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United States News Politics

Public Clearinghouse Proposed For Evoting Failures 114

Posted by samzenpus
from the colllecting-the-mistakes dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "Alice Lipowicz writes in Federal Computer Week that Lawrence Norden, senior counsel to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, has reviewed hundreds of reports of problems with electronic voting systems during the last eight years. He is recommending a new regulatory system with a national database, accessible by election officials and others, that identifies voting system malfunctions reported by vendors or election officials and new legislation that requires vendors report evoting failures to the clearinghouse. 'We need a new and better regulatory structure to ensure that voting system defects are caught early, officials in affected jurisdictions are notified immediately, and action is taken to make certain that they will be corrected for all such systems, wherever they are used in the United States,' writes Norden. Adding that election officials rely on vendors to keep them aware of potential problems with voting machines, which is often done voluntarily and that voting system failures in one jurisdiction tend to be repeated in other areas, resulting in reduced public confidence and lost votes."
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Public Clearinghouse Proposed For Evoting Failures

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  • eVoting is a scam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rsborg (111459) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @11:30PM (#33596436) Homepage
    Aside from the pure things that can go wrong aspect, there is the fact that requiring independent counting of votes at the local level increases participation in our democracy.

    Of course the ruling class (wealthy and political dynasties) wants to sabotage that exactly because it benefits them directly.

    Personally, I believe we should have a national holiday for big vote days so we can celebrate the most important function of a citizen in a democracy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @11:36PM (#33596468)

    It seems a paper and pencil work just fine for Canada, and would be a lot cheaper than electronic voting, a clearninghouse, committees to oversee this crap, etc.

    The companies making voting machines sure did cash in on the failure of the Florida paper/punch ballot.

  • Why even bother? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 16, 2010 @12:07AM (#33596632)

    Evoting is a solution in search of a problem. There's no compelling reason not to use paper ballots.

  • Re:threat (Score:2, Insightful)

    by EvolutionsPeak (913411) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @12:08AM (#33596636)

    I'd say apathy and ignorance are much bigger threats to democracy in the USA right now.

  • by tfiedler (732589) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @12:44AM (#33596774)

    I've always "placed doubt in the legitimacy of your[my] elected officials"

    They're all almost always liars, cheats, hypocrites, scammers, lawyers (evil onpar with pedophiles), or general scum. I don't trust any system where the representation is from a ruling elite, made up of monied families and friends, bought and paid by corporations and unions. Personally, anyone that places any trust in the current system is delusional.

    eVoting is just another scam foisted on America that will result in less representative democracy. Any politician in favor of it should be summarily executed.

  • by migla (1099771) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @01:49AM (#33596994)

    Being able to vote from home would open up the possibility for unscrupulous types with access to violence to force you to vote their way.

  • by advocate_one (662832) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @02:05AM (#33597044)
    so it ain't gonna happen... the lobbyists will ensure it dies before ever getting debated...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 16, 2010 @05:58AM (#33597820)

    No. You cannot as easily deceive people if your electronic voting system is monitorable and verifiable. You can, for instance, disclose the collected but anonymized votes. You can make it so that people can verify that their own vote is in there WITHOUT making it possible for anyone else to guess whose is whose vote. You can verify the total count adds up, and you could establish voter eligibility in a variety of ways. Votes could be sent to two or more independently run counting institutions/machines, and the e-voting source code should be disclosed.
      All of this and more is actually possible in electronic voting systems. The point is, you can have BETTER accountability and insight and LESS attack options than is possible with paper-based voting, as long as you don't ignorantly design systems to not allow for such.

  • by arth1 (260657) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @06:50AM (#33598008) Homepage Journal

    As for the rest of it, well I believe it's been described as the worst system for managing society - except for all the others that have been tried. It's mostly working.

    I believe Winston Churchill said that with regards to democracy. Here in the US, we have a limited representative republic, not democracy.

    A few key differences:
    (a) No direct representation, but voting for an electorate who in turn votes for who goes to office.
    (b) A dictator with the power to veto the will of the people.
    (c) A third of the government (the supreme court) isn't elected, but appointed. And sits for life too.
    (d) Disenfranchisement is allowed and common. Not only felons lose their right to vote, but in many cases unconvicted suspects and vagabonds are prevented from voting.
    (e) Only pre-planned voting is allowed. You have to register to vote.
    (f) No de-facto freedom of who to vote for. You're generally barred from voting in more than one primary election, and the two-party system doesn't give a lot of real choice.

    It would be nice if we tried democracy here in the US. One man, one vote, without any "unless" clauses and hoops designed to keep the powers that be in power.

  • by mcgrew (92797) * on Thursday September 16, 2010 @07:47AM (#33598398) Homepage Journal

    We ought to be willing to pay the cost for humans to count our votes - if it costs more, maybe we'll let less stupid stuff on the ballot, or vote less than every few months.

    It depends on the system. By your reckoning we should do away with computers in business and government altogether, and go back to filing paper in cabinets.

    Here in Illinois we may have the world's most corrupt politicians. Our last Governor was convicted of a felony and the jury deadlocked on 12 other felony counts that will be retried next year while he appeals the conviction. The Governor before him is in Federal prison right now for bribery. In Chicago they have a saying; "vote early, vote often." In Illinois we're so patriotic that being dead doesn't keep us away from the polls.

    Despite (or maybe because of) this, our voting machines spit out a paper trail, which is put in an old fashioned ballot box. If there are any questions, the votes can be retabulated by hand. So here at least, it would be as hard to rig elections wholesale and incredibly hard to do it without a trace; as hard or harder than pre-computer times.

    Like any IT endeavor, procedures are more important than hardware and software. I agree with you about most states, who have no paper for humans to count. IMO that's just plain stupid.

  • by fyngyrz (762201) on Thursday September 16, 2010 @08:16AM (#33598614) Homepage Journal

    but academia has fairly solid proposals for machines that DO leave traces and that DO let voters verify votes.

    Even so, I'm with the First Poster. He's got it exactly right. We can let machines do the counting if and when the machines are smart enough to vote and to care about those votes, presuming we're still engaged in pretending to stick to our constitutionally based, vague semblance of a democratic republic. Until then, machines that control vote counting are potentially proxies for corporations. No more, no less. And that is extraordinarily dangerous.

    In the meantime, the system is absolutely corrupt from the top down, and introducing new mechanisms that may or may not allow wholesale election buying are a bad idea, because what is here now -- that is, people doing the counting -- is extremely difficult to corrupt all at once. It's probably the only thing in the entire process that works half-decently on a reliable basis. And yes, we can wait a few hours or even day for results if we have to. There's no actual need for a McDonalds/FedEx mentality about the vote. It isn't like the elected must start work on the very next day.

    What we need (since I'm on my soapbox) is to stop regarding corporations as "persons", and forbid them from coming anywhere near a lawmaker or a political party or an election with money, opinion, gifts, or offers of employment before, during or after their elected term. Under penalty of having the executives hung. Corporations are not people. At best, they are sociopaths. Dangerous, without any concern for actual humans, and with goals that have no natural connection with the best interests of humans except at the executive levels. As demonstrated by such things as nine million dollar salaries. And higher.

    The original idea of the constitution was, here we make the federal government, which we strip of most powers, not in ignorance that it will make things difficult for the government, but because it will make things difficult for them.

    First, we should get back to that, and stop accepting the government's complaint that is "has to do something despite the constitution, because it needs to (if it really needs to, there is article five, ready and waiting... we will decide, not them, if it's really required.)

    Second, we should apply the same general idea to corporations. These entities, when medium sized or larger, by their very nature, can collect more power in a day than most citizens will in their entire lifetime under the current setup. That's a really, really bad thing. Putting them in control of the voting process -- that's a REALLY really really bad thing. And that's what voting machines do. So lets not go there.

  • by DavidTC (10147) <slas45dxsvadiv...vadiv@@@neverbox...com> on Thursday September 16, 2010 @11:46AM (#33601222) Homepage

    And how the fuck does buying computers, which have to be replaced every decade or so, and require more training and more people, save any money?

    All that stuff you listed has to be done anyway. You still need polling sites, you still need election workers, you still need all that.

    And then you need computers and servers. The county you mentioned has 23 precincts, so pretending that each voting machine was $1000 (Which is absurdly low), they'd cost more than then the entire rest of the election if each precinct only bought one.

    Which is not how it works. Each precinct, I know from experience, has at least two. I vote in a totally empty precinct in Georgia and mine has two. And they cost closer to $3000. Which is $144,000.

    Pretending they had no other costs themselves (Which is idiotic, at minimum you have more training, and the cost of programming the machines), and removed all other costs of the election. (We'll do it outside, in the open air, with no staff.), they'd pay off in 6.5 elections, which is right about the time they'd break and need replacing.

    In reality, you can save, at most, half the current cost of running an election...you still need locations, you still need roughly the same amount of staff, you still have to figure out the ballots. So it takes 13 years or so to pay off, and even that's somewhat idealized.

    No place has ever saved any money by electronic voting.

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