supervisor of Elections Theresa LePore.

    Keep using unverifiable voting machines and you'll get your wish. G W will win by a landslide this time.
  • Electronic voting... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by eclectic4 (665330) on Friday January 09, 2004 @12:49PM (#7930077)
    ...is ill-fated on many levels. If you have the time please, PLEASE listen to "The Annoying Gap Between Theory and Practice" audio found here [thislife.org]. Just do a search for "The Annoying Gap Between Theory and Practice" in the search window in the left column. It fills many gaps as far as understanding the fundamental "problems" with e-voting, and it's quite an eye opener.

    Good luck.
  • by dokebi (624663) on Friday January 09, 2004 @01:11PM (#7930378)
    ...by attaching a *printer* to the voting machine.
    So, how is this better than a paper ballot with a stub you detach as proof of voting?
    It gives the machine makers millions that should have gone to public schools.
    Hooray for demcracy.
  • by 56ksucks (516942) on Friday January 09, 2004 @01:14PM (#7930427) Homepage
    It's so bad in Florida now I think the only way to make it work again is to give voter's a crayon so they can circle a picture of the person they like with the name below the picture.

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