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March 2nd, 2004

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09:59 am - I Voted - Did You?
It's Election Day in California.

Even if you don't care about the primaries, there are 4 propositions on the ballot here today. If you have the time (and you're registered)... go vote!

*end public service announcement*
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished

(7 comments | Touch Me)


[User Picture]
Date:March 2nd, 2004 10:16 am (UTC)
Did you happen to vote on one of those new e-ballots? I've heard that most of them don't keep a paper record, which could cause major problems when verifying the returns.
[User Picture]
Date:March 2nd, 2004 12:02 pm (UTC)
Yes, we used an electronic voting system here, and there is no paper record. I'm really worried though, because in the past I didn't keep any of my paper ballot, so it could have disappeared just as easily...
[User Picture]
Date:March 2nd, 2004 01:37 pm (UTC)
ugh ... don't get me started on the current state of the e-balloting system. i think it's a terrible implementation, starting with the fact that, as you said, there's no paper trail. there is nothing to validate that the database recorded my vote as i selected it, and no way to later verify the digital ballot count with a paper record. how fucking hard would it be for them to implement a little cash-register-type record of your selection, which you could visually confirm and then put into a ballot box? but, we all know which way diebold (the maker of the bulk of the current elecronic voting systems) swings (republician) ... wonder if that has anything to do with this new setup.
i mean, good lord... the state's litigators are getting tied up in the gay marriage (non) issue? how about someone sues to force that there be a paper record to match that of the electronic ballots.

[User Picture]
Date:March 2nd, 2004 02:20 pm (UTC)
Considering that many computer scientists are in an uproar about this, and that it can be solved so easily, then you are probably right about the political bias. What really bugged me was when the ACLU fought to put the e-ballots in place during the recall just so that they could delay the election. At that point they were trying for a short term solution to the Arnold problem that would eventually backfire, because they must have known about the flaws in the system. But from what it sounds like e-ballots are so wide spread even now that it is going to be impossible to change anything. America needs to define voting as a union between the e-system and it's paper trail, anything less is uncivilized!
[User Picture]
Date:March 2nd, 2004 02:50 pm (UTC)
At some point, the secret ballot system is based on trust. We trust that the polls are true, fair, and unbiased.

Receipts are bad because they allow votes to be sold or coerced, but this enables you to verify your vote was counted. Lack of receipts is bad because your vote could be "mis-counted" or lost, but this protects your privacy and limits the chance for anyone to know how you voted, or to hold your vote against you.

We accepted a lack of receipt from the paper ballots because the safety of anonymity was greater than our concern about "disappearing ballots." Granted, you can count total ballots and verify that it equals the total count of people at a polling location.

With an electronic based system, it might not seem as reliable, but remember: each polling place tends to count ballots in a group, and then the groups are electronically tallied all the rest of the way. There has always been a risk of vote "lossage", just because it's now where we touch doesn't dramatically change the risk.
[User Picture]
Date:March 2nd, 2004 03:41 pm (UTC)
But, I'm not referring to a receipt that you take with you out of the polling location, but one that you can verify correctly recorded your vote(s), and which you'll then leave in a ballot box at the polling location just as we do now. The only downside/difference I can see btwn the old system, and this current augmentation to the new electronic system would be that a voter could snag their paper receipt, not turn it in, and use it as proof of having voted a certain way. Their vote would still be tallied electronically. However, I don't think it would be impossible to ensure that the paper ballots get dropped on the way out of the polling location. Or, you could double-verify the vote by placing it electronically, having a bar-code printed on the receipt, and having the vote count only if the barcode was later scanned when you place it into the ballot box. (And, the barcode would be random; not linked to your voter identity). Yes, it's more complex, but I think the technology that they wish to use requires it.

Regarding the trust issue -- my trust wavers when the CEO of the company developing the e-balloting systems has pledged to support the GOP (from a salon article:
"And in August, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that Walden O'Dell, the CEO of Diebold, is a major fundraiser for President Bush. In a letter to fellow Republicans, O'Dell said that he was "COMMITTED TO HELPING OHIO DELIVER ITS ELECTORAL VOTES TO THE PRESIDENT NEXT YEAR.". Now, I'm sure he was referring to campaigning or fundraising, and not his company per se. But it concerns me.), has resisted efforts to have their systems keep a paper trail, and (as I last read) keeps the data in a widely used and insecure format (access databases). There was the chance of security incidents in the past once votes were transmitted electronically at any stage, but I think the chance for problems is greater now because the system is open to people at a lower level (individual precincts rather than large regions transmitting votes) and because people are much more aware now of the electronic component (and the ability for misdeeds). Plus, the code hasn't been validated by any outside source; I imagine a basic ballot-tallying system is not that hard to code. On the other hand ... bugs happen.

Sorry to write so much, but I feel pretty strongly abt all this.

From an article today:
"Politicians, voter-rights advocates and even some secretaries of state have acknowledged that the systems could theoretically fail ? with catastrophic consequences.

In several software and hardware tests, critics have shown it's easy to jam microchip-embedded smart cards into machines, or alter and delete some votes ? in some cases simply by ripping out wires. They've cracked passwords to gain access to computer servers and showed that some systems relying on Microsoft Windows lacked up-to-date security patches that should have been downloaded from the Internet. "


More in-depth article:

http://archive.salon.com/tech/feature/2003/09/23/bev_harris/ (if you don't want to deal with the salon day pass stuff, and you want to read it, lemme know and i'll email it to you)
[User Picture]
Date:March 2nd, 2004 05:20 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure the make of the voting machines used in Orange County. I did not see any accessible ports on the device, which was secured to a table. If I had attempted to remove the device from the table, a number of poll workers would have seen my activity.

Personally, I like the idea of a computer interface which print a scanned ballot. This combines some good, established technology on two fronts: the established scanning systems from old paper ballots, and front-end computers to validate and only allow valid ballots to be printed.

However, now you need poll workers who can change printer paper, fix printer jams, and all sorts of other things. Theoretically, the eletronic voting systems are self-contained and require only electricity.

Diebold is evil, any way you slice it. Politicans, and the politcally motived, can be very stupid, especially when presented with an audience. Never attribute to genius and foresight that which can be explained by ignorance and luck. I bet the head of Diebold Voting Systems knows as much about rigging electrions as the head of their ATM division knows about robbing banks. Sometimes it's good for management to be clueless, I guess.

In the meantime, if you don't like electronic voting systems you can still get a traditional paper absentee ballot. Just arrange to be out of town for the election day. :^)

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