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NY Rejects E-Voting, DOJ Trying to Force the Issue 228

CompaniaHill writes "Hastily passed in the wake of the 2000 election mess, the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) supposedly offered funding to help states update their voting systems. In reality, the short deadlines have been used to push the sale of untested and uncertified new e-voting systems. Many states continue to demonstrate that the new e-voting machines are not reliable. The New York State Board of Elections (NYSBOE) took the time to pass their own voting legislation with additional testing and certification standards which far exceed the HAVA standards. As a result, they missed the HAVA deadlines. In March 2006, the Department of Justice (DOJ) sued New York to comply with HAVA. Now, the DOJ is serving a motion to try to take away New York's right to select and acquire their own voting machine systems — in effect, to force e-voting machines on New York anyway. At the moment it's too soon to say how the NYSBOE will respond."
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NY Rejects E-Voting, DOJ Trying to Force the Issue

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  • Neither are paper ballots, depending on who's counting them.
    • by SCHecklerX ( 229973 ) <greg@gksnetworks.com> on Friday November 09, 2007 @02:49PM (#21299609) Homepage
      A voter can, however, understand the system in place with paper ballots. What happens when you push the button on the electronic screen? Can you tell me?
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        You don't need to worry. Really you can rest assured that your state will certify only the best e-voting machines based on the most expensive lobbying...er... i mean performance tests. Really no need to worry about what happens to your vote.
      • by cshake ( 736412 ) <cshake+slashdot&gmail,com> on Friday November 09, 2007 @03:04PM (#21299851)
        The New York voting machines are the nice, reliable, sturdy, and easy to count mechanical things. I've used them many times, from local elections to using old machines for school votes (Wasn't 18 at the time of the last presidential election). They mechanically count each vote based on lever pulls, and have a nice number on the back to read out at the end of the day, all the election worker has to do is read the number and report it. The only error in the system is human error.

        In short, They Work.

        Tell me why we need to change from a tested, reliable, working system to a new-fangled system with huge concerns as to the accuracy and security?
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I, too, vote in NY and use the mechanical lever machines. The primary problems I've seen from them is that they are prone to mechanical failure (Don Alhart, a local tv anchor, broke the machine he used Tuesday) and that there is no way to separate votes are potentially corrupted.

          In the case of the former, all machines run the risk of breaking down, be they mechanical, electronic or even pencil and paper (run out of ballots, pencils, etc)... as long as there is some type of backup system (perhaps an absen
          • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) * on Friday November 09, 2007 @04:06PM (#21300695) Journal

            Disclaimer: I'm a Election Inspector in New York State. All of what I'm about to say is based on my experience running a polling place and what I've read of the New York State Election Law.

            as long as there is some type of backup system (perhaps an absentee ballot to use in place of the machine if there isn't a second machine available on-site), it isn't an issue.

            We have a backup system. It's called emergency paper ballots. If the machine breaks down we start using them. They are the same paper ballots that are used for affidavit voters (people who claim to be registered but whom aren't in the poll book) but they go into separate envelopes and can't be disputed or challenged. The end result is the same as if you had voted on the machine.

            As for the latter, the machine keeps running totals on vote per candidate and total voters. You can't go add a vote for someone without adding to the running total, which is supposed to match up with the election roll count (ie, we have 357 people who voted at this station today but the machine count shows a total of 413 voters). How do you know which of the 56 votes shouldn't count without invalidating all 357 legitimate votes?

            You don't. This is going to be a problem with any voting system. You have to trust the Election Inspectors to ensure that people have properly signed the poll book and meet the requirements to vote. I don't see how you can design any voting system (electronic or otherwise) that preserves the anonymous ballot while providing a way to delete votes that were improperly cast.

            Not just that, but the machines are also prone to the poll workers, especially if there isn't someone from each party, deciding to vote on behalf of people who never chose to vote

            The New York State Election Law mandates that there be at least one poll worker from each major party present at the polling place. Typically there's two Republicans and two Democrats. We schedule our breaks around this -- both Republicans don't go to lunch at the same time for example. Furthermore, if a voter requires assistance and we have to go into the machine with them, at least TWO inspectors have to go into the machine, one from each party. The Election Law defines the two major parties as the parties that had the highest and second highest vote counts in the last Governor's election. So in theory it need not even be the Democrats and Republicans.

            The biggest problem we face is the fact that nobody young bothers to volunteer to work as an Election Inspector. The overwhelming majority of us are old retirees. I'm the exception at 26. The political parties and various county board of elections are constantly fighting to retain enough Inspectors. In some poll places we have had to resort to swearing in registered voters (the Election Law allows this) to serve as Inspectors because something happened (in one district both Republican inspectors had heart attacks within an hour of each other, shit you not...) and the County Board wasn't able to get anybody over to our polling place in a timely manner.

            There's also a huge difference between somebody who is 26 years old and somebody who is 80. I could take two random people off the street in their 20s or 30s, spend 20 minutes training them and run the busiest polling place in the state without any issues. It's a different animal when you are working with people in their 80s and 90s. I've seen districts fall apart during primary elections with depressingly low turnout.

            The solution to any perceived problems with voting in New York State is to encourage younger people to work as Inspectors. By in large our machines work just fine. Our procedures are just fine. We just need better people. I would encourage anybody who lives in New York State to contact your local board of elections and get put on the list. It's not that much time out of your life -- you have to attend one training class (they

            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              The New York State Election Law mandates that there be at least one poll worker from each major party present at the polling place. Typically there's two Republicans and two Democrats. We schedule our breaks around this -- both Republicans don't go to lunch at the same time for example. Furthermore, if a voter requires assistance and we have to go into the machine with them, at least TWO inspectors have to go into the machine, one from each party. The Election Law defines the two major parties as the parties that had the highest and second highest vote counts in the last Governor's election. So in theory it need not even be the Democrats and Republicans.

              It doesn't always quite work out that way in practice though. There are usually 3-4 people working when I go to the polls, so I haven't seen it personally, but I've had friends go vote and find only one person staffing the poll at that time (I don't know where the others were, out to lunch, bathroom, whatever).

              The biggest problem we face is the fact that nobody young bothers to volunteer to work as an Election Inspector. The overwhelming majority of us are old retirees.

              I will also attest to that. In the 12 years that I've been voting, I've never seen a poll worker under 50. Maybe 25% of the time, there will be someone who is of non-retirement age.

              I've seen districts fall apart during primary elections with depressingly low turnout

              Primaries and sc

              • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) *

                It doesn't always quite work out that way in practice though. There are usually 3-4 people working when I go to the polls, so I haven't seen it personally, but I've had friends go vote and find only one person staffing the poll at that time (I don't know where the others were, out to lunch, bathroom, whatever).

                That comes back to the age and competence of the poll workers. I wouldn't allow it to happen at my polling place. If you do observe this then you should report it to your County Board of Elections because it's a serious violation of the Election Law.

                I've had minor problems with the people at my poll site in the past. Most of it related to them sleeping through our training sessions and then trying to do things their own way. As an example, we aren't supposed to sign more then two or three people in

              • In Canada... (Score:4, Insightful)

                by Mahjub Sa'aden ( 1100387 ) <msaaden@gmail.com> on Friday November 09, 2007 @10:30PM (#21304073)
                In Canada, most of the people manning the polls are young. We pay a lot of money for poll staff; the spots go quickly once an election has been called.
            • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

              Thanks of the information, I'm a life-long New Yorker and was actually considering volunteering (I can't imagine what's going to happen to the 80 somethings when the machines are gone) but haven't actually done the legwork of researching what's involved.

              Since you've offered to answer questions, I'll offer a couple. I'm registered as an independent, I typically lean Democrat on most issues, but prefer not to "belong" to anyone's party. Would I still be useful as an independent, as most things seem to req

              • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) *

                m registered as an independent, I typically lean Democrat on most issues, but prefer not to "belong" to anyone's party. Would I still be useful as an independent, as most things seem to require at least one Democrat and one Republican?

                Depends on your county. Technically speaking the political parties themselves (on a county level) certify lists of inspectors to the county board of elections, who then assigns them where needed. In Broome County the Democrats will happily take you if you are registered Working Families or Liberal, the Republicans will take you if you are registered Conservative. I honestly don't know how it works if you aren't in ANY party at all. Your best bet would be to call your county board and ask them. Incid

            • I am so glad someone stepped in to say what you said. These lever machines have been here forever, and every time this comes up, I write my reps and let them know that I don't want any newfangled, failure-prone computers to vote with. The inspectors where I am are professional, quick, and helpful. The tallies come out quick. We don't have to worry about a power outage. Oh, I suppose there are ways to sabotage the machines, but I imagine doing so without being obvious would be tough.

              Anyway, I am so scar
        • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @03:26PM (#21300141) Homepage Journal
          I'm also wondering how the heck the Feds have a say in New York states election business??

          How is this related to interstate commerce? If not, the Feds shouldn't have squat to say in all this....if not, where am I mistaken?

          • by mi ( 197448 )

            I'm also wondering how the heck the Feds have a say in New York states election business??

            The State received the HAVA-allocated money, but failed to deliver the improvements, that the money was supposed to pay for.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by quizwedge ( 324481 )
          We had someone from the state of Connecticut come into my college Political Science class a number of years ago. She was praising electronic voting machines. When it came time for Q&A, I said, "We have the most accurate voting machines available (mechanical lever), why would we switch to electronic voting?" She paused and did a reversal saying, "I would love to keep using the same machines, but nobody makes them anymore." So, that may be the issue for New York as well. Then again, if there's someon
        • In short, They Work."

          That is, of course, assuming that the machine is working correctly and hasn't been tampered with, or that election workers aren't deliberately reporting false numbers.

          I find it amusing that opponents of e-voting are so skeptical of the system's integrity, yet seem to have no similar concerns about the old methods.
          • by Shakrai ( 717556 ) * on Friday November 09, 2007 @04:30PM (#21301093) Journal

            IAANYSIOE (I am a New York State Inspector of Elections)

            That is, of course, assuming that the machine is working correctly and hasn't been tampered with

            The machine is sealed against tampering with numbered seals as well as protective and public counters. We verify all of this information in the morning before we open the polls. This is one of the reasons that we have to be there at 5:30AM even though the polls don't open until 6:00AM. Once the polls close we re-seal the machine and document the seal number, public and protective counter numbers, etc, etc.

            or that election workers aren't deliberately reporting false numbers.

            There are checks and balances in place to prevent this:

            1. The Election Law mandates that you have at least one election worker from each major party present at the polling place at all times. "Major Party" is defined in NYS Law as the two parties that had the highest and second highest number of votes in the last gubernatorial election, so in theory it need not be the Democrats and Republicans.
            2. The Election Inspectors are only provided with the keys to open and close the machine for voting. We don't have the keys required to open up the machine to re-program the ballot or zero the counters.
            3. The machine has two counters. A protective counter (the total number of votes ever cast on the machine) and a public counter (number of votes cast that day). The public counter needs to match the number of people that signed the poll book. The signatures in the poll book are all verified. There is no way for us to cast extra votes without the tampering being discovered.
            4. Lastly, when we canvass the vote at the end of the night and call in the results, those are the unofficial results. The official certified results happen when the Board of Elections opens up the machine several weeks after the election and verifies the counts match what we provided on election night.

            I find it amusing that opponents of e-voting are so skeptical of the system's integrity, yet seem to have no similar concerns about the old methods.

            The difference between the new methods and the old methods is that almost anybody can verify the integrity of the lever machines. You can't tamper with it and have votes go to another candidate because the machine isn't that smart -- each candidate has a counter that is mechanically linked to the lever. The Board of Elections can open up the machine and visually verify that each lever is attached to the correct counter. The inspectors at the polling place can verify that the ballot on the machine matches the ballot for the polling place.

            Contrast that to a software based system. Now you need somebody with computer and coding skills to verify the software on the machine. Even open source software isn't a perfect solution here, because there is no way for the inspectors at the polling place to verify that the software on the machine hasn't been tampered with after it left the Board of Elections.

        • by iabervon ( 1971 )
          Those are reasonably good, but they're not as good as the machines we have where I live. Ours use paper ballots that you mark with a magic marker with nice 1-inch margins between mark locations, the mark location adjacent to what you're voting for, ballot images available beforehand online, and the ballot layout according to a format that's entirely determined by standard and the available options. I think people who are either totally blind or quadrupelegic have to submit absentee ballots, and people who a
        • Interestingly enough, switches used in a high-reliability environment must be positively-engaged, mechanical action type. In other words, they must go "click" and make/break a contact. Hall sensors, capacitive sensors, proximity sensors, etc, are all deemed too unreliable to work properly. This would include touch screens - they're too prone to failure.

          I'm an EE. I've written some life-critical code. (As in, code failure could potentially lead to human death.) Can you promise that the code in the voting mac
        • by Rimbo ( 139781 )
          "Tell me why we need to change from a tested, reliable, working system to a new-fangled system with huge concerns as to the accuracy and security?"

          HELP AMERICA VOTE ACT OF 2002

          [[Page 116 STAT. 1666]]

          Public Law 107-252
          107th Congress

          An Act

          To establish a program to provide funds to

      • What happens when you push the button on the electronic screen? Can you tell me?

        I'm not totally sure, but I know it has something to do with elves...
        • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

          Possible spelling error detected. Did you mean "Elvis"?

          Your vote has left the building....

      • by N3WBI3 ( 595976 )
        "A voter can, however, understand the system in place with paper ballots" Hi, a bunch of folks in Florida from the year 2000 called, something about their cousin Chad, or their cousin from Chad...
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by pla ( 258480 )
        What happens when you push the button on the electronic screen? Can you tell me?

        You either decrease the resistance or increase the capacitance (or in some cases, disrupt an actual standing ultrasonic "sound" wave) between two fine meshes of wires running through the touchscreen. The touchscreen controller debounces this and reports it (either as serial input or by keystroke emulation) to the host device. The host device runs an OS (most likely QNX or PSOS or VX - Or yes, even Linux) that polls the inpu
    • by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @03:04PM (#21299841)
      I have a friend who is an election judge.

      It works like this.

      You have members of different parties right there with the ballots. They police each other.
      Likewise at the counting station. They don't just had the ballots to a room full of republicans or democrats except in some fairly corrupt locations.

      e-machines on the other hand can be silently corrupted. There is no human counterbalance. There is no way to prove that a particular vote was indeed the vote the machine records.
    • by sm62704 ( 957197 )
      Paper ballots can be recounted by different people than counted them the first time. With a Diebold machine, there is effectively no recount.
    • Neither are paper ballots, depending on who's counting them.

      When paper ballots are used, the centuries-old system of having judges from both parties overseeing the physical handling and counting of the votes can be relied upon to give us at least an approximation of fairness, if not fairness itself. I've been an election judge in some local races, and I was impressed by how open and fair the system seemed, and with the good faith that resulted on both sides from this system.

      With these new electronic voti

  • First Post (Score:4, Funny)

    by T-Bucket ( 823202 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @02:45PM (#21299531) Homepage
    This first post was written on a hacked e-voting machine. That is all.
  • Now "Federal Government requiring NY State to use non-state certified electronic voting machines" would be a lot more accurate.
  • by R2.0 ( 532027 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @02:50PM (#21299631)
    With the upcoming primaries and presidential election, this will go rapidly to SCOTUS. And they will stick it up DOJ's ass and break it off - one thing this court is known for is pushing federalism, and telling the states the exact means by which they will hold their elections is a HUGE violation of that.
    • Yes and this is the same court which previously supported eminent domain only for strictly public projects. These guys are *not* strict constitutionalists. They are really pro-corporatists with some milder conservative social leanings.

      We will be reaping the results of Bush's presidency for the next twenty years.
      • by N3WBI3 ( 595976 )
        Um... The court who made that shameful decision was favored by John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer, and Justice Anthony Kennedy. While I wiledly disagree with their verdict it was not so much about giving things to corporation as it was saying 'let the states determine who they will practice eminent domain at the state level (e.g. State land is not the property or domain of the federal government)

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        Um, the strict constitutionalists voted in favor of the little guy in the Kelo case.

        Voted for the right of the state to take property to give to a private individual: Stevens, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer.
        Voted against the state taking property to give to a private individual: O'Connor, Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas (with additional dissent written by Thomas).

        Before you go blaming someone, at least get your facts straight. Also, neither (Alito and Roberts) of Bush 43's appointees heard the cas
        • Fair enough. I lumped them together and assumed this landmark decision came from the new guys.

          I sit corrected and I'm pretty shocked it was the older hands that did this.

        • by samkass ( 174571 )
          "Alas, the facts have a well known liberal bias"

          I think I might just use this as a .sig...
        • ...Reagan (Kennedy after the Democrats swiftboated his first choice, Robert Bork)...
          Hmmm ... can a verb coined based on an event be used to describe events that happened prior to the coining of the verb?

          A temporal linguistics quandary, indeed.
    • Surely you must be joking.

      That's the excuse they pull out when they want to deny people's rights.

      But otherwise, the SCOTUS majority is perfectly happy to use the club of Federal pre-emption when states want to give additional protection to their citizens and residents. Scalia is an unrepentant nutbag on this. He'll fulminate about Federalism in one decision and then ignore it one week later.

      Bluntly, if its good for Republicans, SCOTUS likes it, and if it's bad for Republicans and less powerful people, SCO
      • by AuMatar ( 183847 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @03:18PM (#21300029)
        Well, even as a liberal, the Florida decision wasn't quite so clear cut as that. They ruled that a partial recount was illegal- just recounting certain key democratic counties. They didn't rule on the legality of a full recount. I happen to agree with them on that- you can't cherry pick what to count. Recount them all or recount none.
        • by 2short ( 466733 )
          It doesn't matter if they were right. The point with respect to Federalism is not that their opinion on the Florida recount was wrong, it is that it was irrelevant. According to the Constitution, how to run elections is a State matter. The federal government should have had no jurisdiction.
          They acted wrongly not by the answer they gave, but by considering the question.
          Had things gone down in a constitutional manner, we should all be still arguing about how the Florida supreme court and/or legislature ha
    • by OwnedByTwoCats ( 124103 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @03:27PM (#21300153)

      one thing this court is known for is pushing federalism
      Oh, yeah, like the part where the constitution says that states get to run elections by their own rules, and then decided that Florida couldn't do a recount according to their own rules...
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Dachannien ( 617929 )

        Amendment XIV, Section 1 (in part). [N]or shall any state ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

        That's what Bush v. Gore was about. You can't provide more protection to the people in some counties and precincts in your state without providing that protection to all counties and precincts.

        But the New York case we're talking about here is dependent largely upon these parts of the Constitution:

        Article I, Section 4 (in part). The times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations, except as to the places of choosing Senators.

        Article II, Section 1 (in part). The Congress may determine the time of choosing the electors, and the day on which they shall give their votes; which day shall be the same throughout the United States.

        Amendment X. The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

        Unfortunately, this case seems even less cut-and-dried than Bush v. Gore. I personally feel that, if it gets that far, the court(s) should examine the motivation behind both HAVA and the New York regulations, u

    • If congress had to abide by something like The Enumerated Powers Act [house.gov] maybe it would slow 'em down a bit.
    • Bullshit. The Supreme Court, at least in its current incarnation*, is authoritarian above all. If a state is more authoritarian than the federal government, the Supremes are all about states' rights. If the federal government is more authoritarian than a state, then somehow it falls under interstate commerce. Either way, if there's some way to lock someone up, deprive them of property, stifle dissent, or do the bidding of big corporations under color of law, they're for it.

      *To be fair, this is the way t
  • Game Over NY State (Score:3, Insightful)

    by asphaltjesus ( 978804 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @02:54PM (#21299705)
    "Commissioners of the Elections Board, which has been sued by the federal agency for not complying with election-modernization law, voted 3-1 to take up the matter in closed session." Italics mine.

    That's a clear sign it's out of the voters hands. I would guess that when they roll over, they've got plenty of public service jobs waiting for them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Etherwalk ( 681268 )
      Of course it's out of the voter's hands--it's in the courts' hands. An open session now just risks giving the other side more ammunition in court. No one in their right mind would do it, unless it was a carefully scripted open session, which would amount to little more than a press conference.
      • You mean they are going to sit in there and talk to their attorneys and actually do the right thing and flip the Feds the bird? I vaguely remember having a similar sense of fair play and optimism. Too bad reality is so much different.

        No. They are going to roll over in exchange for something. That something includes their careers.
    • "Commissioners of the Elections Board, which has been sued by the federal agency for not complying with election-modernization law, voted 3-1 to take up the matter in closed session." Italics mine.

      That's a clear sign it's out of the voters hands.

      Public board always take up lawsuits in closed session; one reason is that part of dealing with lawsuits its receiving, discussing, and making decisions about communications with counsel which could jeopardize the position of the agency in the suit if they were pub

  • into Alicia Key's website. We might not have gotten them into our electoral botnet in time otherwise.
  • by Registered Coward v2 ( 447531 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @02:58PM (#21299767)
    Section 4. The times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations, except as to the places of choosing Senators.

    It seems to me that unless Congress mandates e-voting the DOJ has no power to force it upon a state. The HAVA appears to provide funds for but does not mandate electronic voting. Even if it did, a state could mandate voting for Senators at a place with no electrical outlets and Congress could not change that; alternatively, is a voting both a "place?"
    • I say NY should press criminal charges against the DOJ for election tampering.
    • by NMerriam ( 15122 ) <NMerriam@artboy.org> on Friday November 09, 2007 @03:34PM (#21300269) Homepage
      The issue isn't one of Congressional authority, it's of civil rights, which of course the DoJ DOES have the authority to enforce, since they are guaranteed by the Constitution. No state has the ability to pass voting legislation that contradicts the US Constitution by, for example, making it more difficult for black voters to register or vote. That's why the DoJ has been monitoring elections in much of the South for so long.

      Of course, the whole point of this legal showdown is that HAVA falls far short of guaranteeing anyone's voting rights, so the DoJ would have to show in court that this particular half-measure they're trying to force is superior to NY state's particular half-measure in guaranteeing voting rights. That is far from a sure thing, since the flaws in electronic voting machines are so easily demonstrable and explainable to even the least technical jurist.

      So yes, the DoJ certainly has both the right (and responsibility) to be involved in the voting process, but that doesn't mean they're in control. The courts are the only authority that can say any state's voting equipment is unconstitutional, and I doubt they're going to mandate demonstrably insecure electronic voting if NY state can show them some other means of upholding voter rights.
  • "Here" is Springfield, Illinois (Gail Simpson is an alderman here).

    They have a paper trail, are easy to use, and they're NOT Diebold. The only thing I don't like about them is they use (IINM) Windows; I would FAR prefer them to use an open source OS. Not that my vote really matters much (I split my vote between the Greenies and the Libbies).

    -mcgrew
  • by CodeShark ( 17400 ) <ellsworthpc@yahoo. c o m> on Friday November 09, 2007 @03:04PM (#21299843) Homepage
    My question is, why would the DOJ be pushing unless there was a monied interest (Diebold, etc.) pushing behind the scenes. Because -- though I am traditionally a Republican in terms of most voting patterns, neither the Clinton nor Bush White House regimes ever seemed to be truly interested in battling corporate co-opting and corruption of the American political processes.


    Like others, though, I think that SCOTUS will prevail, because ultimately if the federal government becomes overpoweringly strong, there may be a second secessionary movement where many of the states tell the currently empowered federal government to go to hell and start over.

  • I guess we'll see how independent the new AG is, huh?
  • This is clearly a violation of the Constitution. The Constitution specifies how the electoral votes are divided up amongst the states, but leave it up to the individual states to decide how to assign those votes.
  • we should have nothing but paper ballots. not even mechanical voting machines, and definitely not electronic voting machines

    the reason is trust. trust in your voting process is extremely important to the confidence and integriy of society. now of course you can fake paper ballots, lose them, etc. it is just that, for every method you find to "hack" paper ballots, there are 10 more ways to hack mechanical voting, and 100 times more ways to attack electronic voting. increased complexity leads to more attack vectors. simple as that

    you can scan the paper ballots with optical machines, certainly, but anything more technophilic than that is not necessary, and perhaps dangerous. voting is not a process that needs to be improved. the poorest country in the world and the richest should all vote the simple way
    • I Disagree...
      Hanging Chads... You way back in the year 2000... The cause of the E-Voting Craze...

      Paper Has the problems of increased Human Error. The machanical system that NY has now reduces the Human Error Involved, although the interface horible, it has been working for about 100 years now. Flip the switch and Pull the leaver, Crank Click Click Click Click.

      These things are made from heavy metal, hacking would require err umm hacking at it. Causing a lot of noise and making those people who sit right ne
      • He said paper ballots.
        The same thing that 99% of the rest of the world uses.

        You use a PENCIL to put a big X in the box next to the name of the person you are voting for.

        Now I know that the Democratic party* claims that a large number of their supporters don't know which end of a pencil to use, but we can fix that by sharpening both ends (presumably, the Democrats will then claim its a Republican trick to get their supporters to poke themselves in the eye and blind them!)

        * - Dems. in Florida. The ones aroun
        • by lgw ( 121541 )
          Nothing wrong with using a computer with a touch screen and pictures of the candidates to help the voter put that X on the paper. As long as the outcome of the process is a paper ballot, computers can be quite helpful.
      • I Disagree...
        Hanging Chads... You way back in the year 2000... The cause of the E-Voting Craze...

        Correct me if I'm wrong, but the parent talks about paper and optical scan, which don't have chads, much less hanging ones.

        If I were to talk about the systems that produce chads, I'd talk about punchcard voting systems.

        Paper Has the problems of increased Human Error. The machanical system that NY has now reduces the Human Error Involved, although the interface horible, it has been working for about 100 years now

      • Hanging Chads... You way back in the year 2000... The cause of the E-Voting Craze...

        Hanging chads were not the problem. The problem was the "instant results" mania. There's absolutely no reason it should matter if an election held in November for a President to take office the following year isn't certified by the end of November or even December... let alone the same night.

        Preventing people from forging ballots is hardly rocket science... scanners to verify a bar or dot code are cheap enough that people ha
    • Of course, all it would take then to alter an election is a few organized volunteer election workers.

      Or don't you think there are that many people out there who would risk significant jail time to rig an election in their favor?
  • Luckily once they are all in place the general populace can hold a special referendum to get rid of them.

    Oh wait...
  • by jshriverWVU ( 810740 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @03:29PM (#21300183)
    Last week I voted and noticed something really odd. It never listed parties. WTF, granted you should really know who you are going to vote for, but how many people really know about council people and just vote a straight ticket for their party. It shocked me.
  • Has anybody ever noticed that the federal government is limited to a VERY small number of tasks, and that everything else is to be done at the state level? I'm sure that one of the tasks that states are responsible for is counting their own voter's votes. So where does the federal government get off trying to do something un-Constitutional? Don't these bozos swear an oath to defend the Constitution? We oughtta be able to put them in jail for perjuring themselves, at very least.
    • by 2short ( 466733 )
      "I'm sure that one of the tasks that states are responsible for is counting their own voter's votes."

      How sure are you?

      US Constitution, Article 1, section 4, Paragraph 1:
      "The times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations, except as to the places of choosing Senators."

      The Constitution is not all that long nor hard to understand, and is reasonabl
  • I don't know how the NY Constitution is set up, so he may not have powers in this area, but Gov. Spitzer is not one to be pushed around. I hope he tells the DOJ where they can shove it.
  • From a vote-counting perspective, the "gold standard" is a paper ballot that is dropped in a box. The box is observed by interested and neutral parties from the time the empty box is put into service at the start of the election day until the vote count is complete. The individual ballots are observed by interested parties from the time the box is opened after the vote until the last ballot is counted.

    From a vote-casting perspective the ballot would be legibly markable by any eligible voter without assist
  • NYC currently uses 800 pound refrigerator sized MECHANICAL voting machines, made by RF Shoup in 1962. You enter the booth, pull a big lever that shuts the curtain behind you, flip metal switches to make your selections, then pull the big lever again, which (1) increments mechanical counters for each lever, (2) resets the switches so that your vote can't be observed, and (3) opens the curtain behind you. I don't recall them needing electricity at all.

    At least, that was how they are supposed to work.

    As

  • According to the court documents [scribd.com] the suit was filed Feb. 2006.
  • by jhfry ( 829244 ) on Friday November 09, 2007 @04:07PM (#21300721)
    I think it's time for someone with some experience managing open source projects, and a significant bank roll, to start a fully open source voting machine initiative.

    I mean open hardware, open software, open everything.

    I am pretty certain that the open community could devise something that would be nearly tamper proof... probably using two devices. One, managed by the voting officials in the district that actually records the votes, the second is managed by a 3rd party and is used to verify the results.

    For example I vote on one machine, which prints a verification slip that is scanned into the second which display and records my votes. At the end of the day, both machines should have the same count... otherwise one of the two was tampered with. At which point they turn to the verification slips for a manual count.
  • ..that we can somehow have a worldwide network of ATM machines that, to the penny, account and dispense MONEY almost perfectly, handling deposits, transfers, currency exchanges etc etc, yet we cannot somehow make machines that can count votes
    accurately.

    How about demVote++, repVote++?
    • Your implementation is far too simple-minded. Here's what the experts at Diebold use:


      short demv(short cur_v) {
      float InvSqrt (float x){
      float xhalf = 0.5f*x;
      int i = *(int*)
      i = 0x5f3759df - (i>>1);
      x = *(float*)
      x = x*(1.5f - xhalf*x*x);
      return x;
      }
      cur_v += sqrt((float)cur_v) * InvSqrt((float)cur_v);
      retur
  • Hava nagila venis'mecha!
  • by moxley ( 895517 )
    The DOJ is not about Justice as most people understand it; (at least in this and many other cases they aren't).

    It is used as a tool to enforce the wishes of those in power; nothing more, nothing less. When the federal government is corrupt (as they have been for many terms to varying degrees, but never to the degree we see currently) then the DOJ is part of that.

    It's not a democrat or republican or conservative or liberal thing; those who think it is are falling prey to a scheme to control how they think ab

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