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ACLU of Ohio Sues To Block Paper Ballots 243

Posted by kdawson
from the something-you-don't-see-every-day dept.
Apu writes in to inform us that the ACLU is trying to block an Ohio county from moving from touchscreen voting machines back to paper ballots. While it may seem like Cuyahoga County — which includes Cleveland — is moving in a good direction from the perspective of ballot security, the system chosen tabulates all votes at a central location. This means that voters don't get notified if their ballot contains errors, and thus they have no chance to correct it. The ACLU of Ohio is asking a federal judge for an injunction against any election in Cuyahoga County it they move to the new system.
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ACLU of Ohio Sues To Block Paper Ballots

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  • by benzapp (464105) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @05:31PM (#22227908)
    If someone cannot take the time to devote a minimum amount of effort to fill out a ballot properly, perhaps they should not vote at all.

    A frivolous lawsuit.

    Disenfranchising the minuscule number of people who cannot fill out a paper ballot pails in comparison with the threat posed by computerized voting systems. The ACLU has their priorities all wrong.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bytta (904762)
      Of course voting is serious. But traceability is a big part of a fair election.

      Why American voters put up with a system that does not give them the chance of a recount (or even confirming that the terminal cast your vote correctly), is beyond me...

      • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @06:11PM (#22228450) Homepage
        Is it really too hard to imagine what it's like not to care about things like voting? It has long been observed that the people of the US regard themselves as powerless to change anything at all. Commonly spoken expressions such as "you can't fight city hall" have dated back more than four decades and probably more. The fact that the US civil war and the American Revolution war of the 18th century happened shows that many things have changed but not the least of which is where the center of power actually lies.

        We just don't have the correct amount of oppression or corruption from our government yet. We're actually quite a long way from that point at the moment. But one sign of that tipping point approaching is when hundreds are made to suffer when a few act. That is to point out that when the Revolutionary war happened, there really weren't that many people acting in revolt. But when they did, the oppressive and corrupt government was to come down on everyone which ACTUALLY made the war start. There were plenty of people loyal to England and the British Empire. There were lots more who were indifferent and only cared about their daily lives. But that all changed when these indifferent people became victims of war, then they had to fight or die.

        So you see, we're rather far away from that point. To make revolution even more unlikely, our educational system churns out products good enough to be workers, but not quite good enough to think for themselves, and there is certainly no real emphasis on history because if there were any, even the 'workers' would be able to realize there are some pretty big problems going on.
        • by illegalcortex (1007791) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @07:04PM (#22229060)
          While I agree with most of your posts, I have to question the education aspect. First off, I think if you look at the educational system in place pre-revolution, you have to admit it's a bit lacking. Especially for the "workers" you talked about. I think it's much more likely today that some son of a working class family will get an education that allows them to think on the level of the revolutionary thinkers. I think in revolutionary times, the lack of education more likely allowed the "thinkers" to be able to control and direct the population towards rebellion. Second, it was the wealthy that actually got any kind of good education in revolutionary times. The wealthy can still get such an education. Things haven't really changed that much in those terms.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Umm...

            I think you need to practice some (self-)education yourself.

            Go back and investigate literacy rates in the New England colonies circa 1750. You'll very likely be surprised. Hint - it was very likely the highest anywhere in the world at that time.

            Next, go and grab a handful of the essays and debates of the time. It shouldn't be difficult. People were debating the merits of rebellion in person and in print all over the place back then. Once you have a good number of these treatises, essays and debat
        • by rpillala (583965)

          Except that the story of the American revolution is taught throughout the k-12 years. Often I find that the real lessons of history go over kids' heads because of an emphasis on dates, names, places, facts. Content knowledge that is necessary but not sufficient. Kids' knowledge and understanding of historical events doesn't equip them to look around and see when similar events and situations are coming to pass. Pattern recognition is generally regarded as a math skill, and in math classes we mostly use

          • by erroneus (253617)
            I often wish I had chosen the more noble path of the educator, but I felt then as I feel today that my ideas and potential practices would not be well received by administration. And yes, the bare emphasis on competence is exactly what is wrong with what's going on in education today.

            And as far as history goes, we're missing out on the best available information in understanding human behavior and reducing human tragedy both now and in the future. Instead, we continue to hold ourselves as 'mysterious' and
        • by TubeSteak (669689)

          It has long been observed that the people of the US regard themselves as powerless to change anything at all. Commonly spoken expressions such as "you can't fight city hall" have dated back more than four decades and probably more.

          "you can't fight city hall" was copyrighted in 1946. The Great Depression had only "ended" a few years earlier and the country had moved right into WWII, with the strict rules and rationing that went along with it. Back then, millions of Americans were literally powerless to change anything.

          The expression literally means "you can't fight bureaucracy" and this was true in an age where compliance was considered patriotic... Not to mention that this was right around the time McCarthyism was building up to a f

          • by erroneus (253617)
            [x] "Compliance" is patriotic
            [x] Americans are powerless to change anything

            Yeah, I'd say those are both true today.
    • by Microlith (54737) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @05:43PM (#22228066)

      If someone cannot take the time to devote a minimum amount of effort to fill out a ballot properly, perhaps they should not vote at all.

      No, they should be notified of their error immediately and be allowed to correct it. You are wholly wrong here.

      A bad system vs. a bad system. Except the paper ballot system is likely easily corrected by pulling the scanner machines out of the centralized location and placing them in the polling venues. In stark contrast the systemic flaws seemingly designed into most electronic voting systems.
      • by riseoftheindividual (1214958) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @05:56PM (#22228228) Homepage
        I have to agree. Centralized vote counting? Forget people trying to correct their mistakes for a moment(I do think that's important though), how in the hell can people independently validate the vote tallies? In my state, the vote tallies for each precinct at the end of the day are posted outside of the voting stations. There are numerous individuals representing numerous interests who go around and count those tallies. I'm not saying my state's system is perfect or anything, but there is a degree of transparency in our system that I just can't see a central counting system ever having. Is it as "efficient"? No, but this isn't mass production in a free market for christ's sake, this is the vote of the people of our republic deciding the future of our government.

        Getting back to the error getting corrected at the polling place... I saw this on several occasions having grown up in a neighborhood with a lot of seniors. When you have trembling hands, mistakes can be made. I don't see why having trembling hands should mean their vote gets disqualified as if that means they're stupid or something. There's a lot of valid physical ailments people can have that might lead to a mistake, and I personally have seen optical scanners onsite at polling stations catch them and allow the person to correct them.

        Voting is indeed a serious activity, serious enough to warrant a system that concerns itself with making sure that everyone's vote gets counted accurately whether they make a mistake or not.
        • by afidel (530433) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @06:19PM (#22228572)
          The problem is, the computerized system ALREADY centralizes the vote counting, and in a MUCH less transparent way. The memory cards containing the vote tallies from the machines are brought to the board of elections and the votes downloaded to the server there (the server that repeatedly crashed during the last election causing the switch to scantron ballots). Now both parties have numerous people there overseeing the process and if they think there is something wrong they will of course ask for a hand recount where the ballots are tallied twice by a representative from each party. My problem with the ACLU petition is that NO system can be idiot proofed and so demanding a perfect system before we can switch off the damned electronic machines is asnine. Sure if there was time and money ideally they could get scantron machines for each polling station and train the poll workers to use them but there isn't and I think it's MUCH less dangerous to a fair and transparent election to go with the proposed scantron method. If this lawsuit proceeds it's likely I will be disenfranchised from the primary election (because I seriously doubt there is time to lineup all the technicians needed to oversee the electronic machines in time) and I am pissed about that.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by 1u3hr (530656)
          Getting back to the error getting corrected at the polling place... I saw this on several occasions having grown up in a neighborhood with a lot of seniors. When you have trembling hands, mistakes can be made

          I worked as a poll clerk a few years (decades....) ago. Any elderly people who had a problem marking their ballot could ask for help. They would be allowed to take someone into the booth to help them, a friend, family, or even a the poll clerks might help, though thay were not striclty supposed to. In

      • by QuantumRiff (120817) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @06:46PM (#22228884)
        Having your vote tallied by someone in running a machine in front of you defeats the whole purpose of confidentiality. They know exactly what I voted for, since they are right there at the machine. I would be against having my neighbor run my vote through a machine. (And if you can't expect the people to vote correctly, you certainly can't expect them to run it through a machine correctly, you would need someone "trained" to do it)

        In oregon, all votes are mailed back to each respective county clerk. The mailing envelope is opened, (it has your name and signature on it) and saved separately. Then the "secrecy envelope" is opened, with your ballot in it. Then you can know that your vote was counted, but they don't know what you voted for. Then, a team of people go over the ballots to count them (along with machines as well). Every vote that is handled has to have 3 people present while it is handled, to ensure fairness. (I believe that they can't all be of the same party). Paper ballots are never destroyed, so recounts are easy, and votes are verifiable. The whole process is really stinking easy, no driving to locations to vote on a day you have a bunch of meetings, school, etc. HUGE voter turnout. Basically, the whole state does voting the way that most states do "absentee" voting.
        • by TubeSteak (669689)

          Paper ballots are never destroyed, so recounts are easy, and votes are verifiable.

          Never destroyed?
          Where are you from that they have the last 50 years worth of ballots saved?

          Ballots get destroyed after a set amount of time that (AFAIK) varies depending on the municipal/county/state law.

          For example, there was a big fuss over the Ohio ballots from the 2004 election, because their destruction date was set for Sept 2006*, but the 'there were election problems' folks still wanted to do more recounts. IIRC, they delayed the destruction, but I don't recall what was finally done with the ballots

        • by kmac06 (608921)

          Having your vote tallied by someone in running a machine in front of you defeats the whole purpose of confidentiality. They know exactly what I voted for, since they are right there at the machine.

          That's how it was when I voted in '06, but there was no confidentiality issue. The ballot was optical (fill-in-the-bubble), and when I was done I put it back in this little folder or under a cover sheet or something, and then gave it to one of the poll operators, who then fed it into the machine right in front of me, with the cover still on it so she couldn't see. The machine verified the ballot was filled out correctly and I was done.

          • by slapout (93640)
            That's the way we do it here, except that we stick the ballot in the machine ourselves.
        • by zotz (3951)
          "In oregon, all votes are mailed back to each respective county clerk."

          And how do you ensure a secret ballot in the system you outlined? If the voter wants it to be non-secret or is being pressured to prove his ballot by some third party...

          all the best,

          drew
      • by whoever57 (658626)

        No, they should be notified of their error immediately and be allowed to correct it. You are wholly wrong here.

        So, according to the ACLU, all ballots were unconstitutional until the introduction of computers into voting?

        The ACLU has got it wrong here, it's not just a case of one bad versus another bad, it is a case of one system where people who don't notice their mistakes will have their votes disqualified versus a system that is open to tampering on a massive scale. The ACLU (and you) need to develo

      • by STrinity (723872) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @07:22PM (#22229206) Homepage

        No, they should be notified of their error immediately and be allowed to correct it.
        Sorry, but anonymous voting is more important than disenfranchising people who can't follow instructions.
      • There was a machine -- Diebold, unfortunately -- which would scan the ballot when it was dropped in, and keep some sort of internal tally. It wouldn't say who I voted for, but it would say that I voted.

        In what way is that not sufficient?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by 1u3hr (530656)
        No, they should be notified of their error immediately and be allowed to correct it. You are wholly wrong here.

        With old-fashioned paper votes, you never got feedback if you fucked up. I worked as a poll clerk in a few elections in Australia. The "spoiled votes", invalid for whatever reason, were 1 or 2%. Many of these were obviously deliberate -- no numbers or ticks at all. Only a very small number looked like real errors. And these were on quite complex senate voting forms with 50 or more candidates.

        A

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Icarus1919 (802533)
      Wait, I can't remember anymore, are we for or against paper ballots, or for or against touch screen?
      • by jfengel (409917)
        We're against all possibility of errors. Defensive programming, dontcha know.

        So like good programmers, we're going to leave the current version in place (no matter how buggy it is) rather than upgrade to something else with different bugs until we've got every last possible bug worked out.
      • Yes.

        We're against everything that has errors, so we're against anything distinctly human, which is why we like technolog(&#$#$OOO@ no carrier
      • by joggle (594025)
        Ideally people would fill out a paper ballot. It would then be scanned by an optical scanner at the polling station and print out the official ballot (confirming your choices on a screen first I guess). You would then deposit the ballot that was printed out. Touch screens would still be in place for blind people so that they can fill out a ballot without assistance. These would also print out ballots, replacing the step of filling one out with plain old pen and paper with using the computer.

        I don't know if
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by eviloverlordx (99809)
        We're for and against paper ballots, and for and against touch screens - As long as the outcome is the one we want.
      • It seems everyone thinks it's no longer possible to run an election. I don't know how it managed to work for the last 200-some years in the U.S....

        And yes, I do have a problem when our system needs so much work to account for people who are barely functional. The average voter isn't sufficiently educated, and when you get someone who can't even figure out how fill out a ballot, does voting even mean anything?

        It's almost impossible to make an informed decision with access to all the resources in the world
        • by Tacvek (948259)

          Indeed. But with a little common sense, and the willingness to devote an entire day to the issue (make election day a national holiday) then it seems entirely possible to have the system quite transparent. I never got any response to my last message about a highly sane voting system (at least prior to the centralized summing of the votes from the precints). I will post it again. If I could get any comments on it, I would appreciate it.

          This will assume an electronic ballot making machine. Please note it i

          • by Ironsides (739422)
            Critique: Time required. It would take days to have to manually display a single ballot at a time. There is really no reason not to use a machine to count the ballots. In fact, these machines already exist and have been used for years. Actually, they have been used for over a Century since at least the 1900 census.

            One of the ways they double-check the machine is by feeding through a random sampling of ballots and checking the totals on the sample.

            Correction:
            Obviously this does not eliminate proble
            • by Tacvek (948259)

              Critique: Time required. It would take days to have to manually display a single ballot at a time. There is really no reason not to use a machine to count the ballots. In fact, these machines already exist and have been used for years. Actually, they have been used for over a Century since at least the 1900 census.

              One of the ways they double-check the machine is by feeding through a random sampling of ballots and checking the totals on the sample.

              Correction:
              Obviously this does not eliminate problems occurring at other levels

              Ballot switching/stuffing is still not resolved and can occur at a 'lower' level.

              Well then work at a lower level. Do the initial counts at the polling place. There is no reason for that not to be feasible. It should certainly not take more than a few hours at most average-sized polling places. Then the task is adding a column of numbers at each higher level (the sums get passed onto the next higher level). That is well known skill, and one that can eailly be checked by other concerned parties.

      • I'm against voting in general (in the sense that people seem to think that an overly invasive and controlling government is okay as long the majority of us voted fot it). Parhaps the ACLU agrees with me and thinks that discrediting the physical mechanism of voting will cause people to re-think blindly accepting democatric rule in situations where no rule at all may be better.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by SuseLover (996311)

      ...is moving in a good direction from the perspective of ballot security, the system chosen tabulates all votes at a central location.

      I don't think "central location" is a good way to tabulate the votes though. It would be easier to manipulate votes at a single location by a few people than it would if the tally is distributed across many people and locations, plus it distributes the work load in parallel so that sub-totals are quick. At least it would be much harder to hide with so many different perso

      • I don't think "central location" is a good way to tabulate the votes though. It would be easier to manipulate votes at a single location by a few people than it would if the tally is distributed across many people and locations, plus it distributes the work load in parallel so that sub-totals are quick. At least it would be much harder to hide with so many different personnel involved.

        The idea of the central tabulation facility scared me a bit, but I wasn't sure exactly why. Now that I've thought about it

      • by uhlume (597871)
        Try reading the full sentence, next time: the summary is alluding to the same point. (Hint: the word you seem to have overlooked is "While".)
      • by Ironsides (739422)
        Actually, it would make it easier. In a close election, one would only need to manipulate one or two of the local locations to change the outcome. Having multiple locations means that you have more chances to find an 'agreeable' location. A central counting facility is easier to watch than multiple facilities.
    • by queenb**ch (446380) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @05:53PM (#22228188) Homepage Journal
      Seriously.... give them bingo blotters. Make the ballot look like a bingo card. Even the biggest id10t *ought* to be able to figure that out. If you're not smart enough to figure out *how* to vote, you don't get to. - I'm calling this principle democratic darwinism.

      2 cents,

      QueenB.
      • I like bingo blotters. We should really work to idiot-proof this, since even idiots are entitled to a vote, and there is no mistaking a big ol' circle in a big box next to a name, one page per contest/issue. Hand counting and reverification is slow, but something like this would be about as simple as it could get. If voting were like that and some idiot decided to draw pictures on his ballot, or pretend the "bingo" game was a "fill up" and marked every box, then oh well, sorry. (Images of Sean Connery on Ce
    • by _KiTA_ (241027)

      If someone cannot take the time to devote a minimum amount of effort to fill out a ballot properly, perhaps they should not vote at all.

      A frivolous lawsuit.

      Disenfranchising the minuscule number of people who cannot fill out a paper ballot pails in comparison with the threat posed by computerized voting systems. The ACLU has their priorities all wrong.


      That's not the point. The point is pulling all these in a central database makes it absolutely trivial to rig an election. There's a reason people are asking
    • People don't need to be disenfranchised if they can't fill out a paper ballot. It's quite possible to set up a procedure where the paper ballot is filled in, block by block, by an election official working with the voter, and in the presence of two election judges. The ballot is then reviewed by all concerned. It's a reasonably fair and impartial method, and a private area can be set up at the polling place to accommodate such voters. The presence of the two judges (one from each party) provides a substanti
      • ALong the lines of this, there is a procedure in Ohio to assist the blind or those who can not otherwise utilize a normal ballot themselves. I'm not sure how this works entirely, but there is an understanding that not everyone can work a regular ballot, whether for some physical or cognitive impairment that would not make them legally incompetent or otherwise ineligible to vote. There are conditions that prevent people form being able to read effectively, but that would not necessarily preclude them from be
    • If someone cannot take the time to devote a minimum amount of effort to fill out a ballot properly, perhaps they should not vote at all.

      Voting is a serious activity, and votes should not be thrown away over trivial errors if they can be easily corrected. And unless you never make mistakes, perhaps you should not be throwing stones in glass houses.
    • by mikael (484)
      If the casino industry can get the user interface to a digital slot machine so simple that a child can play, how difficult can it be to get a digital voting machine to get a valid vote?

      You haven't seen some of the ballot papers used in Scotland. To save money, the polling stations chose to have two votes on one ballot paper. On the left column, you had twenty candidates, of which you had to select in order of preference. On the right column, you had a smaller number of candidates of which you could only pic
      • If the casino industry can get the user interface to a digital slot machine so simple that a child can play, how difficult can it be to get a digital voting machine to get a valid vote?

        I'm not sure how to compare slot machines to voting machines. With slot machines, you generally give away your money and are then told how much you can have back, if any, without any choice of your own.

        Oh wait, now I see!!! Voting machines can operate in the same way: you give it your input, then it decides what to do nex

      • by Ironsides (739422)
        You haven't seen some of the ballot papers used in Scotland. To save money, the polling stations chose to have two votes on one ballot paper. On the left column, you had twenty candidates, of which you had to select in order of preference. On the right column, you had a smaller number of candidates of which you could only pick one. The result? 100,000 spoilt ballot papers

        You must not be from the U.S. In most states, we vote on something every year, not just every four. Last year, I voted on at least 8
    • If someone cannot take the time to devote a minimum amount of effort to fill out a ballot properly, perhaps they should not vote at all. A frivolous lawsuit. Disenfranchising the minuscule number of people who cannot fill out a paper ballot pails in comparison with the threat posed by computerized voting systems. The ACLU has their priorities all wrong.

      WRONG. Why can't the system used be better than the touchscreen system that runs on voodoo and responds with winks and nods, AND be better than the scann

    • The problem isn't PAPER BALLOTS (nice job editors)! It's another "silently failing" system just as that used to disenfranchise voters in Florida circa 2000. And, it's not just an issue of voter error. The machine could malfunction and you wouldn't know it.
    • by uhlume (597871)
      Voting is a serious activity. And the objective of that serious activity is an expression of one's political will, not a demonstration of one's proficiency at making marks in boxes. You fucking tool.

      Please explain why someone's (in)ability to accurately mark a ballot on the first try should be more relevant to the practice of democracy than the vote they intended to cast.
  • by Wylfing (144940) <brian@wyMOSCOWlfing.net minus city> on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @05:33PM (#22227944) Homepage Journal

    Ohio! Committed to throwing elections since 1803!

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by 0xABADC0DA (867955)
      So they obviously are really, really committed to vote fraud in Ohio. If this doesn't work out, could I suggest:

      * Voters drop their ballot in the box themselves, instead a poll worker has to 'reset' the voting booth after the voter leaves by taking the vote and dropping it in the box before the next voter uses it.

      * Some voters get special "not" votes, where they select all the candidate they DON"T want to vote for rather than the on they DO want to vote for. Which ballot they get can be at the discretion
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by JimBobJoe (2758)
      Ohio! Committed to throwing elections since 1803!

      I've told people here that I see no problem with the Secretary of State having a campaign reminding Ohioans to vote by saying things like: "Your vote counts! It's worth at least four California votes and six Texas votes!"
  • Oh Bother (Score:3, Insightful)

    by arizwebfoot (1228544) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @05:34PM (#22227960)
    Like the ACLU is the shining torch bearer for all that is right and good in this country. How is someone's "civil liberties" encroached by using a paper ballot? Next they're gonna be gluing chicken feathers on bullfrogs and trying to teach them to fly.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      How is someone's "civil liberties" encroached by using a paper ballot?

      They aren't. It's an incorrect heading (surprise). The ACLU is objecting to voters not knowing that the paper ballot they filled out will not scan correctly. They want the scantrons (or similar devices) at the polls, so you can verify that the ballot can be read. As is, no record will by made of the ballots until they are at a central location.

    • Like the ACLU is the shining torch bearer for all that is right and good in this country. How is someone's "civil liberties" encroached by using a paper ballot? Next they're gonna be gluing chicken feathers on bullfrogs and trying to teach them to fly.

      For the 800,000th time, it ISN'T that paper ballots are bad, it's that a crappy system that may or may not count all votes correctly IS bad. Why settle for a slightly less crappy system when a better system could easily be put in place? Did Rush Limbaugh ran

  • ...from three major universities seems to say there's no problem at all with electronic voting [baselinemag.com] and people trust it MORE than paper ballots.
    • by Rakishi (759894) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @05:57PM (#22228240)
      And lots of security experts disagree, I trust security experts to analyze security over five political science majors and one user interaction computer scientist.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Zymergy (803632) *
      "People" are not who should be the ones to determine "security" no matter how Warm & Fuzzy they feel about said technology.
      I want a unique timestamped paper receipt which I can look up later to verify my actual votes! NOTE: This *IS ALREADY IN PLACE* with retail credit/debit card sales.

      I want the NSA (yes, them. http://www.nsa.gov/home_html.cfm [nsa.gov] ) to certify ANY electronic voting apparatus used in the US and to further guarantee its accuracy.
      This means they would be one the ones doing the recounts
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by uncqual (836337)

        I want a unique timestamped paper receipt which I can look up later to verify my actual votes!
        ...
        they could login into a secure web server with that number to review their vote selections

        Allowing a voter to verify their vote "after the fact" from any location (or by direct examination of a receipt that leaves the polling place with them) makes vote-buying (or coercion) much too easy. Albeit, this is already a problem with absentee ballots, but we should not make it worse. However, there are schemes that

        • by Zymergy (803632) *
          I get what you are saying about the potential for vote buying... and it is a Valid point.
          But as a voter, that is so much less of a fear to me than the ability for someone or an entity to be able to electronically rig an election (if not just part). Allowing the voter to lookup to "verify" their vote choices *after the fact* is the point!
          How do I know if my vote was electronically changed to a different choice than the one I made? Buy looking it up!
          Using statistics to prove a system is secure sure sou
          • by uncqual (836337)
            I think I'm more concerned about coercion than actual 'retail' vote buying as the latter is completely illegal and is likely to get revealed when done on a scale necessary to actually throw a national election. Although, since vote buying would have better ROI if clear-text receipts were issued as the purchaser could easily be sure they got what they paid for, the temptation to engage in it would probably be higher.

            We are in complete agreement that voters should be able to verify how their vote was count
      • by zotz (3951)
        "Why are there no accountable unique and timestamped receipts provided to every electronic voter and some secure method with which they could later review them?"

        So that they can't be forced to vote a certain way or else?

        all the best,

        drew
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Did you actually read the article you are referencing?? The university studies only claim the machines get high marks in voter confidence and satisfaction (i.e. usability). It says nothing about receiving solid marks in accuracy and even talks about dropping accuracy rates when elections get complicated. Plus this little gem:

      According to the study, all of the voting methods tested were susceptible to various types of voter error, including missed votes and voting for the wrong candidate.

      Mod that dude down, he is not informative at all.

    • Because, you know, as long as people TRUST it, it doesn't matter if it ACTUALLY works.
      • by Rakishi (759894)
        Some would agree, after all a variant of this kept bush in office for two terms now.
  • Wait a minute... a government lobbying agency is actually suing for the use of Diebold machines. I'm still trying to wrap my mind around that one. And the reasoning? Stupid errors that have happened since voting on paper existed. Someone in the ACLU has got to be on the take.
  • by Coopjust (872796) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @05:37PM (#22227996)
    With paper, if you didn't vote for the candidate you intended to...it's your fault and visible if you follow the directions.

    With a compromised e-voting machine, you could walk in and have the machine say "Thanks for voting for candidate A" while it adds a vote for candidate B.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Sciros (986030)
      Heh, well, paper maybe doesn't lie, but paper also doesn't choose the president. The Electoral College does. If you're worried about corruption/compromising in the system, there's probably enough nodes between the paper and the EC to worry about that you shouldn't feel safe just because you're marking paper rather than pressing a touch screen.
    • by garcia (6573)
      But the people, tabulating them in a centralized location, can and will lie just as bad as the machine that is hiding your voting record from you. Remember, it only takes one person to fuck with a e-voting machine but it only takes a few more people to fuck with centralized vote counting. Money works people.

      Keep it decentralized and get over this "instantaneous statistics" bullshit that everyone is so fucking hyped up about. Who cares if you have to wait till the next day to find out who won? You have t
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rayonic (462789)
      Indeed, paper can't lie! Unless your paper ballot gets thrown away or vandalized, or more ballots get stuffed into the process at some point. Where do you think the phrase "ballot stuffing" originated from?

      It is simplistic to think that PAPER = SECURE, just because it's paper.
  • by Irvu (248207) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @05:54PM (#22228190)
    So the title is misleading. The ACLU is filing suit against the county's decision to switch to Centrally-Counted optically scanned ballots where the ballots are filled out at the polling place and sent to a single central warehouse for scanning. They are not against Precinct-Counted optical scanners where they are scanned at the polling place.

    The crux of their argument is that central counts unlike precinct count and even mediocre touchscreens offer the user a warning when they overvote or undervote for a race thus warning them that they ballot may not be counted and thus giving them a chance to fix it. Their argument is that this lack of a warning (however poor) is likely to cause many errors that the voters are never aware of.

    So strictly speaking they are not against the use of paper ballots (it is my understanding that they favor them) just against this particular type of scanning system.
    • That's just what I was coming to write.

      Mod parent up, and also tag the story "badtitle". Because, well, it's completely wrong. :) They're not blocking paper ballots, they're blocking a particular method of counting which has problems.
    • The crux of their argument is that central counts unlike precinct count and even mediocre touchscreens offer the user a warning when they overvote or undervote for a race thus warning them that they ballot may not be counted and thus giving them a chance to fix it. Their argument is that this lack of a warning (however poor) is likely to cause many errors that the voters are never aware of.

      Yes, voting is serious, and yes, we should check our own work. But we all make silly mistakes and typ0s sometimes, so

  • In Arizona (Score:4, Funny)

    by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @05:58PM (#22228270)
    In the very backwards state of Arizona, they still use paper ballots. Yet when those ballots are inserted into the ballot box, they go through a visual scanner that kicks the ballot back out immediately if it is improperly marked. While you can choose not to vote on any given ballot issue, accidentally marking more than one vote for an issue will reject the ballot immediately, and you can get a new one on the spot to correct. Paper ballots don't need to have the problems cited here, and obviously have some advantages in recounts afterwards.

    Of course, by the ACLU rules, voting Republican is a source of voter error, and reason for the ballot to be rejected.

  • Ay! Oh! A way to go Ohio...
  • The problem is the counting system, not the ballots. Paper ballots actually work fantastically well, if you have a smart system for counting ballots. Canada does, thankfully, and it uses paper ballots. We know for certain who our next prime minister is hours after the polls close, all ballots are counted at the polling station, and any interested voter is allowed to watch the counting. At the same time, we spend a fraction of what the US spends per capita on elections. For more detail or a non-Canadian
    • by MaWeiTao (908546)
      While I agree there are issues with the entire electoral process in the US keep in mind that Canada has a population of barely over 33 million while the US population has 10 times that; California alone has 36 million.
      • So? I see no reason their system shouldn't scale well enough to work here. We have more voters, but we also have a more polling places and people help count votes, so any system we can conceive of could be implemented. Even if I had to wait 12 hours, or however long, for results, rather than having an idea of who won an hour after the polls close. I'd much rather wait one little day for reliable results than have instant results that may or may not be accurate and precise. What's the rush?
        • by Ironsides (739422)
          Last year (2007) I had 12 things to vote on. Two of them had me voting for up to three options. That's twelve different counting of the ballots. That's a lot of counting. We're not talking one day of ballot counting, were talking two weeks.
    • by Ironsides (739422)
      Tell me. How many things do you vote on each election and how often do you have an election? Last year (2007) I had 12 things to vote son. Two of them had me voting for up to three options. That's twelve different counting of the ballots. We go through this every year in the U.S., not every four.
  • The ACLU is dependent upon contributions to exist. I've contributed to them before. It's time to write and speak your mind. Email them at membership@aclu.org or call them at (212) 549-2585 and let them know what you think. The ACLU is supposed to stand for free and fair elections: they need to know that we want them to stand for TRULY reliable and honest elections by supporting machines with an auditable paper trail and opposing any other solution.
    • by afidel (530433)
      The problem in Cuyahoga County was never one of a verifiable paper trail, we've had that since we went to electronic voting. The problem was that the machines were often broken causing polling places to be so backed up as to cause people to give up. They also had a server crash during tallying which obviously doesn't instill confidence in the results of the electronic process. This means that we would basically have to hand count every ballot every election (not just in close or disputed elections) at a cos
  • Awesome! I didn't want to vote anyway. Thank God the ACLU is there to relieve me of the horrible task of making up my mind regarding who's the least of a dozen evils this year.

    Seriously, though, my head is spinning from the shenanigans going on here from all directions. In 2006, the county BoE had fubared my voter registration, and I got stuck voting provisionally despite bringing ample identification with me, and despite having lived and voted in that precinct in every general election for the past seve
  • Ohio wants to remove the security risks of M-100's at the precinct level by moving to M-650's at one location. This does remove several security risks associated with the M-100's. M-650's cannot detect the paper ballot's orientation. -paper ballots have to be manually sorted and stacked in the same orientation. M-650's are sensitive for such large machines. -they need to be level and stay level as they operate. M-650's will reject an over voted ballot because it's using the same ballot definitions as
  • by nguy (1207026) on Tuesday January 29, 2008 @08:06PM (#22229590)
    I think voting should be on paper ballots that are hand counted. There is no more reason to mechanize voting than there is to mechanize kissing.

    Obviously, if you want to vote anonymously, you can't get feedback about whether you filled it in correctly. But, then, you aren't in elementary school anymore.
  • ....ballots, but suddenly have problems with voting ballots.

    Interesting.

  • I have absolutely no clue why the ACLU has their knickers in a twist over this. Back before the "Help America Vote Act", when nearly the ENTIRE STATE used punch cards, after poking your holes, you slipped the ballot into an envelope, dropped it in a locked box, and that was the last you ever saw of it. That box went off to a CENTRAL tabulation facility, and if you over/under voted, or had a hanging chad, tough shit. There was no "Hey, this isn't right, would you like to try again?" Then we got touchscre

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