Join 3,556 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Andrew Tanenbaum is at it again!
September 8, 2006 5:45 AM   Subscribe

The Votemaster has returned. Electoral-vote.com has been re-launched for the 2006 elections. The major focus is on the Senate but there is also some quick analysis of the hotter House races. For those who missed the phenomenon during the heady days of 2004, here is the Wikipedia article and previous MeFi discussion.
posted by rocketpup (41 comments total)

 
More in Tanenbaumania this year for the tech-minded: Is Your Cat Infected with a Computer Virus?

RFID systems as a whole are often treated with suspicion, but the input data received from individual RFID tags is implicitly trusted. RFID attacks are currently conceived as properly formatted but fake RFID data; however no one expects an RFID tag to send a SQL injection attack or a buffer overflow. This paper is meant to serve as a warning that data from RFID tags can be used to exploit back-end software systems. RFID middleware writers must therefore build appropriate checks (bounds checking, special character filtering, etc..), to prevent RFID middleware from suf- fering all of the well-known vulnerabilities experienced by the Internet. Furthermore, as a proof of concept, this paper presents the first self-replicating RFID virus. This virus uses RFID tags as a vector to compromise backend RFID middleware systems, via a SQL injection attack.
posted by rocketpup at 5:46 AM on September 8, 2006 [1 favorite]


1. Unless it's some kind of DaVinci Code thing I have absolutely no idea what your comment means.

2. Good lord, I am happy about this. I've been waiting for this site to come back the way people wait for the new season of Lost. Yeah, I'm a dork. Whatever. Bring on the data!
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:50 AM on September 8, 2006


Port 2006? Heh.
posted by delmoi at 5:55 AM on September 8, 2006


XQUZYPHYR :

1. Unless it's some kind of DaVinci Code thing I have absolutely no idea what your comment means.

It's merely a cute title to introduce the potential for RFID exploits. Your 'chipped' cat isn't going to go all 'Terminator' on you, but I would be somewhat concerned about my RFID-embedded passport. I actually was lazy and just copy/pasted the linked paper's abstract.

2. Good lord, I am happy about this. I've been waiting for this site to come back the way people wait for the new season of Lost. Yeah, I'm a dork. Whatever. Bring on the data!

Me too! Bring on the maps!
posted by rocketpup at 5:56 AM on September 8, 2006


Does this mean it matters if I vote now? The democrats are the ones who are going to fix things and not let big companies run the government, right?
posted by Mayor Curley at 6:14 AM on September 8, 2006


This site will be very useful to help predict results in non-Diebold states.
posted by riotgrrl69 at 6:22 AM on September 8, 2006


The democrats are the ones who are going to fix things and not let big companies run the government, right?

Oh sweet, naive, Mayor Curley...
posted by ZenMasterThis at 6:25 AM on September 8, 2006


This site will be very useful to help predict results in non-Diebold states.

And in the Diebold states, I predict exit polls showing Democratic candidates winning by statistically large margins. And then I predict Republican candidates will be the ones to actually take office. "Well, whaddya know? Guess all those exit polls were wrong AGAIN."
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 6:36 AM on September 8, 2006


Oh wow, that's a blast from the past. I haven't looked at that page for years, but the color scheme and graphics are exactly the same.
posted by smackfu at 6:42 AM on September 8, 2006


The democrats are the ones who are going to fix things and not let big companies run the government, right?

No, they're just less likely to get us all killed while they hand the government over to big companies.
posted by eustacescrubb at 7:08 AM on September 8, 2006


That's pretty cute what they did with the port number. Too bad they didn't set up the hold election sites at :2004, :2002, etc.
posted by smackfu at 7:12 AM on September 8, 2006


Clever use of port numbering, but the site's down.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:32 AM on September 8, 2006


The article below the map about the widening ideological differences (the center cannot hold) in the Senate is probably the best part of the page, and the one almost no one looked at.
posted by absalom at 7:38 AM on September 8, 2006


I for one am delighted to see this site back, and with the same colour scheme. It's like the last two years never happened, which would be great for American politics.

Absalom's right, the scoring of Senators is fascinating: pretty sad, though, that they're not all in favour of civil liberties, the protection of children, a planet worth living on, rights for low-paid workers, and fair treatment for all irrespective of race.
posted by imperium at 7:55 AM on September 8, 2006


A lot of them favor stomping puppies, too.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 7:58 AM on September 8, 2006


Actually, FWIW: Im my first comment, I did not intend to write "Tanenbaumania" which sounds extremely silly to me, but "Tanenbaumiana" which is also silly, but in a better way.
posted by rocketpup at 8:12 AM on September 8, 2006


"Well, whaddya know? Guess all those exit polls were wrong AGAIN."

Supposedly, exit polls will not be conducted to the degree they were in previous elections, because... they were "proved" inaccurate in the last two elections.
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:20 AM on September 8, 2006


I'd find the map a lot more valuable if it averaged polls for each race instead of just using the most recent. The current map gives the odd impression that Tom Kean has a more comfortable lead in New Jersey (they've generally been tied) than John Ensign has in Nevada (he's generally been far ahead). Isolated polls aren't so reliable.

The breakdown of individual races is much better. Good stuff.
posted by Epenthesis at 8:25 AM on September 8, 2006


"Well, whaddya know? Guess all those exit polls were wrong AGAIN."
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 9:36 AM EST on September 8 [+] [!]


I find it amusing that when reality and statistics disagree, we now question reality.
posted by Pastabagel at 8:33 AM on September 8, 2006


If they intend to persist with the port numbering scheme, they're pretty much going to prevent the employees of many companies from visiting it from the workplace. I know of a good number of large corporations where web access is only through a proxy which only allows well-known port numbers.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:38 AM on September 8, 2006


Perhaps if more people questioned reality, the world would be in better shape.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 8:52 AM on September 8, 2006


I find it amusing that when reality and statistics disagree, we now question reality.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:33 AM EST on September 8


Although in this case it's entirely possible that certain statistics provide a certain reality, namely that wherever exit polls disagreed with the poll results, they tended to be in districts with Diebold machines and skewed towards Republican candidates.
posted by one_bean at 8:52 AM on September 8, 2006


You're right, one_bean.

But really, it's not about exit polls. Exit polls that don't jibe with the final tally (by wide, wide margins) are a symptom. Lack of electoral oversight leading to easily rigged voting machines is the disease.

Pastabagel, I refer you to the GAO September 2005 report on electronic voting. Perhaps you'll find this amusing as well.

While electronic voting systems hold promise for a more accurate and efficient election process, numerous entities have raised concerns about their security and reliability, citing instances of weak security controls, system design flaws, inadequate system version control, inadequate security testing, incorrect system configuration, poor security management, and vague or incomplete voting system standards, among other issues.

For example, studies found (1) some electronic voting systems did not encrypt cast ballots or system audit logs, and it was possible to alter both without being detected; (2) it was possible to alter the files that define how a ballot looks and works so that the votes for one candidate could be recorded for a different candidate; and (3) vendors installed uncertified versions of voting system software at the local level.

It is important to note that many of the reported concerns were drawn from specific system makes and models or from a specific jurisdiction’s election, and that there is a lack of consensus among election officials and other experts on the pervasiveness of the concerns. Nevertheless, some of these concerns were reported to have caused local problems in federal elections—resulting in the loss or miscount of votes—and therefore merit attention.

posted by Fuzzy Monster at 9:09 AM on September 8, 2006


I find it amusing that when reality and statistics disagree, we now question reality.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:33 AM EST on September 8


Exit polls are some of the most reliable statistics, because you're asking people to tell you what they've just done, only moments before. That the exit polls were so wildly off suggests foul play on the part of the Republicans. And they did it smarter than in 2000. In 2004, they used musltiple tactics, and just changed a little bit in each area using those methods. That way, it'd be virtually impossible to prove in a court, and be ignored by the media, who like simple narratives.
posted by eustacescrubb at 9:16 AM on September 8, 2006


Of course, seeing as it's "rebut pastabagel time", the Ukrainian experience shows that the US official position is that exit polls are infallible and a suitable basis for a revolution. Unless those polls are inconvenient.
posted by imperium at 9:37 AM on September 8, 2006


I find it amusing that someone would claim that unverifiable numbers pulled from an insecure machine are more likely to reflect "reality" than people telling someone how they voted.
posted by snofoam at 9:56 AM on September 8, 2006


I find it amusing that someone would claim that unverifiable numbers pulled from an insecure machine are more likely to reflect "reality" than people telling someone how they voted.
posted by snofoam at 12:56 PM EST on September 8 [+] [!]


Doesn't that describe every US election held in the 20th century?

Yeah, I understand that Dieblod machines are insecure, and were used in districts with odd results, but to say exit polls are somehow more accurate than other polls ignores the fact that not everyone who votes provides a truthful answer to an exit poll question. Optical scanning machines are insecure, punchcard ballots are subject to sytematic error etc. We know. You're forgetting that the electronic machines were offered as a solution to punchcard ballots, because after 2000 it was believed you couldn't count votes without "the latest technology".
posted by Pastabagel at 10:14 AM on September 8, 2006



Although in this case it's entirely possible that certain statistics provide a certain reality, namely that wherever exit polls disagreed with the poll results, they tended to be in districts with Diebold machines and skewed towards Republican candidates.
posted by one_bean at 11:52 AM EST on September 8 [+] [!]


Is this even true?
posted by Pastabagel at 10:16 AM on September 8, 2006


because after 2000 it was believed you couldn't count votes without "the latest technology".

Nobody outside of the vendors and the local morons who bought the vendors' pamphlets thinks that. Electronic voting machines reduce the reliability of voting in every respect. Just because you display images on a screen does not make the ballots more legible.

Is this even true?

Google it and decide for yourself. You will find literally hours and hours worth of reading material. Short answer: it is true, but not "true enough" statistically to be incontrovertible. There is wiggle room.

The questions you should be asking are: a) do these machines address a single one of the issues our process had before they were implemented, b) no they do not and c) then why the hell have they been so aggressively implemented.

The statistics of exit polling can be argued (statistics is hard!) but the fact that this utterly counter-productive non-solution that has been adopted country-wide decreases vote security is non-arguable.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:32 AM on September 8, 2006


The questions you should be asking are: a) do these machines address a single one of the issues our process had before they were implemented, b) no they do not and c) then why the hell have they been so aggressively implemented.

The statistics of exit polling can be argued (statistics is hard!) but the fact that this utterly counter-productive non-solution that has been adopted country-wide decreases vote security is non-arguable.
posted by sonofsamiam at 1:32 PM EST on September 8 [+] [!]


You get no argument from me on any of this. But you are forgetting the post 2000 snarking about antiquated machines and the rush of the local morons (i.e. state governors and legislatures) to rush to get the shiniest new tech to prove they were doing something, because God forbid if someone sees a butterfly ballot in 2004 (which they did anyway).
posted by Pastabagel at 10:41 AM on September 8, 2006


Well, that's what really raises my eyebrows, moreso than the exit polling discrepencies: the industry was ready to roll out, and very aggressively pushed (and still is pushing) these machines, even years later. My own district is getting them for the first time for the upcoming election. The state office had decided it was a waste of money years ago, but I just received a notice of the switch in the mail, so someone is still pushing these things.

We are paying to remove the most important tool we have to hold our officials accountable. It does not matter whether there is an 'active conspiracy' or whether separate interests have aligned and brought us to this juncture: either way, it indicates a systemic failure, one that apparently no official will address until things come to a head. Which they will, I guarantee.
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:51 AM on September 8, 2006


Doesn't that describe every US election held in the 20th century?

No, it doesn't.

From here:
'"Any election, of course, will have anomalies. America's voting system is a messy patchwork of polling rules run mostly by county and city officials. 'We didn't have one election for president in 2004,' says Robert Pastor, who directs the Center for Democracy and Election Management at American University. 'We didn't have fifty elections. We actually had 13,000 elections run by 13,000 independent, quasi-sovereign counties and municipalities."

But what is most anomalous about the irregularities in 2004 was their decidedly partisan bent: Almost without exception they hurt John Kerry and benefited George Bush.'

Is this even true?

"Polls in thirty states weren't just off the mark -- they deviated to an extent that cannot be accounted for by their margin of error. In all but four states, the discrepancy favored President Bush."


What's not true is that Republicans were less likely to talk to pollsters than Democrats (The "Reluctant Responder" Theory):

"In its official postmortem report issued two months after the election, Edison/Mitofsky was unable to identify any flaw in its methodology -- so the pollsters, in essence, invented one for the electorate. According to Mitofsky, Bush partisans were simply disinclined to talk to exit pollsters on November 2nd -- displaying a heretofore unknown and undocumented aversion that skewed the polls in Kerry's favor by a margin of 6.5 percent nationwide.

Industry peers didn't buy it. John Zogby, one of the nation's leading pollsters, told me that Mitofsky's 'reluctant responder' hypothesis is 'preposterous.' Even Mitofsky, in his official report, underscored the hollowness of his theory: 'It is difficult to pinpoint precisely the reasons that, in general, Kerry voters were more likely to participate in the exit polls than Bush voters.'

Now, thanks to careful examination of Mitofsky's own data by Freeman and a team of eight researchers, we can say conclusively that the theory is dead wrong. In fact it was Democrats, not Republicans, who were more disinclined to answer pollsters' questions on Election Day. In Bush strongholds, Freeman and the other researchers found that fifty-six percent of voters completed the exit survey -- compared to only fifty-three percent in Kerry strongholds. 'The data presented to support the claim not only fails to substantiate it,' observes Freeman, 'but actually contradicts it.'
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 10:57 AM on September 8, 2006


because after 2000 it was believed you couldn't count votes without "the latest technology".
posted by Pastabagel


Nobody outside of the vendors and the local morons who bought the vendors' pamphlets thinks that.
posted by sonofsamiam


Local morons and morons on a Federal level, like the men and women of the House and the Senate when they passed the Help America Vote Act of 2002.
(The bill passed 347-58 in the House and 92-2 in the Senate.)

With the new act, states now have powers that were originally distributed to counties. With this centralization of power comes the new federally mandated computerization of voter rolls. This is particularly troubling to critics of the voter roll cleansing that took place in the Florida election in 2000.

Critics of the bill state it is little more than an effort to help large electronic voting systems vendors such as Diebold Election Systems, Election Systems & Software, and Sequoia Election Systems make millions of dollars throughout the country in selling electronic voting devices encouraged by HAVA.

posted by Fuzzy Monster at 11:11 AM on September 8, 2006


Yes, it does. Every mechanism for counting is inaccurate to some degree, including hand counting. Every machine is insecure in some way. Please don't tell me that optical scanners are invulnerable - they are computers, too after all. punchcard machines and the counters can be tampered with mechanically. There was a book that was written before 2000 that describes this. I can't remember the title or author. It was one word, and started with "vote", and was sort of an alternative press kind of book.

I was wondering when this rollingstone article would come up.

Even Mitofsky, in his official report, underscored the hollowness of his theory: 'It is difficult to pinpoint precisely the reasons that, in general, Kerry voters were more likely to participate in the exit polls than Bush voters.'

That's not the test. The test is whether some people are reluctant to respond - not Bush voters or Kerry voters. Furthermore, this paragraph:

Now, thanks to careful examination of Mitofsky's own data by Freeman and a team of eight researchers, we can say conclusively that the theory is dead wrong. In fact it was Democrats, not Republicans, who were more disinclined to answer pollsters' questions on Election Day. In Bush strongholds, Freeman and the other researchers found that fifty-six percent of voters completed the exit survey -- compared to only fifty-three percent in Kerry strongholds. 'The data presented to support the claim not only fails to substantiate it,' observes Freeman, 'but actually contradicts it.'

is logically inconsistent, unless you assume that all voters in every district nationwide are equally likely to respond to the exit poll (i.e. unless you assume your conclusion).

If a Bush stronghold, say 65% - 35%, had 56% of the voters respond, and if, hypothetically, every democrat answered, then only 29% of republicans answered which contradicts the conclusion of the paragraph.
posted by Pastabagel at 11:17 AM on September 8, 2006


Pastabagel, you think Steven Freeman doesn't know to correct for that? The numbers already take the local red/blue ratio into account. That is a basic basic concern. The RS article is a little sloppy, but check out the information provided in the Polling Bias or Corrupted Count? presentation.
posted by sonofsamiam at 11:33 AM on September 8, 2006


Pastabagel, you're missing my point and Kennedy's point as well.

Yes, every method for counting ballots is inaccurate to some degree. The point is, never before has any counting method delivered such hugely partisan anomalies across 30 states. This is unique to the electronic voting machines.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 11:38 AM on September 8, 2006


I guess this is off-topic since the thread has turned to http://fraud-vote.com:forever but did anyone else besides Blazecock Pileon notice that the site is down? None of the six nameservers listed in whois answer for the domain name even though five of the six will respond to a ping.

Anyone know what's going on with the site that this thread is supposed to be about (or did I miss something)?
posted by djeo at 12:07 PM on September 8, 2006


It's up now, at least for me.
posted by sonofsamiam at 12:24 PM on September 8, 2006


It works for me too. (It has actually never been down from where I sit...)
posted by Pastabagel at 12:30 PM on September 8, 2006


djeo: As stated above, some firewalls (especially at work) block strange port numbers, such as is given above.
posted by one_bean at 12:32 PM on September 8, 2006


Weird, very weird. I can't get any nameservice resolution from where I'm sitting but I can get a response from a shell account across the country. Okay, one little entry in /etc/hosts and now I can at least see the site.
posted by djeo at 12:33 PM on September 8, 2006


« Older In case of The Missing Diver Mystery, all is not a...  |  Vegetative Patient 'Communicat... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments