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Why Does a Voting Machine Need Calibration? 398

Posted by timothy
from the to-reset-the-defrobnosticator dept.
New submitter Shotgun writes "I heard on the radio that there were some issues with voting machines in Greensboro, NC (my hometown), and the story said the machines just needed "recalibration". Which made me ask, "WTF? Why does a machine for choosing between one of a few choices need 'calibration'?" This story seems to explain the issue."
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Why Does a Voting Machine Need Calibration?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 02, 2012 @07:07PM (#41859975)

    TheBlaze (i.e. Glenn Beck) is not a credible news source. Please delete this article.

    • Explanation (Score:5, Informative)

      by goombah99 (560566) on Friday November 02, 2012 @07:28PM (#41860295)

      First that letter was all about setting up a legal and public relations basis to question the election later.

      Second, yes voting machines need calibration. Different types require different kinds.

      For example the touchscreens, usually older resistive touch screens get mis calibrated on position. You have to remeber these things get locks in closets and sit in non-temperature controlled ware houses for a couple years at a time between elections, then they are jostled in trucks, cleaned with cleaners, and sometime run off various power sources. Empirically they do go out of calibration.

      I personally have a ballot I saved from an AUtomark paper ballot printer in which all the votes are off by one oval width. that is 100% of the votes are incorrect and you can tell because a few are printed past the range of ovals.

      Opscans are fairly easy to allign since they have relatively few degrees of freedom but they do get misalligned and become sensitive to printing tolerances.

      Old lever machines used to have the gears wear down.

      The solution to all this is not to require perfect everything but to have ways to check things. hand marked Paper ballots and some sampled recounts of those paper ballots such as is done in New Mexico is I believe the best compromise between transparency, robustness and simplicity. It's robust against human and machine errors so mere mortals can carry out very transparent elections. It's also robust against voter turnout variations too since it only takes more pencils to let more people vote, and if a machine breaks, you can still gather the ballots, so you dont get long lines at the polls.

      • by Tim Ward (514198) on Friday November 02, 2012 @08:03PM (#41860693) Homepage

        ... is, as we say every time this comes up on /., paper ballots marked by the voter with a pencil.

        • by HiThere (15173) <charleshixsn@@@earthlink...net> on Friday November 02, 2012 @08:33PM (#41860967)

          Better use something indellible, like a Sharpie or a Bingo marker.

          • by Mal-2 (675116) on Saturday November 03, 2012 @03:00AM (#41862833) Homepage Journal

            Better use something indellible, like a Sharpie or a Bingo marker.

            Los Angeles County uses Inkavote [lavote.net]. Basically it's just a little rubber stamp you press into the circle on the ballot. The machines themselves have guides to keep you from putting the stamp anywhere but an oval. You insert the ballot, ink in the correct circles, then remove the ballot and turn it in. There are no moving parts except for the small spring-loading in the stamper and the hinges holding the pages in the machine -- which are themselves identical to the ones in your sample ballot as mailed to you. This means you can mark your sample ballot at home, hold it up alongside the corresponding page in the machine, and simply copy your bubbles from your sample ballot onto the real one.

            This has all the advantages I can think of -- it's almost non-mechanical and CAN be done by hand if there are insufficient machines available, it generates human-readable paper ballots, it's faster than a touchscreen system while also being far less complex, and it's easy to understand. There are many things I can gripe about, living in the Los Angeles area. The voting machines are definitely NOT one of them.

            • by green1 (322787)

              Ok, I get that it's not as bad as many machines... but I'm failing to see the advantage over having just the ballot and a pen? Why add the complexity of the machine at all if it is truly as you say. (or is this just an excuse to funnel money to somebody's friend to make/maintain the machines?)

              Of course I'm coming from a country where we use pencil and paper counted by humans (supervised by representatives of each candidate) and results are known 2 hours after the polls close...

      • Re:Explanation (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Stormthirst (66538) on Friday November 02, 2012 @08:31PM (#41860945)

        Why are we using touch screens at all in something so important as an election?

        ATMs have been using buttons down the side of the screen for decades - why aren't voting machines built the same way?

        • Re:Explanation (Score:5, Informative)

          by dgatwood (11270) on Friday November 02, 2012 @08:56PM (#41861125) Journal

          Because... ooh! Shiny!

        • ATM machines do the same thing day in and day out - millions of times. The same ATM machine can be used in all 50 states. The “Get Cash” button is always in the upper left. Incremental refinements.

          Elections happens once every 1 or 2 years – and each time it is different. Heck, often each ward is different. And each state has it’s own little quirk.

          And if a banks messy up? Go to a branch the next day and it is usually fixed – if not the bank has lost a little good will. Small err

          • by thegarbz (1787294) on Saturday November 03, 2012 @12:31AM (#41862373)

            How different can it be? Can an election be complicated enough that voting cannot be done via on screen prompts and some text next to 8 buttons?

            Change the text on the screen next to the button, but don't pretend that something as simple as a "Select which candidate you want to vote for" can't be done with a few buttons. Surely something which for the last couple of hundred years has been as difficult as tick this box can only be done with a touchscreen right?

        • Re:Explanation (Score:4, Informative)

          by rtb61 (674572) on Friday November 02, 2012 @10:09PM (#41861593) Homepage

          Unknown number of candidates. Basically every time it comes down to this, want to fix it, then go back to paper ballots and pencils with hand counts watched over by independent and political observers. Keep it simple stupid but no in the US lobbyists wanted to make sure their corporate funders needed to make extra profit and when it comes to cheating on election electronic voting machines and vote counting machines are in reality the only way to do it.

    • omg haha (Score:3, Informative)

      by cultiv8 (1660093)

      “He played around with the field a little and realized that in order to vote for Romney, his finger had to be exactly on the mark,”

      welcome to the age of tablet computing.

      • I've never had any calibration issues with my iPad. This kind of thing is a hallmark of older touch-screens, modern devices don't have this problem.

        • Re:Not so. (Score:5, Informative)

          by fluffy99 (870997) on Friday November 02, 2012 @08:19PM (#41860841)

          I've never had any calibration issues with my iPad. This kind of thing is a hallmark of older touch-screens, modern devices don't have this problem.

          That's because your iPad uses a capacitive screen. There are still plenty of low-end tablets and devices that use resistive type screens that are prone to this problem.

          • Re:Not so. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by camperdave (969942) on Friday November 02, 2012 @08:39PM (#41861007) Journal
            Whatever happened to all those video games that used to be in the arcades back in the 1980s? They had this amazing technology called a button. It never needed to be calibrated, and it lasted for years under incredible abuse. I swear, these election machine manufacturers seem like idiots.
    • by stephanruby (542433) on Friday November 02, 2012 @07:50PM (#41860541)

      The touch screen issue I can believe. My resistive-touch screen for my old gps unit was having the same issue (even when the unit was brand new). Some of the software buttons were working just fine, and some were not. And it wasn't a matter of re-calibration (at least, not a matter of re-calibration that I could do anything about). It was just a matter of the manufacturer using the cheapest possible hardware for the touch screen. Also, an actual picture of the screen would have been nice. I'm surprised that the voter didn't take any. Personally, I would have taken one, or I would have raised hell at the polling place itself.

      In either case, whether you believe the story, or do not believe it. This story does bring up an underlying interesting issue. One of the main reasons Counties have switched from analog to digital is precisely to avoid these kinds of analog problems. But this will never be completely possible, to get rid of all the analog problems, whether it's a malfunctioning input device, or a badly designed input device, the process of converting an analog signal to a digital one will always be fraught with potential problems that won't be noticed until an election is really close and contested (just like it was with the hanging chad issue).

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Well I gave it minus when it was still in the recent submission / firehose stage. Of course I actually looked up what "TheBlaze" was when I saw the site banner of the story and didn't recognize the source (can't bring myself to put the 'news' prefix on it). Right near the top on Google was the Wikipedia link. Yep Glenn Beck. A guy so vile even Fox fired him. People, you have to look at the source before believing shit is legit. This guy is just a slightly less fat Rush Limbaugh.
    • and I wanted to write a comment that maybe they was technically, scientifically and religiously retarded but I couldn't comment without signing up so I do so here instead.

      Also they wouldn't have to use touch screens. Though any switch can fail of course.

    • by jythie (914043)
      Ah, I was wondering about the batshit posters.....

      To be serious though, I would not be surprised at calibration issues what so ever. I spent years working in touchscreen gaming, and those calibration issues are well know with those old capacitance touchscreens. The calibration could drift randomly, snapping back and then getting out of sync again, and you would generally have to hit some kind of maintenance button in order to give it new reference points.

      If these are older (or maybe even current, since
    • This isn't fucking Wikipedia. Read the article, decide for yourself whether the story is credible or not, and move on.

      Also, don't assume that just because Glenn Beck is a nutjob, everything his website writes is his typical rambling insanity. In this case, the article points out an actual problem with electronic voting machines, namely that the touchscreens can go out of whack, and people might have problems selecting their chosen candidate if that happens.

  • Nothing changes (Score:5, Informative)

    by DigitAl56K (805623) on Friday November 02, 2012 @07:14PM (#41860097)

    This was a problem with electronic voting machines during the 2008 elections:

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20081029/0131342676.shtml [techdirt.com]

    https://www.google.com/search?q=2008+voting+machine+screen+calibration [google.com]

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 03, 2012 @12:14AM (#41862303)

      If you read the statistical analysis showing the vote flipping that was done to get Romney a win in the primaries:

      http://www.themoneyparty.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Republican-Primary-Election-Results-Amazing-Statistical-Anomalies_V2.0.pdf

      The rigged precincts showing the rigging were 'Central Tabulator' systems (Diebolds), paper vote districts didn't show any 'flipping' for anyone let alone Romney.

      http://www.themoneyparty.org/main/stolen-election-2004-plus-the-voter-fraud-scam-series/wisconsin-no-tabulator-versus-tabulator-counties/

      It turns out Diebolds Central Tabulator, lets the operator change the vote via a manual override screen!
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRFtYGJtOEQ&feature=relmfu

      So they didn't even need to do anything special, they just changed the numbers on the central counter.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 02, 2012 @07:15PM (#41860111)

    I'm speaking from a perspective of someone that regularly works as a poll worker during elections in the state of California.

    One of the first things I do once our touch screen system is set up is confirm the calibration of the LCD panel. It's typical for the registration to be off by a few pixels, as our fingers are not perfect pixel-sized points. However, I have yet to experience an issue where the calibration is so bad that the wrong selection is made on behalf of the voter. Remember there are a whole host of perfectly valid reasons why this may be more of a problem for some voters than others, certainly including finger size and physical impairment affecting fine-motor skills.

    If a voter did report a problem of this nature, recalibrating the touch screen would be one of the first things I would try.

  • Touchscreens... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ksevio (865461) on Friday November 02, 2012 @07:15PM (#41860115) Homepage
    Anyone that's ever worked with touchscreens before knows that those things need frequent recalibration
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vux984 (928602)

      I dunno... I haven't calibrated the touchscreen on either of my smart phones yet... 5 years and counting now. (I still use the old one on wifi... and it still hasn't needed to be calibrated.)

      I do remember having to calibrate touchscreens years ago, but its about as common now as adjusting the choke to start a car.

    • by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Friday November 02, 2012 @08:04PM (#41860707) Journal

      If anyone wants their tablet recalibrated, they can send it to me. In my experience, the 64 gigabyte ipad 4 4g model is particularly prone to miscalibration. Typing errors can be a sign that recalibration is neccessary.

  • Touchscreens? (Score:4, Informative)

    by pushing-robot (1037830) on Friday November 02, 2012 @07:16PM (#41860129)

    Touchscreens—particularly resistive touchscreens—often need recalibration. On a poorly calibrated screen, tapping on one button could select the one adjacent. Not good in a voting machine with a column full of candidates in densely packed rows.

    Note: I haven't read TFA, this is just the first thing that came to mind.

    • Maybe the law should prohibit the use of electronic voting machines with resistive touch screens then, or any device that needs recalibrating too frequently based on the rate of people who are expected to use it.

      Can't say I recall re-calibrating my iPad recently.

      • Re:Touchscreens? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Jeremi (14640) on Friday November 02, 2012 @07:52PM (#41860565) Homepage

        Maybe the law should prohibit the use of electronic voting machines with resistive touch screens then, or any device that needs recalibrating too frequently based on the rate of people who are expected to use it.

        Even if/when they fix the touch screen issue, there will inevitably be other issues, some of which may not be obvious to voters.

        The only reliable solution is to either not use electronic voting machines, or use them only as ballot printing devices (i.e. the voter enters his choices into the machine, the machine prints out a human-readable paper ballot with those choices, the voter reviews the paper ballot to make sure it is correct, and then either places it in to the ballot box or (if he sees an error) voids it and returns it to a poll worker in exchange for a new one).

        Anything more complicated than that opens the door to errors and/or shennanigans.

        In particular, electronic voting machines should NOT be relied on to hold the official voting record, as there is no layman-verifiable way to show that an electronic vote tally is correct.

        • Re:Touchscreens? (Score:5, Informative)

          by CastrTroy (595695) on Friday November 02, 2012 @08:11PM (#41860775) Homepage
          This is what we do in Canada. Voting booths are cardboard and are set up on tables. Votes are cast by marking paper with a pen. The ballots are then placed in a cardboard box. Can't get much cheaper or fool proof than that. I never understood the American fascination with making things so complicated. I know that the Canadian system works because anybody can understand exactly what's going on at every step of the process. Once you introduce computers, that all flies out the window.
          • by AdamWill (604569)

            the Americans do insist on voting for the district flowerbox waterer and initiatives on two cent tax increases, which kind of complicates matters. Our elections are pretty much just 'pick one from Douchebag A or Douchebag B'.

    • Re:Touchscreens? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Friday November 02, 2012 @07:38PM (#41860411) Homepage Journal

      Voting machines shouldn't use touch screens at all. They should use pinball flipper switches. They're inexpensive, trivial to source (the button part anyway, there's just a leaf switch behind it) and highly reliable. They can be placed next to the display. I have heard the argument that if you do that then you have to worry about aligning options, but that pales compared to the complexity of the GUI systems they're probably using when they're using touch screens, with complete widget sets.

      • Re:Touchscreens? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by TheGratefulNet (143330) on Friday November 02, 2012 @07:55PM (#41860613)

        speaking as someone who is 'aging' (cough), I can give you a solid data point: screens are great for *seeing* but lousy for *input*.

        please don't abandon hard tactile buttons. everyone of every age can use buttons and see the screen. there's no parallax or steadiness of your hands needed for real physical buttons. its just so much more reliable and easier for people.

        keep the screens. ditch the stupid idea of touching them.

        I can't remember the last time I had to calibrate a button panel that had hardware switches for its input keys.

        sometimes the older tried and true ways are still worth retaining.

        • There's a reason we don't replace our keyboards on computers with touch screens, and it isn't because the technology doesn't exist. It is because a keyboard is way better for typing than any touchscreen.

    • by skine (1524819)

      I remember when I first got a Palm Pilot back in the day, one was required to, when setting up the device, touch the center of about a half dozen targets to test calibration.

      Perhaps it would make sense for the voting machines to perform a similar calibration for each voter.

      • by cvtan (752695)
        Yes! I still use a Garmin iQue 3600 which runs Palm OS and it has a similar screen setup routine.
  • by RalphWigum (519738) on Friday November 02, 2012 @07:17PM (#41860143) Homepage
    For either/both sides to call shenanigans when the vote does not go their way. I wonder if someone has done a study on the amount of press voter fraud gets vs. party election outcome and if there is as stark of a difference as I perceive. And if people really think that one party only wins when they "cheat", does that just reinforce myopic visions of political views (i.e. Most people think the way I do and so the only explanation is fraud)?
  • by Chirs (87576) on Friday November 02, 2012 @07:18PM (#41860153)

    Put one at the left, the other at the right, and make them so far apart that they CANNOT POSSIBLY BE CONFUSED even if the system is out by some number of pixels (or even some fraction of an inch)!

    Why is this so complicated?

    • by geekoid (135745)

      Becasue corporations are cheap, and they don't hire people to think about the interface.

    • by nonsequitor (893813) on Friday November 02, 2012 @07:25PM (#41860247)

      Why use a touch screen at all? They should have just made the screens have bezel keys along the sides like an ATM.

    • Put one at the left, the other at the right, and make them so far apart that they CANNOT POSSIBLY BE CONFUSED even if the system is out by some number of pixels (or even some fraction of an inch)!

      Why is this so complicated?

      One accusation that can be made against voting machines requiring calibration is that they can be maliciously calibrated. You could calibrate it, for example, to be 1/3rd of the screen off horizontally, so that when someone touched the right-edge of e.g. the democrats side a republican candidate was selected. This would also mean if you touch the right-edge of the the republican side then no candidate would be selected, but you could posit that if no selection appeared people may be more likely to press aga

    • by JimBobJoe (2758)

      What do you do if you have eight choices? (That's the current Ohio ballot--7 choices plus a write-in.)

  • by geekoid (135745)

    machines used in the 04 election are giving the current president more screen space. interesting.

    Based on my years of software writing This could easily just be a screen issue. Or, a user issue. I have seen many, many user claim they did something but in fact they didn't, they were mistaken.

    Anyone who has knowledge of slot machine fraud, know electronic voting is pretty risky.

    • If they did the programming in AS3/Flash, there's a text field component known as .height. When selecting a text field, if you layer a tall field over another field rendered first, you can't even select the one underneath. It is possible to half way cover them too. Lots of programming languages you can have coding errors to do stupid stuff like this if you're a weak programmer.. People like to say the saying,"Don't attribute to malice that which can be attributed to ignorance" or something.
  • by wchild (321327) on Friday November 02, 2012 @07:24PM (#41860219) Homepage

    Needs to be calibrated sometimes. I work elections for Clark County, Nevada. I've worked every election the last 10 years. And yes, the touchscreens can fall out of calibration and make it difficult to select the correct candidates. I can't speak to other election districts, but here in Clark County we're trained on how to perform this calibration on site (it's very simple) so that any problems reported by voters can be handled right away.

  • by arielCo (995647) on Friday November 02, 2012 @07:25PM (#41860243)

    It usually refers to the coincidence between what the coordinates reported by the digitizer (touchscreen) as the center of the contact area, and the display coordinates underneath it:

    “He played around with the field a little and realized that in order to vote for Romney, his finger had to be exactly on the mark,”

    Still, the piece is biased starting with the title ("MORE ELECTRONIC VOTING MACHINES CHANGING ROMNEY VOTES TO OBAMA"), and the issue could be down to the active rectangle being different from what's displayed:

    Nancy wrote in an email. She said “the invisible Obama field came down about 1/4 [of an inch]” into what should technically have been the Romney area. In a phone interview with TheBlaze, she explained further that her husband said he felt the area on the touchscreen that could be pushed to vote for Obama was larger than that for Romney.

  • that you answer in the description?

  • by JDG1980 (2438906) on Friday November 02, 2012 @07:27PM (#41860273)

    Even before reading the article, I knew what the answer was. This is because at my workplace (a public library), we deal with a very similar thing on a regular basis. We have several self-checkout units at each branch, which are basically all-in-one Windows PCs running special software. They have RFID pads for scanning the books, and they take input via a touchscreen. The capacitive touchscreens on tablets and smartphones are generally of good quality, but these are different. They are crappy resistive touchscreens, designed to keep costs down. Accuracy is poor, and a calibration utility must be run regularly or the screens will start to drift. Calibration entails running a program designed for that purpose, then touching targets displayed in each corner of the screen in sequence.

    If calibration on a low-quality resistive touchscreen is off, then the mouse click may register at a location as much as 1 full inch away from where the user pressed. I have personally seen this happen many times on our self-checkout units. So if you hear a story that someone on a voting machine pressed the box for the Democratic candidate and it checked the Republican, or vice versa, I'd be willing to bet money that this is what happened. If they were deliberately tampering with the votes, why would they show that to the user?

    There are indeed serious concerns with the lack of source availability for voting machines, and the ownership of voting machine companies by individuals with partisan ties. But calibration is not some kind of conspiracy – it's the inevitable result of using cheap touchscreen hardware.

  • by sayfawa (1099071) on Friday November 02, 2012 @07:27PM (#41860281)
  • by StarWreck (695075) on Friday November 02, 2012 @07:28PM (#41860291) Homepage Journal
    A lot of these voting machines still run on Windows CE, similar to Siemens WinCC Flex HMI. They typically come with calibration software built in, once you launch the calibration you have to tap on several cross hairs that appear one after the other. The touchscreen is measuring resistance, when you run the calibration software it adjusts the amount of resistance it looks for to determine where you're tapping on the screen.
  • by dbitter1 (411864) <slashdot@carRASPnivores-r.us minus berry> on Friday November 02, 2012 @07:37PM (#41860391)

    WTF? Why does a machine for choosing between one of a few choices need 'calibration'?

    Because Rich Daley is not on the Chicago ballot anymore for mayor.

  • FTA:

    “He played around with the field a little and realized that in order to vote for Romney, his finger had to be exactly on the mark,” Nancy wrote in an email. She said “the invisible Obama field came down about 1/4 [of an inch]” into what should technically have been the Romney area.

    I can vote for Invisible Obama? [twitter.com]

  • As soon as I read the title, I knew this had something to do with touchscreens. My question is, or something as important as voting in an election, why would anyone trust something as inaccurate as a touchscreen? Wouldn't it make more sense to just list the names with a physical button next to each, similar to what you'd see on many ATM's?

    As for many people here saying they never need to re-calibrate their modern phones and tablets, is it possible that they do some type of self-calibration upon startup?

    • by Culture20 (968837)
      That only works if the number of candidates stays a constant number. I'm sure they would like to provide only two choices every year, and have pencil-drawn buttons for non R D parties.
      • by Hentes (2461350)

        It's possible to put more than two buttons on a device, and if for some reason even that is not enough just arrange the candidates on pages and use the last button for 'next page'.

  • by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Friday November 02, 2012 @07:47PM (#41860519) Homepage Journal

    we should always use paper ballots

    you can cheat with paper ballots, but it's hard and you need a lot of effort and cooperation between many saboteurs

    with electronic voting, magnitudes of order more attack vectors are introduced, because it's more complicated, unnecessarily. and one well-placed hacker can untraceably and silently cheat in milliseconds over a broad swath of votes

    if people don't believe their government represents the popular will, then we have all sorts of problems

    so paper voting only. now and forever, no matter how rich or technophilic the society. the voting in finland should be the same as in bangladesh as in brazil as in the usa: paper ballots only. to preserve the integrity of the process, people trusting their vote matters

    • by Abreu (173023)

      And yet, even with paper ballots and super expensive election processes, if they want to cheat, they will cheat.

      Read a little on the last two presidential elections in Mexico. We have what possibly is, on paper, the safest most reliable voting system in the world. A national voter registry with identity cards for all citizens that include photo, signature and thumbprint, special paper ballots, special crayons to cross them, transparent urns to hold the ballots, special ink to mark the thumb of people who al

    • by AsmCoder8088 (745645) on Friday November 02, 2012 @08:59PM (#41861141)

      While we're at it, let's also do away with the electoral college. And yes, I'm being serious.

      Here is a simple example:

      You have three states. The first one is 10x larger than the other two, and the voting outcome is as follows:

      State A: 500,001 votes for candidate 1; 499,999 votes for candidate 2
      State B: 49,999 votes for candidate 1; 50,001 votes for candidate 2
      State C: 49,999 votes for candidate 1; 50,001 votes for candidate 2

      State A gives ten electoral votes to candidate 1, and states B and C each give one electoral vote to candidate 2.

      As you can see, even though candidate 2 received more actual votes than candidate 1, he/she winds up losing.

      The winner-take all rule makes sense whenever there is just one state involved, but when you carry it over across multiple states, you wind up losing accuracy. Currently there are only two states, Nebraska and Maine, which actually implement proportional voting by splitting their electoral votes. But even then, that is not 100% perfect because there are an integer number of electoral votes which are based on population size, so there is still a rounding error.

      The most accurate, and to me the simplest approach is to simply add up the actual votes from each state for each candidate, and only at the very end do you compare votes to see who is the winner.

      • And in fact, it becomes even more clear when you consider that the above example could be updated as follows:

        State A: 500,001 votes for candidate 1; 499,999 votes for candidate 2
        State B: 0 votes for candidate 1; 100,000 votes for candidate 2
        State C: 0 votes for candidate 1; 100,000 votes for candidate 2

        Again, state A gives ten electoral votes to candidate 1, and states B and C each give one electoral vote to candidate 2.

        In this example, candidate 2 gets a total of 699,999 votes, and candidate 1 gets a

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You may not understand the purpose of the Electoral College. According to the Constitution, the States select the president. The fact that we hold a general election to do it doesn't change the fact that the Founders did not view selection of a president to be a popularity contest as it is today. In fact, with their aversion to king-like political figures, they'd be quite appalled at how fixated we've become on the office of president and how much authority it now comes with. I believe our fascination with

  • by Psychotria (953670) on Friday November 02, 2012 @07:55PM (#41860603)
    Why not have physical buttons displayed down the left (or right, or top, or wherever makes sense) that correspond to the location of the screen next to them?
  • by boom!explosion! (2766231) on Friday November 02, 2012 @08:39PM (#41861011)
    But seriously, this hits close to home. I live in the Piedmont Triad (greensboro, nc area), and have voted on these very machines - this year and years past. The hype about this was way overblown and far too political. Most of the stories I've heard of potential fraud from the great north state has been on local media, and from those who may not have the best vision or may suffer from tremors due to age. It's not calibration if you can't choose the right region of the screen, due to medical conditions. That said, I work in Senior living and have not heard any complaints from residents that have voted early. In fact, they loved how easy it is - as most of them have not voted in years in a polling place. The poster seriously needs to stop listening to Clear Channel radio stations (rush radio, I'm assuming?) and perhaps some healthy NPR or our two fine college stations. Also, though it's been said: The blaze? Really, Slashdot?
  • by echusarcana (832151) on Friday November 02, 2012 @10:43PM (#41861795)
    We have this old fashioned technology in Canada called a paper and pen that works just fine. It doesn't need calibration. It leaves an un-arguable record: no hanging chads. Any uneducated person can use the technology. And at most polls you can count the ballots in about 35 minutes: I've done it.

    Why do you have machines??

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