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Irish Reject E-Voting, Go Back To Paper 154

Posted by Soulskill
from the progress-is-progress dept.
Death Metal tips news that the Irish government has announced their decision to abandon e-voting and return to a paper-based system. "Ireland has already put about $67 million into building out its e-voting infrastructure, but the country has apparently decided that it would be even more expensive to keep going with the system than it would be to just scrap it altogether." John Gormley, Ireland's Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, said, "It is clear from consideration of the Report of the Commission on Electronic Voting that significant additional costs would arise to advance electronic voting in Ireland. ... the assurance of public confidence in the democratic system is of paramount importance and it is vital to bring clarity to the present situation." He added that he still thinks there is a need for electoral reform.
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Irish Reject E-Voting, Go Back To Paper

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  • STV (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheRaven64 (641858) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @12:12PM (#27721533) Journal
    For those unaware of Ireland's electoral system, they use Single Transferable Vote, which is quite complex to count. Everyone rates the candidates in order. Counting then proceeds in a sequence of rounds where the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and their votes distributed to the next candidate on each voter's list until one person has more than 50% of the vote. If they can manage with paper voting, anyone can.
    • Re:STV (Score:5, Informative)

      by mosiadh (1045736) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @12:19PM (#27721575)
      Well that's not entirely true. Most elections in Ireland work on a basis of there being more than one representitive per electoral area. The actual amount of votes to be elected on the first count is the quota based on the number of votes cast and the number of seats available. If no one makes the quota, the votes are counted in successive rounds until the quota is reached or enough canidates have been eliminated.
    • Re:STV (Score:4, Interesting)

      by spaceyhackerlady (462530) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @12:41PM (#27721707)

      Here in British Columbia we are having a referendum in a couple of weeks on adopting STV [www.stv.ca] for provincial elections. B.C. politics have become so heavily polarized that I am in favour of anything that would break the current logjam.

      We use paper ballots, and have always done so. I don't see this changing, and would oppose any moves to do so. A ballot is definitive: an actual person made marks on it, and an actual person counted it. This is as it should be.

      ...laura

      • I recommend, that you implement the system that they implemented it Zürich in Switzerland. It is mathematically proven that there is no system that is more fair than this one.
        There's a nice article about it in the German magazine "Spektrum der Wissenschaft". [spektrumverlag.de] (German version of the "Scientific American".)

        • I wasn't aware that any electoral system had been proven superior.

          In fact I thought someone had proven that they're all flawed, one way or another?

          • by Jurily (900488)

            In fact I thought someone had proven that they're all flawed, one way or another?

            They all let idiots vote.

        • It is mathematically proven that there is no system that is more fair than this one.

          Could you please refer to an English proof, or failing that at least translate from german what "more fair" means; i.e. what the theorem actually says?

          I'm skeptical of the claim that there's "no system more fair". I think you have to (somewhat arbitrarily) decide what fair should mean in the context of the theorem; whether that's the fairness we really want from election systems is open to debate.

          Then there's of course Arrow's Impossibility theorem, which may or may not apply to the voting system in questio

      • Re:STV (Score:5, Funny)

        by CarpetShark (865376) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @04:44PM (#27723535)

        I am in favour of anything that would break the current logjam.

        Have you considered a beaver?

        • I understand that several great minds from MIT have tackled this problem, so yes a beaver might help.

    • by Jurily (900488)

      The Irish have this habit of preserving their democracy [bbc.co.uk]. It's nice to know there's still someone to draw the line.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Which is why we're being forced to vote on it again. At least they won't be able to rig^H^H^Hcount it electronically and out of plain view.

        These machines were bought in by a minister with a record for failed projects and ruining departments he was in charge of. There was no debating it in the Dáil (Irish parliament) and it was a rushed purchase. The secure storage that the machines were kept in cost E528,000 last year and there's a 25 year contract on that!

        The best part of this so far is, "Mr Gorml
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by maxume (22995)

      It doesn't sound like it adds that much difficulty. After the first round, you know how many ballots you have, so you know how many ballots you need for a winner. If you don't have a winner, you take the smallest pile and distribute those votes into new piles (I mean, I would use math, but I suppose you could re-count every single ballot), so as a practical matter, I doubt that more than ~30% of the ballots get looked at more than once (I wonder if they publish such a thing?).

    • Regardless of the Irish system, and it may be as convoluted as Piece County's (Washington) Ranked Choice Voting, I think eVoting is premature. So far, all the systems shown are very hackable and much more prone to tampering than with hand counted. And, yes, I am even counting Seattle's/King Co. (Washington) and the Minnesota's recent debacles.

      I'd love to go all geek on voting, but to me, its easier to count ballots and keep them honest with people standing over shoulders watching the count.

      Kind of like Vega

      • by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @02:09PM (#27722333)

        E-voting is not pre-mature. We have more than enough capability to produce secure machines. The military uses such machines all the time, and provided they follow their own security policies they are almost impossible to hack.

        The problem is not that the machines were hackable, you'll never be able to get rid of hackers and there is an acceptable risk limit. The problem was that "hacking" a lot of these machines meant plugging in a USB drive and Alt-tabbing to the windows desktop to start messing with the text files that the votes were stored in. Some were slightly more secure, but even most of those were pitiful.

        Why were the USB ports on these things not disabled? Why was there even physical access to the USB ports? Why were some of the systems not password locked? Why didn't they use a type of encrypted storage for the voting records? There was so much crap they didn't do with these systems, stuff that isn't even creative, you could pick up a book for $20 and learn how to do basic system hardening and it would have been 100 times better than Diebold $ company managed.

        The only difficult parts really are figuring out a reliable paper trail, and how to detect tampering. They could probably go hand in hand. Diebold & co failed at both anyway.

        The problem is the people with the money (OUR money, aka the local Governments) for some reason did no more than a minimal amount of Quality Assurance. In most every municipality, and absolutely every state, there are a number of people who already work for the government who had to knowledge to do basic security testing. Most all of those people would also know how to get a system hardened, even if they couldn't do it themselves. NONE of these people were used to check the systems, and so in a lot of cases you ended up with $500 kiosk machines with $200 software on them being sold for $10k each.

        The problem was local governments trying to be hip after the 2000 election and allowed "We don't want another Florida" to be their excuse for complete incompetance in comissioning these systems.

        Like my contract management professor usded to tell us: Quality Control is the responsibility of the Vendor, Quality Assurance is the responsibility of the Customer. QC is making sure it's right, QA is not accepting it if it is wrong. The electronic voting vendors may be the actual dirty slimeballs, but it's our local governments who have let us down.

        • The conclusions from this article's "Report of the Commission on Electronic Voting" agree with yours:

          Comparison with Paper Voting

          Following the comparative assessment against the paper system of voting that it was requested to carry out, the Commission has concluded that, in terms of secrecy and accuracy, the paper system is moderately superior overall to the chosen electronic system as currently proposed (and in some respects only marginally so) and that, subject to the Commission's recommendations being im

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by kromagnon (1408869)
          You mean the same military that can't account for 2 TRILLION dollars told you they have a hack proof solution to evoting. You need to get yourself a medallion that reads "viper".
          • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

            Nice try, they call that the "Genetic" logical fallacy. The military's ability to keep track of finances has nothing at all to do with their ability to produce secure systems. They are, in fact, very good at it. With a military machine that is certified for handling and storing classified military information, it is virtualy impossible access - let alone attempt to hack - such a machine with out some pretty darn impressive social engineering. I myself went through significant training in order to access

      • by billstewart (78916) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @06:36PM (#27724371) Journal

        The real problem with using American-style electronic voting machines is that the "Change the vote to Republican" option that was such a big sales pitch here in the US doesn't work in Ireland, where the "Republican Party" is a different group of people...

        • by Altima(BoB) (602987) on Monday April 27, 2009 @12:33AM (#27726387)

          Actually, even though the parent may be intended as an IRA joke, Fianna FaÃl, the current ruling party (whose failed policies have made Ireland perhaps nation worst hit by the global downturn, and who were responsible for buying all these voting machines in the first place), refer to themselves as "The Republican Party."

          Though yes it refers to a different political and historical movement than the G.O.P. in the US, Fianna FaÃl have been ruling long enough with terrible enough policies and arrogance that I would consider the two analogous.

          • Yes, it was intended as an IRA joke, and thanks for the correction and additional information.

            If I wanted to find IRA supporters these days, they're still around; here in San Francisco, I've occasionally seen pro-IRA literature in the Irish bars on Geary St., and I suspect there'd be no problem finding them in appropriate parts of Boston (the US Massachusetts Boston, as opposed to the UK one..)

    • Although we call it preferential voting. It you don't get your first preference (because no-one else likes them) then your vote counts towards your second, etc.

      And it's also counted by hand. Doesn't seem to be a problem with doing that.

    • If they can manage with paper voting, anyone can.

      Population of Ireland: 6 million.
      Population of Germany: 82 million.
      Population of US: 306 million.
      Population of India: 1,148 million.
      Population of China: 1,322 million.

      • by drsquare (530038)

        Fortuanately, voting scales pretty well. Countries are generally broken up into districts, wards or constituencies of a few thousand people where votes can be easily counted then returned.

    • Re:STV (Score:5, Informative)

      by Helvick (657730) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @04:05PM (#27723197) Homepage Journal
      The Irish STV implementation also has to redistribute so called "surplus" votes.

      Since it features multiple candidate constituencies the amount of votes required to get elected is not a simple majority but a quota defined by the Droop formula (Total number of valid ballots/(Total number of candidates +1))+1. Ballots for candidates who exceed the quota have a surplus and that surplus gets redistributed according to the next preference on the ballot. The exact mechanism for choosing the actual votes that comprise the surplus amount is random and those randomly selected votes are then transferred as full votes to the next preference candidate. So when a candidate has 10000 votes with a quota of 8500, 1500 ballots are chosen at random and the preferences in those ballots are used to transfer them to the remaining candidates in play. For situations where a candidate gets a surplus on a second count (ie including transferred preferences from an eliminated candidate or from surplus votes from an earlier elected candidate) only the ballots transferred at the last stage are used when selecting the surplus votes to be transferred.

      These shortcuts were introduced to speed up manual paper counts but they meant that the task of comparing an electronic count to a paper Voter Verified Audit Trail (VVAT) presents an interesting problem. In order to be able to fully and accurately validate the electronic count the VVAT records would have to be able to be tied exactly to the sequence of the electronic votes (so that each electronic record could be tied to each paper record and the random selections for surplus redistributions could be matched up). One solution to this would be to remove the shortcuts for electronic voting but that would have meant moving to e-Voting entirely as they could not use two different counting methods in different constituencies. So they had to implement an e-Voting STV counting mechanism that followed the same rules as a paper count would. Not hard to do but this then led to a further issue for those of us arguing for a voter verified audit trail for any e-voting system.

      One of the Irish Government's least silly arguments against any VVAT for e-Voting was that such a capability might be compromised and could result in someone figuring out exactly how (some) individual voters had voted. Since the Irish constitution explicitly specifies that parliamentary voting must be secret this was something they were very much afraid of - it's notable that since the constitution does not explicitly require counting votes to be accurate (it only implies this) they were less concerned about that. Anyway that's how it seemed to me when I met them about the issue - they didn't say it as bluntly as that but they were terrified about the potential secrecy problems but only worried about the potential for "small" errors.

      The real problems with the Irish e-Voting debacle had very little to do with the complexities of an STV count - they were the same as they were\are in most other counties though. The machines in question were provided by private companies, closed and not adequately tested by properly independent security professionals, the vote tabulation software was also closed, similarly unavailable for inspection by independent specialists and most worryingly it was never available any significant period of time ahead of any given election as it had to be rewritten for each count. The lack of a voter verified paper audit capability (which could have been implemented safely despite the concerns described above) meant that the systems could be attacked\compromised\fail in ways that could materially affect an election without being detected. In the end though few of those problems led to the current Government's decision to abandon the problem, they finally got fed up with the political and financial costs associated with fighting to keep the project alive and they gave up. I'm pretty sure that many of the Government Ministers and civil servants involved still think that the Nedap\Powervote e-Voting system was perfectly fine.
  • Paper and Electronic (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RichMan (8097) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @12:35PM (#27721669)

    You can still use paper in the voters hands and collect it for a fully scrutinized and auditable system.
    You then mass scan the paper votes and electronically tally them. This gives fast results.

    Then you do hand counted audits of the ballots that can take a day or two to verify the electronically counted tally.

    The problem with the electronic system is the question of is a recorded vote the voters intent and is the record valid. Nothing beats paper (except scissors).

    • by dave420 (699308)
      Why not just count them by hand if you are going to do that anyway? What's with this need to put electronics in the mix anyway?
  • by OrangeTide (124937) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @12:37PM (#27721689) Homepage Journal

    Unless it can reduce costs, why the rush to electronic voting in most of the world? Our election systems all appear to have built-in schedule to take into account how long it takes to tally the votes. In the US we vote in November and really have a few weeks before we need to know the results. (the president-elect needs to setup his/her office and prepare for the transition, which is why it's not more like several weeks of time)

    And if you do use e-voting, why can't anyone do something cool with it? Like support anonymous voting, or public-private key systems for signed and authenticated voting.

    • Because those cost money and when you start offering contracts to the lowest bidder it becomes a race to the bottom.

      • It's just software. it doesn't cost any more than the hinges on the vault of a paper based voting box.

        I think the problem is people aren't making certain features a requirement for the contractors to meet. Likely a people who make decisions are not educated in the features and capabilities that electronic voting can offer.

        • Did you just say that [programming and making boxes are of about equivalent skill?

          • As a programmer I am far more impressed by a person who can form steel into objects than by a developer who who can stick together a bunch of APIs into a bloaty buggy program.

            • Well I can do both and in both cases you can produce absolute total garbage, run of the mill just stick it together stuff and beautiful artwork. Just because the end result isn't something you can physically hold doesn't mean that a lot of time, effort and skill didn't go into it.

    • why the rush to electronic voting in most of the world?

      Because meatspace fraud is easy, sure there are plenty of countermeasures against it, but the way forward is defiantly a dual system. Electronic voting on secured machines AND a full paper trail, that way attackers have to both tamper with the machines AND the ballot boxes.

      Like support anonymous voting, or public-private key systems for signed and authenticated voting.

      I think the problem with encryption systems is they are all either not anonymous (if something has you sig on it, YOU signed it) or not secure (schemes where an attacker can fake any message therefore there is no way to tell if you sent t

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by John Hasler (414242)

        The fundamental problem with all electronic/cryptographic voting systems is lack of transparency. Any reasonably intelligent person can fully understand the paper system and can, with sufficient motivation, verify an election. As soon as you introduce electronics and/or cryptography you are forced to entrust the election to experts.

        • A reasonably intelligent person can't check for fraud if the officials are corrupt, the best they can do is get what the voting officials give them, a dual system means you only need to trust the officials haven't messed with the computer OR the officials haven't messed with the ballots. OFC much more transparency is needed in the electronic system (atm its far to closed), but at the end of the day your always going to have to trust the software running on the box, is the software that's meant to be running

      • sure I signed it, but I don't have to associate my private key with my identity either. Mainly the trick to keeping it private is to requite that the elections are operated in a system where they intentionally discard certain information, and not to record everything in a database.

        If I was issued a ticket with my public and private key on it, the keys being generated but not logged anywhere. It could be done at home on my own printer if I wanted or at a kiosk at the DMV, does not really matter. As long as i

    • by billstewart (78916) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @06:58PM (#27724561) Journal

      The electronic voting push was mainly because the US Republican Party got embarrassed by how narrowly they might or might not have won the election in Florida, where a Republican governor and Republican election commission official were widely accused of having rigged the vote count. Electronic voting machines were "corroborative detail, intended to give artistic verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative" about Republicans wanting the election results to be objective and accurate. (Not that the Democrats don't have a long history of voter fraud themselves, but at least they did it with skill and style.) And if they're a Good Thing here in the US, they're a Good Thing to push everywhere, and the voting machine companies did have sales people with quotas to make.

      The push for non-verifiable voting machines probably had more to do with protecting the friends of the Republican party who were big players in the business than in actually facilitating fraud - after all, casting doubt on the trustability of the machines is casting doubt on the trustability of the Republicans, which is entirely off the message.

      Also, even if the machines were trustable and auditable, they're still useful for voter fraud. In the 2004 elections in Ohio, the black urban voting precincts that were likely to vote Democrat didn't get enough of the machines, or all the parts needed to have them working, leading to hours-long lines on a rainy election day, while the suburban white Republican districts didn't have those problems. With paper ballots, it's much easier to fix that kind of problem, but with an all-electronic system and an election commissioner who'd promised to deliver pro-Republican results, it's just way too complicated, sorry, not our bad.

      • skill and style? Not much style when you just take a stack of death certificates and use the data on them to register a thousand voters in Illinois.

        If the Republicans actually cared about your idea of "casting doubt on the trustability of the machines is casting doubt on the trustability of the Republicans". It would have been far easier to make a proper voting machine. These stupid ones were costly to produce and costly to purchase, if someone actually took the job seriously they could made working ones fo

        • No, the Republicans aren't all evil businessmen (though some certainly are), and greed and incompetence have a lot to do with it - but they've also been very big on protecting their friends, even when their friends are greedy and incompetent. And a number of the people who did the auditing and investigation into the voting machine designs are my friends or friends-of-friends, and they found a *lot* of incompetence in the design and implementation, and a lack of concern for making sure it was all done corre

  • silly (Score:3, Interesting)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @12:50PM (#27721765) Journal
    While it is understandable why they would feel this way, given the number of high profile problems with electronic voting machines (not to mention the electronic voting machines I've used have horrible UIs), paper voting is not necessarily more secure. Ballot fraud is as old as democracy, and from stuffed ballots to false-bottom ballot boxes, there are tons of ways to cheat. Electronic voting with a paper trail IS more secure, because it is necessary to not only cheat electronically, you also somehow have to make the paper ballots match.

    As an example, Vladimir Putin fixed the most recent election in Russia (although it wasn't really necessary, since most people actually did support him, it was mainly for show), and as far as I know they use mainly paper ballots in Russia.
    • by symbolic (11752)

      Electronic voting will never be more secure than paper voting until it has a verifiable method of quality assurance. There are far too many points and method of potential failure/fraud that can go entirely undetected.

    • are you kidding? (Score:5, Insightful)

      if you increase the complexity of a system, you increase the number of attack vectors. yes, election cheating is possible in all systems. it is just that with mechanical voting, there are 100x more schemes you can cook up than paper voting, and with electronic voting there are 100x moreschemes than even that

      now fi there were some sort of proven ebenfit from doing electronoc voting over paper voting, maybe that would outweigh the security detriments of electronic voting. but there aren't any. you ocr the paper, end of story, its just about as good

      electronic voting is inherently less secure than paper voting, and offers nothing better in return, and is a hell of a lot more expensive

      • There are benefits to electronic voting, if it's done right. With hand voting you are guaranteed to have some error. The counting can be done quicker electronically (when done right). With electronic voting, it is easier to make sure the ballots are valid. For example, look at this ballot from the recent Minnesota election [areavoices.com]. Did that person want to vote for Al Franken or for lizard people? That is not a question that would even come up with electronic voting.

        As long as there is a voter verified paper
        • fact: show me a way to cheat on paper, i'll show you 100 ways to cheat electronically

          that, and the ridiculous expense

          its a no brainer

          • If I give you an electronic voting machine with a voter verified paper trail, you will not only have to give a way to cheat electronically, but also a way to cheat on paper. Electronic voting done right IS more secure.
            • I'm sure a study could be done and I know there are already studies similar enough to prove a significant number would MISREAD the paper trail. I've seen ones on how people see something that is NOT there because they expect something else; its more than your think and increases with being tired etc.

              These people are not "crazy" or stupid. Its also unfair to blame lazy people who wouldn't make an effort to verify or bother to fight it and revote (since many people vote AGAINST somebody, make the errors for t

              • What are you talking about? What does having a day off have to do with voting machines? If it bothers you that much, vote by mail.
                • Vote by mail does not protect identity as well and has many more attack vectors for privacy.

                  Mailed votes here are not even counted unless the margin is close enough to trigger it (which is reasonable; but you don't feel like your voted counted.)

                  Mailed votes HAVE been lost; as well as turned up with discrepancies that draws their validity into question.

                  Far less important things are justified for national holidays. Voting is most important.

                  Actually, a Voting WEEK would be a far better alternative. Can't get p

          • Do you have _any_ idea of the expense of manual vote counting? It may cost more, it may cost less, but the overall cost is not wildly greater than that of manual vote counting.

            Switzerland seems to do a good job with manual counting. But Switzerland is much smaller, and in many ways a lot saner than the US: they've also done a much better job of handling confidential banking for centuries, and of sane, respectful negotiations among diverse groups.

            • optical character recognition

              those little ovals on your SAT test

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Optical_character_recognition [wikipedia.org]
               

              • I do not understand your point. Manual vote counting typically takes at least double counting, close observation by trusted observers, and meticulous manual record keeping. That takes a lot of time and a lot of manpower. Storing the physical paper trail safely and securely as well is also expensive. And interpreting poorly filled in "ovals" as you describe them, or accidental marks on the page, can be difficult.

                Are you saying to use OCR instead of manual counting? Please don't. That can provide the venue fo

                • do you actually want to be so intellectually dishonest as to suggest diebold has a monopoly on electronic exploits? and in the context of what: suggesting ocr introduces those exploits... in order to argue for a voting system which has MORE of the exploits you are referring to? that's not sleight of hand, that's just clumsy

                  and then you say storing paper votes is expensive. you really want to stack the price of a storage locker against a bunch of electronic voting kiosks?

                  • No, I don't want to suggest Diebold has a monopoly on being too incompetent to be relied on to _prevent_ exploits. They're just surprisingly bad at it, and the processes that selected Diebold as a major vendor in this field are still around. And right now, they seem to be the major player in the electronic voting field.

                    You are still being unclear. Are you suggesting that OCR should be used instead of manual counting to help cut costs (which it does: manpower is often very, very expensive)? Or are you sugges

                    • 1. electronic voting is clearly more expensive than pencil and paper. look at all the costs. stop being disingenuous

                      2. the point is, whatever subset of exploits that ocr introduces, are exploits native to electronic voting. how can you argue for a system by pointing out its failures?

        • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

          For example, look at this ballot from the recent Minnesota election. Did that person want to vote for Al Franken or for lizard people?

          Obviously, though he wrote in his own candidate, the one he voted for was Al Franken. If he wanted to vote for the Lizard People, he would have filled in the circle for them.

          The vote itself is quite clear. I think he should have chosen the Lizard People though, I hear they are made for politics.

          The problem with e-voting is the idiot elected officials who don't know diddly squat about quality assurance concepts. Most of the electronic voting systems that have been put forward have been abysmal, -I- could

        • by drsquare (530038)

          There are benefits to electronic voting, if it's done right. With hand voting you are guaranteed to have some error. The counting can be done quicker electronically (when done right).

          What's the rush? Election results are generally known the morning after, and the new government won't take charge until a while after that. Do you really need to know the results immediately after the polls close?

          With electronic voting, it is easier to make sure the ballots are valid. For example, look at this ballot from the r

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by blackest_k (761565)

      well the local paper reports over 50 million euro spent on the 7,500 machines since 2002 and they have gone unused in 5 years and 3.5 million is spent per year to keep them in a storage facility in meath
      Minister Gormley said "It is clear from consideration of the report of the commission on electronic voting that significant additional costs would arise to advance electronic voting in ireland"
      Or to put it simply they cost too much and ireland really can't justify spending any more on the things what with r

  • by DJRumpy (1345787) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @12:55PM (#27721799)
    Does anyone know if e-voting substantially decreases the time it takes to validate elections? Given even this most recent election in the US, it seems like there are still legal challenges upon challenges upon challenges.

    I would be very curious to know if these new e-voting systems have saved enough money, time, and costs to validate their use?
    • by shentino (1139071)

      If stupid evote contractors made their machines at least as secure as a locked paper box (which is an easy standard, really), I would

      As it is, with the way Diebold's screwed up, I wouldn't touch an evote machine with a ten mile poll, efficiency be damned.

      It's no good being efficient if you sacrifice security.

      Or, in a programming context.

      Don't optimize by cutting out error checking and security.

      Garbage in is still garbage out no matter how fast you process it.

      • by pilsner.urquell (734632) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @05:01PM (#27723655)
        Cryptographer David Chaum and some researchers from the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC), George Washington University (GWU), University of Ottawa (UO) and University of Waterloo (UW) have for several years been working on a system called Punchscan. [punchscan.org]

        It is an End-to-end (E2E) cryptographic system with independent verification. The system is designed to be transparent to everyone, candidates, voters, election officials, media, courts et al.

        • by lxs (131946)

          Can we use this E2E system in the B2B market to establish a P2P voting system?

  • This is good news. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cyn1c77 (928549) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @01:02PM (#27721847)

    I'm glad to see they are staying with paper voting. I think that our society is not yet ready for important documents to exist solely digitally. Our governments and companies have not demonstrated the security necessary to keep them fully secure. Also, much of our society (especially the older ones) does not yet have the facility to use new electronic devices reliably

    And kudos to the public officials that actually have the balls to scrap these voting systems they have invested heavily in to ensure a more trustworthy vote. Of course, better planning could have avoided the investment entirely, but lawyers (err, I mean governments) have never been good at long-term or large-scale project management.

    • Then again... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by PinkyDead (862370) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @03:26PM (#27722927) Journal

      I feel that this a good thing in the short term, but bad in the long run.

      When this e-voting was suggested there was a huge outcry from the technical community because the system that they were intending to introduce was a joke. On top of this, there was a general feeling that without a proper audit trail, there would be too much opportunity for corruption (and the current ruling party are not renowned for their integrity).

      Both of these problems were technically solvable - but, as is common, the government was unwilling to accept that they didn't know everything.

      Long term, however, electronic voting would have been a positive thing, but now the majority of the electorate will see e-voting as a bad thing without any idea why, and therefore even if the problems are solved will maintain to negative view of it.

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        Both of these problems were technically solvable

        As a general rule, people problems (opportunities for corruption in particular) cannot be solved by technological means. In this case, techniques available to avoid being caught include:
        - Sending different machines to be audited than the rest of those that will be used in actual elections.
        - Underfunding the agency that is supposed to be examining the audit reports so that they don't have time to spot a problem before the election occurs.
        - Creating regulations that require the voting

  • Different in the US (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cdrguru (88047)

    We have two pretty clear choices:

    • Rescind freedom of the press, esp. TV News, until official election results are available.
    • Make sure that official election results beat the midnight, Eastern time deadline.

      What deadline? There seems to be a pretty simple formula here. The TV News folks want to report results. The people want results and watch TV until they have to go to bed. If there wasn't going to be results they wouldn't watch TV and the TV networks would lose millions in advertising - and relevancy.

    • by digitrev (989335)
      I'm a touch confused by your post. On the one hand, you say that "we either have fast results or we have riots". On the other hand, you say that "if anyone had announced Obama as the winner and then it turned out to be McCain", we'd have riots. So clearly, according to you, fast results cause riots. You then go on to say that "fast [sic] is absolutely necessary and complete accuracy is secondary". But I think you're flat out wrong. Speed is the secondary concern; getting the wrong result fast is worse accor
    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      That seems a remarkably stupid reason.

      If the idiotic news networks can't help but make a guess and announce it as reality then don't publish any counts until everything is counted. Then let them announce their guess.

      If you get riots you'll only have them a couple of times before no one believes the news networks anyway.

      • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

        The problem is how much we let the "news" media to get away with posting guesses/wishes as fact.

        There IS a statistical point where there is no way one candidate can get more electoral votes than another, however the news media tries to one-up each other, so as soon as reports come in and the line is crossed they declare a winner. This is a mistake, because there are any number of reasons why the count could be off, and several recounts needed, which make the statistical "certainty" little more then a very

        • by Asic Eng (193332)
          The electoral college in it's current form is an absurdity. Originally the idea was that the population would chose highly qualified electors, and they would debate among themselves and chose a president. As it is today, nobody knows who the electors are, and their only qualifications are to be somewhere in the party machine. The only criteria they are chosen for - is that they support the popular vote. It's kinda sad to see that the US is unable to rid itself of this outdated institution.
    • by dcollins (135727)

      I'd say in 2008 if anyone had announced Obama as the winner and then it turned out to be McCain when official results were in, we'd be looking at cleaning up from the riots still. Maybe a revolution.

      Good christ, are you the same guy I remember predicting that back in 2000? Please, give it up. It's the most demonstrably untrue thing we've heard in the last decade.

    • Because the TV News isn't going to lose millions in ad revenue and probably more in relevance. If they don't announce something, nobody will watch anymore. Or they will simply turn to a channel that announces something, anything.

      I disagree. In the UK it takes until the small hours of the morning for the result to become clear. And it makes for great TV! They call the exit poll result at the start of the show, but this is long after the polls have closed.

      The results show in the Irish elections drags on for

  • by thrill12 (711899) on Sunday April 26, 2009 @01:22PM (#27721987) Journal
    ...made by Nedap [wikipedia.org]
    We returned to paper ballots [wijvertrou...ersniet.nl] in The Netherlands about a year and a half ago. As the computers are exactly the same, it's a logical (albeit late) decision.
    • by jez9999 (618189)

      Cool. Now can you manage to elect a mayor of Amsterdam who doesn't want to scrap everything that's good about it?

  • Fiddler (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hidflect (769917)
    It's mass madness to switch from paper to e-voting. What's the idea? Save on paper? Ridiculous. Faster results? Won't help if the results have been hacked with no physical record to audit. Insanity. There's somethings that aren't broke which you should never try to fix.
    • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

      You obviously don't remember, but the reason for the big push to go electronic was because of Florida in the 2000 election. It came down to election officials' opinions on whether the hanging/pregnant/dimpled chad constituted a vote for one candidate or not.

      That election was decided by around 100 people if I remember correctly, and certainly less than 1000 people. With so few votes being the difference between one president and another, every single vote counted.

      The idea was that an electronic vote would

      • by gordguide (307383)

        " ... You obviously don't remember, but the reason for the big push to go electronic was because of Florida in the 2000 election. It came down to election officials' opinions on whether the hanging/pregnant/dimpled chad constituted a vote for one candidate or not. ..."

        I obviously do remember, and the election in Florida with voting machines that have been used in the US for decades and that punch chads is in no way similar to paper ballots marked with an X, as is done everywhere else, including Ireland.

        It's

        • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

          Actually pencil marked paper ballots still constitute about 80% (rough guess, looking at a "voting machine" map in a recent magazine) of all voting machines. My state uses them exclusively, has used them for a long time, and I don't think it has any intention of changing. We have had no issues (so far). Most states are the same. This is fact, not conjecture or opinion.

          The vast majority of votes in the US are filled-in circle on paper types that are electronically read. Also, the Parent said it is mass

  • I'm all in favor of making things electronic, god knows I've spent the last 20 years doing so- but regardless- i'd estimate that all of us here know exactly how easy it would be for one person to interfere with a voting system, regardless of how safe it may APPEAR to be- every system is breakable, many within seconds.

    Case in point- Newer isn't always better.
  • Relating to this, India's going through elections and E-Voting is being used there. We've used a different approach alltogether towards this problem and thought readers might like to read if they're interested. :)

    Here's the main article covering the devices used:

    http://techaos.blogspot.com/2004/05/indian-evm-compared-with-diebold.html [blogspot.com]

    Here's the /. article covering that:

    http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/05/14/1448230&art_pos=5 [slashdot.org]

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