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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!
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • by lightspawn ( 155347 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:09PM (#9085305) Homepage
    If we based everything off what the majority of Americans trusted, we would get someone like George Bush for President.

    No, we would get someone like Gore.
  • by daymitch ( 699517 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:09PM (#9085311)
    Well, This may be a bit inflammatory, but I think your comment demands some, umm, comment.

    First, I'm going to ask for clarification. Is voting a game of big numbers or is voting a game of small numbers? Your comment supports the first then instantly switches to the opposite point. My one vote doesn't count, then, suddenly, we have a close race and it counts. Which is it?

    I'll reveal my personal stance on the voting machines. Big, Bad Idea. The darling old ladies who serve as ballot judges in my local precinct have eyes like hawks, but they can't see potential voter fraud on a purely electronic platform. This is a clear case of a manufacturer using its superior resources to push an agenda against the public interest.

    Plus, I insist that my vote does matter. It's not all presidential politics. Local referenda on city and county issues can directly affect my quality of life. In a race where voter turn-out is maybe 3,000 folks, my vote definitely counts. Heck, a guy of meager income like me can even swing an election through personal effort alone.

    Time to quit bitching and get off the apathy wagon, kids.
  • 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.

  • by USAPatriot ( 730422 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:11PM (#9085324) Homepage
    More than half think that Saddam and Al-Qaeda worked together!
    Because it might be true?

    The proof that Saddam worked with bin Laden [telegraph.co.uk]

    Of course Europeans think Israel is the most dangerous threat in the world, so I guess their opinions are no measure of the truth either.

  • 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?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:15PM (#9085382)
    A majority of the idiots around here are gonna lose their card.
  • Most don't care (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lythic1 ( 728653 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:15PM (#9085384)
    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.
  • Re:Public Opinion? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Branc0 ( 580914 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:20PM (#9085426) Homepage Journal
    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.

  • 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.

  • by LtOcelot ( 154499 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:25PM (#9085495)
    Actually, if that document is real, it just proves that up until at least March of 1998 there was no relationship, and at that time someone wanted to establish one. An interesting lead that could point the way to something more substantial, but pretty tenuous by itself.
  • Iraqi intelligence documents discovered in Baghdad by The Telegraph have provided the first evidence of a direct link between Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'eda terrorist network and Saddam Hussein's regime.

    With the British presses high journalistic standards, I trust that The Telegraph on their own found the conclusive proof that Saddam worked with bin Laden. I also believe in Sasquatch.

  • 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.
  • by I confirm I'm not a ( 720413 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:34PM (#9085592) Journal

    The Telegraph is the most right-wing mainstream newspaper in Britain. It's also the most popular. And it's a European paper (albeit one that doesn't like other European countries). Proving:

    1. Your sweeping generalisation about Europeans is nothing more than, well, a sweeping generalisation - much of Europe is as ill-informed as much of the USA;
    2. That one right-wing paper believes that Saddam worked with Bin Laden - while pretty much every other newspaper in Europe knows that Saddam worked with Cheney and Bin Laden worked with our friends the Saudis (oh, and the CIA).

    And, for the record, it's not Sharon who gives me nightmares: apart from the 6-day War Israel has very limited experience of invading other nations, and it's arsenal of WMD is presumably very limited. My personal nightmare is a Texan.

  • by john82 ( 68332 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @12:37PM (#9085641)
    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 a very big brush over a very common voting machine that a) has been in use for years, and b) was in use in other areas of the US on the same night with little or no complaint.

    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.

    Essentially, this crowd will damn them NO MATTER WHAT THEY DO. And while I'm at it, to those of you filing lawsuits. If only you would put half as much effort into designing, developing and delivering a voting system that would satisfy everyone. Seems to be a lot easier to bitch about the current state than to actually try and fix it. And a lawsuit is not a fix.
  • 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 daymitch ( 699517 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @01:07PM (#9086128)
    Thanks for the reply. This is a very important issue here. Now, our thread is getting away from the e-voting topic, but this is a germane departure. The controversy over the machines is important, but it is also a big distraction. E-voting won't increase voter turnout. Voting can't get any easier than it already is.

    You've created a paralysing feedback loop with you comment, however. Chicken, egg. Egg, chicken. Voter, system. System, voter.

    Action is the only thing that's going to fix the system, cuz it aint fixing itself. Regardless of the philosophical constraints in our systems, concerted action is the only thing that makes things happen.

    Complaining about the system is useful only to a very limited point. If it helps one discover ways to either cope better or effect change, then great. Otherwise it quickly becomes a psychological handicap that provides an excuse for inaction or even paralysis.

    If the system encourages paralysis, the morally correct action is to acknowledge this, expend effort to overcome that paralysis, *then* change the system through further action. Simple, yes. Cliched, probably. True to my experience, definitely.

  • by frankie ( 91710 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @01:08PM (#9086150) Journal
    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.
  • 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.

  • 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 [blackboxvoting.org] 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?
  • by eyeye ( 653962 ) on Friday May 07, 2004 @03:14PM (#9087810) Homepage Journal
    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.

"An organization dries up if you don't challenge it with growth." -- Mark Shepherd, former President and CEO of Texas Instruments