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Diebold Admits Ohio Machines May Lose Votes 502

Posted by kdawson
from the i-didn't-do-it-nobody-saw-me-you-can't-prove-anything dept.
I Don't Believe in Imaginary Property writes "Premier Election Solutions (a subsidiary of Diebold) has acknowledged a flaw that causes the systems to lose votes. It cannot be patched before the election and the machines are used in half of Ohio's counties, but they are issuing guidelines for avoiding the problem that presumably contain a work-around. While Diebold initially blamed anti-virus software for the glitch, they have now discovered that the bug was their own fault for not recording votes to memory when the cards are uploaded in 'certain circumstances' — something their initial analysis missed. It would be nice to hope that Ohio poll workers would be tech-savvy enough to make this a non-issue, but they had poll worker shortages last year and might need tech-savvy people to volunteer."
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Diebold Admits Ohio Machines May Lose Votes

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  • Open Voting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheSpoom (715771) * <slashdot&uberm00,net> on Friday August 22, 2008 @12:34PM (#24707423) Homepage Journal

    It is at this point that I would normally point people to the Open Voting Consortium [openvoting.org], but unless I'm missing something, the project stalled some time back in 2006 [sourceforge.net]. Yet they're still taking donations...

    Am I missing something or is it time for a fork? Because I think we definitely need an open, easily verifiable voting system.

    I don't even think it needs to be a LiveCD as the current project seems to have. What is so difficult about making a paper trail?

    • Re:Open Voting (Score:5, Informative)

      by garcia (6573) on Friday August 22, 2008 @12:47PM (#24707633) Homepage

      I'd point people to take it up with their representatives and other relevant politicians or even picketing to bring attention their cause. Unfortunately the politicians are in on it and the picketing is now only permitted in "Free Speech Zones" and may end you up in jail after crooked judges who still sit on the bench after multiple infractions eliminating due process [lazylightning.org] agree with the government that you are a terrorist.

      So, just suck it up and let the assholes win while we all fucking suffer. Global Warming is a fucking threat? Please.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        This is why we have guns.

        • Re:Open Voting (Score:5, Insightful)

          by the kostya (1277822) on Friday August 22, 2008 @01:02PM (#24707905) Homepage

          Yep, if I am not mistaken, the right to bear arms is in the Bill of Rights so that the government will not be able to silence the will of the people and so that if the government gets screwy, we can have another revolution.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by camperdave (969942)
            Really? When I read the amendment, it seems like it's there so that you can be called upon to defend the country, not to overthrow the government. After all, technically the government is overthrown every election.
            • Re:Open Voting (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Moofie (22272) <lee&ringofsaturn,com> on Friday August 22, 2008 @01:30PM (#24708399) Homepage

              Thomas Jefferson disagrees with you.

              • Re:Open Voting (Score:5, Interesting)

                by spiffyman (949476) on Friday August 22, 2008 @02:39PM (#24709809) Homepage
                Nonsense. Thomas Jefferson explicitly worries about the ability of our system to have legitimate control over future generations, given the constant revolutions we go through.

                At one point, he even suggests that we should wipe out all laws every 19 years (a number he derived from population density and life expectancy at the time).

                If this thread picks up I'll go find the citations for this. It's in TJ's letters (to Madison, I believe).

                Revolution, armed or not, is at the core of our system of government.
                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by haxor.dk (463614)

                  "Revolution, armed or not, is at the core of our system of government."

                  Maybe on a piece of paper that the current establishment does not take seriously, and hasnt for a long time.

                  You seem to have a poor grasp of what government is, or is just out walking your verbal pet rock. A revolution is an action that totally eliminates the power of current government, replacing it with a new one. Democratic elections are way different from revolutions and what may be derived from this concept.

            • Re:Open Voting (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Mister Whirly (964219) on Friday August 22, 2008 @02:44PM (#24709891) Homepage
              Good thing you are not a judge. The Supreme Court of the United States disagrees with your interpretation also. They decided that the 2nd ammendment does grant the individual (not just the militia) the right to keep and bear arms. But don't take my word for it, I could be a big liar. Instead, read it yourself here [findlaw.com].

              ""Right of the People." The first salient feature of the operative clause is that it codifies a "right of the people." The unamended Constitution and the Bill of Rights use the phrase "right of the people" two other times, in the First Amendment's Assembly-and-Petition Clause and in the Fourth Amendment's Search-and-Seizure Clause. The Ninth Amendment uses very similar terminology ("The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people"). All three of these instances unambiguously refer to individual rights, not "collective" rights, or rights that may be exercised only through participation in some corporate body.
              This contrasts markedly with the phrase "the militia" in the prefatory clause. As we will describe below, the "militia" in colonial America consisted of a subset of "the people"--those who were male, able bodied, and within a certain age range. Reading the Second Amendment as protecting only the right to "keep and bear Arms" in an organized militia therefore fits poorly with the operative clause's description of the holder of that right as "the people."

              We start therefore with a strong presumption that the Second Amendment right is exercised individually and belongs to all Americans.""
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by quanticle (843097)

            Sorry, but I have to agree with the grandparent. The 2nd Amendment was effectively repealed the moment we got a standing army, complete with its own military-industrial complex. The fact that you own a .30 caliber (or even a .50 caliber) rifle becomes relatively unimportant when you consider that the government has a permanent force of tanks, artillery, and aircraft, combined with sufficient troops to operate them.

            At best, all we could hope for is an Iraq-style insurgency, but even that would require sign

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by strelitsa (724743) *

      "What is so difficult about making a paper trail?"

      AFAIK, the legal fiction behind not providing a paper trail to end users is to prevent your boss or other nefarious authority figure(s) from having an easy way of confirming how you voted. IOW, boss generously allows you time off work to go vote but demands to see your voting slip to prove that you actually went, sees that you didn't vote for his brother-in-law running for dogcatcher as instructed, and cans you as a result.

      • Re:Open Voting (Score:5, Insightful)

        by TheSpoom (715771) * <slashdot&uberm00,net> on Friday August 22, 2008 @12:54PM (#24707737) Homepage Journal

        That's not what's meant by "voter verifiable". The printed slip shows that you voted and for whom, but you put the slip into an actual ballot before you leave the station. That way, if the electronic result is questioned, the ballots can be counted by hand.

        Obviously, we don't want to go back before an anonymous ballot system and the corruption that happened back then.

        • Re:Open Voting (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Austerity Empowers (669817) on Friday August 22, 2008 @01:18PM (#24708169)

          The electronic equivalent is the receipt system. Have the machine print your vote on receipt paper, visible behind glass in the machine. As the last step, you verify your selection, and the paper scrolls away. If you do not approve, if the slip is incorrect, if there is mechanical printing failure, etc. the ballot is destroyed, the electronic vote is not pushed, and you try again.

          Later on, the ballots are collected, counted by hand the traditional way, and that is compared against the electronic result.

          That way ballots are anonymous, there is a paper trail that is verifiable by the various interested parties, but the electronic system can be trusted and kept in check.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            Have the machine print your vote on receipt paper, visible behind glass in the machine. As the last step, you verify your selection, and the paper scrolls away.

            How do you know that the paper you verified scrolled away into the ballot box and not into the paper shredder next to the ballot box?

            If a computer must be involved, let it serve ONLY as a mechanism to help the voter fill out their ballot. Then let the voter confirm that the ballot is correct and manually submit the ballot for counting. Let the c

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sm62704 (957197)

        In my county you get a stub from the ballot (well, you used to with the old machines) without your preferences marked, and a small sticker with an American flag that says "I voted".

        BTW, the story's title "Diebold Admits Ohio Machines May Lose Votes", uh, this is slashdot, and as such shouldn't it be "Diebold Admits Ohio Machines May Loose Votes"? Actually if some nefarious Diebold person did it on purpose it would even be gramatically correct!

        Loose votes sink boats!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by sm62704 (957197)

      When Sangamon County got the new (non-diebold) nachines, I was pleased that the machine spit out an actual paper ballot with human-readable votes.

      Last election (primaries this year) the ballit was not human readable. I wonder why they changed it. Of course, this IS Illinois, where we're so patriotic that even being dead doesn't stop us from voting.

      There is no reason or excuse to not have human-readable paper ballots.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by initdeep (1073290)

        don't feel bad.
        i proved to our local election official that i can vote as my dead grandfather simply by walking up to his assigned polling station, saying i was him, verifying his address, and the signing his name (in my handwriting if i choose too).

        since they do not, and will not ask for proper photo verification, they have no way of preventing this from happening.

        yeap. voting is a secure process in this country.

        • Re:Open Voting (Score:4, Insightful)

          by rsclient (112577) on Friday August 22, 2008 @02:34PM (#24709719) Homepage

          Ummm -- you are an idiot, yes? You can classify these "issues" into two buckets:

          1. OMFG! I can cast a small number of extra votes!
          2. Hey, cool -- I can cast as many votes as are needed for my party to win.

          Which poses a bigger threat to democracy?

          But wait! Before you go ahead and start making changes, you should do a cost/benefit analysis: how many people will your new system prevent from voting versus how many invalid votes will there be? Under your system, most ways of making onesies-twoies extra votes aren't blocked (photo ids are a dime a dozen). But your system will prevent many people from voting. Tens of thousands of people don't drive and don't have passsports -- why should you make them jump through lots of (expensive) hoops?

          There was an article in the Wall Street Journal some months back -- a fellow turned 18 before trying to get a driver's license. He had to apply *in person* in the *state capitol*, hundreds of miles away. Why? Because if you're a minor, you're parent vouches for you. Over 18, they can't, and so you have to prove who you are. Which is hard, because you don't have a driver's license.

          In short: photo verification solves essentially nothing, while disenfranchising tens of thousands.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      OVC is still alive, and showed up at the Linuxworld conference with a demo. They do, however, desperately need donations.

    • Re:Open Voting (Score:4, Informative)

      by syphax (189065) on Friday August 22, 2008 @01:14PM (#24708107) Journal

      OVC is very much in operation!

      Read the blog posts on the site to get a sense of what they are up to. I don't know why the Sourceforge stuff isn't current; they are actively developing.

      It's very much a shoestring operation; why not throw 'em $5-10?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I don't even think it needs to be a LiveCD

      The LiveCD option provides an avenue for forensic verification. If the system boots from a LiveCD, that disk can be compared via MD5SUM and SHA1SUM to a control copy to rule out tampering. With vote data stored separately of the OS, forensic investigation of misconduct can be focused on pure data instead of data + OS.

      Let the poll workers take the voting machines home, they'll just get a fresh LiveCD on voting day.

      Just my 14 cents (pfft...inflation...)

    • Re:Open Voting (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Bombula (670389) on Friday August 22, 2008 @01:56PM (#24708973)

      These voting machines might "lose votes"?

      Jesus fucking Christ, I'm sorry, but how goddamn hard is it to make a machine that can accurately count up to at most a few tens of thousands? The entire world depends on machines that accurately count billions of numbers per second.

      There. Is. No. Excuse. For. This. Shit.

      • Happend in NM and NV (Score:5, Informative)

        by goombah99 (560566) on Friday August 22, 2008 @02:30PM (#24709651)

        Sequoia's data base upload software used microsfoft access which silently dropped all records after the first 32,000. As a result NM lost 12,000 votes in a presidential election decided by 500 votes. The same thing happened in NV the previous election cycle.

        Google it. 12,000 votes lost in bernalillo.

        the company took the machines and files to denver and then announced had "found" the votes, which were then counted. Sequois is owned by a shadowy Venzuelan consortium that is believed to include hugo chavez.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by TheSpoom (715771) *

          Sequoia's data base upload software used microsfoft access

          And the repercussions of this decision could be predicted by anyone with a tiny bit of IT knowledge.

    • Re:Open Voting (Score:4, Insightful)

      by orielbean (936271) on Friday August 22, 2008 @02:58PM (#24710121)
      Or at least have an election holiday so we can have enough volunteers to properly staff the sites. And maybe get some more tech-savvy people than the current beleaguered staff of well-meaning bluehairs...
  • Pen and Paper (Score:5, Insightful)

    by oahazmatt (868057) on Friday August 22, 2008 @12:35PM (#24707447) Journal
    I recommend returning to Pen and Paper voting, and then using those paper ballots to vote out the officials who had paid to bring in these obviously inferior devices for wasting tax payer dollars.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Might I recommend that we use blank ballots? Create pads of ballots in a similar way to how NY state deals with prescription pads for doctors. They are numbered and contain a few anti-tamper mechanisms (so no swapping amoxacillin for morphine). You register, and you get your ballot that simply has the offices that are up for election this time. Then you have to write in the name of the candidate you want for each office. No pre-entered names, no 'vote the party' options. But that would probably be to
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by eln (21727)

        They've thought of that, but no one could figure out what to do when "Mickey Mouse" won the Presidency, so the idea was abandoned.

  • by MyLongNickName (822545) on Friday August 22, 2008 @12:36PM (#24707453) Journal

    Get over it folks! It will only drop votes for Democrats. So clearly this is an isolated bug.

  • Proud? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FredFredrickson (1177871) * on Friday August 22, 2008 @12:37PM (#24707467) Homepage Journal
    How much more do we, Americans, have to take before we take action?

    They might as well have said, "Admittedly, we failed at not only our most important task, but our only task: Preserve and Continue Democracy."

    Personally, I protest weekly in my town.. but when will we get riots in the streets.. the ones you'd expect from those good ol' freedom loving Americans? Are they too busy listening to the "proud to be an american" song to actually be an american? It's not just a status, it's not juts a privilage, it's a responsibility.

    I'm dissapointed that this is on the front page of slashdot, and tomorrow, will be off the front page of slashdot, and that's all the waves it will create. I'm not proud, I'm ashamed of my country.

    I stopped going to church because the people who went were too busy feeling good going to church to actually do good things.
    • Re:Proud? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Jerf (17166) on Friday August 22, 2008 @01:21PM (#24708241) Journal

      Personally, I protest weekly in my town..

      Well, there's your problem, making yourself easily ignorable. Heck, the relevant people would have to go out of their way to find out about you.

      Stop protesting in the streets, and instead spend the time doing two things:

      • Cultivating a relationship with the local news outlets. They like government corruption (or anything related to it) stories. (Yeah, that's a simplification but it's basically true.)
      • Figure out how to file lawsuits, and start filing.

      The sum of those two things is greater than the sum of the parts.

      You've indicated a willingness to spend time on the issue, but you need to re-think your tactics.

      (I can't. I don't live in Ohio or, to the best of my knowledge, in anyplace that has such ballot machines, and therefore I have no standing [lectlaw.com].)

      Protesting in the streets has its place, but it's a very overrated political action. If you're not several thousand people making a point that 80%+ of the population strongly agrees with, you're wasting your time. Do something with your time that works, instead.

  • by bigtallmofo (695287) * on Friday August 22, 2008 @12:37PM (#24707471)
    Turns out Diebold accidentally leaked a snippet of their C# source code that shows the conditions that the machines may fail to register votes:

    if(vote.Party == "Democrat" && democratvotes % 3)
    democratvotes++;

    Oopsie!
    • by HTH NE1 (675604)

      if(vote.Party == "Democrat" && democratvotes % 3)
          democratvotes++;

      Either there has to be a second place where democratvotes is incremented or no Democrat would get more than three votes per voting machine. I'd think both would be a design problem, regardless of the coder's intent.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by bigtallmofo (695287) *
        Hey, I said it was a snippet that was leaked!

        Don't blame me - I actually took 5 minutes to write up a whole function only to discover the stupid Slashdot filter won't let you post source code (Use less funny characters it tells you).

        So I had to greatly (and I mean greatly) abbreviate the joke. Now that I've explained it, I'm sure it's 100x funnier.

        This new comment system is really messing with my head. I need to sign off now. Can we go back to Slashdot 2005?
        • To go back to the 2005 /. layout.

          The majority of the local population here voted for the current version.

          Oddly though, just shy of 2/3rds of /. users didn't vote...

          -Rick

    • So it never increments if democratvotes == 0? Give them credit for more subtlety than that.

  • by InvisblePinkUnicorn (1126837) on Friday August 22, 2008 @12:37PM (#24707479)
    Don't blame me, I voted for a';DROP TABLE users; SELECT * FROM data WHERE name LIKE '%.
  • Tea Party redux (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Friday August 22, 2008 @12:38PM (#24707489) Homepage Journal

    but they had poll worker shortages last year and might need tech-savvy people to volunteer.

    Want to really help? "Accidentally" run over the crate of voting machines, or allow it to fall off a bridge into a deep river. Do democracy a favor and destroy these abominations, you tech-savvy butterfingers!

    • by HTH NE1 (675604) on Friday August 22, 2008 @12:46PM (#24707601)

      Want to really help? "Accidentally" run over the crate of voting machines, or allow it to fall off a bridge into a deep river. Do democracy a favor and destroy these abominations, you tech-savvy butterfingers!

      Ahem... before the election.

    • Re:Tea Party redux (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sp332 (781207) on Friday August 22, 2008 @01:10PM (#24708011)

      CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

      Serves: 1 precinct

      Things you will need:
      at least one day off work
      money for fines
      a destructive device (something small, like a ball-peen hammer, is recommended)

      1. Go to the polls as early as possible. Try to be one the the first voters.
      2. Ensure that the polling place has enough reserve paper ballots on hand, or can easily obtain them in time.
      3. Disable the polling machines. One or two well-placed hits from a hammer should do.
              Act quickly to get them all before you are stopped.
      4. Cooperate with any police officers who arrive. You may be treated roughly. Do not put up a fight at this point.
              You will almost certainly go to jail for some time, from hours to days, depending on circumstances.
      5. If there is any media present, let them know what you did and *why* you did it.
              Try not to come off as a raving loony. Practice in front of a mirror is recommended.

      • by AlamedaStone (114462) on Friday August 22, 2008 @01:26PM (#24708315)

        Please mod parent up.

        Civil disobedience is where we need to be now, to prevent us bleeding-heart liberals from needing to learn how to care for small arms.

        • Re:Tea Party redux (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Just Some Guy (3352) <kirk+slashdot@strauser.com> on Friday August 22, 2008 @01:50PM (#24708843) Homepage Journal

          Civil disobedience is where we need to be now, to prevent us bleeding-heart liberals from needing to learn how to care for small arms.

          Bleeding hearts? I'm about as conservative as it gets, but the idea of either party hijacking an election infuriates me. Maybe next time it'd be a Green supporter who throws an election to the left, or maybe a fascist who only elects hardcore pseudocons - oh, sorry, neocons.

          Even if nothing else, if I didn't love democracy and care for the process, I'd still like to know that my guy won by an honest vote. I'd rather lose than win it traitorously.

  • You mean the 120 years young old lady working at the polling station can't help circumvent a software glitch with a viable workaround? /sarcasm

    I love software, but for voting it sucks. Software has bugs; bugs require identification and workaround. The voting system in the USA (as opposed to a place like Canada) is not built for workarounds or second trys.

    Plus the whole partisan from Diebold's CEO issue is spooky anyway. Down with E-voting!
  • by YesIAmAScript (886271) on Friday August 22, 2008 @12:40PM (#24707517)

    Please, someone give me a reasonable explanation as to why these machines remained certified for the last 8 years despite all this crap?

    • by TheSpoom (715771) * <slashdot&uberm00,net> on Friday August 22, 2008 @12:48PM (#24707643) Homepage Journal

      Corruption.

      (Was that obvious?)

      • by Shotgun (30919) on Friday August 22, 2008 @01:01PM (#24707877)

        It has to be corruption. I mean, damn, the cheapest shareware author from the early 90's would be ashamed to ship something this spectacularly screwed up. It's got to do ONE simple, straight forward job. There are NO corner cases. There are NO race conditions. There is NO need for parallel execution. It is the simplest transactional system that one anyone could devise. And yet, it DROPS DATA !?! Get the F*** outta here!!

        This cannot be explained by incompetence or stupidity. The ONLY explanation is outright corruption.

        • by Hyppy (74366) on Friday August 22, 2008 @01:12PM (#24708069)

          It's got to do ONE simple, straight forward job. There are NO corner cases. There are NO race conditions. There is NO need for parallel execution. It is the simplest transactional system that one anyone could devise.

          Playing Devil's Advocate here, but wouldn't a voting machine be a perfect example for a possible race condition?

          Scenario: Both Voter 1 and Voter 2 choose Obama.
          Vote machine 1 reads current number of votes: 10
          Vote machine 2 reads current number of votes: 10
          Voter 1 and Voter 2 both cast their ballots for Obama simultaneously.
          Vote machine 1 writes new vote tally for Obama: 11.
          Vote machine 1 writes new vote tally for Obama: 11.

          So, instead of receiving 2 votes, Obama is only credited for 1.

          I'm just saying, almost ANYTHING can be explained by incompetence or stupidity.

          But, my vote's with you. Corruption.

          • by SuiteSisterMary (123932) <slebrun.gmail@com> on Friday August 22, 2008 @01:18PM (#24708175) Journal

            Your vote machine should never EVER be keeping a running tally. Your vote machine should be keeping a line-item list of votes cast.

            Or, put another way, your voting machine should only ever be making, to your vote record table, INSERT statements. Never a SELECT, and most certainly never an UPDATE or DELETE.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Hyppy (74366)

              Your vote machine should never EVER be keeping a running tally.

              Of course it shouldn't. It also shouldn't drop votes. Come now, let's not overestimate DieBold, here.

          • Vote machine 1 reads current number of votes: 10
            Vote machine 2 reads current number of votes: 10
            Voter 1 and Voter 2 both cast their ballots for Obama simultaneously.

            Others have pointed out that you don't keep a running tally. But even if you did, say, for summary purposes, that would be:

            Vote machine 1 acquires a lock to the counter and reads current number of votes: 10
            Vote machine 2 attempts to acquire the lock and is blocked
            Vote machine 1 updates the counter and releases its lock
            Vote machine 2 gets the lock and continues

            At any rate, there is exactly one correct way to handle machine voting: use it as an input device that is capable of printing an official paper ballot flawlessly. Use the machine totals for preliminary results, but use the paper ballots for the certified results. It elimates the whole "butterfly ballot" and "hanging chad" debacle from 2000, and works even if the computers crash.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Guy Harris (3803)

          ...There are NO race conditions. There is NO need for parallel execution. ...

          I'm not so sure of that. At least according to the Washington Post story on the problem [washingtonpost.com], the problem appears to be with counting votes from the memory cards from multiple machines at a time, and sounds a bit like, err, umm, it might be a race condition:

          A voting system used in 34 states contains a critical programming error that can cause votes to be dropped while being electronically transferred from memory cards to a central tallying point, the manufacturer acknowledges.

          The problem was identified after co

    • by neoform (551705) <djneoform@gmail.com> on Friday August 22, 2008 @01:02PM (#24707899) Homepage

      diebold assured us that there were no problem..

      a position they've now changed and will not be punished for.

  • ..your website layout is a tragedy from 1998.

    seriously, though, the last time I saw a layout that used that many pictures inside of HTML Table elements was on a porn site.

  • by stinerman (812158) <nathan.stine @ g m a i l . c om> on Friday August 22, 2008 @12:41PM (#24707535) Homepage

    I'd be more than happy to be a poll worker (I'd even forfeit my salary to be one), except for the simple fact that one has to be a registered Democrat or Republican to be a poll worker in Ohio, which requires a statement made under penalty of election falsification (a felony) that you do indeed agree with the principles of the party and desire to be affiliated with them.

    As I do not support the principles of either major party nor do I wish to be affiliated with either one, I cannot be a poll worker unless I commit a felony (which would probably bar me from being a poll worker).

    Now, I'm obviously going a bit overboard here. No one really cares if you lie about your partisan identification. Republicans crossed over like crazy in the primary to vote for Clinton, but no one ever got arrested for it. In any case, I take such oaths seriously, so I can't be a poll worker.

    • by TheSpoom (715771) *

      Wow, that's a horrible law. Actually cutting someone completely out of the democratic process because they don't have a popular belief. That's getting dangerously close to fascism.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by dhovis (303725) *
        It is also not true. Check my other reply for a link to the requirements.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by LWATCDR (28044)

        Actually the idea behind the law is a pretty good one.
        It is so that you have representatives of both parties at the polling places.
        It is an attempt to prevent wrong doing. Imagine if you had only democrats or only Republicans working at any location? The requirement for saying that you fully support the party is so that people can not stack the deck with fake party members. Well you can still lie but the idea is to have have some balance.
        And you don't have to be a member of any party to vote. Just to be a p

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dhovis (303725) *

      I'd be more than happy to be a poll worker (I'd even forfeit my salary to be one), except for the simple fact that one has to be a registered Democrat or Republican to be a poll worker in Ohio,

      No they don't. You just have to be a registered voter.

      Brochure from the Ohio SOS office. [state.oh.us]

      • No.

        ORC 3501.22(A) [ohio.gov], to wit:

        [...] The judges shall constitute the election officers of the precinct. Not more than one-half of the total number of judges shall be members of the same political party. The term of such precinct officers shall be for one year. The board may, at any time, designate any number of election officers, not more than one-half of whom shall be members of the same political party, to perform their duties at any precinct in any election. The board may appoint additional officials, equally divided between the two major political parties, when necessary to expedite voting.

        I've tried on several occasions and have been turned away each time because I refuse to register as either a Democrat or Republican.

        You should also read the brochure. It has a space for party affiliation. As I said previously, the "oath requirement" enforcement is incredibly lax, so incredibly lax that the SoS didn't even bother to point out that it is one of the qualifications under law.

  • windows? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by chibiace (898665)

    why is this thing running windows? anti virus software, come on guys.. will never get anywhere unless you start out right.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by HTH NE1 (675604)

      why is this thing running windows? anti virus software, come on guys.. will never get anywhere unless you start out right.

      Do you know the source to your compiler? Do you know the source of the compiler used to compile your compiler [bell-labs.com]? Ad infinitum?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by LWATCDR (28044)

      While your post is full of silly anti-windows feelings it does raise a valid point.
      ANTI-VIRUS? what the heck. This should be locked down and require signed binaries! What are they going to do surf myspace and run incredamail on these things!
      Please this should be a secure embedded system and not a PC.
      Not only that why not run QNX or even VMS on these things? both are a lot more secure than Windows and I would bet VMS is beats Linux and even OpenBSD for security.

  • Volunteers (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Propaganda13 (312548) on Friday August 22, 2008 @12:46PM (#24707603)

    Actually, I was thinking tech-savvy volunteers would be more tempted to fix the elections when Diebold machines are used.

  • All or just some? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cdrguru (88047) on Friday August 22, 2008 @12:49PM (#24707663) Homepage

    Unfortunately, the way the US elections are managed, we can have some type of "instant results" from voting machines or we can just let the TV News announce a winner based on exit polls and the like.

    One way or the other, there will be results announced the night of the election. There is just too much ad money riding on the election coverage. It has to be relevent. And by relevent, I mean a winner has to be announced. Period.

    They announced Gore as the winner in 2000. We're still getting over that. What happens this year if they announce Obama as the winner and then on Thursday the announcement comes out that, well, really, after counting all the votes for real it looks like McCain won? What do you think will happen?

  • But Premier spokesman Chris Riggall said the programming problem had gone undetected after years of use and both federal and state testing. He stressed that the systems are secure in conjunction with other election safeguards in place.

    So they have been malfunctioning for years and this is supposed to be a good thing?

    "Secure" is not the same as "counts correctly". Besides which, anyone who reads Ed Felten's blog knows that the "other election safeguards" are frequently not implemented properly.

  • Would those "'certain circumstances" be "over 50% non-republican votes?"

  • While it sounds good that a properly trained tech person at the polling places can reduce the chance of the lost votes by following the workaround, it also means that they can make it happen.

    If someone were so inclined, and in precints that were predominantly "the other side", intentionally doing the action that causes votes to be dropped might shave a few points from that party.

    The existance of procedures that can trigger vote loss should be sufficient to toss the machines.

  • to hepl with elections, they're important.
    Yeah, I know we are all busy with out lives. Make time.

    Plus Volunteering looks good on a resume.

  • by rpillala (583965) on Friday August 22, 2008 @01:06PM (#24707961)

    I thought they had staff dedicated to this, like the CEO.

  • Don't Do It (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dcollins (135727) on Friday August 22, 2008 @01:07PM (#24707977) Homepage

    If I was a tech-savvy worker in Ohion, I'd run for the hills before volunteering to be legally responsible, or associated in any way, with these buggy voting machine known to malfunction and dump votes.

    Although the guy above with the Boston-tea-party-throw-them-from-a-bridge-accidentally had a really good idea, you don't need to be tech-savvy for that (well, other than working knowledge of the theory of gravity)

  • by Kaptain Kruton (854928) on Friday August 22, 2008 @01:13PM (#24708091)

    While Diebold initially blamed anti-virus software for the glitch, they have now discovered that the bug was their own fault for not recording votes to memory when the cards are uploaded in 'certain circumstances'

    "Certain circumstances" -- a.k.a "voting"

  • by MagdJTK (1275470) on Friday August 22, 2008 @01:53PM (#24708915)

    I don't understand why these machines exist. I've only voted in one general election (here in the UK) and we used the old "cross in the box then put the paper in the slot" technique. The result was still in by the next day, so what problem are these machines supposed to be solving?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by 0xABADC0DA (867955)

      The last election I voted in we had over ten different measures to vote for... local sanitation commissioner, bond referendums, etc (we have a lot more democracy than you guys have). Having a computer interface to select is really quite nice when there are dozens of votes to cast. Having zero confidence in the result is really the only bad part of the electronic vote-placing machines.

      Yeah there are RF attacks on electronic machines, so they are technicallly inferior to pen and paper for voting -- but our

  • by mlwmohawk (801821) on Friday August 22, 2008 @02:55PM (#24710071)

    The machine has one job. One job only. It counts votes.

    I've been developing software for almost three decades, and I can't understand how you can write software so bad that it can't count.

    I can't believe it is a simple error. There is a reason why this is happening and it isn't about "counting" votes, its about about choosing which votes count.

    You can't blatantly steal an election without getting noticed. You can, however, lose a number of votes that don't seem statistically important on any one machine, but when combined with many, can alter the results of a close election.

    That's what gerrymandering is all about, keep everything close, and small errors can let you win.

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