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Evoting in the News 218

key45 writes "Just a few days after California rejects Diebold E-Voting machines, and Ireland bans e-voting too, the Information Technology Association of America (which represents election equipment makers and other technology companies) released a poll showing that the majority of Americans trust those machines. The war for public opinion is on!" Reader theRG writes "The U.S. Election Assistance Commission held hearings on May 5 about the pros and cons of electronic voting machines. They debated whether or not machines should have paper trails, and what standards should be set. Meanwhile, NPR reports on California's recent decertification of Diebold machines and on one Ohio county's switch from punchcards to electronic voting." And finally, our own OSDN has a report from the election commission meeting: Joe Barr writes "Thom Wysong has a report at NewsForge this morning on the first public meeting of the new U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Questions like whether or not a voter verifiable audit trail and open source should be mandated for e-voting solutions were the order of the day."
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Evoting in the News

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  • by eyeye ( 653962 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @11:59AM (#9085201) Homepage Journal
    More than half think that Saddam and Al-Qaeda worked together!
    • What? I thought the truth along with science in America was democratic!
    • Saddam certainly had ties with Ansar al-Islam, which is associated with Al-Qaeda. Raids on Ansar facilities and arrests of Ansar militants have revealed Al-Qaeda documents and even video tapes of Osama Bin Laden. Bill Clinton [] has even claimed that there is an Iraq/Al-Qaeda tie.

      However, even if there were no Iraq/Al-Qaeda connection, Iraq was still on the top 5 list of countries that sponsor terrorism [] for over a decade prior to the US invasion.
      • Ties? what the fuck does "ties" mean? He had ties with the US admininstration too.

        As for Bill Clinton - he is as right wing and ill informed as many of the american public.

        American has a two party system - the right and the far right.
  • by CaptainAlbert ( 162776 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:04PM (#9085248) Homepage
    ...please, PLEASE let there be a CowboyNeal option...
  • Public Opinion? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rick Zeman ( 15628 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:05PM (#9085249)
    Do remember that Diebold is waging a 500k/month PR war and they're no doubt buying off whoever can be bought.

    OTOH, I wonder how the results would have skewed if the poll question was preceded by "Who is Diebold?" and the question had to be answered correctly. Americans (of which I'm one) are uniformly ignorant of anything that doesn't happen on Survivor XXXVIII. It's easy to give a yes or no answer when you don't have to prove that you know anything about the subject!
    • Re:Public Opinion? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Branc0 ( 580914 )
      I do not believe Americans (I am not one) are "uniformly ignorant". I do believe, however, that Americans tend to see technology as the solution for every problem in the world... and they trust technology to do just that!

      Maybe they think this will help the current state of Democracy/Government in the USA...

      Once again, I am not American, so I can be taking this out of my ass.

  • Why, why, oh WHY? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Saeed al-Sahaf ( 665390 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:05PM (#9085263) Homepage
    What I find amazing is that in the face of arguably questionable performance, security, and auditing issues with e-voting machines, the vast majority of elections officials still want to move full steam rather than wait until a solid solution is developed. Remember, these are the same people that will be developing the ulcers on election night when their systems start shitting out garbage. They have to realize that they will be under extreme scrutiny. Why put yourself and your staff through this? Makes me think of payola, but that's not really realistic. Maybe the executive elections staff training is in Bermuda or Hawaii?
    • by MenTaLguY ( 5483 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:27PM (#9085528) Homepage
      When confronted with computers, most people lose their capacity for rational thought and fall back to wishful thinking and superstition.

      Try manning a helpdesk for a while if you don't believe me.
    • Maryland legislators make $37500/year. Next question?
    • by john82 ( 68332 )
      Remember, these are the same people that will be developing the ulcers on election night when their systems start shitting out garbage

      Remember a few years ago? There was this national election. One side did not get the outcome they wanted from a few counties in one state. Something about not being able to determine whether a card was punched or not... No one really cared about problems or lack thereof in any other town. Just the ones in Florida.

      Anyone in a position of authority in Florida was tarred with
      • So now, having publicly condemned these individuals, you are surprised that their compatriots in other jurisdictions are eager to put into use anything that is new and bears no resemblance to a punch card system.

        Punch cards are not the olny alternative to e-voting. For example, in local elections in my area, we use a felt marker to draw a big black line between two arrows, and these cards are then read by a scanner. No hanging chad here... There are reasonable alternatives that do not require unreliable Di

        • I will concede your point. However, the majority of the American public will consider any other manual system as, at best, a step sideways rather than a step forward. Hence the push for something based on a computer.

          By the way, how do the blind and legally blind complete the felt marker ballot without assistance? Everyone else has the advantage of submitting a private ballot.
    • by frankie ( 91710 )
      same people that will be developing the ulcers on election night when their systems start shitting out garbage.

      You have it wrong. With e-voting, the administrators get to sit back and relax on election night. The results get tallied automatically, and there's no possibility of recount. If the machine says it, it must be true, end of story. Nice way to do their job.

      The election-rigging folks have had 4 years to practice. I'm confident they'll create plausible-looking results this November.
    • Follow the Money (Score:5, Informative)

      by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @01:57PM (#9086851) Journal
      State and local election officials like this stuff because the Feds voted billions of dollars in FREE MONEY for them to buy the machines if they call before midnight tonight! And no, they didn't realize that they were going to be under extreme scrutiny; they were pretty much blind-sided by it, because all the election officials grabbed for the money real fast, before the computer security crowd noticed what an incompetent scam the stuff they were buying was, and much of the negative press has happened precisely because the stuff had serious problems after it was deployed. Apparently lots of politicians were surprised that computer people overwhelmingly distrust this stuff - after all, we're the folks who keep telling them that computers are cool and that they ought to buy more of them.

      John82's point that elections officials don't want to be the next ridiculed Florida Elections Commission is appropriate also, but a big factor is that the Republicans in Congress and the Bush Administration wanted to be perceived as "Doing Something" to fix the big embarassment that they came into office with. (Oh, and also the Diebold folks were big Republican contributors, so they of course wanted to help out their friends.)

      One big advantage of competently designed electronic voting machines is accessibility for blind people, which is a real problem with most voting systems. This lets the election officials help out blind people, and others with limited sight or hand-eye coordination (e.g. old people.)

  • by razmaspaz ( 568034 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:06PM (#9085274)
    released a poll showing that the majority of Americans trust those machines.

    If we based everything off what the majority of Americans trusted, we would get someone like George Bush for President.

    Oh wait, Damn!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:09PM (#9085300)
    Why is that at all relevant? Either the machines are reliable and trustworthy, or they aren't. This can't be altered by the opinions of a bunch of people who know nothing about it.

    If the machines are not rigorously trustworthy, and provably so, they should not be used. End of story. What Americans think is irrelevant.

    If the machines are totally secure and reliable, but most Americans don't trust them, they still shouldn't be used. The voting system not only has to be trustworthy, but has to be seen to be trustworthy. If machines are more reliable, faster and more secure than paper, then election authorities should try to persuade the public that they are reliable, but until the public so believes, they should not be used to determine the result of an election.
    • I think people not in IT have a perception that large quality software projects are easy to do. Plus, the general public probably has not followed this particular story (or probably at least outside of California).

      Yeah, maybe a Windows app might crash every now and then, but it doesn't entirely alter that non-technical person's perception of industry.

      On the other hand, we know that flaws exist all the time. Many of us here feel that at least of any software, that the software used in voting machines out
    • If the machines are not rigorously trustworthy, and provably so, they should not be used. End of story. What Americans think is irrelevant.

      You are absolutely correct, but the problem is that what Americans think tends to drive public policy. People vote for those who support their views, even if their views are demonstrably wrong. That so many people trust the machines means that not enough people know how bad they are and is an indication that the people need to be educated, not that the machines shoul
    • Heh, who the Americans actually vote for could be irrelevant too if the vote results get diebolded.

      As for the poll results, maybe they were diebolded too :).
  • Give everyone a card with a magnetic stripe, have them register their vote, and have the machine encrypt that information with its public key onto the card, along with date and time. Encode in plaintext the number of the machine. Give each machine a different key, and have them keep track of all the votes registered on it. That way, there's no trail that can be traced back to original voters, and the voters have a method of contesting the results if they think something's fishy.

    When I worked at a hotel, th
  • of people believed that asbestos was safe. Who'd like to chow down to an asbestos sandwich now?

    Having an industry tell me that the majority of people are uninformed, misunderstand or are unconcerned about major failures of their product is not particularly presuasive in my book.

    • An asbestos sandwich wouldn't be particularly dangerous, any more than a similar quantity of other indigestible fiber. Asbestos air freshener, on the other hand, would be a seriously bad idea, especially if you smoke.

      However, the problem isn't just that the public maybe uninformed - they're usually misinformed as well, and industries like Diebold certainly want to keep them that way.

  • by kcornia ( 152859 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:12PM (#9085332) Journal
    The Tobacco Industry Supporters Organization of America has released a study showing a majority of Americans think smoking is good for you and should be encouraged!
    • Bad survey design is _so_ common. Sure, their survey showed whether people think smoking is good, but did they remember to ask _what_ people wanted to smoke?

      Here in San Francisco, you can't smoke tobacco at the local music halls. But it's a health regulation, not a fire department regulation, so rock concerts still have plenty of smoking, and it smells a lot better than that nasty tobacco stuff.

  • How much do you want to bet that the poll was taken using the evoting machines in question?

    [Sarcasm] Yeah, those numbers are totally reliable and will definitely reflect the average American opinion. [/Sarcasm]

  • by plsuh ( 129598 ) <plsuh AT goodeast DOT com> on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:12PM (#9085345) Homepage
    If you're in Maryland and want to help out, come join us at []. We have a lawsuit going to force the state to decertify the Diebold machines, and we're also planning a number of other public actions to raise awareness and put pressure on our elected and appointed officials. Linda Schade, one of the co-directors, was a speaker at the press conference that MoveOn held outside the EAC hearing.

    --Paul Suh
  • Would you need a fingerprint scan to verify that you only vote one time?

    How would the Voter Verifiable Audit Trails (VVAT)work? Could I check online to see that my vote was recorded correctly?

    • You vote at the poll on the machine. The machine records the vote locally (and later to the poll team and later to the central office). The machine prints out a scantron. You check the bubbles are right for your vote and put it in the box.

      The machine vote is the main vote, the scantron is just a backup. The backup will later be used to check the machine vote. Due to printing errors, there will be statistical anomalies taken into account and some will be checked by hand.

      Hackers would have to fool two separate, complementary systems: machine and optical scan.

      You would NOT have the ability to verify your vote over the Internet or ex post facto as this breaks secret balloting.


  • Paper trail? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by scaltagi_the_pirate ( 777620 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:13PM (#9085361) Homepage
    Can anybody enlighten me on why it is so difficult to insist that voters approve their ballot on paper? I guess some think that since it is a computer, it wont make a mistake and computers are here to rid us of paper anyway. It just confuses (and scares) me.
  • by Cirrocco ( 466158 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:15PM (#9085377) Homepage
    I am appalled at the absolute paranoia that these companies experience regarding their 'proprietary' software used to run e-voting machines.

    Look, folks, it isn't that hard! If situation X occurs, then y (being the number of votes for Situation X) = y + 1. At the end, y = the number of votes for (candidate, proposition, measure, etc.) z.

    Simple! *I* could probably program the stupid thing, and I've got CRAP for programming skills! Why does this need to be proprietary? Why does it need to be so damned EXPENSIVE?
    • Well, a company is probably going to have to do it regardless, because people are going to demand indemnity if things fuck up, and they are going to want certified tech support.
      However, I think an open source implentation could be viable provided you can find a company that would support it. It will be safer, and quite possibly chepaer than the proprietary system.
  • Most don't care (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lythic1 ( 728653 )
    A huge chunk of "registered voters" don't even care enough to vote, even few more give a whoop beyond that. Of those who do desire a secure vote, I'm betting more than 70% think the machines are insecure, and it's this group that needs to be convinced.
  • by batgimp ( 323956 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:18PM (#9085406)
    Ireland didn't ban e-voting. We merely postponed it. We've already had e-voting machines used in an election two years ago (in a few consituencies on a trial basis). This summer, the Irish government tried to introduce e-voting in every county, and was met with protests. It was taken completely by surprise, and set up a commission to look into the matter and report back with a recommendation. I'm pretty sure that this commission was just set up to reassure the "Luddite" public, and tell them that everything was ok.

    To everyone's surprise, the commission said that there wasn't enough time to guarantee the accuracy and security of the machines, and that their introduction should be postponed until such things could be guaranteed.

    So, it hasn't been banned, just postponed.
  • by crow ( 16139 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:20PM (#9085431) Homepage Journal
    My favorite voting method is paper ballots where you fill in ovals with a black marker and then feed them into a scanner. You get the advantage of nearly instant results after the polls close with the advantage of a full paper trail for a manual recount if necessary. And when they did a recount when the vote for our new high school failed by 29 votes, it changed it by 6 votes, indicating that some people didn't fill in the ovals correctly, but only a very tiny percentage.

    And, of course, our public education is increasingly geared towards teaching kids how to properly fill in ovals.

    Of course, if we had had fully-electronic voting, I might not have lost the town election on Tuesday (I was a candidate for Selectman, which is roughly the equivalent of city council). :)
    • Better would be where you fill on the vote on a computer and the computer prints out your vote slip in a computer and human readable format. This slip then gets scanned by the vote counter and retained for later recounts. That means you don't run into the "some dolt filled in two ovals" situation as the computer would force a valid vote (or spoiled vote where you want to offer the option of a spoiled "I vote for the turkey []" vote).
      • Not really, because people would probably not verify the printout as being correct. Automated counting systems are perhaps decent shortcuts for getting a good idea of the outcome of an election quickly, but in the end it needs to be human beings looking at ballots that were directly filled out by human beings.
        • As long as the voter has an opportunity to verify that their printout was correct, it's ok if almost everybody is lazy and doesn't bother. The computer system will prevent most of the mistakes that happen when humans try to put ink on stuff (e.g. enforcing rules against choosing more than one candidate in a race, or N candidates in an N-seat race, or making black marks that don't quite line up with the blanks on the form), and can remind the voter if they left some offices blank.

          If you want to use human r

  • by Luyseyal ( 3154 ) <swaters AT luy DOT info> on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:20PM (#9085439) Homepage
    The League of Women Voters opposes [] voter-verified paper trails. More [].


    • I'm not really convinced by their arguments.

      "VVPT systems are not certified." That doesn't mean they CAN'T be, does it?

      They say that printers jam, etc, then in the next line item, they say paper records are required by Fedreal law.

      I also don't see how VVPT really prevent disabled or non-English speaking people from voting properly, the argument doesn't specify. If they can't grab a slip of printed paper, I don't see how a touch screen is going to be that much better. The printing can be dynamically mu
      • They say that printers jam, etc, then in the next line item, they say paper records are required by Fedreal law.

        VVPT are paper records seen and used by voters at the time the ballot is cast. "Records" are just printouts the polling places get from the machines' electronic counts.

        I also don't see how VVPT really prevent disabled or non-English speaking people from voting properly, the argument doesn't specify. If they can't grab a slip of printed paper, I don't see how a touch screen is going to be th

    • I just completed a poll of the League Women Voters member and in a sampling 1000, 77% +- 5% always get a paper reciept when making an ATM financial transaction

      Ok the poll part is made up, but my experience is that there is a trend, the more a person knows about computer programming and or administration, the more likely he or she is to want a paper trail for transactions of any type.
  • e-voting in MD (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cagle_.25 ( 715952 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:22PM (#9085452) Journal
    We used the machines to vote in the MD primaries. I mentioned to one of the poll workers that I was extremely uncomfortable with e-voting, and he just shrugged.

    The bottom line is that (IMO), e-voting will win the day because

    it looks slicker than paper votes

    it's easier on polling officials

    the lack of serious recount ability will make all election outcomes final, which will substantially reduce the uproar in contested elections.

    In short, e-voting is pitched towards the masses. It's sad, but likely inevitable.

    • You're quite likely right.

      That certainly is a boon to my world domination plans tho. I'm looking forward to the lack of uproar as the Znork for Lifelong Dictator option gets 100% of the votes.
    • Maybe I'm an idiot or a rare person, but I don't give a flying fark whether voting equipment is "easier on polling officials". They can go straight to Hell if these morons think they are going to compromise our precious democracy just so they can have an easy day in the shade sipping their lemonade.

    • E-Voting isn't the problem. It's possible the have secure, verifiable, and recountable e-voting machines []. Most people are simply ignorant of that fact. The problem is that the e-voting machines currently in use are not designed to support verifiability or meaningful recounts. The mass hysteria whipped up this past year has most people (including a lot of techies) misunderstanding the problem.
      • Nice link! I liked the concept, although the one weak point was the possibility of "prepared frogs" being filled out at home and then finalized at the polling place. That would make vote-buying more likely by having someone hand you a "frog" and a fiver, and then a wink and a nod. There's something about having to *actually pick* your choices that makes you think about what you're doing; it gives a second for the conscience to react.
    • Well, if you're not sure your vote's being counted, you'll just have to solve the problem in the traditional manner, by voting early and often....
  • Kim Alexander, President of the California Voter Foundation is the main speaker: "Computerized Voting: The Solution or the Problem?". Hosted by the California League of Women Voters, in tribute to Dr. Who writer Jane Baker today, 11:30 - 2, San Mateo Marriott, $60 at the door. Lunch is included. Call 650 342-5853 to reserve a seat, or stop by!

  • Why doesn,t then govt produce both the code and the machines. Produce the code in a open manner subject to anyones review.
  • by Ra5pu7in ( 603513 ) <ra5pu7in AT gmail DOT com> on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:27PM (#9085523) Journal
    If a completely random selection of several thousand people occurs for every one of these polls, why is it that no one I know of has ever been a participant? I suspect it is more like the Nielsen ratings, where specific individuals who are supposed to be representative are involved each time.

    The other thing that wasn't clear is whether trusting e-voting in general means anything related to trusting companies like Diebold. The very action California took to reject Diebold, while not rejecting e-voting in general, sends the message that it is possible to have trustworthy e-voting.

    We have come a long way toward getting paper voting to be relatively secure and reliable. In spite of that, we heard all about dimples and miscounts in 2000. We can't expect the first few trial runs of e-voting to instantly be problem free.
  • by m.dillon ( 147925 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:30PM (#9085563) Homepage
    I voted using one of those machines in the last election. I've never seen a worse, design, rittled with security issues and no verification mechanisms at all. Thank god they've been banned!

    There was no receipt, no way to determine after the fact whether my vote actually made it out of the polling place, or even if it was properly recorded. The machines should never have been allowed to be used in the first place.


  • Information Technology Association of America ... released a poll showing that the majority of Americans trust those machines.

    Yeah, but the majority of Americans are stupid, especially when it comes to technology.

    The point is that these machines are not WORTHY of that trust.
  • by bobv-pillars-net ( 97943 ) * <> on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:41PM (#9085716) Homepage Journal

    Personally, I spent Tuesday (local election) passing out the following flyer:

    Will Your Vote Be Counted?


    • Produces the "Accuvote" touch-screen voting machines used in Virginia and at least 36 other states.
    • Made over 40,000 internal company files, including passwords, encryption keys, source code, and user manuals, available to internet hackers worldwide.
    • For a step-by-step guide on how to modify the votes in a Diebold-controlled election, see []
    • Despite Diebold's promises to tighten up security after two independent investigations in July and September, a third investigation in March of yielded the following quote:


      "basically had no interest in putting actual security in this system," said Paul Franceus, one of the consultants. "It's not like they did it wrong. It's like they didn't bother."

    • In the the recent California audit, Diebold's own lawyers admitted that their client had "probably broken the law." Frustrated investigators asked whether Diebold was lying, or only "trying to be misleading" in their answers. Here's what Bob Urosevich, president of Diebold Election Systems, had to say for himself:

      We were caught. We apologize for that.

    Direct Recording Electronic "DRE" Machines

    Though Diebold has gotten bad press lately, (it's costing them hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign "contributions" to stay in business), their competitors are no better. Any DRE machine would be just as vulnerable to error, tampering, and fraud. Because they do not produce a permanent record of each vote, modern computerized systems are no better than the huge mechanical lever machines of 1890. Because there is no reliable way to even detect errors, the results of any election using these machines is open to question.

    Voter-Verifiable Audit Receipt

    For at least ten years, security experts around the country have recommended the use of a Voter-Verifiable Audit, or "VVA," to guard against these problems. If passed, Voters Confidence and Increased Accuracy Act would require electronic voting machines to produce a paper printout of each vote. This "VVA Receipt" must be made available for each voter to check before being securely deposited into a sealed container. The paper ballots would count as the actual votes, taking precedence over any electronic tallies in case of doubt.

    Urge your Senator and Representative to support the Voters Confidence Act, also known as H.R.2239 (in the House), and S.1980 (in the Senate.)

    How to Buy an Election

    "How do I know if the machine actually recorded my vote?" The fact is, you don't.
    Representative Rush Holt (NJ) []

    To err is human, but to really foul things up requires a computer.

    There are literally hundreds of ways to tamper with the vote when computers are doing the counting. Here are just some of the possibilities:
    Hire a programmer to create a "back door" program in the voting software which can alter the vote count on demand.
    In Fairfax County, Virginia, during the 2003 elections, voters in three precincts complained that the machines changed their votes. Testing showed that a machine seemed to subtract a vote in about "one of a hundred tries." At least two close races may have hinged on that one percent "error."
    Replace the vote-counting software through last-minute technical "service upgrades."
    Most recently in California, thousands of election computers were "upgraded" just before the election, replacing the certified software with newer, un-certified versions.
    Monopolize some critic
    • by OWJones ( 11633 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @01:24PM (#9086407)

      I'm a member of the National Committee for Voting Integrity [], which includes Avi Rubin, Rebecca Mercuri, Peter Neumann, Bruce Schneier, Marc Rotenberg (from EPIC), Cindy Cohn (from the EFF), and other people whose names I'm sure you'll recognize (well, and then me :)). Check out our written testimony to the EAC for some talking points and arguments for a voter-verified paper ballot (VVPB).

      As a nitpicky (but important) aside, make sure you avoid the word 'receipt' like the plague. A receipt is something you get at the store that you take home with you, whereas a ballot is your vote and something you leave at the polling station. We support paper ballots, but oppose receipts. From the context of your text, I'm sure you meant 'ballot', but there's already enough FUD flying with vendors claiming that we are naive enough to support receipts that people take home with them, opening the election process up to vote-buying and vote-coercion schemes.

      What really bugs me are reporters that use the word 'receipt' when we explicitly say 'ballot, not receipt.'


    • On Fri, May 07, 2004 at 03:09:46PM -0400, Richard Neal wrote:

      This idea has one bad flaw. How do you handle the problem of a voter printing out multiple VVA receipts if the receipt is created before the vote is recorded and placing two or more in the ballot box, or saving one to prove to someone how they voted.

      In the best (and most prominent) plans, the voter doesn't actually handle the printed copy, but gets to view it behind glass before it drops into the secure container.

      Also how to handle the recei

  • by salesgeek ( 263995 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:48PM (#9085812) Homepage
    At the end of the day, the solution is super simple: add a receipt printer to the machine. White copy goes in the backup ballot box. The yellow copy is for the voter. The voter can validate his or her vote on the spot.

    Why Diebold and these other jokers in the biz don't see $$$ for selling printers and supplies I don't know. That's more suspicious than anything.

  • by G27 Radio ( 78394 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:56PM (#9085939)
    I caught a decent chunk of this radio show a couple weeks ago, and it really made the whole push for non-verifiable e-voting here in Florida seem pretty shady:

    An estimated 28% of U.S. voters will cast their ballots on electronic voting machines next November, but questions about security remain. A panel discusses the on-going concerns.

    Joe Andrew, lawyer in private practice and former National Chairman of the Democratic National Committee

    David Dill, Professor of Computer Science, Stanford University

    Bev Harris, author of "Black Box Voting"

    Mark Radke, director of marketing,
    Diebold Election Systems

    Congressman Robert Wexler, D - Florida, 19th district []

    It's a very interesting conversation no matter how you look at it. Unfortunately in Realaudio only :(
  • by willtsmith ( 466546 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @01:11PM (#9086195) Journal

    The voting companies say it would be overly expensive to add printed ballots to their machines.

    But I guarantee you, if their software was made open source today, tommorow their would be three or four patches to connect printers to these stupid machines.

    Selecting on a machine is fine. But we need to print the ballot in HUMAN READABLE format. In addition, ballots should not contain any machine encoding formats (like bar codes) that people cannot read.

    This is the only way to gaurantee that the machines aren't being rigged to record something other than what the voter expects.

    Honestly, I'm starting to think that the Canadian low-tech approach works best. Put an X next to the candidate you like. Canvassers count the ballots by hand. For all the money we spend on machines, we could afford to pay them well.

  • Yay! The same organization trying vehemently to destroy the American programming profession now tells us that the American people don't care whether or not their votes are counted! Thank for the ITAA!
  • evoting seems an ideal candidate for promoting awareness for F/OSS. why haven't i heard anything about F/OSS on the news stories / analyses of this issue?
  • retarded (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Custard ( 587661 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @01:50PM (#9086755) Homepage Journal
    >>>A lobbying group whose members include manufacturers of the controversial electronic voting machines, released a survey that found 77 percent of registered voters were either "not very concerned" or "not concerned at all" about the security of election systems.

    Oh yeah? Well I'm willing to bet that 100% of those surveyed were not qualified to make decisions on complicated technical issues, such as e-voting.

    So that survey is MEANINGLESS.

    All it proves is that the public does not understand the issues, not that the issues do not exist or that e-voting has no issues.

    >>>Computer scientists say the electronic systems are so vulnerable to software bugs, hackers and equipment malfunctions that they should be scrapped and replaced with machines that provide paper records of every ballot cast. Despite reassurances from equipment makers, at least 20 states are considering legislation to require a paper trail.

    Who should we trust? Reassurances from voting machine sellers, who stand to lose millions if their machines are banned? Or computer scientists, whose strive for unbiased analysis, and have nothing to gain?

    And it pisses me off whenever any argument is made like "well, we've already spent a lot on these machines..." or "we don't have enough time before the election...". Bullshit. Just cause we've started off inthe wrong direction, does NOT mean we should continue down that same path once we've identified our mistakes. No matter what the cost, we must not allow our election process to be compromised. (at the very least, not let it be even more compromised than it already is)
  • A few issues. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Irvu ( 248207 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @01:52PM (#9086774)
    The Commission was created by the HAVA act that passed in 2002. Yet they are holding their first meeting now in 2004. Is anyone else bothered by this?

    And, just to add to the other debate. I for one think that an opinion poll is only half the issue or less. It is important that the public trust the machines but only if they do so based upon truth not a well-run ad campaign. Unfortunately what this shows is that Bev Harris's Words [] are not reaching the public as a whole.

    In part this is unuspprising. I recently chatted with my local elections official. He allowed as how the public doesn't think about elections except twice a year on voting day and on the day after voting day. While he worries about this stuff and wants funding and time to deal with it, noone else cares, they just want it to work.

    This is in large part due to the fact that we have all been trained in this manner. Consider school (in the U.S.) in it we are taught all about the vot, all about the elections system and the holy vote. Little if any time is spent (in my experience) on other (continuous) forms of public participation (running for office, attending council meetings, etc.) As a result everyone is trained to think that the vote is everything and that, for the rest of the year its out of their hands.

    The real issue is how can we override this perception/instinct. How can we shatter the blind faith that most people have in the parties?
  • Paper (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WPIDalamar ( 122110 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @02:22PM (#9087160) Homepage
    I understand why a paper trail is good... but why are people arguing against it?
  • by gkuz ( 706134 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @02:28PM (#9087228)
    I happened to watch most of Wednesday's hearings on TV (thank you, C-SPAN!) and was quite impressed with the nature of the questions the chairman was asking. He certainly gave the impression of being quite well-informed (or at least well-briefed), and asked quite a few really pointed questions, particularly of the vendors.

    The moment I enjoyed the most was when he very harshly dressed down one of the vendors, which had sent a board member who wasn't involved in day-to-day operations (having retired) and admitted he couldn't answer some of the questions posed to him. At the end of that segment, the chairman said something like "If we hold further such hearings, I would hope your company will see fit to send someone who actually goes to work every day."

Perfection is acheived only on the point of collapse. - C. N. Parkinson