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Mon Sep 21, 2015, 07:40 AM

There will be a voting machine disaster in 2016

Last edited Mon Sep 21, 2015, 10:15 AM - Edit history (1)

http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/voting-machine-meltdown-2016-likely-investigation-warns

“The problem of aging and outdated voting equipment is national and widespread,” Brennan concluded in a wonky but stunning report that found most voting machines in use across America are older than the first i-phone. As Dana Chisnell, director of the Center for Civic Design and a visiting scientist at MIT noted, machines that were bought 10, 12, or 15 years ago “were designed and engineered in the 1990s.” Brennan’s experts said, “We ignore it at our collective peril. A majority of jurisdictions in 2016 will be using machines at or near the end of their projected lifespans.”

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The problem is decrepit electronics can misrecord votes, lose votes en masse because of faulty memory, and be hacked at the tabulation stage by insiders who know it takes very little to swing close races.

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Brennan said, “The jurisdictions looking to deploy new equipment represent approximately 40 million registered voters and their states total 387 of the 538 electoral votes.”

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Brennan quoted Jack Cobb, the laboratory director at Pro V&V—a federally accredited testing lab—who “told us that a coating on the edge of the touch screen ‘slowly degrades’ the glue that holds the screen in place. As a result, the touch screen can slip out of place, and register votes incorrectly.

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For years, jurisdictions using paper ballots that were scanned to be counted thought they had a better approach—because they had a paper trail that could be audited in recounts. Yet the report notes that aging optical-scan machines have their problems too. And other key computer parts—motherboards and memory—can also fail:




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You know what doesn't age and cannot be hacked? Pen&paper and humans.

Germany votes with paper-ballots and ballpoint-pens.
The ballots are counted by hand and any citizen is allowed to stay and witness the counting.
The election ends at 7 PM, the first precincts report at about 7.15 PM and the almost-final result is available for the evening-news at 8 PM (the results can still shift by 0.1% here and there, but it's practically a done deal).

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Could Obama use his executive powers as President to force everybody to switch to pen&paper?

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Response to DetlefK (Original post)

Mon Sep 21, 2015, 07:48 AM

1. That's a good question, but I think that question would never be asked...

The county executive (Allegheny, Pennsylvania) insisted that all that money was put into getting iVotronic machines (which many of us argued against, while being ignored then). I personally feel that they needed several test runs (as the software is quite fallible) in order to "proceed" at a much larger tally.

Simple solutions do exist, but will people be the driving force to change to paper that is tallied at each voting district?

I predict that we STILL haven't been beat up enough and the answer would therefore be, "no". Amazing… but, you know it's true, don't you?

That was a rhetorical question, then, wasn't it?

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Response to DetlefK (Original post)

Mon Sep 21, 2015, 10:05 AM

2. "Coolie heads"? Hopefully that's a typo because otherwise, it's offensive.

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Response to hedda_foil (Reply #2)

Mon Sep 21, 2015, 10:14 AM

4. Sorry.

I meant coolie pen. (It's always the small things that trip you about a foreign language.)

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Response to DetlefK (Original post)

Mon Sep 21, 2015, 10:08 AM

3. You don't remember the good ol' days when hand-counted ballots were such a problem...

that we got the lever machines in. Then the lever machines wore out so we got electronic machines.

Granted that electronics do wear out in their own time, but it's fascinating how many are complaining about how bad they on their iPhones just after getting some money from a cash machine and using computerized checkout equipment for stuff they don't order on Amazon. Computers just can't do anything right.

Anyway, admittedly it's ridiculous to run a Windows-based proprietary system to simply count stuff. Computers were counting stuff long before Windows and it's what they do best. One company I worked for had an entire store system, including inventory and payroll, in a box with an Intel 8080 chip. Everything was written in machine code and it worked flawlessly.

The way we do it here is paper ballots and a scanner. The county BoE regularly spot checks the machines to see if there are any common errors and after the election does some checking again.

The German ballots mentioned are apparently a lot shorter than the ones we have, and there is no mention of how large their ED's are.

Our ballots in a Presidential year often run into two pages with federal and local races and propositions. We have the President, a Congressman, a Senator, the entire town board, Assessors, highway supervisors, county legislators, judges, dog catchers and who knows what else running on as many as five or six party lines. ED's around here run about 1,000 voters each and if 60% show up that's 600 ballots with maybe a hundred or so choices that have to be counted and recounted at the precinct level. I thought everyone knew that human error is far worse than machine error.

Our school board and village elections don't use the county machines and are hand-counted within a couple of hours. Of course, hardly anyone votes at school board elections and there are very few choices. Pretty much the same with village elections. Even so, I've never seen results in 15 minutes.

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Response to DetlefK (Original post)

Mon Sep 21, 2015, 10:26 AM

5. I suspect that the Dem primaries will be the first "disaster". nt

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Response to DetlefK (Original post)

Mon Sep 21, 2015, 10:43 AM

6. He could encourage, but voting is controlled by the state, not Federal

Wish he could.

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Response to DetlefK (Original post)

Mon Sep 21, 2015, 10:49 AM

7. The machines we use here are a nice compromise

 

They have a big, easy to use touch screen that is intuitive and very accessible for those with poor vision or motor skills. But along the right side of the machine is a printer and a tool of paper like a cash register receipt. Every single move you make on the touch screen is printed and then the paper scrolls past you in the window the full length allowing you to read it before it rolls up on the bottom- if you choose one candidate it prints that even before you cast, if you go back and change it prints that, and it prints your final ballot cast- and you can watch and read what it prints on the paper as you do it.

I like that method- the ease of a big electronic touch screen, removing and ambiguity and allowing someone who makes an error to change it, and it reviews your choices before its cast- but a real time paper trail record of not just the ballot cast but every single move made on the screen to allow a paper recount and an audit of the machines to make sure what is in the digital memory matches the paper.

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Response to Lee-Lee (Reply #7)

Mon Sep 21, 2015, 11:04 AM

8. And for how many elections can one machine be used?

How many years does a machine last?

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Response to DetlefK (Reply #8)

Mon Sep 21, 2015, 12:57 PM

9. Good question

 

Seeing as how they see use maybe 1-2 times a year, not every year, they shouldn't be seeing lots of wear.

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Response to Lee-Lee (Reply #7)

Tue Sep 22, 2015, 12:45 AM

12. Is this in the US? How many

computer votes in the US have a paper trail?

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Response to roody (Reply #12)

Tue Sep 22, 2015, 06:22 AM

13. It is- in NC at least in some counties

 

The machines are just like this, evidently Arkansas uses them as well. Every touch is recorded on the paper on the left as well as your final vote.


http://www.sos.arkansas.gov/elections/Pages/iVotronicTouchScreen.aspx

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Response to DetlefK (Original post)

Mon Sep 21, 2015, 01:02 PM

10. People must demand a paper ballot.

Vote absentee if necessary.

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Response to DetlefK (Original post)

Mon Sep 21, 2015, 09:46 PM

11. Sorry, can't have outsiders winning major elections

Might upset the 1%.

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