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Sequoia Vote Machine Can't Do Simple Arithmetic? 254

whoever57 writes "Ed Felten is showing a scan of the summary from a Sequoia voting machine used in New Jersey. According to the paper record, the vote tallies don't add up — the total number of Republican ballots does not match the number of votes cast in the Republican primary and the total number of Democratic ballots does not match the number of votes cast in the Democratic primary. Felten has a number of discussions about the problems facing evoting, up to and including a semi-threatening email from Sequoia itself." Update: 03/20 23:30 GMT by J : Later today, Felten added an update in which he analyzes Sequoia's explanation. He has questions, comments, and a demand.
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Sequoia Vote Machine Can't Do Simple Arithmetic?

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  • by Ngarrang ( 1023425 ) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @10:17AM (#22806050) Journal
    At first, I was thinking,"Oh, maybe some people chose not to vote after calling up either Rep or Dem." But then I realized the math involved. The computer says 60 votes were cast for the Reps, but 61 votes are actually placed.

    Sheesh, why does this have to be so difficult. We can conduct trillions of dollars of business electronically, but we still don't have an effective digital voting system? I think the conspiracy here is by someone who hates technology likes to kill trees for paper balloting, not that digital voting is being rigged.
  • Re:Not only that... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jaysyn ( 203771 ) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @10:20AM (#22806072) Homepage Journal
    Mod down, way NSFW.
  • by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @10:53AM (#22806424) Homepage
    In the comments, Felton mentions that he has looked at two tapes so far. One is shown in the article. The other one has a column that is off by 2 votes. That pretty much eliminates the "Array Counter" theory.
  • Re:Slashdot Polls (Score:3, Informative)

    by Constantine XVI ( 880691 ) <`trash.eighty+slashdot' `at' `'> on Thursday March 20, 2008 @10:56AM (#22806464)
    I'll do you one better: []
  • Re:Count from Zero (Score:4, Informative)

    by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @11:00AM (#22806514) Journal

    I live in NY (still using the old level machines, which I love :) ), and consistently the people running the poles forget to switch the switch on the side of the machine to "enable" republican or democrat (depending on whose in the both last, and whose in it next). Heck, the people running the polls are usually retired, elderly, and volunteer.

    What county do you live in? Here in Broome County they give us colored cards (green for the Democrats, pink for the Republicans) that we had out to the voters after signing them in. The voter then gives that card to the person operating the machine who sets the primary lever accordingly before hitting the entrance button that allows them to vote.

    I've been running a polling place since 2004 and I've never had that mistake happen in a Primary Election. If you've seen it happen more then once or twice you should probably inform your local Board of Elections so they can address the problem. It just isn't supposed to happen that way......

  • by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @11:24AM (#22806846)

    Mathematically speaking, proving a program correct from the source code is in generaly impossible

    Arbitrary program code cannot be proven correct, true. However, program code can be designed to be provable.
  • Open source how? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Hikaru79 ( 832891 ) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @11:32AM (#22806940) Homepage
    Everyone keeps saying that a solution to the problem of potential voter fraud would be to open-source the code. My question is -- how? Let's say they do and someone reads it and understands it; what guarantee does anyone have that the code they've published is the same as the code on the machines the day of the election? It would be absolutely trivial to cut out the naughty bits before publishing.

    If Sequoia really were ready to commit mass voter fraud, I doubt they would have too many moral issues with violating the principles of open source while they're at it.
  • Re:Count from Zero (Score:3, Informative)

    by Shakrai ( 717556 ) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @12:34PM (#22807796) Journal

    I'm not sure if its just laziness on the part of the poll runners

    That's possible. I've come close to pulling out my hair during past elections trying to get the other three people in my polling place to follow proper procedure.

    As a random example, we aren't supposed to sign in more then two or three voters at a time. If you sign in more of them then that you'll invariably wind up with someone standing in line at the machine who realizes that he needs to be somewhere and decides to duck out of line without voting. Since we've already signed him in this screws up our public counter and effectively costs him his vote -- we have no way of knowing that he hasn't already voted (he signed the book) when he comes back.

    I stress this point to my fellow inspectors every single election, yet if I'm called away for something (usually to do an affidavit ballot) I'll come back and discover 10 people waiting behind the machine to vote, all mixed in with other people who have already voted and yet more people who can't vote (spouses who aren't registered, SOs from other districts, etc, etc) mixed in with the same mass of humanity.

    The solution to these problems (IMHO) is to get more young people to volunteer to work as Elections Inspectors. I encourage people to do this whenever I have the opportunity. Call up your Board of Elections and volunteer. It requires two days a year (the Primary and the General) plus a few hours to attend a training class. Most Counties in NYS will even pay you for doing it -- here in Broome we get $10/hr or $11/hr for the supervisor.

  • Re:Minor correction: (Score:5, Informative)

    by Naughty Bob ( 1004174 ) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @12:55PM (#22808088)
    And an Update: Sequoia's intimidation has worked [] , the state won't be sending Felten a machine.
  • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Informative)

    by tmalone ( 534172 ) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @01:49PM (#22808894)
    in the primary you have to pick a side if you want to vote. Democrat or Republican. Once you choose, you must vote within that party. At least in a closed primary that is how it works. So, if you're a registered Green, you don't get to vote in the primary. In the general election of course, everybody gets to vote.
  • by mzs ( 595629 ) on Thursday March 20, 2008 @02:39PM (#22809646)
    Had she registered to vote at the DMV, the first time she actually tried to vote they would ask for proof. This is how it works in IL. The DMV (here in IL the Secretary of State) is not allowed to examine most of these forms, regardlessly you will be marked in the role as needing to show proof when you go to the poll. Alternatively you can register to vote at the county clerks office and show proof of eligibility to vote and then the first time you vote you only need to sign. My wife did the first method, I the second.

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