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Doubting Electronic Voting 485

twitter writes "The NYT is raising the alarm on electronic voting. After citing expert opinion on the need for a paper trail, they then quote election officials and vendors who dismiss that opinion as the ignorant work of dreamers. The reporter titles his article, 'To Register Doubts, Press Here' and seems less than convinced."
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Doubting Electronic Voting

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  • Yeah right (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ishin ( 671694 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @10:01AM (#5963680) Journal
    We all saw what good a paper trail did in Florida in the 2000 USA presidential campaign. The problems run much deeper than just a paper trail in the USA. When people are cut off from voting by police roadblocks, and thousands of ballots are thrown away, or arranged in a confusing way to try to get people to vote for someone that they don't want to, there's more than just a paper trail problem.

    Unfortunately, the US government runs its own elections, rather than a truely impartial third party.

    Politics are a dangerous thing in America.
  • When we did it... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dcs ( 42578 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @10:04AM (#5963710)
    Here, when we tested a new electronic voting machine that registered all votes in paper (and allowed you to see your vote "paper trail" through a small window), people found it MUCH worse than the system used in the previous election (and much of the rest of the country in that election).

    Me, I think it was because the ads teaching people how to vote in the old machines were displayed nation-wide, *including* the places where the new system was used.
  • Bottom line (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2003 @10:12AM (#5963764)
    A) Electronics hardware just isn't reliable enough. Especially when thrown to the whim of the public.

    B) Software is even less reliable. Bug-free software is a near impossibility.

    C) No system, hardware or software, is 100% secure. People could probably figure out ways to change votes remotely via electromagnetic pulses if they had to.

    D) The human factor isn't completely eliminated. As long as humans have some role in the vote takin process, the results can fixed. Whether it be from software and hardware designers, hackers, or people mis-reporting the results.

    E) Most people don't trust electronics, some people outright fear them. E.g. my grandfather refuses to use ATMs. What if this causes some people not to vote?
  • by abbamouse ( 469716 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @10:21AM (#5963836) Homepage
    One of the problems uncovered in Florida after the whole election/chad fiasco was that even in counties with optical scanners, there were still significant overvotes and undervotes (spoiled ballots). What's even more interesting is that while the overall error rate was lower than that for punch ballots (no hanging chad to worry about), the errors were not party-neutral. It really did appear to be the case that those attempting to vote Democratic were worse at using the optical system. Electronic voting offers the prospect of error-checking and instant feedback while still keeping the vote secret. Of course, that doesn't mean we still don't have to worry about the technical and verification issues.
  • by curtisk ( 191737 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @10:22AM (#5963846) Homepage Journal
    Along with Dr. Dill, endorsers of the resolution include professors from Yale, M.I.T., Princeton, the University of California at Berkeley, Bryn Mawr and Johns Hopkins, as well as industry experts from Apple, Sun Microsystems, Cisco and Unisys. Dr. Mercuri has written substantially on electronic voting and is one of the group's most outspoken members. She worries that no electronic voting system has been certified to even the lowest level of federal government or international computer security standards, nor has any been required to comply with such.


    "When you're dealing with computer scientists, they deal in a world of theoretics, and under that scenario anything is possible," Ms. Bonsall said. "If you probe a little further, the chance of these failures, the risk of that happening wide-scale in a national election is almost nil."

    Paul Terwilliger, director of product development at Sequoia Voting Systems, one of the largest manufacturers of electronic systems, said that while no one disputes the need for safeguards, complaints about machines like his company's were uninformed. "I think the concerns being raised are 100 percent valid," Mr. Terwilliger said. "However, they're being raised by people who have little idea about what actually goes on."

    I think I'm going with the doubters on this one, not with the people selling it. I also like the quote(s) that question the fact of "how can we verify there's been no tampering? And "if its so secure why can't we look in it?"

    And in regard to Ms. Bosnall's quote, we're not so much worried about wide-scale national failure as we are with tampering .....big difference.
    America gets scarier by the day.

  • by eXtro ( 258933 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @10:25AM (#5963873) Homepage
    Nice rant, I am sure it will be moderated up.

    The same argument could be made for the status quo of voting. The only way to make manual voting secure is to register every citizen, tatoo them and require a drop of blood for DNA testing before they enter the voting booth.

    Except that this doesn't really address security and neither does your rant. This assumes that the voters themselves will be trying to commit fraud. This happens. It's still nothing compared to the problems that happen when the government commits fraud. I'm not even referring to the normal allegations of miscounts in Florida.

    1. San Francisco Examiner [examiner.com]
    2. American Civil Libterties Union [aclu.org]
    3. Los Angeles Times (archived at globalechange.org, but I checked the article against LA Times' for-pay-archive) [globalexchange.org]

    a href=

  • by dszd0g ( 127522 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @10:26AM (#5963880) Homepage
    Any opinions on the following:

    When one goes to the polls, you do the signup sheet thing. They hand you a card with a barcode on it. The barcode is not tied to the voter in any way. Only the voter knows their number.

    Of course some algorithm would be used to generate the numbers and they would have large gaps. A good algorithm should prevent people bringing their own cards and hiding them in their pants, right? Smart chips could be used if people want to be paranoid (that would get expensive).

    You go to a machine, insert the card. You place your votes on a touch screen. The software confirms your votes. Then it prints the results onto the card.

    If you look at the card and see a mistake or for whatever reason, you go back to the main desk. They swipe the barcode, which cancels the vote and hand you a new card. If someone starts swiping invalid numbers the front desk is notified.

    One can then bring the card home. After the election you can enter the barcode and check to make sure the database matches what is printed on the card.

    This last one is important to me, because I feel it adds some accountability. If someone can get enough people to hand over their cards after an election an audit should be possible.

    I've been up all night so this probably has holes in it, but what do you think of the overall process?

    One could take the barcode thing a little farther and when the voter pamphlets are handed out there is a barcode printed on them that one can bring to the polls to make it easier for them to find the voter's name. One would still be required to sign (this isn't really any security, I assume it is allows some legal protection). If the voter does not have the barcode they would be required to provide some form of identification. I don't flat out like requiring identification, but this provides a way out.
  • by abbamouse ( 469716 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @10:33AM (#5963931) Homepage
    You're correct -- wealthier counties were more likely to have optical scanners instead of punch ballots, and therefore they had lower rates of error. But that's not the whole story. Even in the optical counties, errors were still disproportionately made by Democrats. Of course, the only ones we're sure of are the overvotes (marking a candidate and then writing in that ticket as well, thus spoiling one's ballot). Moreover, Gore never asked for a recount of overvotes, only the undervotes. Perhaps the Dems had more first-time voters. In any case, these things aren't politically neutral -- different systems favor one party's voters over those of the other party.
  • by jeff4747 ( 256583 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @10:35AM (#5963946)
    Here in NC, they have a way to fix that. When you turn your optical ballot in, they feed it through the scanner right then. The box will throw up a warning and reject the ballot if there's an overvote or other error reading the ballot, allowing the voter to make corrections.

    If there's an undervote, it assumes you don't care about that contest.
  • NYT? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by wolf- ( 54587 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @10:40AM (#5963998) Homepage
    Um, like the old grey lady has any credibility at this point.
    Troll? No, legitimate comment on the credibility of a "source" of information.
  • by Millennium ( 2451 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @10:40AM (#5963999)
    Where is the proof?

    If it happened, then there will be proof of it. Even the CIA couldn't cover up a roadblock of that magnitude; there will be thousands of witnesses. A handful of witnesses is easy to fake, or to silence, but you can't do that in the numbers that such a "voter roadblock" would produce.

    Show me anything more than a hanfdul, and I might be convinced. But the previous poster was correct: if these roadblocks had really occurred, there would have been more than enough evidence for Gore -or, if not him personally, any number of voter groups- to sue. He has not done so. That, I think, is the most telling thing about this.

    Just because we don't accept accusations without proof doesn't make us blind followers of The Establishment. "Innocent until proven guilty" is the cornerstone of our legal system. So prove them guilty.
  • Re: Yeah right (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @10:50AM (#5964090)

    > We all saw what good a paper trail did in Florida in the 2000 USA presidential campaign.

    The sad thing about the 2000 Florida vote is that the problem was thoroughly preventable. The same problem showed up in the previous election and an investigative commission determined that the way to fix it was to switch to a different kind of voting machine without the established history of problems.

    Unfortunately, public officials didn't think getting those people's votes was important enough for the money it would have cost to replace the machines, and the rest is history.

    > The problems run much deeper than just a paper trail in the USA. When people are cut off from voting by police roadblocks, and thousands of ballots are thrown away, or arranged in a confusing way to try to get people to vote for someone that they don't want to, there's more than just a paper trail problem.

    Yeah, and that bit of silliness going on in Texas right now is all about gerrymandering. Lots of politicians simply aren't interested in the electorate's will, which is why closed systems such as the electronic voting machines everyone is rushing of to buy are a completely intolerable solution.

    Where corruption is possible, corruption will be found. We need to demand as much opportunity for oversight as technology will allow, and paper trails are the least we can do.

  • by mao che minh ( 611166 ) * on Thursday May 15, 2003 @10:50AM (#5964095) Journal
    Yea, our "horrible system" has created one of the most free societies in history. This horrible system beckons millions to our shores in pursuit of a better life, to live in a country where they actually have a political voice. This horrible system insures that no tyrant or dictatorship could ever take power. This horrible system protects the minority while respecting the majority.

    This horrible system helped my father escape a terrible life in a foreign land. This horrible system helped my father later free my grand parents from a terrible life in a foreign land. If it wasn't for this horrible system, I would not be alive to be writing this post.

    P.S.: all across America people vote in a great number of elections on all government levels each year. Unless there is a serious security concern, there is not even a police prescence at the ballots. I know that in many foregin/poor/weaker nations they tell you all sorts of bad things about us. Just remember that it is a politician telling you those things. It's called propaganda.

  • Re:Yeah right (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2003 @10:56AM (#5964148)
    actually, since I worked the Florida reelect and I am a lawyer who knows some election law, I can clear up some of the FUD you are spreading.

    The paper trail in Florida DID help. The issue there was what standard you would recount by. Obviously republicans wanted a strict standard, since they were ahead. Dems wanted a loose standard, since they were behind and controlled the most populous counties.

    The roadblocks story was shown to be baseless - the same with stories about police attacking people with dogs, etc.

    Explain about the ballots being thrown away - never heard about that. Unless you mean the 'lost' ballot box from an overwhelmingly republican district in New Mexico. Or maybe you meant the military ballots that were thrown out.

    Ballots arranged in a confusing way? Oh you mean the ones that the Democratic election officials designed in Palm Beach, that 10% of the retards making up the democratic voting block couldn't use properly.

    And actually, most of the time the elections work fine because both parties are involved. Polling stations are staffed by volunteers from both parties. It's only when the government doesn't give proper oversite, like letting the redneck assholes run polling sites in Mississipi - where blacks really are still kept from voting in some areas. Or letting the unions run the polling sites in Chicago where the Democrat gets 100% of all ballots cast, or California districts where more ballots are cast than there are registered voters.

    Ever seen the log book at an LA polling site - they let you walk in with no ID and simply sign a book saying you are an eligible voter. Most books will have at least one person named God, along with an assortment of John Does and various celebrity names.

    You want to see what is wrong with elections here? Try going as a monitor to an urban election site in Chicago or Houston or Boston? I have been physically threatened more than once acting as an official observer. For some reason, local political bosses did not like me objecting to them walking into the voting booth with everyone who came in. And they really didn't like me pointing out that the person trying to get a ballot had already voted an hour earlier. Even had him on video tape. But since they bussed him and and were paying him for each receipt he had, he was determined to vote early and often. But apparently my pointing that out was racist. Ahh, good times, good times.
  • It needs to be open (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ripplet ( 591094 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @11:03AM (#5964231)
    There's (allegedly) a good example already of how electronic voting can be abused.

    1996: Chuck Hagel wins "stunning upsets" in both primaries and the general election in Nebraska.

    2002: Chuck Hagel gets reelected in a landslide, with 83% of the vote.

    A single company programmed, installed and largely operated the machines that counted about 80 percent of those votes.

    This company used to be headed by, and is still part-owned by, you guessed it, Chuck Hagel.

    Coincidence, yeah right.

    Oh, one more thing. Charlie Matulka, who lost the 2002 election, requested a hand count of the vote. His request was denied because Nebraska has a just-passed law that prohibits government-employee election workers from looking at the ballots, even in a recount. The only machines permitted to count votes in Nebraska are those made and programmed by the corporation formerly run by Hagel. Hmm, wonder who pushed that one through!

    Matulka's comment:"If you want to win the election, just control the machines." [commondreams.org]

    (most of the above info shamelessly plagiarised from that last link).

    Now, this doesn't mean that you can't use electronic voting, just that the whole process needs to be completely open and exposed. The source code needs to be open, the hardware design needs to be open, you need independant and unbiased people to check that the open source code is actually what is running on the open hardware, the whole thing needs an open audit trail in the event that a recount is required etc. The whole process is a helluvalot more complicated than just a machine that counts votes. So people need to be given proof that their votes are not corrupted in any step of that process.

  • Moore being pro-war (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2003 @11:11AM (#5964317)
    Yes, Saddam Hussein was killing at least 10,000 a year through execution and starvation. If this is not a war, what is?

    If Moore's support of Saddam and his deadly war by opposing effective efforts to quickly stop him is not pro-war, what is?

    In the week just before the 40 allies decided to stop him, in fact, he had 90 civilians in Kurdistan executed.

    His war is stopped. Moore opposed any effort to stop Saddam's war against Iraq (which has actually been part of a longer-term war against other nations as well, including Israel, Iran, and Kuwait).

    You need to look behind the "anti-war" label. For example, with approval of the "anti-war" people in Vietnam, the North Vietnam invaders were able to conquer South Vietnam and invade Cambodia and kill at least 2,000,000 people.... after the U.S. was out of the picture.
  • In January, 2002 the State Elections Board approved two touch screen voting systems, the ES&S Votronic
    DRE and the GBS Accu-Touch EBS 100 DRE.

    This spring I raised the system integrity issues with the Board, and persuaded them to revoke the certifications [state.wi.us].

    It helped that after garnering over 10% in the last race for Governor, the Wisconsin Libertarian Party was able to place a representative on the Board, the only 3d Party State Elections Official in the US.

  • Re:Get real (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2003 @11:16AM (#5964383)
    Rich? You decide:
    "Others note the hypocrisy of a radical socialist who claims to speak for the common man yet lives in a $1.9 million New York apartment and sends his daughter to a posh private school." -- http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2003/3/30 /212203.shtml [newsmax.com]

    There are many upon many examples, this is only one of them.

    As for the media not being able to record the protestors: What stopped them from walking down the block to the perimeter to do a broadcast

    Yeah, I thought so.

  • Simple Solution (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 15, 2003 @11:31AM (#5964526)
    I came up with this solution in a discussion with some friends after the 2000 election fiasco:

    Voting can be simple - touch screen, menu driven, programmable interface, whatever makes it simple. When you've done all your voting - your vote prints out as a sheet of paper (maybe a computer-card sized stiff cardboard.)
    Printed on a laser printer - in text for reading, and bar-code for processing; say, 1 card for each election - federal (president senate and congress), state, county, etc. The card can be checksummed and the validation included in the bar code so that it is difficult to counterfeit ballots to stuff the box.

    This gives you a way to hand-count the ballots or run through an electronic counter. If you ar less concerned over secret ballots, you could use the validation code to determine and delete a person's vote when that vote is challenged.

    Each voter could read exactly what the ballot said (the name and position voted for) and reprint the ballot if they make an error. The computer could record "cancelled" ballots - even say "please insert the ballot into the cancel slot to print a new one", and not allow a new one once another person entered the booth to start voting. (I.e. you can't take the wad of ballots at the end of the day and revote the ones you don't like. And the serial code/ time stamp etc. would make that easy to track.)

    There is always a paper trail of physical ballots that could be hard to alter, and a validation code, similar to a digital signature, that would make the level of effort needed to forge ballots much more complex than normal.

    I do not trust a purely electronic voting system; too easy to rig.

    Here in Canada they still use the hand-marked ballots and they're counted by hand and the results are tallied within a few hours - but we rarely have elections more complicated that 1 member of parliament or a mayor, aldermaen, and a school board. Ballots are short and simple.
  • by Dr. Bent ( 533421 ) <ben.int@com> on Thursday May 15, 2003 @11:41AM (#5964650) Homepage
    Well-to-do areas tend to have voting methods with less % of error than more poor-class areas

    And what exactly is the scientific unit of measure for "X voting method is more accurate than Y"? Or is your statement based on the relative error rates of well-to-do vs. poor areas?

    If this is the case, then how do you know that it is the voting methods that are causing the error. Isn't it just as likely that a college educated "well-to-do" person is better equipped to understand the voting procedure than a high school dropout, and therefore is less likely to vote improperly?
  • Re:Doubts? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jilles ( 20976 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @11:42AM (#5964659) Homepage
    Most mass media in the USA are rediculously biased. The reason for this is that they are owned by a small number of huge corporations who favour financial interest over journalistic integrity. The recent events in the middle east are a clear example of this (just compare to foreign media). Severe violations of journalistic integrity have included spreading false information, firing journalists who published stuff that the US government didn't like, selectively ignoring/misrepresenting well known facts, selectively interviewing so-called experts and ignoring well-known other experts, etc. While some well educated citizens in the US are aware of this (and mostly appalled by it), the majority of US citizens swallows whatever CNN serves for facts.

    I wouldn't claim the rest of the world does have a free press but the scale on which things are happening in the US is much more worrying then for instance the UK or other European countries.
  • Voter Verified! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xenocide2 ( 231786 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @11:47AM (#5964706) Homepage
    "voter-verifiable audit trail," meaning a permanent record of each vote that can be checked for accuracy even after the election.

    After discussing with Dr. Dill for a presentation, the meaning of voter verifiable is very specific. It means that the voter can look at their ballot, and verify that their vote reflects their intention before they hand it in. Nobody I know can inspect the electrical charges to determine whether their vote was recorded correctly or not (or even at all!).

    I happen to live in Johnson County, Kansas, one of the sites mentioned. There's two things to keep in mind there. 1. Its an off year so turnout is usually very low. 2. The feedback card is optional, so unless you have something specific to say, you're not likely to fill it out. 3. Its difficult to evaluate the system as a whole until the vote is canvassed. Even fraud can be user friendly.

    The independent testers aren't exactly trustworthy either. There's only 3 nationwide. VoteHere machines were verified from these ITAs (VoteHere is currently facing a wrongful termination suit for firing a QA Engineer who put too many bugs on the 'Critical' list.)

  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @12:13PM (#5964990) Homepage
    Sheep isn't a verb.

    And when 50,000 largely black, largely Democrat voters are denied their legal right to vote because they were falsely accused of being felons by a computerized list that was inaccurate to begin with and encouraged to be more so by the Florida government, then saying an election was stolen isn't flamebait.

    Well, it is, but who said the truth can't be flamebait [gregpalast.com]?
  • by HiThere ( 15173 ) * <charleshixsn@ea r t h l i n k.net> on Thursday May 15, 2003 @12:33PM (#5965187)
    We had a great system. Unfortunately, it was based on having a frontier. It was based on accountability. Now both of those are missing, and the system is rapidly declining in quality.

    Without the frontier, you can't run away from an intolerable situation. (The frontier was hostile and difficult, so the only people who went there were those who found the system where they lived intolerable..for one reason or another.)

    Without accountability, one can't keep corruption in check. Without a check on corruption, trust rapidly falls. Without trust, economic growth first stagnates and then crumbles. (Well, technology is a strong preventative to that last...perhaps strong enough. Unfortunately, we'll see.)
  • by HiThere ( 15173 ) * <charleshixsn@ea r t h l i n k.net> on Thursday May 15, 2003 @12:39PM (#5965241)
    Considering the other decisions made by the courts and the FEC, I don't trust their word. I'd rather see the evidence myself. The only evidence I saw was newspaper reports stating that both things happened.

    Now newspaper reports aren't exactly known as a source of real truth, so I don't put much credence in them. OTOH, in the absence of other acceptable evidence (which doesn't include the sworn word of apparently complicit officials)...

    Still, the public word of the Supreme Court was:
    1) You can't count the votes until we say so.
    2) There isn't time to count the votes, so seal the evidence.

    This causes me to doubt the veracity of the court system.
  • by Mouth of Sauron ( 196971 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @12:48PM (#5965330)
    And as a system administrator, it was an unhappy joke. I love the good things that technology can do, but I am wary of making things overcomplicated and awkward simply for the want of technology.

    The first thing is that paper ballot voting is relatively simple, unless you're from Dade county Florida. I stood in one line to sign the roll and get my ballot, and I stood in another to wait for a polling booth.

    With the new-fangled voting machines, the number of lines I had to stand in was doubled. I stood in one line to sign the roll, and get a chit. Stood in another line to hand the chit to a poll worker behind one of the machines. The pollworker then took my chit and enters the number from it into one of the polling computers, and then handed me a receipt. Then I stood in the last line to wait for a polling machine to vote.

    One I reached the polling computer, I was suprised to find neither a touch screen, nor a display with buttons on it like an ATM. There was no joystick or mouse. Instead, this machine had a device called a "scrolling wheel." To vote I had to operate this device which revolved like a analog telephone dial. The liquid crystal screen was covered with the finger smudges of frustrated voters trying to do the natural thing which was to press a button. However, with this device I had to spin the wheel around to select my choice, and then press a rather large red button to choose it. This was quite counter intuitive despite the fact I was raised around analog telephones. The sensitivity of the wheel was set quite high, and it was easy to miss my choice on the screen. In order to go back to my choice I had to spin the wheel the other way, often passing my choice from the other direction.

    Another thing I didn't like about this system was that a computer only could manage a few machines so instead of walking over to any empty polling booth I had to wait to vote only a booth attached to the box my number had been entered. After mucking about with this I decided to talk to a couple of the poll workers about this new system.

    The first thing I noticed is that the poll worker machines were connected to their polling booths with a simple serial cable. Some of these cables were taped to the floor and others were suspended from the ceiling with twist ties. I examined one of the cables and the poll worker scolded me because apparently the machines were attached in a daisy chain configuration and if one of the machines was unplugged then all of them would stop working. Then a technician would have to be paged to come to the polling place to reset the equipment and the votes would be thrown out as unreliable!

    Viva Paper Ballots!
  • by Tackhead ( 54550 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @01:24PM (#5965706)
    > And when 50,000 largely black, largely Democrat voters are denied their legal right to vote because they were falsely accused of being felons by a computerized list that was inaccurate to begin with and encouraged to be more so by the Florida government, then saying an election was stolen isn't flamebait.

    As long as you're willing to say the same for 50,000 immigrant (legal or otherwise) non-citizen voters, also largely Democrat, who cannot vote, but sometimes do vote, then we're cool.

    (Clarification: Even if I take your 50,000 figure at face value, I don't think the inaccuracies in the list were deliberately engineered. Likewise, neither do I think the problem of aliens voting is deliberately engineered on any widespread scale. I consider both of these to be "error", not "corruption".)

    Both parties practice various forms of swinging elections. Some are legal ("gerrymandering"). Others (deliberately disenfranchising legal voters, or designing systems that can be circumvented to allow illegal voters to cast votes) are not.

    The goal of any electoral process is to prevent the latter, or at least to ensure that the "noise" introduced by corrupt officials is swamped by the "signal" of the legitimate votes.

    In the case of Floriduh, the signal was so close to 50/50 that it was lost in the noise of both manual counting error, mechanical vote-recording error, human voter error in not verifying that their vote was correctly punched and/or in not following instructions on the ballot, legal "error" in that efforts to recount changed the result through mechanical ballot mishandling and the fact that human beings had to rule on whether hanging chads ought to be counted as votes or not, and corruption. Given the large sources of error in any vote, even in Floriduh, error introduced by means of corruption was probably the smallest error factor of the bunch.

  • Re:Yeah right (Score:1, Interesting)

    by wirelessbuzzers ( 552513 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @01:38PM (#5965807)
    It turns out that it may be easier, technologically, to implement an online voting system. Voters would use signed, open-source software to register their votes by internet with the government. The audit trail would be present on their computers in the form of protocol transcripts and signed messages.

    I think that most of your fears would be allayed if a voting protocol could be developed with the following properties (current protocols are darn close):

    Only registered voters can vote; nobody can vote more than once.
    Nobody can tamper with votes being cast (easy with encryption).
    Nobody can tell who cast a particular vote without that voter's permission (blind-signing, anonymous proxy required at present).
    Any voter can check whether his vote has been tallied (in a published list of votes), and prove to the authorities if it has been tampered with or erased.
    Everyone knows who voted and who didn't (or some similar method to stop the pollbooth from cheating).

    It would also be preferable if nobody could prove which way he voted to an outside party without the voting agency's approval, to prevent vote selling, but there could be other ways of selling votes, so this may not useful. It actually wouldn't be impossibly difficult: since the votes are published, it might be possible to limit voters' abilities to proving that someone cast a given vote.

    As for compromise, you just have to check really carefully beforehand. That's why it would help to be open source. Of course, the server side need not be open, although it would be nice.
  • Re:Yeah right (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Blue Stone ( 582566 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @03:01PM (#5966573) Homepage Journal
    What about the 80,000 non-felons [mostly black and Democrat] assigned felon status by Florida?

    The illegal requirement by the Govenor of Florida that those non-felons had to ask him for clemency to return their voting rights (that they already had) despite being barred from doing so, and the cover-up of this, afterward?

    What of the voting machines being tampered with so that in black regions, spoiled ballots were swallowed by the machine, without the voter being informed of the errors, while in white areas, they were returned for re-checking/submission? [see your retard accusation]

    Here's to the UN overseeing all future US elections!

  • Re:Brazil (Score:3, Interesting)

    by leandrod ( 17766 ) <l@d[ ]as.org ['utr' in gap]> on Thursday May 15, 2003 @04:16PM (#5967295) Homepage Journal
    National Semiconductor and Unisys (two American companies) made a really good electronic voting system for Brazil, they've been using them since 1996.

    No, the original machines were made by Procomp. Please check your facts.

    It has a tamper resistant paper trail, so it is completely auditable

    No, the original machine had. In the last election only a small percentage of the machines had the paper trail. Please double-check all your facts.

    people are happy with them

    I am not. Source code was never properly audited, and next to no paper trail. I don't doubt the results, but had the election being more contested we'd have been in a full-scale fiasco. Had the situation won, the Left would still be complaining.

  • by sheldon ( 2322 ) on Thursday May 15, 2003 @05:20PM (#5967926)
    I think it's far easier...

    The system we use in my county is to get a sheet of paper with the candidates listed and you circle the dots next to the names. Then you take your paper over to an optical reader and it sucks it in, even supposedly makes sure the ballot is accurately filled in.

    Ok, I think that system works.

    So now just put a touch screen like your suggesting... you put your paper in, and it fills it in with the results from the touch screen. This helps making voting easy, because the screen would have rules (you can only select two judges) and insures the ballots are filled in fully...

    But it also gives you a paper trail to audit, and a fall back if the machines fail.(back to pencils)

    I definately don't like the non-secret ballot aspect of your proposal. There's no need to take the ballot home.
  • by Simon Brooke ( 45012 ) * <stillyet@googlemail.com> on Thursday May 15, 2003 @06:30PM (#5968470) Homepage Journal
    Yea, our "horrible system" has created one of the most free societies in history. This horrible system beckons millions to our shores in pursuit of a better life, to live in a country where they actually have a political voice. This horrible system insures that no tyrant or dictatorship could ever take power. This horrible system protects the minority while respecting the majority.

    You know, it's very hard to tell whether you're being sarcastic, satirical, or serious. I hope you're not being serious.

    I don't know what it looks like from the inside, but those of us who don't live in the US look across the Atlantic and see a country where the head of state got in as a result of a fraudulent election run by his own brother; where civil rights are being progressively torn up and destroyed; which breaks solemn international treaties as if they didn't matter.

    Wake up and smell the coffee! It looks to the rest of us asi if a tyrant has very successfully seized power over you, as a result of a minority riding roughshod over the interests of the majority.

    As President Mugabe of Zimbabwe said, no foreign observer could possibly have found the last presidential election in the United States 'Free and Fair'. And he's a man who knows a lot about how to 'run' a democracy.

"Well, it don't make the sun shine, but at least it don't deepen the shit." -- Straiter Empy, in _Riddley_Walker_ by Russell Hoban