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Germany's highest court: Are election computers unconstitutional? (source only in german)

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DetlefK Donating Member (449 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-28-08 07:06 AM
Original message
Germany's highest court: Are election computers unconstitutional? (source only in german)
Source: tagesschau

Demokratie auf Knopfdruck: Die Stimme wird per Wahlcomputer abgegeben. Nach dem Wunsch des Frankfurter Software-Spezialisten Ullrich Wiesner soll das zumindest knftig bei Wahlen nicht mehr mglich sein. Sein Anwalt, der Hamburger Professor Ulrich Karpen, nennt die Grnde."Wir sind nicht sicher, dass die Gerte nicht manipulierbar sind - wir glauben ja. Dass Eingriffe in das Wahlverfahren mglich sind und dass die Wahl nicht, wie das Grundgesetz in Artikel 38 ausdrcklich vorschreibt, frei, gleich, geheim und vor allem ffentlich ist."

Read more:

A software expert is making a case before Germany's highest court (the "federal constitutional court") against election computers: They violate Article 38 of the constitution, as elections were no longer free, equal, secret (in casting) and public (in counting).

The Chaos Computer Club (hackers turned security experts) is arguing against election computers as well, because of their vulnerability: They easily replaced the vote-counting program in an election computer with a chess-playing program.

The trial starts today.
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AllieB Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-28-08 07:17 AM
Response to Original message
1. Once again, a European country is championing democracy.
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reorg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-28-08 07:30 AM
Response to Original message
2. Great! I hope the complaint will be successful.
Despite the Florida debacle, these machines were introduced in Germany without any public discussion to speak of. When I first had to cast my vote with a computer, I didn't even know about that fact before I entered the polling place!
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dipsydoodle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-28-08 07:46 AM
Response to Original message
3. In the UK we still use paper ballots
Edited on Tue Oct-28-08 07:47 AM by edwardlindy
and there are no changes envisaged of which I'm aware.

I appreciate the the UK is small in terms of the overall size of the USA but could surely be compared with an individual US State for example. Given past and current issues why don't you <not Germany> return to paper ballots ?

edit : forgot to say :hi:
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ProgressiveEconomist Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-28-08 02:48 PM
Response to Reply #3
10. US ballots are loaded up with up to 100 individual contests in some jurisdictions, and
many states have made it illegal to allow voters to choose a single party's candidates or positions with one choice.

How complicated are the paper ballots in British elections?

IMO part of American electoral reform has to be simplification of elections, eliminating confusing referenda, elections of judges, etc. Maybe Statewide and National ballots should be separated from local ballots.
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dipsydoodle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-28-08 04:55 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. Our parliamentary elections
are kept completely separate from local elections.

How complicated are the paper ballots in British elections? Choice of 3 names plus any independants running - alphabetical order from memory. Only soft pencils are used ! Vote rigging is effectively impossible.

I'm appalled at what goes on in the USA.
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Matilda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-28-08 08:22 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. The same in Australia.
Upper house ballots here are bigger than lower house, whether in Federal or State elections, but
the rules make sure that they are manageable, ever since the infamous 1999 NSW Upper House ballot
paper, which was the size of a tablecloth. But Lower House ballots have generally between four
and six names, depending on how many parties are fielding candidates.

We also use pencils only, and I've never had to wait more than a minute in a queue to vote. There
are always plenty of polling stations, well-staffed by volunteers. We don't have to show up at a
particular precinct, but can drop in anywhere in our electorate, and our names will be in the book.

Machines were tested in Queensland a few years ago, but they had paper receipts, and could be
examined by electoral officials at any time. However - perhaps because of the U.S. experience -
there doesn't seem to be any talk of introducing them nationally.

I also voted in the U.K. in the years that I lived there, and found the experience to be pretty much
the same as ours.
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Porschenut1066 Donating Member (348 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-28-08 08:36 AM
Response to Original message
4. Translation of first paragraph
Democracy at your fingertips?

The computer voice delivers the results of the election. Following the request of the Frankfurt software specialists Ullrich Wiesner, Elections in the future, will not use touch screen or computerized systems. His lawyer, Hamburger Professor Ulrich Carp, said the reasons for this not using touch screen or computerized systems to control elections is that "We are not sure exactly how or if it is possible to manipulate the computerized systems, but we actually believe it is likely that the systems can be manipulated. Since the possibility of interference in the electoral process exists we cannot use such devices because the German Constitution, in Article 38 expressly provides that all elections will be free, equal, secret and, above all, open to public inspection and verification."
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msongs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-28-08 08:59 AM
Response to Original message
5. ---> paper ballots, hand counted, results posted FIRST at the precinct level nt
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Karenina Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-28-08 09:13 AM
Response to Original message
6. The Chaos Computer Club has presented
an AIRTIGHT case. They're GREAT!
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jimmybama Donating Member (90 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-28-08 09:38 AM
Response to Original message
Outstanding idea! Paper ballots that take a mark not a
dimppled chad punch type ballot. And like Andy said- You'll do
alright Opie as long as you stay away from the butterfly
ballot!! Let's take Andy's advice.
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BanTheGOP Donating Member (596 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-28-08 10:58 AM
Response to Reply #7
8. I don't mind electronic voting...IF(and it's a mighty big if!!)...
...we do the following.

1. Designate a multi-partisan (NOT "bi"-partisan; we need to have the input of all the other parties, especially if the republican party is banned) task force to designate a consortium to develop, test, and implement the electronic voting system, including ALL elements of the balloting information, voting machines, ballot boxes, centralized voting apparatus, and all transmission encryption methods.

2. Upon initial registration, and for every authorized subsequent elections, every voter is assigned a special number that will allow him/her/tg to contain all the voting information for a particular election: precinct, voting selections, and all candidates or issues selected.

3. Every voter, once he/she/tg has entered his/her/tg's selection, can have the selections printed out before he/she/tg leaves the booth and VERIFY that all selections have been chosen. The slip of paper will also say "VERIFICATION ONLY" to indicate it's not a submitted ballot yet. By law, this cannot prove a selection; it is only used to verify the immediate selections before the ballot is electronically submitted.

4. Once the voter verifies the selections, he/she/tg presses submit. The information is transmitted to a central voting clearinghouse. At that point, a paper ballot is printed on a blind carbon paper, with only the voter's special identification number printed on the top of the sheet in both readable numbers and a scan code of the same number. The ballot would actually have two sections divided by a perforated line. The results are printed on both halves of the carbon paper.

5. The voter tears off his/her/tg's copy of the official vote. The other half will go into the official precinct box. Now, this is not just a box with a slot. It is a scanner that you slide the ballot into the scanner. The number is scanned, and the ballot is mechanically inserted into the box. THESE BALLOTS ARE THE ONLY OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS DESIGNATING THE VOTES OF THE PEOPLE.

6. Once the ballot has been scanned and inserted into the ballot box, a sticker with the voter's ID number is ejected from the ballot box.

7. The sticker is verified by a precinct official, and adhered to the precinct roster of voters. Note, no names are used here, all information will be tied in with the special identification number. The sticker contains a scan code for machine readability.

8. At the end of the voting period, all ballots will be removed from the ballot box and the following syncronization checks MUST occur:

A. The machine generated list of voter ID's that were transmitted to the central location.
B. The voter ID's from the ballots from the ballot box.
C. The amount and voter ID's of the stickers on the precinct exit lists.

Not only must the counts all match, exactly, but the identification numbers must match...exactly! This process can be done automatically or by hand count.

9. In the event of a close election, the election officials open the ballots for a hand count as necessary. The same hand-count rules come into play:

A. If the voting percentage is within a designated percentage, a hand-count will be automatically ordered by the voting registrar.
B. If any candidate wishes to pay for it, a hand-count can be conducted for any reason.

10. CENTRAL APPARATUS: Note I said "apparatus", because the control of the central apparatus automatically must mandate very specialized process, including a DOUBLE-BLIND accountability system that ensures no one person or group can control the actions of any of the voting steps. This includes a confirmation process that will allow ANY voter the ability to verify his/her/tg's vote at ANY time after the election.

Now, this was quite a mouthful...but electronic voting CAN be used properly and effectively. But...before ANY of the above can happen, we MUST ban the republican party, otherwise they will NEVER go for this! Diebold has endangered the planet three times already; we can NOT afford them to do it EVER AGAIN.

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foxfeet Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-28-08 01:58 PM
Response to Original message
9. Vielen Dank, DetlefK!
I don't trust computer voting, either.
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