Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Privacy Government United States Politics Technology

Secrecy of Voting Machines Ballots At Risk 256

Posted by Zonk
from the just-another-layer-to-the-cake dept.
JimBobJoe writes "On Monday, Cnet published the findings I made as an Ohio poll worker regarding a major oversight in my state's election's system: Using a combination of public records, plus the voting machine paper trails, you can figure out how people voted. Though most agree that voting machine paper trails are a necessity, they can cause privacy problems which aren't easily mitigated. 'It's an especially pointed concern in Ohio, a traditional swing state in presidential elections that awarded George Bush a narrow victory over John Kerry three years ago. Ohio law permits anyone to walk into a county election office and obtain two crucial documents: a list of voters in the order they voted, and a time-stamped list of the actual votes. "We simply take the two pieces of paper together, merge them, and then we have which voter voted and in which way," said James Moyer, a longtime privacy activist and poll worker who lives in Columbus, Ohio.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Secrecy of Voting Machines Ballots At Risk

Comments Filter:
  • Hah (Score:5, Funny)

    by tttonyyy (726776) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @07:21AM (#20316325) Homepage Journal
    That's why I'm changing my name by deed poll to a mysql injection attack string.

    Try and combine my vote and a date together in a database you b*****rds! ;)
  • by Advocadus Diaboli (323784) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @07:24AM (#20316341)
    Just print out a catalog of all the voters that need to vote in that election office. If someone votes, then you mark him as "was voting already" but not recording the time of his vote. At the end of the day you have a list of people that voted and a list of votes, but you can't do any correlation on it.

    It looks like they need to save paper because election machines are so expensive and now they just record voters data in the order they appear in the voting office.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by sumdumass (711423)
      Most poll in ohio that I have been into have at least 4 machines going with one or two people at the machines by the time I get to one. And I vote at one of the slower districts. I generally finish voting before others already there for some reason. It could be because I already know who and what I am voting for when I get there or it might be that I handle the technology better. But that isn't important because I'm not the only one like that.

      I'm thinking the best you can do with a system like this is point
      • by ThosLives (686517) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @07:54AM (#20316543) Journal

        This was my thought as well; I suppose it depends on how the system determines "order in which you vote". I've never personally used anything but a paper ballot that is read by a scanner (yay for "backwards" states), but the way it works everywhere I've been is:

        1. You come in, they simply highlight your name in the Big Book of Names and give you a ballot. I don't even think they write down the ballot number next to your name in the book.
        2. You go fill out the ballot and stick it in the machine.

        That's it. No timestamps, nothing.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jridley (9305)
          IMHO optical mark/sense is currently the best voting technology around. When coupled with a machine to assist disabled people mark theirs, I don't think it can easily be improved upon. It's been working for many years and doesn't have any of the problems of hanging chad or unclear voting that have plagued punch cards and the like in past years.

          What you describe is what happens here in my area of Michigan as well.
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Rich0 (548339)
            I'd go one further and have the ballots marked by machines in ALL cases.

            Otherwise what happens if somebody half-fills an oval, or fills in one heavily and one lightly? The validation machine might pass the ballot, and upon later recounts there could be issues.

            I'd have the paper audit trail be computer-generated, so that all ballots are valid. Then have the paper ballot be inspected by the voter, and put into a ballot box for counting. Voters wouldn't write on the paper (ideally I'd have the ballots coate
    • by SLi (132609)
      That's security by obscurity, since obviously it's possible to observe who goes in in what order.

      However removing the timestamps from the votes is a perfect way to solve this. That happens with traditional paper ballots.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by tist (1086039)
      The paper trail is a roll of paper that is printed out of EACH voting machine. By its very nature it is a serial recording of votes - even without timestamps. But, there is aways more that one machine in a polling place and the order people sign the "big book" isn't actually recorded. There would not be any way to know who placed what ballot with the data collected even if the "big book" had a timestamp too.

      The whole paper trail issue is mitigated by using a paper ballot that is marked with a pencil in the
      • Umm...in Dinwiddie County, Virginia, the order you sign the "Big Book" is in fact recorded. I was 47th at my polling place for the last election, I know because when I showed my voter card the poll worker crossed the next number off a sequential list, announced that number to the man sitting next to him, who wrote it down next to my name in the big book just before I signed it in order to receive my ballot (well, my electronic card thing that let me use the machine, at any rate) I don't know specifically
    • by zenyu (248067)
      Just print out a catalog of all the voters that need to vote in that election office. If someone votes, then you mark him as "was voting already" but not recording the time of his vote. At the end of the day you have a list of people that voted and a list of votes, but you can't do any correlation on it.

      And this is what most voting districts in the U.S. do. It seems that the people who put together the voting system were trying to screw up. First, the ballots printed out by the machine should not be timest
  • Why timestamps (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bananenrepublik (49759) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @07:27AM (#20316359)
    Can somebody explain to me why votes need to be timestamped? The only purpose I can think of is that this allows cross-correlation with the actual votes. You don't even need the info on the order in which people voted, as you could just stand in front of the election place with a watch. This sounds like a definite failure at maintaining basic democratic principles.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by onion2k (203094)
      Presumably to ensure 50,000 votes aren't added in the space of 0.001 seconds. Coz that'd look a little suspect.
      • Re:Why timestamps (Score:4, Insightful)

        by pla (258480) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @07:36AM (#20316417) Journal
        Presumably to ensure 50,000 votes aren't added in the space of 0.001 seconds. Coz that'd look a little suspect.

        Or, say, negative votes. Or more people voting than exist in the district. Coz that'd look a little suspect too. ;)

      • So the bad guys have to inster then on an 8 hour interval?

        I fell we are dealing with the wrong problem here...

    • For that matter why should anyone have access to the records of who voted at all?

      IMO there is no difference in the privacy of who you voted for, and the privacy of if you even voted. It is your right to vote or not to vote. I mean - imagine a week after the election, your local busybody comes by your house and asks why you didn't vote. WTF? Whose business is that?

      Obviously someone could just watch for you at your local polling station, but they would have to know who you were in advance for that to work.

      The
      • If they destroyed all that info, when a republican beats a democrat, all you will hear is how voter fraud and all happened. This shows there wasn't any and all that jazz. BTW, it has been this way in Ohio for a while now.

        It is a no win situation and the answer is probably going to be not to change anything.
        • by trewornan (608722)
          I'd have thought it would be a good idea for each voter to be able to check their vote was correct but nobody elses.

          You could take the name and DOB of the voter, plus a password entered at the time and do an md5 hash then publish the hashes on the web alongside the candidate voted for (in the clear). Anybody wanting to check would simply have to hash their name, DOB and password and could then look up the hash in the list and check the vote was recorded correctly.

          Because the candidate voted for is in the cl
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Xtifr (1323)
            If you can verify that your vote was recorded correctly, then you can verify it to someone. Someone who can then make good on his promise to kill your kid if it turns out that you didn't vote the way he demanded--a demand he never would have bothered to make if he had no hope of verifying how you voted.

            There may be ways around the problem, but none of them involve publishing the results on the web in any form.
      • Then that leaves everything in the hands of a potentially corrupt elections board. So a year down the road when investigators suspect shady business they have no idea of knowing how many of the district's voters were registered at the grave yard vs. how many were turned away from the poll, or couldn't even make it to the poll. Corruption adores keeping secrets, and destroying voting records immediately after the fact is a perfect way of keeping secrets. Storing voting records will help keep the system tr
      • by JimBobJoe (2758) <(swiftheart) (at) (gmail.com)> on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @09:18AM (#20317255)
        For that matter why should anyone have access to the records of who voted at all?

        The reason that data is public is because it's useful for politicians and their campaigns. For instance, if only 20% of registered voters show up to vote for the odd-year city council races, then the data of which 20% show up is invaluable. The city council candidates only need to send out campaign materials to those voters who reliably vote at those elections and can ignore people who only show up for the presidential elections.

        Another example is that the poll workers (at least here in Ohio) maintain several lists of voters who voted during the day (it's a slight pain in the ass actually because someone has to be assigned to the boring job of checking off on two or three lists who came in to vote.)

        Those lists are posted periodically during the day...I want to say the first one is posted at 11am.

        So at 11am, a list of all the registered voters in the precinct is posted, with check marks next to the names of the voters who voted.

        During the presidential election, people working for the campaigns come down and look at the lists. If they know that John Smith is a registered Republican voter (party registration is another public record) and they see he hasn't voted by 11am, they might give him a call to make sure he comes by. If he hasn't voted by 4pm (which I believe is the posting of the last list) then they might send someone over to his house because they know he is an older gentlemen who has voted consistently Republican for decades now and his vote will be invaluable.

        I find those voter lists postings a terrible pain, particularly because they're an obligation of the poll workers but their purpose is to help the candidates themselves, not the integrity of the voting process itself.
    • At least in my district, no you can't. If you stand anywhere near where you can see voters actually voting and you aren't in the middle of casting a vote yourself you will be quickly ushered away, so I don't see someone correlating with a spiral notebook and a pocket watch. It just isn't going to be allowed.
    • by Phisbut (761268)

      Can somebody explain to me why votes need to be timestamped?

      Can somebody explain to me why votes need to be done with a machine? What the hell is wrong with a simple piece of paper where you list the candidates, and the voter checks the box next to the candidates he votes for, and he puts the piece of paper in an urn. Total anonymity (unless you begin taking fingerprints on the ballots), almost immune to fraud (you physically count the ballots, and if you want a recount, you physically recount them, with

  • Trivial solution (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pla (258480) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @07:33AM (#20316395) Journal
    Though most agree that voting machine paper trails are a necessity, they can cause privacy problems which aren't easily mitigated.

    Umm... Just don't store the list of who voted in any particular order.

    We don't need to record voters for the purpose of matching them against their votes, we only need it to stop people from voting more than once.

    I'd even go further - Mail every registered voter a bearer-coupon redeemable for one vote, then let them use those in total anonmity. That not only avoids the problem of guaranteeing anonymity, it solves a few other problems as well (for example, you could grant people the right to a proxy vote on your behalf simply by giving them your coupon).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by schporto (20516)
      UHhh. That's a bad idea.
      Give me your vote or I'll brain ya.
    • by CokeBear (16811) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @07:37AM (#20316425) Journal
      You could also sell your coupon to whichever candidate was willing to pay you more for it...
      Or your boss could demand your coupon as a condition of keeping your job...
      Or your union leader could hint that it was in your best interests to turn over your coupon to the shop steward...

      I don't think you've thought your plan all the way through.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by pla (258480)
        You could also sell your coupon to whichever candidate was willing to pay you more for it... Or your boss could demand your coupon as a condition of keeping your job... Or your union leader could hint that it was in your best interests to turn over your coupon to the shop steward...

        Those can (and do) already happen. And we have laws against them.

        Giving people a coupon to vote doesn't change the threat of people trying to "influence" you to vote their way. It just changes the dynamics of enforcement
        • by sumdumass (711423)
          What if I found a couple of them on the floor and used them the way I wanted? One person 12 votes?

          There is no way to enforce that you are going to vote the way I tell you to vote with my ticket. so there is this thing called an absentee ballot. If your really concerned about me not being able to vote, get me one and I will use it. It is the same concept, you get a ticket (in this case a ballot) I fill it out and send it in.
          • by mi (197448)

            What if I found a couple of them on the floor and used them the way I wanted?

            What if you find a $20 bill? Would you rather money lose their anonymity to become recoverable?

            One person 12 votes?

            You did not earn the found money either. So be it — it may be lesser evil then the manipulations and/or intimidation, that the proposed method will prevent.

            In fact, I'm quite certain, it is a lesser evil, because it can not be exploited systematically — just as nobody makes a living looking for droppe

            • by sumdumass (711423)
              Well, when I find a $20 laying on the floor, I try to find the owner of it. That's not to say that I haven't kept it when I couldn't find out who it belongs to. But I'm not everyone.

              I don't think a coupon system would be any better. Just because you cannot think of a way to exploit it right now doesn't mean on won't come around. And it probably wouldn't be one person changing a vote. Usually we have less then half of the registered voters actually show up to the polls. So if I can get half of their coupons
              • by mi (197448)

                Well, when I find a $20 laying on the floor, I try to find the owner of it.

                And you could do exactly the same with the found coupon.

                Just because you cannot think of a way to exploit it right now doesn't mean on won't come around.

                Well, I was just shutting down your exploit, not claiming, there can't be others :)

                So if I can get half of their coupons and distribute that half to a group of people

                "If". So far the only examined way to get them is by finding the lost ones on the streets. This does not happen

        • Giving people a coupon to vote doesn't change the threat of people trying to "influence" you to vote their way. It just changes the dynamics of enforcement a bit.

          <groan> No. People can try to influence the way I vote, and I can tell them I'm voting the way they want me to, I can even take their money, but then I walk into the booth and still vote the way I want. Your ticket idea opens the door to a way to verify which way I voted (since they can just demand to vote for me). Anytime you allow third pa
          • by pla (258480)

            I can tell them I'm voting the way they want me to, I can even take their money, but then I walk into the booth and still vote the way I want.

            So... We need anonymity so we can lie? Of all the reasons there are to support privacy and anonymity, that sounds like the worst one I think I've ever heard.

            Some people need to grow a spine and stand up for themselves. If your boss threatens you if you don't vote a particular way, he has broken the law. Contact the relevant authorities and help them in a sting t

        • by Phisbut (761268)

          Those can (and do) already happen. And we have laws against them. Giving people a coupon to vote doesn't change the threat of people trying to "influence" you to vote their way. It just changes the dynamics of enforcement a bit.

          Difference is, you can "influence" me all you like, I'll vote for whoever I want to vote, and I'll tell you I voted for your candidate, you have no choice but to believe me (unless of course your candidate ends up with zero votes). Now, if you can have a proof that I lied to you,

      • You could also sell your coupon to whichever candidate was willing to pay you more for it...
        Or your boss could demand your coupon as a condition of keeping your job...
        Or your union leader could hint that it was in your best interests to turn over your coupon to the shop steward...

        Yes, but being forced to choose one -- and there's no reason we would have to if we just went back to pencil and paper -- electronic voting is a greater threat to democracy than vote intimidation.

        In fact, this situation in Ohio

    • What were you thinking? Are you aware of the immense potential for abuse your "solution" brings? What's to stop people from STEALING votes ? Corporations BUYING votes? The Government convienently "forgetting" to mail the coupons to primarily hostile (read : Not affiliated with the party in power) districts?

      A citizenentire life. I wish people would take it more seriously and realize that they do not havwe the right to an anonymous vote and that post-facto verification of te votes impacts them in no way what
      • and in the process mangled my second paragraph's introductory sentence. It sohuld read "Voting is a citizen's primary civic duty and the only such duty he is likely to need to perform in his entire life".
      • by Goaway (82658)
        What's to stop people from STEALING votes ?

        The fact that is is made out to me, personally, and I have to identify myself before I vote?

        I'm not suggesting this as a hypothetical, this is actually how I vote.
  • Each paper has a unique number printed on it. Should they wish to, officials can trace a vote back to the voter. In theory they're destroyed after a year, but who knows.

     
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TinheadNed (142620)
      It's the interesting thing about paper voting in the UK currently. It's not perfectly secure, but because it's paper, it's actually very difficult to manipulate a vote (for example) without putting in a lot of very boring effort to do so. It's also one of the problems with electronic voting, in that vote manipulation, if possible, can be scaled much more easily.
    • by Harold Halloway (1047486) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @07:49AM (#20316501)
      In the 1980s (and probably subsequently) it was normal practice for Special Branch to inspect the ballot papers of those who voted for parties which were considered potentially subversive (Communists, BNP, National Front.) They could then match those voting papers to the voters (by dint of the fact that the voter's name was written on a list next to the voting paper number) and keep a handy database of undesirables.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      No. Your voters card has a unique I.D on it. The ballot paper has a unique I.D on it. The two are in no way correlated. When you show your voters card to the people at the voting station, they will check your name against their list and cross you off. Then they will tear out a ballot paper (Or two, or three, if you have multiple elections) and hand them too you. At no point do they record which ballot paper(s) they gave to you, and at no point do they record any additional information on the ballot paper.
    • by Phisbut (761268)

      Each paper has a unique number printed on it. Should they wish to, officials can trace a vote back to the voter. In theory they're destroyed after a year, but who knows.

      Dunno about the UK system, but in Canada, each paper also has a unique number printed on it. However, while there is a list of "who voted", the list does not mention "who voted when", or in what order people voted. Therefore, the unique number printed on the paper cannot be traced to a single voter.

  • Other states (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mattb112885 (1122739)
    I am not quite as worried about someone knowing how I voted as I am about someone ''changing''/''deleting'' how I voted. I'd say rather than worry about this people should focus more on improving the security of the machines for the upcoming presidential election.
    • Re:Other states (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sumdumass (711423) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @08:08AM (#20316631) Journal
      Several time in the past, how you voted could have meant your job and sometimes your life. History has this thing where it tends to repeat itself.

      Imagine somethings like this that could happen if people knew how you voted.

      Lets say your landlord found that you voted for the property tax increase to fund the schools. So he raises your rent and only the rent of people who voted for it. (or raises your rent 6 months in advance of everyone else's because of it)

      What about you boss finding out that you voted from someone who was going to raise taxes on them and increase regulation in the field your job covers. So now you are the first to be let go when business slows down because of it.

      How about a problem with crime in your neighborhood and nothing is getting done about it because no one in your neighborhood voted for the current mayor. But other neighborhoods seem to have extra patrols and so on.

      How about when you get pulled over for something minor like a tail light being out or something. The deputy find you voted for the current sheriff or mayor or whatever and gives you a warning but when he finds out you didn't vote for his guy gives you an $90 ticket.

      If some people who have a little bit of power over you knew who you voted for or against, they could use that for other then honorable reasons.
  • Since before computers we used paper ballots, a paper trail.

    Now we introduce computers and all of the sudden we have paper trails invading privacy.

    Computers themselves have been proven hackable.

    OK, so lets remove the computers.

    Certainly by getting accurate votes and bringing the real winner forward, we won't likely lose the one hell of a lot more by the acts of the wrong person psuedo-elected.
    • by Secrity (742221)
      With the previous paper balloting systems that I have used (including the type that can have 'hanging chads'), there was no correlation between a paper ballot and a particular voter. There was a record of who voted and there was a box of anonymous paper ballots.
    • The problem is not the computers, it's the humans. The real solution is to get rid of all these goddamned pathetic humans and their feeble, greedy, corrupt brains. Cyborgs Unite!!
  • Old Problem (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @07:50AM (#20316507)
    The risks of combining two pieces of information go back a long way.
    A bishop was celebrating a major aniversary with society friends. He was at one end of the table and was asked what was the first sin he ever had confessed to him, to which he replied "Adultery". A lady at the other end of the table said "I was the first person ever to confess to him".
    The people in the middle of the table, who could hear both conversations, put the two snippets of information together ...
  • I don't think so. (Score:5, Informative)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @07:52AM (#20316527) Journal
    At least in MN, you're not registered in the order you vote - you're registered in the order you ARRIVE. Then you stand in line, and take the next available booth.

    Then, you stand at the booth, mull over your unknown, least-hated, or no-competition candidates. It's actually quite rare that people walk away from the voting booths in the exact same order that they went into them.

    So yeah, you can use the timestamps + registration to determine who voted how....+/- maybe a half dozen voters, which makes a great deal of difference.

    Now, if the voting station turnout is slow when you voted? Then yeah, you are probably identifiable. But this isn't nearly the story it's made out to be, and would be less of a story if more people voted.
    • by alexhs (877055)
      How do that registration thing work, and what's the use ?

      In France, you're signing a register (sorted alphabetically) when you vote, so at the end of the day there is no way to know in what order people came or voted.
      • by argStyopa (232550)
        The polling place has a list of registered voters in that district. As you vote, your name is checked off so you cannot vote twice.
    • by Dekortage (697532)

      Same in New York. I live in a fairly rural community, and there are three voting booths at the voting station (the local firehouse). There's one check-in line when you enter, then you just line up at whatever booth you want to use. I think it would be very unlikely for someone to correlate the sign-in sequence with the voting sequences.

    • Re:I don't think so. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by JimBobJoe (2758) <(swiftheart) (at) (gmail.com)> on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @09:04AM (#20317135)
      Then, you stand at the booth, mull over your unknown, least-hated, or no-competition candidates. It's actually quite rare that people walk away from the voting booths in the exact same order that they went into them.

      This is exactly what's happening in Ohio but I contend the accuracy is still high. Remember, the "opening" time stamp is printed when the poll worker opens the machine for the next voting session. It so happens that the ES&S machines have a cartridge that the poll worker inserts in the front of the machine which makes it ready for voting so typically that opening time stamp is printed before the voter even stands at the machine.

      Once that happens, it doesn't matter how long the voter takes to mull over their choices, thanks to the closing time stamp, which is printed once the voter presses the "vote" button. (If there were only an opening time stamp, then yes, the time it takes for the voter to vote would muck up the accuracy.)

      If voter #10 took half an hour to vote then the timestamps will indicate that and you know to look for the next voters on the other machines which weren't monopolized by the slow voter.
    • by bfields (66644)
      The same is true in my state. But in elections that aren't big national elections (like city council) it's rare for there to be a line. People should pay more attention to local politics....
  • by itsdapead (734413) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @08:12AM (#20316649)
    The nice thing about putting an "X" on a bit of paper and dropping it in a box is that, whatever inaccuracies *may* be possible, you can trust the box to anonymize your vote without changing it, and most scams can be avoided by the scrutiny of copious cross-party observers without recourse to an "expert witness".

    Inability of laypersons to scrutinize computer voting -> demand for audit trail -> loss of privacy.

    You can filddle around with the details, but ultimately its pretty inescapable. People won't accept a computerized black box - which is a bit of a bummer when a black box is exactly what you're trying to replicate.

    You can't suddenly parachute technology into a system without completely re-evaluating the whole system.

    Of course, here in the UK we just have to put one X in one of half-a-dozen boxes - I appreciate that, in the US, the zeroth amendment ("if some is good, more is better") applies to democracy, and if you're also electing the school board, agonizing over who to choose as second assistant dog-catcher and whether to support propositions 4096-8192 inclusive then you may need a voting machine...

    (Here, though, the fun is over postal - and maybe internet - voting, which some politicos seem to think will encourage people to vote but - surprise surprise - has proven vulnerable to ballot stuffing...)

  • Is there nothing in the Constitution or Federal law which mandates electoral privacy, which could be used to declare publication of one or other of the lists illegal (list of voters in order; list of timestamped votes)?
  • i got another method.

    go out into the parking lot and read the bumper stickers.
  • First, there was the paper ballot. Make your mark and shove it in the box. Labor intensive, but it worked. It still works in many countries, such as Canada. Then came the mechanical card punch. It removed some of the work, but still killed a whole lotta trees. It mostly worked. Then came the electronic voting machine. For the first time since the dawn of democracy the trees could breathe easy! Unfortunately, without all the dead trees nobody trusted these marvels of modern "security". So, they add
    • by will_die (586523)
      The reason for all the orders in the past few years was because the people in Florida had problems with mechanical machines which caused laws to be passed telling the states to get rid of them if they wanted funding.
      The problem with paper ballots is they are terrible for long ballots common in the US, and they never really worked. Paper ballots are prone to extra marks, wrong marks, etc. It was just that this was always accepted and it was known that a percentage of votes would be tossed because they cou
  • by DeanFox (729620) * <spam DOT myname AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @08:44AM (#20316927)

    The privacy issue he's discussing could possibly be limited only to Ohio. I've voted in Ohio and they're checking ID and manually writing down on a sheet of paper who votes in the order they walk in the door. The machine spits out vote results in the same order. Duh.

    This "problem" has nothing to do with a "machine paper trail". It's not even related. I hope this argument isn't used to stall the progress we're making in fixing the vote system.

    In Georgia where I'm at now a list of voters, in the order they vote, doesn't exist. In my county they check your ID then line through your name on a print-out. Who voted in what order cannot be determined. A machine paper trail wouldn't change that.

    This is an Ohio problem not a voting machine paper trail problem.

    -[d]-
    • by JimBobJoe (2758)
      This is an Ohio problem not a voting machine paper trail problem.

      This is partially correct. It's most severe in Ohio because we're numbering the voters, but, hypothetically, an election day observer could just keep track of which voter voted on which machine, and then examine the paper trails at the end of the election and do the comparison with his notes. That could be a problem in any state with voting machines which have continuous roll paper trails and doesn't require the number of voters in order or t
    • by dcollins (135727)
      Excellent post! I totally agree, it's the way I've voted throughout the Northeast -- New York, Massachusetts, and Maine are all like that (line through name on a list, no timestamp).
  • I call shenanigans (Score:4, Insightful)

    by datapharmer (1099455) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @09:08AM (#20317179) Homepage
    Just because you have two timestamped lists doesn't mean you can just merge the two! For example, if voter A arrives at 5:15 and voter B arrives at 5:17, but voter B knows all about voting and blows through the ballot in 1 minute while voter A has never voted before and takes 4 minutes to carefully read everything over then merging the order of voters with the order of actual vote tallies would mix up the results of Voter A and Voter B. Not trying to be offensive, but anyone trying to use this information to determine voting habits is a complete moron.
  • We just ran a story here a few weeks ago about PunchScan, whose method solves that problem, and more. If you recall, they won a contest for the best Open Source Voting Systems Competition.

    Links: Recent headline about winning the competition [slashdot.org] PunchScan's website [punchscan.org] original mention on /. [slashdot.org]
  • ...that paper ballots are a disaster too? Remember Florida?
    It's a system where people often have to hand count millions of votes, including sometimes making judgment calls on what the actual votes were. So many things are done by hand that there is tons of potential for mistakes and fraud.
    A technical solution to voting would be vastly superior to paper systems...if only people knew how to build the systems correctly...
  • what is wrong with the system used in the UK?

    you walk in, give your name and address (or polling card, if you remember to bring it), you name is crossed off the list of voters for that ward/constituency/region, you get handed your ballot paper(s), walk into a booth - and *using a pen* make an 'X' on the candidate who you want.

    the votes are counted by hand (normally it is council workers, bank tellers and post office workers who do the count as they are fast and accurate) - the candidates are allowed to watc
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cdrguru (88047)
      Three reasons why an automated system is needed in the US:
      1. Handicapped people. People incapable of seeing, walking, holding a pen, etc. Yes, they can have helpers which remove whatever shred of dignity they have left but in some areas there are shortages of these "helpers". Then, this being the US, the handicapped people get to sue the county and state for both discrimination and their loss of dignity.
      2. Rapid results are a huge problem. You point this out yourself. Either official results are released qu
  • by Tsu Dho Nimh (663417) <`abacaxi' `at' `hotmail.com'> on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @10:44AM (#20318275)

    "Once the two documents are merged, it's easy enough to say that the first voter who signed in is very likely going to be responsible for the first vote cast, and so on."

    The authors of TFA have never seen people take longer to vote than others? You know, the ones who are standing in their booth when you walk in and still standing there reading the names on the first page, when you leave? Or the person who comes in with small children and spends half an hour juggling them as she marks the ballot. And then there's the small crowd of folk who have signed in, standing with ballots in hands, waiting for a booth to come free, and the ones who have time to spare let the ones in a hurry go ahead of them.

    It's not a FIFO buffer in this precinct.

  • by Medievalist (16032) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @10:52AM (#20318363)
    There are good reasons to have timestamps for actual votes cast made public.

    But I'm not aware of any reason that the list of people who voted has to be delivered to the public in voting order.

    So, sort the damn list alphabetically before handing it out. There are already going to be security measures around pulling the data, just add a simple sort to those procedures. In fact, I bet the staff who do this just "click on a button" so you can script it in without even changing any existing procedure or depending on humans to care about their jobs. Done, next problem please.

    I hereby transfer all my rights to this business process to the public domain!

"Don't talk to me about disclaimers! I invented disclaimers!" -- The Censored Hacker

Working...