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Berkeley Researchers Analyze Florida Voting Patterns 1237

empraptor writes "Researchers at UC Berkeley have crunched numbers and determined that 130,000-260,000 excess votes went to Bush in Florida. They have held a conference and posted their findings online. You can find articles on their research from CNet, Wired News, and many other sources. While the research used statistical analysis based on past elections and demographics, how else do you verify that a paperless voting system is working properly?"
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Berkeley Researchers Analyze Florida Voting Patterns

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  • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:43PM (#10867433)
    "Without a paper trail, statistical comparisons of jurisdictions that used e-voting are the only tool available to diagnose problems with the new technology," the researchers stated in the report.

    WHY WERE THERE NO PAPER TRAILS? Why are we allowing voting to go on in a system that has NOT been proven safe? We aren't allowed to view the code, we aren't allowed to audit our vote except via what is shown to us on the screen, and we have to invest an enormous amount of trust in two large entities that have proven they are NOT worthy of our trust.

    Were people permitted to use paper and pencil/pen or more trusted/tried solutions instead of these machines? I certainly would have opted against using one of the e-voting machines knowing what I know and being the paranoid individual I am.

    Until the voting machines and their code are open to the public for audit and there is a paper trail I will refuse to use them. This MUST be an option for everyone. I don't see why it can't be the case.

    Some places are requiring a paper audit trail by 2006 but that doesn't help the fact that there could have been some hanky panky going on right here in THIS election.
  • by letxa2000 ( 215841 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:44PM (#10867448)
    I am 100% behind electronic voting and I think it can be made secure and very tamper-proof. But it has to be open source, with the code verified by both parties before the election. And there has to be a way to audit the votes without giving up secrecy of individual ballots.

  • Statistical? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LEgregius ( 550408 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:44PM (#10867452)
    So they used demographics and past elections to show that Bush got too many votes? Wouldn't counting the actual votes be the way to tell if he got too many votes? Perhaps it should say that Bush got 130-260k more votes than expected?
  • It's a damn shame (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ThomasFlip ( 669988 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:45PM (#10867461)
    that mainstream media won't cover this, or make a big deal out of it.
  • Why Berkeley? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mikeophile ( 647318 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:45PM (#10867471)
    Berkeley has a fine school and all, but don't you think that it's liberal reputation (deserved or not) might provide the argument that the research is partisan?

  • by Jucius Maximus ( 229128 ) <> on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:48PM (#10867507) Journal
    Making people realise that paper audit trails are necessary is a lot more important than having your choice of Kerry or Bush for the next 4 years.
  • by downward dog ( 634625 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:49PM (#10867514) Homepage
    The problem is that if a voting machine is programmed to cheat, it is easy enough to fake a paper receipt. I could cast a vote for A, have the screen verify that I am voting for A, receive a printed receipt that tells me I voted for A, and STILL have that vote count for B within the black box.

    The paper trail is a red herring, if you ask me. What is really needed is publicly-available source code that anyone can view.
  • by Quinn_Inuit ( 760445 ) <Quinn_Inuit@yah o o . c om> on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:50PM (#10867531)
    but I _can't_, because there's no way to do so. Because of paperless voting, we have no way short of standard polling techniques to tell if these machines were even close to accurate.
  • by donutz ( 195717 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:51PM (#10867547) Homepage Journal
    "The Berkeley analysis uses voting patterns by county from 2000 and 1996, income by county, total population, and Hispanic population to try to explain voting patterns in 2004"

    Hispanics are largely Catholics. Catholicism says that abortion and gay marriage are wrong. President Bush believes that same thing. A major issue in this election is values, which these get lumped into.

    Did the Berkeley analysis take into account Hispanics voting Republican because they have compatible values? It may explain the discrepancy that Berkeley claims to have uncovered.
  • by garcia ( 6573 ) * on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:52PM (#10867550)
    The paper trail is a red herring, if you ask me. What is really needed is publicly-available source code that anyone can view.

    What's to stop them from changing the code on enough of the machines to win? We'd never know what happens after we inspect the code. In the right area they COULD possibly win with only a handful of doctored machines.
  • Utterly Believable (Score:1, Insightful)

    by randall_burns ( 108052 ) <> on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:54PM (#10867585)
    Bush and the GOP appear to have used Diebold voting machines to steal yet another election--and Democrats have such a history in promoting lower tech vote fraud they are too cowed to say anything.

    When there are open source voting systems around(one was actually used in Australian elections) there is no reason to allow corporate control of voting software.

    Now, what is needed is creating a system that has better hard encryptian and authentication. Paper ballots are subject to various forms of tampering--but hard encryption can make any tampering very easy to detect.

    The Diebold system was designed with really only one thing in mind: allowing fraud by making recounts impossible.
  • Re:Why Berkeley? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by notcreative ( 623238 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:54PM (#10867587) Journal
    A liberal reputation does not "prove" anything about the argument. Read up on "ad hominem" logical fallacies. Their evidence is publicly available and the research paper makes a statistical analysis. If you want to attack their conclusion, please make a comment relevant to the analysis or its assumptions.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:54PM (#10867589)
    Considering the way you name him John Fraud Kerry, I rather imagine you would.

    Such obvious biasedness betrays your inability to take a step back and realise the facts (whatever they may be).
  • No. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Megaweapon ( 25185 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:55PM (#10867598) Homepage
    Any possible fraud should be investigated, no matter how numerically insignificant. (For the record, I dispise both Bush and Kerry, so I'm not on the "Kerry Really Won!" bandwagon).
  • by mgs1000 ( 583340 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:55PM (#10867600) Journal
    The question is Ohio. It has been a stuanch Democrat state.

    It wasn't in 2000.

  • by NetNifty ( 796376 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:59PM (#10867665) Homepage
    We shouldn't stop investigating e-voting just because the elections are "finished for now" - if theres controversy over it now theres a significant chance it'll happen again next time, whoever the voting machines decide wins then.
  • by j0nb0y ( 107699 ) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <003yobnoj>> on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:59PM (#10867666) Homepage
    Certainly recount if there's a problem, but the machines should be randomly audited as well...
  • by physicsphairy ( 720718 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:59PM (#10867669) Homepage
    I mean, the essential premise of saying "researchers at UC Berkeley have crunched numbers and determined that 130,000-260,000 excess votes went to Bush in Florida" is that their algorithmic methods of predicting are more accurate than actually counting them. Is it not?

    So why not just stay home and let the computers decide?

    Personally, I'm inclined to believe that mathematically predicting the decisions of human beings is at least as far off as artificial intelligence.

  • Re:Bad source. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dema ( 103780 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:59PM (#10867672) Homepage
    If it came from a less biased source I might believe it.

    And if electronic voting came from a less biased source [] I might believe it.
  • by csimicah ( 592121 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:59PM (#10867673)
    Did the Berkeley analysis take into account Hispanics voting Republican because they have compatible values? It may explain the discrepancy that Berkeley claims to have uncovered.

    Couldn't even be bothered to read the half-page summary, eh?
  • by BW_Nuprin ( 633386 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:00PM (#10867682)
    There should be digital signatures on all voting machines that confirm that the code is the same code as on all other voting machines. Either that or do a binary comparison of the ROM after the fact on machines that are suspected of being tampered with.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:01PM (#10867705)
    I think some people are terribly missing the point with their counter arguments to the findings. Consider the following from the summary of findings:

    Compared to counties with paper ballots, counties with electronic voting machines were significantly more likely to show increases in support for President Bush between 2000 and 2004. This effect cannot be explained by differences between counties in income, number of voters, change in voter turnout, or size of Hispanic/Latino population.

    Has anyone got an explanation for this?
  • by nysus ( 162232 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:02PM (#10867723)
    What unnerves me more than anything is the simple fact that election officials are so adamantly against paper receipts. There is simply no rational explanation for not wanting them. I've heard it said that cost is a factor. But, really now, how much more can a simple tape register add to the cost of a probably already over-priced voting machine with a CRT, a networked computer, and proprietary software inside? Isn't safeguarding democracy and people's faith in it worth spending a few bucks?
  • Re:Why Berkeley? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dhakbar ( 783117 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:03PM (#10867745)
    This attitude is why the slightly more liberal John Kerry lost.

    Good job, fucking it up for the rest of us, you arrogant prick.
  • by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:04PM (#10867753)
    I'm not karma whoring; I'm trying to get this important information in response to each ignorant post that gets modded up to +5 that doesn't mention there is a BILL ON THE TABLE THAT WILL FIX ALL THE PROBLEMS, i.e., give us a paper trail AND open source code on the systems themselves. Why no one mentions this, and insists on acting like nothing is being done and we're just hopelessly going down this paperless, proprietary road so that evil Republicans can steal all the elections, instead of simply working to fix the problems and supporting the bills that will, is beyond me.

    But thanks for your input.
  • by timster ( 32400 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:04PM (#10867762)
    I've said it before, so I'll probably be called redundant, but criticism of a government during wartime is only treasonous in a totalitarian state. In a democracy, criticism of the government during war is patriotic.

    In a totalitarian state, the interests of the government are by nature not aligned with the interests of the people. So criticism of the government damages its effort, because it suggests that interests other than those of the government ought to be considered.

    In a democratic state, the government is only operating correctly when it represents the interests of the people. However, it is not easy to act in the proper aggregate interest of the entire population. The only way to do so is for the portions of the populace who see the government actions as contrary to their interests to speak out. Thus the government actions can be modified so that the interests of the people are better fulfilled.

    This is pretty basic civics, but for some reason it is repeatedly suggested (during Vietnam, and again recently) that the proper interests of the government are somehow disconnected from those of the people when the government decides to go to war. In my viewpoint that is incorrect, especially when it leads to a government that is eager to use war as a device to promote its own interests, thus leading toward totalitarianism.
  • by dafz1 ( 604262 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:05PM (#10867769)
    I agree. There has to be some type of paper trail. This is how I would do voting:

    1. Voters swipe a state/government issued ID card on the voting machine, which checks eligibility(and stops multiple votes). The machine then creates a number(it could be sequential to show how many people voted on that machine).

    2. Using an ATM touch screen-type interface, the person must pick one option per position race(e.g. president, senator, representative, etc.). Each race has a 1 - 10(depending on how many candidates there are, it could be 100 like the California Gubernatorial Recall election) number assigned to each candidate.

    3. After all selections are made, the numbers of each candidate/issue selected will be printed after the voter number on a cash-register type tape. That way there is a paper trail.

    4. After the polls close, the results are automatically uploaded to a central server which sends a printout back to the precinct tabulating the number of voters. The voting machines print out the total number of voters at the end of the tape, and this is compared to the printout.

    This system, in my opinion, would be the easiest to deploy, easiest to error check, and most importantly, elimnate any "hanging chad" or other voting irregularities. It would also cut back on the number of poll workers, as the verification of eligibility would be done with the swipe machine at the polls. You would only need workers to watch so the tapes don't run out, as well as any voters who aren't registered properly.
  • Real Issue (Score:5, Insightful)

    by notcreative ( 623238 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:05PM (#10867774) Journal
    I think someone else above made this point: The real issue isn't whether or not Bush won. The real issue is whether we can trust our mechanism of democracy (the ballot box). If we can't, then we don't really live in a democracy, do we (or even a republic for the pedantic)?

    I would like to point some facts out:

    1. Manufacturers of electronic voting gear had the Opportunity to rig the vote
    2. They had the Motive to rig the vote
    3. They had the Means to rig the vote

    So why do we have a system that allows a company with the Motive, Means, and Opportunity to rig the vote to use software that is unaccountable, and not to provide a backup papertrail? I would be glad to have Bush as prez if I knew for a fact that the vote was counted right, but I don't know that, and NEITHER DOES ANYONE ELSE on this thread. That is scary.

    Also, do people think that voter fraud on this level is implausible? Please understand that it has happened before in this country, and if it happened before why can't it happen today?

  • by expro ( 597113 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:06PM (#10867805)

    It listed no one even remotely acceptable for president that had a snowball's chance.

    But the solution to that is instant runnoff []. While verification of the actual vote would be nice, we have no record at all of how many people were quite dissatisfied with both candidates. Was it a majority voting out of fear that the stupid system we have would punish them for voting for a third party candidate by giving them their worst nightmare?

  • the truth (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:07PM (#10867820)
    the truth is americans are too ignorant to DEMAND accountability. they put their faith into megacorporations to run the country, and the put their faith in megacorporations to administrate the election. proprietary election technology - give me a break!
  • Re:Statistical? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by general_re ( 8883 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:07PM (#10867823) Homepage
    It says that Bush got more votes than expected, and that the counties where he got larger-than-expected numbers of votes are the same counties that used electronic voting, to a statistically significant level.

    Why assume that 1996/2000 is somehow "correct"? One can equally well explain such a discrepancy by positing that problems with paper/mechanical balloting in 1996/2000 caused "excess" votes for Democrats in those counties, a phenomenon that was corrected by the deployment of electronic balloting.

    There's no real control group here, and assuming that one election forms a true baseline which you can use to judge subsequent elections is just that - an assumption, unsupported by any real evidence.

  • by plalonde2 ( 527372 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:08PM (#10867829)
    Let's try this again. There is only *ONE* effective way to run an election:

    Vote on Paper

    Count each ballot box separately

    Count the ballot box at the voting site

    Allow every party to have an observer there. Parties that can't pony up a counter/observer per ballot box have deeper problems The advantage is that wide-spread fraud would require widespread efforts, unlike the US's system of centralizing voting processes (central counting machines, central code source bases for voting machines, shipping ballots to counting locations).

    Distributed systems are much more robust to fraud.
  • Re:Why Berkeley? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bfields ( 66644 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:08PM (#10867830) Homepage
    Berkeley has a fine school and all, but don't you think that it's liberal reputation (deserved or not) might provide the argument that the research is partisan?

    The liberal reputation may well be deserved. So what? If the only people allowed to do research on questions of political import are people with no political opinions whatsoever, well, that's not going to leave us with many qualified researchers.

    The linked-to paper tells exactly where they got all their data and how they analyzed it; I don't see any reason you couldn't reproduce every step if you wanted to. They've done their homework; now if you're skeptical (as I think you should be--I am too!) you need to do yours. If the liberal reputation is what motivates you to take a closer look, fine, but now you need to dig into the research and figure out what's actually wrong with it. I'm sure you understand this, but just to make it completely clear--"they're probably liberals" isn't in itself a meaningful argument.

    --Bruce Fields

  • Ban Chocolate! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shotfeel ( 235240 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:10PM (#10867852)
    Researchers have found a correlation between chocolate sales and crime rate. Chocolate must be banned!

    Oh, BTW, the years chocolate sales and crime were up also correlate with population.

    The above is what I remember of an example of the problem with certain types of statistics. People often see a correlation and jump to the conclusion that there must be some type of causitive effect. That's often not the case and there are often underlying variables (population) that would more readily explain the correlation -if one were to take the time to look for them.
  • by jerzee_devil ( 764836 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:10PM (#10867854)
    I find it amazing that when democrats question an election they get called "whiny crybabies" but when it's republicans doing it, it's their "constitutional right"! If Bush had lost under these circumstances every other word on AM radio would be "re-count". btw - It has been noted many times that a concession is not legally binding. Although I am sure Kerry will not be our next president so that should not be a concern. The whole point of this discussion is to ensure that each and every vote is counted appropriately and that no candidate gets votes they don't deserve. You may not care now but what if the next voting machines are designed by a known Democratic supporting company instead of the current Republican supporting one. Then you will wish for accountability. I hope I'm here to call you a "whiny crybaby" when the time comes.
  • by dave-fu ( 86011 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:10PM (#10867861) Homepage Journal
    What about letting me fill out a paper form with a pencil? No worries about crashing, system malfunctions or crackers, no setup costs, easy recounts, an interface that everyone can understand.
    Why the drive for electronic voting? It's an interface that people have never seen before (and won't see again for 2-4 years), is user-unfriendly and overly sensitive and ends up being slower to use for people AND more inaccurate. I got to vote with pencil and paper; voter turnout was far, far higher than I've ever seen it before and I had next to no wait to get in and get out.
  • by mikeophile ( 647318 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:11PM (#10867872)
    Do you seriously think that this story won't be discredited by neo-con blowhard pundits saying that because the research came from Berkeley, it must be liberal partisanship?

    You must not listen to much talk radio or Fox news. I don't blame you for that, but if you don't know what rhetoric and propaganda the opponent uses, you will never prevail.

    Shooting messengers like me is why Kerry lost.

  • by TarrVetus ( 597895 ) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <suteVrraT>> on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:13PM (#10867913)
    And I quote from the article:
    "[Electronic voting's] impact was was proportional to the
    Democratic support in the county, i.e., it was especially large in Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade. This evidence for this is the statistical signifigance of terms in our model that gauge the average impact of e-voting accross Florida's 67 counties and statistical interaction effects that gauge it's larger-than-life effect in counties where Vice President Gore did best in 2000...."
    So, if it's the hurricane effect, why did this anomaly occur only in states with electronic voting machines? Wouldn't the entire state come out in greater numbers for Bush if the hurricane effect is to blame? If this wasn't voting fraud, it was at least an horrid fault in the machines.
  • Re:Two things (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chagrin ( 128939 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:16PM (#10867952) Homepage

    Only counties using electronic voting machines showed the increase. Are you claiming that electronic voting machines increase the effect of Bush's post-hurricane visits?
  • by cduffy ( 652 ) <> on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:19PM (#10867996)
    I agree with you totally on this point. If they can write "You voted for liar #1" on screen but actually write something else to storage, why wouldn't they do the same thing on a paper receipt.

    Because you drop the paper receipt in the flipping' ballot box, where it can be used in the event of a recount.

    Is it really that hard of a concept?
  • by MindStalker ( 22827 ) <> on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:20PM (#10868015) Journal
    Really whats the point. Few are going to check this. Also you can doctor the punchcard or optical scan machine also. But as long as there is a paper ballot that you manually put into a paper ballot box so that the totals can be compared. Why care if the machine is tampered with. This would quickly get discovered in spot checks, and be plainly obvious if a statewide count got done because of discrepancies.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:20PM (#10868020)
    A president lying about an extramarital affair is a impeachable offense.
    A president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is
    solid defense policy.

    Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddy
    made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him and a bad
    guy when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.

    Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is communist, but trade
    with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

    A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but
    multi-national corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind
    without regulation.

    Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary

    The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in
    speeches while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.

    If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.

    Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy. Providing health
    care to all Americans is socialism.

    HMOs and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at

    Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but
    creationism should be taught in schools.

    Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution,
    which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.

    Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a
    conservative radio host. Then it's an illness, and you need our prayers
    for your recovery.
  • by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:21PM (#10868042)
    Thanks for the reply:

    WHY WERE THERE NO PAPER TRAILS? Why are we allowing voting to go on in a system that has NOT been proven safe? We aren't allowed to view the code, we aren't allowed to audit our vote except via what is shown to us on the screen, and we have to invest an enormous amount of trust in two large entities that have proven they are NOT worthy of our trust.

    There were no paper trails because none were specified as a part of HAVA. Remember, HAVA, the bill that requires e-voting terminals to replace paper systems, *came into being* because of the unfairness that was alleged to have surrounded paper systems in the 2000 election in Florida, and in many other (predominantly poor) areas around the country. And Congress didn't likely ask for open source, because we don't ask for open source in so many other critical systems that we trust with things like power, money, and even our lives. Likely, they just assumed that we'd be able to make accountable systems for e-voting, and really didn't stop to think that our democracy and the voting process is possibly much more important than the other things I mentioned, not out of malice.

    Were people permitted to use paper and pencil/pen or more trusted/tried solutions instead of these machines? I certainly would have opted against using one of the e-voting machines knowing what I know and being the paranoid individual I am.

    Some precincts did allow the use of paper ballots. Some didn't. But the PAPER BALLOTS, and their associated problems, are what is being blamed, among other things, for some of the problems in the 2000 election! HAVA is trying to make voting consistent and fair for all voters in all jurisdictions, so we should work to fix it! And the bills that are already out there will do just that, adding BOTH a paper trail for each and every vote cast, verified by the voter, PLUS open source code on all e-voting equipment.

    Until the voting machines and their code are open to the public for audit and there is a paper trail I will refuse to use them. This MUST be an option for everyone. I don't see why it can't be the case.

    Because having multiple systems that have to be administered by local election authorities will complicate matters even more than they are now. We simply must DEMAND that there be a paper trail at a very minimum, and that the code that runs these systems be open for public inspection via some mechanism, period.

    Some places are requiring a paper audit trail by 2006 but that doesn't help the fact that there could have been some hanky panky going on right here in THIS election.

    Okay, agreed. Let's just say there WAS some malicious hanky panky. Kerry's 3600 lawyers, and all of the major media organizations who searched high and low for a big story (remember how big of a deal Florida 2000 was), didn't think there was ENOUGH hanky panky (or errors) to warrant doing anything about it, since it is universally agreed by these same people that it wasn't enough to change the outcome of the election.

    So, given that, let's make sure it's fixed by the NEXT election, yes?
  • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:22PM (#10868058)
    I disagree. Electronic machines are faster and more accurate, if they're working properly.

    If everything is done by pen and paper, 1) it'll take forever to get the election results, and 2) the losing candidate can still question the vote.

    The idea with the electronic machines, with paper backup, is that the losing candidate can question the machines, and the votes in a sampling of precincts can do manual recounts, to verify the machines were accurate. If they are, then there's no reason to do a complete recount. But if there is a problem, showing the machines to be untrustable, then an entire recount can be undertaken.
  • Not good enough (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PotatoHead ( 12771 ) * <doug@openge[ ]org ['ek.' in gap]> on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:23PM (#10868073) Homepage Journal
    Unless those trails are voter verified, nobody has any way to determine if the trail matches the actual votes cast by the voters.

    This is the core problem with electronic voting.

    We either need to put the actual vote on paper, or make sure the machine printed votes match voter intent, or the election cannot be trusted.

  • by sammy baby ( 14909 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:25PM (#10868109) Journal
    I agree with you totally on this point. If they can write "You voted for liar #1" on screen but actually write something else to storage, why wouldn't they do the same thing on a paper receipt.

    Because after the machine prints out a paper receipt, you get to look at it prior to putting it into the ballot box. And if it's wrong, you raise hell, and they correct the matter. Just like you would with a normal paper ballot.
    I also have to laugh at these people who say they don't trust e-voting machines that they can't view the source on, but who will then walk in to a funny colored mechanical booth, push some buttons, then open a lever, and somewhow feel secure in their vote without a receipt and without knowing who the hell all those gears, cogs, and twiddlybits actually just voted for.

    Or those antiquated punch ballots where each candidate choice has a number that matches a number on the card... that you can check by... oh, wait.

  • by genegeek ( 548040 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:25PM (#10868110)
    I'm surprised at all of the partisan comments. After all, if there really is a problem with the electronic voting machines, how do we know that the programming will always favor a republican? Maybe the programming will always favor the incumbant! (Hillary wins next two terms!) Maybe it will always favor the candidate who comes first in the alphabet! (Bart Simpson beats Spongebob Squarepants -- whoda guessed.) Maybe the program will always favor a president named George! We just don't know. For this reason, all of you who think that scientists at Berkeley are challenging George Bush's presidency, forget about it! The real issue here is not whether Bush is president. There is no way he will be removed due to election problems, that just won't happen. So focus on the big picture: If electronic voting doesn't work, it needs to be fixed. For everyone.
  • by micromoog ( 206608 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:26PM (#10868117)
    Actually, the scientists are typically right in these situations. For example:
    • the earth isn't flat
    • molecules are not the smallest things in the world (and neither are atoms)
    • the moon is not made of cheese, or a god
  • by Reducer2001 ( 197985 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:28PM (#10868149) Homepage
    Voters swipe a state/government issued ID card
    Whoa whoa whoa, stop right there.
  • Re:Testing... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:28PM (#10868151)

    Uh, run a test? Before the election, vote for Kerry 50 times. Vote for Bush 50 times. Tally the results. If it's not 50 and 50, something is jacked up. It doesn't seem to be rocket science to me.

    That would be an improvement, but still is not in any way proof that the system works. Currently they usually put the system in "test mode" where it puts the test "testing" on the screen, sits idle for a minute, then issues the all ok. But even with testing such as you describe, who is to say the computer won't change the 1000th vote, or the 100-200th votes? Who is to say it won't just look at the totals, then change them in the end? Who is to say there is not a easter egg in the system where you select both candidates simultaneously, then draw your finger along the bottom of the screen and select the candidate you want to win? Without the code, there is no way to know. I'm afraid your solution is not viable.

  • Re:Not published. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by GigsVT ( 208848 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:29PM (#10868174) Journal
    Let the scientific method work this out.

    Peer review is not the scientific method!!

    Peer review is supposed to make sure scientific methods get followed.
  • by cryptochrome ( 303529 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:33PM (#10868225) Journal
    While I find the lack of paper trail alarming, I find the failure to get exact results for elections mind-boggling. Calculating election results isn't brain surgery, IT'S COUNTING FOR FUCK'S SAKE!!! The talent you learned in early elementary school! The thing computers are best at! I can see how some ballots might not register correctly, and god knows there are some shitty ballot designs and systems out there, but there should never be errors made in the actual calculating. Ever.

    US elections positively reek of either concerted fraud or extreme stupidity, and it's totally unacceptable. Let me point out the glaringly obvious:

    1) Not only must there be a paper trail, it should also be hand counted to verify the results from the more rapid machine counting.
    2) Makers of "faulty" electronic systems should be indited for treason or fined into poverty.

    As for balloting, it's a toss-up between optically counted paper ballots and receipt-printing computer balloting. Paper ballots are cheap and scalable, but can be tampered with (turning a valid ballot into an overvote is as simple as a surreptitious mark/punch from someone handling the ballots in most designs). On the other hand, computer systems are more flexible, prevent under/overvoting, and their paper reciepts are resistant to post-casting fraud and verifiable against the machine tally, but they are expensive and high-maintenance and not scalable at all (though they could have been made a lot cheaper and lower-maintenance - or just used ATMs instead).
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:34PM (#10868245)

    Whenever I see someone attack the credibility of an institution or individual who has published an academic or scientific paper I immediately look to see if the paper is complete and has all the numbers and methodologies included. If it does, as in this case, I wonder, "why are they attacking the source and not the hypothesis? Is it because they looked at the paper and could not find any flaws? Is it because they are an idiot and cannot understand the paper? Are they lazy, and unwilling to even consider the work of others?"

    Basically, you just posted a reminder to any critical thinker that most people are stupid, unreasoning, and lazy so I should pay attention to whomever you are attacking instead of you.

  • by CausticPuppy ( 82139 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:40PM (#10868350) Homepage
    Were people permitted to use paper and pencil/pen or more trusted/tried solutions instead of these machines?

    In light of the 2000 election, how do you define "tried and trusted?"

  • Re:Bad source. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Life2Short ( 593815 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:41PM (#10868365)
    Less biased? How so? They publish the source of all of their numbers. They are sources that are readily available to anyone with a web browser and a library card. If you think they cheated, go check the numbers. They publish the raw data on the site and tell you the tests they used. If you think they're cheating, do the calculations yourself. As far as the "large gap for a statistical study," again, how so? According to CNN there were 7,507,727 votes cast in FL. The difference between 130,000 and 260,000 gives us a gap of 130,000. Relative to the data set that we have here, that would be a gap of less than 2% (1.73 to be more precise) of the numbers we're talking about. In what sense is that a "large gap for a statistical study?" If you've got a specific criticism - great! let's hear it.
  • by cduffy ( 652 ) <> on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:43PM (#10868389)
    Here's my idea: after you vote, you get a random ID and password associated with your vote. Later, you can log onto a website and verify that your vote is as you cast it, without divulging your identity.
    ...except that your boss (or that fellow who offered you $5 for your vote) insists on looking over your shoulder while you log onto this website.

    Vote selling and related fraud has a very long history; part of the point of a good system is not to enable it.
  • by skids ( 119237 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:47PM (#10868446) Homepage
    Personally I think the news article you posted is tripe. There's more than just statistical evidence of fraud (see's report on what they found in Volusia County's garbage.)
    The major media is exhibiting ostrich-like behavior here.

    But I do agree with you that activism on the issue of verified voting is lagging a bit, and that in the end a unifying effort to clean up elections is better than a partisan war.

    At the risk of saturating my home link, I have prepared a writeup of my observations as I attempted to become more active after the election. It's interesting both as a resource for people working for accountability, whether to question the 2004 results or build public interest in verifiable voting in general, and also as a general look at the way Internet organising is actually a pretty disorganized process.

    It's at
    I'll try to keep my cable modem from seizing up too much :-)
  • We agree. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by PotatoHead ( 12771 ) * <doug@openge[ ]org ['ek.' in gap]> on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:50PM (#10868470) Homepage Journal
    How come more people cannot see this simple fact?

    Personally, I would prefer we just do what Oregon currently does. Mail out the ballots, everybody marks them and returns them.

    We get a paper record of the vote. Actual voting is distributed in both time and space, making large scale fraud very tough. Counting is centralized and observed.

    Plus, the actual election happens over the course of a couple weeks, making the last minute smear tactics far less effective, or at the least very expensive to run.

    I think your machine would work however.
  • by cryptochrome ( 303529 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:53PM (#10868505) Journal
    Also paper ballots are very scalable - if too many people show up at a polling station you just slap up a new curtain and some markers and you're good to go. Worst case scenario you send for more poll workers to help process the check-ins, and print out/send for some more ballots. Not an option with electronic machines. You don't have enough, you're screwed. We've heard plenty of horror stories in this election of lines being hours long, so this is actually a highly critical problem.

    Machines do have one critical advantage against paper ballots though (assuming they are properly designed) - they are tamper-resistant and naturally immune to invalid votecasting. Right now the easiest way to screw with a paper ballot is with a mark or punch made surreptitiously turning a valid vote into an overvote, or a no-vote into a vote. Not to mention the actual overvotes people made by mistake, and misreads. Quick and easy, all you have to do is make sure no one's looking and be ready to call voters incompetent. You can also stuff or lose ballot boxes and invalidate whole districts if necessary.

    Computers won't allow you to overvote or make other mistakes, their receipts cannot be plausibly altered or misinterpreted by unscrupulous ballot handlers, and the numbers can be double-checked against the electronic tally in the machines. In fact with the right receipt you could do a second optical scan count and a hand recount, and if all three do not agree start raising giant red flags and sending in lawyers to put asses in jail.
  • by mynameis (mother ... ( 745416 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:54PM (#10868531)
    Dude! Look you obviously just DON'T understand statistical analysis AT ALL, ok?
    This multiple-regression analysis takes account of the following variables by county:

    - number of voters
    - median income
    - Hispanic population
    - change in voter turnout between 2000 and 2004
    - support for President Bush in 2000 election
    - support for Dole in 1996 election

    After they removed the effects of all of those factors they ended up with 99.0% confidence that e-voting corrolated to extra bush-votes.

    Do you get it yet? Could it be something else that they didn't include as a variabe? Sure, but only if it was somehow specifically different in e-voting areas.

    Of course 99% isn't 100%, but lets get real for a minute ok?

  • by learn fast ( 824724 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:56PM (#10868547)
    None of the theories you mentioned would explain why counties with electronic voting machines (you noticed I italicized it) were significantly more likely to vote GOP.

    "you still have to account for people who have traditionally voted Democrat but were in this election turned off by the Dem's seemingly rabid support of gay marriage and/or abortion"

    Were people who were turned off to gay marriage and abortion also drawn to e-voting machines?

    "Maybe we've got stupid Republicans actively working to disenfranchise or confuse minority voters?"

    Did they only do it in counties with e-voting machines?

    "Maybe people just didn't know how to use the machine, accidentally submitted their vote, and didn't ask for help?"

    Why did these voter errors on e-voting machines always turn out so well for Bush?

    "Or maybe they asked for help but were told to just go home by partisan poll workers?"

    Partisan poll workers only at polls with e-voting machines? And how did this always turn out well for Bush?

    We've got a basic problem here: the best correlation for doing well for Bush is the presence of e-voting machines. The only way to debunk this is to come up with a variable that correlates even more strongly for Bush AND ALSO correlates independently with the presence of e-voting machines. Merely throwing variables up in the air, as I've seen throughout this ./ discussion, isn't going to help you do that most efficiently.
  • by AnotherBlackHat ( 265897 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:58PM (#10868577) Homepage

    Given that the votes are challeneged and recounted every time, there is no point to going electronic at all.

    When I withdrawn a large sum of money from the bank, the teller counts it, then gets a second teller to count it, then they both initial the withdrawl slip.

    Since they always get a second teller to count, does that mean that the first count is unnecessary?

    I favor electronic counts and paper audits.
    If there's a large discrepancy between the two methods, then you investigate everything.

    If paying for an audit count is a problem, then make the party asking for it pay for it.

  • It seems that you read the article and missed the meaning then.

    The models they used, which included race, predicted the outcome accurately in all areas where e-voting was not used. The deviations from the model ONLY occured with e-voting, and then correlated with the number of Democrats in the area.

  • by timster ( 32400 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:01PM (#10868620)
    Exactly what meaning is that supposed to have?

    We were all taught in 3rd grade that "democracy" meant the citizens voted on everything and that is what they did in Athens or something and that this country was a "democratic republic", but this sort of distinction has nothing to do with anything I said. If you ask President Bush if the USA is a democracy, he will tell you that it is; if you ask Senator Kerry if the USA is a democracy, he will also tell you that it is.

    Words evolve over time, and in this case, I am referring to the meaning of "democracy" as a government whose institutions of power are controlled by the citizens. If you look in a modern dictionary, you will find that my usage is not considered incorrect.
  • by Monkelectric ( 546685 ) <slashdot@mon k e l e c t r i c . com> on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:04PM (#10868653)
    You know that the diebold machines use ACCESS as their "central DB"? If thats not scary, nothing is.

    The reason they dno't have paper trails is they were designed from the begining to be tampered with from the begining.

    Think about how *perfect* everything went for the republicans. They won the presidency, they emasculated the democrats (won key senate seats, tom daschle, etc). And they did it by rigging the system, and *NOBODY* can prove it. There's no paper trail. Without a paper trail you can't prove anything, can't get to court, can't even get the machines replaced so it doesn't happen again!

  • Re:Two things (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The-Bus ( 138060 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:04PM (#10868657)
    Plain and simple, repeat after me: Exit polls showed Bush winning [].

    The only exit polls which showed Kerry winning were early results from the National Exit Pool [], and were only reported on sites like DrudgeReport. The problem was that taking a sliver of the NEP is completely inaccurate. There's a reason major news organizations are very conservative with the data. It's just not 100% accurate. Less so early in the day.

    Of course someone will say that late at night Bush's exit poll numbers suddenly jumped up. This too, was caused by a server failure in the NEP which hadn't updated the exit poll information.

    Bush did not win by mass conspiracy. There is no cover up.

    Either way, the system needs to be changed.
  • by wfolta ( 603698 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:11PM (#10868742)
    Despite claims that they took many variables into account, a quick glance at the paper shows they took very few variables into account.

    For example, they did not account for: population growth between elections, the demographic makeup of such growth, median income change since the previous election, voter registration stats for each party and their changes since the previous election, reversals of traditional voting patterns (better-educated going Democratic, older going Republican), local issues that would draw certain voters to the polls, the involvement of and relative successes of get-out-the-vote organizations (the parties, unions, churches, etc), and the list goes on...

    Of course, they never bother to look at which counties went electronic and why. They act as if it's a random variable or as if it would be somehow tied to who voted for Bush in 2000 or something silly like that. Far more likely to be tied to a county's population size, how much trouble it had last election, how much money it has, who were its governing officials, etc. How much trouble they had with butterfly ballots is in turn tied to the age and education level of those in the county, etc.

    Sheesh, it's like when a high school student first gets a graphing stats calculator and proceeds to "prove" all kinds of things are correlated.
  • by leei ( 26366 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:13PM (#10868775) Homepage
    One of the most disturbing aspects of the 2004 US Election was the degree to which voters (and the media often) ignored "truth" and "evidence" in favor of faith and authority in making their decisions (see, for example, PIPA's report [] on the "knowledge" of Bush and Kerry supporters. It is sad and more than a little disappointing to see the same mistakes being made on SlashDot's own forums.

    The simple fact is that many of the comments already made were clearly made by those who haven't bothered to read the actual report or even it's summary of findings (well linked). The simplest summary is that given a wide variety of independent variables (i.e. data that might have some causal relationship with the outcome) and one independent variable (namely the shift in support from Dem to GOP in the presidential race between 2000 and 2004), the only significant movement occurred in predominantly Democratic counties with electronic touch-screen voting machines. The statistical tests reject virtually any possibility that these shifts were related to number of voters, income, Hispanic population, or voter turnout.

    The question, of course. is what does this mean? Well, in isolation, not much. It is likely that some other factors not included in the independent variables were very significant. Unfortunately, when these results are combined with the discrepancies between the early exit polls [] and the vote counts. And contrary to a lot of analysis, past history has these exit polls much more accurate than they seem to have been this year.

    Was there fraud then? We don't know. Evidence suggests that there may have been something going on (and the spread from 130K-260K has to do with uncertainty as to what kind of error might have taken place since misassigned votes are worth twice the difference of phantom votes). And the reality is that the rush to unauditable e-voting has made it more difficult to determine what kind of errors may have taken place.

  • by toddestan ( 632714 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:14PM (#10868791)
    Here's the difference between computers, and paper and pencil: The ease and number of people involved.

    With networked computers, a handful of people, or maybe even just one person (say, a programmer in Diebold, who is clever enough with his obfuscated cade to fool his coworkers) could throw an election. Not to mention the chances of getting caught are somewhat low, as this could be done at the comfort of one's home computer, and with no paper trail and closed source software.

    In order to throw an election in several states using ballot stuffing, you would probably need several hundred people, spread out over a large area. Futhermore, I would expect atleast a few may be caught, in which case you better hope the whole scheme isn't uncovered.
  • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:14PM (#10868794)
    We've got a basic problem here: the best correlation for doing well for Bush is the presence of e-voting machines. The only way to debunk this is to come up with a variable that correlates even more strongly for Bush AND ALSO correlates independently with the presence of e-voting machines. Merely throwing variables up in the air, as I've seen throughout this ./ discussion, isn't going to help you do that most efficiently.

    No, but Republican apologist snowjobs aren't intended to explain the results, or debunk the growing evidence that widespread election fraud via voting machines and Diebold tabulators have resulted in the second stolen presidential election in four years.

    They are intended to befuddle the public into remaining quiescent and submissive. And they succeed beautifully in achieving that objective.

    Hell, even the spineless "mainstream" American media won't touch this story with a 20 meter cattle prod, despite the mountain of evidence available, and the many voices trying to raise public awareness of what has happened. They're too busy curry favor with the president-elect's administration.
  • by Incongruity ( 70416 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:17PM (#10868846)
    Did you read the paper that all of this is coming from? The argument doesn't actually imply that they miscounted this time The authors of the paper would seem to like you to believe that, but it's faulty reasoning, IMHO because of one fundamental reason... The statistical estimates are based primarily on the results of the 2000 election (and the 1996 election using the same voting systems as 2000). Given that the 2000 election in Florida was a primary reason for the major calls for voting technology reform because the previous methods were deemed to be poor methods of reporting the will of the voters, then why in the world should that very same vote count be used as a basis for statistical extrapolation that is then used to argue that votes were either added or misattributed to one candidate in the current election!?

    All this does is call in to question ALL the election results. It might well mean that the previous system failed to accurately register votes for President Bush just as much as it might mean that there were additional votes given to him in error this time.

    For reference, I didn't vote for either of the major-party-monkeys so don't accuse me of just siding with Bush because I voted for him -- I'm neither siding with him nor did I vote for him. All I am saying is that the logic of the argument doesn't prove vote tampering or incorrect counting in this election. It simply means that based on data collected with the previous balloting systems, one would expect President Bush to have received between 130,000-260,000 fewer votes. So, logically, that either means that the new system is flawed/biased, or that the old one was or that they're both biased but in opposite directions.

    The fact that the gains correlate well with the counties in which Bush previously did the most poorly in doesn't mean anything other than supporting the idea that one or both of the contrasted vote collection methodologies is biased.

    I mistrust electronic voting, but I also mistrust punch-cards and party ballot box stuffing. Don't think for a moment that the latter never happens.

    Evidence of fraud in one or both elections (i.e. eyewitness accounts or other similar evidence) is the only thing that can clear this up at the moment. Otherwise, better electronic voting systems that are more open/reliable/tamper-proof and auditable and a few more elections using those "reliable" measurements as the basis for comparison to this year's and the 2000 election are the only way to differentiate between the various possibilities.

    This article is questionable science (and needs to point references to some of its claims, but that's just me knit-picking)-- again, all in my opinion.

  • Re:Why Berkeley? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kaboom13 ( 235759 ) <> on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:22PM (#10868919)
    Just because it can be part of an ad hominem attack doesn't make it worthless. In the lack of the knowledge of statistics neccesary to directly critique their work, Berkeley's famous liberal leanings can provide context for the work. Fox News is known for it's conservative bias. Do you automatically trust everything they report? Or do you wait until it is confirmed by their peers. This is the same situation. There is a logical reason to distrust the accuracy of their work, and 99% of people lack the statistics background neccesary to check it. If Stephen Hawking cam forward with a paper proving Albert Einstein was the second coming of Jesus, using advanced theoretical physics, I would not believe it. Although the known liberal bearing is not evidence in itself, it is cause for suspicion. To point out that known liberal bias is not offtopic. Bias in academia is very real, the system of peer review is to help weed it out, but this paper was produced by students and sent straight to the media, without any review.
  • by bshroyer ( 21524 ) <bret@bretshro[ ].org ['yer' in gap]> on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:24PM (#10868966)
    I've read the article. I'll assume for the four students correctly conducted the analysis they've described. The results are compelling: Essentially, net of other effects, electronic voting had the greatest positive effect on change in percent voting for Bush from 2000 to 2004 in democratic counties.

    But, the unanswered question is, is there a causal relationship between the presence of e-voting and the "unexpected" change in Bush voting percentage?

    A few additional facts:

    Of the 67 counties in Florida, 15 used electronic touchscreen voting. (map here) []
    Of these 15 counties, exactly three (Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach) were democratic counties. (map here) []

    The outlying data points, on which the students base their conclusion, consists of three counties. Which happened to have been the focus of the 2000 election irregularities. And which happened to have been heavily campaigned, by both candidates. One could argue that there are a couple of causal relationships here:

    a) because the elections in these counties did not go smoothly in 2000, there was pressure to reform the process, and e-voting was installed.
    b) because the 2000 election hinged on these counties, the campaigning was extremely heavy there in 2004.

    One stimulus (2000 election debacle/recount) may have caused both the e-voting implementation, and the Bush shift.

    The authors of the paper go on to say that a similar analysis of Ohio e-voting returns showed no relationship between voting method and change in Bush percentage. Why would the relationship be causal in Florida, but not in Ohio -- or anywhere else that we're aware of?
  • by Reducer2001 ( 197985 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:31PM (#10869082) Homepage
    I'm willing to sacrafice one minute of my time while the blue-haired lady looks my name up on a clipboard. I do agree with you that they can use that number to find out how you voted, that should be changed. However, I think the reason for it is that they know they hand-out 1000 ballots and that the machine or whatever registers 1000 ballots at the end of the day.

    Any form of Government ID that holds information is a bad idea. It would start out just being used to verify your voting ID, but the next thing you know you'll need it to open a bank account or get a credit card (ie Social Security).

  • Re:We agree. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:33PM (#10869121)
    I vote with an absentee ballot. I get it a month ahead of the election. I clear out a sunday afternoon and sit there with the voter guide, a laptop hooked to the internet and the ballot.

    I slowly go through each issue and think about what it means, not only for me, but for america. I care about myself, but I am willing to sacrifice if I think an issue makes this a better country. I mark each section as I decide it and then move onto the next section.

    It takes me a couple of hours to vote now. But it is leasurely and relaxing. I remember back in the day when I voted at the polling station and I felt very rushed, I left a lot of the ballot blank becuase I didn't know what the issues were.

    I read where my fellow republicans decided that in order to win the election they felt the need to do so by blocking their opponents supporters from voting. I not only feel that this is illegal, I feel that keeping a fellow american from voting is treason. I would support the death penalty for treason for anyone who suppressed votes in the last election.

    Voter suppression is terrorism.
  • by grimwell ( 141031 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:34PM (#10869139)
    What don't you like?

    If you drive, you already have a state issued ID card(aka driver's license). If you have traveled outside of the USA, you probably have a Federally issused ID(aka passport). If you have an above-board(legit) job, you have a federal tag in the form of a social security number. And are you ready for this? The social security number comes on a... card. Ooooo lookie there its a federal id card.

    So, really you are already tagged by both the state & federal governments.

    When you go to vote, you have to sign off next your name in the registar.

    So, why does swipin your driver's license get your undies in a bunch?

  • by VultureMN ( 116540 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:41PM (#10869241)
    The problem with this approach is that it'd reward aggressive fraud.

    For example, let's say a hypothetical company, call them 'Diecast', has the machines give enough extra votes to candidate, oh, let's call him 'Buck', so that 'Buck' wins the state by 300,000 votes. That wouldn't be enough per machine for anyone to notice, and the other candidate, let's call him 'Harry', isn't going to challenge that big of a statewide spread.

    The only way we should trust electronic counting is when the electronics cannot 'know' who goes with what. All they could count is that A got 123 votes, B got 113. Then the pollworkers match up A with Harry, and B with Buck. (and perhaps in other precints, A is Buck and B is Harry.)

  • by Moofie ( 22272 ) <> on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:42PM (#10869272) Homepage
    I don't have any money, so I can't "urge" them to do anything.
  • by wombatmobile ( 623057 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:46PM (#10869345)


    What if the machines really were significantly out?

    What if there really was no audit trail?

    What if university studies like this one really are the only way to spot a discrepancy?

    What then??

    Government psychiatrists call it nostalgia [].

  • by danila ( 69889 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:47PM (#10869360) Homepage
    Ok, here is a question from me, a Russian, to my American friends.

    While not calling this undisputed evidence, this is a pretty fucking good evidence (as good as you can get without a paper trail) that there was not just "election fraud", but that the very basis of your society was fucking hijacked. That Bush guy basically showed that he doesn't give a flying fuck about what you guys, the so called "people", think. He showed that he is the boss, and you are his bitches. That this is his country, and that he will do what he wants. It doesn't matter right now whether he was the evil genius, or some other guys standing behind him, the puppeteers, so to speak, who cares...

    What matters is that the line has been crossed. You can't just say "Oh, I hope, it will get better", or "I don't think we are as bad as Nazi Germany yet", or "They have worse elections in Uzbekistan" or any other feel-good shit excuses.

    People in other countries learned to stand for their rights, though they don't do it very well. There are people like that in the US too, you managed to achieve some great successes in the past and achieve some small victories every day. But it is suddenly not enough.

    This is the point of no return. When you destroy the main check you have - the ability to decide that the president doesn't do his job well, then you will gradually lose everything else. It won't happen overnight, but it's the road with no return - democracy placed Hitler at the helm, but democracy could not remove him in 1938 even if people wanted. You can't easily take your freedoms back. Especially now, when the governments are so much more powerful than in the past and the oppression mechanisms are so strong.

    Now you have only one choice, the one that guy in Guardian wrote about, the one which is obvious to many people, but which is illegal to speak about. You need to oust the bastard from the White House and since there is no other way, you must do it by force. Kill the fucker, prove that the weapons you still have are not useless and that it's still you, the people, who have the power.

    Don't think that it may change to the better. Don't hold illusions that whatever Bush does till 2008 will only make it easier for the Democrats to win. Don't be idiots, it doesn't work this way. In 15 years my own country changed from the one of two world superpowers, with the world's best science, with some of the best free education, with free universal health care, with everything that makes quality of life better, albeit without McDonalds restaurants, without Coca-Cola and without Hollywood movies, into a country, which is as fucking pathetic as it gets. With economy still 30% down from 1989, with tens of millions of people living below poverty line, with science funded less every year, with disfunctional army, with destroyed education, healthcare and social security, with little international influence and a bunch of theives in charge of this giant bordello. That's what you get for being stupid. Don't magically expect things to work differently just because you live in America.

    So the question - what you gonna do now? Will anything change? Do you have the power to do anything, other than talk about how you want things to be better? Can you march with a million people to Washington and get the traitor out of the White House? Can you still get rid of him? Or do you value your illusions "that the system works" more?
  • by dtjohnson ( 102237 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:48PM (#10869369)
    The electronic machine should print out a ballot that would show every vote cast by the voter which said voter would then deposit in a sealed ballot box. The ballot boxes would normally not be counted, unless a recount were needed, but a statistical random sample of them *could* be counted during every election to validate the process. Any significant discrepancy between the random sample and the electronic results would be automatic ground for a full manual recount.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:53PM (#10869434)
    Isn't it simpler to keep voting on paper? I got a degree in Computer Science and I'm fond of computers, but I recognize when it's the case to use a computer and when it's not. For this application domain paper beats computers.
  • by ElectricRook ( 264648 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:55PM (#10869460)
    It's important to also consider the possibility that the combination of increased scrutiny, in addition to the transition to electronic voting decreased the amount of fraud in certain districts in the 2004 election compared to the 1996, 2000 elections.

    However in *"Free Speech Berkeley" , that observation might be considered a thought crime.

    * Free speech in Berkeley Ca. is reserved for specific local interpretations of free.

  • by TheWizardTim ( 599546 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:55PM (#10869466) Journal
    The right way to do this is:
    1. You prove who you are and are handed a paper ballot.
    2. You go to a electronic vote machine and insert your ballot.
    3. You vote.
    4. You get a summary screen at the end. When you agree it prints the vote on the ballot.
    5. You get to check if the ballot and the screen are the same. If you are happy, you deposit the ballot in the box, and the electronic vote is added.

    On the ballot are both a simple listing of who you voted for as well as a optical method for a computer to scan.
    Also when the ballot is printed it is assigned a number that is tied to the electronic vote.
    When it comes time to count, you get a fast tally of the electronic vote, and a slower conformation of the paper vote. You would know in one night who won, and be able to confirm it a day or two later.
    Any person who questions the electronic vote can pull up the vote of each paper ballot by entering the number on the ballot and checking they are the same, as well as make sure the names of the people voted for are the same as the results of the computer scan.
    All 3 would have to be the same. The electronic vote, the printed names, and the optical scan method.
    Further more, no one company can make all the hardware. If company A makes the voting machines, company B has to make the counters.
    All other rules of open source and code checks by the public apply.
    This is the only fair way to do this.
  • by ryanmfw ( 774163 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:56PM (#10869481)
    Well, maybe they only programmed it to effect Kerry and Bush, not third party candidates? Although your point about not being able to prove it is technically correct, that would mean most murder investigations are just cr@p too. It's a "reasonable doubt", not proof. Most scientific theories are theories too, they aren't proved. Gravity is still a theory. Does that mean gravity is fictional nonsense? This study is an example of evidence, that, while not proof alone, does describe a fishy scenario. And anyway, just because it's a conspiracy, doesn't mean it's not true. People were saying the people who believed in Area 51 were conspiracy nuts, yet it exists(although the dead alien bit is still up in the air).
  • Re:Bravo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by doom ( 14564 ) <> on Friday November 19, 2004 @06:12PM (#10869726) Homepage Journal
    Just a few words in defense of "conspiracy theorists"...

    daveschroeder wrote:

    I didn't mention it in my original message, but my favorite conspiracy theory is that John Kerry's campaign probably decided [...]
    "Conspiracy theorists" are always getting beaten up on issues like this, but I'm not sure it's strictly fair... In addition to proposing a hypothetical scenario about Republican corruption, I'm *also* supposed to be a mind-reader, and be able to explain away why John Kerry did what he did? The whole "motives" issue, seems like a lose-lose proposition. On the one hand, if you don't speculate on why so-and-so did such-and-such people will regard the theory as incomplete, too far-fetched. If you do speculate on it, you seem like you're over-reaching, claiming knowledge of things you can't possibly know about.
    The journalists all said they'd kill for a juicy election fraud story, but there was none to be found...not even one that might exist but have no "proof".
    A lot of us have a lot less faith in the good old "muck-raking journalist", having had to listen to a rather uncritical, monotonous drum-beat during the Iraq war run-up.
    My favorite retort for this one is that all of the corporate media (i.e., all mainstream newspapers, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, FNC, etc.) are all in Bush's "pocket", and that even though there is widespread proof of election fraud, the corporate press has ordered all of its staff to "lock the story down" and not speak of it further.
    Uh huh... let's roll the clock back, and consider the WMD issue during the Iraq war build-up. Isn't it ridiculous to suggest that the *entire* media could be asleep at the switch for some reason? Certainly if there was some reason to be critical of the administration's claims on this issue, *someone* in the media would be all over it, wouldn't they? I mean, the New York Times is hardly a Republican strong-hold, is it? Are you trying to tell me that Judith Miller has been bought by the Other Side? Oh, please.
    The thing about conspiracy theories is that their tautologies: everything can be neatly explained away, no matter how absurd it is, and you can still believe what you want to believe.
    And of course, you'd expect that an *actual* conspiracy would be a really clumsy affair, with lots of leaks (Diebold memos, anyone?), lots of funny statistical discrepancies, etc.

    Of course it helps that many people will *immediately* reject any suggestion of corruption, tossing it in the "conspriacy theory" bin.

    The election was not stolen. Bush won. (I didn't vote for Bush.) Get over it.
    Your faith is touching, but why is it supposed to touch me?

    Anyway, in the long run, whether or not this election was "stolen" is small beans compared improving the integrity of the voting system to make sure that they can't ever be stolen... there I think we're in agreement.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2004 @06:14PM (#10869750)
    Yup... just so happened that democrats in other counties with no e-voting didn't switch over at the same rate.
  • by extra88 ( 1003 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @06:14PM (#10869751)
    At my polling place, they ask me my name and look it up in a book with photocopies of voter registration cards. They cover the side of the book with the photocopy and have me sign my name. If what I sign and the photocopy match, I'm good to go. Thus I have demonstrated that I am eligible to vote and that I am who I say I am. There's no need to resort to additional requirements like a state ID so I can exercise my Constitutional right.

    We use mechanical voting booths so even though they write down each voter's name in a little book, I'm pretty sure there's no way to tie a specific vote to a specific voter.

    Could someone claim to be me and forge my name? Yes, and that would suck for me but that kind of fraud doesn't scale. I'd rather have a little ad hoc fraud than a additional burdens on people just trying to vote.

    The worst thing about the method described above is it only works if I go to the correct polling place. For too many people, making it to the proper polling place is too much of a burden. But then, I think Election Day should be a national holiday.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2004 @06:26PM (#10869903)
    The problem is that we cannot trust a private corporation to do this (vote tabulating). This should NEVER have been outsourced. If we must do it on a computer, then a few universities should get grants to produce open source code to solve the problem.

    Arguing about what could be done is a distraction. What was done is what matters. Exit polling showed that Kerry won, and the discrepancy that showed exit polls not agreeing with the actual vote count was in areas where these black boxes were in use.

    It is probably already too late. Whatever solution the bright minds might argue about on slashdot is not going to matter, because you can just look at the way the voting was done to realise that their was no interest in paper receipts because there was no interest in allowing voters to chose to kick Bush out of office. The manipulation was rampant and remains pretty much underreported, with the exception of cute little complaints from both sides so that most of us just toss up our hands. How can you or I make them do the right thing? Every time you look away they will pull a trick, and then have a private smirk at what fools the populace is.

    Whatever change you want, it will not happen through voting anymore. We will have more black boxes in two years, not fewer. We will have more distractions, and we will have a more compliant and cowardly media to titillate us with more infotainment and little insight.

    I recommend that everyone buy gold, or a plow, and plan for exit strategies with groups of friends. Everyone who lived through a disaster must have thought it couldn't happen to them.

    Just watch the CEO's offshoring money. I expect that Gold will be rising in value shortly.
  • by canfirman ( 697952 ) <> on Friday November 19, 2004 @06:29PM (#10869937)
    I still believe that, even though voting is done by each state, what's needed is a consistent set of standards for voting machines []. It should be treated like a set of accounting books: subject to audit, verifiable audit trail, and a report signed off by a person in charge that the system works according to the guidelines. We demand so much from accounting standards (Sarbanes-Oxley). Why can't we apply it to voting?
  • by zenyu ( 248067 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @06:32PM (#10869971)
    In a "paper trail" situation, the receipt is the ballot! The only purpose of the machine is to give the people who can't punch a hole properly a chance to have their vote count, and maybe you can plug all the machines in at the end and get a quick count, but in the end if something smells fishy, you pull those paper ballots out.

    It's more than just improper hole punching. Traditional voter fraud has included many ways to tamper with these ballots. You can produce an overvote by punching out an extra hole, or even by printing the ballots so that the preferred candidates hole practically falls out on its own and the non-preferred candidates chad holds on for dear life. Paper ballots can have extra marks made on them to make them overvotes... Lots of things can go wrong. We called the local election office because they left a voting machine in our unguarded lobby for days before the election. The front of it was "sealed" with the same plain plastic twisty tie I use to secure wires, the back of the machine, the works, were not sealed.

    The problem is we run our elections as if they were just for show, they remind me of 'airport security', a thought which frightens me. We need an electronic voting machine which prints a ballot, verified by the voter, deposited in a clear box which needs to be sledgehammered to open, which is then counted at the poll location.

    This wouldn't make me feel completely safe, we still need open source voting software, and real procedures for verifying that the software works. There should be pictures of the candidates so the old trick of running five candidates with the same name as your opponent wouldn't work so well.
  • by Kenrod ( 188428 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @06:35PM (#10870006)
    Dude, there are many variables not considered - age, religion, population density, total minority, unemployment rate, and urban/suburban/rural distribution quickly come to mind.

    I looked at the data in the spreadsheet. The top 5 counties in population ALL use electronic voting (Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Hillsborough, and Pinellas). NONE of the 29 smallest population counties use electronic voting. It is impossible to separate factors that correlate this closely. Did X happen because of electronic voting, or did X happen because of the influence of county population or population density (which could also be expressed as urban%, minority%, age%).

    114,000 of the 133,000 "extra" votes that Bush received came from 3 counties - Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Broward. These are 3 heavily Democratic counties. The results of the study can be almost completely explained by a small percentage of 1996 Clinton and 2000 Gore voters switching to Bush in 2004.

  • by brianosaurus ( 48471 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @06:52PM (#10870201) Homepage
    Look back over the last year of articles about Diebold (for example) and their voting machines. They mislead the local election boards. They would change the software to versions that hadn't been verified by the officials. Their CEO, in a memo, said to make any changes to the system, such as printed receipts, prohibitively expensive as add-ons.

    The vendors weren't building what the municipalities were asking for. They built what they wanted to build and told the municipalities "this is how it is. buy it or not, but the laws you just passed say you have to buy something before the next election, so you probably ought to buy it."

    And I'm sure the massive lobbying and contributions (and inappropriate promises to deliver certain states to certain incumbent presidents) had nothing to do with the choices the local boards made.

    Any computer-based system can trivially add a printed receipt. Its not like printers are some new technology. They've been on cash registers and calculators for decades.

    Voting, and particularly accuracy in counting the votes, is very important. Why wouldn't the vendors, or more importantly the election boards, want a backup? Why wouldn't they want to be able to verify and demonstrate that the machines are accurate and correct? Why resist a method to prove how much better the new technology is than the old? Are they concerned that John Henry could count a mountain of votes faster and more accurately than their machines? Why not silence the skeptics by proving them wrong?

    The only reason to resist a mechanism for independant verification in something as important to this country as voting is that someone wants to hide something, or at least have the ability to hide something. "Trust me" as a business model went out with Joe Isuzu.
  • by cryptochrome ( 303529 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @06:57PM (#10870269) Journal
    My post was not exclusively based on or in reference to this study, it's based on the litany of documented errors, notably bad systems, and questionable results known to have occurred in this election and the ones before. This election had other grievous electronic voting errors, such as the Ohio district where thousands more votes were cast than there were voters in that district. Like I said, such errors should never occur.

    As for this study, I'm well familiar with Twain's famous "Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics" remark - but I also know that most statistics are misleading at the psychological rather than mathematical level, in the sense that groups selectively quote ones that appear to support their position. The truth is statistics can be a very powerful and accurate tool when handled responsibly, and providing the math holds up (which is fully verifiable) a 99.9% certainty of a correlation is worth considering.

    And in either case, as you yourself said this study supports the hypothesis that one or both vote counts was biased. Depending on which, it could be good or bad for George Bush - but in either case it means something is wrong and people should be trying to figure out what, and ensuring that the matter is rectified as quickly as possible.

    Incidentally, this study was based on results from 2004, 2000, AND 1996, which would suggest if there were a anti-republican bias in 2000 it would have been present in 1996 as well. I personally would like to see how these results correlate with the models of voting machine used in these elections to determine if the bias can be traced to specific devices in any of these elections, or to undocumented factors like markedly different voter rolls.

    You seem to suggest that we can worry about fraud and error in this election after we have reliable votes to compare against. But if we aren't raising a stink over provably unreliable and fradulent systems, how do you expect the states to be motivated enough to put reliable and auditable systems in place?

    I would suggest, to be more fully certain, that the results of
  • by AbsurdProverb ( 831079 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @07:05PM (#10870354)
    I for one grew up on the idea that the government operates fairly by utilzing a transparent balance between three branches. At least thats how the theory was supposed to work. So why do we sell away this balance to one company? Specificly when the man in charge of said company made biased statements like "I will deliver the election to GW,"? Please, don't jump on this statement and misread it. I am not trying to undermine the winner of the election. However I am calling foul on man in charge of a voting medium. To take it a step further, why are we eliminating the transparency on a process that clearly needs to be done in the sunshine? I understand that a electronic voting machine, even with a paper trail, can still manifest maliciously biased code. With that in mind, why not create a voting method where both the creation, maintinence, and supervision are maintained by more than one group. Say perhaps three groups/companies who colaborate on the said processes and commit to oversighting each other in the effort to limit any potential problems. I realize such a concept costs vastly more than the current contract and method. However this is one of our essential constructs as a republic. Is it not our own responsibility, both fiscally and morally, to make sure we get it done as accurately and as fairly as possible? Every vote should count damn it. Margins of error, even due to glitches/bugs are not execeptable in this circumstances. The post I make has nothing to do with the winner, but everything to do with the process and type of government we not only run, but encourage others to run. How can we honestly nation shape in our own image when our own government constructs operate in such a large margin of question? Or are we pitching the idea that its ok to talk out of both sides of your mouth?
  • by tgibbs ( 83782 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @07:09PM (#10870384)
    If the republicans "rigged" the election, as you propose, why in the hell would they give a third party candidate so many votes?

    If I were rigging an election, that's probably what I would do. A third party candidate would be a good place to dump inconvenient votes for my candidate's opponent while keeping the vote total correct, and without implausibly inflating my own candidate's votes more than necessary.
  • by necro2607 ( 771790 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @07:27PM (#10870549)
    Like the topic says: Canadians vote by writing an "X" in a box on a piece of paper next to a party's name and sticking the piece of paper in a cardboard box.

    All I have to ask America is: what's the fucking problem?

    Why is electronic voting neccesary? That's a rhetorical question - it's NOT neccesary. I'm more wondering why people tolerate whatever the morons in power dictate. Wake up, you're getting fucked with. [] - Visit the site.. it's dedicated to revealing any truth behind possible (woops I mean 99% likely) election fraud.

    "Black Box Voting has launched a fraud audit into Florida."

    "Black Box Voting is also launching a fraud audit in Ohio."

    "Black Box Voting is implementing fraud diagnostics on the state of New Mexico. Information we recently received is indicative of widespread vote manipulation."

    "Black Box Voting is requesting legal assistance for a specific county in Georgia. Indications of corrupt voting processes, with possible criminal actions by local officials."

    "Multiple irregularities. Need people to take affidavits from election workers, statewide."

    Just view the page, and read it. Yup, democracy is still strong in the U.S. ...

    But hey, don't take my word for it that fraud occured in the US... [] Just listen to what these thousands of others have to say about their voting experiences... There are some more fun stories here as well: []
  • Thinking Backward (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Bimikrash ( 636002 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @07:49PM (#10870733)
    This is as dumb as saying because the exit polls showed Kerry winning, the voting was rigged. That is thinking backward. The vote tally proves the analysis is wrong, not the other way around. The fact remains that even if 130,000 votes were changed for Bush...bush still won by over 100,000 votes. It's time for the democrats to realized that they lost. More people voted for Bush than Kerry. Move on and try and figure out why America rejected your ideas.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2004 @07:56PM (#10870784)
    Actually, If you want to see what's going on in Iraq I suggest you go there. I did. You sir, have no clue what the realities are. Do you think the hospitals in Falluja were open to the general public? You're wrong if you do. They were not and have not been for several months. They were, in fact, taken over and in use by the "rebels" - who are really just a bunch of opportunistic thugs not interested in "freeing" anyone. They want to create their own little thugocracy and kill Americans - they don't care if they have to kill locals to do so either. In fact they prefer it since they know that the press will pin it on the US everytime. We know that too.... and yes, sometimes it is our fault. Absolutely no doubt about it. It also almost always a mistake on our part. On their part it's a strategy. I've also seen the looks in the eyes and even the tears on the faces of the troops who discovered that they just killed people who did not deserve it - people who in all likelyhood were just looking for a way to get home or for our protection. I've also seen and heard the defiant captive terrorist who laughs at the dead civilians they caused (throwing greandes at a patrol in a market) and tells us that we will be blamed. I've also seen the headless bodies of hostages whose only offense was driving a water truck.

    But please remember that it is the US who is evil here. After all, the "rebels" take time to tend to the wounds of civilains, they rebuild their homes after having to destroy them to remove the evil Americans, they provide their own personal rations to them, they sacrifice their lives trying to remove the roadside IED's left behind by the cowardly American soldiers... that was sarcasm by the way. I felt it neccesary to point that out as I figured you'd likely miss it.

    The US soldiers are not saints. They are soldiers. That means that they are trained to kill first and everything else second. They are rough around the edges - as all soldiers are. They are also, by and large, honorable people. Fathers, brothers, sons, mothers, wives and sisters. They hold life dear - more dear than you can imagine as it's fraility is more real to them that it ever will be to you. They hold peace even dearer. They do not get up in the morning hoping to kill. They get up in the morning hoping to not have to. They sleep poorly - the weights of their actions heavy on their hearts. Not guilt, but sorrow that some would rather fight and die to hold power than prosper and live in an open society. They try their best to protect civilains and their fellow troops - sometimes they fail. They cry when they do - whether it's for their fallen friends or the family in the wrong place at the wrong time. They are not perfect - far from it... but they are a damn site better than the thugs who use holy places as fortresses and civilian lives as propoganda and shields.

    What's happening in Fallujah? Death. What was happening before we went in? Death. It was slower - starvation, intimidation, and torture - but it was happening nonetheless. What will be happening there when we are finished? Peace and rebuilding as long our politicians let our soldiers complete the task given to them.

    You assert that attacking hospitals, water systems, electric plants, and ambulances is a war crime. Of course using hospitals as military bases and transporting combatants and explosives in ambulances is also a war crime...but you seem to conveniently forget that fact. Not to mention the use of Mosques as military strongholds and the taking of civilian hostages to use as shields. Let's just forget those things shall we?

    You sicken me.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2004 @07:57PM (#10870794)
    What's with this post being scored as a 4? It's not even informative. I am very aware that /. readers are overwhelmingly a liberal bunch, but why not stick to discussing the facts instead of espousing "vast right wing conspiracy" theories that are running rampant with the Hollywood crowd?
  • Vicious circle? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nokiator ( 781573 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @08:25PM (#10871031) Journal
    As long as Republicans have the majority in the congress, a large scale investigation of the 2004 elections will never happen and we will not switch to open source electronics voting systems with mandatory paper trail. Unless we have open source electronic voting systems will paper trail, Republicans will keep their majority in the congress.
  • by bheading ( 467684 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @08:47PM (#10871204)
    But that's silly (as is the article in general). You can't make extrapolations about what you think the vote might be against what it actually was. Exit polls, telephone polls and other kinds of poll are sometimes right but frequently wrong. Furthermore, the argument goes completely out of the window in a close vote (like the recent one) where the polls simply can't tell you accurately about the 100 votes that might have swung the election.

    How would it work ? You could define a rule "if the real vote is X% away from the exit polls, we do a recount". Then of course, Mr. Corrupt Election Interferer (whoever it is or could be) knows that when he fiddles the vote, all he needs to do is insure his fiddling slips the result in under the radar, which he can easily do if he has access to the running totals on the exit polls. That's assuming, of course, that the exit polls themselves haven't been fiddled (if you give them an official role in a count, then why not?).

    The point is that at the end of the day the computer spits out a number. How can you look at the number and say "I have confidence that the computer is right" ? What I'm saying is that logically, because the result cannot immediately be verified against a trustable source, you have to assume that the computer's result is wrong and will need recounting against paper receipts in all cases. Therefore, there is no point in having the electronic count in the first place.

    To build an electronic voting system that can come close to being considered reliable, you have to wrap it in all kinds of checks and balances, set all kinds of standards and make sure they're enforced, do all sorts of monitoring of the vote and checking of the result. And even then you've still got a system which isn't transparent to Joe Public who can barely program a video recorder.

    Is it really the best way to spend taxpayer dollars ?

  • by j1m+5n0w ( 749199 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @09:13PM (#10871367) Homepage Journal

    I'm repeating the AC's reply, but..

    The machine tallys should always be reconciled with a paper count. The electronic counts are to provide fast initial results and to draw attention to erroneous manual counts. The manual paper counts provide credibility to the electronic count, just as the electronic count gives credibility to the manual count. If there is no manual count, the electronic count has no credibility.


  • by andreMA ( 643885 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @09:15PM (#10871383)
    It's not a lack of talent in the US that's the issue; it's a lack of will on the part of our semi-elected officials.
  • by iminplaya ( 723125 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @10:11PM (#10871664) Journal
    The REAL question is why are there electronic voting machines that DON'T have a paper trail?

    Why does that question always come up? Most people know why. The REAL question is...What are we going to DO about it?
  • by zippthorne ( 748122 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @11:16PM (#10871957) Journal
    I think you're missing the point that the counties that were using electronic voting were predominantly Democrat 'controlled' counties and as such would have democrat-leaning elections supervisor (they're elected in FL). Therefore the decision to use electronic voting and control of the machines would have been in the hands of Democrats. If the machines were tampered with, the logical beneficiary would be Kerry.

    You are all wrong. The solution is not necessarily more technology. It's more accountability--Everyone gets a secret number at the poll. They can match this to their vote in the database, through a gov't website or shared through many private websites or share it with vote checking organisations or throw it away and forget about it.
  • by Izaak ( 31329 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @11:57PM (#10872231) Homepage Journal
    I think you're missing the point that the counties that were using electronic voting were predominantly Democrat 'controlled' counties and as such would have democrat-leaning elections supervisor (they're elected in FL). Therefore the decision to use electronic voting and control of the machines would have been in the hands of Democrats. If the machines were tampered with, the logical beneficiary would be Kerry.

    Actually, the decisions on what voting machines are used, how many are assigned to each precict, where the poll locations are, and the people assigned as election supervisors all falls under the authority of the Florida Secretary of State, a Republican appointed by governer Jeb Bush (the president's Brother). The vote counting was in the hands of Republicans, that is an established fact.

    As for any tampering more logically favoring Kerry... I will point out again that the 'smoking gun evidence' found so far shows just the opposite. Every single precinct that was examined in Volusia county revealed that votes had been added for Bush. This was discovered by comparing the signed and dated Nov 2nd poll tapes that the election supervisors were caught red handed trying to throw away. This was caught on video tape with police present.

    Good grief, what does it take before people acknowlege that we should at least investigate further!
  • by smiff ( 578693 ) on Saturday November 20, 2004 @01:19AM (#10872611)
    For example, they did not account for: population growth between elections, the demographic makeup of such growth, median income change since the previous election, voter registration stats for each party and their changes since the previous election, reversals of traditional voting patterns (better-educated going Democratic, older going Republican), local issues that would draw certain voters to the polls, the involvement of and relative successes of get-out-the-vote organizations (the parties, unions, churches, etc), and the list goes on...

    The paper took many variables into account. As many as could be expected on short notice with no budget. There are two reasons to take extra factors into account. First is because you believe they may correlate with the effect you are measuring, thus skewing the results. Second, you believe the factor is random and by accounting for it, you can reduce error and measure smaller effects.

    Do you believe the change in demographics correlates with the county's decision to buy electronic voting machines (please note, the researchers took demographic makeup into account, just not the change in demographic makeup)? I ask the same question of the other factors you mentioned.

    The whole point of statistics is to measure the likelihood that the effect was due to the various random factors that were not taken into account! The rho (p) values you see all over the paper represent the likelihood that the various factors you mentioned, along with countless other factors, could have caused the effect.

    The accepted rho value for most academic journals is p<.05. The researchers had a rho value of p<.01. If they had accounted for the factors you mentioned, the value probably would have been even smaller. If they had accounted for every possible factor, the rho value would have been zero (they would know exactly what happened).

    It is impossible to account for everything. The researchers accounted for those factors which were most likely to skew the results. No single study should be taken as absolute proof of anything. However, this study shows that the situation with electronic voting machines merits further investigation.

    If you believe the factors you mentioned explain the correlation, then go ahead and do your own analysis.

  • by mtaco ( 520758 ) on Saturday November 20, 2004 @11:31AM (#10874596)
    While that's true, it doesn't change the math...
  • by Sir Pallas ( 696783 ) on Saturday November 20, 2004 @03:29PM (#10875861) Homepage
    Not to mention, that one of the things that happened in this election was a shift in demographic voting trends. They should be asking why those voters shifter, not pretending that there is no shift. Previous elections are not full perdictors of future elections: while there may be correlation, there is no hard relationship.
  • by c.ecker ( 812382 ) on Sunday November 21, 2004 @05:30PM (#10882760)
    ... is a bastion of biased bullshit.

    Leave it alone already. The election is over. Bush is our President. Rather than try to undermine the authority rightfully granted during the election process, why not try to use the ethical, legal and accepted tools available our Democratic Republic to make lawful, meaningful changes?

    Rhetorical, of course: let me answer. UC Berkeley isn't interested in knowledge or change, they're interested in the free notoriety that comes from publishing a 'study', no matter how pie-in-the-sky full-of-guesswork, that comes to a conclusion that appeals to a small, select, cognitively challenged group of people who might actually feel at home at UC Berkeley.

    It really is appalling that not-quite-fictional-but-clearly-wrong crap like this gets posted to the Politics section of Slashdot, when meaningful news stories are rejected. Items like this have me visiting all areas of Slashdot less and less.
  • Re:Not impressive (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Truth_Quark ( 219407 ) on Monday November 22, 2004 @03:50AM (#10886097) Journal
    The figures look nice, until your eyes stray to the R-square (goodness of fit) results for their regressions - it's about .5 for all of them, which means there's quite a bit to do before their models are actually believable and worth using as "evidence" of voter fraud.
    Erwos, R-Squared of 0.5 means that half the variation is attributable to whether electronic voting machines were used, leaving only half the variation attributable to all other factors such as who voters wanted to vote for.

    The R-Squared should be precisely Zero - Any significant difference for that is cause for alarm. (And if and election cannot change the government surely you are obliged to exercise your rights under the 2nd amendment, and hold an armed uprising) :-p

    As the article says that 0.5 is more that 99% certain to be different from 0.

  • by macromegas ( 823729 ) on Monday November 22, 2004 @04:10AM (#10886175)
    that the US has a giant legitimacy gap. That's the reason why mainstream won't pick up this story or anyother of the dozens flying around and take them as parts of ONE picture, but isolated incidents. Partisan here, partisan there - but both parties form the very system which legitimacy is shaken and all the mainstream media are major profiteers of it, too. This is completely independent from concrete implemetations of the voting process, be it machines of whatever kind or pen and paper; hanging chads in 2000, evoting in 2004 - nothing but symptoms to the same illness.
    As a result the US is building an international reputations for being the largest banana republic alive. Now think of Iraq's upcoming elections in january, do you really think an election under US occupation is going to generate any trust in its results? (rhetorical)
    Instead of exporting democracy the US is just about to export it's systemic problems. And maybe, if what I suspect to be bush's calculation works out, that is exactly what it takes to delay the real question for another term.

    Just to fit things into a larger scale...

    Slightly OT: Quote from a ukrainian friend: We got widespread election fraud too, but as least we agree on that.
  • Re:Not impressive (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Erwos ( 553607 ) on Monday November 22, 2004 @11:49AM (#10888372)
    "The R-Squared should be precisely Zero"

    I'm not sure this is true - I think you misunderstand R-square. R-square is a measurement of the ENTIRE model R-square of 0 means that the predictions _don't fit the model at all_.

    The researchers included (in the models) a number of other independent variables which were _supposed_ to have tried to encompass who the people were trying to vote for (Bush 2000, Dole 96, income). What we were hoping for was the coefficients of the electronic voting variables to be statistically insignificant (ie, electronic voting makes no difference on votes). A zero value of R-square would seem to imply that previous voting records have no predictive value, ie that previous voting records don't explain any variation.

    Finally, I have no idea what "0.5 is more that 99% certain to be different from 0" means. You realize that R-Square isn't affected in any way by the confidence level, right? SSE/SST isn't affected by any alpha.

    Or am I misunderstanding you on this?


The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first. -- Blaise Pascal