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Author Topic: 20 amazing facts about voting in the US
Zyne
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quote:
1. 80% of all votes in America are counted by only two companies: Diebold and ES&S.

2. There is no federal agency with regulatory authority or oversight of the U.S. voting machine industry.

3. The vice-president of Diebold and the president of ES&S are brothers.

4. The chairman and CEO of Diebold is a major Bush campaign organizer and donor who wrote in 2003 that he was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year."

5. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel used to be chairman of ES&S. He became Senator based on votes counted by ES&S machines.

6. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, long-connected with the Bush family, was caught lying about his ownership of ES&S by the Senate Ethics Committee.

7. Senator Chuck Hagel was on a short list of George W. Bush's vice-presidential candidates.

8. ES&S is the largest voting machine manufacturer in the U.S. and counts almost 60% of all U.S. votes.

9. Diebold's new touch screen voting machines have no paper trail of any votes. In other words, there is no way to verify that the data coming out of the machine is the same as what was legitimately put in by voters.

10. Diebold also makes ATMs, checkout scanners, and ticket machines, all of which log each transaction and can generate a paper trail.

11. Diebold is based in Ohio.

12. Diebold employed 5 convicted felons as senior managers and developers to help write the central compiler computer code that counted 50% of the votes in 30 states.

13. Jeff Dean, Diebold's Senior Vice-President and senior programmer on Diebold's central compiler code, was convicted of 23 counts of felony theft in the first degree.

14. Diebold Senior Vice-President Jeff Dean was convicted of planting back doors in his software and using a "high degree of sophistication" to evade detection over a period of 2 years.

15. None of the international election observers were allowed in the polls in Ohio.

16. California banned the use of Diebold machines because the security was so bad. Despite Diebold's claims that the audit logs could not be hacked, a chimpanzee was able to do it! (See the movie here.)

17. 30% of all U.S. votes are carried out on unverifiable touch screen voting machines with no paper trail.

18. All -- not some -- but all the voting machine errors detected and reported in Florida went in favor of Bush or Republican candidates.

19. Florida's governor, Jeb is Bush's brother.

20. Major voting anomalies in Florida -- again always favoring Bush -- have been mathematically demonstrated and questioned by experts.

Entirely unverified, I got this from http://www.nightweed.com/angrygirl.html
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Zyne
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Another has verified, tho:

quote:
1. 80% of all votes in America are counted by only two
companies: Diebold and ES&S.

http://www.onlinejournal.com/evoting/042804Landes/042804landes.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diebold

2. There is no federal agency with regulatory
authority or oversight of the U.S. voting machine
industry.

http://www.commondreams.org/views02/0916-04.htm

http://www.onlinejournal.com/evoting/042804Landes/042804landes.html


3. The vice-president of Diebold and the president of
ES&S are brothers.

http://www.americanfreepress.net/html/private_company.html

http://www.onlinejournal.com/evoting/042804Landes/042804landes.html

4. The chairman and CEO of Diebold is a major Bush
campaign organizer and donor who wrote in 2003 that he
was "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral
votes to the president next year."

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/07/28/sunday/main632436.shtml

http://www.wishtv.com/Global/story.asp?S=1647886

5. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel used to be chairman
of ES&S. He became Senator based on votes counted by
ES&S machines.

http://www.motherjones.com/commentary/columns/2004/03/03_200.html

http://www.onlinejournal.com/evoting/031004Fitrakis/031004fitrakis.html

6. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel, long-connected with
the Bush family, was recently caught lying about his
ownership of ES&S by the Senate Ethics Committee.

http://www.blackboxvoting.com/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=26

http://www.hillnews.com/news/012903/hagel.aspx

http://www.onlisareinsradar.com/archives/000896.php

7. Senator Chuck Hagel was on a short list of George
W. Bush's vice-presidential candidates.

http://www.businessweek.com/2000/00_28/b3689130.htm

http://theindependent.com/stories/052700/new_hagel27.html

8. ES&S is the largest voting machine manufacturer in
the U.S. and counts almost 60% of all U.S. votes.

http://www.essvote.com/HTML/about/about.html

http://www.onlinejournal.com/evoting/042804Landes/042804landes.html

9. Diebold's new touch screen voting machines have no
paper trail of any votes. In other words, there is no
way to verify that the data coming out of the machine
is the same as what was legitimately put in by voters.

http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0225-05.htm

http://www.itworld.com/Tech/2987/041020evotestates/pfindex.html

10. Diebold also makes ATMs, checkout scanners, and
ticket machines, all of which log each transaction and
can generate a paper trail.

http://www.commondreams.org/views04/0225-05.htm

http://www.diebold.com/solutions/default.htm

11. Diebold is based in Ohio.

http://www.diebold.com/aboutus/ataglance/default.htm

12. Diebold employed 5 convicted felons as senior
managers and developers to help write the central
compiler computer code that counted 50% of the votes in
30 states.

http://www.wired.com/news/evote/0,2645,61640,00.html

http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2004/10/301469.shtml

13. Jeff Dean, Diebold's Senior Vice-President and
senior programmer on Diebold's central compiler code,
was convicted of 23 counts of felony theft in the first
degree.

http://www.chuckherrin.com/HackthevoteFAQ.htm#how

http://www.blackboxvoting.org/bbv_chapter-8.pdf

14. Diebold Senior Vice-President Jeff Dean was
convicted of planting back doors in his software and
using a "high degree of sophistication" to evade
detection over a period of 2 years.

http://www.chuckherrin.com/HackthevoteFAQ.htm#how

http://www.blackboxvoting.org/bbv_chapter-8.pdf

15. None of the international election observers were
allowed in the polls in Ohio.

http://www.globalexchange.org/update/press/2638.html

http://www.enquirer.com/editions/2004/10/26/loc_elexoh.html

16. California banned the use of Diebold machines
because the security was so bad. Despite Diebold's
claims that the audit logs could not be hacked, a
chimpanzee was able to do it! (See the movie here <
http://blackboxvoting.org/baxter/baxterVPR.mov>.)

http://wired.com/news/evote/0,2645,63298,00.html

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4874190

17. 30% of all U.S. votes are carried out on
unverifiable touch screen voting machines with no paper
trail.

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/07/28/sunday/main632436.shtml

18. All -- not some -- but all the voting machine
errors detected and reported in Florida went in favor
of Bush or Republican candidates.

http://www.wired.com/news/evote/0,2645,65757,00.html

http://www.yuricareport.com/ElectionAftermath04/ThreeResearchStudiesBushIsOut.htm

http://www.rise4news.net/extravotes.html

http://www.ilcaonline.org/modules.php?op=modload&name=News&file=article&sid=950

http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/HL0411/S00227.htm

19. The governor of the state of Florida, Jeb Bush, is
the President's brother.

http://www.tallahassee.com/mld/tallahassee/news/local/7628725.htm

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A10544-2004Oct29.html

20. Serious voting anomalies in Florida -- again
always favoring Bush -- have been mathematically
demonstrated and experts are recommending further
investigation.

http://www.yuricareport.com/ElectionAftermath04/ThreeResearchStudiesBushIsOut.htm

http://www.computerworld.com/governmenttopics/government/policy/story/0,10801,97614,00.html

http://www.americanfreepress.net/html/tens_of_thousands.html

http://www.commondreams.org/headlines04/1106-30.htm

http://www.consortiumnews.com/2004/110904.html

http://uscountvotes.org/


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OhPuhLeez
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Pardon me while I puke up my dinner.

Sickening.

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stayne
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If you recall, Zyne, I mentioned the whole electronic voting issue some time back as a looming disaster for our confidence in our elections. I should now receive a cookie, thank you.

I won't claim to be the absolute authority on the matter, by any means. I am but a humble programmer, and there are many great minds that toil away trying to come up with new mechanisms. Perhaps someone much smarter than I am can some day find a workable solution, but IMO, it is a fundamental problem. The advantage we gain by using computers _is_ the security flaw. By using computers to collect and tally the data, we inherently introduce vulnerability to manipulation. Manipulating data is what computers _do_. It is certainly possible to introduce fraud even with paper ballots, but the big issue is that of centralization and ease of deception. You have to have a lot more points of corruption in a paper ballot system than you need for an electronic one, and it is considerably more obvious to the average citizen if they observe someone changing or discarding votes in a paper system.

In the end, both systems require us to trust the people holding the keys, so to speak, but electronic systems have fewer keys, and the average citizen is ill equipped to determine what is going on. Hell, computer professionals wouldn't know unless they were knee deep in the system.

I'm trying not to be too apocolyptic here, but I worry that electronic voting systems could be the end of our democracy.

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Haggis
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<makes a cookie for stayne>
quote:
I'm trying not to be too apocolyptic here, but I worry that electronic voting systems could be the end of our democracy.

with extra chocolate chips
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JoshuaD
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quote:

12. Diebold employed 5 convicted felons as senior managers and developers to help write the central compiler computer code that counted 50% of the votes in 30 states.

"..central compiler computer code that counted..votes.."

That string of words does not form a coherent thought.

A compiler is something that takes the "code" programmers write and turns it into something the computer can understand. You don't write a compiler when you write a program, you probably use GCC or the MS Visual Studio Suite.

I'm not sure exactly why someone would string together, "central computer compiler code", but I can guarantee you that it has no meaning other than "Scary words".

I haven't read the rest of the list, but this really jumped out at me as an obvious scare tactic.

"Diebold... felons... computer compiler code... couted votes"

That's probably the scariest sentence in the world for someone over 60.

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JoshuaD
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quote:
Originally posted by Zyne:
[QUOTE]14. Diebold Senior Vice-President Jeff Dean was convicted of planting back doors in his software and using a "high degree of sophistication" to evade detection over a period of 2 years.

This one is another one that's just not technically accurate. If you write the software for these machines, you don't need a "High degree of Sophistication" to evade detection. You just don't tell anyone about it, and keep your code closed source.
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Zyne
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*bites the cookie* Stayne's right. We have a Big Issue here, with electronic voting, lack of a paper trail, and the inaccesibility of the technology to most folks. I'd rather have verifiable ballots and wait a few days for reliable results, than to have instant tallying. Down with instamocracy!
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JoshuaD
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for the record: If I recall the thread correctly, it was Styne and I both talking about how and why electronic voting won't work. I don't care about the recognition, I just want that damn cookie. [Big Grin]

But seriously, I wish this would become a non-partisan issue. I don't like how the democrats are trying to suggest it's all the republican's fault, when it's clearly both sides being idiots.

If were in the Clinton Administration when this happened Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the right would be jumping on Clinton, doing exactly what the left is doing now.

Making this a partisan issues just allows the crooked politicans to thrive longer. Unite together and drop this before it becomes a problem

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The Drake
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Like manual counts are error free.
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Lewkowski
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LOL

Crazy conspiracy theorists... why don't they just move up north into Canada?

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JoshuaD
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quote:
Originally posted by The Drake:
Like manual counts are error free.

Great mentality. Yes, there are difficulties in counting votes accurately. However, there are a great number of things that are MUCH harder to do, that America has already accomplished.

I think it's worth the effort to preserve our democracy.

quote:
Originally posted by Lewkowski:
LOL

Crazy conspiracy theorists... why don't they just move up north into Canada?

Why is it too much to ask that how these voting machines work is published?

It's not a conspiracy theory thing to me, it's a "Any complex program will have a multitude of bugs" theory. Even if the programmers have no malicious intent, it is VERY likely they will make a mistake that is exploitable.

I don't want to leave my vote in the hands of lazy programmers; I am one, and we're not trustworthy. [Big Grin]

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philnotfil
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quote:
Originally posted by Zyne:

20. Major voting anomalies in Florida -- again always favoring Bush -- have been mathematically demonstrated and questioned by experts.

I don't know about the others, but I did see something on this just the other day.

http://www.wired.com/news/evote/0,2645,65896,00.html

quote:
A study by Berkeley grad students and a professor showing anomalies with electronic-voting machines in Florida has been debunked by numerous academics who say the students used a faulty equation to reach their results and should never have released the study before getting it peer-reviewed.

The study, released three weeks ago by seven graduate students from the University of California, Berkeley's Quantitative Methods Research Team and sociology professor Michael Hout, presented analysis showing a discrepancy in the number of votes Bush received in counties that used touch-screen voting machines versus counties that used other types of voting equipment.


A study by Berkeley grad students and a professor showing anomalies with electronic-voting machines in Florida has been debunked by numerous academics who say the students used a faulty equation to reach their results and should never have released the study before getting it peer-reviewed.

The study, released three weeks ago by seven graduate students from the University of California, Berkeley's Quantitative Methods Research Team and sociology professor Michael Hout, presented analysis showing a discrepancy in the number of votes Bush received in counties that used touch-screen voting machines versus counties that used other types of voting equipment.

[/quote]

quote:
"What they did with their model is wrong, and their results are flawed," McCullough said. "They claim those results have some meaning, but I don't know how they can do that."

McCullough said they focused on one statistical model to conduct their analysis while ignoring other statistical models that would have produced opposite results.

"They either overlooked or did not bother to find a much better-fitting (statistical) regression model that showed that e-voting didn't account (for the voting anomalies)," McCullough said.

Charles Stewart, an MIT political science professor, called the study "the type of exercise that you do in a graduate data-analysis class" rather than as an academic paper.

"If I were to get this article as (an academic) reviewer, I would turn it around and say they were fishing to find a result," Stewart said. "I know of no theory or no prior set of intuitions that would have led me to run the analysis they ran."

He pointed out that only two of the 15 counties using touch-screen machines in Florida exhibited anomalous results.

"There was something unusual that went on in two counties, but there are many other things that could give rise to this anomaly," Stewart said. "Most of them are things that we're pretty sure affected this presidential election -- such as get-out-the-vote efforts by Republicans and special efforts at mobilizing Jewish voters over the issue of Israel and terrorism."


From the same article:
quote:
Hout defended his study, saying that he and the students tested several alternative hypotheses, but none eliminated the machines as a possible cause.

"The point that there might be something else that these counties have in common besides the technology is always a possibility in any statistical analysis," he said. He acknowledged that he and the students were unable to look at other data that might alter their conclusion, such as a breakdown of votes for Bush per voting machine or an analysis of votes cast by absentee paper ballots in the touch-screen counties.


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OhPuhLeez
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And if it became a non-partisan issue, perhaps people like Lew would be more concerned instead of calling those who have concerns "crazy conspiracy theorists."

Lew, if it was Clinton, you'd be all over it.

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Gary
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quote:
Originally posted by JoshuaD:
I don't want to leave my vote in the hands of lazy programmers; I am one, and we're not trustworthy. [Big Grin]

Damn right we're not! I think there is a significant opportunity to create open source voting software. I wonder why nobody is jumping on this?
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ed
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i completely agree. esp b/c of the fact that proprietary systems are not subject to peer review and therefore a client (the US public) would have to take the seller's word for it that the system is secure and works as advertised, i think that open source is the only logical path. a while back, slashdot had a story comparing the method used by india for electronic voting. i found it a very interesting read.

ed

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JoshuaD
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quote:
Originally posted by Gary:
I think there is a significant opportunity to create open source voting software. I wonder why nobody is jumping on this?

I actually considered doing exactly that, but then I realized how much work a truly secure system would be. The voting software would absolutely have to be it's own operating system.

You can't run the software on Windows. There are too many security holes in windows as it is, an unpatched XP machine becomes infected after about 2 minutes on the internet.

Futhermore, Windows is in charge of managing and allocating memory, and technically could modify the counts the voting software accumulates. I don't think that will happen, but there's no reason to allow for any security hole.

One option is taking a very stripped down linux kernel, which allows only one TTY. Then write your own basic windowing system to run on that ( I wouldn't trust X-Windows, but I don't know very much about it, so a stripped down X is a possibility).

Finally write up the actual voting software, which handles keeping count and user interface.

If you built the system from the kernel up, posted the source up on slashdot, and offered a reward for anyone who finds a security hole, you could nearly guarantee security.

You could do alot of awesome stuff once you got this system setup too. For example: set up a central server in DC that all the other machines report to in real time.

If I had 100,000$+ dollars to blow on a company, this is what it would do.

[ December 10, 2004, 12:15 PM: Message edited by: JoshuaD ]

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LoverOfJoy
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quote:
I wonder why nobody is jumping on this?
Maybe it has to do with the lazy part of the lazy programmers. [Wink]
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Godot
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quote:
Originally posted by LoverOfJoy:
quote:
I wonder why nobody is jumping on this?
Maybe it has to do with the lazy part of the lazy programmers. [Wink]
Or perhaps it's because the companies that make the voting machines are:
(A) well connected in DC, and/or
(B) big political money donors.

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Robertson, Ugly and Nohow
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quote:
2. There is no federal agency with regulatory authority or oversight of the U.S. voting machine industry.
Sure there is. There's the FTC, as well as the FBI, which are both very capable of dealing with cases of fraud (advertising or voting).

I'm no fan of electronic voting (its more expensive and doesn't provide that much benefit to me over a piece of paper with checkboxes on it).

But If your looking for an extra BATF-style voting system regulation agency, that performs surprise raids on companies to test the number of perforations on chads, or sensitivity of touch screens, I dont see enough value to justify it.

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The Drake
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quote:
Originally posted by JoshuaD:
Great mentality. Yes, there are difficulties in counting votes accurately. However, there are a great number of things that are MUCH harder to do, that America has already accomplished.

There are two ways to fix this, neither of which will be considered acceptable or possible.

1) Independent audit by disinterested party.

Good luck finding people who don't care who wins elections in the US.

2) Published voter rolls.

The end of the secret ballot. Hello, voter intimidation. Published votes could be checked by the individual voters for accuracy. Everyone has an interest in making their own vote count.

As for the other solutions that get proposed, once you allow for a conspiracy of the machine code, they're no good. Open source? How do you know what got loaded into the machine? The "paper trail"? Why can't the machine print one vote and store another?

Also, why wouldn't the optical scan machines have been rigged? Aren't they also built by programmers and engineers?

If you're going to go the 'error' route, probably the most serious error is user error - not to be taken lightly, surely. But machines using proprietary code are used to calculate and print the majority of people's paychecks, and having worked on that code, I can tell you that it is far more error prone. A voting machine is about the simplest code I can imagine - except for the user interface.

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SC Carver
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Any system is going to be as flawed as the people running it. I doubt it would be any harder to add/destroy a box full of paper ballots than it would be to electronically alter the results.

The electronic systems are more accurate than manual ones. (no hanging chad’s, or personal interpretation) I have been using my debit card for years, not once have I noticed a mistake. No one has ever forgotten to take the money out of my account and the only time money was taken out when it wasn’t supposed to, was when a waiter decided to copy down the number.

As far as having a paper trail; once you place your vote you never see your ballot again, nor do you get a receipt, so there is no way to know if your vote is actually counted. No different from the eletronic system.

The system only works as long as the people have faith in it and agree to adhere to the results they are given.

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Daruma28
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I'm convinced now. There IS a vast right wing conspiracy! Looks like the Democrats will never ever ever win another election again!
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Haggis
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See, even Daruma admits it [Wink] .
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The Drake
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Ok, you got me. I am the conspiracy. I designed the interface to trick people into voting for Bush.

Check out video of my prototype.

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Zyne
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*makes batch of cookies for J.D.*
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LetterRip
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quote:
I wonder why nobody is jumping on this?
There have been quite a few open source voting systems that are fully featured, and I know at least one has been used for national political elections.

LetterRip

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stayne
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Drake: Yes, paper ballots are open to fraud. But it takes much more work, and a much larger conspiracy to accomplish the same results as you could with an electronic system. Electronic voting automates the data manipulation, and therefore presents to opportunity to automate fraud. It makes large scale fraud more feasable.

Re: Open Source solutions
I don't see how these will really change anything. In the end, you still have to invest trust that someone is using the open source version. Hacked software could be swapped in and out. You end up having to trust the people who are running the machines, and the average citizen can't determine if the people doing that are being above board or not.

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FiredrakeRAGE
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The best voting solution I've heard was the combination computer/paper vote.

Part 1:
You place your vote on the touch screen computer - open source, cloesd source, or source written by small weevles. The touch screen confirms your vote, and then prints a chunk of paper with your vote marked upon it. You verify your vote.

Part 2:
You stick the paper in a big box. The box is counted. Unlike normal paper ballots, the count is very fast. The computer print out is clear and all ballots using this method are non provisional.

Provisional Ballots:
For provisional ballots, you fill out a form. Go through the voting process. Instead of sticking the paper in the sealed box, you stick it in a sealed envelope. You then stick your form and the sealed envelope in another envelope. The status of the individual is checked in one place. All 'good' votes are moved (in their still-sealed envelopes) to another area to be counted. This conserves voter anonymity.

This system is intentionally like our current system. The simpler the steps in the process the better. This fixes the problem of unclear voting and increases speed without complicating or rendering the system transparent.

This system isn't my own idea. I read of the idea on /., and refined it.

What does anyone think of that system?

--Firedrake

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LoverOfJoy
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I like it. But what happens when the printer runs out of ink and prints out a blank receipt and refuses to print another?

Assuming it's glitch free, I think that method would be good and help prevent fraud.

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FiredrakeRAGE
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LoverOfJoy -

Yes, that is a glitch. It would be fixed by the same mechanism that would allow a voter to view the paper and decide they did not like what it printed (voters == morons).

Not sure about how the computer UI would handle that. I assume that the people at the ballot would dispose of the ballot (in front of the person), then simply let 'em reprint another (and only stick one in box).

--Firedrake

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DonaldD
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A similar idea that has been floated incorporates an immediate electronic count (based on vote transactions stored to a local database) with the ability to use the printed counts for verification purposes.

Not that a lightning-fast count is important whatsoever, but if one is desired, you don't need a fast mechanical count of the printed receipts for speed purposes, since you already have the immediate count of the e-votes.

Since there will be an official, physical count used to verify these immediate numbers, it becomes useless to hack the system, so the e-vote count becomes much more reliable.

On a side note, there is a not-insignificant cost associated with purchasing/maintaining/using the additional vote counting hardware. A cost/benefit analysis would need to be done in order to compare hiring physical counters vs using an automated system.

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The Drake
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The proposed system would print paper versions that can be automatically counted? Or manually counted?

This would allow for an audit check between the vote registered electronically. I would further suggest that if there is any possibility of a MANUAL recount, that the names of the candidates NOT be put on the paper ballot.

Otherwise, somebody can do a two for me, one for him job of counting. When they disagree, do you blame the version on the hard drive? Or the one on yellow pad?

I guess what it comes down to, is that I trust the engineers and the computers more than I trust volunteer poll workers with strong political ties.

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carmachu
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quote:
Yes, paper ballots are open to fraud. But it takes much more work, and a much larger conspiracy to accomplish the same results as you could with an electronic system
I dont know about that. Simple things like a bunch of false registratuions, losing boxes of papert ballots, and the old chicago favorite of voting the dead come to mind, and dont take much work.

carmachu

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DonaldD
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The Drake: When they disagree (significantly) you do another recount, with tighter controls. Again, fudging the manual count doesn't help because there is an electronic count against which to compare, and discrepancies between the two will always trigger a highly visible (highly publicized?) review.

Eventually, either the numbers will match, or someone gets in big doo doo. And since the electoral college doesn't convene for (many) weeks after the popular election, there's plenty of time to catch mistakes.

As for the "2 for me, one for you" scenario - I don't know how it works there, but don't you have counters from all (both) main political parties overseeing each other? Regardless, if they were able to succeed during the first count, the tightly controlled recount would almost certainly diverge from the bad results (they would need to cheat very consistently.)

Again, whether scanned by humans or machines, this method is essentially identical, it's just a matter of which works "best"

A couple of challenges with this method, though: blind or highly visually impaired voters, and those who cannot recognize names written in the Roman alphabet. OK, call me politically incorrect, but the latter doesn't concern me as much today as it would have even 30 years ago.

The visually impaired thing is a problem, because blind folks would need another voting method, likely involving braille printers being available just about everywhere... $$$ Today (at least where I am) there are specific ballots that blind people fill out; this can be done cheaply, since the ballots are printed centrally, as opposed to these receipts, which would be produced and verified locally.

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The Drake
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As long as we can all agree that voting by Internet or Telephone should never happen, I'll be happy enough.
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