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Flaw in Florida E-Voting Machines 438

An anonymous reader writes "Looks like there are more problems with the new e-voting machines. How will they ever be ready in time for the November elections?"
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Flaw in Florida E-Voting Machines

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  • E-Voting safe ever? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CptChipJew ( 301983 ) * <> on Sunday June 13, 2004 @08:04AM (#9412364) Homepage Journal
    "These are minor technical hiccups that happen," said Hood spokeswoman Nicole DeLara. "No votes are lost, or could be lost"

    Didn't they let some hackers lose on that Diebold machine and find 30k fake votes changed in a matter of minutes? Honestly, I don't think they're ready for this, if they ever will be. My grandfather can't even operate his DVD player.

    In the gubernatorial election here in Cali (when Arnold got elected), they replaced the chad system with essentially the same design, but instead of punching holes, it left a really dark ink mark on the circle, which seems a lot safer to me. And this thing really flooded the ink, i touched it to my thumb just for fun and it left a pool in my fingertip. To me it really seems like a smart and simple alternative.

    Though of course I expect some replies on the contrary :D
  • by beforewisdom ( 729725 ) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @08:09AM (#9412372)
    Lets hope they aren't ready by the time of elections.

    Instead lets hope Florida gets embarrassed into using something else.

  • by jazzer ( 732722 ) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @08:39AM (#9412461)
    Is it a deja vu?

    Does the Supreme Court decide again who is the next President of the US and not the voters?

    Definately, when 8 of the seats on the Supreme Court are appointed by Republicans. ;) Trust me as a Canadian we take great interest, we're sick of the Bush administration as the rest of the world should be. But at the same time we are close to electing an idiot as stupid as Bush. Go figure.
  • by tdc_vga ( 787793 ) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @08:48AM (#9412479)
    I thought some /.ers might find this amusing. I typically vote using the absentee ballot system. I won't forget to vote, get stuck at work late, and this year don't have to deal with the whole e-voting mess. Unfortunately, I live in Palm Beach County and their website has been "temporarily unavailable" for over a week. I don't know about the rest of you, but if I ran a website and it was down for a week+ I think they'd have my head.

    Obviously, you can still call up and order an absentee ballot, but most people order theirs over the web now. Not to be a conspiracy theorist or anything, but in Palm Beach County most of the "get out the vote" campaigns in urban/impoverished/highly democrat areas encourage voters to apply for absentee ballots, hmm. PBC Elections Link [] That sure gives me more faith in the system, TdC

  • Re:Democracy? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by malus ( 6786 ) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @09:05AM (#9412527) Journal
    I can testify. My dad is a senior reporter with a local NBC affiliate, and I've clued him in to quite a few stories about our current voting machines.

    His assignment editor, and more troubling, the News Director [Hi, Forrest!] have routinely ignored the story. If the story isn't about The Spiderman burglar, or some Old Lady being ripped off by a roofing company, this 'news' channel doesn't want anything to do with it.
  • Re:More shenanigans (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 13, 2004 @09:31AM (#9412594)
    "So you'd rather trust a human with an agenda looking at each ballot and then "

    'A' human? no, a group of closely monitored people, monitored by both parties with check recounts yes. If the rules say 3 corner chad is a vote but the machine can't register those votes then the machine is wrong.

    Don't trust machines too much, the optical scanners in Florida were set to reject the ballot in predominantly Republican districts, (so the voter could try again). Meanwhile in Democrat districts the scanner was set to swallow the ballot and register a no vote. Which is why so many of the votes the machines couldn't read were democrat votes.
  • by slashdot_commentator ( 444053 ) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @09:41AM (#9412655) Journal
    Use keypunch encoders.

    Voter goes into keypunch booth, looks at wall with each candidate assigned a number, voter types in numbers, extracts card, and (new part), sticks card into reader which displays their choices on a screen. (Doesn't like what she sees, goes back in line to punch out another card.) Voter hands in card.

    You have anonymity, a paper trail, no concerns about hanging chads or mispunches, minimal maintenance, and almost no high tech specialist requirements. I wouldn't be shocked if most of this type of equipment is still manufactured and maintained.
  • Solution? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by t_allardyce ( 48447 ) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @10:11AM (#9412807) Journal
    Whats wrong with just attaching cheap receipt printers to every machine (they wanted to attach notebooks). Design the receipt to be visually obvious and machine readable, use paper thats atleast abit hard to forge, it could be for example just headed with a hologram sticker or water-mark or even just a unique id. Then when the voter presses ok, it prints, they are told to check it, the paper is wound up abit and the next voter comes in. Make recounts by this method mandatory for every election and the machines that read them are not made by the same company (or diebold). Advantage: You can use the existing machines, it doesnt matter how insecure they are, aslong as the paper is kept secure behind glass and then placed in a sealed box. Disadvantage: Im pretty sure the two results will disagree.

  • Re:Democracy? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Zeinfeld ( 263942 ) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @10:30AM (#9412907) Homepage
    I guess ignoring the constitution before he took office was just a sign of things to come.

    I thought the fact that executions clearly gave him considerable pleasure when he was Texas governor revealled an unpleasant character. It seemed to be something of a power trip for him. The other cause for concern was the fact that Bush was completely untroubled by the idea that an innocent person might be executed. Perhaps these were also signs of things to come.

    There seems to be a lot of denial about Bush. After 9/11 people wanted to believe in the President. But now we see the torture pictures from Iraq, and now we know that three distinct parts of the administration were writing memos to justify torture it is time to start asking some questions.

    As soon as the torture pictures surfaced the administration stepped in with a categorical statement that they were entirely the work of a few enlisted soldiers. Why would they do that unless they knew that an investigation would threaten administration and why would that be so unless the orders came straight from the top?

    Another factor that seems to give Bush little concern is the fact that almost a thousand allied troops have been killed during the occupation of Iraq so far. Bush has time for premature victory parades but has not attended a single funeral of an Iraqi serviceman.

    The term sadist tends to be cheapened through over-use. But there are certainly people who get pleasure from causing others to suffer. I think we have to judge Bush by his record in Texas and admit that he is one of these people.

  • by demachina ( 71715 ) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @10:37AM (#9412934)
    It intersting to see Election Systems and Software get some bad publicity. They are actually larger than Diebold in turns of evoting. Every one is familiar with the fact Diebold's CEO is a Bush campaign bigwig in Ohio and promised to deliver Ohio for Bush.

    ES&S is also excessively close to the Republicans. An excerpt from Mother Jones on them:

    "While Diebold has received the most attention, it actually isn't the biggest maker of computerized election machines. That honor goes to Omaha-based ES&S, and its Republican roots may be even stronger than Diebold's. "

    "The firm, which is privately held, began as a company called Data Mark, which was founded in the early 1980s by Bob and Todd Urosevich. In 1984, brothers William and Robert Ahmanson bought a 68 percent stake in Data Mark, and changed the company's name to American Information Services (AIS). Then, in 1987, McCarthy & Co, an Omaha investment group, acquired a minority share in AIS."

    "In 1992, investment banker Chuck Hagel, president of McCarthy & Co, became chairman of AIS. Hagel, who had been touted as a possible Senate candidate in 1993, was again on the list of likely GOP contenders heading into the 1996 contest. In January of 1995, while still chairman of ES&S, Hagel told the Omaha World-Herald that he would likely make a decision by mid-March of 1995. On March 15, according to a letter provided by Hagel's Senate staff, he resigned from the AIS board, noting that he intended to announce his candidacy. A few days later, he did just that. "

    "A little less than eight months after stepping down as director of AIS, Hagel surprised national pundits and defied early polls by defeating Benjamin Nelson, the state's popular former governor. It was Hagel's first try for public office. Nebraska elections officials told The Hill that machines made by AIS probably tallied 85 percent of the votes cast in the 1996 vote, although Nelson never drew attention to the connection. Hagel won again in 2002, by a far healthier margin. That vote is still angrily disputed by Hagel's Democratic opponent, Charlie Matulka, who did try to make Hagel's ties to ES&S an issue in the race and who asked that state elections officials conduct a hand recount of the vote. That request was rebuffed, because Hagel's margin of victory was so large."

    "As might be expected, Hagel has been generously supported by his investment partners at McCarthy & Co. -- since he first ran, Hagel has received about $15,000 in campaign contributions from McCarthy & Co. executives. And Hagel still owns more than $1 million in stock in McCarthy & Co., which still owns a quarter of ES&S."

  • Okay, trying again. The other link is slashdotted?

    There's so much material about conflict of interest in the Bush administration that it's difficult to make even a summary: Unprecedented Corruption: A guide to conflict of interest in the U.S. government [].

    Three movies and 34 recently published books should be news.
  • Re:Voter Purge (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @01:27PM (#9413962) Homepage
    I call bullshit. In a democracy, voting is a right... that's a central tenant of a democracy. Otherwise you have something that more closely resembles a fraternity or an autocracy. Citizenship essentially dictates who is part of that democracy and therefore who should vote.

    The disenfranchisement of convicted felons runs quite counter to that ideal, but what the above poster was referring to was the gross disenfranchisement of people who had names similar to felons, though who weren't felons themselves. For example, if a "Terry Jones" was convicted of something in Texas, then "Tim Jones" in Florida wouldn't be allowed to vote.

    On the other hand, why would a convicted felon suddenly be incapable of making a rational voting decision? This essentially means that anyone engaging in activities counter to the law will not have a chance to make those activities legal. During prohibition, those people convicted of engaging in a weekend sherry lost the right to influence the law. People convicted of traveling to Cuba cannot influence the policymaker's decisions. Tommy Chong will never again vote for a presidential candidate with a more realistic view of drug use in this country. The disenfranchisement of people who do things contrary to popular opinion is inherently wrong in a democracy, and it should stop. And yes, this does mean that Bobby who shot a man at a truck stop will be allowed his .000000001% influence over who becomes the next senator of Mississippi, but so what? What's he going to do, elect a monkey? Maybe he has some valuable insights into what works and doesn't work in the state's prison systems. Maybe not. But either way taking away his right to vote in his country seems like an arbitrary punishment. If he makes bad decisions, the democracy will average them out, which is the function of a democracy. Sadly, this cannot be said of convicted felon John Poindexter.

  • Re:Democracy? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by demachina ( 71715 ) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @02:32PM (#9414336)
    Well you wont bait me in to a pro Democrat rant. They are just as corrupt and bereft of morals and good ideas as the Republicans. But they are currently completely impotent so they aren't the ones to worry about at the moment. The Republicans who have a stranglehold on power, and are engaged in wholesale abuse of that power, are.

    As for 2000 the election for all practical purposes was a toss up so both parties were trying to steal it. The Republican's were just much better at it, and it didn't hurt that the governor of the state in questions was the President's brother and the Secretary of State, Katherine Harris who did everything possible to give it to the Bush family was his right hand lady. She was paid off by the Republican's with the house seat in the 13th district.

    Lets just not pretend the Republicans are pure as new driven snow, OK. Its a near certainty they already used Diebold's machines in 2002 to steal the Georgia Senate and Governor's race so if they do it again in 2004 don't make it sound like it would be a first.
  • by demachina ( 71715 ) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @07:25PM (#9415931)
    "They'd have me believe that Bush is a completely incompetent moron who (disengage rational thought) is the mastermind behind the most nefarious and profitable corruption in world history. They continuously point to the glaring, embarrassing international goofs the White House makes while (disengage rational thought) the Bush administration is pulling off the most successful power grab in American history."

    Not saying its true but what you describe is quite plausible. George W. is not one of the brightest President's we've had. He has always been a C student at best. His academic credentials, Yale and Harvard MBA are more thanks to his families power and connections than his intellectual ability. He joked recently in a commencement speech about being a C student and how far he'd gone, well most C students don't have his family connections.

    Though George W. isn't very bright he does have extremely bright people pulling the strings for him which is why what you say isn't possible is. Karl Rove is the brains in the White House, he is extremely bright and ruthless. Dick Cheney is the neferious and somewhat paranoid one. It is, according to Woodward his job to think of every possible bad thing that could happen and make sure the Bush administration plans for it.

    Cheney did rewrite the rules for contracting when he was defense secretary and reopened the revolving door where you work in government, where you give lucrative contracts to big companies, and then make millions when you retire from the government and go to work for the same company as he did with Halliburton. Dick Cheney was the mastermind who hollowed out the military and made it completely dependent on contractors for basic things like cooks, and then his company Halliburton has been getting all those contracts.

    If you don't think the Republican party is massively corrupt you should have watched the passage of the Medicare "reform" bill. Billy Tauzin (R) rammed it through Congress and last I heard was going to work for the drug lobby who are going to get a windfall profit from it. The Medicare administrator was drawing up the cost estimates for it at the same time he was negotiating his own private sector job with the companies who were going to make out like bandits when it passed. He had the permission of the White House to job shop though it was massively corrupt to allow it. The administrator then intentionally underestimated the cost of the bill by something like a hundred billion dollars because if the real price tag had been known it never would have passed. He also threatend his subordinates who threatened to reveal the real cost before the bill passed. The Bush administration had to put out the correct numbers right after the bill had passed to everyone's dismay. That guy cost taxpayers a hundred billion dollars in exchange for a sweet multimillion dollar career/payoff. Even then the bill barely passed, lobbyists for the drug and healthcare industry were circling like sharks in the lobby of the Capitol while the debate was going on openly bribing and intimidating Congressmen to get it passed. The payoff to the drug industry was hundreds of billions in tax dollars to pay for drugs and the Medicare administration is precluded by law from negotiating fair prices. The drug companies can charge as much as they think they can get away with.

    Don't get me wrong, the Democrats are almost as corrupt as the Republican's, they just send their pork in different places, but for you to stick your head in the sand and pretend like the Bush administration isn't massively corrupt is naive.

    Its also basically true that the Bush administration is making one foreign relations gaffe after another. I'm pretty sure the U.S. has never been more hated and feared around the world than it is today. International polls certainly suggest this. Why is that a contradiction to the fact that the Republican's are also in the midst of one of the biggest domestic power grabs ever at home. American's seem to be a lot more gullible than most people around the world so they are falling for the Bush Administration BS while most of the rest of the world isn't.
  • by Daetrin ( 576516 ) on Sunday June 13, 2004 @10:13PM (#9416753)
    It's 4 years AFTER the fact and you STILL read people on Slashdot who think it's delightfully clever to say that Bush never "won" an election since he really "stole" it. Wha? Come again? *blink blink* Mine eyes have been made open to a new scandal! I think it's practically diagnosable paranoia if a person honestly believes that the presidential election, covered around the clock by half a dozen news agencies, considered by the Supreme Court, was "stolen". That doesn't mean I like how it turned out or that I think Bush should have won, or would have won if we had a complete re-do in December, but for fuck's sake, Gore ceded victory.

    What are you objecting to? The idea that Bush used unfair and malicious means to win the election? Or just the use of the word "stole" to descrive that action?

    Nobody seems to disagree that the Republicans unfairly prevented thousands of people from voting by mistakenly labeling them as felons. [] The real question of course was if it was an honest mistake, or if there was a nefarious motivation.

    There doesn't seem much doubt that the Republicans paid people to go protest in Florida. (Unfortunatly i can't give you any good links for that one, most of the pages i've found reference a Wall Street Journal article, which i can't find because i'm not a paid subscriber.) Those protests delayed the recount enough to give the Supreme Court the excuse of declaring that Florida had passed the deadline and the recount shouldn't be considered. I think the intent of the Republican Party was pretty clear in that instance. They had no interest in finding out who the people actually wanted, they just wanted to make sure the initial verdict was maintained despite Florida law to the contrary.

    "Steal" may be a bit of hyperbole, but certainly Bush was trying to claim something that did not yet legally and might never have legally belonged to him.

    You can certainly claim that Gore wanted to win the election too. I can't speak for Gore personally of course, but although as a democrat i wanted him to win the election, i didn't think the rules should have been changed to allow him to win. After most elections in which the Democrats lose (which happens far to often in my opinion of course) i don't regularly protest that the election was flawed and that some kind of do-over should be made, unless i'm shown clear evidence of corruption and bribery or such.

    In the case of Florida the close results triggered an automatic recount, as was mandated by the Florida constitution. Although that certainly gave me hope that the recount would favor Gore, i wanted the recount to happen fairly and if the new results still favored Bush i would have accepted that. That wasn't good enough for the Republicans however who seemed to feel that the same rules shouldn't apply to them.

    There are a lot of accusations against Bush and his administration that fall under the conspiracy theory nonsense. (Bush hearing that a plane had hit one of the WTC towers and then deciding to continue on to an appearance at an elementary school is evidence of his vast stupidity, not an indication that he planed the 9/11 attacks.) However in this case there is pretty clear evidence that _something_ was going on. It's just a question of how much was by accident and how much be design, and who was arranging the by design bits. Yes the election was closely watched by a lot of people, however the stuff i cited still apparently happened. I haven't seen any news sources refuting it, in fact i've seen the felon thing repeated quite a number of times since, including reports that it may be happening again for the next presidential election. The problem is that even though news agencies knew about these issues, they don't seem to care and don't report them very much. Just like the whole slew of e-voting machine problems it seems.

    However to get back to one of your original comments, i agree with you that Moore is a bloody idiot. He seems to twist facts at best and just make up shit outright at worst, and in the long run he's not really helping the democrats. And this is in spite of the fact that i seem to agree with most of his basic mesages.

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor