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Thu Nov 15, 2012, 11:47 PM

We still need to get rid of voting machines.

For centuries, other countries, as well as the USA, relied on paper ballots and counters carefully monitored by all sides.

We need to get rid of the machines and their 'proprietary" code and untraceable results. GET THEM OUT. If we are to remain a democracy, or a republic, or whatever, the machines need to GO.

I don't care whether they show a win for repigs or dems, they need to GO. Their existence is toxic.

23 replies, 1409 views

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Arrow 23 replies Author Time Post
Reply We still need to get rid of voting machines. (Original post)
xfundy Nov 2012 OP
lonestarnot Nov 2012 #1
hrmjustin Nov 2012 #2
LisaL Nov 2012 #3
Scuba Nov 2012 #12
PuppyBismark Nov 2012 #4
Scuba Nov 2012 #13
PossumSqueezins Nov 2012 #5
Common Sense Party Nov 2012 #6
eridani Nov 2012 #9
PuppyBismark Nov 2012 #16
eridani Nov 2012 #19
PuppyBismark Nov 2012 #21
eridani Nov 2012 #23
Egalitarian Thug Nov 2012 #20
loudsue Nov 2012 #7
AnotherDreamWeaver Nov 2012 #8
eridani Nov 2012 #10
Shanti Mama Nov 2012 #11
Stevepol Nov 2012 #14
RobertEarl Nov 2012 #15
Paulie Nov 2012 #17
Zorra Nov 2012 #18
RomneyLies Nov 2012 #22

Response to xfundy (Original post)

Thu Nov 15, 2012, 11:48 PM

1. They suck ass!

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Response to xfundy (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 12:01 AM

2. If we go to paper ballots it will take days for a winner to be declared in races.

Do you think people will accept that. I would!

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Response to hrmjustin (Reply #2)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 12:02 AM

3. Much longer than days, considering there usually is more than one race.

So, not gonna happen.

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Response to hrmjustin (Reply #2)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 05:50 AM

12. Sure, if it took days, which it won't. Having accurate results is far more important ...

... than having fast results. And the largest voting district in America is small enough that ballots can be hand-counted in hours, not days.



Paper ballots, hand counted, in public, cameras rolling. Thank you.

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Response to xfundy (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 12:05 AM

4. What is your alternative?

Without an alternative that is more secure, reliable, and foolproof, we will not make any progress. As I read the comments, maybe we need to change the way they are manufactured, managed, certified, and coded. Also, where is the money going to come from to equip the United States with all new systems?

There are countries in the world who use more modern technology and have more people voting percentage-wise.

Just asking.

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Response to PuppyBismark (Reply #4)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 05:51 AM

13. The alternative is Paper ballots, hand counted, in public, cameras rolling. Thank you.

There is NO CASE for electronic machines being used. None.

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Response to xfundy (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 01:50 AM

5. What about...

Printing out on a receipt the votes of Voter X and on the receipt would be a ten/twelve/whatever digit code. The voter could then check on line the receipt number at the state voter website to make sure their votes were recorded correctly. If the votes are recorded wrong, the voter could call a state hotline number. If it happens to more than a few people, it will be on the news. It would be traceable and accountable.

But I don't believe Republicans want that.

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Response to xfundy (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 01:52 AM

6. We used to use paper ballots, yes. We also used horses and bayonets.

And whips and buggies.

My voting machine was fine. It shows me the paper ballot next to the screen, with every vote I just cast.

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Response to Common Sense Party (Reply #6)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 03:25 AM

9. And you know that the CPU recorded same data as the screen and the paper how, exactly? n/t

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Response to eridani (Reply #9)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 10:49 PM

16. Because it prints the candidate as they are selected

If you look at the audit tape while you are voting, it prints every candidate you pick or unpick including the name. When you cast your ballot, the audit trails scrolls up so the next voter cannot see how you voted. The issue is very few people look at it as they vote. If the chain of custody is well documented for those printouts, they are a good audit.

As to electronic voting, we have the technology to build completely reliable systems and associated audit trails, but there is not political will to do it, nor is there political will to vote the funds needed. Other countries have solved this problem, as have our banks with ATM machines, but why would the GOP want to do anything to make voting more reliable and accurate, that takes all the fun out of cheating the citizens of the country.

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Response to PuppyBismark (Reply #16)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 02:34 AM

19. And while it's doing that, the CPU can be doing something else entirely, and you would never know

Clint Curtis demonstrated that way back in 2004.

Only idiot users think you should do everything electronically--it's merely the computer security experts who object. Or, as my old Fortran II prof once said, when asked "How would you do that by computer?" answered "That is the wrong question entirely. The right question is 'How would you do it at all?' Then, if you can write an accurate algorithm for the process, you might be able to do it by computer. That, however, doesn't mean it makes sense to do it by computer."

WHY TOUCH SCREEN VOTING MACHINES ARE NOT LIKE ATMS

ATM software is open, but voting software is proprietary

Banks insist that all code in ATMs be fully disclosed to them and they won't trust their money or their depositors’ money with anything less. Voting software by comparison is considered proprietary. Companies that make both ATMs and voting machines proudly boast of their open source software for ATMs in their advertising. This situation could conceivably be changed by demanding that voting software also be fully disclosed, but there are other reasons why open source code is not by itself sufficient to make voting machines like ATMs. For example, it would be necessary to match the code on all voting machines to verify its identity with the true open source master code immediately prior to each election. But even then, any diskette or other similar device could introduce a virus or other malware that deletes itself. Furthermore, human beings can not observe the vote counting even in open source environments.

In addition, there is the problem that open source code itself is not necessarily "knowable". One can think of the law as being open source "code", free of copyright and at least in theory available to all in free libraries. However, like the extensive areas of code in computer programs that often have unknown functions or utility, even a lawyer who spends his life studying the law doesn't understand how every bit of the "open source" law works, nor can we the people realistically understand even a fraction of exactly how the open source code for voting machines would work. Even with open source code, then, we would be required to accept election results on trust or faith, which is the opposite of checks and balances.

Were the code of the voting machine vendors suddenly opened up or disclosed, it would take a long time to understand it, we may in fact never understand it, and those who do understand will only be a handful of experts with a lot of time on their hands, probably paid by the government or a vendor and not loyal solely to the public.

Individual ATM transactions can be tracked, but individual secret ballots cannot be tracked

Every transaction in an ATM is completely tracked with redundant account numbers traceable to the account holder, and your transaction is photographed or videotaped for security purposes. In contrast, a secret ballot cannot possibly be associated with such an identifying number and still remain secret. The very secrecy of the ballot creates a virtually untraceable system that is wide open to both fraud and the cover-up of material irregularities. It is not feasible to provide a receipt in elections to prove a transaction because of concerns about using it to sell votes, though this concern might be addressed by making verification available only to the voter in secure locations like the elections offices.

To make ATM banking perfectly analogous to the process of voting, you'd have to have every account holder at a bank make a non-traceable (secret ballot) cash deposit on the same day (election day) by dropping this anonymous deposit (ballot) into a large bin (ballot box). Bank officers would then calculate the total amount of money deposited in secret with no public oversight, but not start counting until after the bank (polls) close. The account holders (the voting public) would then come back at the closing of the business day (election night) with the media in tow demanding instantly reliable bank balances and overall account results within minutes or hours of the closing of the bank (polls). Bankers (election officials) would insist along with some in the media that the convenience of speedy results was far more important than accuracy in one's bank account (election results).

The insane rush to count the bank deposits (ballots) within minutes or hours on election night would them be used as a primary argument for making the banking deposits invisible and unverifiable by converting them to electrons, so that they could be processed all the more quickly and conveniently. Hopefully it is obvious that in such elections we would be putting intense pressure on a very fragile and inherently unauditable system. In contrast, public and auditable systems can work only at deliberate, and visible, speed.

ATM errors typically have no consequence for users because they are correctable, but ballot tabulation errors have very serious consequences that are usually not correctable

With banks, you have at least 60 days after receiving your statement, if not much longer, to contest and challenge the transactions involving your account. With voting, there is no possibility at all of correcting your vote after you leave the polling place. In fact, voters are considered legally incompetent to contest their ballots with extrinsic evidence under stringent anti-challenge provisions. Election contest laws are subject to extremely short statutes of limitation such as ten days. At any rate, you couldn't locate your own specific ballot for purposes of challenging its tabulation, and some elections officials have preemptively cited academic research purporting to suggest that significant numbers of voters "don't accurately remember their own votes" after having voted, in order to cast doubt on members of the public who may wish to question the tabulation of their own votes. Thus, nothing is allowed to impeach or contest the rushed count, not even the voters themselves were they somehow able to show their own ballots counted incorrectly.

Broken touch screen voting machines have disenfranchised many, many people who have had to get back to work or school before a functioning one could be made available to them during limited voting hours. A broken ATM just means that you have to go to another bank branch or supermarket, at any hour of the day or night. In the case of voting, touch screen machines are expensive bottlenecks where you may be forced to stay in a long line at only one polling place. You usually cannot go elsewhere to cast your vote, though in some states a provisional ballot may be allowable.

In summary, you vote untraceably (assuming that you aren’t turned away unable to access a functioning machine, or by long lines), you're not allowed to challenge or change even your own vote, you're not trusted to remember it, and then the elections officials refuse to disclose their data (ballots) or their analysis methods (counting software) on the grounds of trade secrecy, only releasing their conclusions (election results).

Such a system has absolutely none of the safeguards built into ATMs, which have quadruple redundancy. If you take out $100, you can count the five crisp $20s, check the receipt, cross-reference it with your bank statement listing individual transactions tagged with unique numbers, and if necessary, request the photo of you making the transaction.

ATMs have extensive real world testing that vote counting systems can never have

Principles of elementary systems analysis dictate that any complex system, whether mechanical or electronic, is highly unlikely to ever be free of bugs. Such systems can, however, eventually be made robust and reliable by banging them against reality hard and often. ATMs are part of a complex system that has had most of the bugs worked out of it by being constantly tested in the real world, billions of times an hour, 24/7, 365 days a year. Even so, they still malfunction occasionally, though if you run into one that isn’t working it’s usually a minor hassle to find another one.

In contrast, voting is something we do a couple of times a year, and letting machines with complex hardware and software do it for us means that elections must inevitably always be a beta test. This is why you rarely hear of ATMs that don’t work because of heat or cold or humidity, but commonly hear of voting machine breakdowns for those reasons and many others. If we only drove our cars for a couple of hours once a year, they'd suck pretty badly too. Beta test mode is absolutely unacceptable for something as important as voting.

Moreover, even if billions were spent on ATMs, there is no conceivable way that we would all be able to use an ATM in the same 14 hour time period, even under completely optimal and bug-free conditions. Forcing voters to use electronic voting machines means forcing them to stand in long lines instead of the five minute service guarantees we are used to in stores. The "promised land" of electronic voting promises only convenience for election officials, inherent invisibility of mistakes (which appeals to both vendors and election officials), and replicates the situation we now have with school systems whereby rich districts get great service and poor districts get poor service. The ultimate effect of electronic voting is therefore structural disenfranchisement of the poor by the forced bottlenecks of expensive machines.

We can safely entrust others with tracking ATM transactions, but we can only trust ourselves to supervise vote tabulation

The current situation is this. We now have no basis for confidence in election results because the data and the method of its analysis are never disclosed—only conclusions (election results) are disclosed. Voters are considered legally incompetent to change or challenge their votes, or even to recall what those votes were. Voters are widely considered by elections officials to be the cause of machine malfunctions themselves, resulting in delayed responses to fix them. Furthermore, the poll workers are not supposed to observe the voters and therefore can't easily verify whether a given problem is a machine problem or a voter problem. (Would any self-respecting software engineers refuse to include an undo function in their word-processing program, and then blame users for not being smart enough to avoid mistakes 100% of the time? Most “user” error is really system design error—real world testing should result in errors being hard to make and easy to recover from.)

We need to fight for democracy here in our time, meaning that the government must serve the public, which is the ultimate source of political power, and not the other way around. Public "servants" should not seek their own convenience and insulation from accountability for mistakes, but should instead be rewarded for falling on their swords and reporting problems voluntarily and immediately.

We the People must insist on vote counting methods that are transparent and public, that have robust checks and balances, and that keep fully in mind the very unique features of elections that make them not analogous to much of anything else. Thomas Jefferson anticipated every generation would need a revolution in democratic values to remember the inalienable rights of We the People and assert them against government officials who (quite naturally and even understandably) believe that their full time specialist status entitles them to special rights, because that is the route to something other than democracy, something other than We the People being in charge.

For more information see
http://www.votersunite.org/
http://www.ecotalk.org/VotingSecurity.htm

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Response to eridani (Reply #19)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 01:37 PM

21. Yes, we cannot assure that at the time of voting, but if there are questions, the tape is an audit

Clearly, there is so much to do to build a better voting system, but at this time, the paper record is an audit that can be compared to the electronic result if there are questions. Once there is just one instance of the problem, all the tapes could be compared.

That being said, I agree completely with your comments where we need to go.

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Response to PuppyBismark (Reply #21)

Mon Nov 19, 2012, 02:48 AM

23. A paper ballot makes the system AUDITABLE

However, you still actually have to DO the audits, and many elections departments don't, or do inadequate ones. I think national legislation would help here.

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Response to Common Sense Party (Reply #6)

Sat Nov 17, 2012, 02:58 AM

20. How long did it take Iraq to count the votes in their first election after

 

we demolished their country? Iraq is comparable to California in both area and population and California is our most populous state.

Let's be really pessimistic and say it will take four days to count the votes. Will America fall if we don't know who won until fours days after the election? Isn't it worth four days to know for sure that the winners really got the most votes?

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Response to xfundy (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 02:00 AM

7. And this war cannot end just because it isn't election season anymore.

I saw it happening all over again on election night. I can't take it anymore.

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Response to xfundy (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 02:11 AM

8. Paper ballots, with machines that count, and paper verified later... n/t

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Response to AnotherDreamWeaver (Reply #8)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 03:39 AM

10. Yes--Andy Stephenson advocated that

He was from King County, WA, and understood from personal experience that ballots are too hard to count correctly by hand if they are complex. Try staying up a few hours past your normal bedtime and balance your checkbook, and you'll see why handcounting is not necessarily the most accurate tabulation method.

It's the most accurate only if you are counting a single race. Optical scanning provided better accuracy if there are three or more races to count. Of course these machines can be messed with, which is why you need extensive hand-count auditing.

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Response to xfundy (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 04:45 AM

11. Technology is not inherently evil. What about this company? www.everyonecounts.com

Paper ballot proponents can't quite believe this is legit and I certainly don't know, but a very progressive person I know, who is involved with Planned Parenthood and other organizations I believe in, has put money behind it, believing that we cannot avoid technology, cannot use only paper and that this is the best bet.

Curious if technical DUers have any comments.

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Response to xfundy (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 07:43 PM

14. It's the principle of the thing, not just some brand spankin new way to do it.

The German high court that rules on constitutional questions went right to the core of the issue.

To paraphrase, what they said essentially is this: In order to be used in a democracy, any method of vote counting must be verifiable in such a way that it can be understood by the average voter without requiring specialists or experts.

Think of it this way: When the vote is counted in total secrecy without verification, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO HAVE A DEMOCRACY.

This should be obvious. Computers that count votes are "trivially easy" to maliciously program, hack, patch, or otherwise alter so as to change the true outcome of an election, ESPECIALLY BY INSIDERS (as noted by the Brennan Center I believe and Jimmy Carter).

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Response to xfundy (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 08:11 PM

15. Rove's Network Access is Called ORCA

Another problem is networking of computers. Rove's ORCA.

ORCA is a program that places itself into the stream that networks county and state election computers. When ORCA is working it is connected to county and state election computers.

At each county computer are read/write pages showing vote totals.
(Read/write means that you can write to that screen and read what was written and rewrite it so that it reads different. On DU you are working with a read/write program. Simply, it is called editable.)

So as the numbers are entered at county level, ORCA reads the numbers and changes those numbers at will. The data entry person at the county computer is updating so much that they can't keep track of the changes.

If the count is from a DRE -- Direct Recording Electronic -- there is no data entry person. The numbers are written from one computer to another without any human sight.

OpScans numbers are also transferred electronically: from a red/write memory stick.

So, there is ORCA with a human sitting there looking at the numbers coming in and editing those numbers as the person sees fit. Those new numbers are sent over the network to the county computers. Changing those numbers sight unseen. It doesn't even have to be a human, it could be a computer program reading and writing.

What Anon claims to have done is place an administrative password on the ORCA system keeping the person at the ORCA keyboard from logging in (much like you log in to DU) thereby stopping ORCA for accessing the network and rewriting the numbers on the county and state computers.

******

Anon claims to have hacked Rove's ORCA Thread
http://www.democraticunderground.com/10021832154

**********

The following article from the St. Pete Times details election officials not being able to publish its results until 16 minutes after the polls were closed in one Florida county that prides itself on being the first to upload its data to the web.

http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/local/pasco-countys-voting-website-buckled-under-traffic-officials-say/1260997

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Response to xfundy (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 10:58 PM

17. Paper ballots with optical scan. But still need some touchscreens

The touchscreens have been a good thing for those who are disabled and want to vote without assistance. They too deserve the right to have a secret and counted ballot.

So don't close them off completely just make the touchscreens auditable and verifiable.

I really like the setup we have in non Chicago cook county. Paper ballots with marker used to draw a line to make an arrow. Then optical scan for counting. Still have a couple touch screens available for those who prefer or need them.

A good change would Be to count a random sample of paper ballots after to make sure the machine is honest.

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Response to xfundy (Original post)

Fri Nov 16, 2012, 11:03 PM

18. K&R

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Response to xfundy (Original post)

Sun Nov 18, 2012, 01:49 PM

22. For centuries, countriea relied on carrier pigeons and paper measages to communicate.

 

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