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Dutch Voting Machines De-Certified

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  • Begs the question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Robert1 (513674) on Friday May 16, 2008 @03:04PM (#23438294) Homepage
    Will there ever be a day when electronic voting will be viewed with the same or greater level of credibility as paper voting?
    • by Eco-Mono (978899) on Friday May 16, 2008 @03:09PM (#23438352) Homepage
      Only when tampering with the machine will not make it possible to cheat the vote, and there are very few (although >0) designs that allow for that.
      • by Eco-Mono (978899) on Friday May 16, 2008 @03:11PM (#23438388) Homepage
        For instance, one of these [wired.com] but with a human-readable bar code along the left side.
      • by mwvdlee (775178) on Friday May 16, 2008 @03:22PM (#23438546) Homepage
        Or rather; when the possibility and scale of fraud possible with voting machines becomes equal or less than that of paper votes.
        Let's not kid ourselves here; paper voting isn't perfect either.
        Paper is easier to commit fraud with, but voting machines allow for much larger scale of fraud if they are hacked.
        When we find a way to guarentee a limit to this scale, voting machines will become more reliable than paper.
        • by CastrTroy (595695) on Friday May 16, 2008 @03:38PM (#23438778) Homepage
          All for the low low price of only $1000 per voter. Seriously. Paper is cheap, and has served us well for many years. How much is too much for something that only does as good as paper. For the cost of electronic voting machines to be worth it, it has to be many times more reliable and accountable than paper. What is the true cost of purchasing, operating, and maintaining voting machines that we can guarantee are significantly better than paper. And even then, is going from 99.9% accuracy on the vote to 99.99% accuracy on the vote really worth spending billions of dollars on voting machines?
          • by beadfulthings (975812) on Friday May 16, 2008 @03:52PM (#23438964) Journal
            Paper certainly is cheap, and it's been around a long time--a much longer time than exit polls, on-the-spot reporters, and cable news. We've now grown to expect that a winner will be declared in State X fifteen minutes after the polls close there. Used to was, people waited days to know the election results. The famous (or infamous) DEWEY BEATS TRUMAN newspaper headline from the U.S. presidential election in 1948 is certainly an example of premature "certainty" in election results. After television arrived, people could stay up all night "watching the election returns" and retire to bed, exhausted, still not knowing the outcome. It takes a little longer to count paper ballots, but it's certainly worthwhile considering some of the alternatives. We just have to get over our desire for almost-instant gratification.
          • by timholman (71886) on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:19PM (#23439324)

            And even then, is going from 99.9% accuracy on the vote to 99.99% accuracy on the vote really worth spending billions of dollars on voting machines?

            And what happens when the difference between two candidates is only 0.05% after the votes are counted, and the loser demands a recount? Suddenly that difference between 99.9% and 99.99% accuracy matters very much.

            In the U.S., the entire fuss over electronic voting machines began because the 2000 presidential election hinged on determining a majority that was within the error margin of spoiled ballots. The problem is that paper voting will always produce spoiled ballots. It doesn't matter how simple you make the process (e.g. "Just put in an X in one of these two boxes"), a certain percentage of the electorate (e.g. the mentally ill, the illiterate, the very elderly, the mentally handicapped) will screw it up.

            So in typical fashion, U.S. politicians went overboard and tried to "fix" the spoiled ballot problem with electronic voting machines. The problem with that method is that you'll never get people to have 100% trust in computerized voting. Someone, somewhere, will always make accusations of vote fixing, even if you create a paper trail. So now the pendulum is swinging back to paper ballots.

            I'm just hoping I won't see another presidential election so close in my lifetime, because no matter what voting technique you use, the loser will cry foul in a very close race. Fortunately it only seems to happen every 40 years or so (Kennedy's election being the previous example), which provides enough time for the fuss to die down.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by KDR_11k (778916)
              In a sane election system that difference would not matter anyway as both sides would end up with the same power. It's just insane to declare a single winner based on such a tiny difference, it leaves half the nation unrepresented.
              • by waferhead (557795)

                In a sane election system that difference would not matter anyway as both sides would end up with the same power. It's just insane to declare a single winner based on such a tiny difference, it leaves half the nation unrepresented.

                If memory serves me right, at one point in US history the "loser" became the vice president...

                That must have been interesting in many ways, but the idea has some merit, certainly better than some $random politico tag along being first in line for the job...

            • It doesn't matter how simple you make the process (e.g. "Just put in an X in one of these two boxes"), a certain percentage of the electorate (e.g. the mentally ill, the illiterate, the very elderly, the mentally handicapped) will screw it up.

              I think the mental acuity to put a mark in the box beside the candidate you are voting for is an acceptable minimum competency level for someone's vote to count. I would actually like to see a more purposeful minimum competency/knowledge requirement for voter eligib
            • by RockDoctor (15477)

              It doesn't matter how simple you make the process (e.g. "Just put in an X in one of these two boxes"), a certain percentage of the electorate (e.g. the mentally ill, the illiterate, the very elderly, the mentally handicapped) will screw it up.

              Deliberate spoiling of the ballot paper is also an issue, particularly where there is no option for "I wouldn't trust any of these scumbags with my dog's full poop bag, let alone something of greater value."

              That is, of course, solved with some rather elementary changes

        • by daBass (56811) on Friday May 16, 2008 @07:38PM (#23441438)

          Paper is easier to commit fraud with, but voting machines allow for much larger scale of fraud if they are hacked.
          When we find a way to guarentee a limit to this scale, voting machines will become more reliable than paper.
          I disagree. Here's how to make paper safer than any machine will ever be:

          Mark the paper with a pencil, put it in a box. All day long, party representatives are welcome to keep their eye on the boxes. At the end of the day, election officials do the counting, in the same place where to votes were cast so there is no possibility of switching in transit. The party representatives are there looking over their shoulder and doing their own count. If there is a dispute, there's an awful lot of witnesses.

          Because the number of voters per precinct will be relatively low, the undisputed result will be known in a couple of hours at the most and because there were party representatives at every precinct, they know what the national total should add up to, so no chance for any shenanigans by the central authority there either.

          This is how the Canadians do it, by the way. Nobody ever disputes an election in Canada.

          No machine will ever beat that. The more sophisticated your encryption and tamper proofing, the more sophisticated the fraud - it's an arms race you can't win.
      • by CastrTroy (595695) on Friday May 16, 2008 @03:24PM (#23438566) Homepage
        You may be able to make a machine that it's possible to verify the votes for, but how do you make a machine that nobody could tamper with. You could probably replace the entire internals of most voting machines without anybody noticing.
        • by dgatwood (11270)

          Design it so that the only way to open it is from the front, and put a big, yellow, tamper-proof "If this seal is broken, do not use this machine" seal across the gap that changes to say "VOID" if you try to peel it off. Teach people to look for the seal.

          • by Phroggy (441)
            That's probably a really good idea, although you know who I'd ask for help in this area?

            The Technology Division [nv.gov] of the Nevada Gaming Commission. Can you think of any organization with more experience working with precisely this sort of thing?
            • by dgatwood (11270)

              Well, one would also think that ATM companies like Diebold would have experience at this sort of thing.... Of course, when you realize the implications of this ineptitude on the banking industry, you suddenly get the distinct feeling you would be safer keeping your money in a box under your mattress. :-D

              • Well, one would also think that ATM companies like Diebold would have experience at this sort of thing.... Of course, when you realize the implications of this ineptitude on the banking industry, you suddenly get the distinct feeling you would be safer keeping your money in a box under your mattress. :-D

                The banking machine industry thought that right up till their programmers pointed out that there is a big difference between a clear paper trail (required for banking), and anonymous use (required for votin

      • The only way to verify that voting fraud is not committed is to get rid of anonymity, until then all voting systems can be compromised.
    • by davidwr (791652) on Friday May 16, 2008 @03:11PM (#23438396) Homepage Journal
      Machines are good at two things:
      Marking ballots.
      Counting ballots.

      But there must be ballots. These ballots must be human-readable at all stages between the marking of the ballot and the canvassing of the election. A human must confirm the ballot is what he intends to vote before actually casting it.

      A machine that reads/speaks or writes/marks a paper ballot is invaluable to help the mobility or visually impaired and the illiterate and it can reduce costs in multi-precinct polling places or in polling places that use more than one language.

      A separate vote-tally machine can greatly speed up the vote count.

      However, you must have a human-readable piece of paper, plastic, or something else we call a ballot in case the vote need to be recounted by hand, and this ballot must be examinable by the voter before he makes his vote official.

      Likewise, the ballots must be stored in a location that is protected from tampering until after the election results are final.
      • by bsDaemon (87307) on Friday May 16, 2008 @03:18PM (#23438508)
        Frankly, the only reason I can think of someone wanting the illiterate to vote is if they are planning on tricking them into voting as part of their hoard.

        having them vote may be democratic, but having the uninformed vote is not good for democracy, and its really hard to be sure you're informed if you can't check sources (ie, read).
        • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

          by Colonel Korn (1258968)

          Frankly, the only reason I can think of someone wanting the illiterate to vote is if they are planning on tricking them into voting as part of their hoard.

          having them vote may be democratic, but having the uninformed vote is not good for democracy, and its really hard to be sure you're informed if you can't check sources (ie, read).

          Republicans get a many votes from the people they benefit (the wealthy), but since the concept behind the party is to benefit the few at the expense of the many, they need to "trick" millions of borderline illiterate people to vote "as part of their hoard," as you say. It's all there in the GOP charter.

        • I'm not sure that's actually true, though. The aggregate tends to get it right most of the time; why mess with what works?

          (And most of the illiterate don't vote anyway, so your concern isn't really a big deal; the tools used to help the visually impaired are largely similar to the ones used to help the illiterate.)
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          Frankly, the only reason I can think of someone wanting the illiterate to vote is if they are planning on tricking them into voting as part of their hoard.

          Just because someone can't read or write, or has little formal education, doesn't mean they're stupid. Intelligence, education and skills are not the same thing (although related).

          A comment like yours sounds like a landowner telling one of his slaves: now go do this, because I know what's best for you!

          In many cases you may be right, but who are you to say? If 99% of a nation is made up of monkeys, then democracy means the monkeys will run the country. If you don't like that, trying to keep them from

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by bsDaemon (87307)
            I'm all for education, its a great thing. We need more of it, desperately. I'm also not saying that they're stupid (though they very well may be) just because they can't read. Everyone has to learn some time.

            I'm just saying, how do you know you're being told the truth if you can't read? The document at hand may be false, and reading wouldn't necessarily help then, but you could look at others to see if they support the claim.

            If a "helper" is there telling you which box to check for which candidate, how
        • by robertjw (728654)
          Yes, we should get back to the good old days where only white, educated males got to vote. We had WAY better presidents back then.

          You have a point, but just because you can't read doesn't mean you are stupid or uninformed, especially in the case of those who are visually impaired.

          You bring up a good point though, although the problems are deeper than the uninformed or uneducated voting.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by bsDaemon (87307)
            If they are reading brail, that is still reading. I'm not talking about people who are not physically able to see the paper, i'm talking about people who can and still don't know how to read.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by WinPimp2K (301497)
          The illiterate should not have the vote.

          Seriously, if someone does not have the intellectual capacity to read a ballot, how can they be considered to have the intellectual capacity to vote in an informed manner? If a significant portion of a nation's citizenry has not mastered this simple pre-requisite skill for the maintenance of a civilized society for any reason, then they (as a group) can not be trusted to make any other decision that would not be damaging to their own civilization.

          I'll entertain argume
        • by Gat0r30y (957941) on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:18PM (#23439308) Homepage Journal
          Picking on the illiterate in written form? Seriously? How can they retort!
        • by Phroggy (441)
          I'd rather let them vote with technological assistance to help them understand what they're voting for, than let them vote by marking a ballot completely at random. If you're going to suggest that illiterate people shouldn't be permitted to vote, fine, go ahead and argue for that, but as long as they are legally permitted to vote, we should help them make an informed choice.
          • by bsDaemon (87307)
            The crux of my argument is that one cannot reliably make an informed decision so long as they are reliant on someone or something to tell them whats going on.

            The reason education, and reading in particular, are so important is because people need to be able to do the research, weigh the evidence, and come to their own conclusions.

            Voting is not about marking a ballot and selecting a candidate. It is about taking full responsibility for oneself as a citizen and performing ones civic duty in the upkeep of the
            • by Phroggy (441)

              The argument that everyone else seems to be making is like saying that TV news helps people who can't read the news papers or the internet. Is it better than nothing? I'm not sure that many people here would argue that it is.
              I don't read the newspaper, but I do watch The Daily Show, which makes me vastly more aware of current events and national politics than a lot of people I know. Seriously.
              • by bsDaemon (87307)
                The Daily Show is a different beast when compared to say, CNN or Fox, which are pretty much useless.

                They have their candidates they fawn over and those they try and bring down on suprious charges. Daily Show just sort of takes the mickey out of everyone, and I like that. It's pretty much the only "fair and balanced" news show out there.

                However, relying on one source is always dangerous.
        • by houghi (78078)
          Do not forget that voting is more an emotional then a rational decision people make. Being illeterate or not doesn't mean that much. Illeterate people can still watch the political debates.

          To make t much more rational, you could take the following test [eenvandaag.nl]
      • by CastrTroy (595695) on Friday May 16, 2008 @03:30PM (#23438658) Homepage
        We count votes by hand here in Canada, and I haven't noticed any speed problems. It's so fast they created a law so that the results from the east coast couldn't be released until the polls on the west coast closed, because they thought releasing the results influence the west coast results. It shouldn't be hard to find enough volunteers to get the counting done within a couple of hours for each polling station. Maybe you have too many people going to each polling station. There's only 352 [www.cbc.ca] votes per polling station, so counting that many ballots shouldn't take too long.
        • Canada doesn't have the asininely massive ballot slates they do in some locales. Federal, provincial and municipal elections are held at separate times and voters don't have to pick so many positions at one time.
          • by spaceyhackerlady (462530) on Friday May 16, 2008 @05:08PM (#23440042)

            Your problem, not ours, and entirely self-inflicted. The size of U.S. ballots is the problem. How the votes are tallied is beside the point.

            In the last Federal election I was the first person to vote in my area (on my way to work), so I was the one who looked in the ballot box, certified to the Returning Officer that it was empty, and taped it shut. How much more democracy do you want?

            In our last provincial election we also had a referendum on adopting a single-transferrable vote system for our elections. I voted yes, but not enough people did, and the referendum failed. We would have stuck with paper ballots (a paper trail is non-negotiable, IMHO), but most versions of STV require computers to tabulate the results in a timely manner.

            ...laura, proudly Canadian

        • by zoney_ie (740061)
          We have PR-STV here in Ireland. With manual counting, and transferring votes from eliminations and surpluses, recounts where there is a marginal result in a constituency, and some 4 or 5 seat constituencies, it invariably takes days before the final results of our general election are in.

          That said, I'm all for staying with the pencil and paper and having plenty of spectators checking the manual vote counting. Plus, all the tallies and guesswork during the couple days it takes makes for great sport. Sure the
      • by Black-Man (198831)
        Oh yeah... cause we all know an election was never stolen before the advent of electronic voting machines or 2001. Christ... where is the sense of history here? Chicago ring a bell? Stolen elections were the norm in the days of PAPER BALLOTS. When the machines came in the 70's fraud went down. But of course... if your favorite party is the one committing the fraud... then its OK.

      • by bheading (467684)
        A machine that reads/speaks or writes/marks a paper ballot is invaluable to help the mobility or visually impaired and the illiterate and it can reduce costs in multi-precinct polling places or in polling places that use more than one language.

        Assuming that the machine is incapable of error in all cases, which is close to being an impossibility.

        A separate vote-tally machine can greatly speed up the vote count.

        So why do American elections seem to take so long before the result is known ?

        However, you must hav
    • As long as there is an operating system created by a company as inherently "evil" as monopolysoft.

      One cannot, in all conscience, trust them to "Do the right thing"

    • When it produces a piece or multiple pieces of paper that can all be audited and all match the electronically reported results. In which case you might as well stick with the pen & paper method anyway.

      People tend not to trust anything that they can't actually hold (religious deities aside).
    • by Hatta (162192)
      Electronic voting is already viewed with the same or greater level of credibility as paper voting by most people. That's the problem.

      Also, begging the question [begthequestion.info] does not mean what you think it means.
    • by nbert (785663)
      At least they can be reused as excellent chess computers [engadget.com]. I'd say it will take a long time until such flaws are history. Personally I wouldn't support any closed-source solution and even OSS should be tested for an extensive period of time before I'd trust it. Till then I'll stick to voting by mail in case online voting becomes mandatory (which is possible and easy in the country I live in).

      Might sound like a contradiction, but online votes might be even safer in the long run. It's not like paper votes ar
    • by kiehlster (844523)
      Maybe if we get the Techno Viking to stand watch during the voting process. Only then will we have tamper-proof machines.
    • by bill_kress (99356)
      Moreover, you know what's funny?

      The first people who have a problem with the electronic voting seem to be technology geeks (aka slashdot readers).

      You'd think that would be of interest--new rule, if over 75% of the people who have a clue agree, and only 50% of the completely uninformed agree, the uninformed no longer are allowed a vote.

      This rule can be applied to any upcoming global warming initiatives as well.
    • by zsau (266209)

      In an Australian state and a territory, electronic voting has been trialled:

      • The voting machines are required to allow a voter to cast an informal (i.e. invalid) vote. This is important because it's a legal requirement for every eligible voter living in Australia to enrol, and for every enrolled voter to vote, unless they're too old or ill. Voting informally is used as a way to avoid stating an opinion you don't have, although technically it's illegal.
      • The voting machines print out paper ballots which are the
  • by davidwr (791652) on Friday May 16, 2008 @03:05PM (#23438308) Homepage Journal
    Hey everybody, let's march on Amsterdam for machine sufferage! You too Hedonism Bot!

    -Bender
    • by Gat0r30y (957941)
      Bender you cant vote?
      Nope -
      Oh because your a machine?
      No - because i'm a convicted felon
      ohhh..
  • Intolerant (Score:4, Funny)

    by dsginter (104154) on Friday May 16, 2008 @03:07PM (#23438336)
    There's only two things I hate in this world: people who are intolerant of other people's cultures - and the Dutch.
  • I think electronic voting is excellent for surveys, no more than that. Where there is binary information that can't be physically viewed, there can be a flaw, a hack, a security hole. The only hole you will ever find in a paper is if you do it yourself with a punch.
    • The only hole you will ever find in a paper is if you do it yourself with a punch.


      Or if you are a Florida voter that can't seem to find the hole. But then hanging chads can cause all kinds of problems there too.
  • A better translation (Score:4, Informative)

    by Sara Chan (138144) on Friday May 16, 2008 @03:11PM (#23438398)
  • I figured it out (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KevMar (471257) on Friday May 16, 2008 @03:17PM (#23438476) Homepage Journal
    Punch cards.

    We need to reinvent punchcards.

    Make the ballot display on a computer screen and let the user select the options he wants. When you are done, I punches a human readable card with the results.

    Those results are placed into another box by hand after the voter looks over the results. You do the precount from the computer booth, then you feed the cards into a card punch reading machine for the official vote.

    recount all you want. you will also have a paper trail. problem solved.

    • Two Words:

      Hanging Chads
      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        I don't understand how hanging chads ever became so much of a problem. If I was voting in a place that punched holes in pieces of paper, and my ballot didn't end up properly punched, I'd ask for a replacement, and do it again until it looked right. How did so many people turn in invalid looking ballots that it made such a problem in counting?
        • by robertjw (728654)
          More importantly, why did we get so worried about disenfranchising someone who wasn't smart enough to recognize these invalid looking ballots?
      • by Gori (526248)
        Sure, but he is proposing that the holes are punched by machines, not by near sighted and tired old people.
        So A perfect production.

        Hot needles melting holes in thin plastic strips. Wont decompose for another 100.000 years, unless someone burns them :)

      • Naturally we need spinning cutting ring presses to mark the holes. ELIMINATE THE CHADS!

        (No, not the African Chads, you racist. But you can eliminate people named Chad if you like.)
      • by Kingrames (858416)
        Chad is INNOCENT!
    • are the way to go, just you say. The resulting ballots are then readable by both humans and machines, while the voting machine remains stateless.

      This gives you the advantages of the machine (UI, automated counting of the ballots), without sacrificing privacy (since the voting machine doesn't keep track of vote totals) and security (as long as the voter checks the generated ballot, no tampering with the voting machine will help; as long as machine-generated counts are hand-checked at random precints, tamp

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by apt-get moo (988257)

      Punch cards. We need to reinvent punchcards.

      IIRC the voting machines which were used in some counties of Florida during the 2000 presidential elections worked with punch cards like this. But while the voter can control (or rather assume) whether the card has been punched correctly, he doesn't know about the reading machine. You could end up with lots of invalid votes or even worse, votes for the wrong candidate.
      The latter case assumedly happened in a largely jewish and democratic county with overproportionally many votes cast for Pat Buchanan inste

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Red Flayer (890720)

      Make the ballot display on a computer screen and let the user select the options he wants. When you are done, I punches a human readable card with the results.

      Uh-oh, looks like VoteNet has become self-aware.

      First off, I hope it can parse sentences well

      Second, I hope it takes some grammar lessons.

      Finally, note to self: Voting machines are self-aware and capable of fisticuffs. Do not kick the machine for recording the wrong vote next election day... if it wants to record a vote for $CANDIDATE, I'll damn

  • by ecotax (303198) on Friday May 16, 2008 @03:17PM (#23438490)
    To summarize the article, hopefully more readable than the Babelfish translation:
    The Dutch government sees too little added value in using voting machines, and claims that developing new voting machines will be expensive, and won't solve the problem of the possibility of eavesdropping.
    • The first sentence of the article is also important, I think: "While there is no good alternative, The Netherlands vote with pencil and paper." Having no guaranties against eavesdropping at any moment (to ensure voter anonymity) in combination with high cost led to this decision.

      The last paragraph talks about tests with two forms of automation for the counting of the votes (cast on paper). In both methods humans are involved in the process to ensure correctness and integrity.

  • Ironic (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 16, 2008 @03:25PM (#23438588)
    It seems a bit ironic that all this fuss is made about the secrecy and accountability of those voting machines, while the parties that we (the Dutch) elect with these machines are so expressedly in favour of recording every bit of information about the citizens.
    Next week a law proposal will be accepted that forces telcos and ISPs to keep records of all communications by all of their subscribers, not just those for which some tap warrant has been issued, and store them for 18 months or maybe more.
    And of course we already are the number-1 country for taps on telephony and internet traffic.
    The next proposal, to require everyone using an internet cafe or buying a mobile phone to present an ID (and presumably all those sessions and phones to be registered with that ID) was brought forward this week.

    All this for the sake of easing the finding of criminals. It seems strange that it is not required to register each citizens vote as well, as that could provide as much of a clue as what sites he is visiting.
    • All this for the sake of easing the finding of criminals.

      Uhm, sure, that's what they tell you. Don't be scared now: it's a lie.

      Most politicians are control freaks. I'm Dutch too, perhaps the Dutch are control freaks too.

      I dunno. If registrations, forms, recording information, ID, bureaucracy, etc. bother anyone, don't live in the Netherlands in the first place.

  • Illiterate (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Archangel Michael (180766) on Friday May 16, 2008 @03:34PM (#23438708) Journal
    We can't do this in the US, because that means disenfranchisement of those people who are illiterate.

    I'm sorry, but if you can't figure out how to vote, then maybe, just maybe you don't really need to vote.

    Once upon a time people had to care about who they were voting for, enough to learn how to participate in the process. If you don't care enough to learn, why should we tailor a system that caters to your illiteracy?

    If that is what people want, why not put pictures on the ballots like all the other illiterate countries do?
    • by Gat0r30y (957941)
      I'm illiterate you insensitive clod!
    • by lgw (121541)
      Historically in the US, literacy tests were used as a direct and reasonably overt tool to disenfranchise black voters. Do you think someone needs to be literate to have an informed opinion on issues that really matter, like legalizastion of slavery? That's why the US can be a bit touchy on that issue.

      Democracy has never been about picking the "better" candidate - how could you even possibly do that via a popularity contest? Democracy is about kicking out rulers who a substantial majority dislikes, withou
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by et764 (837202)

      While I generally agree with your sentiment, I don't know how to put it into practice. I personally think not only should people be able to read to vote in the US, they should demonstrate a knowledge of the way the US government is supposed to work. This includes things like the fact that the president has no constitutional authority for half (perhaps even all) the things they promise to do if elected.

      The problem is I can't think of a good way to enforce it. In the past there have been literacy tests for

  • I cast my e-vote last year through the internet here from the US.
    The system seemed to work fine(apparently it was an experiment) and reasonably secure: you had to send a form to your consulate for confirmation of eligibility and in return you got a secure code to cast your vote.
    It even had a paper trail if you wanted. I hope they will keep that system at least.
  • I can't see why these companies don't come up with a decent design for electronic voting. It could be easy, traceable and could be much better then paper voting. For each person voting generate a unique person id. Then for every item voted on generate another unique vote id. Print a receipt to every person showing there person id and vote ids. Make this database of vote ids and what was voted for publicly accessible on the internet. This way I can determine if my vote counted and this can easily be audited
    • by CastrTroy (595695) on Friday May 16, 2008 @04:19PM (#23439322) Homepage
      The problem is that you don't want voting to be traceable. You want it to specifically not be traceable. You shouldn't be able to tell who voted for who. After things are said and done with, I shouldn't even be able to prove who I voted for (so I can't prove it to someone else who was coercing me). What you need is a system that you can verify with a high degree of certainty, that once you cast your vote, that it will be counted properly, and that the same will happen for all other votes cast. The only way to do this is with physical pieces of paper. Because you can be sure that once you put it in the ballot box, that it doesn't leave (you can have people watching the box). And that once the box is opened for counting, that they are counted correctly. You can do this by having people observe the opening and counting process to ensure that things are done right. With electronic voting, votes can leave the ballot box without anybody noticing (deleting records), and votes can be added without anybody noticing (adding records).
  • Wait, yahoo owns babelfish?! Since when?!!? It's always been altavista since...since...it was digital.com!!!!
    • by lgw (121541)
      Companies buy one another. Soon Microsoft will own Babelfish, the way things are going. Prepare for babelfish.live.com.
  • by TomC2 (755722) on Friday May 16, 2008 @06:01PM (#23440642)
    As a naive Brit who's only ever voted on paper..

    If the only way an electronic count will be trusted is by a paper audit trail, then presumably those paper printouts will still have to be counted by hand to verify that they get a result acceptably close to the result the computer gives. In which case, what have we gained in using computers to do the count?

    If a manual count of the computer-printouts is not carried out, then how does a printed copy give me the voter any reassurance at all? It would reassure me that I'd not accidentally voted for the wrong person, but could not prove to me that my vote has been counted.

    I can understand the argument that if the source code to the program is open then I could inspect it, but most voters are unlikely to have the expertise to do that.
    • >As a naive Brit who's only ever voted on paper..

      Don't worry, you've comprehended it perfectly.

    • The idea is that you'd only bother with a manual count if one of the candidates demands it. Which would mostly happen on close elections, or when the electronic vote count was at odds with what exit polls showed (or some other reason for suspicion existed). I suppose there'd still be the opportunity to fix only elections where an upset occurred, since no one would bother to contest them. So ideally a random sampling of elections should re-counted to keep everyone honest. Presidential elections would almost
      • by flajann (658201)
        You should ALWAYS do the manual count, period. Use the electronic tallying for quick results, but verify them by hand-counting.

        Actually, the entire "Winner takes all" approach to "democracy" has some nasty inherent flaws by design, insuring that the minority will always be beat up by the majority, and if your minority is small enough, you may never see any representation at all.

        I will be working on a better system at some point; one in which the minority does NOT have to acquiesce all power to the majori

  • Can somebody tell me what is so god damn difficult about implementing reliable electronic voting? It is 2008, for christ's sake! How hard can it be to take a vote, log it to a central database, and print a freakin reciept!? This is like 40 year old technology, people. We've been trusting ATM's to do much more complex things for decades. WTF?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by flajann (658201)
      It is not that it's not difficult to do -- in fact, it's down right easy -- the problem lies in making the technology secure and tamper-free.

      In this age of spyware, viruses, trojan horses and the like, anything is possible, especially when political power is involved. Plus, the way e-voting works is beyond the understanding of most people, so there is no confidence in the process.

      Truth of the matter is, it's just WAY TOO EASY to tamper with the voting results and there is NO AUDIT TRAIL unless paper is

  • by rew (6140) <r.e.wolff@BitWizard.nl> on Saturday May 17, 2008 @04:15AM (#23444114) Homepage
    Please mention the "real" URL: http://www.minbzk.nl/actueel/112441/nieuw [minbzk.nl] and provide the link for the translation behind in parentheses. Even though Dutch is a language spoken by a relatively small number of world citizens, there are some who prefer the Dutch language.

    I myself prefer to read English unless Dutch is the original language.

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