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Deathblow To a Voting Machine 140

Posted by kdawson
from the Dutch-e-voting dept.
SiggyRadiation writes "According to their newsletter (my English translation here), the Dutch group that 'doesn't trust the voting computers' has won a round against the industry and the civil servants that seem hell-bent on reintroducing voting machines — NewVote, made by SDU — that the Dutch minister of the interior has suspended. Apparently SDU provided 5 slightly different samples of its machine to the Dutch version of the NSA (well... the very humble Dutch version anyway) for testing purposes. Of those five, four machines emitted radiation in such a way that the votes cast could be monitored. SDU's NewVote received its final deathblow when it became clear that the one machine that stayed within the radiation limits used a green-on-red color-scheme for its screen. And that would be a small problem for the 4% of all men that cannot distinguish between red and green."
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Deathblow To a Voting Machine

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  • Radiation? (Score:5, Funny)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday January 18, 2007 @11:41AM (#17664098) Journal
    Of those five, four machines emitted radiation in such a way that the votes cast could be monitored.
    *man exits polling booth & his hair immediately starts to fall out in clumps*

    Observer: "Looks like somebody voted for Dammechien Peteersrotmensenpoepjespiestnaaktgeborenzeldenthus III!"
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I know you're kidding, but they are referring to electromagnetic radiation, which can be monitored with Van Eck phreaking [wikipedia.org].

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Otter (3800)
        My first thought was to wonder why the Dutch were the only ones freaking out over a vulnerability that probably affects every electronic voting machine on the planet. But of course, Van Eck is a local security bigshot and if he wasn't on the commission himself, his buddies probably were.
        • by rsmith (90057)
          It's not just the radiation.

          The old Nedap voting machines use obsolete hardware, and those machines are often not stored in a secure way (so they could be tampered with).

          The new machines run Windows and a wireless modem. That doesn't sound like a safe combination to me.

          As far as I'm concerned, a voting machine should at least make an immediate print-out of each vote (a good old-fashioned line printer would do), so that a recount can be done to check the machine's results.
    • "Dammechien Peteersrotmensenpoepjespiestnaaktgeborenzeldenthus III"
      I sometimes miss the rough Dutch humour...
  • Not the first time (Score:3, Informative)

    by Da Fokka (94074) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @11:44AM (#17664134) Homepage
    In fact, during the general assembly elections of november 2006 a lot of counties decided to revert to old-skool paper and pencil voting because of the same issues. Wijvertrouwenstemcomputersniet.nl [wijvertrou...ersniet.nl] has done some excellent work!
    • by krbvroc1 (725200) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:09PM (#17664540)
      a lot of counties decided to revert to old-skool paper and pencil voting because of the same issues

      Unfortunately, pencil and paper voting was rejected. Of the 5 prototype pencils tested, 4 contained lead and the one lead-free pencil was determined to lose it sharpness after several votes.

  • by Merkwurdigeliebe (1046824) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @11:46AM (#17664170)
    Yes, this is a blow, but in the end, electronic voting will overcome the shortcomings and the missteps and become they way to cast one's ballot. While there are presently insecurites and faults in the machines those will eventually be minimized so that they become more reliable and less fallible than traditional voting methods (which of course are less than infallible --but many don't want to acknowlewdge that.)
    • Except there's a big difference between forging paper ballots, or having people vote multiple times under different identities, and using a computer-based system which could be altered easily enough to not record votes at all, record the incorrect votes, or have its count altered by an outside agent. Even the idea of a paper trail is somewhat laughable, as you're expecting people to hang on to this piece of paper for a significant time, on the off chance it might be needed to verify how they voted.

      Computer-based voting is a long way from being a reliable enough method to be used exclusively. I think for now there should be a concentration on creating ballots that are easily machine-readible, making the counting easier. Purely computer-driven systems will have to be phased in in small numbers, so they can be monitored and bugs ironed out. Perhaps give people a choice of what type of machine they wish to use. You're going to have to do a lot of work to convince me that this technology is robust enough and secure enough to be used exclusively.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        The methods of fraud might be different, but the real question is what is the impact on the election(s) overall? Which method produces a more accurate count? When electronic voting proves more reliable it should be adopted as such.

        The banking system is based on computers (and thedre aren't many examples of exploiting the system --sure there is oversight by the account-bearer but the point is the errors are small overall). The major kinks in the electronic banking system have been worked out; they shal

        • by Sique (173459) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @01:35PM (#17666038) Homepage
          Electronic voting steals you half of your voting rights: The right to watch the counting. As someone born and raised in the former Eastern Block I know this is important. We had the right to mark a sheet of paper with a pen and put it in a box. But the outcome was predetermined anyway. Most later convictions for voting fraud in East Germany were only possible, because people watched the counting in enough voting places in 1989 to compare their results with the officially stated.

          So don't let you take the right to watch the counting!
        • by nasch (598556)

          The banking system is based on computers

          The banking system is not anonymous. If the bank takes money from someone, that someone can easily and quickly find out that it happened. If someone takes your vote, you have no way of knowing. It may really hit home if you live in a swing state. We know there was voter fraud with these electronic systems, so it really could have been *your vote* that was intentionally miscounted - if you live in one of those places. If we switch to a non-anonymous system, where

      • by cduffy (652) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:28PM (#17664832)
        No, no, no! That's not how voter-verifiable paper trails work! If you let the voter keep the piece of paper, they can use it to show how they voted (to collect a payment for their vote, or avoid being beat up or fired). If the piece of paper can't be visually read by the voter for them to know what it says, it isn't "voter-verifiable" any longer and doesn't allow immediate detection of fraud. Nobody wants to let the voter keep a piece of paper. (Well, almost nobody. There are some proposals where the paper is only readable using separate equipment which the voter is only allowed to access when alone, but that's a corner case and has problems of its own).

        Instead, VVPT systems have a traditional physical lockbox. Think of the paper as being something behind glass; the user looks at it, validates that it says what they want it to say, and then press "yes" or "no". Press yes? It's deposited in a lockbox which can be secured via traditional methods. Press no? It's marked as void, or shredded, or whatever. It's not the voter's responsibility or burden to track the paper; rather, it's kept in the voting system for use in audits and recounts. (Audits being a very important thing -- having the ability to audit means you can take a sample of the physical ballots, check whether the proportions match what the electronic counters said, and know whether you have a big enough problem to require a larger recount).

        This is still an improvement over pure paper ballots because you have the usability and accessibility enhancements associated with electronic voting, but the enhanced auditability associated with a piece of paper which a voter has looked at and approved.
        • by Billosaur (927319) *

          Think of the paper as being something behind glass; the user looks at it, validates that it says what they want it to say, and then press "yes" or "no". Press yes? It's deposited in a lockbox which can be secured via traditional methods.

          And if someone can reprogram the machine to record votes a certain way, why can't they program it to dispense the correct paper audits as well? And a lock-box? Secure? You're right back to the same problem you have with paper ballots. Locks can be picked, boxes lost... so you end up with all the safeguards you have now plus those required to secure the computers and electronics from tampering. The only way you could be sure that the paper audit would work is the voter retained it, thereby confirming that

          • And if someone can reprogram the machine to record votes a certain way, why can't they program it to dispense the correct paper audits as well?

            Which is where laws come in that say the paper audits are done by hand and not machine. Most states have the laws written properly now where the paper audit takes precedence over the computed results.

            And a lock-box? Secure? You're right back to the same problem you have with paper ballots. Locks can be picked, boxes lost... so you end up with all the safeguards you

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by cduffy (652)

            And if someone can reprogram the machine to record votes a certain way, why can't they program it to dispense the correct paper audits as well?

            That's why they're behind glass where the voter can look at the paper before confirming his or her vote. If I told the machine I'm voting for Bob but the piece of paper behind the glass window says Alice, I (the voter) know there's something wrong.

            And a lock-box? Secure? You're right back to the same problem you have with paper ballots.

            Those problems aren't too bad;

            • by nasch (598556)

              That's why they're behind glass where the voter can look at the paper before confirming his or her vote. If I told the machine I'm voting for Bob but the piece of paper behind the glass window says Alice, I (the voter) know there's something wrong.

              But it wouldn't say that. You would push Bob's button, and the paper would say Bob, but the electronic vote would go to Alice. The paper is only used in the case of a recount, so as long as the results are tweaked very slightly, not enough to trigger a recount,

              • by cduffy (652)

                The paper is only used in the case of a recount

                A recount, or an audit. Randomly select a jurisdiction and recount a statistically significant number of votes. Results vary from what the machine told you? Time for a full recount.

                Statisticians are good at this kind of thing -- a 5% variance would be more than enough to get noticed. If you're going to create enough of a variance to make a significant difference in any but the closest of races, it's enough that a properly conducted audit will catch it.

                This is e

                • by nasch (598556)

                  A recount, or an audit. Randomly select a jurisdiction and recount a statistically significant number of votes. Results vary from what the machine told you? Time for a full recount. Statisticians are good at this kind of thing -- a 5% variance would be more than enough to get noticed. If you're going to create enough of a variance to make a significant difference in any but the closest of races, it's enough that a properly conducted audit will catch it.

                  Yes, that's pretty good, if it's done right. However

        • by garcia (6573)
          And yet I'd much prefer that we just continue voting as we have for the last few centuries. Somehow it has worked just fine.
          • by drinkypoo (153816)
            And yet I'd much prefer that we just continue voting as we have for the last few centuries. Somehow it has worked just fine.

            Right, because no one ever stuffed a ballot box.

            Personally I'd like to see it done on the damned web, with mandatory voting.

            • by garcia (6573)
              Right, because no one ever stuffed a ballot box.

              It's quite a bit harder to do that than it will be with e-voting.

              I would *never* vote on the web.
              • by shaitand (626655)
                "It's quite a bit harder to do that than it will be with e-voting."

                How so? Any idiot can stuff a ballot box, pay the right officials and it is done. With e-voting you have to not only corrupt the officials, but you need someone with the tech savy and know-how required to rig that particular type of machine.
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by cduffy (652)
                  With e-voting, you don't need to corrupt the officials -- you can corrupt the technicians, over whom the officials have no effective oversight. Even worse, some systems are so ineffectively built that they can be subverted by an individual without any inside access -- see the photos of unattended machines from the last elections, documentation on attacks that would work against them, etc.

                  Further, there are effective countermeasures for ballot box stuffing. There are judges from both major parties at any pol
          • I used to think that voting was relatively constant over the years. That is, until I did a paper on it last semester. "voting as we have for the last few centuries" turns out to be totally inaccurate. Our voting systems have constantly been evolving over the past few centuries. I mean drastically. For a long time, the states of the US didn't even have a secret ballot. Voters stood on the steps of the court house and declared their vote to a recorder (vowing that they hadn't voted before in another tow
        • Nobody wants to let the voter keep a piece of paper.

          And I'll tell you why:

          1. Voting machines with printers cost more.
          2. The printers will jam; which will take the voting machine that it's attached to out of service until someone can fix it. If the machine is in a busy precinct, this may not happen immediately (assuming, of course, that someone *can* fix it - these people are volunteers, remember? They aren't selected for their technical skills). This problem becomes worse if the printer is integrated into the
          • by cduffy (652)
            You're conflating the arguments against a voter-verifiable paper trail (where the receipt is kept in a lockbox and never touched by the voter) and a hypothetical system of receipts which the voter takes with them and then can use to prove how they voted. Nobody thinks the latter is a good idea, and I agree; reason (3) is just icing on the cake. Lots of people think the former is a good idea -- it has opposition for reasons (1) and (2), but (cost concerns or no) it's one of the few mechanisms for making elec
        • by pipingguy (566974) *
          If you let the voter keep the piece of paper, they can use it to show how they voted (to collect a payment for their vote, or avoid being beat up or fired).

          I think the latter is more probable than the former, actually. Paying voters to choose one option over another will never work; threats are more effective as they invoke fear rather than a small reward.
      • When you put voting in machines you take it from the voters. period.

        The USA military doesn't code our hi-tech weapons with Al Qaeda does it? (even back when we were allies) For voting, both "sides" of the political conflict can not be totally excluded nor can you be sure that they are.

        BILLIONS of dollars are at stake and LIVES are at stake. This is proper motivation to exploit any system. No man-made and man-operated system can be completely foolproof (unless we find a way to remove the fool from the man.)

        A
      • by nasch (598556)

        I think for now there should be a concentration on creating ballots that are easily machine-readible, making the counting easier.

        Machines reading the ballots are the problem, not the solution. If there is any software involved in counting the votes, then our votes are counted by something that could be buggy or programmed maliciously/dishonestly. Why have computers count the vote at all? Speed? Do we need to know who won the next day, when they won't be sworn in for two months anyway? Reliability? A f

    • Yes, this is a blow, but in the end, electronic voting will overcome the shortcomings and the missteps and become they way to cast one's ballot. While there are presently insecurites and faults in the machines those will eventually be minimized so that they become more reliable and less fallible than traditional voting methods (which of course are less than infallible --but many don't want to acknowlewdge that.)

      Yeah, sure. And in the end, Microsoft Office will overcome the shortcomings and the missteps an

      • Congratulations! It took just a little over half an hour for Microsoft to get mentioned in a subject that has completely zero to do with them... God how I love Slashdot! Now if someone would just mention Nazis...
    • So what... I don't think anyone out there but a few neophytes truly object to computer assisted voting. BUT it needs to be done right, and potentially needs to always be optional.
      • Hey, I went to mod you up, but my points disappeared....

        You bring up something that doesn't get mentioned enough needs to always be optional. And someone must keep track of how many votes were cast electronically. If more than a small percentage insist on doint it the old fashioned way, that demonstrates low confidence in the electronic systems.
      • by nasch (598556)

        So what... I don't think anyone out there but a few neophytes truly object to computer assisted voting. BUT it needs to be done right, and potentially needs to always be optional.

        I think there are plenty of people who object to computer-assisted voting, regardless of what you mean by the term. If you mean using a computer to create their ballot, lots of older people are not so comfortable with computers and would rather use a pen. If you mean having a computer count the ballots, I am one of many computer-s

        • Obviously what I mean is have the option of using pen and paper versus a computer to produce a ballot.

          Having computers count ballots isn't really all that bad, in Tallahassee you fill out a bubblesheet then place it into a scanner, if the scanner isn't 100% sure how you voted, it spits it back out otherwise it counts and stores it. Incase of a recount the scan sheets are there. During the recount in 2000 we were the only county to have ZERO change in the final tally of the hand counted versus the machine co
          • by nasch (598556)

            During the recount in 2000 we were the only county to have ZERO change in the final tally of the hand counted versus the machine counted ballots.

            That's great that you had no changes. If computers are counting votes, and they're not correctly and randomly audited in every election against a piece of paper that the voter approved, it is "that bad". If that's the process where you are, then awesome. If not, then all it means is your election didn't happen to get hacked that time.

    • by Fyre2012 (762907)
      I understand what you mean in that eventually all things will just be digital and there's little that can be done to avoid that.
      However, in the context of voting, I would suggest that no digital system is secure enough for something as important as the vote.

      You can put all the safeguards you want in place, but that can't stop one system admin with an agenda (or other 'insider' with access to the necessary tools), from exercising their own sort of 'veto power'.
    • by Znork (31774)
      "and become they way to cast one's ballot."

      Of course they will eventually become the way to cast ones ballot; it's become obvious that certain interests want electronic voting systems and are going to implement them, no matter what.

      "which of course are less than infallible"

      Certainly, traditional voting methods are fallible, but tell me this: can you devise a paper based system wherein less than a dozen people need to be involved to tailor the result of a particular election to their wishes? That would be tr
    • Ah such blind faith in technology... so typical of our civilization these days. Always believing the 'next big thing' is right around the corner, the one thing that will finally solve all of our problems. Yet never has it been true.. and every time we hope it is, we give something away..
  • by moonbender (547943) <moonbender@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday January 18, 2007 @11:51AM (#17664246)
    One of the many good points Rob made during his talk at last year's 23C3 [events.ccc.de] in Berlin was to call the things voting computers as opposed to voting machines. Machine is associated with a simple, understandable and verifiable piece of gear, while computers are very complex, difficult to understand even by experts and unverifiable. Although the commonly used term (in Dutch) was machines, too, they exclusively referred to computers, and within a fairly short period of time everybody called them that way. In a way this was their first major success. Funnily enough, when they - much later - got hold of an actual device, the label on the back said voting computer, too: that's what the manufacturer had called them all along, internally, that is.
    • But a voting computer is one that computes votes (not so much a computer that has a right to vote and then so votes). So, it's a bit of an ambiguous term.
      • by morie (227571)
        In dutch it isn't. The words would be combined into one ("votingmachine"), showing that it is not a verb and a noun but only a noun. Futhermore, the word voting in "to be used for "the proces of voting" and voting in "he's voting" would be different words in dutch.

        The literal translation is actually votecomputer.
  • I remember reading about this in a Neal Stephenson novel (Cryptonomicon) some years ago: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Van_Eck_phreaking [wikipedia.org] I guess thats what they mean by "radiation", and wikipedia seems to confirm it.
  • by 8127972 (73495) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @11:58AM (#17664346)
    "Of those five, four machines emitted radiation in such a way that the votes cast could be monitored."

    Some tin foil would solve that problem.
    • Some tin foil would solve that problem.
      You mean to be funny, but it's true. It would take a very naive engineer (or cheapskape company) to forget to properly shield a computer. Since the emissions can be meaningful to someone with the proper test set, more shielding than normal is required if the vote is to remain secret.
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @11:58AM (#17664360) Homepage Journal
    the one machine that stayed within the radiation limits used a green-on-red color-scheme for its screen
    Who designed that one, and which "free Myspace templates" site does he frequent?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 18, 2007 @11:58AM (#17664362)
    This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane.
  • Colourblind (Score:5, Informative)

    by Petersko (564140) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @11:59AM (#17664372)
    "NewVote received its final deathblow when it became clear that the one machine that stayed within the radiation limits used a green-on-red color-scheme for its screen. And that would be a small problem for the 4% of all men that cannot distinguish between red and green."

    Good heavens. As a a person with good old-fashioned red/green colourblindness I assure you that this statement is false.

    There is no way that 4% of men can't distinguish between red and green. There's some difficulty in some circumstances, but a green on red colour screen on a voting machine would almost certainly be readable. They'll use high-contrast hues.

    The vast majority of red-green colourblindness results from a cone deficiency. In some circumstances it's difficult to make out some differences, but if I see a red shirt, I know it's red and not green. Green lettering on the red shirt would likely be completely readable.

    However, I seldom see purple. Usually it looks blue to me.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by govtpiggy (978532)
      Just a verification of the parent. I'm also red/green colorblind and while I can't see this [steverosswick.com] I can tell the difference between red and green. It's colors that are only separated by shades of red or green that are a problem. Think white to pink or blue to purple.
    • by forand (530402)
      You are aware that your condition is not a uniform one correct? I am unsure from your post if you are claiming that because YOU could see it just fine that the statement is incorrect or something else. In any case I can also add a completely irrelevant anecdote to the story: my father in law cannot see red from green in MOST cases. My point is that unless you have some sort of evidence that the statistics mentioned in the article are incorrect then your statement is just as bad if not worse than theirs.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Petersko (564140)
        You are aware that your condition is not a uniform one correct? I am unsure from your post if you are claiming that because YOU could see it just fine that the statement is incorrect or something else. In any case I can also add a completely irrelevant anecdote to the story: my father in law cannot see red from green in MOST cases. My point is that unless you have some sort of evidence that the statistics mentioned in the article are incorrect then your statement is just as bad if not worse than theirs. Wor
    • by Yartrebo (690383)
      Having red-green colorblindness, I can say that your typical high-contrast hues (bright red and normal or dark green) can be extremely hard to tell apart. I've missed stop signs while staring right where the sign should be because of the dark green foliage behind it and I have to get up real close to red-on-black signs to be able to read them (maybe 1/3rd the distance that I need for more legible white-on-black or black-on-white signs).

      PS: I prefer to call it red colorblindness, as I have no trouble seeing
    • Where I vote the person that assigns the computer walks you through a few setup screens to get the computer to the point where you are able to vote.

      If the only problem with the machine is the colour scheme, Would it be too hard to put a theme menu on the screen before you start that will let you choose from a handfull of prebuilt themes or at leasts prompts for a background colour and a font colour.
      • by araemo (603185)
        Or, you know, it could just be made to use BLACK AND WHITE, because that pair is the highest contrast you can achieve, and everyone who can read text.. can read it(By "Can read text", I mean in the present tense, if they know how to read but their eyes have been removed, they can no longer read. ;) )
        • by psmears (629712)
          Or, you know, it could just be made to use BLACK AND WHITE
          I suspect it's not as easy as that: the reason it's not possible to eavesdrop using the radiation is most likely that the whole screen has a similar luminance value, and it's hard to distinguish (from the radiated signal) bright green from bright red. If you change to black&white, it's easier for everyone to read, including the guy next door with his eavesdropping device :-)
    • As a a person with good old-fashioned red/green colourblindness [...] if I see a red shirt, I know it's red and not green. Green lettering on the red shirt would likely be completely readable.
       
      However, I seldom see purple. Usually it looks blue to me.
      So. By "red/green", you meant "purple"?
    • >There's some difficulty in some circumstances, but a green on red colour screen on a voting machine would almost certainly be readable. They'll use high-contrast hues.

      Green on Red with high contrast hues?! It may be readable by 4% of men, but 90% should get a splitting headache, and the remaining 6% will most likely end up having seizures.
    • by Rebar (110559)

      And that would be a small problem for the 4% of all men that cannot distinguish between red and green.
      What I want to know is what makes the other 96% of all men that cannot distinguish between red and green so special, if only 4% of them are affected anyway...

    • by cduffy (652)
      Maybe, maybe not. The whole point of the color scheme (and presumably the fonts and such as well) is to make van Eck phreaking harder. I could easily see the scheme which is optimized for making it hard to determine what's on the screen for someone who's only instrument EMSEC attacks also having the side effect of making it hard to determine what's on the screen for someone who's red/green colorblind.

      In summary: If it were a red and green scheme optimized for human readability, that's one thing. A red and g
    • by pipingguy (566974) *
      FWIW, as a CAD user, I often have trouble distinguishing colours on CRT or LCD screens if the lines are thin enough. Wider lines are easier to interpret. I also (according to others, maybe they're just having fun at my expense) sometimes wear brown pants, blue shirts and purple socks, thinking that I have colour-coordinated well that day and the babes will be all over me for my fashion sense.
  • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @11:59AM (#17664374) Journal
    The "Wijvertrouwenstemcomputersniet" protesters has been manouevred into a corner by the industry and the state. The group's principal argument has always been this:

    "Voting machines (without a paper trail) make it impossible to verify the fairness of an election"

    In addition, they have gone to show how election results could be manipulated, and how cast votes could be read from outside the polling station. The protesters have had a lot of success getting a number of machines removed from the elections, and they have certainly managed to put the issue onto the political agenda and the public debates. However, with all this media coverage, they are failing to state, re-state and re-re-state their principle argument: that there is a fundamental problem with using voting machines. I have never heard one of their spokespersons state that fixing these small problems with the computers is not enough, and is basically a side-issue. The machine's proponents have taken this opportunity to turn the fundamental problem into a side-issue.

    The press, politicians (who want to use voting machines) and the voting machine manufacturers jumped on the issue, stating: "You are right, there's an issue with certain machines but we'll get it fixed". When the machines get fixed, the protest group's role will have been played out. Any subsequent complaints about the fundamental issues with voting machines will be dismissed by the public as whining from a group who are just looking for any excuse to go on protesting.
    • The machine's proponents have taken this opportunity to turn the fundamental problem into a side-issue.

      That's a good point. I never looked at it that way.

      But regardless of whether or not we find electronic voting distasteful, there are many legitimate reasons why is is desirable over paper and pencil. The most obvious is for counting votes -- computers save time and money. In theory, the vote counts can be available the instant the polls close, and we need to hire fewer people to administer an election.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        ...computers save time and money. In theory, the vote counts can be available the instant the polls close, and we need to hire fewer people to administer an election. Furthermore, it saves time for the voter. You walk in, tap a touchscreen a few times, and you're done. There are many more reasons, but in essence it's time and money.

        Ahhh.. only in a capital-obsessed culture is this even a meaningful reason, much less a valid one.

        I, for one, am willing to pay more if it means ensuring the integrity of my co

    • by smoker2 (750216)

      Any subsequent complaints about the fundamental issues with voting machines will be dismissed by the public as whining from a group who are just looking for any excuse to go on protesting.

      Well they could say "we are no longer the knights that say Wijvertrouwenstemcomputersniet, now we are the knights that say We still don't trust voting computers[but in dutch, natch!]"

      Somebody could always start the New Wijvertrouwenstemcomputersniet and complain about something else. And given that there are always hacks t

  • It doesn't take someone colour-blind/deficient to realize that green text on a red background is one of the fugliest and unpractical colour schemes one could possibly come up with. Why not try teal on light-brown next time guys? Oh I got one: orange on yellow. That will totally enhance the quality of any application. Seriously.

    "Deathblow: When someone kills you not because of who you are, but for other reasons entirely"
    • I assume it it because of the radiation regulation. I'm just pulling this out of my arse but it is well possible that this combination minimises the ability of "van eck phreaking" to be successful.
  • It's nice to see that someone cares about the secrecy of the voting process, but I would think that integrity in the vote count itself would take a much higher priority over this issue.

    In some remote way, it reminds me of the military's concern long ago (and largely before my time) over the use of IBM Selectric typewriters, as the RF emissions (i.e. coils and motors starting and stopping, a primitive spark-gap transmitter in a sense) from the mechanisms could be detected and reconstituted into what was b

    • If someone can tell who you voted for, your vote is completely worthless and should not be counted at all.

      A union leader or employer could demand that you vote for a certain candidate and verify that you obeyed. Someone could offer you money to vote one way or another, paying up after the vote has been verified--and people complain about votes being "bought and sold" now. A person may indicate one way on an open petition to avoid being ostracized, but can vote his true feelings on a secret ballot. This
      • "If someone can tell who you voted for, your vote is completely worthless and should not be counted at all."

        So when the votes are tallied, if they can figure out who you voted for, it isn't counted. Isn't that kind of the opposite of the situation in Florida and Ohio in the last elections? Do you only count those votes that you can't determine who they voted for?? Which candidate gets the indeterminate votes?? This sounds like a brilliant system - I'm sure Katherine Harris would support it...
      • by sporkme (983186) *

        If someone can tell who you voted for, your vote is completely worthless and should not be counted at all.

        I should have said:
        If an interested party can tell who some or all people voted for, those votes are completely worthless and should not be counted at all. If a candidate, organization, or even union can strong-arm you into voting one way or another and then verify that vote through means either subversive or legitimate, the election is a farce. We all roll our eyes when a brutal dictator "wins the

  • TEMPEST (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lehk228 (705449) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:30PM (#17664882) Journal
    ahref=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TEMPESTrel=url2 html-3260 [slashdot.org]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TEMPEST>

    a few years ago this was a big deal and everyone was worried that the government was going to use radiation emitted by CRT monitors to reconstruct what was on the screen, people even made special fonts that minimized this by blurring and breaking up the edges of glyphs.

    then LCD's became cheap enough for just about anyone to buy.

    i wonder if these machines use a CRT monitor
  • by xtal (49134) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:31PM (#17664890) Homepage
    I love technology as much as the next guy, but what's wrong with paper voting? Canada uses it, it scales nicely, there's a perfect record of who voted for what, with a nice X right there. You can track ballots in, and ballots out. Nobody knows who put the X on the paper.

    Pushy sales jobs make me nervous, and these things are being hawked like a $500 used car.
    • It's not the paper voting that's the problem, it's the paper counting. In the last election (for senate) there were IIRC 9 different measures on my ballot. Sometimes there are only a couple like in a primary, other times there could be a dozen or more. Also, some are yes/no and some are multiple choice + write in.

      Keeping a count of all these without some form of help is pretty annoying. I guess you could have stations, where each one counts only a particular ballot measure. That would probably be the m
  • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @12:39PM (#17665044) Homepage
    We want them gone because their integrity and reliability are in question, not whether they meet the "ADA" (or equivalent in other countries) requirements or that voter privacy might be violated.

    In fact, having a machine that specifically reads voter responses for the purpose of comparing them with the machine's reported voting results might be an EXCELLENT thing. If the tally's don't match, we'd know something was afoot.
  • They'll make the modifications, and it will be back by the next election.

    Never let the truth get in the way of a sensational headline /.

  • A Dutch citizen group "Wij vertrouwen stemcomputers niet" ("We do not trust voting machines"), released a report performing a secuirty review of the the Nedap/Groenendaal ES3B voting systems. Chapter 6 (page 14) covers "Compromising emanations" (i.e. TEMPEST). The Nedap machines are DRE systems, but are not a traditional touchscreen. They use an electromechanical touch sensitive full-face ballot interface (similar to the Shouptronic). However, the TEMPEST issues were not related to the input features, but r
  • "Death Blow: Where someone tries to blow you up, not because of who you are, but for different reasons altogether."

    http://www.seinfeldscripts.com/TheLittleKicks.htm [seinfeldscripts.com]
  • SMS voting? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by C0rinthian (770164) on Thursday January 18, 2007 @02:43PM (#17667394)
    Why don't we make a reality TV show out of the election?

    Think about it. You get the candidates on TV, mebbe have them compete somehow. Have some experts in politics and government ask them questions that the candidates must answer. We can even have them tour the country making public appearances to try and gather support!

    And here's the best part: The people actually get to vote for who gets to be President! Just send a text message to 1-800-VOTEUSA and choose your favorite candidate!

    Imagine the ratings!
  • by Dolohov (114209)
    Does anyone know whether electronic ink displays are subject to EM snooping? Given the low refresh rates, I would wonder whether there's enough there to read.
    • Remember, it's ELECTRONIC ink - that doesn't leak :-).

      In all seriousness, though, I suspect you're right. Not only is the refresh rate of these displays low (so no use for B&W films :-), but the actual energy involved in a refresh is also lower so the overall potential to pick up EM is lower.

      However, without anyone testing I would not assume to be right yet. Leave the chicken wire and the tin foil hat in place for now..
  • Electronic voting does not have to be this hard!!! People can use a vending machine - why don't we make voting machines like them?

    It's simple: you have 32 buttons and a single, old-fashioned red LED display. Each of the 32 buttons can hold a few lines of text. Then, you display instructions on the main screen, and change the buttons accordingly. So when you vote for "Bob Smith", the BIG button you put says "Bob Smith". Why are we screwing around with this? Let's do things the old-fashioned way: with dedicat
  • All right. Can someone please explain why is it neccesary to have a COMPUTER for a function that's equivalent of picking 1 option out of option matrix of 0-255 (or whatever)?

    You could have laughably simple programmable logic to do that, which could be exhaustively audited for backdoors and whatnot. Using something like CE is equivalent of using a flamethrower inside your home to kill a bee..

    I design electronics for living so please use all the big words you like..

    And for the summary.. This is a deathblow? B

1: No code table for op: ++post

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