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Orange County: More E-Ballots Cast Than Voters 434

Posted by timothy
from the perfectly-normal-orange-county dept.
Nofsck Ingcloo writes "Orange County, California has discovered the joys of electronic voting. The story originated in the LA Times, which requires registration to view it. Yahoo News has a copy here. Problems occurred in races throughout the county. Among the symptoms of the problem were turnouts exceeding 100%." Read on for more.

"David Hart, chairman of Texas-based Hart InterCivic, which manufactured Orange County's voting system, said it would be impossible to identify which voters cast ballots in the wrong precincts because of steps the company had taken to ensure voter secrecy. For this reason, an exact account of miscast ballots is impossible. The good news, if the folks there can be believed, is that there is no evidence yet that any result is in jeopardy. In a masterpiece of understatement, elections system analyst Kim Alexander is quoted as saying, "Certainly this kind of problem that's occurred in Orange County doesn't do anything to contribute to greater confidence in electronic voting systems." Steve Rodermund, Orange County's registrar of voters, is quoted as saying that despite the problems, he is satisfied with the performance of Orange County's new electronic voting system."

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Orange County: More E-Ballots Cast Than Voters

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  • I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by skifreak87 (532830) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:40PM (#8517514)
    how hard is it to have a system that when person A votes for Candidate X, increments X's vote-count by 1? How can something as simple as basic counting fail. How bad are the programmers for this e-voting stuff?
    • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Informative)

      by beeplet (735701) <beeplet@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:47PM (#8517565) Journal
      If you read the story, the errors weren't a programming problem, they originated with the people running the booths. Some of them gave voters the wrong access code (not realizing that some of the polling stations served more than one precinct), and so the person's vote was cast for the wrong precinct.
      • Re:I don't get it (Score:5, Insightful)

        by evilviper (135110) on Wednesday March 10, 2004 @12:22AM (#8517849) Journal
        And just the fact that you are giving volunteer poll-workers that much power is quite disturbing...

        Before now, you stamped your card, and put it in a sealed ballot-box. Nothing could change your vote, nor could they be tallied for the wrong district. Now, you hit a button and can only hope that your vote is going to the right district, that the machine is reporting what you actually voted, and not what some poll-worker wanted, or even that your vote is cast at all, rather than ignored.

        If you live in CA, support Barbra Boxer. She appears to be the only politican around here who is calling for a paper-trail requirement for electronic voting machines. That way, if there was any doubt about the result, the paper ballots could be recounted to verify the result was legitimate, instead of requiring a re-vote which (as this article explains) is the only real option with the current system of electronic voting.

        All we need is one serious fuck-up, like California (the most liberal state around) being won by Bush, and you'll see voter riots. Which, incidentally, is how the rebellion in Haiti began.
        • All we need is one serious fuck-up, like California (the most liberal state around) being won by Bush, and you'll see voter riots.

          Um, except that the people most likely to not want Bush elected aren't quite capable throwing a riot. Remember, one of the requirements to having an armed rebellion, is an armed populace. Who do you think is more, or less, likely to have assault rifles in the home: Bush backers, or Kerry backers?
          • Re:I don't get it (Score:4, Insightful)

            by trentblase (717954) on Wednesday March 10, 2004 @12:49AM (#8518018)
            Yeah, Californians never riot when they feel opressed.... oh wait, nevermind [wikipedia.org]
          • All we need is one serious fuck-up, like California (the most liberal state around) being won by Bush, and you'll see voter riots.

            I don't think it is too far-fetched to see Bush win California. California elected a Republican for Governor, and he's doing a good job. California is made up of a huge latino population, and believe it or not, the Bush family is fairly popular amongst latinos (thanks to W's connection to Texas, and his brother Jeb's hispanic connections via his wife). Why do you think Bush mad
          • Re:I don't get it (Score:3, Interesting)

            by evilviper (135110)

            Who do you think is more, or less, likely to have assault rifles in the home: Bush backers, or Kerry backers?

            Off-hand I might say Republicans, but that's really not true.

            If you've ever been to CA (a strongly democratic state), you know all about the crime rate. There are gang members galore. Not to mention that I believe we are the only state where bank robers have ever been covered in body armor, and carrying assault rifles.

            If you were a criminal who carries assault rifles, are you going to support th

          • I am a proud Democrat. Even proudly libral. However, I strongly support the peoples right to bear arms.

            We forget that the reason the founding fathers included it in the Bill of Rights was not to defend your right to shoot a turkey for dinner. It was to protect your right and responsibility to rise up against our government in rebellion when it is necessary. The founding fathers firmly believed that a revolution would be necessary every few generations to keep the government honest. I believe they would fe
            • Re:I don't get it (Score:4, Insightful)

              by Coryoth (254751) on Wednesday March 10, 2004 @02:46AM (#8518625) Homepage Journal
              We forget that the reason the founding fathers included it in the Bill of Rights was not to defend your right to shoot a turkey for dinner. It was to protect your right and responsibility to rise up against our government in rebellion when it is necessary.

              Unfortunately people having the odd assault rifle lying around does not a successful armed revolution make - not in this day and age anyway. I applaud the intent, but I suspect you'd find that any attempted revolt would quickly find itself labelled "terrorists" and have the full force of the US military brought to bear if necessary.

              Which is to say, in this day and age, unless you have a lot of high powered armaments to threaten with, the only thing a standing army is good for is making large red smears when the cruise missles and fuel air explosives arrive.

              By all means, defend your right to bear arms - but if you want to stage any form of revolution in the US you're better of forgetting your hoarded assault rifles, and start getting a decent chunk of the US military on your side first.

              Jedidiah.
              • You must be American. Obviously you have no idea what a real armed revolt looks like.

                Your sentiment is lost in the histories of WWII Stalingrad and the Warsaw Ghetto resistance, as well as your beloved government's military actions in the Middle East ... why, going on right now. These histories amply demonstrate that your concept of overwhelming force is a fantasy.

                Firstly, an armed populace a la the US Constitution should have whatever weapons the military has -- because the population WAS THE MILIT
          • Re:I don't get it (Score:3, Insightful)

            by kisak (524062)

            Who do you think is more, or less, likely to have assault rifles in the home: Bush backers, or Kerry backers?

            And who do you think is the most threat with an assault rifle, a Bush [blankdocument.com] backer [feld.cvut.cz] or a Kerry [snopes.com] backer [pbs.org]?

        • Paper Ballots (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Detritus (11846) on Wednesday March 10, 2004 @12:53AM (#8518043) Homepage
          Even with paper ballots, the poll workers could have given out the wrong ballot to the voters. It wouldn't have made a difference in the results. It's still the wrong ballot, whether it's paper or bits.
          • Even with paper ballots, the poll workers could have given out the wrong ballot to the voters.

            Maybe in some places, but not in the polling places I've seen. They have one ballot and serve one precinct. Even if the ballots were wrong, the contents of the ballot-box will all be grouped together, and noted as a certain precinct. It's hard to screw that up, or if it is screwed-up, it can be easily sorted out, because they are all together, and they all came from the same place.

            With electronic voting, it's

          • Re:Paper Ballots (Score:3, Insightful)

            by SiliconEntity (448450)
            Even with paper ballots, the poll workers could have given out the wrong ballot to the voters. It wouldn't have made a difference in the results.

            Exactly. And paper would have been just as anonymous, too, so there would still have been no way to go back and try to guess which votes in a given precinct were valid and which were invalid. The whole paper-vs-evoting thing is a total red herring in this situation.

            If we'd been using e-voting for a hundred years and only now were switching to paper, the volunt
        • America NEEDS a nation-wide riot. When the government is that insensitive to the demands of the people, it's time to break out the old guillotine.

          Hell, the fact that America has only two respected political parties (indistinguishable from each other, no less) should be cause enough for concern. Gerrymandering, voting systems that can't be audited, and a complete disrespect for the American Constitution by both parties; it's a wonder Americans can sleep at night.

          • Indistinguishable? Your a naderer right?

            Things were alot better when Clinton was in office and he is no Bush. You may not agree with him but that is a little extreme.

            The fact that Canada has so many conservative parties only liberals get elected to your government. That is the problem with more then 1 party. You just tip the other candidate but voting who you believe in. The primaries is what helps you select the politician you want. I assume you have the same in your neck of your woods with your parties.
            • We're certainly not in a whole lot better boat. Just like you Yanks need Instant Run-off voting, we need Proportional Representation.

              As for Clinton, he really wasn't substantially different than Bush. He blocked laws reducing mercury levels in the water, he denied financial aid to other countries if ANY of it would be used to perform abortions, and so on.

              The only difference between Democrats and Republicans is that Democrats have to lie to get votes; Republicans don't bother.

              If I were American, I wo

        • by suss (158993)
          If you live in CA, support Barbra Boxer.

          Did anyone else see this and go "Barbra Boxer Barbra Boxer Barbra Boxer Barbra Boxer Barbra Boxer MUSHROOM MUSHROOM"?

          No? Must be just me then. I'll be off to my Badgers Anonymous meeting now.
        • Support Barbara Boxer?!

          BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

  • WTF? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:41PM (#8517519)
    Why are there no comments? Looks like we need independent auditors for Slashcode!
  • by Hays (409837) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:44PM (#8517539)
    something seems buggy here
  • by ShieldWolf (20476) <jeffrankine@@@netscape...net> on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:47PM (#8517571)
    In Canada, for a federal election we record something like 15 million hand-written votes in a few hours.

    Why can't the torch-bearer of democracy even remotely get this right? Is it because there is no federal standard, or do Amercians really not care that much?
    • Quote: "do Amercians really not care that much?"

      I am not voting on the matter because I dont care that much.

      On a more serious note, no federal standards... Look at Florida with chads, Orange County now with E-voting and so on. Essentially its a big mess, and quite frankly not that many people care about it.
      • Perhaps thats part of the problem.

        VOTE!

        Dont like who is running? Then pick someone you like in the primaries who best represents your interests in the next elections.

        You have the power to change it.

        Kerry and Bush are the running because that is who the people of both parties chose. We had far left radicals like Dean and Kucinich and moderates like Lieberman. I am an Edwards supporter myself.

        If people do not vote then why should they care?

    • by ozric99 (162412) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:52PM (#8517622) Journal
      It's the same in the UK. Millions of paper votes are counted in a matter of hours. It's a system that works well, so I don't understand the need to force through such obvious broken technology.
      • because it's about profits, not what is logical or reasonable. HTH.
      • I never realized how unstable the US voting system was until the Florida incident. How do you know that votes are tabulated correctly in Canada and/or the UK? Maybe your Labour vote was really given to the Tory (or whatever).

        Obviously, the problem *in this case* is twofold:

        1. They didn't test these systems enough.

        2. They have no way of fixing the problem, since they have no audit trail.

        Another point is that the problem that arose is not a technological one per se. They could have made the same mist
        • It's been a while since I've lived and voted in Canada, but when you get your ballot, it comes with an instruction card telling you to mark a huge X inside the box of the candidate that you wish to vote for. It even shows you a graphical example.

          In terms of how the votes are counted, I think that if you marked your ballot incorrectly, it's just counted as spoiled (so no vote for any candidate, nor do they try to figure out who you voted for). Quite frankly, I like this system, if you can't properly fill
          • I will be voting in my first Australian election probably later this year (just getting citizenship). We have compulsory voting and Preferential Votes. But, we also have different methods for the 2 Houses.
            Lower House - up to about 12 candidates. Number each one in order of preference, 1 to your favourite, 2 to the next etc
            Upper House - up to about 200 candidates. Either mark 1 in a box above the line (just the party name) or number every box below the line in order of preference. Now this sheet is about A1
            • by blancolioni (147353) on Wednesday March 10, 2004 @04:38AM (#8519037) Homepage
              The thing about compulsory voting is that I am really split over it. I know it is my democratic right not to vote, yet I also know that making people vote gives you a much better outcome as everyone is represented.

              Remember that you don't have to vote, you just have to turn up. The nice thing about compulsory voting is that if you want to exercise your democratic right not to vote, you have to make an effort. Which is as it should be.
      • by Monkelectric (546685) <<slashdot> <at> <monkelectric.com>> on Wednesday March 10, 2004 @03:06AM (#8518686)
        The powers that be WANT these machines in place because they are easily manipulated. There are already weird anomolies where republicans win landslides when exit polls indicate they should not have.
    • Well, the problem isn't whether they are hand-written, digital with tape, mechanical, or carved in stone, etc - The problem most people have with digital voting is that it needs to have a secure paper trail or some sort of auditable record. Just to make sure people aren't being fishy.

      That doesn't seem to be the issue here as people voted outside of their precinct. Hand-written ballots could conceivably suffer the same problem.

      The real question is: Why were these people allowed to vote in areas they aren
      • The real question is: Why were these people allowed to vote in areas they aren't permitted to?

        They weren't. They were improperly enabled to vote in the wrong precinct. From the article:

        5,500 voters had their ballots tabulated for the wrong precincts.

        Election officials acknowledged that poll workers provided some voters incorrect access codes that caused them to vote in the wrong legislative districts but said there was no evidence yet that any result was in jeopardy.

        Several workers who handle

    • Is it because there is no federal standard, or do Amercians really not care that much?

      We care. FAQs are here: Federal Election Commission [fec.gov]

    • by woverly (223564) on Wednesday March 10, 2004 @12:15AM (#8517808)
      We're not so much the "torch-bearer of democracy" anymore as we are a mob with torches. And proud of it!
    • by John Jorsett (171560) on Wednesday March 10, 2004 @12:41AM (#8517971)
      Why can't the torch-bearer of democracy even remotely get this right?

      We were getting it right before this. We had minor problems here and there, but nothing that drastic. Then, Florida. Because it was the deciding state, the vote was extremely close, and it had no uniform standards for what counted as a 'vote,' it became a battle to the death that had to be settled by the courts finally. And because of inherent "flaws" that hadn't caused any big problems up to then, the ACLU sued everyone who was using the punch bllot and forced them to go to new methods which produced (surprise) chaos the first time out. My city had clueless poll workers who couldn't even boot their machines for hours at the beginning, turning away hundreds or thousands (no one is sure even now) of voters. Even scarier, the poll workers were getting assisted by walk-in voters who had technical knowledge and were helping them to fix the problems. I heard one guy on the radio talking about how he'd poked around in the OS (WIndows CE, no less) on the Diebold machine, looking for the missing application. A number of poll workers took the manines home after they were trained and stored them in their garages until voting day. The 'seal' was a sticker that could be easily removed and reapplied without detection. Not exactly what you'd call secure. Tell me this is better than what we had, I dare you. Thanks, ACLU!

      • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Wednesday March 10, 2004 @01:09AM (#8518138)
        >Thanks, ACLU

        This is bullshit. The ACLU and NAACP wanted shorter lines [63.135.96.161] and a felon list that included only, you know, felons.

        In fact the debacle in Florida showed us we WEREN'T getting it right and we needed a federal standard, like most western nations, but the states were sold on the 'digital voting' snake-oil and here we are. And make no mistake about it, they were sold on this knowing full well how easily these machines can be manipulated.

        'Tis politics as usual.
      • by Idarubicin (579475) <allsquiet@hotm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday March 10, 2004 @01:44AM (#8518344) Journal
        Thanks, ACLU!

        You mean, an organization that has pledged to defend civil rights shouldn't use the legal tools at their disposal to fight defective voting systems...because the system that comes next might be worse?

        That's a great democracy we've got here.

      • by Fnkmaster (89084) on Wednesday March 10, 2004 @02:31AM (#8518575)
        Huh? This is not the ACLUs fault. The ACLU didn't put Diebold forward as a company to provide a well-run, secure electronic voting system - I'm pretty certain given the well-documented ties between Diebold management and the GOP that blaming the ACLU for their selection is pretty ludicrous. Hell, I doubt the ACLU even proposed electronic voting.


        The ACLU is supposed to be looking out for our voting rights. They didn't CAUSE the problems in Florida, or elsewhere, they just pointed them out. Hell, I've been downright disgusted with how poorly run our polls are here in Massachusetts - imagine my surprise when I voted for the first time at the age of 20 only to discover that you walk up to a table manned by two half-blind 70 year olds who have all the names of residents in the district here taped out onto the table, sorted by address. And they ask you "What's your address?" whereupon they find it listed and then ask you "what's your name?" and then they check you off on the list.


        You could literally come in at the end of the day and claim to be fucking anybody. No ID required, no nothing. I mean, I know my vote for president (and in the democratic primaries this year) doesn't count for shit thanks to the electoral college system, but couldn't we at least pretend that it does?

      • The hanging chad/no hanging chad issue hid the larger issue in Florida: the punch ballot was designed badly and offered no way for the voter to truly verify that they got the result that they wanted. Due to the design, voters who thought they were voting for Gore *actually* voted for Buchanan. This was the real tragedy of that election.

        Uniform standards for throwing out votes (and that is what the standard determined, the number of *legitimate* but badly indicated votes to throw out) would not have fixe
    • Yes we know, and as Canadians you are far superior to the rest of the world in everything else you do. A perfect example is the superior way that you point out how superior you are to every one else.

      In Canada we don't need elections because we all agree that Canada is superior, and anyone who believes otherwise must be a facist American.

      Sorry, for the rant, I'm married into a family of Canadians, actually ex Canadians, and they agree with me.

      $_ ~= s/Canadians/Canadiens/g if $province eq 'Quebec';

      You co

      • Dude!

        C:\>perl -e "$_ ~= s/Canadians/Canadiens/g if $province eq 'Quebec';"
        syntax error at -e line 1, near "$_ ~"
        Execution of -e aborted due to compilation errors.

        It's "=~", not "~=". Get your write-only code straight! ;-)

    • Corporate interests seem to rule these days... new fancy expensive voting machines mandated for every district means a lot of money to the selected few. They can outsource the coding to communist China and make even more! Oh, the irony...
  • Voter Secrecy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:48PM (#8517584)
    /puts flame shield on
    This seems to be, though the very idea may anger many on Slashdot, a situation where the application of technology is bad because we are trying to fix something that is not broken. Regardless of your personal party affiliation, what happened in Florida was at least mitigated by the availability of some kind of paper trail for the votes - once the electrons flow from the voting machine switch, there is no positive record that they ever existed. Also, it is important to remember the fact that people too stupid to manipulate a paper ballot probably will also have trouble with E-voting (reference recent Slashdot story "Fixing your parents PC"). /removes flame shield
    • Not every problem can be resolved by adding technology.
      -and-
      Not every situation is a "problem" in need of new technology.

      Paper voting seems to work just fine in most cases. If there is a suspected problem, then the specifics of that (those?) problem(s) need to be discussed.

      Does anyone know of any "problems" that are supposed to be addressed by electronic voting?
    • Re:Voter Secrecy (Score:5, Insightful)

      by John Jorsett (171560) on Wednesday March 10, 2004 @12:51AM (#8518028)
      Agreed. What really blew Florida up was lack of standards in doing the hand counts. In California, many counties used punch ballots without problems for many years. The trick is that the state has a standard (3 corners of the chad have to be detached) for how to hand-count a vote. Florida, not having that, was at the mercy of whatever standard the individual county officials decided to make up. Naturally, with an election teetering in the balance, the two parties pulled out every stop to influence this process, including pressuring the officials, sueing, screaming all over the press, marching into the buildings, etc.

      We'd have saved ourselves a lot of agony if we'd just had the states create uniform standards for recounts instead of thinking magic voting machines would fix our problems.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:51PM (#8517606)
    It seems pretty open & shut. They have no clue what the real results should be.

    Maybe they can call in some UN observers (or Haitian officials) to supervise the next round of elections.
  • by geekee (591277) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:52PM (#8517624)
    Once again a post appears which completely misleads /.ers. This time, despite the long post, the poster failed to mention that the reason for the vote discrepancies is that workers gave voters the wrong codes, and therefore, people were voting in the wrong precincts. Most likely, the 1st precinct on the list got vote from other precint voters, resulting in a larger than %100 turnout. Simple case of garbage in-garbageout. There was no machine cracking or even machine errors that anyone has mentioned.
    • by plopez (54068) on Wednesday March 10, 2004 @12:56AM (#8518074) Journal
      But, what about ease of use? Paper and pencil ballots are easy. It sounds like a poorly designed and documented system. Which, while not technically a machine error must be accounted for. If complex codes, sub-menus, small type etc. are in the way of accurrate voting, then the system STIILL is broken.

      Remember, it should be simple enough for a person with a 6th grade eduaction or disabilities or computer illiterate or a non-native English speaker to use. A tall order for any software.

      My $.02
      • I'll probably get flamed for this, but why?
        Part of the impetus for digital voting is to continually try to make the process as simple as possible for the idiots who can't figure anything out. What was the problem with the Florida elections? Very little was wrong with the ELECTION process and law, except it presumed that the people voting actually had a brain.
        Stop dumbing everything down. Why should someone with a 6th grade education GET a vote? Or a non-english speaker? If the person isn't minimally co
  • by beeplet (735701) <beeplet@gmail.com> on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:53PM (#8517630) Journal
    I think this story is kind of misleading. There was no error in the electronic voting machines, there was no programming error, no hacked results. As far as I can tell, it seems like the problems came entirely from the people running the polling booths, who hadn't recieved adquate training/instruction. This kind of screw-up could have happened regardless of the method being used to tally the votes! The REAL problem is not that the electronic voting machines are unreliable, it's that humans are, and without the paper trail that normal procedures generate, there's no way to go back and fix mistakes. If people want to implement electronic voting on a wider basis, I think traceability is a key issue. (Provided, of course, that voter anonymity is preserved, but this shouldn't be any more of an obstacle than it is with paper ballots.)
    • by quisph (746257) on Wednesday March 10, 2004 @12:28AM (#8517895)
      This kind of screw-up could have happened regardless of the method being used to tally the votes! The REAL problem is not that the electronic voting machines are unreliable, it's that humans are, and without the paper trail that normal procedures generate, there's no way to go back and fix mistakes.
      But the fact that there was no paper trail is a consequence of the fact that they used electronic voting machines. Any other method would have created a paper trail automatically.
      • But the fact that there was no paper trail is a consequence of the fact that they used electronic voting machines.

        Califoria finally figured out (too late for this election) that this is a problem with their new machines. In future elections (starting 2006, I think), the machine will print out a receipt that the voter can check. The poll will keep it for later recounts. Why they couldn't have required something so obvious to begin with is beyond me.

    • (Provided, of course, that voter anonymity is preserved, but this shouldn't be any more of an obstacle than it is with paper ballots.)

      Of course, the natural response to this is to simply USE PAPER BALLOTS. Any form of electronic record stored in RAM or on magnetic media can be tampered with. And any two CD-Rs look alike... It's a hell of a lot harder to swap two big boxes full of ballots than a single CD...

      The two major objections that are usually posted here are that paper ballots take too long to count, and that paper ballots are a real bitch to deal with when you're voting for lots of things at once (California, anyone?). There's nothing wronge with machine-readable paper ballots (like the ubiquitous Scantron) for speed. As for multiple issues, it'd be easy to issue multiple pieces of paper. Vote for governor on the red one, proposition X on the blue one, etc. Then sort by colour and count by hand (or machine).

      The only reason to implement wholly-electronic elections is to fix the results. Nothing else that is of any use to anyone can come from it.
    • Here is a nearly 100% reliable e-voting system.

      You enter the voting booth. You demonstrate to the camera/scanner your ID/face/fingerprints/unique code/etc. (all of the above) The system recognizes you. It then says on the screen: "You are John Doe from Main Str., 67-2-3". This is your photo. This is a photo of your house. This is a photo of your kids, whose names are. If any of this information is wrong, the chances are I fucked up the recognition. If you see any errors, please press this big red button."
  • Do-over! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pyrrhonist (701154) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:55PM (#8517648)
    To successfully challenge the outcome of an election, losing candidates would have to prove in court that the problem was so widespread it probably changed the outcome of the election, said Fred Woocher, a Santa Monica election law attorney.

    Why does this have to be up to the candidates? Clearly by the mere fact that incorrect ballots were being shown, the people were not properly given the ability to vote for the candidate of their choice. Their choice may have not even been on the ballot, since many people were shown ballots for other precincts. Shouldn't this automatically trigger a "do-over"?

    • by Detritus (11846)
      Elections cost real money. Why pay for a second election if it isn't going to change the results? It is also a needless inconvenience for the people and organizations that provide the polling places.
      • Why pay for a second election if it isn't going to change the results?

        Well, that's the question isn't it? How does anybody know right now that some people weren't prevented from voting for the candidate of their choice, because the wrong ballot was shown? I think that's cause enough to invalidate this whole election.

  • by cleetus (123553) on Tuesday March 09, 2004 @11:57PM (#8517663) Homepage
    for those who prefer not to RFTA

    "David Hart, chairman of Texas-based Hart InterCivic, which manufactured Orange County's voting system, said it would be impossible to identify which voters cast ballots in the wrong precincts because of steps the company had taken to ensure voter secrecy. For this reason, an exact account of miscast ballots is impossible."

    cleetus
    • David Hart, chairman of Texas-based Hart InterCivic, which manufactured Orange County's voting system

      Wow. Riceboys get their own votingmachine company now? Do they come with racingstripes and a spoiler?
  • lack of insecurity, (Score:4, Informative)

    by Wellmont (737226) on Wednesday March 10, 2004 @12:12AM (#8517784) Homepage
    I live in California, and have experienced this situation first hand. When i went to vote (luckily right down the street from my house) I was surprised to see how secure the system was.
    (besides seeing that it was manned by a bunch of old ladies who wouldn't know how to operate the machines themselves)
    The machines use no internet connection, in fact the number of cards, steps, and the size of the voting system makes it "almost" impossible to hack.
    Brief description for those of you who have not come into contact or heard of the system yet:
    You walk in and provide them with your name, they hand you a card with a smart chip (flash memory) and you walk over to the tablet-computer-like voting machines to cast your vote. At this point your name is on the flash memory, and when you insert the card you can begin the voting process. the only cord leading away from the unit was a power cord and I didn't pick up any WiFi signals with my ears.
    You continue your voting, and the selections you made on the screen are put onto the card when you finish. Then your card is ejected back into your sweaty little palms.
    you hand said unmarked card to the attendant and she puts it safely with the others. I've also heard the cards are kept for a manual tally back at the voting offices.
    What is so great about this you ask? Well considering that the machines are not biased and that the people who built or were contracted to build them did not tamper with them, there is very little chance for a misread vote, or a "purposefully changed" vote. On the other hand from the information I've gathered the system is also open to a more wide spread hack or foul play because of it's final form: mass data statistics. one file or even multiple files holding numbers...MUCH easier to change as opposed to 6 million ballots, but at the same time much harder unless you have the knowledge or skill set which is (I suppose) very steep, deep, and wide.
    Weighing all of the factors, I believe that the system is just about as secure as before, but it still needs a lot of work. (it could be ten times better, easily .
    • by plsuh (129598)
      The two BIG problems with this approach to security are:

      1) BAD: What happens when there's an ordinary, garden variety software bug that drops votes on the floor, or worse yet flips them from one candidate to another? No need to hack anything -- your votes are gone.

      2) WORSE: What happens if you have a corrupt programmer at the manufacturer who is introducing backdoored code? No need to hack the system at the polling place -- it's arrives at the door pre-hacked.

      --Paul
    • by DunbarTheInept (764) on Wednesday March 10, 2004 @02:52AM (#8518650) Homepage
      The insecurity I'm most worried about is the kind that comes from INSIDE the company that provided the machines. When voting, EVERYTHING about the process MUST be open to public scrutiny, and I mean EVERYTHING. Voting is too important to hide the mechanism behind NDAs and patents. If the software counting the votes is secret (and it is), as most corporate software is, then it's not a trustable vote. Companies wanting to keep their methods secret is perfectly acceptable when they are trying to make money off of a trade secret. It's NOT acceptable, however, when they are trying to make money by convincing the government that their system is a safe system that won't disenfranchise any citizenry.

      I want to KNOW that my vote is being counted dammit. I want confirmation, and I want an undisputable record that is NOT alterable by the software on the machine. Putting all the trust in one company is BAD, BAD, BAD. There is no other way to put it. There's no way to overstate the danger of allowing the country's vote to be handled by a single company that insists their methods of counting are a trade secret.

      If you want electronic voting, fine. But then I insist that we be allowed to see the code, and have a way to guarantee that the code you show me is the same as the code that's on the machine's. This isn't rocket science. It's really quite easy to do. Unfortunately none of the people involved in the decision making process for the adoptation of these machines is actually a computer scientist. The fact that all the complaints are coming FROM the computer science community, and not from any particular party affiliation, should be telling you something.

  • by Spanky Lovesalot (121135) on Wednesday March 10, 2004 @12:24AM (#8517870)
    Another problem I see here that no one has yet pointed out is with the voters themselves. If it was truly a problem that people were voting in the wrong districts/precincts, then that means they would have been voting for the wrong LIST of candidates.


    Were voters walking into the election so blindly that they didn't even notice THE WRONG PEOPLE on the ballot?!?! I know it's probably on the difference in something like "Sanitation Commisioner" or some crap, but come on! No wonder the school boards here in South Carolina are filled with people who have last names beginning with a letter before M. They're alphabetically the first people on the ballot!

  • I was a poll watcher last spring at a polling place for a local election, as part of an assignment for my Political Science class. For the most part, it was very boring, but, like a true geek, I passed the time by recording demographics for my own notes: approx age, gender, couples, singles, kids, who had problems, etc. I also watched the actual poll workers a great deal. In a district where thousands and thousands of potential voters live, turn-out was in the low hundreds. The vast, vast, vast majority
  • If you loose an entire precinct of voters, wouldn't that be a significant fraction of a local race? I know that through redistricting, the results are all guaranteed anyways, but for crying out loud!!!

    "From what we have seen so far, we do not believe any of these instances where people voted in precincts they shouldn't have voted in would have affected any of the races," said Steve Rodermund, Orange County's registrar of voters.

    I do not live in Orange County and did not get to use their new electronic vot

  • Problem? (Score:2, Funny)

    by zygote (134175)
    More people voted than 100% of those registered?
    Shocked! I am appalled.

    Sincerely,
    Chicago
  • Does this worry anyone else?

    Orange County election officials have traced the problem to poll workers who were responsible for giving each voter a four-digit code to enter into the voting machines.

    Does this mean that, as long as a voter knows the code for some other district, sie could vote on that district's ballot without actually residing in the district?

    This seems like a flaw in the technology itself. The old way, you'd have to assert your name and address to a human poll worker, who then gave y

  • I loved the part (Score:3, Insightful)

    by netwiz (33291) on Wednesday March 10, 2004 @01:01AM (#8518102) Homepage
    where they say that recounts aren't needed due to the wide margins of victory. Did these braniacs ever consider that maybe the reason for the wide margins IS THAT MORE PEOPLE VOTED THAN REGISTERED.

    Poll worker incompetence aside, the only real alternative to this is to start over. I don't care what they think the margin of error is, due to the number of blatantly screwed up ballots, as soon as there's ANY QUESTION, you THROW THE VOTE OUT AND START OVER. This may not be economically feasable; I'm unfamiliar with the frequency of these kinds of problems.

    If you've caught this many misvotes that actually hit the system, how many did you miss?
    • Did these braniacs ever consider that maybe the reason for the wide margins IS THAT MORE PEOPLE VOTED THAN REGISTERED.

      If the margin of victory is larger than your margin of error, recounts are unnecessary. If you take the statistically improbable stance that all of mistakes favored the winner, and, after correcting for the error, the winner is still the winner, the error is insignificant.

      Which is an interesting point that was never really dealt with in 2000 in Florida. The margin of victory in Florida

  • OC Resident (Score:3, Insightful)

    by eepok (545733) on Wednesday March 10, 2004 @01:05AM (#8518118) Homepage
    Ya, I go to UCI here in Orange County and I know that only 3 (myself, my gf, and my roomie) of the 20 people I know who even care to register, voted. My friends and I saw some scandalous result like this coming a mile away what with other "success" like this having occured in tests and other area around the nation. How could we not see this coming? Just think about it: 1)Needless, expensive upgrade to a faulty, lesser secure technology 2)OLD poll-workers who still believe computers are the internet teaching younger and older voters alike how to use he polls if the voters are to lazy to watch the video [ocvote.org]. 3)The majority of active voters are people of the same demographic. 4)The interface is user-UNfriendly. Watch the video. Access codes, wheels instead of arrows, and a physical end-all-and-submit-ballot-whether-or-not-your-actu ally-done button. It was either doomed from the beginning or planned to fail.
  • Reality Check Kids.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by somepunk (720296) on Wednesday March 10, 2004 @01:13AM (#8518159) Homepage
    So the election officials panic at the problems in 2000 and run out and the newest, slickest gadgets they can find. Somebody should give them some valium, have them count to ten, and show them how NASA does procurement.

    You don't use untested technology for something this important. The perception is that all the old voting systems are inadaquate. What a load of bunk. In the Twin Cities, we use optical scanners, which are fast, easy to use, and hard to screw up. The scanning machine can even complain instantly if you do something silly like vote for two condidates in the same race. I'll stop rambling now.
  • Sounds to me like they've solved that old problem about people who won't vote... :^)
  • So this isn't about Orange County [imdb.com]? I did the "read a few words to get the gist of the article" and got all excited that J.B. made it onto /.
  • Why where codes given out on a per veter basis ? Why were the machines not set up according to location to begin with ? IE when the systems are set up the proper disctric code is entered and used the entire time that machine is at that location ?????

    Even if the poll workers are giving out the right codes this now allows fat finger voters to enter the wrong district code.

    ACK !!!!!!!

    Repeat after me... NEVER TRUST THE USER.

    In this case you must trust whoever sets up the machine so HAVE THEM ENTER THE DISTR
    • 1) I will use the preview button.
      2) I will use the preview button.
      3) I will use the preview button.
      .
      .
      .
      .
      1,000,000) I will use the preview button.
  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Wednesday March 10, 2004 @04:39AM (#8519043) Homepage
    Can someone please explain to an ignorant Brit:

    • After signing in, each voter received a ticket bearing his or her precinct number and party affiliation from a poll worker.

    What is this about party affiliation? Is that talking about political parties? The way that I read that is that the ticket issued by the worker somehow contains information about the political party that the voter is (presumably) disposed to vote for. If that is true then it is anything but a secret ballot.

    I suspect (and hope) that I have misunderstood something here -- can someone please explain.

  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Wednesday March 10, 2004 @10:26AM (#8520635) Homepage
    Perfect example of why printed receipts are needed.

    Here we have an election where the results were obviously wrong, yet no recount is possible.

    The fact that the fraud is not alleged and that election was not close enough for the error to matter is irrelevant. What happens when the election is close?

    There has to be a way to check the results.

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