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Paper Ballots Will Return In MD and VA 420

cheezitmike writes "According to a story in the Washington Post, 'Maryland and Virginia are going old school after Tuesday's election. Maryland will scrap its $65 million electronic system and go back to paper ballots in time for the 2010 midterm elections. In Virginia, localities are moving to paper after the General Assembly voted last year to phase out electronic voting machines as they wear out. "The battle for the hearts and minds of voters on whether electronic systems are good or bad has been lost," Brace said. The academics and computer scientists who said they were unreliable "have won that battle."'"
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Paper Ballots Will Return In MD and VA

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  • by ( 463190 ) * on Thursday October 30, 2008 @04:21PM (#25574685) Homepage

    Every time you get the urge to use that tag, think of all the idiocy in the world - Sarah Palin might become president, damages for copying a CD are in the $100Ks, the patent system, the supreme court, credit default swaps, bankers not in jail, etc.

    This story is nothing more than an "isolatedpocketofcommonsense"

    • by Deflagro ( 187160 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @04:41PM (#25575001)

      I think "Common sense" is inherently wrong though. If it were so common, wouldn't we see it more?
      I think we need more "Uncommon sense", as the norm seems to be something I try to avoid.

      I'm in Texas and apparently 23% of Texans believe Obama is a Muslim.

      Common sense? Not likely...

      • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @04:50PM (#25575131) Homepage

        I am also in Texas and I don't know about the "believes he's a Muslim" rate, but I know I just voted and there is no paper trail or anything indicating on paper that my vote was recorded properly.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by tbannist ( 230135 )

        According to Rene Descartes:

        "Nothing is more fairly distributed than common sense: no one thinks he needs more of it than he already has"

    • by Anonymous Coward

      There are petition drives in place to do this in other states as well. Transparent Voting [] is a nascent group that wants to require paper ballots in Missouri as well.

    • by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @05:06PM (#25575353) Journal

      This story is nothing more than an "isolatedpocketofcommonsense"

      I'd save your complaints until people start using the "suddenpandemicofcommonsense" tag.

    • by El Royo ( 907295 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @05:11PM (#25575451) Homepage
      I find your claim that Sarah Palin might become President is a sign of idiocy laughable on its face. Aren't the dems the ones who keep saying that no experience can prepare you for president (since Obama has no experience)? And yet, they keep saying that Palin is inexperienced? Pot? Kettle?
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by snspdaarf ( 1314399 )
        In politics, experience is not necessary in the first person, such as "our candidate." It is only in the third person, "their candidate", that experience is a requirement.
      • by RiotingPacifist ( 1228016 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @05:36PM (#25575817)

        yeah but she doesn't believe in dinosaurs! I mean wtf, anybody that doesn't fear a sudden velocoraptor attack just ain't right in the head!

        Also relevent may be
        the report outlining her abuse of power which she "hasn't had time to read yet" but some how "cleard her"
        she has only left the us once
        shes a creationist
        she cant name any papers she reads
        she cant name any supreme court rullings except roe vs wade
        she thinks taking 14 g hrs between waters breaking and going to hospital with a downs syndrome child (already a heightened chance of miscarriage) is a good idea
        she thinks shes in charge of the senate

        but nah its mainly the dinosour stuff.

      • by ozamosi ( 615254 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @05:45PM (#25575953) Homepage

        Being someone from the side of the Atlantic where half the population doesn't consist of idiots stupid enough to consider voting for the side that supports Palin, let me enlighten you on the topic.

        The problem isn't that Palin is inexperienced. The problem is that she's batshit insane.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 30, 2008 @05:55PM (#25576097)

          I think "batshit insane" is a bit too mild a term.

          Yeah, European here.

          The European view of the US election, in Star Wars characters:

          Obama: Luke. Young and inexperienced, but a candidate for hope.
          Biden: Han Solo. Technically on the side of good, but a mercenary at heart.
          McCain: Palpatine. Aged, evil politician, with undoubted experience but doubtfully the people's good at heart.
          Palin: Jar-Jar Binks. Irritating as all heck.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by steelfood ( 895457 )

      No, there's been an outbreak of common sense lately. It still hasn't become ubiquitous, but it's a serious improvement over two years ago.

  • by timpintsch ( 842091 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @04:22PM (#25574703)
    Will that be paper or plastic?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Heard a guy answer "plastic" when asked whether or not he wanted to vote electronically or with a paper ballot.

      The woman had no clue what he was going for. I nearly lost hope right then and there, and I hadn't even got to the voting booth yet...
      • The guy sounds like a Florida voter to me. Why shouldn't she have been confused when he responds with a non-sequitor.

  • No Barr in CT (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rinisari ( 521266 ) * on Thursday October 30, 2008 @04:25PM (#25574751) Homepage Journal

    Too bad CT won't do it in time to put Bob Barr on the ballot, since the state and court claimed that it would take too long to reprint paper ballots and reprogram electronic voting machines with his name, even though he met all requirements on time.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Yeah, it's nice to see the Dems and Reps act like they're two different parties but the truth is that they're the same power system with some internal struggles. What's even more rich is that the idiots on the street are still buying into this lie.
    • Re:No Barr in CT (Score:5, Insightful)

      by robinsonne ( 952701 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @04:29PM (#25574829)
      This to me is the one of the saddest things about voting in America today, that legitimate candidates aren't even included on the ballot simply because they're not Republocrats.
      • I've heard many people say that if we form a third party, the two are so in-line with eachother that they'd try to absorb it. /still wants to start a new party someday

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by hax4bux ( 209237 )

        I will go you one further: we should do away w/primaries as well.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ivan256 ( 17499 )

      There should be a simple legal remedy for this. If they can't get all legitimate candidates onto the ballot, they should lose their electoral votes.

    • Well, next time they'll just have to change the deadline. Someone at the CT State Department's office screwed that one up.
  • by nine-times ( 778537 ) <> on Thursday October 30, 2008 @04:25PM (#25574755) Homepage

    The academics and computer scientists who said they were unreliable "have won that battle."'

    Damn those stupid, fearful academics and computer scientists! Always standing in the way of progress!

    Seriously, though, what's the tone they're going for there?

    • by Col. Klink (retired) ( 11632 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @04:43PM (#25575029)
      To be fair, the people supporting the machines have done a pretty good job of showing how bad they are. Here's [] a guy "debunking" the myth that the machines are nefariously changing your vote. He shows that it's just miscalibrated, shows how easy it is to recalibrate, then shows how well it works after that (except that selecting "Republican Ticket" selects Ralph Nader).
    • That's the idea! Computers are bad, go back to the abacus! From the article...

      "'We're going to discard tens of millions of dollars to go to a system that is less accurate and secure,' said John Willis, an elections expert who was secretary of state under former Maryland governor Parris N. Glendening (D). 'The proper question is security and safeguards. It's not to go backwards into the 19th century with paper."

      While I applaud these states for identifying that they're using a sloppy e-voting solution, is t

      • by theaveng ( 1243528 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @05:03PM (#25575321)

        I used to live in Maryland. The paper ballots are anything but 1800s. They are an extremely-simple system where the voter draws a line next to this candidate. An electronic machine then reads that line and automatically tallies the vote. Later those same paper ballots can be reused for hand-counting if someone challenges the result.

        We Republicans protested for a long-time that the double-verification of both paper & electronic counts was superior to the e-voting machines, but the Democrats rammed through the machines anyway. I'm glad to see that we were proven correct, and now they're going back to the paper/electronic system.

        "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" is the motto that applies here. There was nothing wrong with the old system; it was proven and worked.

        • I'm a current Maryland resident and I agree that the old system worked just fine. It had just the right amount of tech (scan) and accountability (paper source).
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by theaveng ( 1243528 )

          >>>the Democrats rammed through

          The reason I use that phrase is because the Democrats control approximately 75% of the Maryland Legislature, so they pretty much do whatever the feel like doing, ignoring the Republicans completely. I liked living in Maryland but I didn't enjoy feeling like an ignored third party.

      • by CyberLord Seven ( 525173 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @05:06PM (#25575361)
        "Welcome to the paper-less office."

        Remember that from the Sixties and Seventies? Do you see any sign of it today? No? Why not?

        Well, maybe because paper is light-weight, foldable, and will last beyond your lifespan with minimal care.

        Let's try an experiment. I solved the secrets of the Universe and wrote them on ordinary paper with an ordinary ball-point pen back in the 1970s. I also wrote those same secrets on an Apple ][. The paper was shoved into my copy of Encyclopaedia Brittanica and put back on the shelf. The Apple ][ copy was manually copied onto an IBM PC circa 1982, using a 3.5" floppy where it sits to this day. Which copy of the SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE! would you like: paper or electronic?

        Oh, just for fun, let's say I copied the floppy onto a CD back in 1997. Then I copied that onto a USB stick in 2002. OH, almost forgot to mention that the file format is the same Apple ][ format from the 1970s. :)

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by HTH NE1 ( 675604 )

          OH, almost forgot to mention that the file format is the same Apple ][ format from the 1970s. :)

          That would be a file of type T, which is just a flat text file with line (or paragraph) ends delimited with Carriage Return (CR) instead of any of Line Feed (LF), CRLF, or LFCR and no other special formatting.

          Simple file formats last longest.

      • "'We're going to discard tens of millions of dollars to go to a system that is less accurate and secure,' said John Willis

        The problem is, they already discarded tens of millions of dollars buying a system that isn't secure, and continuing to use that system isn't going to give us that money back. There's nothing wrong with electronic voting per se, but you have to make the operation of the software open, secure, and verifiable. So if electronic voting is completely insecure, that means you have to change to something else quickly.

        'The proper question is security and safeguards. It's not to go backwards into the 19th century with paper."

        Why is paper a 19th century solution? It was invented before the 19th century, and it continues

      • by dwheeler ( 321049 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @05:24PM (#25575661) Homepage Journal
        We still use the wheel, and that's a pretty old invention. "Old" is not necessarily "bad", or "good". The question is, "is this the most appropriate way to solve the problem"?

        The DRE equipment was NEVER appropriate for voting. Those kinds of things are just a magician's prop, and completely untrustworthy for voting purposes. If you want to make it easy for ONE person to steal an entire election, they're perfect. If your purpose is an honestly-counted election, such machines cannot be trusted. "There's nothing up this sleeve... nothing up the other sleeve... oh look, here's a fixed election!! Betcha can't tell how I did it!"

        They're not IGNORING computer technology; they'll use computers to tally up the votes. The difference is, the information will be on a permanent record (paper) so that recounts and cross-checks can be done easily. You can use a computer well, or foolishly. The old systems used computers in a foolish way; now they're trying to fix that.

        I think that the states should get their money back for many of the voting machines. Practically ALL computer-knowledgeable people understand that computers are easily rigged, and thus many of the existing systems are fundamentally untrustworthy. Quoting John Willis is unconvincing; he may say he's an "elections expert", but it's clear that he does not understand the fundamentals of these new voting systems.
  • by CrazyJim1 ( 809850 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @04:26PM (#25574771) Journal
    And due to low voter turnout, we figure no one cares if we phase out paper voting too.
  • nothing new (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I'm from VA and I've been voting on paper ballots since the 2000 election. We use an optical scan system that is fairly foolproof. It counts but there's a basket of paper ballots underneath it.

    • Optical scan is NOT "fairly foolproof."

      Just look at the votes in the New Hampshire primary. The places that did hand counting (about 15%) in NH had Barack Obama winning. The places that did optical scan had Hillary Clinton winning.

      You can go to blackboxvoting or bradblog to find a lot of good articles during that time period.

      There is still the possibility of vote switching with the software and the use of memory cards. It is pretty easy to do with just a few corrupt individuals.

      Yes, there is a paper trail w

      • What is wrong with just giving out pieces of paper with the elections you are voting on and make people write in the candidate they want?

        Nice idea in theory, but, ummmmm, have you ever looked at people's writing?

        Oh, yeah, it won't work in places where people are voting on candidates and state and county measures.

        Oh, yeah, one more thing. If you have more than a few thousand people voting it can take an extememly long time to count the ballots. The Electoral College must meet and vote in early December.

  • by Subm ( 79417 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @04:27PM (#25574797)

    I paid Diebold good money for thousands of votes in those districts in that election.

    If they don't deliver I expect my money back!

  • by autocracy ( 192714 ) <> on Thursday October 30, 2008 @04:29PM (#25574839) Homepage

    If the guy with his pilot's license says that his Cessna can't fly a tank, listen to him. If the majority of computer professionals say using a computer to replace paper ballots is a stupid idea, listen to them.

    People who can't program their VCRs (how long before people stare at me when I mention "VCR"?) shouldn't make decisions about the suitability of high technology for mission critical tasks.

    • If the guy with his pilot's license says that his Cessna can't fly a tank, listen to him. If the majority of computer professionals say using a computer to replace paper ballots is a stupid idea, listen to them.

      Electronic voting is not a stupid idea.
      Several countries have done it successfully.
      India & Brazil being the two largest (AFAIK)

      The problem is the USA's implementation.

      • by db32 ( 862117 )
        Go program your VCR.
      • Several countries have done it successfully.

        Or, more accurately, several countries spent a bunch of money, ignored the problems, and declared victory. Sort of like Bush and "Mission Accomplished".

        As far as I know - and I've been paying pretty careful attention - there are no designs for electronic ballot submission or ballot tallying that meet the requirements for a democratic election with voters who are not experts in mathematics and/or computer security.

        • by Chirs ( 87576 )

          I thought that at least a few countries had fairly simple systems with voter-verifiable paper trails...was I mistaken?

      • The only reason they're doing it is because people don't have attention spans long enough to wait 'til morning to know the result.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ivan256 ( 17499 )

      The majority of computer professionals think using a computer to replace/augment paper ballots is just fine. The experts also agreed that these particular computers and the software they ran were improperly designed for the job.

      Electronic voting done properly should result in fewer errors and less fraud than paper ballots and human counting.

  • by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @04:30PM (#25574859) Journal

    electronic voting machines are unreliable. It is the evidence itself which shows they are unreliable and prone to losing/changing votes.

    Do a search and you will find issues from the current early voting process where machines aren't recording votes correctly. Add in the documented cases from around the country where votes were simply "lost", and you don't need an academic to tell you you need a verifiable paper trail, not the assurance of a company, that votes will be recorded correctly.

    It's funny how you get a paper trail to prove your purchases at the grocery/drug/clothes/whatever store, but people are fighting tooth-and-nail NOT to have a paper trail when it comes to recording votes.

    The simplest solution is to use an electronic machine for people to select their choices but at the end, provide a sheet with all their votes recorded which they deposit in a box. The machine votes are recorded but you have a paper trail in case electronic votes are "lost".

  • by davidwr ( 791652 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @04:34PM (#25574905) Homepage Journal

    The biggest problem with "e-Voting" is they tried to make it "all E."

    Computer-assisted voting for the blind and physically disabled is a must.

    A computer that takes the voter's choice and spits out a computer-AND human-readable ballot, plus a separate machine for blind people to use to read back their ballot to them, plus a separate machine to count the votes, would meet the requirements of allowing the blind and disabled to vote as much as the current high-tech systems do while providing the paper trail the old systems do.

    As a bonus, non-disabled voters and voters comfortable with human assistance do not require the use of any technology at the time they cast their votes. If the power goes out, the polls can remain open. This means polling stations can scale to more voting booths very cheaply.

    • by TWX ( 665546 )
      There are potential problems in computer-assisted voting systems too, especially touch screen systems, when the input sensors aren't calibrated right. We've already seen a lot of that with current touch screen systems where the vote tallies as being for the wrong candidate, and probably out of calibration errors.

      We use optical scan ballots here, and other than there being some news stories of IDIOTS who can't friggin' connect two lines with a pen, they seem to be working well.

      I could see how computer
    • One day we will have mathematical assurances that our votes are being counted properly by electronic voting machines. Cryptographers have been working on mathematically proven cryptographically safe voting schemes for years []. (See also Bruce Schneier's Applied Cryptography [].) Secure algorithms already exist, although they are not yet fully practical.

      I repeat myself for emphasis: there are methods to produce a secret, secure, election that is verifiably correct to an arbitrary degree of certainty. If you do

  • I'm not convinced (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    I'm still not convinced that electronic voting is a bad thing. I certainly agree that the current implementations are very poor but I think we should work on them rather than writing off electronic voting completely.

    Elections should be based on the popular vote, not the outdated electoral college system and electronic voting is really the only way to make it happen.

    The technology for making such a system already exits. I think the best approach would be an open source approach where the design of the entire

    • by esocid ( 946821 )
      I agree. I don't think they are unreliable in general, just that the way they've been implemented so far. I even requested an absentee ballot this year so I can not only avoid the lines, but so I can have a hard copy to "prove" how I voted rather than trusting proprietary electronic voting machines which have been proven flawed.
    • by Zordak ( 123132 )

      Elections should be based on the popular vote, not the outdated electoral college system and electronic voting is really the only way to make it happen.

      Why? You say this as though it's a given in no need of support or reasoning.

    • by JSBiff ( 87824 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @05:00PM (#25575285) Journal

      The Electoral College system has been losing popularity in recent years (notably among Democrats, for some odd reason *grin*), but I actually think it's a good thing, and here's why: No election is ever going to be perfect. In order to declare a winner with certainty, you need a very certain tally of the votes. I think we should be able to get the counted results for an election to be *very* reliable, in terms of errors, but I don't think you can ever achieve *perfection*.

            When you have extremely close elections, like in the 2000 USA election between Bush and Gore, (witness how much havoc was wreaked by "Hanging Chads" and other problems), it's almost impossible to get a nationwide total that people will agree is valid, particularly if the difference between the candidates is less than 1/10 of 1 percent. You get trapped in 'recount' limbo, and 'rules lawyer' hell (where advocates for either side try to argue why certain ballots should be counted one way or another, trying to guess the intent of a vote with a hanging chad, or trying to figure out if some votes were made by people illegally voting multiple times with the names and addresses of dead people, or the same person voting multiple times under different addresses in different precincts.

            The electoral college system helps 'smooth out' our inability to get *perfect exact totals*, by making the election be a district-by-district contest, where it's usually easier to decide which candidate got more votes in an individual district or state, than it is to determine the exact national total of votes. It's sort of like analog vs. digital recording of data: theoretically, analogue would be an exact represention, perfect, but we find in reality that analog recordings suffer from imperfections which distort them; digital, on the other hand, while never a truly exact/perfect representation of the data, gives us a way to record the data in such a way that we can compensate for later distortions which are introduced during transmission or duplication, and usually get much closer to perfection than analog allows.

            (I would like to note that, technically, right now, the 'districts' are entire states; I do think we should break it down into smaller districts, like congressional districts or something - I don't like winner-takes-all delegate allocations at the state level, because that's too 'low resolution').

            With the electoral college, if there is a problem with voting in one state or district, you can at least narrow down the 'fight' over recounts, etc, to the state or district where there is a problem or extremely close contest and don't have to worry about any other states/districts. If we went to a popular national vote, if you have a close election, recounts and rules lawyering will have to go on in every single district in the nation. That sounds ugly, and expensive to me, and more susceptible to fraud/manipulation, because the nations attention will be spread out over every state/district, instead of just worrying if the votes in say, Florida, or Ohio, or New Mexico, are accurate, and if there was fraud in those individual areas. It allows us to focus on specific places, instead of *everywhere*.

    • Why is electronic voting required for using the popular vote? It seems to me just about every election in the world other than the US Presidential election would say otherwise.

    • by YrWrstNtmr ( 564987 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @05:12PM (#25575457)
      Elections should be based on the popular vote, not the outdated electoral college system and electronic voting is really the only way to make it happen.

      Generally, the same candidate appeals to the metro areas of NYC/Chicago/LA. That's who we would have, the rest of the country be damned.
    • Everyone from security experts to laymen could understand how the system works and help to improve it.

      Every programmer at least. Normally, I would think that was fine, but in the case of a democratic voting system *every* voter needs to be able to understand the system.

      Elections should be based on the popular vote, not the outdated electoral college system and electronic voting is really the only way to make it happen.

      Completely unrelated issue. The current tallying system produces vote totals a the state

    • There certainly is no technical reason why computer voting machines cannot be made reliable and robust.

      But, there are several compelling social, political, legal, and technical reasons why such machines are a profoundly bad idea.

      Computer hardware and software is created by people. The people who create the technology can, either unintentionally or intentionally, introduce "bugs" into the implementation. Those bugs can be undetectable by any possible amount of examination, verification, or testing. Those

  • Just add printers! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by b0bby ( 201198 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @04:38PM (#25574955)

    I've used the machines in MD, and I like them. They're pretty clear and easy to use. What I really don't like, however, is the lack of a paper backup. It's such a simple thing, just add a printout which can be easily read and, if needed, optically scanned. That way you can verify the vote totals if there are any questions, and you get the advantages of the machines. I'd much rather they spent the money to add the printers, if possible, than scrap the whole system. If printers can't be added, then ok, get rid of them because there's too much uncertainty over results.

    • It really isn't as simple as "just add printers" unfortunately. Any time that the voting and vote tabulating is done by the same machine, there is a higher risk of a problem.

      To have secure and reliable electronic voting, you have to do think separation of concerns. At a high levels, there's two important use cases activities from the perspective of the voter (we'll ignore the administrative activities of creating the ballots for now):

      1) Casting a vote
      2) Counting votes

      Therefore, there should be two machine

      • There also is another advantage... The voters do not get the opportunity to mess with the vote counting machine. You could also enforce valid input i.e. valid ballots only.

  • From Springfield's local paper []:

    Sangamon County officials purchased touch-screen voting machines from an Illinois company called Populex and used them starting in 2006. After this year's primary election, however, the State Board of Elections disallowed those machines because they hadn't been tested as the federal government requires.

    As a result, Sangamon County this election is using equipment leased from Election Systems & Software Inc. of Omaha, Neb.

    Under the new system, voters are given paper ballots

  • Finally some rationality is returning to the electoral system. Maybe someday we can move to a fairer system of voting, like approval voting or rank voting. One can dream...

  • Voters don't care how they vote, as long as it's easy and they can have confidence that their vote will be counted.

    Considering that these states implemented relatively untested systems in a slap-dash manner that showed no regard for the integrity of the vote, I don't think it's fair to blame this on "academics and computer scientists".

    Done properly (as in, with a physical record), electronic voting is a good alternative to our increasingly antiquated voting systems. However, the combination of unscrupulous businessmen and ethically/intellectually-challenged election officials led these states to spend oodles of money on sub-standard products.

    The predictable (and predicted) end result was a process built more around satisfying the vendors desire to push units than satisfying the public's need for a reliable vote. Then the manure hit the wind-blowing machine and vote tallies came out screwy. People started to notice this particular gov't boondoggle and what we're seeing is elected officials starting to sweat.

    Unfortunately it appears the lesson they took from this was that e-voting is bad bad bad (look away and never mention it again) and they're going Luddite.

    Maybe in 10 years they'll get the nerve to try again, this time with an open, verifiable system that we can trust. Or, more likely. some other snake-oil salesman will take the opportunity to bilk the public trust for more millions of dollars.

    • My solution:

      Voter places X on a piece of paper in a box beside the candidate's name.

      Voter places paper in a steel box.

      Box is taken to a location where it's counted along with all the other votes in that area by hand, under the watchful eye of party representatives and other observers.

      TV channels are told to wait until the morning and be patient because making sure the right man is elected is a bit more important than the ratings of their election TV show or the impatience of the audience. This campaign has

  • by PeeAitchPee ( 712652 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @04:47PM (#25575087)

    The same Democrat-controlled state legislature originally blocked our previous (Republican) governor's efforts to get rid of these machines. Now that we have a Democrat governor, they're getting rid of the machines so as to take credit for it. They're doing the same thing with slot machines -- the previous governor tried to get slot machines legalized, and the state legislature blocked him. Now, slots are up for referendum with the support of our current (Democrat) governor and the Legislature who had previously opposed them.

    Not that it makes a damn bit of difference (we're fucked anyway), but I just wanted folks to know all the facts before they start rambling about the evils of the Republican party here in MD. Maryland is about as solidly Democrat as you can get -- the huge black majorities in Baltimore City and Prince Georges County have ensured that for decades.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by b0bby ( 201198 )

      Maryland is about as solidly Democrat as you can get -- the huge black majorities in Baltimore City and Prince Georges County have ensured that for decades.

      Umm, what? Maryland is 30% African-American. I always understood that the reason we're solidly democratic is because of the highly educated population. For example, Montgomery County has almost 30% of residents over 25 with an advanced degree, 15% African American (since you seem hung up on that), solidly democratic. I'm an independent, btw.

  • Look at FLA in 2,000 *no* system is without serious problems electronic voting can and should be done but with the following requirements:

    1) No network!
    2) Two receipts are printed one for the voter and one into a lock box a voter can always challenge their vote if they think things got messed up.

  • They have the option to vote with machines, but the vast majority of balloting is old-school paper ballots (the "connect the head and tail of the arrow with a line" method).
  • I suggested to a friend that when a ballot was filed that the voter get a receipt with a UID , a Unique Identification number that could be used to check against the tallied votes which would be published with the UID and no personal information to determine if their vote was assigned properly. I don't trust the electronic or paper ballots, because the process is unnecessarily obscure with the stated attempt to protect the voter. Clearly there is corruption and if there is a CREEP, then there will be a way.
    • Re:An alternative (Score:5, Insightful)

      by dwheeler ( 321049 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @05:34PM (#25575783) Homepage Journal
      You don't get receipts, because that would invite fraud.

      "Hi! If you vote for me, I'll pay you $20. If you pose as several other people, I'll pay $20 each. Just hand over your receipts when you're done, and once I've confirmed that you voted 'correctly', you get your $20".

      This is one of the reasons why voting systems are harder to build than ATMs. With ATMs, you record who does what with a camera, and keep a strict log of every transaction. If there's funny business, you have a chance of convicting the user. In a voting system, you MUST NOT record who made which vote, and you MUST NOT give the voter any way to prove who they voted for. Voting systems are trickier than they appear, because they have really unusual security requirements... and because power is at stake, so people really DO attack security weak points.
      • Re:An alternative (Score:4, Insightful)

        by NeutronCowboy ( 896098 ) on Thursday October 30, 2008 @06:41PM (#25576705)

        You know how to deal with that "problem"? Print-out occurs behind a glass plate. Voter can confirm vote on print-out, and push a button that says "Confirm". No take-home, no problem.

        The problem is not with the recording. The problem is what a voter is allowed to take home. Which, as you said, should be nothing.

Syntactic sugar causes cancer of the semicolon. -- Epigrams in Programming, ACM SIGPLAN Sept. 1982