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Is it possible to create a clean and fair touch screen voting system?

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bryant69 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 10:29 AM
Original message
Poll question: Is it possible to create a clean and fair touch screen voting system?
What is the opinion of the people on this board?

Also I don't mean to minimize the problems with the current system; but I"m asking about what is possible, not about what we already have.

Bryant
Check it out --> http://politicalcomment.blogspot.com

Sorry, polls are turned off at Level 3.

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Turbineguy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 10:33 AM
Response to Original message
1. Ultimately it matters less who
is elected than whether or not the system for electing them is honest.

If the citizens of the US really want these people to run the country, that is their choice. But they must also be able to correct that. It is dubious as to their original election and even more so in their continuation.
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MannyGoldstein Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 10:34 AM
Response to Original message
2. Definitely Do-Able
But it would require complete transparency and auditing - open source code, and so forth.
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rman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 10:42 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. what he said
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bryant69 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 10:50 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. When you say open source code, what exactly is that
and how would it apply in this case. I will admit i don't fully understand it. I assume that while the votes are actually counted you would want a closed system - but in the run up, people would have access to the program used to run the touchscreen machiens and tabulate the votes?

I am in favor of a touch screen system that prints a ballot, incidentally, that the voter can look at - so that you have both the machine score and the paper trail.

Bryant
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MannyGoldstein Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 01:40 PM
Response to Reply #4
14. Source Code Can Be Inspected By Anyone
It means that anyone could freely inspect the source code (human-readable form of the program) to look for errors. This ensures that the code is not rigged.

There would then need to be a process to ensure that the finalized and inspected source code is compiled to the executable (computer-readable format) and loaded to the machines without any skulduggery.

Getting a paper receipt would be a very good thing. There ought to be random audits as well.

Very do-able; just requires good procedures and oversight. It would probably end up costing much less than what's currently being done, and work better.
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peacetalksforall Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 10:50 AM
Response to Original message
5. Actually, what I think is that it is 100% possible to create a touch
screen 'machine'. You say 'system'. There are many parts to the system. Most attention is on the machine meaning hardware and software. There are all the stages of tallying, transferring conglomerating, and control of the steps leading up to the announcements.

Do you mean all of that in 'the system'. If yes, I reserve my confidence to the hardware and software that the citizens touches and effects because that is where all the attention is at. I don't have confidence in what happens after that as long as the citizens remain uneducated and unconcerned.

I have no faith in the maintenance as long as employees of the manufacturers 'fix' and 'maintain' the machines. The system has no oversight of standardization and the troubleshooting aspects appear to follow the saying 'any which way you can by (fill in the blank).......... from the following choices - 'fix it honorably', 'steal as many as you can because NO ONE is looking;.

I am beginning to have 100% suspicion of Election Boards - because some appear to have no clue as to the concept of the machines being owned by Republican companies and that the manufacturers might not be honest. They seem to believe the manufacturers instead of the citizens. Some appear to be blatantly and sickeningly gullible,
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bryant69 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 10:56 AM
Response to Reply #5
7. So you would see the main problems to be political?
Our obssession with privitizing everything and the gullibility (perhaps willful gullibility) of the election boards?

Bryant
Check it out --> http://politicalcomment.blogspot.com
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Bretttido Donating Member (754 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 02:48 PM
Response to Reply #7
15. The only possible problem would be political
Anyone who tells you it can't be done "technically", frankly, does not know what they are talking about. There are a plethora of computer-based security techniques such as finger-printing, public-key cryptology, etc that can be used to ensure a secure and verifiable voting system. The biggest obstacle I see is that private companies do not want to make their code open-source; and conversely, open-source communities like GNU are not in the field of signing contracts with the government.
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bryant69 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 06:06 PM
Response to Reply #15
19. It'd be interesting to see what hurdles the government would have to jump
through to even sign a contract with the gnu community - or anything similar.

Bryant
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KurtNYC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 10:54 AM
Response to Original message
6. You enter your vote via touch screen; the system prints a ticket
with a sequential serial number. When the votes are tallied, you can check to see that your serial numbered vote is among those counted for your candidate. The total votes have to match the the highest serial number issued. The tickets provide a back up to the electronic system.
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BeFree Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 11:11 AM
Response to Original message
8. It is possible
But not probable, otherwise we'd already have such a system.

What we have now is a system that is in essence, a private corporation's dream come true. The private corporations had congress pass a spending bill of more than $3 billion that ended up buying thousands of voting systems from just a few companies, but mainly systems from Diebold.

Those systems have no public oversight, have code that remains a private secret, and that issues results without any check and balance.

A dream come true for just a few!

And look at who those systems sElected to hold office!
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tech3149 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 11:43 AM
Response to Original message
9. I think it is possible
Technically, the hardware can be made substantial enough to avoid unexpected failures. Open source software that can be reviewed by any one with the available skills, assures that even if independent testing authority, that is not quite so independent, can be challenged. That would only work if procedures, legislation, and interest made it possible. The idea presented in another post about a sequential identifier number that could be checked after the fact, presents the problem of matching the voter to the vote. That presents the problem of negating the private ballot. That could be overcome by generating a random, unique identifier number that the individual voter could assure that their vote was counted and still assure privacy. These issues could be easily overcome with the investment of political will and technological expertise.

The real question is why should we need to? Voting should be nothing more than a matter of tabulation with the ability to check the results in a transparent and understandable manner. Any technology inserted in the process should only add to the reliability and efficiency of the process.

Unfortunately, there are many more simple ways to influence the results of any election. Their only disadvantage is that it requires the involvement of more people and increases the likely hood of being exposed. I am fairly certain that even if DRE's were not in the equation, elections are still manipulated by other much more simple means. I know too well that the KISS principle works.
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rock Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 12:00 PM
Response to Original message
10. Let me answer another related question
I believe a paper ballot is the most reliable form. If you make it too easy to input your choices, then you make it easier to fake ballots.
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bryant69 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 12:01 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. That's not a question
But a related question might be how many people do we want voting? Would 100% voter turnout be positive? Or negative?

Bryant
Check it out --> http://politicalcomment.blogspot.com
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meldroc Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 12:12 PM
Response to Original message
12. Technically, but not politically possible...
The way I'd do it, the touch screen machines wouldn't be hooked up to any network, nor would they even count votes. All they do is provide a shiny, user-friendly interface, with accommodations for those with disabilities, to enable them to generate a ballot. Once the user's made his choices, the touch-screen machine prints out a paper ballot that looks like a current optical-scan "Scantron" ballot - it's both machine readable and human readable. The voter then manually verifies the paper ballot contains the correct votes, then puts that ballot into the ballot box in accordance with established voting protocols.

Then there's the counting of ballots, which is another security problem altogether. First, all ballots, from the time they're deposited in ballot boxes, to the point where they're counted, should be kept with a formal chain of custody, with observers to verify no tampering occurs. The way I'd do tabulation, I'd provide all major political parties/candidates with their own counting machines, along with all the computer source code, so the parties can build their own binaries and have their own software engineers & experts verify the code works correctly. Also there would be an official government counting machine that'll have the default count. When votes are counted, they're counted openly, with the general public invited to observe. In a typical two-way Repub vs Demo race, the votes would be counted three times - once by the Democrat's counting machine, once by the Republican's voting machine, and once by the government's machine. Ideally, all the counts will come out exactly the same, in which case the party representatives and the government officials sign off on the count and it's certified. If the count comes out different, then a recount is done, along with technical troubleshooting to rule out glitches. If that doesn't fix the counts so they're all equal, then a hand recount is done (the ballots are human-readable, remember?) I probably haven't thought of all the things that could go wrong, but this way ensures there are enough checks and balances that cooking the counts would be very difficult.

Of course, the powers that be in our government would never agree to such a system - an honest election would be a threat to them.
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salitine Donating Member (49 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 12:18 PM
Response to Original message
13. Clean? Fair? You can do the same thing the electronic system does with a
mechanical system. Time stamp, serial numbered votes, and the order of votes, can all be tabulated onto any printed medium. If the machines are meddled with, it becomes apparent by the lack of ticket holders. The problem's not with the machines, but with accuracy. You need to defend your vote with your life, and for that, it needs to be worth your life. Are you willing to die to get your politician in office? Our politicians, Reps&Dems, need something better to do than "office holding". Sunder the offices, or be sundered.
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bryant69 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 03:53 PM
Response to Original message
16. Kick
I want to get more votes from the late afternoon crowd if possible.

Bryant
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sweetheart Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 03:58 PM
Response to Original message
17. Postal balloting is the future, why fight it
Given migration and the complexity of modern life, postal balloting (aka absentee ballot)
is the simplest technology, why are we insisting that people take time off work to come somewhere
to make a mark when we have a postal service.
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Donald Ian Rankin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-21-06 04:26 PM
Response to Original message
18. Obviously possible; in fact I'm sure it's very often been done.
The problem is that, having done so, it's relatively difficult to prove that you've done so, which renders the achievement less useful than it might have been.

Voting is like justice - it needs not only to be fair, but to be seen to be fair. A good voting system needs to be not only clean and fair, but *provably* clean and fair, which is much harder to achieve.
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