more voting goodness
February 24, 2006 6:18 AM   Subscribe

Black Box Voting has completed their analysis of log files from Palm Beach (FL) county voting machines stemming from the Nov 2004 general election. You know it's not good news when the article starts with: The internal logs of at least 40 Sequoia touch-screen voting machines reveal that votes were time and date-stamped as cast two weeks before the election, sometimes in the middle of the night.
posted by taumeson (96 comments total)
 
This was noted in the voting logs of Volusia county machines as well.
posted by taumeson at 6:19 AM on February 24, 2006


RIP, USA.
posted by mcsweetie at 6:23 AM on February 24, 2006


Sometimes low-tech solutions are the best. There's a lot to be said for a pencil and a piece of paper.
posted by bap98189 at 6:26 AM on February 24, 2006


Remember that system you guys used to have, where voting meant something?

I miss that. Next up, the quantum voting machines, where you don't even have to show up to have a vote recorded for you.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 6:26 AM on February 24, 2006


OMG how hard is it to create a reliable, secure voting system!? Open source the code, limit access to the machines, and ecrypt the results.
posted by splatta at 6:28 AM on February 24, 2006


So is this a big fucking deal? Or like all other scandals, is a whole lotta nothing going to happen? Is this getting any play in the US media?
posted by chunking express at 6:30 AM on February 24, 2006


chunking, none of it gets play--none. No national Democratic officeholder has made it a priority either, which is appalling too.

There's also this: Why do Diebold's Touch-Screen Voting Machines Have Built-In Wireless Infrared Data Transfer Ports?
posted by amberglow at 6:32 AM on February 24, 2006


.
posted by prostyle at 6:34 AM on February 24, 2006


Yes, it's a big fucking deal. No, nothing is going to happen.

AMERICANS. THIS IS MORE IMPORTANT THAT WAR, FAMINE AND PLAGUE. WITHOUT VISIBLE DEMOCRACY, YOUR COUNTRY IS A FORCE FOR EVIL. MAKE SURE YOUR NEXT ELECTION HAS PAPER-BASED RECORDS. DO ALL THAT IS NECESSARY TO MAKE THIS OCCUR. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE IN YOUR NATION TODAY.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 6:34 AM on February 24, 2006


The reason the Democrats aren't raising a stink about it, is that they're cheating, too.
posted by empath at 6:41 AM on February 24, 2006


Open source the code...

How do I know that code is running on the machines?

limit access to the machines

How do I know the people with access are trustworthy?

and ecrypt the results.

Now, how do I audit?

That's the point. It needs to be reliable, secure *and auditable.* If all I have is counters on a machine, there's no way for me to tell if these counters are true. If there's a machine that counts paper ballots, I can audit those counters by manually counting the paper ballots.

A machine that helps generate readable ballots would be a good thing -- as long as the average voter, with no help from a machine, can then read the ballot to ensure that their vote was recorded correctly. A machine that counts those ballots is a good thing -- so long as it leaves the original ballots that can be counted via other means to ensure the machine is accurate.

Voting machines as you, and Diebold, posit them have none of these protections. In your case, I'll grant you the charity of assuming you don't understand the problem set fully. In Diebold's case, they're building the machines to spec -- these are machines meant to keep someone in power, not to conduct fair votes, and Diebold is building them to that goal.

The other option is Diebold being simply incompetent. This doesn't pass the smell test. Diebold ATMs are very popular, because they're very good. Diebold could build a voting system that was easy to use, secure and auditable -- but they're very carefully not doing that. This, as they say, is a hint. Look where the money flows and what the product does.
posted by eriko at 6:42 AM on February 24, 2006


If so, your priority is to make sure that no-one can cheat.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 6:43 AM on February 24, 2006


Don't tell me what to do, I'm right in the middle of watching Dancing with the Stars
posted by poppo at 6:44 AM on February 24, 2006


The reason the Democrats aren't raising a stink about it, is that they're cheating, too.

The only reason that passes the smell test is that the Democratic leadership and consultants pretty much define incompetent. This would explain why they're cheating and still losing.

Those wanting to point to, say, Chicago, should realize that in general, the population was more than happy to reelect the crooks. The crooks kept the city running, and only skimmed a few percent. Chicago respects honest politicians -- once they get their graft, they keep their end of the bargain. (And, heck, any mayor that keeps adding parkland to a city wins in my book.)
posted by eriko at 6:45 AM on February 24, 2006


Why are the logs not in order by time stamp...?
posted by sfts2 at 6:47 AM on February 24, 2006


The solution is obvious.

You have a computer voting booth which prints a human and machine readable ballot. The voter verifies the result and drops it into the ballot box.

The initial results are instantaneous from the machine count. If there is some dispute, there's a machine recount of the paper ballots, and if there is a dispute of that, a human hand recount of the paper ballots.

The only 'official' result is the human hand recount of paper ballots.
posted by empath at 6:47 AM on February 24, 2006


Machine # 6359 in precinct 1036 was powered down 128 times during the election.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 6:47 AM on February 24, 2006


Eriko -- the Diebold internal e-mails pointed to some kind of tampering in King County, Washington, which is a Democratic stronghold.
posted by empath at 6:48 AM on February 24, 2006


Come on, people. The rule is one person, one vote. Nowhere does it say that the vote must be cast by that same person.
posted by qvantamon at 6:49 AM on February 24, 2006


RIP USA Democracy. Hello Fascism.
posted by j-urb at 6:49 AM on February 24, 2006


Slow down a minute. The article does not imply that the machines had been prepared with bad votes ahead of time, it states clearly that a few of the machines were configured with the wrong date. At the end, "Precinct 3066 machine #8438 counted Oct. 15", etc, and "These machines did not contain any votes date-stamped on Nov. 2, 2004." One machine was even set for 2010. All of the votes on each machine record the same date, but some of them recorded the wrong date.

Yes the officials didn't know how to use the machines, and they screwed up many things in many ways, but nothing here indicates anyone preloaded votes.
posted by rlk at 6:50 AM on February 24, 2006


Slow down a minute.

As far as I'm aware, we don't have definate proof that anyone cheated in the last two elections. However, we do have proof that it would be trivial for them to have done so, and that if the system doesn't change, it will be trivial to do so in the next election. Slowing down is not what we need to do. We need to change the system.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 6:56 AM on February 24, 2006


I mean, it would be trivial for them to alter the votes, and also to cover their tracks.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 6:57 AM on February 24, 2006


Protocols:

No, next election will have brand new technology: brainwave voting.

There will be this big apparatus in the middle of DC, that will just collect everyone's thoughts and sum them up, instantly, to give the winner. You don't even have to leave the couch, just mentalize who you want as prez, and the machine will count your vote. No luddite paper trail or voting records, these are so last century! Trust Diebold.
posted by qvantamon at 7:04 AM on February 24, 2006


Well, I wrote my senators and house rep. I'm sure they'll ignore me, but it's about all I can really do. I hope anybody that cares will take a moment to do this same.
posted by willnot at 7:07 AM on February 24, 2006


So is this a big fucking deal? Or like all other scandals, is a whole lotta nothing going to happen? Is this getting any play in the US media?
posted by chunking express at 6:30 AM PST on February 24 [!]


Yes, Yes, and no.
posted by Balisong at 7:10 AM on February 24, 2006


Canada uses a completely paper-based voting system. Make your X, put the slip in the box. Easy to comprehend, no computer fraud possible.

And the results are available the same night.

Did I mention that they also actively go door-to-door to register voters? And that there's a box on your tax return to check if you want to register?
posted by jellicle at 7:12 AM on February 24, 2006


You should also mention jellicle that the people incharge of running the election aren't attached to any political party. America's system is such a scary mess. (It seems Harper's has a well written essay on the subject every few months, but they also don't seem to get much play anywhere.)
posted by chunking express at 7:17 AM on February 24, 2006


willnot: Well, I wrote my senators and house rep. I'm sure they'll ignore me, but it's about all I can really do.

Are you sure? Have you contacted your city or county election commission or comissioner? They're the ones on the ground buying the voting machines.

Have you attended any of the city/county commission meetings where they discuss/decide which machines to buy, or whether to keep using the old machines?

It's easy to write a letter. It takes a little more effort to get involved. If it's that important to you, you will get involved. (FWIW, I'm not all that involved in the local election-stuff, but a) the elections here are done with MarkSense ballots and b) there are no plans to change that any time soon.)
posted by jlkr at 7:17 AM on February 24, 2006


Paper ballots and purple fingers
posted by caddis at 7:22 AM on February 24, 2006


If this turns out to be actual fraud, what happens next? Is there going to be a lawsuit? Who get's sued? And what are the implications for this administration?
posted by brokekid at 7:23 AM on February 24, 2006


Thanks for posting this, taumeson. Was this Washington Post article on Diebold hacking posted last month?

HR 550 which will require a voter verified paper record is supposed to be getting some pretty heavy citizen lobbying in early April. Here's a petition that will be delivered then, if you're interested.

Also USCountsVotes released an easy-to-read (PDF) summary of their analysis of the 2004 Ohio exit poll discrepencies last week.
posted by If I Had An Anus at 7:28 AM on February 24, 2006


No, nobody has proven that there was machine-enabled vote fraud in any election.

What has been proven is that it is incredibly easy to commit undetectable vote fraud on Diebold machines.

No election in which Diebold machines were used can be considered to be terribly valid, IMHO. Not when it's so incredibly easy to change the election results without leaving any trace of doing so.

Yes, pen and paper has drawbacks, as does any voting system. It's never 100% guaranteed that all the votes are correct or real. But at least you actually have to work hard to commit fraud with pen and paper ballots.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 7:34 AM on February 24, 2006


jellicle, Elections Canada no longer does the door-to-door thing (stopping that was a cost-cutting measure, and given the current frequency of elections, that's probably a good thing). There are a variety of ways that the electoral register is updated.

However, you can register to vote at the polling station, and it's really easy to find your station.
posted by lowlife at 7:34 AM on February 24, 2006


The assumption seems to be that the preloaded votes were for Repubs.

What if they weren't?
posted by JB71 at 7:36 AM on February 24, 2006


Eriko -- the Diebold internal e-mails pointed to some kind of tampering in King County, Washington, which is a Democratic stronghold.

While feeling strongly that anyone, of any political stripe, who tampers with votes deserves a long prison sentence, I'm always amused at how, in the face of admittedly alleged state-level vote tampering and other highjinks (the "accidental" removal of likely democratic voters from voting rolls) by the Florida GOP and the promise of the Diebold CEO to "deliver Ohio to George Bush", someone always has to pipe up and claim that irregularities in some dink county somewhere make this a "bipartisan" issue. Gimme a break.

The assumption seems to be that the preloaded votes were for Repubs. What if they weren't?

A fair question - show me Democrats in positions of power in the Florida election machinery that could have had the access needed to do that, or any reason Diebold would want anyone other than GOP candidates to win, and I'll entertain it further.
posted by jalexei at 7:44 AM on February 24, 2006


I don't know. I wouldn't trust the people who work at my election station with a computer. I think incompetence is as likely as fraud. If it is incompetence, I wonder if the error rate is higher or lower than paper ballots.

If, for some reason, we need to use computerized balloting, then a paper slip backup stuck in a box for recounts AND a statistically significant sample audit seems like an obvious solution. The fact that the manufacturers have seemed so resistant to that idea is frightening.

Of course, you still have to have your voters compare their ballot to what they intended to vote, and discrepency handling there could get sticky.
posted by sohcahtoa at 7:46 AM on February 24, 2006




Sounds like hardware issues and off-clocks to me. I don't care if you build the perfect voting machine, the implementation and the skill level of the operators and installers will determine how many odd anomolies you get.

The assumption that machines aren't perfect thus Bush stole the election is laughable. Its laughable that people actually believe that a well funded Christian conservative in the US needs to steal votes to win. Examine US political polls, Bush is pretty much the perfect candidate. Of course those of us in urban centers like to fool ourselves that America, as a whole,could never vote Bush back in, but that's not seeing the forest for the trees.
posted by skallas at 7:52 AM on February 24, 2006


Laughable
  • There were at lease six (6) instances of confirmed tampering with tabulating machines
  • There were at least seventeen (17) violations of Ohio law, where the selection of the "3%" to be recounted was not random
  • n at least six (6) counties, Ohio law was violated when there was a discrepancy between the 3% hand count and machine recount
  • Cuyahoga County has admitted that they hand counted the ballots in private before they brought them out to hand count them in public
posted by If I Had An Anus at 7:57 AM on February 24, 2006


slightly off-topic, and possibly very remedial:

Is it true that the lengths of British political campaigns are limited? Are they publicly funded? That's what I'd like to see in the US. Both sides get x amount of dollars and 60 days. Make your case with the same time and resources as the other guy, and be done with it.
posted by fingers_of_fire at 8:09 AM on February 24, 2006


Brazil has a fully automated voting system - results for national elections are usually available in the same night. The elections are organized and supervised by a non-partisan branch of the Judiciary, the Electoral Justice*. While their "security by obfuscation" philosophy has been criticized (source code is not available nor is the actual encryption algorithm used) in almost ten years there has been no serious suspicious of voting fraud anywhere in the country.

* In the Brazilian Judiciary System, the Executive gets to indicate just the Supreme Court members (which must be approved by the Senate). Judges are never elected - they are chosen by the way of public examinations open to any accredited lawyer (one who has the Brazilian equivalent of a BAR exam). The Judiciary system here is a completely separated power at all levels, from county-equivalent up to the topmost court (which is the sole point where there is Executive and Legislative influence) and it independently controls its members and their careers.
posted by nkyad at 8:10 AM on February 24, 2006


Canada uses a completely paper-based voting system. Make your X, put the slip in the box. Easy to comprehend, no computer fraud possible.

And the results are available the same night.


Sigh. The results are only available the same night because you're talking about making an X.

Not the 50--100+ X's that would be necessary for an average boring American election, which usually combines federal offices, state offices, state ballot propositions, local offices, and local propositions.

Hand-counting American ballots would either take forever, because the same people have to do the same thing 50+ times, or require 50--100+ times as many people to read the ballots. It would also likely introduce even more error into the election, because it would be very easy if you're counting votes quickly to mistake a vote in one race for a vote in one of the neighboring races.

This is also probably why Canada does not use an entirely paper-and-hand-count system. At least some cities use optical scanners or voting machines for their local elections.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:13 AM on February 24, 2006


The assumption seems to be that the preloaded votes were for Repubs.

What if they weren't?
posted by JB71 30 minutes ago


Who knows if they were even preloaded? The issue is not who was helped or hurt in a specific election, but rather confidence in the process.
posted by caddis at 8:13 AM on February 24, 2006


If I Had An Anus, keep digging you'll find the old paper system had its fair share of anomolies and political nonsense too.
posted by skallas at 8:18 AM on February 24, 2006


jalexi: I'm just trying to find a reason why Democrats have been so silent on this issue. complicity is one reason. It could be possible that a lot of local elections boards thought they were putting something over on everyone and everybody thinks they're the ONLY ones that figured out how to cheat.
posted by empath at 8:26 AM on February 24, 2006


It would be far more feasible to rig an electronic election than a paper election. The ROI is a lot better, too.

Public faith in the integrity of the electoral process is all that gives the process any validity at all. If there is no faith in the process, there is no election.

There doesn't need to be court-worthy beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt proof to assume an election has been compromised; that'd only be necessary for any future lawsuits.

Also: the central tabulating machines are nearly as vulnerable as the electronic balloting machines on the endpoints of the network and are manufactured, IIRC, by the same companies, Diebold and ES&S. There has comparatively been a lot less oversight on these machines, but attacking them would be a better strategy for any election-fraudsters than the balloting machines.
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:26 AM on February 24, 2006


If we eliminate tampering with electronic booths, Republicans will just have to go back to scaring black people away from voting booths.

Wait, they do both. Man, they are comprehensive!
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:27 AM on February 24, 2006


It's beyond me how easily a lot of Americans accept that electronic voting is managed by people too fucking stupid to set a computer's clock correctly. Christ, it isn't even as "hard" as setting the clock on your VCR.

Seriously, couldn't a state hire 10 part-timers whose job it would be to make sure that at least that much is done right?
posted by clevershark at 8:38 AM on February 24, 2006


Old answer: Nobody young enough to be able to set the time on a VCR is old enough to drink or drive or vote or hold a government job.

New answer: What's a VCR?
posted by hank at 8:49 AM on February 24, 2006


This stuff can't happen in America. We're the good guys.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 9:00 AM on February 24, 2006


Check out this voting receipt, from wired.
posted by The Jesse Helms at 9:03 AM on February 24, 2006


I'm just trying to find a reason why Democrats have been so silent on this issue.

The Democrats (as a party) have been far from silent.

Every Democrat from Howard Dean to Hillary Clinton to Harry Reid to John Edwards has either introduced legislation, or worked to raise awareness of the issue, mentioning it all the time.

Funny which issues deserve an "up-or-down vote". But having legislation stifled in GOP committees without public debate is not the same thing as "being silent".

How would you suggest they be more effective? I mean, for crying out loud the Democrats challenged Ohio's electoral votes and the only refutation of their evidence in the two hour special session was "you're conspiracy theorists, just like Michael Moore. Nyah nyah."

I'm all for making this issue number one, and I hold equal contempt for the lily-livered hangers-on who would remain silent or wimp out on this (like, say, John Kerry did.) But to say they've been silent is not true. It's more accurate to say some have been silent when it counted the most. Their record is nowhere near as good as the Green and Libertarian Parties on this.
posted by edverb at 9:11 AM on February 24, 2006


The world's most populous democracy uses voting machines that print receipts, are small and portable, and are admirably tamper-resistant. Of course, they're not perfect.

We're outsourcing everything else to 'em, why not voting machines, too?
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:11 AM on February 24, 2006


or voting
posted by caddis at 9:14 AM on February 24, 2006


"we are gonna take Florida you can bank on it" GWB 2000....
posted by hortense at 9:17 AM on February 24, 2006


If we eliminate tampering with electronic booths, Republicans will just have to go back to scaring black people away from voting booths.

Wait, they do both. Man, they are comprehensive!


No shit.

"The results show that our election system failed the citizens of Ohio in 2004 and in particular failed African Americans, new registrants, younger voters and voters in places using touch-screen machines," Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean told reporters. During a question-and-answer period, he declined to rule out that partisan actions by the Republicans may have contributed to the problems...The report said that 28 percent of all Ohio voters and 52 percent of African American voters said they had problems in voting, whether it was long lines, ballot problems, intimidation or difficulty in finding their polling place. Although 71 percent of white voters said they were confident their votes were properly counted, just 19 percent of African American voters expressed similar confidence. The long lines were caused by the scarcity of voting machines in a number of precincts, particularly in minority areas, the report said.

Plenty more here.
posted by Otis at 9:55 AM on February 24, 2006


empath: I think dems are silent on the issue because they've decided that talking about it makes them seem crazy. Right after the 2004 election I remember seeing dems immediately start to distance themselves from any discussion of tampering, even before any "evidence" could have been presented. It's a party line.
posted by e40 at 10:05 AM on February 24, 2006


>I think dems are silent on the issue because they've decided that talking about it makes them seem crazy.

I don't think the dems would be silent if any of them truly believed that there is now machinery in place which makes it impossible to for them to win any election the GOP doesnt want them to win.

I think its more reasonable that the Bev Harris crowd is a bit over the top here and that the US's first attempts at electronic voting are going to be poorly implemented, poorly designed, and eventually refined as errors are found. And of course there will be those who will try the damndest to exploit any system be it paper based or electronic. Some will be caught, but a national GOP conspraicy involving hundreds of people and secret codes, etc. Umm, not quite.

If the dems said this it would sound crazy because it is crazy. I think the dems just took a good look at the evidenc e and saw machine error and operator mistake, not a conspiracy. They know, as well as the GOP, that these machines need to be changed (or the manner in which they are used - oversight and such). Meanwhile, those unable to deal with the Bush win, which makes perfect sense to me as he played all of America's hot buttons in the time of war, will continue this ridiculous and counter-productive conspiracy theory.
posted by skallas at 10:17 AM on February 24, 2006


They know, as well as the GOP, that these machines need to be changed (or the manner in which they are used - oversight and such).

If that's the case, then why are GOP committees blocking every attempt at a voter-verified paper trail?

Up or down vote, indeed.
posted by edverb at 10:20 AM on February 24, 2006


JB71 >>> "The assumption seems to be that the preloaded votes were for Repubs.

"What if they weren't?"


Does that make a difference? Nope. Election fraud is election fraud, whoever does it. And as has been pointed out above, once there has been proven fraud at any level, the entire election is in doubt.

While I understand that American ballots are far more complex than those in other countries, I fail to see why they can't be done on paper with a pencil. So it takes longer to count. So what? It's not like the government changes immediately anyway. Vote, have counts done--as here in Canada--by an independent authority which is beholden to no one, and wait for the results. It's not like election results a hundred years ago were instantaneous. What's the need for it now, except to be able to gloss over these sorts of problems?
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:31 AM on February 24, 2006


Good question. Although there is bipartisan support for machine voting reform, I'd assume the following for leadership:

1. Legitimizing the "stolen election" complaints. The GOP could be flirting with disaster if a critical mass of people saw a sweeping law on voting machines which could undermine public confidence.

2. Repeating past mistakes. These damn machines were partially funded from the help america vote act (HAVA) which was supposed to fix the problem with the 2000 election. Now another wasted 100million dollars? Thats cost and admission of fucking up.

3. Politics. How many people see this as a problem? Its a small minority. Is this worth doing?

4. Technical understanding. You rep and senators I'm sure are good with the ol' Outlook, but their offices and general political radars don't grok "encryption scheme weakness in handshake!!!!!!!!!!!" Or why some of these complaints are valid.

5. Cronyism. The connections between the GOP and the top 2 voting machine producers are real. If Diebold doesnt want to invest in better crypto and attaching printers thus making their product more of hassle than it already is they can appeal to their buddies to stop this. Also they can use the above arguments and be pretty persuasive.

6. Acceptable voting irregularies. No election in history has been anywhere near 100% accurate. I forget the percentage that is considered acceptable loss/fraud, but its there and savvy politicos aren't going to go apeshit about fixing that 4% that has always been there.

7. State issues. To "fix" electronic voting would mean that the feds would have to run all voting booths or at least shovel down some harsh regulations to the states. The GOP still has some honest state's rights people who would be hesistant about this, especially after the HAVA seems to have screwed this up, thus confirming their beliefs.

8. Arrogance, laziness, and the government in general.
posted by skallas at 10:34 AM on February 24, 2006


Previously
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 10:35 AM on February 24, 2006


So all of you get your asses to DC and protest what is obviously an illegal and illegitimate government that has no authority to start wars let alone jail you for your protest.

So let's go. But you won't, will you.

And that is what just plain tires me out about these threads. That we are 100% convinced - 100% certain of our facts - of the most egregious unprincipled thing that can happen in citizen life and we do essentially nothing but sit on our asses and bitch on the internet about it. So frankly I find hard to even care any more.

Suffering from Outrage Fatigue.
posted by tkchrist at 10:40 AM on February 24, 2006


and we do essentially nothing but sit on our asses and bitch on the internet about it.

speak for yourself, tkchrist.
posted by edverb at 10:44 AM on February 24, 2006


US Democracy is dead, dead, dead.

And you guys aren't gonna do a damn thing about it.

R.I.P.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:53 AM on February 24, 2006


I work for a software company specializing in transactional data processing. We could probably spec out an efficient, safe, correct and effectively unhackable voting system in half a week. Building it is entirely another matter. But we'll never do so because no one would pay us to do it.

The U.S. has been hacked and is currently broken. The only people who can fix it are the citizenry and they won't do so. I sit and watch from Canada, a country which is based on principles I hold as dear as I do my own, fall apart and wallow in its own sewage.
posted by Kickstart70 at 11:16 AM on February 24, 2006


And you guys aren't gonna do a damn thing about it.

Sure we are--we're coming to live with you, roomie.

The problem is that we need one national standard, not thousands of differing ones. We need clear laws and requirements that demand a paper trail and more secure systems and adequate oversight and checking that the computer records match with votes cast. The GOP will never give us those things. The Democrats, maybe but i doubt it.

Marching accomplishes nothing, tk--it's only money that counts nowadays, and Diebold and the other companies have spread millions of it around. I'd forbid Diebold from ever selling another voting machine again, but then, i have morals and ethics, unlike them.
posted by amberglow at 11:23 AM on February 24, 2006


...cuz' some Farkers will believe anything...
posted by mrblondemang at 11:24 AM on February 24, 2006


So all of you get your asses to DC and protest what is obviously an illegal and illegitimate government that has no authority to start wars let alone jail you for your protest.

Something tells me you're just trolling. Oh yeah, this:
Go to any parade, people. See those guys that drive the funny little cars with the silly hats... the Shriners. Those guys are Republicans. Protests are the same: parades of embarrassment no matter who or what organizes them.
posted by tkchrist at 2:46 PM EST on September 28
posted by If I Had An Anus at 11:26 AM on February 24, 2006


speak for yourself, tkchrist.

Oh. Well then DO tell.
posted by tkchrist at 12:51 PM on February 24, 2006


IIHAA that took a great deal of research I'm sure. And to Prove WHAT exactly? That I contradict myself? That my mind may or may not change? Or that you can pull quotes out of context?

I also said this BEFORE the one you pulled:

"... And people are right to protest. But by and large it is inspiring people who were against the war from the get go. And I am not saying stop. More will have to be done. And there is a long long way to go.

[snip]

So you wanna know what am I doing? I am attending the same frigg'n vigils as the rest of you. AND I see the same people there I saw six month ago. That tells me this is not movement that will grow fast enough to do what you think."


So I'm complicated. I'm also tired of this Anti-Bush Bitch session shit with nothing to it - nowhere for it to go. That 99% of the people who say they are against Bush here pretty much don't back it up with anything at all in the way of real action or sacrifice. I feel like we are spinning our wheels and venting but not doing anything material. And what ever we ARE doing is obviously not working. Is that cynical. Of course. I'm not happy about it, dudes. Ok.

I am serious. What ARE people doing. There has got to be a good idea out there somewhere. The best one I can thing of is 2 million people camped out on the Mall until Bush steps down.
posted by tkchrist at 1:11 PM on February 24, 2006


The strategy at play here that still keeps this issue off the national stage and the front pages has been used many times with devastating success. Basically the more outrageous and undemocratic the scheme, the easier it is to discredit the politician who raises the issue. It's the #1 play in the post 911 GOP handbook. Unless there's a smoking gun and all the i's have been dotted and the t's crossed, no one is going to touch this with a ten foot pole. It's too big. That's the ugly and sad truth of it.
posted by Skygazer at 1:52 PM on February 24, 2006




There's already more than enough evidence-

That's what I'm saying. I was very skeptical at first about the voter fraud issue. But now I am more or less convinced.

The only way to know for 100% absolute sure is to get it in a lower court. But relying on the machinery of government to do this is a terrible idea because the executives of the Republic are no longer legitimate. Understand?

It's obvious Bush won't abdicate power or ven lend time for discovery to the process JUST because of the tenders of the process say so... they ARE the tenders of the process.

We must then rely on the the last tier - the last resort - a responsible citizen has - threat of rebellion. WE are the foundation of the republic. If they are not the real representatives of it then WE are obligated to remove them by any means necessary. And we must use that threat to force them to examine the evidence.

So just hoping it get's to the courts won't do it. We need a live seething presence of millions DEMANDING that.
posted by tkchrist at 2:08 PM on February 24, 2006


I hear what you're saying Amberglow and Tkchrist, but I think this is the wrong issue to waste energy on right now. You have to pick your battles with these folks. (As TK said) this is never going to get the scrutiny it deserves (for obvious reasons). If I was a Dem politician, I would be hitting the admin with everything I had, on the Port Security issue. It perfectly crystallizes and articulates to the heartland the hypocritical, dangerous and opportunistic incompetence of the White House. Homeland security is the issue that Bush rode into a second term. I think he was still getting good polls on that until recently. It defines him and he/they dropped the ball in the most myopic, self serving manner. It's a strong bipartisan issue that has (finally) united Dems and Repubs in the Congress. Forget this Voting scam stuff for now. It's a red herring. The Port Security issue is the one that can and will get the Dems back in power in the Congress and break the administration's back into much deserved lameduck territory For now. (prison later of course. I can dream right?). Look how 2 of the smartest Senators, Schumer and H. Clinton ( who's been wisely keeping her powder dry) are pressing this with everything they have and rightfully so. Here's a prediction (Rove hinted at this in a statement yesterday), I think the Admin is going to fudge up some way to move away from the UAE ports deal. It's too politically damaging. But no matter, they've shown their cards and I really and truly hope this is the issue that changes the face of the Congress and supplies the final crack necessary to dismantle this disastrous White House and these shameful 6 years.
posted by Skygazer at 3:02 PM on February 24, 2006


Okay, so you have three machines: The first machine accepts the vote and prints out a paper with scantron-style dots, the second machine scans your paper and records your vote, and the third machine is the vote-counting machine, and gives you validation on the way out.

So the election authority generates random numbers for the candidates just before the voting starts; say candidate #1 gets 37782, candidate #2 gets 99228, and so on. These numbers are encrypted and sent to all relevant machines, each of which has the public key to decode the numbers.

I go in and vote on machine #1, the make and model and oversight of which is controlled by one party. I get my printout, which has scantron dots but no candidate names. Each scantron dot corresponds to a number (I voted candidate 2, so I have a dot in the place for 99228).

I take my card and drop it into machine #2, the make and model and oversight of which is controlled by the second party. It reads the card's scantron dots, matches the numbers against the numbers it was given, and validates that they are valid numbers. I get a printed receipt with the candidates I voted for and a barcoded number, and machine #2 sends my vote to machine #3 along with the randomly-generated barcode number. If the candidate names are wrong, I scream bloody murder and voting is halted.

On my way out, I let machine #3, the make and model and oversight of which is controlled by a coalition of independent parties, scan the barcode on my receipt. It pulls up the candidates I voted for. I compare them to the receipt; if they don't match, I scream bloody murder and voting is halted.

With this system, you have no single party controlling the entire voting system, you have a paper trail from machine to machine, BUT the identity of the voter is hidden.

There's probably flaws, but that's the gist of it.
posted by davejay at 3:18 PM on February 24, 2006


Oh, and machine #2 and machine #3's vote tallies should be IDENTICAL at all times. To fake votes, you'd need to hack into both machines, which is exactly twice as hard as hacking one, or you'd need members of one of the parties and the coalition of independents to be in cahoots.
posted by davejay at 3:21 PM on February 24, 2006


(you know, if I ever win the lottery, I think this will become my life's work, because it needs to be done.)
posted by davejay at 3:24 PM on February 24, 2006


"AMERICANS. THIS IS MORE IMPORTANT THAT WAR, FAMINE AND PLAGUE. WITHOUT VISIBLE DEMOCRACY, YOUR COUNTRY IS A FORCE FOR EVIL. MAKE SURE YOUR NEXT ELECTION HAS PAPER-BASED RECORDS. DO ALL THAT IS NECESSARY TO MAKE THIS OCCUR. THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE IN YOUR NATION TODAY.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 9:34 AM EST on February 24 [!]"

I agree.
posted by ParisParamus at 3:28 PM on February 24, 2006


... I really and truly hope this is the issue that changes the face of the Congress and supplies the final crack necessary to dismantle this disastrous White House and these shameful 6 years. ...

And how many times in the past 6 years have we heard that same line about everything? Torture didn't do it. The lies about Iraq didn't do it. Spying on us didn't do it. Abramoff/corruption/DeLay didn't do it. Plame didn't do it. Katrina didn't do it. Secret prisons didn't do it. The Patriot Act didn't do it. ...

Without accurate vote counts, it doesn't matter if a majority votes against the GOP or not--who will know?
posted by amberglow at 3:31 PM on February 24, 2006


Next up, the quantum voting machines, where you don't even have to show up to have a vote recorded for you.

Well Diebold voting machines are already a lot like the quantum computers that have been in the news recently . . . they work best when switched off and left off.
posted by flug at 4:03 PM on February 24, 2006


Davejay, a couple of points:

Scantron isn't even necessarry anymore. Clearly printed text can be optically scanned nearly as easily and is readable by the voter directly.

I think maybe you meant "Private Key". And I don't think your scheme really provides any privacy for the voter. Can't I just vote for the candidate I choose, look at the the value that gets printed and know which candidate is which?

The complexity of your system worries me. There are many discrete elements which is nice because then they each can be independently verified but it also means more interactions that must be secured and verified. I'd rather see a very simple system that is very easily analysed.

I guess my implementation would work as follows:
- Voter places vote on pretty touch screen with photos of the candidates and platform information and whatever the candidate wants/is allowed by law.
- A continuous paper tape is used to record the votes making it hard to discard some votes but keep others. Ideally each machine has one tape per election.
- When the voter steps up to the machine, it prints something like "Vote Begins" to the tape. Each action of the user is then recorded to the tape including mistakes made. Then when the voter is finally finished and confirms his vote, "Vote Complete" is printed. This should prevent between vote tampering with the tape.
- On completion of the vote the voter is given a complete copy of his entry on the paper tape. Even a small portion of the population retaining this reciept would go a long way to making sure recounts can be verified. All sorts of authentication measures to prevent forgery of such a reciept can be taken but the obvious one is simply to have the machine digitally sign the message.
posted by joegester at 4:19 PM on February 24, 2006


I think the critical issue here is accountability and verification.
With electronic voting machines, especially when they're manufactured by an openly partisan company or companies with no regulation whatsoever, accountability and verification goes out the window.
Paper votes, verified and talied by human counters from every representative political party (not just republicans and democrats), backed up by exit polls at every polling place and removing the 'electoral college' is the only real and true way to assure a real and true representative government.
Everyone has to have every possible assurance that their vote was given every due consideration. The system as it is with electronic voting is to easily manipulated and not trusted by anyone from any political stripe. If democrats or liberals had such a system in place no one would give it any validity considering the issues that have cropped up since it has been implemented. It is simply not valid or credible. Paper votes, human counting, human tallying, human recording and verifying and validating. Until then, any electronic interference is invalid and suspect and rightfully so.
posted by mk1gti at 5:11 PM on February 24, 2006


The first issue to overcome is standardization. But this is an issue that, when I've raised it with Americans, laugh at and say will never happen. But really is it that much to ask that, for a national election, everyone in the country uses the same system? I don't understand why this is such a big problem - surely maintaining the democracy of the country trumps "state's rights" or any such excuse.

Not the 50--100+ X's that would be necessary for an average boring American election, which usually combines federal offices, state offices, state ballot propositions, local offices, and local propositions.

Aaah, US democracy. Broad, but shallow. I've also often asked why not just use paper and pencil? We have "proportional voting" (also known as "instant run-off") which requires the numbering of sometimes dozens of boxes, which are then hand-counted and sorted, and have complex counting methods applied to them to shuffle preferences. Yet we still know the result the night of the election. And besides - surely, votes were counted in the US without electronic voting machines some time in the recent past... what's changed that now makes them necessary, and which couldn't be overcome by employing more counters?

In any case, it seems pretty obvious that things aren't going to get any better without, at least:

(a) Standard national methods for national elections.
(b) Independent, multi-party commission for designing and manufacturing voting machines. Why the fuck would you outsource this to a private company? The mind boggles.
(c) Paper trail. If they can afford to put wireless IR ports in these machines, they can afford to put a dot-matrix receipt printer in. The "continuous roll" mentioned above sounds like a good idea.
(d) National, recorded enrollment, again overseen by an independent commission. Once again, the mind boggles at parties sending out their volunteers to enrol people (or deliberately not enrol people, as the case may be).
posted by Jimbob at 5:12 PM on February 24, 2006


Until the issue of voting verification is truly and verifiably non-partisan (verifiable by an independent *international* body, any pretense of representative government in the United States is an out and out sham and a lie. The majority within and without the U.S. know this as fact and have since the 2000 elections. Living in the delusional utopia that persons in the uninformed and ignorant central and southern U.S. and upper classes live in and swear by only prolongs their day of reckoning. The longer they wait, the more painful the retribution and correction of their wrongs.
posted by mk1gti at 6:22 PM on February 24, 2006


I work for a software company specializing in transactional data processing. We could probably spec out an efficient, safe, correct and effectively unhackable voting system in half a week. Building it is entirely another matter. But we'll never do so because no one would pay us to do it.


Interesting. What electronic voting system would this be based on and how would it deal with the problem of the user's hardware/software conspiring with other parties in order to change the user's vote?
posted by drscroogemcduck at 11:50 PM on February 24, 2006


On completion of the vote the voter is given a complete copy of his entry on the paper tape.

No, this is actually a very bad idea, because it makes it really easy to buy people's votes. "We'll pay you $100 if you show us a receipt for a vote for our candidate" -- that sort of thing.

The most reasonable proposal that I've heard is to have a paper receipt that is displayed behind a window for the voter to verify, but that is kept in the machine. In case of any doubts about the accuracy of the electronic totals, these verified paper receipts can then be tallied by hand.
posted by klausness at 2:38 AM on February 25, 2006


Some will be caught, but a national GOP conspraicy involving hundreds of people and secret codes, etc. Umm, not quite.

Well, you're in luck, because a vast conspiracy isn't necessary to steal elections run on electronic machines. Your quip illustrates that you don't understand the facts. These machines have been verified as hackable. This is not up for debate. There is no "secret code" to hack them - they're simply insecure by default - no serious security was built in at all. Any technically-minded person who understands how to talk to a database with a program would be able to change the vote records of any of these machines with a few minutes' access to the machine, even less if they write the program beforehand - I'm talking seconds.

This isn't like a movie - a large group of people is not required to affect the results in a very large way.
posted by odinsdream at 8:56 AM on February 25, 2006


Amberglow: And how many times in the past 6 years have we heard that same line about everything? Torture didn't do it. The lies about Iraq didn't do it. Spying on us didn't do it. Abramoff/corruption/DeLay didn't do it. Plame didn't do it. Katrina didn't do it. Secret prisons didn't do it. The Patriot Act didn't do it. ...

Yeah well hope springs eternal and all that jazz Amberglow, plus look, it took years, years to build up a prosecutable case against Nixon and his henchmen and he didn't even have a Repub Congress.

joegester: On completion of the vote the voter is given a complete copy of his entry on the paper tape.

Klausness: No, this is actually a very bad idea, because it makes it really easy to buy people's votes. "We'll pay you $100 if you show us a receipt for a vote for our candidate" -- that sort of thing.

I want something I can have framed when I vote against any repugnant incompetent politician* (Repub or Democrat), but more importantly, can also be used for a recount. Selling or buying a vote, should be a federal offense punishable by a bazillion dollar fine and "throw away the key" prison time (if it isn't already) as should be any tampering by voting officials or Secretary's of the State (i.e., Kathlerine Harris).

*W
posted by Skygazer at 10:14 AM on February 25, 2006


>because it makes it really easy to buy people's votes.

Yep, there's precident for that. Or party thugs making sure you vote "correctly."
posted by skallas at 10:23 AM on February 25, 2006


because it makes it really easy to buy people's votes.

Yep, there's precident for that. Or party thugs making sure you vote "correctly."
posted by skallas at 1:23 PM EST on February 25 [!]


How about encoding it and making it readable by a unique scanner that will let you see who you voted for as a last step. I think Davejay had this a the end of his brillant voting process.
posted by Skygazer at 11:12 AM on February 25, 2006


Yeah. Maybe obsucring the paper log somehow is a good idea. However, any voting system should be totally open and so the design of the reader must not be a secret. How can we stop the vote byuers/intimidating thugs from making their own receipt reading devices? Cryptography, in which case every voting terminal must have a key and these must all be kept secure... this is gonna get terribly complicated very fast. Or every voting terminal gets the same public key and every reader gets the private half. Not a good solution either.

Anyone got a better way? Anyone still reading this thread?
posted by joegester at 6:17 PM on February 25, 2006


Yeah. Maybe obsucring the paper log somehow is a good idea. However, any voting system should be totally open and so the design of the reader must not be a secret. How can we stop the vote byuers/intimidating thugs from making their own receipt reading devices? Cryptography, in which case every voting terminal must have a key and these must all be kept secure... this is gonna get terribly complicated very fast. Or every voting terminal gets the same public key and every reader gets the private half. Not a good solution either.

Anyone got a better way? Anyone still reading this thread?

Basically the problem is, you want the record to be verifyable but you also want it to not be readable by anyone. These goals seem to be irreconcilible.

Everyone makes up their own password maybe? But that doesn't stop vote selling and it doesn't stop intimidation being used to get the password out of people.
posted by joegester at 6:19 PM on February 25, 2006


Oops. How'd that happen?
posted by joegester at 6:24 PM on February 25, 2006


Cheat! Cheat! He voted twice!
posted by five fresh fish at 8:06 PM on February 25, 2006


« Older Building blocks of knowledge   |   Tucson Rodeo Craziness Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments