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IEEE Standards For Voting Machines 221

kgeiger writes "Voting machine designs and data formats are a free-for-all. The result is poor validation and hence opportunity for fraud. An IEEE standards group wants all election computer systems to speak the same language. From the article: 'IEEE Standards Project 1622 is working on electronic data interchange for voting systems. The plan is to create a common format, based on the Election Markup Language (EML) already recommended for use in Europe. This is a subset of the popular XML (eXtensible Markup Language) that specifies particular fields and data structures for use in voting.'"
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IEEE Standards For Voting Machines

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  • by betterunixthanunix ( 980855 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @10:22PM (#41849525)
    I understand how a hand count works. I have no idea how most voting machines work, because their designs are secret. We can talk about standards after we get access to source code and design documents.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 01, 2012 @10:23PM (#41849537)

    Proposal for New IEEE 1622 Standard:

    1.1 DON'T

    1.1.1 Voting should be done on paper.


    1.2.1 See 1.1 and appropriate sub-sections.

  • Why bother? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @10:24PM (#41849549)
    When Texas and Iowa are threatening to arrest election monitors, standards are not the issue.
  • Just say no ... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by riverat1 ( 1048260 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @10:40PM (#41849623)

    Just say no to all electronic voting. I don't care if it's open source or not, how can you ever be sure about the software loaded on a voting machine unless you do it personally. And then how can anyone else who uses the machine trust you. I don't have a problem with machine counting of paper ballots because you always have a hand count to fall back on if necessary but I'll never trust pure electronic voting.

  • by Sarten-X ( 1102295 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @10:43PM (#41849643) Homepage

    The problem is that secure computerized voting is like cryptography (and not just because the two are related)... Straightforward in theory, but every manufacturer thinks they've got to make their own implementation of the encryption/signing/validation algorithms, and every ignorant administrator is swayed by the marketing to think that "proprietary" means "secure".

    Even if we accept the idealistic worldview that the manufacturers want a fair election, there's no commercial sense in making a machine that's 100% open and verifiable, because that means that everybody else can copy the machine easily. We won't see a trustworthy computerized election any time soon.

  • Re:Why bother? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 01, 2012 @10:46PM (#41849659)

    The local should allow it. The states should pass laws allowing them, rather than threatening to arrest them. What part of expecting election monitors to be allowed is crazy? Even the most backward 3rd world countries allow independent and foreign election monitors to monitor their elections (well atleast the ones that dont try too hard to rig elections).

  • by WillAdams ( 45638 ) on Thursday November 01, 2012 @11:24PM (#41849887) Homepage

    Given that some polling locations are likely to not have power on election day: []

    the problems w/ unnecessarily using machines is obvious.

    Use a paper ballot. Use machines to count them. Have standards for how said machines communicate the totals.

    Above all, have a physical paper trail for the inevitable recounts.

  • Re:Why bother? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DeadCatX2 ( 950953 ) on Friday November 02, 2012 @12:15AM (#41850143) Journal

    Not because they're international, but because they're election monitors. Not generally the types of people that we would expect to attempt to influence elections. After all, if you heard that Syria was barring international election monitors within 100 feet of polling places, would you give them the same benefit of the doubt?

  • Re:Why bother? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by slacka ( 713188 ) on Friday November 02, 2012 @12:41AM (#41850229)

    "It's not the people who vote that count. It's the people who count the votes."
    -Josef Stalin
    With the election this close, I really hope it's the voters, not fraud, that decides the next president..

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 02, 2012 @01:23AM (#41850405)

    No. Just no.

    How do we know that the hardware on the floor is the exact same hardware as that which has been audited by experts?

    How do we know that the software running on that hardware is the exact same software as that which has been audited by experts?

    How do we know that there isn't some obscure hole that the experts failed to detect?

    How do we know that the experts aren't in fact in on the nefarious scheme (or schemes!) to steal the elections?

    How do we know that the data that is being tabulated at the main data centre is in fact the data that was collected at the polling booths?

    Sure, hand counted paper ballots have similar issues. But you can overcome those issues with paper ballots, in a transparent and obvious manner, by letting anybody who wants to watch the whole process from start to finish. You can't do that with electronics; it's just too complex, and there are too many ways to be sneaky about it to be certain that there are no problems.

    I remember scrutineering ballots in the state of Victoria (Australia) some years ago. Anybody could rock up and do it. I picked up on a few mistakes, too. The fact that anybody can do this gives me much more assurance about the results that are published. Of course, you could have the issue of citizen apathy, but if that's an issue, well, the elections are moot anyway.

  • Re:Why bother? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 02, 2012 @04:01AM (#41850795)

    They are allowed. They can speak to anyone they want to. They just have to stay 100 feet away from the polling place like *everyone else* who is *not* a voter.

    You sound a lot like this:

    "But the plans were on display . . ."
    "On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them."
    "That's the display department."
    "With a torch."
    "Ah, well the lights had probably gone."
    "So had the stairs."
    "But look, you found the notice, didn't you?"
    "Yes," said Arthur, "yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying Beware of the Leopard."

    This is pretty much the same problem that election observers face in dictatorships. Why do Texas feel the need to apply the same restrictions as some less nice countries?

  • by gatzke ( 2977 ) on Friday November 02, 2012 @05:52AM (#41851103) Homepage Journal

    I do know how printers work. I don't understand why they can't have a hard copy paper trail.

    You use the machine to cast your vote, you get a hard copy to review and put in a pile.

    Audit a given number of sites to see that the machine count and paper count match.

    You get the benefits of the automated system that can be reviewed by a human.

"How many teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "FIFTEEN!! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?"