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Overheated Voting Machine Cast Its Own Votes 378

longacre writes in with the results of a report on voting machines that malfunctioned in NY during the 2010 mid-term elections. "Tests of a number of electronic voting machines that recorded shockingly high numbers of extra votes in the 2010 election show that overheating may have caused upwards of 30 percent of votes in some South Bronx voting precincts to go uncounted. WNYC first reported on the issue in December 2011, when it was found that tens of thousands of votes in the 2010 elections went uncounted because electronic voting machines counted more than one vote in a race. A review by the state Board of Election and the electronic voting machines’ manufacturer ES&S found that these 'over votes,' as they’re called, were due to a machine error. In the report issued by ES&S, when the machine used in the South Bronx overheated, ballots run during a test began coming back with errors."
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Overheated Voting Machine Cast Its Own Votes

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  • by semilemon ( 1024757 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @10:17PM (#39949809)
    I'm not particularly knowledgeable on the subject, so I'm hoping someone here can provide some insight. Why do electronic voting systems seems to have so many problems? Yes, they obviously need to be designed for 100% accuracy, but computers and electronic equipment take care of so many other, more complicated operations like flying aircraft and recording financial transactions, all of which should be much more complex but require the same level of accuracy and precision as counting votes. Are voting machines really that bad, are news reports skewing my opinion of them, or am I just unaware of how many problems a paper ballot system has?
  • by SlippyToad ( 240532 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @10:22PM (#39949837)

    Paper and pen ballots.


    And while we are at it, let's fix Voter Fraud with one simple tool: a freaking indelible inkwell at the desk where you pick up your ballot. That way, once you've picked up ONE ballot, you cast your ONE vote. People with purple fingers cannot pick up ballots.

    Then we can toss all of this disenfranchising "voter ID" crap on the ashpile too. Our elections will guarantee that each person votes just once and every fucking vote is counted. No swinging chads. No overheating vote-generating machines (oh, and does that story smell like ripe bullshit to me -- yes it does!)?

    Paper trail. Physically impossible to vote more than once..


  • Re:Scrap them all (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @10:22PM (#39949841)

    Why not just change the machines? Brazil uses them for more than a decade, without any big problems.

    Either that or Brazil isn't as good at discovering there were problems after an election.

    And before you get offended, I'm Brazilian. I'm also an electrical engineer and software developer, which means I don't trust voting machines, at least not voting machines without a paper receipt to be used for recounts. Which I know the Brazilian machines do not have.

  • Re:Scrap them all (Score:5, Interesting)

    by yakatz ( 1176317 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @10:24PM (#39949863) Homepage Journal
    Except when slot machines are hacked, the developers usually keep it a secret so the casinos will not be investigated. (Mitnick, K (2005). The Art of Intrusion. [amazon.com])

    Oh wait, the voting machine companies probably try to do that too.
  • One More Thing: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SlippyToad ( 240532 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @10:24PM (#39949865)

    Move Voting Day to Saturday. The only reason it was on Tuesday was to allow for travel time and to avoid the often-strictly observed Sabbath of the still quite Puritan colonial USA. Make it a Saturday, and make all businesses except essential service and emergency personnel close on that day period, so the people can take their time to vote.

    There. That's the last one.

  • Re:Scrap them all (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @10:41PM (#39949979) Homepage Journal

    ATMs are incredibly reliable these days. The fact that these POS voting machines are built, in large part, by the same people who build ATMs indicates strongly that Occam's Razor beats Hanlon's (or Napoleon's) Razor here; malice, rather than stupidity or incompetence, is the simplest and most likely explanation.

  • It was voting fraud (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @10:46PM (#39950015)

    It shows a cluster of voids in MULTIPLE voting cells in one area. That means

    1) it was not random.
    2) Multiple machines in multiple buildings all voided?? No, not overheating, you might pretend that this particular part of NY is hot,but different building have different heat characteristics.

    That map is a clear voting fraud pattern, it suggests local tampering.

  • Re:South Bronx (Score:4, Interesting)

    by game kid ( 805301 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @10:53PM (#39950049) Homepage

    Anyway, you guys need to come join our wonderful 'write an X on paper' system. We get results the same night, too.

    We had mechanical voting booths [bing.com] in the Bronx and NY in general, but then had to change to electronic ones to comply with federal law [wm.edu]. (Stupid HAVA [fec.gov].)

    Bloomberg called its first use on primary day 2010 a "royal screw-up". [latimes.com] I've voted with both old and new machines, and while both seemed to work well, who knows what bits flipped (or were flipped) between feed and count. Personally I think the change was as necessary as the impending invasion of internet TLDs (i.e. not at all).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @11:07PM (#39950117)

    Added comment: Get the Choicepoint data, I bet it shows that section of New York votes strongly Democrat or strongly Republican, and it means that someone was trying to change the election by removing that cluster of votes.

    Then go subpoena Choicepoint to find out who commissioned political affiliation data for those districts, and start prosecuting these voter frauds.

  • Re:Scrap them all (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2012 @11:45PM (#39950317) Journal

    Actually, in Canada, if you can demonstrate that the irregularities were high enough to have brought an election result into question a judge can order the election results vacated and a new election runs. I'd like to think that if 30% of the votes were lost that the *independent* (there's a keyword right there) election commission would go to a judge and ask exactly that, that the election results be vacated and a new election called. And Canada may find out soon, as evidence of robocall interference may call the results of at least a few ridings into question, which means even if it ends up being a year or more since the election, those results can be discarded and a new election fought.

  • Re:Scrap them all (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 10, 2012 @12:32AM (#39950543)

    Hanging and pregnant chads had to do with Florida not cleaning the chad out of their punch card holders. The jurisdiction I worked for for over 10 years ran this technology and it was understood by the people, was transparent and used OPEN SOURCE ballot counting technology. I could give you the interpreted scripts that ran the counting software. This technology was used all over the US until Florida effed it all up.

    The old "chaddy" technology counted ballots at a rate of 1,000 per minute. The "new" technology counts them at 100 per minute if your really pushing it hard. And it jams and tears and rips and still misreads stray marks, smudges and even paper imperfections on the ballot. Congratulations, you've taken the technology (punch cards) that still runs many payroll systems and helped Hitler hunt the Jews and thrown it in the trash. :O

    California is now heading a major push towards voting by mail to alleviate costs related to polling place operations. This means another line of fraud. I register by mail, I vote by mail, you ask for ID the first time I vote and I give you a utility bill (unverified, could be faked). All of this subverts the intent of the legislature to require a form of ID (State ID or SNN) which is verified against state databases BEFORE your ballot is counted for the first time.

    Authority: 10 years programming, running and testing ballot counting software for a major California Jurisdiction.

  • Re:Scrap them all (Score:5, Interesting)

    by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @12:42AM (#39950595)
    Have you never been to a magician's stage show? He gets 500 people to all look at the wrong thing at the same time with close to 100% accuracy. And you are claiming that a well timed car backfire won't make people look. Really? Really? All it takes for voter fraud to be easy is for stupid people to think they have a fool proof system, when they are the ones that are the fools.
  • Re:Scrap them all (Score:4, Interesting)

    by eastlight_jim ( 1070084 ) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @03:21AM (#39951289)
    The argument Stallman uses against this is that we, as voters, have no way to know whether the code actually running on the machine in front of us is the same as the open code that we have reviewed. Ultimately there will come a time when a very select number of people are responsible for compiling the code and putting it on the machine. If those people have a vested interest in some outcome or other then they could tamper with the machine and no-one would know any better. In fact, we would all be thinking it was a secure system because of the "open" nature of it. These things aren't like our PCs, we can't just install VotingMachine From Scratch and be done with it.
  • Re:Scrap them all (Score:3, Interesting)

    by arose ( 644256 ) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @04:21AM (#39951565)
    If only the electronic votes are counted, then the physical record doesn't matter at all. If receipts are counted, the electronic voting has merely added a pointless step.
  • Re:Scrap them all (Score:4, Interesting)

    by flyingfsck ( 986395 ) on Thursday May 10, 2012 @06:33AM (#39952035)
    Aha, so what we should do is make the vote machine pay out a $100 bill with each vote receipt. That will ensure that they are designed and built right and it will cause all elligible voters to go and vote.

"Yeah, but you're taking the universe out of context."