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United States Government Politics

New Mexico Touchscreen Voting Problems 116

phr1 writes "The Albuquerque Journal reports yet more hassles with electronic voting machines. Early voters pressing the Kerry button have repeatedly found the machine instead putting a check mark next to 'Bush'. The operators of course say it's the voters' fault. It would be just too unfortunate if the machines happened to systematically favor one candidate over the other, heh, heh."
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New Mexico Touchscreen Voting Problems

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  • So... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by HarryCaul ( 25943 )

    Does this expert political analyst know what state ABQ is in?
    • Seriously... nice one-sided commentary from phr1, in addition to not knowing where Albuquerque is (despite the ABQJournal's website stating the city and state at the top right of the page).

      Many people had problems with the machines checking Kerry when they wanted to vote for Bush:

      In Sandoval County, three Rio Rancho residents said they had a similar problem, with opposite results. They said a touch-screen machine switched their presidential votes from Bush to Kerry.

      [Bernalillo County Clerk] Herrera said sh

      • by St. Arbirix ( 218306 ) <matthew.townsend@gma i l . com> on Sunday October 31, 2004 @02:35PM (#10680243) Homepage Journal
        Read between the lines in the article. The only people they interviewer were voting Kerry. The only person defending the machines was also the only one saying it affected both sides. The article either:

        1) Couldn't find any Bush voters (which is interesting since New Mexico has just as many Republicans as Democrats)

        or

        2) Let the only comments about Republicans come from the woman who is already in suspicion of tampering with the votes, so that you'll make mental associations between the concepts of "tampered votes" and "Republicans". Subtle propaganda, I love it.
        • Someone should mod you up.

          That's one of the few useful comments I've ever seen on Slashdot that discusses the techniques of bad journalism.
        • by !ucif3r ( 713159 ) on Sunday October 31, 2004 @03:15PM (#10680429) Homepage
          3) The Rebuplicans voting didn't actually have any problems and so there were no voters to interview abotu it and the woman they interviewed simply defended the machines by saying people were making the mistakes and that it was happening to everyone. I love how Bush supporters call any news that could possibly be construed as negative towards Bush or the Republicans 'propaganda', but their candidate lying to the country and the world is just a 'mistake'.
          • I left that out to see if someone else would think of it and get modded up beyond me. I like my karma earned against adversity.

            Vote Badnarik!
        • " (which is interesting since New Mexico has just as many Republicans as Democrats)"

          In New Mexico Democrats outnumber Republicans 2.5 to 1. They are the most moderate Dems in the country and normally ballance with one Senator from each party. In national elections they have a tendancy to vote Republican. They put Joe Skeen into Congress in '82, in a write in campaign. Third time in U.S. history that happened. We objected to the Governor appointing his nephew to replace a deceased conservative Dem.

          I only s
      • Many people had problems with the machines checking Kerry when they wanted to vote for Bush: In Sandoval County, three Rio Rancho residents said they had a similar problem, with opposite results.

        Pot calling kettle black? You claim one-sidedness, yet state that "many" people had the opposite problem. In what world does the number "3" constitute many? A "few" or maybe stretching the point to say "several". "Many" may be a relative term, but it's disingenuous to use it to describe a total of 3 voters

        • Thanks for ignoring the second paragraph.
        • Exactly. And there weren't exactly hundreds of people complaining about votes for Kerry going to Bush?

          Some pople may be saying that this is part of the pre-emptive strike the Democrats promised (alleging fraud where none exists).
          More likely, it's a misalligned touchscreen issue. Were those who complained shorter or taller than the people who calibrated the screens? Did they have eye-hand coordination problems?

          But they all were able to correct the checkmarks and vote for those that they intended to vote fo
      • Doh! (Score:4, Informative)

        by phr1 ( 211689 ) on Sunday October 31, 2004 @06:40PM (#10681587)
        1. Yes, I know Albuquerque is in NM. I simply had a brainfart when I saw "abqjournal" and read it as "azjournal" or something like that. 2. The article I submitted was edited for length before posting, so some stuff I'd asked was chopped out, like whether there were errors in Kerry's favor similar to the ones for Bush. The abqjournal article itself was not clear about that at all. While it says there were some errors in each direction, we don't know at all whether 90% of the errors favored Bush, 90% favored Kerry, or what. 3. ABQ Journal is apparently a Republican paper and it has endorsed Bush, so anything it prints is certainly not Democratic propoganda.
    • First this is not a plot created by Republicans. Since this is /., this part of the article was not mentioned in the summary:

      In Sandoval County, three Rio Rancho residents said they had a similar problem, with opposite results. They said a touch-screen machine switched their presidential votes from Bush to Kerry.

      The article did not mention how many voting problems have occured thus far. If hundreds or even thousands of people are experiencing problems voting New Mexico I would say something is wrong.
    • by goombah99 ( 560566 ) on Sunday October 31, 2004 @11:35PM (#10683106)
      New mexico, despite being small, may well be the 2nd most important state in the nation on the electronic voting issue. (california being the first with its financial clout). The reason New Mexico is so critical is that the head of NASED is also the election director. NASED is the shell organization formed by the vendor lobby org electioncenter.org to rubber stamp the approval of all voting machines. When some one says a machine is "federally certified" this is a polite fiction: there is no federal certification process, there are only voluntary guidelines and if a machine meets these guidelines as discerened by a private contractor (wyles testing, Cyber, or Systest are the only three) then NASED gives it a gold star. Thes guidelines are woefully inadequate and test more for whether the machine will catch fire than if its follows proper coding practices (e.g. dont use floats for the vote total, or allow negative vote numbers (as happened in the bit-flip error that created -16,324 votes for al gore in florida).

      That's what "federally certified means". NADA. And denise lamb is the one who does this to you (denise.lamb@state.nm.us).

      Denise is a rabid, machines-can-do-no-wrong political animal, logig means nothing to her, so lying to achive an agenda is simply machivelian to her. In fact she makes up lies about the machines and tells people for example that all paper trails would be printed on 1.5 inch wide ribbons of tissue paper. (no I'm not making this up, I've saw her demo before the ACLU.).

      If that were not enough, we have a Secretary of state, Rebecca Vigil-Giron who if you look on "followthemoney,org" you will see takes not only corporate donations from vendors but also personal ones. She is also head of the NAtional association of secretaries of state and issues policy reccomendations to all the others SOS. About half of her $500,000 budget comes in "gifts" from machine vendors.

      So you can see that if New Mexico has a problem then the whole united states has a problem

      I urge you to write Denise Lamb denise.lamb@state.nm.us [mailto] and tell her you are a professional programmer and give her your candid opinion. And while you are at it ask her to mail you one of those noodle voting tapes she had made up--she hands out copies.

  • this world is eeeeeeeeeevil just eeeeeevil.
  • by revscat ( 35618 ) on Sunday October 31, 2004 @01:25PM (#10679846) Journal

    Destroy the fucking things. They're a blatant means for whoever, Republicans in this case, to disenfranchise millions of voters and skew the election. Break them. Make them not work. Refuse to use them, kick out the plug, tip it over. Take a big magnet to them, sledgehammer, shotgun, whatever.

    Untold numbers of our ancestors have DIED to bring us the right to vote. Such measures as I am suggesting here are no more out of bounds than is locking away a violent criminal.

    Take them down. Justice demands it. I paid for it with my tax dollars, and I do NOT care.

    • by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Sunday October 31, 2004 @01:45PM (#10679968)
      They're a blatant means for whoever, Republicans in this case, to disenfranchise millions of voters and skew the election.

      It's doubtful that there's a conspiracy to get these voting machines to record votes for one candidate over the other. In fact, the article mentions that complaints have rolled in for members of both major parties. But everyone should get out their tin foil hats, just in case.

      Refuse to use them.

      This is the correct answer. All the rest of those suggestions are criminal acts of vandalism (and probably of election tampering, as well) that ultimately disenfranchise every other person who used the machine before you took a sledge to it.

      • ultimately disenfranchise every other person who used the machine before you took a sledge to it.

        I assume that once someone hits OK and waits for the transaction to commit, they've irrevocably voted. At that point, nothing short of a nuclear strike against the multiple server locations should be able to invalidate a vote that's already cast...
      • All the rest of those suggestions are criminal acts of vandalism (and probably of election tampering, as well)

        The Boston Tea Party was also a criminal act. Sometimes the laws themselves are unjust, and you must break the law to promote the right thing.

        Although I agree with you-- how will other people vote if I destroy the voting machine...

        Myself, I have no idea if I can refuse to use the machines on election day. Luckily I don't have to make that choice today. I have an absentee ballot here ehivhz i hsb
        • by xlv ( 125699 ) on Sunday October 31, 2004 @03:06PM (#10680380)
          Myself, I have no idea if I can refuse to use the machines on election day.


          I believe I've seen on the news or some political web site (it might even have been on another discussion here about electronic voting) that you're allowed to refuse to use electronic machines and that each voting place is supposed to have paper ballots. When I saw that, the controversy was that poll workers were instructed not to mention that fact when greeting voters.

    • by crmartin ( 98227 ) on Sunday October 31, 2004 @01:47PM (#10679980)
      I'll tell you a little secret -- not much of a secret -- about this. If the machine is clearly showing the check mark going wrong, it's a bug, not a conscious attempt to manipulate the vote.

      A long time ago I was a Republican election judge in a Democratic machine county. We were using the punched-card ballots, which get an undeserved bad rap -- they have a lower proportion of bad ballots than the traditional paper ballot.

      However, that year the machine candidate for the House was 3000 votes (about 10 percent) behind after 90 percent of the votes were counted.

      The Election Commission discovered "computer problems". There's a delay, and afterwards -- voila! -- the votes are re-run and it turns out that the machine candidate has the big margin.

      The point? It's not the machines you have to trust: it's the County Election Commission you have to trust.
      • The problem: we're the only Western democracy that allows for partisan election commissions. We get people in charge of state voting oversight also being chair of the state campaign for a candidate- Katherine Harris comes to mind. Sure she's allowed to have her political views outside of her job, but when she decided who won Florida in 2000, she was also chair of the Bush campaign in Florida. There is something fundamentally wrong with this. I don't have examples now, but I know the Dems have pulled crap like this as well.

        What we need is non-partisan, or better, multi-partisan, voting commissions. Bring in a Dem, a Repub, and throw in a 3rd party person every now and then. It will give a better air of legitimacy to the circus we call elelection.

        • The problem: we're the only Western democracy that allows for partisan election commissions.

          Finally somebody brings this up. To a Western European, that's one disturbing fact, along with the police, firefigthers and non-elected public officials endorsing a candidate and the public voting for judges (isn't the law supposed to be non-partisan?) and police chiefs.

          And of course, the most disturbing fact is that active military people are used during political rallies. In France at least, police and military

          • by demachina ( 71715 ) on Sunday October 31, 2004 @09:48PM (#10682400)
            "Is it "voluntary" or do they have to follow the political view of their platoon/division leader?"

            When the President is addressing a whole unit I think they are following the orders of their Commander in Chief, the President. I'm pretty sure they have no choice but to attend and look happy about it unless they want their life to be made miserable. Maybe they are given an option to not attend but I really doubt it or that anyone would risk a career full of misery by refusing to go.

            When you see soldiers behind him in campaign appearances I'm pretty sure the local Republican party officials who screen and loyalty test everyone attending the President's campaign events locate loyal Republican servicemen, encourage them to attend and seat them behind the President so they will be on camera.

            However when the President dropped in to Iraq for a suprise Thanksgiving visit [washingtonpost.com] the officers in charge of the unit he visited hand picked the people who got in and the rest were turned away from Thanksgiving dinner without explanation and ate MRE's in their tents. Its kind of ironic that the President's photo op, morale building trip actually screwed over everyone in the unit that wasn't the commanders favorite.

            60 minutes had a pretty good piece this evening on how the Congress and the Pentagon are screwing the soldiers in Iraq, especially the guard and reserve. 18 months in to the war and many of them are still riding around in unarmored Humvees where they've surrounded in plywood boxes they've filled with sandbags and armor plates off old Iraqi tanks. So much for America's vaunted, gold plated military. Unfortunately its hard to armor the floors which is the weak spot so if they run over a mine or IED they still die or lose their legs. Its noteworthy that in Iraq the KIA count is at historic lows thanks to the quality of the air evacuation and field hospitals. It however means there is a very high rate of soliders who are severely maimed who would have died in previous wars. The casualty count is currently around 9200, 1100 dead and 8100 wounded.

            The Pentagon is apparently sending some armored Humvees but amazingly they still dont have armored floors, just doors. Many of the gaurd soldiers have no radios so their families are sending them unencrypted walkie talkies they buy in Walmart which insurgents can listen to. Same story for nigh vision goggles, GPS gear, body armor(though I think body armor is finally getting fixed). Many of the guard units are using M-16's that date from Vietnam which are rated as OK for stateside duty but not combat duty because of the propensity for old M-16's to jam. They are also short on ammunition so they can't target practice. Helicopters, Bradleys, and Abrams tanks are all suffering critical parts shortages.

            60 minutes had on Winslow Wheeler [http], (a.ka. Spartacus). Wheeler has been a congressional staffer in the armed services committee for 30+ years. He was recently forced to resign because he's been writing exposes, under the pen name Spartacus, on pork barrel spending by Congressman on the armed services committee and the Pentagon. There is at least $9 billion in pure pork in this years Defense budget. It appears big ticket, high budget weapons contracts can't be touched to cover this pork, so a good portion of it is shaved out of the budget for maintenance, spares, and basic equipment especially for guard and reserve units. Despite the Bush administration rhetoric to the contrary the Pentagon isn't giving the troops in Iraq some of the most basic, essential equipment to insure their survival.

            This is not really a great time to be a grunt slogging through the dirt and mud in Iraq because they are they ass end of the Pentagon.
            • 60 minutes had a pretty good piece this evening on how the Congress and the Pentagon are screwing the soldiers in Iraq...

              Thanks for the info. As I'm on the West Coast, it's just starting now...

              On the same subject, I've recently seen some 3 part documentary on Discovery/NY Times following a guard unit from their prewar training to the actual stay in Iraq and they were showing similar pictures of soldiers adding rusted plates over their Humvees doors. Whatever you think of the war, when you see that, you hav

            • Sure the military is unequiped and not ready for war, sure my home is in danger every year from forst fire due to huge land management cuts, but at least Clinton had a surplus!!!!
              • Not sure I follow your point. Are you, in classic Bush style, trying to blame Clinton that the guard and reserves in Iraq are woefully under equipped for combat duty? That is just so sweet.

                Clinton has been gone for 4 years now. The Iraq war has been going on like 18 months. The Republicans have complete control of the government. With the next supplemental they are going to request right after the election the price tag for the war is going to hit around $220 billion dollars. There is no one you can


                • sorry it takes far more than 2 1/2 years to build up 8 years of down sizing of the military. Since the end of the First Gulf War, Clinton's military was shrunk by more than 40 percent. The first year Bush was in office he was unable to get anything done due to spite from the democrats turning down his proposals whether good or bad. 9/11 was the only thing that got Bush any support although I do agree it gave him too much support.

                  I am by no means a Bush supporter, I think he has done more to jeopardize
                  • "sorry it takes far more than 2 1/2 years to build up 8 years of down sizing of the military."

                    Sorry but the Republicans have been in power for 4 years now, they've controlled the House much longer than that and the House drives the budget process. It was OK to scale down the military during a time when the world was at peace and the U.S.S.R. was gone, Republicans were just as much a part of it as the Democrats. Sane nations cut back their military when there isn't an imminent threat of war because its e
                    • Hey, your right, for the most part. The only thing I wonder about is the equipment. HMMWVs were never really armored from the beginning. Flack jackets were never made for everyone and were always special issue. The M16s they have are not like the A1s used in Vietnam as some seem to claim. the M16 A2s and A3s are both very reliable as well as the SAW and M60s that are carried by ground troops. To say that you can drop a billion dollars and suddenly everything should be fixed is a democrats dream of mon
                    • "HMMWVs were never really armored from the beginning. Flack jackets were never made for everyone and were always special issue."

                      Until you are fighting an insurgency where all of your troops in theater are being subjected to daily sniper fire and IED's. At that point the Pentagon should have gone in to overdrive to adapt to the conditions of the theater. Making soldiers driver around in unarmored vehicles facing those conditions for this long borders on criminal neglect by all the powers that be, especiall
                    • In the immortal words of Bush "I don't remember saying that, I think it is what they call an exaggeration." Other than saying it takes longer to build up 8 years of downsizing then the 21 months he had, which he didn't use to rebuild like he should have, I don't think I really was trying to support Bush. I mentioned two specific things about Clinton that he did that are causing real problems here and now. I didn't mention Bush, I didn't even really elude to supporting Bush. You seem to be the one that r
                    • I don't trust either Republicans or Democrats, but I really don't want anything to do with the Democrats socialist platform.

                      What the $%@$% are you talking about? It's appaling what a stronghold the US cold war propaganda still has in the US. For the rest of the world, the US race is between the moderate/center right (Kerry) and the far right (Bush). Maybe you should go past the propaganda and really check was socialism is all about...


                    • Here are some of the examples from some of the comparison sites between Bush and Kerry's stance on things that I think are way to socilist for my taste:

                      Kerry supports:
                      -Supports affirmative action programs in the workplace and university admissions. (Socalist idea of job assignment)
                      -Opposes private school vouchers, fearing it will drain funds from public schools. (keep education as a government social service)
                      -Proposes to increase early childhood programs such as Head Start and fully fund special-need
                    • Supports raising gas mileage standards for passenger vehicles. (dictating what I want in a vehicle)

                      One primary job of a government is to protect citizens from bullies who would take more than their share. We simply don't have the resources to support everyone doing just what he wants, and the government is the only body that has the power to limit the devastating effect that irresponsible citizens can have. Who do you think should force Americans to take some responsibility? Because assholes don't ta

                • One other thing, Pork comes from both sides nearly equal. It may grow and shrink depending on the time but Pork is there. While not good it is something that has to be accepted. Fight for ways to limit it legally, but if you vote for someone that is promising or isn't using pork politics than you are only hurting your own party. The miserable failure that was line item veto was an attempt to get rid of pork, or at least it was sold that way. while a failure it was at least an attempt.
          • To a Western European, that's one disturbing fact, along with the police, firefigthers and non-elected public officials endorsing a candidate and the public voting for judges (isn't the law supposed to be non-partisan?) and police chiefs.

            It's actually the ,a href="http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=mozcli ent&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&q=firefighters+union">unions of these professions that do the endorsing. The system in the US is a wild and tangled one.

        • Gads, I wish they still taught Civics in American schools.

          I agree that having a non-partisan election system would be good, but your whole argument for it here is based on the ignorant notion that the Florida Secretary of State had any real control over the election. The only influence Harris had over the whole process was to certify the known vote counts on the latest possible date on which she was statutorily required to do so.

          The choice of the voting machines: County Election Commission (Democrat in
          • We can go on about who designed what and where- I know that Dems and Repubs are doing everything to tweak ballots/standards/rules to their candidate. The problem I have is with someone being in charge of everything voting in a state, and also being in charge of getting that candidate to win the same state. At least give us an air of impartiality.

            I am a registered Green, and I'd like to see more access for third parties. I think we need to clean up the Constitution so that we're all guaranteed one vote, w

            • I can sympathize, having been round for the beginning of Libertarian Party, but what we've got is surprisingly effective along those lines. You can, after all, vote; that puts you one up on about half the population of the world. You can choose not to vote, if you prefer not to; that puts you one up on places as varied as Cuba and Australia.

              You can in general be confident that your local representatives will actually be from somewhere near you, which I see as an advantage over the UK and occasional aberr
            • I think we need to clean up the Constitution so that we're all guaranteed one vote, with equal access to that vote (that right is not there now.)

              Oh, but that right is there now!

              If you are a citizen of the USA, and are not a convicted felon, and are over eighteen years of age. then you have the firm legal right to cast one vote and have access to that vote equal to everyone else.

              It may not work 100% in practice, but there's no need to place new laws on the books because the laws are ALREADY THERE. If you
        • The problem: we're the only Western democracy that allows for partisan election commissions.

          Nah; we're just the only one that encourages election commissioners to publicly state their bias.

          In the others, if you're a partisan who wants to be an election commissioner, you just learn enough of your opponent's buzz phrases to fool the interviewers. Then, once you're on the commission, you can look for ways to implement your bias without being noticed.

          When it comes to such matters as election outcomes, you
          • "In the others, if you're a partisan who wants to be an election commissioner, you just learn enough of your opponent's buzz phrases to fool the interviewers. Then, once you're on the commission, you can look for ways to implement your bias without being noticed."

            Wow. I actually counted ballots in the 94 referendum on EU here in Norway. Here's how it works:

            You have a bunch of people from both sides of the issue (or all parties) around a table and count ballots. You also have other people double-counting t
        • Exactly!
          Where I live, we use pen and paper to vote. There are representatives from different parties, that count the votes seperately, if they come up with the same number they can go home, if they come up with different numbers they all count them again.
          voila! (no, I'm not french!)
          100% accuracy... alright it might not be 100% accuracy, but since people agreed on the number you don't get eny lawsuits about the result.
        • The problem: we're the only Western democracy that allows for partisan election commissions.

          The problem is your rules have people signing up for one party or another seemingly for life, like a sporting team or a car brand. This seems to compel people to keep supporting that party regardless of what happens. Then everyone seems to wear their political affilliation as a badge, almost like a challenge to anyone else.

          In a country (.au) where no-one except hard-core nutjobs actually join a political party,

      • If the machine is clearly showing the check mark going wrong, it's a bug, not a conscious attempt to manipulate the vote.

        Exactly right. Any competent programmer who is implementing a biased count would show the actual vote on the screen. The code would then, with some probability (perhaps just a counter) would add certain votes to the wrong candidate in the internal sum. Those sums aren't shown to the voter, of course, so they'll never suspect.

        It's a bit trickier if there's some sort of paper trail or
        • Whether a systematic bias was implemented on purpose or not is irrelevant at this point. We are about to have a kangaroo election, with machines that are precise yet inaccurate, favoring one candidate over the other.

          Maybe it's possible that this is a source of random error and not systematic error. If reports start coming out where Bush voters are having their votes changed to Kerry votes, then this might be random error. Otherwise it's systematic error, and it won't have mattered afterwards whether malice
    • As screwed up as this interface may be, I think the stories about the GEMS county level counting machines are much scarier. The county offices will all have no problem altering totals. It's so easy, I expect most election supervisors will cheat. I just wonder if there are more Democrat or Republican election supervisors across the country. http://www.blackboxvoting.org/baxter/baxterVPR.mov [blackboxvoting.org]
      • I think the stories about the GEMS county level counting machines are much scarier. The county offices will all have no problem altering totals.

        Yeah, but where are they gonna find all the trained chimps to do the job?

    • Destroy the fucking things. They're a blatant means for whoever, Republicans in this case, to disenfranchise millions of voters and skew the election. Break them. Make them not work. Refuse to use them, kick out the plug, tip it over. Take a big magnet to them, sledgehammer, shotgun, whatever.

      1) Destruction of public property.
      2) Blatant doesn't happen when both parties are already tiptoeing around it. Blatant only happens when someone is getting framed. In the real world those votes would switch without a
      • WHOA... We were fighting for OUR OWN VOTE way back then. In Iraq, we were forcing the vote on them. They didn't want it, but we shoved it down their throats.
        • We were fighting for OUR OWN VOTE way back then. In Iraq, we were forcing the vote on them. They didn't want it, but we shoved it down their throats.

          Who is this "we" you keep talking about? Nobody cared about the Revolutionary war when it started. Hamilton, Madison, Jay, Washington, and their lot saw that they could play the lower class of off the British, get the British kicked out, and assume control themselves. Most of the people who signed the Declaration of Independance and who ratified the Constitut
    • You'll get them charged with all manners of tampering with the election process, public disturbance, property destruction, destruction of government property and maybe even a terrorism charge under the USA PATRIOT Act's new definition of terrorism. Remember, anyone who commits property damage to influence the opinion of the civil body politic is now a terrorist.
    • So who do we dress up as? Republicans seems like an obvious choice, but wouldn't it be more in the spirit of the Boston Tea Party if we blame some innocent third party like the Libertarians?

      If we're going to smash e-voting machines dressed as Libertarians, what would a stereotypical Libertarian dress like? Maybe we should just look like the free market picked out our clothes in the morning.
  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Sunday October 31, 2004 @01:27PM (#10679857)
    1. Whatever happens, blame the user.
    2. If that doesn't fix the problem, see #1.
  • I remember when I saw this exact thing as a flash-made joke, where every time you tried to press Kerry it wouldn't work.

    It's a sad state when reality mimics fiction like this.
  • by NotoriousQ ( 457789 ) on Sunday October 31, 2004 @01:33PM (#10679896) Homepage
    This looks to be nothing more than misaligned touchscreens. The main question is "Are they misaligned on purpose?"

    And why won't someone realign them.
    • by rtaylor ( 70602 ) on Sunday October 31, 2004 @01:48PM (#10679988) Homepage
      This looks to be nothing more than misaligned touchscreens. The main question is "Are they misaligned on purpose?"

      A better question would be to ask why the order isn't randomized for each new voter?
  • Suddenly, this video [boomchicago.nl] isn't so funny anymore...
  • To Be Fair (Score:5, Informative)

    by CheshireCatCO ( 185193 ) on Sunday October 31, 2004 @01:48PM (#10679987) Homepage
    To be fair, the article (around the middle) mentions that voters had the opposite problem: votes intended for Bush were showing up for Kerry. So it doesn't sound like a systematic attempt to cheat the vote. (Although statistics on how many mis-votes occur each way would be very interesting.)

    That said, of course the friggin' problem is in the machines. OK, so the voters are maybe not using them exactly as intended. But, I'm sorry, if touching the screen with my palm accidentally will mis-register a vote, then they need to re-work the design. It's clear that a lot of people are having this sort of problem, so it's a design flaw.

    If they're selling the things under the premise that they'll make voting easier and more accurate, they'd better be able to handle real-world usage.

    (And that's all assuming that the problem is not a more basic bug in the system. The fact that people have had multiple misvotes in a row implies, to me, that it might be a more basic flaw than how people are using them. When you make a mistake once, you usually are much more careful the next time. So I'm dubious that people are making the same mistakes. It's possible, but I'm not convinced.)
    • "User Error" indicates a problem with the design, not a problem with the user. Every engineering student knows that, I wish these political excuse makers realized how lame an excuse it it.

      You can't redesign the user, the best you can do is educate him and you can't do that in a voting booth. I go so tired of people who think "User Error" is a valid excuse for a bad design.
      • "Design a better idiot-proof piece of software, and the genetic pool will design a better idiot."
        -- John "Kate" Looney.

        This is one of the few applications where you have to spend as much effort as you can on good design. Regular computers and ATM machines not working are mostly a concern for the manufacturer. Military and medical systems are only used by trained individuals. However, voting systems are one of the few systems that everybody are supposed to be able to use, by law.
    • Who made these machines?
  • Who hasn't seen this happen for touchscreen machines. More often than not the sensor plate thingy is offset downward of the screen so that when you press the screen the cursor will appear half an inch above it. There are two issues here.

    1) Someone should fix the screen/driver so that it is aligned.

    2) The woman is insane [brainyquote.com].

    They keep saying in the article that they click on one candidate but then it gets "switched" to a vote for another candidate, as if the machine sees a Kerry vote and decides half a second
  • by mc6809e ( 214243 ) on Sunday October 31, 2004 @02:01PM (#10680062)
    It's too bad all this energy isn't be directed at trying to correct the problems and fraud caused by paper ballots.

    Punching extra holes in a punchcard, or filling in a bubble with a pencil is the easiest thing in the world.

    Or how about simply lying about the numbers when you call to report them to the supervisors running the election?

    Yes, it really is done that way is many places.

    Okay, so you don't trust programmers writing voting software. But how then can you trust all these other people in the chain? What makes you think they're honest?

    What about ballots mailed in? How do you know they even make it through the post office? How do the people counting these ballots even know it was you that really sent it? How do they know you're even a real person and not Fido T. Dog?

    Vote fraud is real, and it goes way beyond miscalibrated touch screens.

    • Well, in my area, I can volunteer to work in a polling place, and both parties generally have observers at each stage of the movement of ballots to prevent that sort of tampering...
    • The problem with these machines is that the potential is there for massive and undetectable fraud that far outweighs any of the other worries you notice. Yes, there is lots of other ways of cheating at voting, but the scary thing about these machines is the far higher potential that a small number of unscrupulous individuals could cause massive alteration of votes.

      This is also a big deal here because Slashdot readers are very annoyed at the complete ignorance of the population to the actual realities of ho
  • by vijaya_chandra ( 618284 ) on Sunday October 31, 2004 @02:04PM (#10680078)
    If it's a software problem, am sure everyone should've been facing the same issue, considering how trivially simple a thing a vote accumulating app would/should be (unless of course the developer has goofed up majorly)

    She believes it's a people problem. "I have confidence in the machines," she said. "They are touch screens. People are touching them with their palms, or leaning their hand. ... They're hitting the wrong button."
    Why get to a stage where ppl complain at all!? Why not have the different clickable entries reasonably far away from one another?! It's not as if you have to include the names of hundreds of candidates as in here in india.

    We don't need another stupid thing that adds to the ppl's woes
    • An extremely good point: the fact that this is possible at all shows a blatant disregard for usability and (probably) inept gui design. Ordering the wrong flavour candy is one thing (long story), inadvertant voting for the wrong candidate is very serious.
  • by mc6809e ( 214243 ) on Sunday October 31, 2004 @02:05PM (#10680087)
    "In Sandoval County, three Rio Rancho residents said they had a similar problem, with opposite results. They said a touch-screen machine switched their presidential votes from Bush to Kerry."

    Of course the abstract for this story only mensions votes being switched from Kerry to Bush.

    What a surprise.
  • the real problem (Score:4, Insightful)

    by illuminatedwax ( 537131 ) <stdrange@alumni. ... o.edu minus city> on Sunday October 31, 2004 @02:29PM (#10680215) Journal
    The real problem here is not any attempt of voter fraud - it's the goddamn things not working correctly and the official blaming it on the users. It's hilarious to hear his excuses: "they're hitting their palms! they're not doing it right!!!" I've had a problem with many touch screens before, usually depending on the angle at which you view the screen. If you're a different height than the person who calibrates it, and the options are close enough together, it'll basicially shift the whole ballot up or down.

    The real question is: why the hell did they use touch screens when they could have made a simple system with actual buttons? And why did they decide that this was the year that we must test our electronic voting machines, I guess because they were sick of guessing whether a dimple in the card meant a vote? The whole thing smacks of the disgusting trend in our country: we'd rather be certain than right. If you think there's any system which won't confuse or provide difficulty for seniors, you clearly have never had a grandmother.

    --Stephen
    • A system with actual buttons isnt exactly less likely to have height calibration problems. See ATMs or those newfangled electronic ticket machines movie theaters have nowadays.
    • Unmarked buttons like on a lot of ATM machines are even worse for alignment. I usually have to count how many arrows are above the one I want to figure out which button.

      Labelled buttons would be a lot better, but since the labels cannot be changed easily you would have to use an API where you navigate using arrows and highlight the candidate you want and hit "YES" and "NO" buttons.
      • I've seen buttons with small LED arrays for programmable labels (in e.g. aircraft instrument panels).

        It's sad that all of the machine vendors seem to have just bundled up a touch-sceen Windows box and implemented the first design that came to mind rather than really thinking about how to optimize a machine for voting.
        • I've seen buttons with small LED arrays for programmable labels (in e.g. aircraft instrument panels).

          Yea I was going to mention that idea as well, but I thought it might be too expensive.
  • Film at 11 (Score:3, Funny)

    by Spamboi ( 179761 ) on Sunday October 31, 2004 @02:33PM (#10680236)
    Arizona touchscreen voting equipment places Albuquerque in Arizona!
  • Voting is too EASY (Score:2, Insightful)

    by zippthorne ( 748122 )
    Every time there's a vote "problem" the principles try to find a way to make voting easier, which they usually interpret as more effortless. So in South Florida, they go from punch-card paper ballots to video terminals, which is supposed to require even less effort because the problem is incorrectly diagnosed as people being unable to punch a hole in a thin sheet of paper even under the circumstance that the hole was pre-weakened.

    So now we start seeing problems with screen registration and we're suprised?
  • by nadador ( 3747 ) on Sunday October 31, 2004 @05:23PM (#10681099)
    Point of order - if you read the article, its about voters in Bernalillo County (where Albuquerque is) and Sandoval County, in New Mexico, not Arizona.

    Here in Southern Arizona, we have optical scan ballots, which the best of all worlds. I vote with a pen, a computer scans it, and if there's a question about a recount, a human can go back and look at what I marked on my ballot.

    Are there any arguments for touchscreens over optical scan ballots? I can't think of any.
  • That's what I want to know.
  • I just happened to sneak a hid-o-cam into the booths... http://www.stupidvideos.com/Default.asp?VideoID=87 1> [stupidvideos.com]
  • This is a funny thing someone made, nothing more. It satires real life in a way.

    http://www.boomchicago.nl/images/Voting_Machine.wm v [boomchicago.nl]
  • There's no actual evidence these machines favor Republicans. I used the same machines (Sequoia voting systems) in Washington, and me and a few other people would have Democrat selected when we clicked Republican. Happened the other way, too. If you use the provided stylus instead of your finger it is less likely to make an error (the problem being that if you flat-finger it, you could select two squares at once, and then it guesses wrong).

    It is part bad design, part user error, and as someone who's work

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