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Voting Drops 83 Percent In All-Digital Election 156

Posted by samzenpus
from the people-like-paper dept.
For the first time ever, Oahu residents had to use their phones or computers to vote with some surprising results. 7,300 people voted this year, compared to 44,000 people the previous year, a drop of about 83 percent. "It is disappointing, compared to two years ago. This is the first time there is no paper ballot to speak of. So again, this is a huge change and I know that, and given the budget, this is a best that we could do," said Joan Manke of the city Neighborhood Commission. She added that voters obviously did not know about or did not embrace the changes.

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Voting Drops 83 Percent In All-Digital Election

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  • Finally (Score:4, Funny)

    by Suiggy (1544213) on Friday May 29, 2009 @05:06PM (#28143843)
    We need more all-digital elections. I don't trust people who are not intelligent enough to use a computer to be informed enough to vote in my jurisdiction.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by gubers33 (1302099)
      There is a large part of the population who don't know how to use a computer, but are extremely intelligent and informed. The only person some people don't know how to use a computer is because they were around far before computers and never learned to use them. AKA The elderly.
      • Or, in the case of many Doctors... they have much more important things to focus their attention on.... like learning about medicine.

    • by EdZ (755139)
      It sounds great, until you realise that the system will likely be about as secure as a wet paper bag. Or that ballot-stuffing is now easier for, say, 4chan.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Arancaytar (966377)

        In before Rick Astley becomes President of Oahu. :)

    • by Jurily (900488)

      I don't trust people who are not intelligent enough to use a computer to be informed enough to vote in my jurisdiction.

      Not to mention the candidates. However, it poses one significant abuse vector: you can't predict the number of votes by counting the people who show up anymore.

      How do we know there weren't more votes for the losing candidate?

    • by msauve (701917) on Friday May 29, 2009 @08:04PM (#28145667)
      Why should someone have to pay for technology in order to vote?

      I (and you, apparently) am fortunate enough to have both phone and Internet access, but there are many citizens who don't. Homeless people have the right to vote, too, without having to seek out some technological proxy.

      If this ever hits my area, I'll look forward to writing off my Internet access and computer costs when I do my taxes.

      Finally, if you're "intelligent" enough to hang around /., you should already be aware of all the security implications involved with voting-by-wire.
    • We need more all-digital elections. I don't trust people who are not intelligent enough to use a computer to be informed enough to vote in my jurisdiction.

      This should be modded insightful; not funny.

    • by gurps_npc (621217)
      Yeah, lets disenfranchise all the idiots so poor that neither their parents nor their state provided school in the middle of a ghetto owns any computers.

      If YOU were smart enough to know your history you would know about the multiple intelligence tests that certain southern gentleman used to keep blacks from voting.

      Whats more, intelligence is not helpful in democracy. There is no way you can make the right decision by voting on it. Democracy is about FRANCHISING people - giving them power, not about ma

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <.moc.liamg. .ta. .nhojovadle.> on Friday May 29, 2009 @05:06PM (#28143853) Journal

    7,300 people voted this year, compared to 44,000 people the previous year, a drop of about 83 percent.

    If all you're concerned about is number of votes, put each candidate on prime time television belting out the worst songs they can think of. Then instruct viewers to vote with their cell phones. Don't forget to charge them 99 cents a call and limit them to 10 votes ... the populace seems to love that.

    Granted, they might not be the best candidate for the position, there will be 10 million votes and you'll have a $9.9 million surplus to decide what to do with. On top of that, your elected official will be able to sing "Oops, I Did It Again" by Britney Spears whenever they screw anything up.

    • by arevos (659374)

      If all you're concerned about is number of votes, put each candidate on prime time television belting out the worst songs they can think of.

      I'm trying to find something wrong with your suggestion, and not succeeding. Gentlemen, if there is such thing as a perfect plan, this is it. Please moderate him insightful.

  • Not a real big loss. After all, democracy doesn't really work anyway, just like all those other systems of government.

    • After all, democracy doesn't really work anyway...

      Democracy is a fine system, for beginners.

      ...laura

  • No faith (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JCSoRocks (1142053) on Friday May 29, 2009 @05:06PM (#28143861)
    Or they had just heard about how abysmally inaccurate previous all-digital elections had been and figured, "why bother?" I can't say that I blame them. I would probably have a similar attitude. What's the point of voting if you have no faith in the accuracy of the results?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by getuid() (1305889)

      (I'm the one vote you -1 flamebait -- sorry, was an accident, slipped on the mouse. Hope me posting in this thread will erase the vote...)

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Or they had just heard about how abysmally inaccurate previous all-digital elections had been and figured, "why bother?"

      Nah. Dis stay Hawai'i brah, no ones know bout all da kine kapakai. We's jus wen to da beach an forgot about da kine.

    • That, or there actually was an error in the results... maybe 83% of the votes were thrown away?

      Unlikely, but I'm just saying...

    • by mrcaseyj (902945)
      Do these election officials realize that law enforcement has an array of software available to secretly take control of cell phones? They use it to turn the microphone on so they can listen in on what's being said in the room. The software keeps the display and power lights off so the target doesn't even know the cell phone is listening in. The only way to stop this is to remove the battery from the phone. Should we just trust the CIA to tell us who won the election? Are we supposed to trust that this cellp
  • by Daetrin (576516) on Friday May 29, 2009 @05:07PM (#28143865)
    Did they do any polling or anything to figure out why that was? Were people just not able to figure out electronic voting? If so the problem should go away after a couple election cycles. It would be more worrisome if there's some kind of innate apathy to a voting process that doesn't involve getting out of the house and doing something.
    • Electronic Voting: Effects and Pragmatic examination

      Electronic voting makes voting more easy, which is useful in that it brings the possibility of direct democracy.
      Two groups oppose this: The first is selfish and wants to keep power concentrated (for either good or bad purposes). The second recognizes the prevalence of the first and knows that direct democracy leads to voting "the weak" off the island (caught up in an above pop TV refence)(with either good or bad results).

      These two groups are constan
    • by sodul (833177)

      Actually I'm not a US citizen but have been living there since 2001. I'm still allowed to vote for a few of my home country elections. To do so I either vote by mail/internet or go to the consulate in San Francisco, drive 1-2hs, wait in line 2hs and risk being turned away because I don't have the proper document with me.

      For the presidential elections (not the US ones) they actually opened voting booths all over the bay area and I only had to drive 5 miles to vote. There was a huge turnaround, and people in

  • I'd love to see the age demographics on who voted/didn't vote in this election. Is it unreasonable to expect that only the 18-25 year old's were able to even achieve a quorum among their age group?
    • by icebike (68054)

      Exactly right. This return isn't enough to even assume a minimal participation.

      Its seems unreasonable for the powers that be to certify the results of any election with this kind of participation drop.

      In this day and age anyone in the 18-75 age group has probably had enough experience with Either computers OR phones to be able to vote. The fact that virtually no one did so suggests massive mistrust or stunningly poor public preparation.

      I'm betting they sent out the notices via spam, and dinner hour automa

      • Actually, I'd chalk it up to "they changed the system" and "where do I find such and such?"

        I'm consistently amazed at how difficult it is to find something as simple as my local polling place online. For instance, in Texas, the Secretary of State is supposed to manage the elections; their website tells you to check the newspaper, or they defer you over to the contact information for your county official.

        And each state does it differently. It's a nightmare.

        I don't know how good or bad Hawaii is about dissemi

        • Vote411 seemed like it would be good...but it's down. And honestly, it's a pretty sad state of affairs when the people in charge of the elections aren't forthcoming with information about them.

        • by icebike (68054)

          My experience, limited as it may be, suggests that Hawaii is almost, but not quite, thoroughly unlike Texas.

          That being said, my County (in Washington state) votes by mail. My ballot finds me. I don't have to find it. Return Postage pre-paid. Sign the outer envelope, secret ballot in the machine open-able inner envelope.

          Can this be gamed? Probably, if someone wanted to add the Federal offense of mail theft to the (apparently ignored) crime of Election Fraud, but to do so on any massive scale would be pret

          • Sounds convenient, but I like being able to personally see my ballot drop into the urn with no identifying information. Perhaps that is paranoia, though.

            (This is also why I don't like electronic ballots. Once the process is digital, there are many more security factors to watch out for in the way of secrecy, integrity and reliability. Crypto would allow for a more or less fool-resistant approach, but nobody ever seems to implement it properly.)

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by jonbryce (703250)

            The experience of postal voting in England says it can be gamed.

            You get party officials going round retirement homes to "help" people complete their ballots.
            You have 15 people living in a 1 bed apartment all registering to vote.

            • by icebike (68054)

              That is Not a significant problem here (as far as anyone knows).

              Voter registration is a function of State Government.

              The ballots are sent and counted by the County Government.

              There are reasonable (but not foolproof) checks on the number they of people that can be registered at a given address at the State level.

              Also, you might be confusing the problem of fraudulent voter registration with the problem of vote counting.

              They are related problems, for sure, but not quite the same thing. If the voter registratio

  • ... when your Democracy has no physical accountability.

  • Or was that 1 guy cracking the system and voting 7300 times?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Intron (870560)
      Maybe 44,000 people voted and the digital system lost 80% of the votes. How would they know?
  • by icebike (68054) on Friday May 29, 2009 @05:11PM (#28143931)

    I suspect the feeling is that any election taking place over the net or the phone system is so easily hackable as to become laughable.

    There is no changeable paper trail for this, contrary to the trend nationally to require same.

    How long till botnets on the island (or elsewhere) start selling election stealing services?

    Ok, now expect the defenders telling us this is all impossible and calling me a Luddite in 3, 2, 1...

    • by icebike (68054)

      oops, I mean challengeable paper trail.

  • by madbavarian (1316065) on Friday May 29, 2009 @05:12PM (#28143941)

    Give them a couple of years and the digital ballot stuffing software will get better. The voter numbers should be waaaay up.

  • by icebike (68054) on Friday May 29, 2009 @05:17PM (#28144037)

    The city cut its expenses in half by using computers and phone technology by Everyone Counts.

    "This is the future for presidential elections, general elections, primary elections, all the way," Everyone Counts consultant Bob Watada said.
    Watada is the former Campaign Spending Commission director.

    Whoa! Conflict of interest much?

    1) Con city into using Company A
    2) Sign fat contract with Company A
    3) Hold election (sweep massive FAIL under rug)
    4) Profit

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by saleenS281 (859657)
      You forgot a step.

      1) Con city into using Company A
      2) Sign fat contract with Company A
      3) Hold election (sweep massive FAIL under rug)
      4) ????
      5) Profit
      • by Monsuco (998964)

        You forgot a step.

        1) Con city into using Company A
        2) Sign fat contract with Company A
        3) Hold election (sweep massive FAIL under rug)
        4) ????
        5) Profit

        Step four is:

        Sign ACORN up to assist in "organising" your election.

  • 83% fewer votes were counted.
    That might means 83% fewer voters, which is a significant loss of confidence, or it could mean 83% of the votes were lost.
    Either way, I'd say the system is a failure.

  • Engagement (Score:5, Insightful)

    by westlake (615356) on Friday May 29, 2009 @05:24PM (#28144135)
    Election Day is traditionally a social event - it brings a neighborhood, a community together. The girl scouts will have baked goods on sale. There will time to meet and talk with friends. Kids will get their first taste of "voting" on their own. For seniors it is a matter of pride that they still have the wit and will and strength to participate. These things are important in a democracy.
  • Insecure and I miss the fun of showing up. In my state for the primary we did a caucus which was load and disorganized. I loved it. Not choreographed or controlled. Total chaos. As true democracy should be.

  • This is the first time there is no paper ballot to speak of.

    Then what makes them so certain that there were only 7,300 people who voted?

    A paper trail is SUPPOSED to have a certain level of inconvenience. That's part of its value. Generally speaking, the more automation a voting system has, the higher the potential for fraud.

  • An Internet based vote is way more cost-effective and easy to setup and conduct than a paper one.

    This kind of technology will become the norm.

    It will permit consultation of populations on a much more frequent basis.

    The security issues are solvable through use of open-source standards, and clever
    encryption schemes, that can be verified by thousands of independent
    programmers and mathematicians.

    Admittedly we don't have the level of techno-scrutiny we need on these things yet,
    but it will come.

    The bigger problem

    • or we could fight AGAINST the stupidity and apathy I suppose. :-)
      The nefarious forces of entrenched hierarchy fighting to increase the general level of stupidity and apathy
      need no assistance.

    • by [Zappo] (68222)

      Hi,

      Please see also my comment above:
      http://news.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1249937&cid=28147257 [slashdot.org]

      It's not really clear that "the level of techno-scrutiny we need" is even theoretically possible. Many smart people have been thinking carefully about this problem for over a decade, and their conclusions on all-electronic systems are generally "don't do it." (Incidentally this is the same conclusion I reached while doing my master's work on the subject in 1999.) Paper ballots (printing them from electron

      • 1. If you are concerned about a single e-voting system corrupting the data, you could have the data passed in parallel to multiple independently developed open-source systems for recording and tallying the votes.

        2. Why should we trust the electronic financial systems that manage our bank accounts, and billions of local and international financial transactions every day,
        yet not trust e-voting systems? Clearly there is just as much incentive to syphon off a billion or two dollars here or there as there is to

        • by [Zappo] (68222)

          1. If you are concerned about a single e-voting system corrupting the data, you could have the data passed in parallel to multiple independently developed open-source systems for recording and tallying the votes.

          It's not a question of scale. It's also not a question of whether the software used is open-source. It's a question of whether a purely electronic system can do a good job of simultaneously preserving both a secret ballot and an audit trail.

          2. Why should we trust the electronic financial systems that manage our bank accounts, and billions of local and international financial transactions every day,
          yet not trust e-voting systems? Clearly there is just as much incentive to syphon off a billion or two dollars here or there as there is to sway an election.

          What property is it of the electronic financial systems that enable us to, in general, trust them (despite a few occasional fraud cases)?
          Why could we not build that property in to our way of conducting computerized elections?

          The audit trail in finance systems connects you with your transaction.

          Notably, efforts towards "electronic cash" have gone nowhere. The security challenges involved are much the same as those for e-voting. If I hand you a bill, there's proof that you have more money,

          • I believe that a PKI-based ballot receipt kept in escrow may an adequate solution. In other words, at the simplest level, the e-voter receives a receipt, which does not contain the information on how they voted, but can be supplied to the system at a later date, where it will allow them to check their ballot. There is also a mathematical way to verify that that ballot contributed one vote's worth to the result, through hashing technology.

            Of course, receipts are a problem as long as we have unequal power rel

            • by [Zappo] (68222)

              Hi,

              I understand that you believe that.

              I refer you to a post I made about 9 years ago, here:
              http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=6507&cid=940549 [slashdot.org]

              (Note that I followed up with a correction to a researcher's name -- Cramer => Cohen.)

              As you point out, receipts that allow you to verify a vote tend to provide a way to prove how you voted, and if they come in electronic form there are many large-scale exploits.

              How many wonks could verify the result? Can they be trusted to cooperate but not to collude? There

  • I recall reading an article in the local paper that voter turnout dropped hugely in the most recent California elections. I also recall reading a similar article the next day in the LA Times how voter turnout in LA County also dropped hugely. The whole voter turnout decreasing trend seems to be fairly common throughout the United States these days. Couple that with the ever-popular 'tea party protests' that we have recently seen in the country in which numerous voters are conglomerating and denouncing the g

  • Another study showed that 17% of voters had no fingers, thus can't do anything digitally.
  • look, morons: (Score:5, Insightful)

    paper voting: cheap
    electronic voting: expensive

    paper voting: 10x attack vectors to corrupt it
    electronic voting: 1,000x attack vectors to corrupt it

    the richest, most advanced, technophilic nation and the poorest most backwards nation should all vote the same way: paper ballot

    anything else is simply paying more $ just for more ways to corrupt the vote. a democracy is based on legitimacy of the vote. if you cast doubt on that legitimacy, if there is any taint in the process of voting, and electronic voting allows for myriad more ways to do just that, then you destroy people's faith in their own government

    this is not a joke, please stop with the electronic voting. its downright dangerous as it threatens the legitimacy of elected officials in the eyes of the people due to its black box nature: votes go in, leader comes out, who the fuck knows what kind of sausage is in the middle

    yes, you can still fuck around with stacks of paper with checkmarks on them and mess with the vote thataways. but in a lot less ways, and a lot less opaquely, and you need a lot of cooperation and hard work. one well-placed hacker can change millions of votes in untraceable ways in milliseconds with electronic voting

    in the case of close elections, you have ballots to fall back on that many human eyes can see and hold in their hands and tally for themselves. what do you have with electronic voting? a bunch of bits of doubtful provenance on a hard disk and some easily corruptible bureaucrat saying "trust me". fuck that. i'd rather a close vote take 3 months to tally on paper than a 3 second tally of votes of a black box nature

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cdrguru (88047)

      The for small, local elections it may not matter that much other than standardization.

      The real problem is speedy results. People in the US think of elections as a some kind of a race. A race with a winner and a loser where the results are available at the end of the race. In the case where results aren't available immediately, the TV News people are going to make up results based on exit polls and other information. This was done when Gore was announced around midnight in 2000. Of course, these were no

      • if that doesn't satisfy them, then fuck them. they have to wait. a little patience for a valid election is obviously better than immediate shoddy results

        besides, all those "obama wins!" 9 pm announcements on voting day are projections, not hard returns. so nothing changes

  • by hcetSJ (672210) on Friday May 29, 2009 @06:00PM (#28144525)
    was that those 7,300 votes were all cast by the same person.
  • I live on Oahu (Score:4, Informative)

    by pwnies (1034518) * <j@jjcm.org> on Friday May 29, 2009 @06:44PM (#28144991) Homepage Journal
    And this is the first I've heard of this election. I had no idea this was happening. My guess is that too few people knew about the election in the first place, and that it was just a failure to advertise it properly.
    • And this is the first I've heard of this election. I had no idea this was happening. My guess is that too few people knew about the election in the first place, and that it was just a failure to advertise it properly.

      That would make sense except that this election happens every year. Are you saying that the people who voted in this election last year didn't know they were going to have it this year?

  • the democratic process has been discontinued due to lack of interest & lethargy
  • by bugs2squash (1132591) on Friday May 29, 2009 @07:34PM (#28145431)
    They voted against the voting system...

    Besides, what respectable electronic voting system for Oahu (population 900,000) would not register at least 1,200,000 votes ?

  • 68,000 people thought they voted.
  • Another Possibility (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sir_Dill (218371) <.moc.aluhcaz. .ta. .todhsals.> on Friday May 29, 2009 @08:48PM (#28145999) Homepage
    I have never lived in Hawaii but my fiancee grew up there.

    Listening to the stories of Hawaii, It sounds like most of the local population is barely making a living.

    Hawaii is an expensive place to live and computers haven't quite supplanted the Television. One could argue that TV still isn't ubiquitous in the US, however I would wager that there are far more households with televisions than there are with computers.

    So another possible reason is that people may not have the means to vote electronically.

    I am perfectly fine to pay for the gas and take the time to go vote.

    If I have to goto an internet cafe and pay to do it once I get there, I might be less inclined.

    Sure there is the library but I don't think that a couple of terminals at the public library are really going to pick up the slack.

    Not saying this is why there were fewer votes, a simple look at the demographics of who voted would go quite far in helping to answer the question though.

  • So...
    a) what was the election FOR?
    b) how can you compare the voter turnout for a year with ZERO federal representation ballots against the damn 2008 election!??!?!

    These seem like awfully rudimentary questions to ask if you're writing this story.

  • One possibility being that rampant paper-ballot-stuffing was curtailed and that the vote count now is closer to real?

  • I personally would abstain from such an election on principle alone. It is impossible to _guarantee_ that your vote will be kept anonymous.

    [The only way to guarantee such a thing would be to require people to pick up single use digital keys printed on paper from a physical location and use these as login credentials. Even then, you'd have to vote using a digital proxy or from an internet cafe, all of which undermines the so called "convenience" of an all digital election].

    Who knows what kind of unprovable

  • Since they don't give numbers for several years, but only compare this election to an election last year, I wonder whether or not last year's 44,000 number was due to large turnouts as a result of a presidential election cycle. I know that my town sees numbers an order of magnitude higher with such elections than the "norm", and in years that don't have either presidential or national representative races, like this one, the numbers are abysmal.

    Not that I don't believe the mechanism they used hurt their

  • Lets see, presidential election with Obama on the ticket, vs election with the mayor on the ticket. Hmmm hard choice, nobody really cares about a mayor. We have 44k registered voters here and 67% voted last year for the president, and this year's city council elections only 2% voted.

  • The people running this election missed the point and thus all the benefits of internet voting. The name of the game is turnout. For that you need to give the electorate the widest array of simple options. First, there wasn't much simple about the solution provided by the UK\Australian company (Everyone Counts) that supplied the internet voting software. The voting system, even with the drastically low turnout was overwhelmed and slow response times and timeouts [kxmb.com]. Further the system used a java applet as a s

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