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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 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 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.
        • 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 dustman ( 34626 ) <> on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:12PM (#10867897)
            This can still be messed with. When the binary is read (to do the byte-compare, or to compute a digital signature), the machine can return the "correct" binary, while it was actually running a hacked binary.

            You still need a paper trail. The ballots can be counted, doublechecked, you can use 2, or 3, or N groups of people with whatever affiliation. This is where vote security lies.

            I live in New Hampshire. When I voted, my local voting place was using a Diebold optical scanner vote box. Just like any other paranoid slashbot, I don't trust Diebold. But I do trust optical scan ballots, because when the numbers become contested, real people can do a recount.
          • by arivanov ( 12034 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:37PM (#10868292) Homepage
            Who cares about the code. It is data that should be signed and countersigned at every step and travel by at least 2 or more parallel pathways which are crossverified as well as the signatures. I am sorry, but 5th world country like Bulgaria has been doing this for nearly 10 years now. India has done it in the last election. It is time for the US to actually get a clue and learn how to run an election or import the Bulgarian or Indians who designed the election data flow (note the architecture, not the code) for a short H1B stint.
        • by Izaak ( 31329 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @06:54PM (#10870224) Homepage Journal
          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.

          It is already certain that vote fraud occured in an alarming number of isolated cases. The only question now is if it occured and went undetected in enough places to actually swing the election. Here are a few of the things we already know for certain:

          In several districts, electronic voting machines were preloaded with thousands of votes for Bush before the election started. Where it was discovered, the machines were reset and did not effect the outcome. The question is, in how many districts did this go undetected because voter protection advocates were not there to check the machines.

          In at least one case, a location in which only about 600 people voted recorded over 4000 votes for Bush. No explanation has been given for this, though it is likely another example of 'pre-loaded' machines.

          In at least one local election, a manual recount of the ballots swung the vote total by a large amount compared to what the electronic vote machines had reported, enough to move the winner from the republican candidate to the democrat.

          But the biggest smoking gun [] is in Florida's Volusia county where election offitials were caught red handed throwing out the official signed poll tapes from Nov 2nd. When these tapes were compared to the reported vote numbers, they showed that votes had been added to Bush's total IN EVERY SINGLE PRECINCT EXAMINED. If this was done in many more Florida precincts, it could explain the eight point swing between the exit polls showing Kerry winning and the official tally showing a Bush win. We must at least acknowledge the possibility, and insist on a full audit of the Florida results... not just a recount done by the same Florida partisans, but full, impartial audit.

      • And who is going to watch to make sure the same exact code is going to go on the machine?
      • by beeplet ( 735701 ) <> on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:53PM (#10867578) Journal
        The point of paper receipts is that you don't keep it, you verify it and then put it in a regular ballot box. That way if there's any question about the electronic tally, there can be a manual recount.
        • by j0nb0y ( 107699 ) <> 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...
      • The point of paper trails is that you keep them -- if there are any questions later, you count those by hand and see if the machine is correct. And, like other have said, you can't tell if the code running on machines is actually the publicly-available source you can view (even if you compile it yourself on the machine before you vote - the compiler could be tainted)
      • by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:06PM (#10867799) Journal

        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.

        If the machine recorded a vote for A and printed out a vote for B, then this would be caught either when A wins by an unexpected landslide, or by chance by random sampling.
    • by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:50PM (#10867529)
      A frequent charge levied after the 2000 election was voter disenfranchisement and ballot spoilage due, in large part, to antiquated, malfunctioning, or broken mechanical voting equipment. Legislation was introduced guaranteeing a minimum standard for the equipment and processes associated with voting in all jurisdictions. Since we are living in the 21st century, electronic systems were specified. $3.9 billion was set aside under HAVA to replace all mechanical punch card systems with electronic systems by 1 January, 2006. The goal is to ensure a consistency and fairness in the appearance and operation of the voting systems, both for voters and local election officials.

      After the 2000 presidential election, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) []:

      To establish a program to provide funds to States to replace punch card voting systems, to establish the Election Assistance Commission to assist in the administration of Federal elections and to otherwise provide assistance with the administration of certain Federal election laws and programs, to establish minimum election administration standards for States and units of local government with responsibility for the administration of Federal elections...

      The putative reasoning for going with electronic systems was likely that since we have managed to design accountable and reliable electronic and computing equipment for the management of our power, medical care, money, etc., it likely was more or less assumed by the legislature that such accountable systems could also be applied to voting.

      A bill has been introduced to amend HAVA. H.R.2239 [] and its twin Senate counterpart S.1980 [], discussed further here [], will amend the Help America Vote Act such that there is "a voter-verified permanent record or hardcopy" attached with each and every ballot cast by every voter, and that "any voting system containing or using software shall disclose the source code of that software to the Commission, and the Commission shall make that source code available for inspection upon request to any citizen".

      Additionally, the three electronic voting manufacturers already have the ability to add permanent, individual voter-verified paper audit trails to their products. Some e-voting critics make it seem like vendors are resisting. However, it is the local election boards that are resisting (as well as the slow march of bureaucracy). The e-voting vendors will build - and sell - whatever municipalities will buy.
      • 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 wealthychef ( 584778 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:52PM (#10867565)
      You're nuts. Paper and pencil are NOT more reliable than computers. Haven't you ever heard the term "ballot stuffing?" Physical media such as paper are also fraught with security concerns. They boil down to the same thing as computers: do you trust the election officials running them? Who has physical access to the vote once it has been cast? Etc. I'm not saying they are the same, but c'mon, all of a sudden the old paper method is the gold standard? No way.
      The trouble with voting security is that it requires authentication, anonymity and ability to verify later. The verification necessarily must be done by the voter himself, or else somebody else will know how you voted.
      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. Make the process for getting votes from the machine to the central data repository open-sourced, open, open open, totally so that we know exactly what is happening.
      Hey, it's a start. But I'm in favor of these voting machines. Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater.
    • 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.
      • by Lac ( 135355 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:58PM (#10868569)
        This is exactly how we do things in Canada, by the way, and it works wonders. Of course, TV-wise, it is much less interesting: we have a projected winner one hour after polls close and have the final and definitive results for all counties two hours after that. A party can ask for a recount without being accused of "hurting the country" and said recount happens in days. On the up-side, we do save money on exit polling. When the electoral system works, who needs exit polling?
    • 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 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.

  • Two things (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:43PM (#10867435)
    A. They neglect to factor in the "Hurricane effect." The President's visits and aid raised him popularity in the area.

    B. They performed the same study on Ohio and found no irregularities.
    • Re:Two things (Score:5, Interesting)

      by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:02PM (#10867734)

      They neglect to factor in the "Hurricane effect." The President's visits and aid raised him popularity in the area.

      From glancing at the numbers, I think you are wrong. Why would a hurricane, cause there to be more discrepancy between who people said they voted for, coming out of the polls, and who actually was given the votes? You are looking for explanations, and there is nothing wrong with that, but I don't think the one you give makes any sense. The only sort of things I can think of, that might account for such a discrepancy, are people not wanting to admit, to people doing polling, who it was they voted for. Perhaps if the persons polled felt intimidated, or ashamed of their votes. Even that, however, is really iffy. I think technical errors, or voter fraud, are the most likely culprits for this statistical anomaly.

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

        by killjoe ( 766577 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:17PM (#10867976)
        When the UN monitors elections it relies mostly on exit polls to determine if the counts are being manipulated.

        In this case the exit polls showed that people were voting for Kerry but the counts showed otherwise.

        Now what? How do we know which is true?

        You know what the sad thing is? The sad thing is that we even have to ask that question. I for one don't trust the machines or the voting process, I am not the only one either. That's sad.
        • 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.
          • Re:Two things (Score:4, Informative)

            by tbannist ( 230135 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:55PM (#10869456)
   [] says otherwise, and their most recent posting shows that there seems to be deliberate voter fraud going on. You don't refuse to show citizens the signed copies of the vote tallies and then try to give them ones that are unsigned that have different totals, and dump the original copies into the trash all by accident.

            There's also this report and the report [] that shows a significant and consistent difference in voting patterns in counties using Diebold electronic scanning machines. That's three different sources confirming that something is wrong based on three different investigative measures. How different ways does someone have to show that the totals don't add up?
    • 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?
  • Some thoughts (Score:5, Informative)

    by daveschroeder ( 516195 ) * on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:43PM (#10867437) [] (video [])

    Doug Chapin, a nonpartisan election analyst, finds the claims to be baseless. "There were no problems that would lead me to believe that there were stolen elections or widespread fraud," he said.

    "There was no overwhelming reason to cast doubt on the outcome of this election," seconded Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, the campaign manager for Al Gore's 2000 campaign. "George Bush got more votes this time." /10/internet_buzz_on_vote_fraud_is_dismissed/ []

    Much of the traffic is little more than Internet-fueled conspiracy theories, and none of the vote-counting problems and anomalies that have emerged are sufficiently widespread to have affected the election's ultimate result.

    Kerry campaign officials and a range of election-law specialists agree that while machines made errors and long lines in Democratic precincts kept many voters away, there's no realistic chance that Kerry actually beat Bush.

    ''No one would be more interested than me in finding out that we really won, but that ain't the case," said Jack Corrigan, a veteran Kerry adviser who led the Democrats' team of 3,600 attorneys who fanned out across the country on Election Day to address voting irregularities.

    ''I get why people are frustrated, but they did not steal this election," Corrigan said. ''There were a few problems here and there in the election. But unlike 2000, there is no doubt that they actually got more votes than we did, and they got them in the states that mattered."

    ''I think it's safe to say that on the votes that were cast in Ohio, Bush won," said Dan Tokaji, a law professor at Ohio State University who is working with the ACLU to challenge Ohio's use of punch-card ballots. ''If the margin had been 36,000 rather than 136,000, we would have seen another post-election meltdown." 2350492c.html []

    All three said their networks had set up investigative units to review any claims of voter fraud or problems with electronic voting technology this year, but that nothing significant had appeared anywhere to affect the election's outcome.

    "A lot of the allegations we've looked into, they're just not true," Shapiro said. "Believe me, I'd love a juicy story about the election as much as anybody. Florida was a great story, but it's just not there this time."

    A frequent charge levied after the 2000 election was voter disenfranchisement and ballot spoilage due, in large part, to antiquated, malfunctioning, or broken mechanical voting equipment. Legislation was introduced guaranteeing a minimum standard for the equipment and processes associated with voting in all jurisdictions. Since we are living in the 21st century, electronic systems were specified. $3.9 billion was set aside under HAVA to replace all mechanical punch card systems with electronic systems by 1 January, 2006. The goal is to ensure a consistency and fairness in the appearance and operation of the voting systems, both for voters and local election officials.

    After the 2000 presidential election, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) []:

    To establish a program to provide funds to States to replace punch card voting systems, to establish the Election Assistance Commission to assist in the administration of Federal elections and to otherwise provide assistance with the administration of certain Federal election laws and programs, to establish minimum election administration standards for
  • 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?
    • Re:Statistical? (Score:5, Informative)

      by arodland ( 127775 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:48PM (#10867508)
      Read the abstract, if not the actual paper; it's a little deeper than that. 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.
  • Neat idea! (Score:5, Funny)

    by gtrubetskoy ( 734033 ) * on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:44PM (#10867454)

    Totally the way to put all the electoral college debates to rest and to eliminate all issues relating to electronic voting security once and for all! Just calculate the election outcome using the ordinary-least-squares regression model (OLS) with and without robust standard errors, exactly as the paper says. Why couldn't we think of this sooner?
  • UC Berkeley (Score:5, Funny)

    by ruiner5000 ( 241452 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:45PM (#10867455) Homepage
    We are lucky that these results come from the most non partisian and level headed learning institution and region in the nation.
  • 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.
  • by brian6string ( 469449 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:47PM (#10867489)
    Maybe we can eliminate eVoting and voting entirely and have some university researchers tell us who will win. That would save everyone a lot of hassle.
  • Ohio would be better (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:47PM (#10867495) Journal

    I really do think that Florida went to Bush.

    The question is Ohio. It has been a stuanch Democrat state. It lost 10's of thousands of jobs under Bush. And it voted for him in a close election? So why are these researchers looking at Florida?

  • by mortram ( 761154 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:48PM (#10867496)
    Probably just a stuck "enter" key for a Bush ballot...
  • by Jucius Maximus ( 229128 ) <m4encxb2sw@snk[ ] ['mai' in gap]> 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 Quinn_Inuit ( 760445 ) <Quinn_Inuit&yahoo,com> 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.
  • Mirror (Score:3, Informative)

    by Rufus211 ( 221883 ) <[gro.hsikcah] [ta] [todhsals-sufur]> on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:54PM (#10867582) Homepage
    site's getting slow (8k/sec), so I've mirrored it: []
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 19, 2004 @03:57PM (#10867641)
    I sent this letter to the editor of the washington post a few days ago on the evoting topic (wasn't published)...

    re: In ATMs, Not Votes, We Trust es/A556 91-2004Nov16.html

    I'm a programmer a major corporate bank in Manhattan.
    Anne Applebaum's analogy of e-voting to ATM and credit card banking was misleading and uninformed.

    Users receive regular bank statements, with each ATM transaction itemized.
    Cross-checks of all transactions can be validated by the user through this method or
    at any time with a phone call or with web access.
    This is a paper trail.

    For a credit card, it's the same deal, of course.
    Again, there is a paper trail.

    Increasingly e-voting machines have no paper trail requirement.

    This is highly troubling.
    Anne seemed to label this as "conspiracy", but it is no such thing.
    To say so is irresponsible.

    There is no way for the individual to verify that their vote was counted as they registered it, as you
    can at an ATM, with or without a receipt. Do you find this troubling? I do.
    This is just one short-coming in the system, among many.

    As a computer programmer and security expert, I know how easily computers can be manipulated.
    It is a fact that the coding on these machines could literally do anything.
    We're irresponsibly putting our votes into a black box, and don't even have an audit trail.

    This issue has nothing to do with whether fraud occurred in this particular election or not.
    Glitches frequently occur due to human and machine errors.

    An audit trail is a minimum necessary requirement -
    And this is just the beginning of the problems with e-voting as currently implemented.

    I'm surprised that the Washington Post allowed such a flimsy analysis to be published.
  • 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.

  • Not published. (Score:3, Informative)

    by helix400 ( 558178 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:00PM (#10867688) Journal
    I would like to point out one extremely important fact. This paper was not published in a journal. This was a simple statistical analysis by four students.

    Let the scientific method work this out. If a paper has merit, let it be analyzed by stastic professionals, and if it does have merit, any statistical journal would be happy to run a major news story that would give them publicitiy.

    But too many of these wannabe statiticians are not publishing their results. They make unrelaistic assumptions, they use questionable approaches to making claims, they don't use enough variables (in the case of this report, they didn't even factor in Nader!) And when they find something they believe is significant, they bypass the scientific method completely, and rush straight to internet blogs or PRNewswire.

    Again, let the scientific method take its course, and be very cautious of anything that doesn't.
    • Re:Not published. (Score:4, Informative)

      by schussat ( 33312 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:42PM (#10868373) Journal
      This paper was not published in a journal. This was a simple statistical analysis by four students.

      As one commenter has already pointed out, the process of review and publishing takes at least a year, but it's common practice --- in all fields --- to circulate working papers and drafts. They've made all of their data and methodology available, so that appropriate review and replication can be conducted.

      Also, the paper's lead author is a full professor, not a student.


  • 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?
  • Testing... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by pjl5602 ( 150416 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:05PM (#10867773) Homepage
    how else do you verify that a paperless voting system is working properly?

    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.

  • 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?

  • by Nom du Keyboard ( 633989 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @04:12PM (#10867889)
    And how about mechanical voting machines? Are those audited? Especially those in New York City where there have been many reports over many elections that conservative votes seem to either not register, or jam up the machine invalidating a voter's entire ballot. And they don't allow revotes without a judge's order that day. Who does this benefit?

    What I don't like about paper audit trails in electronic voting machines is that everyone thinks they should be printed out in real time, like a cash register receipt at the grocery store as each item (voter) goes past. That makes it rather simple to match up voters to their votes if someone wished, and remove all the protections of the secret ballot process. Are you concerned?

    And I do find it curious that voting machines are only being questioned in states that Republicans have won. Don't you?

  • by mtaco ( 520758 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:04PM (#10868658)
    Patrick Ruffini downloaded the authors spreadsheet: king_berkele.php []

    Here's what he found:

    The conclusion that President Bush was more likely to improve his vote in counties with e-voting is laughable on its face. Using the Excel spreadsheet provided by the authors, I totaled the votes for counties with and without e-voting, and came up with this:

    Percentage Change for Bush in Counties WITH E-Voting: 2.25%

    Percentage Change for Bush in Counties WITHOUT E-Voting: 2.54%

    It looks like e-voting suppressed the President's vote by about 0.29%_ -- or 7,800 votes!

    Taking each of these counties as data points, was the President "significantly more likely" to have increased his support in counties with e-voting? Again, no.

    E-Voting Counties with Increased Bush Vote: 13/15 (86.7%)

    Non-E-Voting Counties with Increased Bush Vote: 46/52 (88.5%)
    • by jgoemat ( 565882 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @07:58PM (#10870799)
      Their conclusions make little sense. Sort the data by % that voted for bush this year. There are e-voting counties that lost percentages for bush and non-e-voting counties that gained more than any e-voting county. Their summary paper shows a ridiculous number for Broward county. They say:
      In Broward County alone, President Bush appears to have received approximately 72,000 excess votes.
      Look at the data yourself:
      1. 1996 - 142,834 Dole to 320,736 Clinton, Dole got 30.8% of their votes (I note they ignore Ross Perot and Nader who both had significant votes)
      2. 2000 - 177,902 Bush to 387,703 Gore, Bush got 31.4 percent of the votes
      3. 2004 - 238,397 Bush to 443,535 Kerry, Bush got 34.9 percent of the votes
      If you take the total turnout and apply the lowest percentage for a republican in the last three elections (30.8%), then Bush would have gotten 210,115 votes. That's only 18,000 excess votes this year. If you take the 72,000 figure, then bush should have only gotten 166,397 votes. That's only 27.3%. So the authors of the paper assume for some reason that the county that had the absolute lowest percentage for push in 2000 (31.45 %) should have had even 4% less in 2004 when the country as a whole voted MORE for Bush. Not only that, but bush would have lost 11,000 people who voted republican in 2000 and Kerry would have gained 128,000 votes. That's ridiculous.

      The change in Bush % of vote from non-evoting counties ranges from -11.5% to +10.7%. For e-voting counties it ranges from -6.4% to +7.4%. If you look down each list (evoting and non-evoting) from change in percent, there is little difference whether it was a democratic or republican voting county, they're scattered.

      If you want to look at something strange, look at Cuyahoga county, Ohio. This county had 218,000 FEWER voters than in the 2000 election. That's in a record turnout year with only one other county in the list losing votes (Franklin, OH lost 9,486 out of the 519,255 they had in 2000). That's 108,000 fewer votes for Bush than in 2000 and 111,000 fewer votes for the democrats. Not a big shift in the election, but very strange nonetheless.

    • by Mazem ( 789015 ) on Saturday November 20, 2004 @05:04AM (#10873422)
      "Until recently, Ruffini was webmaster for the Bush-Cheney '04 presidential campaign" []

  • 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 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 opencity ( 582224 ) on Friday November 19, 2004 @05:52PM (#10869421) Homepage
    29 precincts in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, reported votes cast IN EXCESS of the number of registered voters - at least 93,136 extra votes total.

    official Cuyahoga County Board of Elections website []

  • 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: []
  • by rfc1394 ( 155777 ) <> on Saturday November 20, 2004 @04:00AM (#10873252) Homepage Journal
    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?
    Short answer: You can't. Accuracy isn't the purpose. Hoodwinking the public is.

    Long Answer: The purpose of electronic voting machines is not to provide an inexpensive election - paper ballots counted by hand are the cheapest way to run a secret election - nor is it to provide a guaranteed accurate election - paper ballots with check marks are the gold standard for proof of who voted for whom - but to allow undetectable election fraud. Any election without a real-time unchangeable audit trail - which means a paper log of every vote generated at the same time as voting is done - should be presumed to be intentionally fraudulent.

    Back in 1966, Robert A. Heinlein gave the exact formula in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress [] for stealing an election without the public realizing they'd been robbed: have all the votes collected by computer where there is no audit trail and no way to prove the validity of the actual vote versus what is recorded.

    And what do electronic voting machines give us? A voting system collected by computer where there is no audit trail and no way to prove the validity of the actual vote versus what is recorded. Why should it surprise anyone that the voting machines are inaccurate; they're intended to efficiently steal elections in a concealed fashion, not necessarily to efficiently count them.

    Let's not forget that the head of one of the companies that sell electronic voting machines said that they intended to make sure they got Ohio for a specific candidate in the 2004 election. (No candidate has ever won the presidency without Ohio.)

    Has anyone here considered that since it takes 270 electors to win, all that one needs to get elected President is 11 states?

    • California.... 55
    • Texas......... 34
    • New York...... 31
    • Florida....... 27
    • Illinois...... 21
    • Pennsylvania.. 21
    • Ohio.......... 20
    • Michigan...... 17
    • New Jersey.... 15
    • North Carolina 15
    • Georgia....... 15
    • -------------
    • Total........ 271
    Get (or steal) these 11 states and you can forget the other 39.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger