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MelissaB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 08:59 AM
Original message
9% enough to get politicians attention

ELECTION MACHINE SECURITY


Sunday, August 20, 2006
David Sarasohn

T he House Science Committee sounds like the geeky part of the House of Representatives, the kind of committee where representatives look through microscopes while all the cool congressmen are off naming bridges after themselves or going on golf vacations with lobbyists.

But a hearing last month produced a number that could make even the most sociable members put down their fundraiser cocktails and pay attention.

Acting like people who know what has to be done, but don't want to do it, the Science Committee, together with the House Administration Committee, listened to people testifying on the reliability of voting machines -- the first and only hearing on the subject by this Congress. True to the spreadsheet wonkiness of the topic, the hearing seems to have produced only a single newspaper story.

But what the congressmen heard got their attention.

"It would take somebody relatively unsophisticated to hack into a machine," reports Rep. Darlene Hooley, D-Ore., who a month later is still talking about the hearing. "But the biggest problem isn't hacking, programming errors.

"In some cases, the margin of error is 9 percent."

The roomful of politicians, most of whom at some point won or lost an election by less than 9 percent, apparently noticed.



More: http://www.oregonlive.com/commentary/oregonian/index.ss...
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pooja Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 09:03 AM
Response to Original message
1. That's a pretty big margin if you ask me.
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hootinholler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 08:42 PM
Response to Reply #1
9. In an election
Any margin of error above 0 is unacceptable.

-Hoot
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Eric J in MN Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 09:03 AM
Response to Original message
2. Has any elected official at any level...
...ever said that we should use paper ballots, which are publicly counted by hand?
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Greeby Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 09:49 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. There are, I've read 209 House members
Edited on Sun Aug-20-06 09:52 AM by Greeby
Who've co-sponsored a bill for paper ballots, but as usual, the Repuke leadership is keeping a tight lid on it.

I'll go see if I can find it

Edit - It's Rush Holt's HR 550, and it's got 206 on board

Read the long co-sponsor list here
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d109:HR00550:@@...
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Eric J in MN Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 10:14 AM
Response to Reply #3
6. HR 550 is ato require touchscreen voting machines to have printers,
...it doesn't say voters should use paper ballots which are then publicly hand-counted.
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mopinko Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 10:05 AM
Response to Reply #2
5. chicago alderman bernie stone
i think he may be the longest serving member of the city council. during a hearing on the debacle that was the illinois primary this year, thanks to cook county's move to sequoia.
bernie's comment was that the more high tech the elections got, the more screwed up they were. that we should go back to paper and pencil.
my report on this is here-
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...
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Eric J in MN Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 10:16 AM
Response to Reply #5
7. Thank you. NT
NT
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BeFree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 09:50 AM
Response to Original message
4. Finally!
"-- the first and only hearing on the subject by this Congress."

Lets make sure it's not the last, because if bushco has its way, it will be.

If we are going to use machines to count votes, there should be a full fledged paper ballot, and then there should be an audit of every machine using those paper ballots to check the count that comes from each machine.

Congress can't tell states how to count state votes, but congress can tell the states how to count federal elections. Paper ballots for every federal election can be put in place by November if congress so decided.
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Kurovski Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 04:05 PM
Response to Original message
8. K&R(nt)
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Melissa G Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-20-06 09:07 PM
Response to Original message
10. Thanks MelissaB! Good Find! n/t
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Bill Bored Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 03:04 AM
Response to Original message
11. kick, and it's 9.2%.
Edited on Mon Aug-21-06 03:10 AM by Bill Bored


NIST Spokesman Acknowledges Unacceptability of Voting System Reliability Standards
By Warren Stewart, VoteTrustUSA
July 23, 2006


In the Joint Congressional Hearing of the Science and House Administration Committees on July 19, the question of the acceptable failure rate for voting systems was addressed to the panel of witnesses by Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA). Baird noted that under the Voluntary Voting System Guidelines theres an acceptance of a 9.2% failure rate of all voting systems used in any 15 hour period. Im curious if that is actually the standard that weve set a 9.2% failure rate - and if thats thats an acceptable standard, Im very puzzled by that. That is, by the way, far less than an incandescent lightbulb.

<http://www.votetrustusa.org/index.php?option=com_conten... >
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rman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 08:26 AM
Response to Original message
12. It's not like programming errors can be made that cause the machine
to register a press on a button as a vote for one candidate in one case, and to have a press on the same button unintendedly register as a vote for another candidate in the next instance.

Software that counts votes is among the very simplest kind of software that can be made. With this kind of software it'd be real hard to make programming errors that cause any margin of error.
Pressing the wrong button to begin with is far more likely to cause a margin of error.

Besides, no-one is allowed to check the voting software for errors, since it's all trade secret - so how do they know what the margin of error due to programming errors is?
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electropop Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 01:59 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. It's entirely possible to put randomized errors into the code,
if that's the intent of the programmer. That would explain the thousands of occurrences of voters repeatedly trying to get the machine to stop showing "You voted for Bush" after they hit Kerry. Blaming such an event on the voter is insulting and strains credulity.
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