Those who cast the vote decide nothing. Those who count the vote decide everything.
December 15, 2005 11:57 PM   Subscribe

"After watching his computer expert change vote totals this week, Sancho said that he now believes someone on the inside did the same think in Volusia County in 2000." Leon County, FL election supervisor alleges fraud in the Bush/Gore election. "In Volusia County precinct 216, a memory card added more than 200 votes to George W. Bush's total and subtracted 16,000 votes from Al Gore. The mistake was later corrected during a hand count."
posted by Artifice_Eternity (81 comments total)
 
P.S. Bev Harris of Black Box Voting is an American hero. Consider sending her organization a few bucks to help them save our democracy.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 11:58 PM on December 15, 2005


There really should be a law that there has to be a paper trail. There's just too much room for deception.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 12:17 AM on December 16, 2005


There are some pushes to pass such laws, Bighappyfunhouse; if you haven't already, you should add your voice to them. (And if the election commission ignores the law and goes with Diebold anyway, remember to make a stink.)
posted by hattifattener at 12:23 AM on December 16, 2005


Paper trails are illegal because the blind cannot read them and about 10% of that population reads Braile (i.e. there are no universal methods to ADA-enable the trail). Brilliant, huh.
posted by kcm at 12:41 AM on December 16, 2005


Stop it, people! Bush is busy bringing Democracy to Iraq. Wait yor fucking turn, America!
posted by dobbs at 12:41 AM on December 16, 2005


[Diebold] Spokesman David Bear told the WESH 2 I-Team, "If you leave the keys in your car, the window open and the door unlocked, someone is going to drive off in it."

I just love this analogy. Diebold's theory of electoral maintenance apparently leaves all security procedures on the human side of things. Glad to see that control of the USA is left up to the honor system.
posted by mek at 12:43 AM on December 16, 2005


(A better analogy would be a car that didn't need keys in the first place.)
posted by mek at 12:44 AM on December 16, 2005


And lest I be without references, here's a collection of HAVA (HA!) related information.
posted by kcm at 12:45 AM on December 16, 2005


So how could voting be made safe? If you go to computers, hackers can alter the count. When you use paper, the vote counters can manipulate the totals.

The system won't work unless you trust the counters.
posted by b_thinky at 12:57 AM on December 16, 2005


The traditional method is to have multiple counters and multiple oversight from different political parties.

It's possible to set it up so that the individual voter can verify that their vote was counted, but it then becomes possible for a voter to prove to someone else how they voted — and this opens up the possibility of vote coërcion, which the current system is designed to prevent (and for good historical reasons).
posted by hattifattener at 1:04 AM on December 16, 2005


What I don't get, in this day of super-int0rweb-2.0-netstuffs, is that nobody has made it possible to check votes online after voting. That way, you could check that YOUR vote was counted properly (with username & password), and, as a bonus, you'd have an instant tally of votes.
posted by slater at 1:11 AM on December 16, 2005


Avi Rubin is the leading authority on this as far as I know. These ideas HAVE all been designed and implemented, but due to stupid legislation and money lobbying, Diebold wins.

Here, read his work for yourselfs.
posted by kcm at 1:24 AM on December 16, 2005


The system won't work unless you trust the counters.

Sure, at some point the custodes disappear up their own paradoxical arses.

But as long as the paper is under reliable watch from end to end, counts can be recounted until everyone is happy.

In my country all political parties can appoint observers in polling places to watch the ballot, and to approve the count. If they're not happy, a gigantic legal clusterfuck results, and so by and large we have unchallenged results except for very narrow contests. But the paper ballots are key. Hard to forge, hard to fuck up, and most of all, easy to watch from start to finish.

I am a programmer, and I would never use electronic voting systems except the way the Brazilians do, ie to speed up the count, but not to record the votes. Electronic records are just too easy to fake out.

That's your take-home message. Brazil has better elections than you do.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 1:35 AM on December 16, 2005


Here in Switzerland, there was a trial vote by SMS for some small regional election.
That's your second take-home message. Some bumfuck village in Switzerland has better elections than you do.
i keed!
posted by slater at 1:46 AM on December 16, 2005


VOTE #1 QUIDNUNC KID FOR BUMFUCK!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 2:00 AM on December 16, 2005 [3 favorites]


PAPER AND MARKER , PAPER AND MARKER, PAPER AND MARKER
posted by elpapacito at 2:02 AM on December 16, 2005


Fucking in Austria are always losing their signs. I shudder to think what happens to the ones in Bumfuck, Switzerland.
posted by vbfg at 2:18 AM on December 16, 2005


To me it's pretty clear what has to happen:

Someone has to purposefully and intentially and most important OBVIOUSLY steal an election. Not necessarily a Presidential one, though that would be the ultimate notification.

It's only when "Donald Duck is Kewl" gets the majority vote in one of these things that people will really wake up. It would have to a fully moral decision, as the person or people who steal who do this obvious stealing come forward and accept the consequences of the act.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:31 AM on December 16, 2005




'tis a good book.
Very scary when I first read it, and leads to an even greater sense of despair and mistrust of all political authority on further viewing.
posted by NinjaPirate at 4:03 AM on December 16, 2005


PAPER AND MARKER , PAPER AND MARKER, PAPER AND MARKER

Actually, this is the part where a well built computer could really help.

You walk into booth, close door. Machine starts. You punch in your votes, and hit "Done". A printer starts, and prints your ballot.

You read it.

If it's all good, you take it to the ballot box and drop it in.

If it isn't, you go to the desk, they mark and destroy the ballot, and you try again.

With this, you can make a ballot that's easy for both humans *and* machines to read. As to the blind, illiterate, etc -- we handle them the same way we handle them now -- designated helpers, though a clever computer could run through a series of votes with nothing but two buttons. (I'd use five -- Start, Back, Yes, No, Done) and use headphones and voice synthesis to talk to the blind/illterate. I'm digressing.

The trick here is that computers cannot be the final keepers of the "ballot" -- there must be a paper ballot that can be counted in various ways.

Things that are bad:

1) Serial numbers on the ballots. Ballots must remain anonymous. Note that election serial numbers (this is ballot #37, for the 1-Jan-2005 Elections in Meta, FI.) aren't a bad idea. Counting ballot papers handed out and collected is good.

2) Voting reciepts. God, this is even worse. This is how the rich buy elections, cheaply. "Hi, Bob. You'll vote these candidates, and you'll turn in your recepit, and I'll give you $100/ or your fired." Yes, you can outlaw that. Good luck enforcing. The reason vote buying isn't common in the US is that you can take the money and vote however you want.

3) Any method of counting that precludes other methods of counting. This is why the Diebold system is so evil. The ballot is in the computer. The only way to get it out is to ask the computer. If the computer is broken, and spits out bogus numbers, you have two choices. First, you can disenfranchise the voters who used that machine (Gosh, lucky all those machines in the inner city broke!) or you accept the bogus numbers (Gosh, lucky I got five million votes from Montana!) Heck, it may not even be fraud -- a power sag at the right time could screw up the votes.

With a paper ballot, either the "mark the box" or the printed out variety, you end up with a ballot that's easy to count by machine *or* by hand -- and far more importantly, to count by machine, by a different machine, and by hand. Thus, when we scan the 10,350 votes from Box 37, and it records 13,302 votes for quonsar, we can toss the machine into a dumpster, and recount the ballots.

There's a reason this won't happen. Stealing elections is too important.
posted by eriko at 4:18 AM on December 16, 2005


What I don't get, in this day of super-int0rweb-2.0-netstuffs, is that nobody has made it possible to check votes online after voting. That way, you could check that YOUR vote was counted properly (with username & password), and, as a bonus, you'd have an instant tally of votes.
posted by slater at 1:11 AM PST
Allowing post-election acces to anyone (even the voter) breaks the principle of the secret ballot and allows extortion of votes either of the form:
  "I will give you $x for you to vote for y, if you prove to me you really did"
or the more common:
  "I will not break your legs if you vote for y and prove to me..."
posted by nielm at 4:21 AM on December 16, 2005


eriko, well put. I was tempted to say that this is hardly anything new in this country, but it is just so outrageous, it boggles the mind.
posted by nostrada at 4:25 AM on December 16, 2005


I'm glad that there are people on the thread who are willing to entertain the idea that the past two U.S. presidential elections were stolen. Perhaps there's hope yet in 'murica . . .

Now if we can just convince the carpetbaggers in power they should just put down their fraudulently elected positions and just walk away. Just walk away. . .
posted by mk1gti at 4:32 AM on December 16, 2005


"After watching a Game Boy equipped 7 y/o Down Syndrome kid change vote totals this week, Sancho said that he now believes someone at Nintendo did the same thing in Volusia County in 2000."
posted by quonsar at 4:46 AM on December 16, 2005


Chile: paper and pencil, 4 randomly selected (mandatory) people in charge of each 'table' of 200 voters. Every candidate can assign an overseer to each table, who looks over everybody's shoulder and signs off on the final tally. Votes are sealed and delivered to central voting office. Hardly any vote fraud at all. Simple, effective.
posted by signal at 4:54 AM on December 16, 2005


I love the ATM analogy. Diebold makes ATMs and they all print a paper copy of the transactions. A receipt is even prepared for the customer. Why not do the same for voting?

Regardless if the votes are cast or counted by man or machine, if you don't trust those counting the vote, you lose. This is where we are today. Now if there was fraud in picking the winner on American Idol, there would be rioting in the streets.

There was very real -- to use the euphemism cited in the media -- instances of "irregularities" in the last presidential elections. In my day we called that vote fraud. But then again torture is called "extraordinary rendition" today.
posted by birdherder at 4:56 AM on December 16, 2005


They keep saying 9/11 changed everything, but it really was Bush v. Gore.

(and all NYC people, contact your city councilpeople--they're voting soon on what new systems we'll be using)
posted by amberglow at 4:56 AM on December 16, 2005


Government invests in open, public ways: Internet, WPA, bridges, monuments, the post office, public education

Government invests in private industry: Closed voting, genetic patents, overpriced perscription drugs, mercenaries in Iraq shooting at random cars, being asked to stop taking pictures of art in a public space in Chicago, education vouchers

Surely this is an oversimplification, but I truly don't understand why the government spends our money on the lower list. There are things too important to entrust to private industry, and instead of investing in making our country stronger and better, we invest in small scale results that are delivered outside of the government, and thus lose any learning and innovation that should be owned by the country itself. Would anyone invest in Google if it were just a series of outsourced, one-off ideas that the company requested every once in a while?
posted by VulcanMike at 5:18 AM on December 16, 2005


eriko's got the best plan i've read thusfar. though i wonder if some kind of identifier would help, though. i would not be averse to signing my ballot.
posted by moonbird at 5:19 AM on December 16, 2005


The system won't work unless you trust the counters.

I don't. What do I do now?
posted by Otis at 5:28 AM on December 16, 2005


eriko, interesting points. However I wonder if machine-readable serial numbers (e.g., something like a UPC code) that are not easily human-readable would add an extra measure of security to the voting process. A single vote in the paper trail could always be correlated with a vote tallied within a computer. Perhaps the audit does not need to be this elaborate.
I guess I am imagining a secondary machine perhaps designed by a different company that could be used as an adjunct to a paper-trail auditing process.
I would love to read this, but I have no patience for September.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 5:31 AM on December 16, 2005


Let's go to the dip your finger in ink method, except (based on the 2000 elections) Americans would have had to dip thier middle finger. If they wanted to check thier ballot the RNC would have suggested going to a mirror, raising your ballot finger to yourself and see what democracy means to them.
posted by ElvisJesus at 5:31 AM on December 16, 2005


i would not be averse to signing my ballot.

Oh, I would. "Sir, you voted for Smith?" WAY too much evil.

You do want one person, one vote, but once the ballots are in the box, it is critical that you cannot attach a ballot to a given voter.

Knowing who voted is fine. Knowing how they voted is a fast track to repression -- "Sir, I'd like to help you, but you voted for Smith, so fuck you."

The system won't work unless you trust the counters.

Yes, though this is hard -- self interest works here, by making sure that there are number from each party, much abuse can be avoid. But there is no perfect answer.

Counting is the easiest place to pervert an otherwise fair election, and no technology can preven the "These guns say I get one vote, and you get none. Amazing, I won, 1-0." I have to consider that problem out of scope.

Paper ballots, as long as they're controlled properly, offer the most resistance because of thier ability to be counted with different technologies (pen-and-paper, various scanners, etc.) Printed with magnetic ink, you can scan them optically and magentically, and still count them by hand.

There are still limited points of failure -- the people certifying the counts can do much harm, esp. at the state level, since a bad decision or deliberate fraud could change many votes. "Sorry, these Central Chicago counts are obviously fake, I'm not including them" or "Oops, who dropped the Cook County ballots into this shredder?"

The best way to limit this is openness. Once you've anonymized the ballots, you have a secret vote. Cameras can't be in the voting booth -- but they can, and should, be in the counting rooms. The election is over at this point, we're just trying to get the results. Heck, public observation galleries aren't a bad idea (mod idiots with violence in mind, but that's also out of scope here.)
posted by eriko at 5:38 AM on December 16, 2005


However I wonder if machine-readable serial numbers (e.g., something like a UPC code) that are not easily human-readable would add an extra measure of security to the voting process.

Too easy to tie a ballot to a person if the ballot has any unique marking. Yes, a perfectly anoymous ballot could be tied if you announce that you voted for quonsar, and it turns out that only one person voted for quonsar, but that breach was caused by the voter (who, of course, can choose to reveal who they voted for -- or choose to lie about it.)

Securing a limited number of papers for a limited period of time isn't that hard. One way is to have a means of putting a secure mark on the paper shortly before you use the ballot, and counting how many of those marks are made. This will tell you if someone is stuffing the box (1000 voters signed in, 1000 ballots issued, 1200 ballots in the box. Hey!)

To stuff with counted ballots, you need to add *and* remove. This is tougher to do -- the weak point is at the point where the ballot boxes are opened, or if a ballot box falls out of observation. The "many man" rule must be observed -- that box has to stay under observation, by fair parties of all concerns, from the moment it is shown to be truly empty (and then sealed) to the moment it is opened and the ballots are counted out.

The common "Open it and dump it on the table" has the problem of "And dump a few extra ballots too" -- but as long as you dump it on a clean table and then count the ballots out carefully, making sure the counters aren't swapping ballots, it works. Dumping them into a big central pile makes this final audit impossible -- indeed, until the vote is certified, contents of a ballot box must never be mixed with another (and, if you decide that you need to hang onto the ballots, you don't mix them ever, but unless it's a very problematic election, it's best to destroy them once everyone agrees that there's been a fair count.)
posted by eriko at 5:46 AM on December 16, 2005


Part of the reason that we don't have a system that lets you verify both your identity and who you voted for, is that it would allow people to sell their votes. Right now someone can pay you to vote for a certain candidate, but once you are in that little booth you can vote for whoever you want. They can't verify that you actually voted the way that they paid you to. Any system that allows that verification is not acceptable to me. Too many people would vote for the party that paid them more. And I think we know which party has the most money.
posted by jefeweiss at 5:47 AM on December 16, 2005


PAPER AND MARKER , PAPER AND MARKER, PAPER AND MARKER

...is the most commonly-used method of voting in the U.S.

In my country all political parties can appoint observers in polling places to watch the ballot, and to approve the count.

In your country, a (sample) ballot has 2 related votes for the same office. In the US, a ballot might have more than 100 offices and ballot propositions when state/federal/local elections coincide (normally every other election). This is itself a bug, not a feature, but it's a bug that's not likely to get fixed anytime soon.

Chile: paper and pencil, 4 randomly selected (mandatory) people in charge of each 'table' of 200 voters. Every candidate can assign an overseer to each table, who looks over everybody's shoulder and signs off on the final tally.

In the U.S., that would mean something on the order of 50+ observers at every table. Probably over 100 if you allow "interested parties" in ballot propositions to send observers too.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:01 AM on December 16, 2005


So how could voting be made safe? If you go to computers, hackers can alter the count. When you use paper, the vote counters can manipulate the totals.

The system won't work unless you trust the counters.


I observed the hand recount in Volusia County for the Gore campaign in 2000. The process wasn't very different from the ones mentioned above...

A table would be assigned several precincts to count. At the table sat four people -- two election officials and a campaign observer from each party. The officials hold up a ballot, show it to both observers; the observers say aloud what they think the intention of the voter was. If both sides are in agreement, it goes into the appropriate pile.

If there's a debate about the intention of the voter, the ballot goes into the contest pile. This pile goes before the judge and the lawyers from each campaign will make an arguement for why they believe the ballot should be theirs. This one lawyer I had to sit with once contested all Gore ballots that were cast in pencil, as the ballots were supposed to be cast in pen.

So I'm not sure that it's the vote counters that can manipulate votes, but campaign lawyers.

On the other hand, if electronic voting has a similar error rate as paper/optical scan/punch/lever ballots but also lacks an evidence trail, then I think I would much rather stick with more traditional forms of vote counting.
posted by jennak at 6:01 AM on December 16, 2005


What if we just did a tribal council like on Survivor, where we take our ballot, hold it up to the camera and explain why we voted how we did. Then you could always go to instant replay if there was controversey.
posted by b_thinky at 6:12 AM on December 16, 2005


Oh for Pete's sake. As I've said time and time again, this is a design problem that's already been solved.

Fill out a card ballot, using a thick black marker to connect lines corresponding to your candidate. Take it to a machine, which scans your card, confirms your vote on a display, then spits the card into a special bin. You're done. You have an electronically counted vote, with a paper trail, that the voter has confirmed, and that can't be used to steal an election.

I voted this way for three elections while living in Boston. Using a clunky old machine from the 80s, that worked just fine. And WAS MANUFACTURED BY DIEBOLD.

The only reason for this fracas is 1) local governments trying to save a few pennies on material costs, and 2) Diebold trying to sell "better" voting machines after saturating the market, and fucking it up all over the place because they have no understanding of secure computing on modern systems.
posted by xthlc at 6:15 AM on December 16, 2005


The main problem with your elections is that the electoral officials are *always* party hacks on a patronage appointment. There is, therefore, little real incentive for them to do their work in a honest and impartial way.

In Canada electoral staff is permanent and non-partisan. If you join a political campaign in any official capacity you have to resign from Elections Canada. Period. No question.

As long as the person responsible for officializing the results is the state campaign vice-chairman for one of the candidates *cough*Katherine Harris*cough* it's hard not to question her very ability to discharge her duties in an honest and impartial manner (although some of your people *cough*Republicans*cough* are pretty good at this "not questioning" business).
posted by clevershark at 6:37 AM on December 16, 2005


sad. very sad.
posted by Balisong at 6:52 AM on December 16, 2005


Just like those against the anti-torture proposal, you'd have to be literally out of your mind to not support a law requiring a verifiable paper record for whatever voting system you choose to implement.
posted by odinsdream at 7:00 AM on December 16, 2005


You walk into booth, close door. Machine starts. You punch in your votes, and hit "Done". A printer starts, and prints your ballot.

What's wrong with putting a simple goddamn cross on a piece of paper ? It has no "scared by computers" psycological effects,
there's absolutely no electronic way to tamper with that..there's no printer to hack, no nothing to do except physically
replace the paper vote or somehow change the cross on it.

And if it can be done for one ..it would anyway require inordinate amounts of time to do for every vote and it would be
very visibile and relatively easy to discover.

In the U.S., that would mean something on the order of 50+ observers at every table. Probably over 100 if you allow "interested parties" in ballot propositions to send observers too. posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 3:01 PM CET on December 16 [!]

And that's a problem why ? There's a goddamn invasion army overlooking these "elections" in Iraq , why shouldn't the U.S. or
Europe or the so called first world ? Oh yeah, democracy for the others FIRST ! Expecially if they have oil !
------

Anybody here with an engineering degree not earned at University of Pay for Degree, any MCSE that did his dirty job instead
of just cheating the answers, anybody with a very serious clue on how electronical devices of any kind work KNOW perfectly
well that they're DESIGNED to manipulate an amount of data approximating infinitie with a speed approaching infinity.

What does that mean for the rest "of us" ? That you'll never ever notice any electio fraud ever because

*it would leave no physical trail
*it would be done in a microsecond
*no human being would be seen doing that
*in can be done from thousand of kilometers away from the scene

Magic ? Yeah magic, any sufficiently advanced technology can't be distinguished from magic ! And we're talking 30 years old technology at least..but it is still MAGIC for 99% of the population. Don't you get the friggin ATM recepit every now and then ? Don't you ask for a printout of your money in bank every now and then or some piece of paper stating the bank owns you money ?

No ? You're going to lose your money, trust me. All of it an nobody will EVER be able to demonstrate anything because you don't have a friggin piece of paper. You have NOTHING, nada, zilch ! Indeed the demostration that you don't get it is that you let elections be rigged, demonstrating you could give a real damn about your vote.
posted by elpapacito at 7:06 AM on December 16, 2005


Accuse the other to divert attention form your own shenanigans.

Oldest Dem ploy in the book.
posted by HTuttle at 7:07 AM on December 16, 2005


What xthlc said. Paper scan cards, votes indicated in black marker, scanned and kept in sealed box. That's how we vote in the People's Republic of San Francisco and IT WORKS JUST FINE.
posted by twsf at 7:11 AM on December 16, 2005


HTuttle,
Do please enlighten. What exactly is the "ploy" here and what shenanigans are we being diverted from?
posted by Otis at 7:12 AM on December 16, 2005


Why are there always demands for "electronic voting with a paper trail"? Shouldn't it be the other way around, "paper voting with (optional, and non-binding) electronic counting"?
I mean, that way no one gets confused about what really is important - that every vote gets counted, not that as many votes as possible are counted in the shortest amount of time.
posted by PontifexPrimus at 7:28 AM on December 16, 2005


Pretend there's no problem, and that those who say there is are trying to create a diversion.

Oldest Rep ploy in the book.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:36 AM on December 16, 2005


Htuttle:
Accuse the other to divert attention form your own shenanigans.

Like you just did trying to divert attention from this voting thread ? Nice try you librul republicass , throwing a logical loop :)
posted by elpapacito at 7:41 AM on December 16, 2005


There is far too much money and resources at stake here to actually put it in the hands of the people. Vote tampering is done for your own good.
posted by sourwookie at 7:47 AM on December 16, 2005


The reason to move to electronic voting was, as far as I can tell, to save money. In some cases it could reduce error if you're moving from the old hole-punch style voting with dangling chads and whatnot.

Clearly it wasn't very well thought out. Diebold invested a lot of money in technology that is entirely unsuitable and are trying to recoup that money by defrauding elections people into thinking it doesn't suck.
posted by delmoi at 7:53 AM on December 16, 2005


Accuse the other to divert attention form your own shenanigans.

Oldest Dem ploy in the book.


Please go on. Assuming you're not talking out your ass.

Ah, sometimes I crack me up.
posted by clevershark at 8:00 AM on December 16, 2005


The reason to move to electronic voting was, as far as I can tell, to save money. In some cases it could reduce error if you're moving from the old hole-punch style voting with dangling chads and whatnot.

This is absolutely false, but people love pulling it out of their ass. There is no proof that electronic voting "reduces errors" at all. If you have some, show it. On the other hand, there is lots of proof that it increases errors. You can start at the blackboxvoting site previously mentioned to learn more about it. Yes, the "hanging chad" crap sure was played up on TV, but that wouldn't hold a candle to the vast, untraceable fraud made possible through electronics.

Also, the "saving money" idea is absurd all by itself. You don't "save money" by killing the very basis of our democratic government and claim that's somehow good.
posted by odinsdream at 8:01 AM on December 16, 2005


Just how much money do those touch screen Diebold voting machines cost each?
What did we do with all the hole punch and fill-in-the-oval machines? Did we sell them to other countries?

I say this because in Colorado we passed TABOR, and I don't remember voting for more money to be allocated to new voting machines. They just showed up one day.
The same goes for the video survalience they put up at every intersection.
posted by Balisong at 8:05 AM on December 16, 2005


I remember reading about a (deployed?) voting system where you electroncially picked your vote, and two receipts were printed, and counted in separate centers (electronically), but of course could be counted by hand if there was any conflict. I would imagine it would be an order of magnitude harder to rig.
posted by doozer_ex_machina at 8:07 AM on December 16, 2005


Also - no goddamn thermal printers for the paper trail, unless of course the fact that the "ink" just disappears after a few months is a feature, not a bug.
posted by odinsdream at 8:09 AM on December 16, 2005



Well, time to get involved. This is a state issue, so those of us in the USA - find out what your state is doing and start getting involved.

I googled: connecticut voting elections board
and got to here.
I now have the State Plan and the names for those one the Advisory board.
posted by fluffycreature at 8:11 AM on December 16, 2005


Look, we don't need to reinvent the wheel here. Traditional paper ballots work just fine. What we need is a nationally standardized ballot system for federal elections with oversight from all parties, based on traditional paper ballots.

The only places we saw "irregularities" in 00 and 04 were swing areas the GOP needed to pick up to ram Bush and other GOPers down our throats. Those were the areas that had e-voting fraud, or screwily designed "hanging chad" butterfly ballots. This isn't a question of a system that needs redesigning. Its a question of a system that worked pretty well that needs standardization, oversight, and protection from fraudulent, partisan "improvements."
posted by stenseng at 8:20 AM on December 16, 2005


the biggest improvement we could make is to standardize balloting procedures and materials across the 50 states to a standard agreed upon by all parties.
posted by stenseng at 8:21 AM on December 16, 2005


he now believes someone on the inside did the same think in Volusia County in 2000

The same think happens when a spell checker isn't used - I can't believe something unless it is cpelled correctly.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 8:24 AM on December 16, 2005


And we should do what it takes, and spend what it takes to make this a reality. If the federal government can spend the dough to print zillions of 1040 forms each year, it can certainly afford development of a nationally standardized paper ballot system.

There is NO greater investment we can make in the future of this country than guaranteeing that elections are honest, representative, and accountable.

That's the most fundamental investment in national security we can make.
posted by stenseng at 8:24 AM on December 16, 2005


A question- if you knowingly participate in a fraudulent electoral process (by casting your vote), are you a party to that fraud and therefore complicit? If enough of us don't vote, will it change anything?
posted by squalor at 8:34 AM on December 16, 2005


Somtimes I think technical adavantags are not good. But I think humanity is not quite ready for everything.
posted by vincente at 8:35 AM on December 16, 2005


If voting could change the system, it would be illegal.
If not voting could change the system, it would be illegal.
posted by Balisong at 8:36 AM on December 16, 2005


htuttle's ejaculation upthread reminded me of the old M.A.S.H. episode where Hawkeye invents Captain Tuttle whse "death" at the end of the episode is used to defraud the US Army of a military pension to benefit orphans.

/obscure, tangential pop culture allusion

htuttle, I've said it before in another thread on this issue: anyone that isn't willing/able to acknowledge there is a serious potential (and incentive) for electoral abuse here is either obtuse or lacks basic integrity. And I say that as a life-long Republican.
posted by darkstar at 8:37 AM on December 16, 2005


If enough of us don't vote, will it change anything?


No. Other than to make the numbers required to defraud that much smaller.
posted by stenseng at 8:46 AM on December 16, 2005


Diebold Responds
posted by Otis at 8:49 AM on December 16, 2005


And from Artifice_Eternity's link to Black Box Voting, at the top of this thread, we have the following link to the letter that went out from BBV to the California Secretary of State McDannold. It's a good, quick read.

It sounds like if McDannold doesn't follow the law, and right soon, then there may be litigation involved from BBV.

To wit, the end of that letter reads:
“Accordingly, please contact me upon receipt of this letter as to whether the Secretary of State will allow Black Box Voting’s 19202 Inspection and, if so, which Protocols he is agreeable to. If we do not receive a response to this letter by December 16, 2005, Black Box Voting will be forced to pursue other available legal remedies.”
posted by darkstar at 8:54 AM on December 16, 2005


From the Diebold Responds link:

Diebold spokesman David Bear discounted the tests as unrealistic because they bypassed normal security procedures.

"If I gave you the keys to my house and I turned off the alarm and told you when I wasn't going to be home, I don't doubt you can get into my house," Bear said. "But is that going to have any effect on the election? Absolutely not."

I hereby nominate this quote for the 2005 Non Sequitur of the Year Award.
posted by Otis at 8:57 AM on December 16, 2005


Man, I want to live in Bumfuck Switzerland. The place sounds alright.

Hmm, signing your vote would be a bad thing. From that would come lists and charts and probably maps with the houses red & blue.
posted by a3matrix at 9:00 AM on December 16, 2005


Otis, that article is good for a second nominee:

That makes Sancho's tests somewhat ironic, Bear said.

"Now we're not trusting paper," he said. "Somebody could also steal the pencil and then you couldn't mark the ballot."


I think this has been charitably called the "Chewbacca Defense".
posted by darkstar at 9:00 AM on December 16, 2005


"Look at the monkey! Look at the cute little monkey!"
posted by Balisong at 9:17 AM on December 16, 2005


b_thinky writes "So how could voting be made safe? If you go to computers, hackers can alter the count. When you use paper, the vote counters can manipulate the totals."

But with paper if you suspect an irregularity you send a brand new group of counters in and try it again.

xthlc writes "Diebold trying to sell 'better' voting machines after saturating the market, and fucking it up all over the place because they have no understanding of secure computing on modern systems."

Diebold understands modern systems. Afterall they make ATMs. Percolate on that for a while and then think about why a voting machine isn't as secure as an ATM or a computer controlled slot machine.
posted by Mitheral at 9:29 AM on December 16, 2005


a3matrix, Egypt really ought to seriously consider naming one of their towns Bumfuck.

With a huge, photogenic sign at the edge of the village (one that can't be horked).

Think of the tourist trade! Think of the souvenirs! "I went to B.F.E. and all I got was this lousy stuffed camel."

It's a missed opportunity, I'm tellin' ya.
posted by darkstar at 9:39 AM on December 16, 2005


Doesn't Oregon to almost all absentee ballots? That's not a half bad idea. I kind of like it myself.

At the very least, it might get more people to vote. Most common reason I hear for people not voting is "It's too much of a hassle to get to the polling place" or "conflicts with work schedule." Even though your employer is required to give you time off for work, many employers are just assholes.
posted by drstein at 10:18 AM on December 16, 2005


Doesn't Oregon to almost all absentee ballots? That's not a half bad idea. I kind of like it myself.

It's a growing problem in CA.
posted by mrgrimm at 1:36 PM on December 16, 2005


In the US, a ballot might have more than 100 offices and ballot propositions when state/federal/local elections coincide

In Ireland you may have a 5-seat constituency, with several dozen people running, all elected according to ranking-based STV, necessitating, in some cases, well over a dozen rounds of counting, recounting, and elimination. Then you have the local elections, and the Euro elections. Not to mention the odd amendment or two. Somehow, we muddle through, and observing the counting is actually quite interesting.

My hat goes off to people in the some parts of the UK, however, who now get to vote using single mark plurality for single-member Westminster constituencies (ala the US), some odd versions of PR for the devolved Scottish, Welsh, or NI governments, and then a different PR system for the Euro elections. And yet somehow peope manage to get their heads around using three or more different voting systems simultaneously.

It's a mistake to assume that just because the US voting system is so fraught that is necessarily the most complex.
posted by meehawl at 6:37 AM on December 17, 2005


I suspect nano-sized marking dust can now be used to thwart any practical voting privacy ideals. You can be tagged easily enough by kicking up nanodust from the checkbox or breathed out by the voting machine.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:54 AM on December 18, 2005


Diebold understands modern systems. Afterall they make ATMs. Percolate on that for a while and then think about why a voting machine isn't as secure as an ATM or a computer controlled slot machine.
posted by Mitheral at 9:29 AM PST on December 16 [!]

Ding ding ding, we have a winner!
posted by mek at 8:12 PM on December 24, 2005


Merry Christmas, Democracy!
posted by five fresh fish at 10:22 AM on December 25, 2005


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