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Voting Machine Used in Half of U.S. Is Vulnerable to Attack, Report Finds (wsj.com)
297 points by briatx 6 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 202 comments




I work for the municipality of Skanderborg, Denmark. We have what we call digital elections, but what’s digitized is the registration process. Basically every adult gets a voting card with their information + a barcode, we scan those barcodes when they turn up to receive their ballot(is that the right word for voting list?), and then they are registered.

The actual voting takes place on paper, and while it takes time to prepare the ballots and count the votes, the process of voting doesn’t take very longer than a few minutes for the individual citizen. From they enter the voting place till they are done.

I think that’s the way to digitize elections, you make them speedy for the citizens, but safe for democracy.

I can’t for the life of me understand why you would ever do a digital vote. It’s just so risky. I guess you save money by adding effectiveness to the process surrounding an election, preparing ballots and counting votes, but those parts of the process are owned by the public sector and I don’t think the government should ever value the safety of our democracy as less important than money. We count votes by enlisting employees of the municipality, members of political parties and paid help from local NGOs, and everything is monitored and counted a few times. It’s a little taxing, but everyone involved enjoy the process, and financially it’s not that expensive compared to paying a license for voting machines.


> It’s a little taxing, but everyone involved enjoy the process

This is part of the problem in the United States. Voting is a chore, and you're often going to lose money (unpaid time off) to do it. If elections were national holidays and voting was treated as a privilege instead of a chore, we would be much better off.


I live in Colorado.

A couple of weeks before the midterms I'm going to get a packet in the mail containing my ballot, instructions for filling it out, a pamphlet where every candidate on the ballot gets a paragraph or two to make their case, and a prepaid return envelope. I fill out my ballot at my leisure, stuff it in the envelope, sign the envelope underneath the flap, and drop it in a mailbox. There's a receipt with an anonymous serial number in the packet that I can go online and use to verify my ballot has been received. If I'm worried about missing the deadline there are also dropboxes in most government buildings I can drop my ballot in up through the day of the election, along with a few traditional polling places open on election day.

Voter turnout here is about twelve points above the national average.


And in some states, like Florida, if you vote by mail it is 10x less likely to be counted.[1]

Our democracy is broken, and the people capable of fixing it are actively incentivized to keep it broken.

[1] https://www.miamiherald.com/news/politics-government/state-p...


> And in some states, like Florida, if you vote by mail it is 10x less likely to be counted

The headline of that article is "If you vote by mail in Florida, it’s 10 times more likely that ballot won’t count". That's not equivalent to what you said.

If there's a 99% chance your vote will count and 1% chance it won't, a 10 times more likely to not count changes that to a 90% will count/10% won't count chance. Using your wording, it would change it to a 9% will count/91% won't count chance. Those are vastly different things.


The reason the majority of those ballots were rejected is because they didn't sign them.


We do that in Switzerlamd as well. I have never voted by going to some place.

Voter turnout is still not very high.


Hmm. I wonder why? Any ideas?


There's 4 voting sessions per year and, in my own opinion, about half of the topics being voted on are quite silly. This might induce some voting fatigue.


Makes some sense.


How do you know your ballot has not been changed ?


There's a line for a signature that the flap of the envelope ends up glued over the top of. There is no identifying information visible on the outside of a properly sealed envelope.

The envelopes have to remain sealed until they're brought into the room with the election monitors to be counted. If the seal isn't intact or the envelope isn't signed underneath or the bar code under the flap doesn't match the one on the ballot then the ballot is considered spoiled. The actual ballots are wrapped in a "secrecy sleeve" so that the votes can't be seen without unfolding them, and the election monitors separate the envelopes with the signatures from the ballots before they begin counting, so the secret ballot is preserved.

From that point forward they're processed just like any other paper ballots.


But you’re still not there and cannot be there when they actually read the ballot...


The state of Oregon has vote by mail. Its awesome. My ballot gets mailed to me a few weeks before the election. I fill it out, and can either mail it back (I have to pay for a postage stamp) or drop it off at a ballot drop box all over town.

there are all sorts of safeguards for things like not getting your ballot in the mail, etc. I was also automatically register to vote as an independent when I got my drivers license. (they mailed me a form I could return/mail to change party, if I wanted to).

My last state, my town was small, had a single polling place, and trying to vote before work meant getting there before they opened at 7am, or else wait 60-90 min to vote, and be late to work. (or come in after work, and wait 60-90 minutes).


This actually a bad idea: The reason for in person voting is poll monitors there are watching to make sure nobody knows how you voted.

There are have been cases of "vote for me or I'll break your legs". When you vote from home someone can come by and watch you mail your vote the "correct" way in.


In theory. Has this actually happened, since the introduction of postal voting, in the United States?

To be useful it would be necessary to visit 10,000’s - 100,000 houses and threaten violence.

The voting system does not need to resolve this issue. Threats of violence are already illegal, and any group conducting such acts at that volume would be quickly apprehended. Call the police.

Can you imagine how quickly twitter / the internet would blow up if stand over men were going door to door threatening voters?


Not quite people going door to door threatening people. but with Absentee Voting by mail, there have been plenty of cases of a Candidate's family member or a party operative making the rounds of the nursing homes and special needs homes and "assisting" residents in filling out absentee ballots. Alot of these people you could make a very good argument that the voter lacks sufficient mental capacity to cast a ballot. This happens in plenty of local elections around here. Most of the cases are not really covered by the media either.


The risk has typically been more been cohabiting family (partners and parents, especially).


It has happened in history.


How often is this an issue? Sounds like a made up scenario for the US.


It's better to worry about these things before they are problems. I don't know if it's happened in the US but it is absolutely a very common attack against voting systems, and any voting system not resistant to it should be considered suspect.


Voter suppression is an actual real world problem that happens today, not a hypothetical problem like the one you are worried about. Allowing voting by mail is an improvement to that real world problem as it reduces the barriers to voting for those that are employed in jobs that don't give time off for voting or who don't have transportation to their voting location.

Voter intimidation is already illegal and there is no indication that it is a legitimate problem in the states that have postal voting.


Vote buying is also illegal and vote-by-mail makes it easy to document your ballot to get the promised kickback. This is logistically difficult for national elections but for local office it is much more likely to succeed.


Is there any evidence at all that vote buying is a problem in US elections?


No, but why worry about actual problems when you can make up excuses to disenfranchise people!


Switzerland, one of the most democratic places in the world has done this for a very lomg time.

While im theory its relevant a practical issue has never happened once as far as I can remember.

Going to hugly distributed areas to beat all voters up seems like a terrible attack vector.

So maybe in some places it could be a problem but I dont see it as much of a problem in a modern First World Democracy.


There are definitely smaller countries in Europe where parties have purchased the election by giving money door to door. I know it happened in Albania, along with threats of family members losing their jobs, etc. And they did lose their jobs once the election was over. There were threats to private sector employers if they didn't cooperate, etc.


You think people didn't worry about it before we implemented vote-by-mail? This is a solved problem, and it turns out that there isn't much of an attack vector here after all.


I'm confused. Are you talking about family members forcing others to vote a certain way? Wouldnt that family member be just as coercive at a polling station? I guess in theory one could lie to the family member if they vote in person but is this a sizable and real concern about at home voting?

Genuinely curious because I've never heard of anyone expressing this concern before.


In-person voting has its own issues.

Polling locations can be (and allegedly are) reduced in number and/or moved farther away from specific groups in order to influence who votes.


At least in Sweden you can still go to vote on vote day even if you mailed in your vote earlier. The physical vote will override the mail vote (if both exist).


Can't you do that in the US via a provisional ballot on the day-of?


If you mail it do you get a confirmation that it was received and processed? How does one know that it wasn't destroyed while en route? Does the ballot come with a tracking number that you can punch in on website to see if your vote was processed correctly?


In Oregon you can check the web site to see if your vote was received. Not sure if they send an email, because my registration did not include my email address until just a few minutes ago ;-).

Aside from that you can't find out much more, of course, because as soon as your ballot is received and the outer envelope is scanned, it is discarded and your ballot (which is inside an inner secrecy envelope) is put in a box with the rest.


I get an email ack that it was received. Was it scanned and correctly tabulated? Unlikely given the history in my county (Sarasota)


Why are elections not held on Sundays ? I assume that on average there are less people working that day that Monday - Friday, so less people would have to take time off from their job.

Edit: Found this

> In 1845, the United States Congress chose a single date for all national elections in all states. The first Tuesday after the first Monday in November was chosen so that there would never be more than 34 days between Election Day and the first Wednesday in December. Election Day is held on a Tuesday so that voters will not have to vote or travel on Sunday. This was an important consideration at the time when the laws were written and is still so in some Christian communities in the United States.

This seems a pretty dated reason. Why no one is proposing to change it ?


Elections are held on Tuesday as a way of restricting who can vote PERIOD. Poorer voters have a harder time getting off work, and getting transportation to voting site, which is usually close to their home, but not their work.


The law required you be given enough time off to vote, or you be given advance notice to get an absentee ballot if they won't be close to home.


This isn't followed well enough to make it practical, though. If you aren't scheduled to begin work until 2 hours after the polls open, they say you have time. It doesn't matter if you cannot physically get to the voting booth, vote, and travel to work in the time given.

As far as absentee ballots are concerned, sometimes they are difficult to get. My mother had trouble getting one when she was pregnant - my sister was due around election day. She finally got it, luckily - because my sister was, indeed, born on election day.


These tactics are often combined with restricting voting locations in urban areas to force people to travel farther in an effort to maximize disenfranchisement.


An hourly worker can vote, the just have to forgo several hours of income to do so. This is particularly true in several Southern states, where polling places are few and far between in poor districts. It also doesn’t help that you have to vote in your home district, when you may work a long commute away, increasing the amount of time away from work even more.


Seems simple enough to just make it a national holiday.


People work on national holidays, though.

I assume there is some correlation between people who are unlikely to receive paid time off for voting and people that have to work on unusual days, so I'm not sure changing what day Election Day falls on will fix anything.

The solution is to mandate that employers give you a couple of paid hours off on Election Day. I would be surprised if this was not already the case in several states.

States can also help out by keeping the polls open for longer hours, so that someone who has to work an 8 hour shift has plenty of time on either side of their workday to go vote. (Last primary, I forgot in the morning, then worked late... and still had plenty of time to vote after work. The same is not true in every state.)


Not really.

Do you need to get to the polling place? I guess all gas station workers are exempt. As is everybody working for the various transit systems.

Can you ensure nobody has a medical issue on a national holiday? Doctors, nurses, and hospital support staff are all working. This also brings on either the entire power grid, or someone in maintenance to watch the generators.

Do you eat? All restaurants are exempt. So are grocery stores. So are all the utilities related to energy needed for cooking. (though here Israel with their nobody working on the sabbath has an interesting take - in part that works there because non-jews are willing to work but it need not)

Are you going arrest foreigners the night before (which is to say no passports are valid, go home before voting day and come back afterwards - bad weather is not an excuse to plan ahead)? I guess hotels get to remain open.

You can go on. It turns out to run civilization we need a lot of people working even on holidays. Interestingly, it turns out a lot of these workers are the poorer people who you were trying to help.


Yes I'm sure I could come up with an unlimited amount of scenarios to make every system imperfect.

There's no reason we can't take the positive step forward of making it a holiday now which would improve it for a huge amount of people and then improve it further.

It seems people want 100% solutions. If it's not perfect we might as well stay stuck where we are. This is essentially what you are saying. This is why no progress is ever made, because improvements are ignored because they are "not perfect." The world isn't perfect, but we can do better and making it a holiday will help significantly.

Keep searching for Utopia, while the pragmatists get things done.


This is already a solved problem. Wage workers can get paid for a multiple of their actual hours as a holiday differential. But in order to invoke that system, you do need to declare the holiday.


You didn't solve the problem, in fact you made it worse. For people who already have a problem getting to the polls you have just given them extra money to not make that effort - going to work instead.


The holiday differential is likely enough that the employer will not allow the employee to work any longer than is strictly necessary, and only if the workplace absolutely must stay open during a holiday. Most people will not even have the option to work. For those that do, the shifts will be offered to the most senior workers first.

Some states might even allow absentee ballots for those who will be present in the state, but are essential personnel who have been scheduled to work on election day. That's not something that can be established federally, though.


This!

And it has to be on-par with things like memorial day, labor day, thanksgiving and christmas... plus include primaries as well.

If it is similar to President's day or Veterens day, not only will folks still work, but they will usually get paid normal wages that day as well.


"Seems simple enough" is to politics what "this should be a quick fix" is to engineering.


So we should do nothing, give up. The world is absurd. Oh well.

As something that helps the problem, it is simple enough. It's not an abstract idea. Our particular vessel at implementing such a change is where the complexity lies and the problem is with that, not the idea.

Often times quick fixes solve major issues for enough time for more permanent solutions to be put in place. Patching a pothole does the job. It's not perfect, but your car won't get damaged anymore in the pothole.


I can't believe it's not either a national holiday or an accepted thing for all employers to give the day off. I know legally they have to give you an hour to vote, but the entire day sends a message that this is an important thing for you to do.


> I know legally they have to give you an hour to vote

Are you certain about this?


It's a state-by-state thing. CA requires employers give two hours off: https://www.sos.ca.gov/administration/news-releases-and-advi...


A nearby post repeats the claim as if it were true nationwide, claiming that those who weren't given time off had to be supplied an absentee ballot. On its face it doesn't make sense unless we're talking about state employees, and we're not talking about state employees. EDIT copyedit


That doesn't help low income folks who work service jobs that don't get the same holidays. I feel like that would just make the middle-upper income vote that much more loud.


What about the middle class that would benefit from a holiday? Should we just ignore them because we don't have a perfect solution yet?

Making it a holiday is a huge step forward. Taking other steps (like mandated hours off for all jobs) can also be done. Why can't we have a small step forward? Is there a problem with progress if it doesn't fully solve the problem?


We don't have enough mandated holidays.

1.) There should be at least one federal holiday that constructs a three-day weekend each month. I think ideally, any new such holidays should grant the Friday, rather than Monday, as the holiday day - Friday is traditionally the day of dumping problems on someone else, and ruining their weekend. Ruining a three-day weekend in this fashion is especially egregious, and, at least temporarily, the Friday switchup should help to confuse the problem-dumpers.

2.) The informal Thanksgiving and Christmas-New Years week holidays should be formalized - these are already de facto periods of minimal productivity, they might as well be de jure, and we can just focus on being happy/miserable with our families during this period.

3.) In similar fashion, the entire 4th of July week should be declared a holiday, if for no other reason than to resolve issues of confusion on proper conduct when the 4th falls upon inconvenient days like Wednesday, as occurred this year. A week of vacation during the period when there is actually the potential of usable daylight and pleasant weather would have significant mental health implications.

4.) How the freak is voting day not a national holiday already?!?


That's fair, but my genuine concern is we stop at the voting holiday. As people who have more income are more able to vote, the views of those who aren't able to vote become suppressed that much more.

But you're right - don't do nothing just because to do something isn't perfect.


The system is designed to prevent (certain) people from voting. So while a national holiday would make sense in the abstract, it goes contrary to the goals of those who make the laws.


To those downvoting: voter suppression in the us isn't exactly a secret: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voter_suppression_in_the_Uni...

In that line, a national holiday for voting would encourage voting. As such, all the groups pushing voter suppression would be against a holiday.


If this had an actual impact on the election you would see one side push for changing the day as a strategy if they are more popular in the poorer populations than their opponent. Republicans would definitely want this more now considering Donald Trump's voter base was mostly lower income people. Same could be said for Barack Obama during 2014.


The GOP is run by the 1% but they need a larger base to win elections. This is why they crafted a platform catering to the pet issues of low-income conservatives. They never actually deliver on their rhetoric because it's all just an act (Still waiting on the executive branch to institute H1B reform). They don't want policies that allow masses of poorer people to influence the results for the periods they are out of power.


FYI. Trump won every income bracket above $50k, while Hillary only won those below

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/11/08/us/politics/e...


That's not what the graph shows at all. The graph shows that there is no statistical correlation between income and votes, except that lower incomes slightly preferred Clinton. The problem with this data is that it doesn't appear to be weighted by electoral college result, so we don't get to actually see what the impact on the election result is. And, even worse, the survey appears to include the question "Did you vote for Clinton or Trump" yet doesn't include that answer in the graph, so we don't get to compare the relative results. I tried to extract that result by using the male/female data assuming 50/50 representation, but ended up in a tie, and we don't get to know the bias of participants vs non-participants.


Lol come on now, no need to be facetious. There are six income brackets broke down with the vote tallies for the respective candidates. The exit polling is not done for the Electoral College, and does not change the fact that every income bracket greater than 50k voted for Trump more than they did Hillary


By a single point! You're really stretching the meaning of the numbers. Compare to "Residence"; now there's a meaningful difference (Cities/Suburbs/Country.)


Per that chart, Republicans in general tend to win every income bracket above $50k. Look at the gains and losses from 2012: Trump made massive gains with lower income brackets, and lost the Republican grip on the middle and upper middle classes.

So yes, it's reasonable to say that the cohort that Trump made the largest gains with (i.e., lower income brackets) is his "voter base."


One oddity of the American system I’ve noticed is that most polls seem to close REALLY early. It’s usually 7am-10pm here, so unless you’re working a 15 hour day (which is illegal in most circumstances) you should be able to vote.

American polling centres also often seem to have massive queues and long waiting periods to vote, I assume due to understaffing and insufficient numbers of centres.


> American polling centres also often seem to have massive queues and long waiting periods to vote, I assume due to understaffing and insufficient numbers of centres.

Yep, due to a well-documented campaign by republicans to restrict access to voting that has been ongoing since the civil rights era.


Yup. And that lack of polling places and understaffing is usually an effort by the party in power to suppress the vote in key (opposing) districts.


Elections were originally on Tuesdays because "Tuesday was established as election day because it did not interfere with the Biblical Sabbath or with market day, which was on Wednesday in many towns."

Why hasn't it changed? Because to change it the party in power would have to vote to massively change voting block, almost certainly swinging several elections. Since the party is in power, they have no interest in this.

Additionally, the people who want it changed are probably the people who can't easily vote on Tuesday. These people already don't vote, so they can't influence their politicians to support changing the day.


> Additionally, the people who want it changed are probably the people who can't easily vote on Tuesday. These people already don't vote

I'm sorry but there is a non sequitur here. If someone is inconvenienced by voting on Tuesday, it doesn't really mean they don't vote on Tuesday.

I don't know how it really is (non-US citizen and not in the US) but I strongly suspect there must a lot of people who don't fancy the extra hassle but still vote.


In the Netherlands you can vote for a large part of the day, about from 7:00 in the morning to 20:00 or 21:00 hours in the evening.

How is the timing in the U.S. then?


It varies by state, but they're typically open for 12 hours starting from 6 or 7AM. Some states are open longer.

https://ballotpedia.org/State_Poll_Opening_and_Closing_Times...


Or you can just do mail in ballots. Washington state, for instance, sends out ballots to all registered voters twoish weeks in advance of each race, and achieved almost 80% turnout for the 2016 election[1], for instance, which we'll probably top this year with the inclusion of pre-paid postage.

https://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/research/voter-turnout-by-e...


I mean, it would help if voting didn't take literally several hours of waiting in line in the sun around here. You can (and some do) get heat-stroke from that kind of thing. It's utterly ridiculous, beyond "chore" and into "this might cause you to lose your job".

Silicon Valley is surprisingly terrible at most things governmental.


Silicon Valley is part of California, which has permanent absentee voting available everywhere; voting is only a chore if you choose for it to be a chore.


Can’t you vote by mail in month leading up to the election?

We can, that’s what I do since I’m working on election days.


Depends on what state you live in. I know in my state (GA) you have to be military or demonstrably out of town during the period to qualify for an absentee ballot.


For a little bit of context, from what I recall, the real push towards electronic voting in the United States came after the 2000 presidential election and the controversies that happened with paper ballots and the tight recount in Florida (eg "hanging chads"). (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/22/electronic-voting-...)

Paper isn't perfect and I think the thought at the time was pushing elimination of all of paper's errors. That being said, digital voting of course has far worse problems if you don't do it right (and it's pretty clear it hasn't been done very well in the US). In hindsight, that was a poor push.

I imagine it's actually possible to design a digital voting system that is fairly secure (eg air-gapped voting machines, secure data storage and transmission, integrity verification, redundant security features, thoroughly tested, and -- most critical of all -- paper backups), but it would be very difficult compared to designing a better paper ballot system, and probably quite a bit more expensive.


Registration for voting varies by the state you live in. In MN, you basically just need to walk in, have someone else who is already registered vouch for you, and you can register + vote on the spot.

Every attempt to firm up voter registration roles (such as proving identity, eligibility, etc) is met with cries of racism.


That's because schemes such as bringing a driver's license are racist when you look at mobility and accessibility to government services. Back in my home country (Canada), voter eligibility was done by bringing evidence of residence in the district, which is roughly the same hurdle as getting a library card. I don't see why it ought to be any harder than that.


Notice that I didn't mention a driver's license. Also, I find the argument a bit hard to believe, since the same form of ID are required for cigarettes and alcohol, which nobody complains about being racist. Finally, rural areas with difficult access to government centers are typically more white and tend to vote more Republican anyway; the disparate impact of accessibility argument is a bit disingenuous.


I also live i Skanderborg.

As a side note our Politicians in Denmark, just trashed the posibility of using evoting, citing security, and that our current election system, is actually superior. The only thing we would gain, would be fast vote counting. Why sould we trade security for that?


As a fellow European my view changed a little bit, when I understood how US votes differ. I'm used to vote one or two items, sometimes three on one election day. US votes often have dozens of different items. They vote on proprositions for laws, we usually don't do this. US citizens vote for their sheriffs and maybe many more jobs.

I also think, you shouldn't use voting machines. But I understood them better when I found out that their ballots are different from our ballots.


>The actual voting takes place on paper, and while it takes time to prepare the ballots and count the votes, the process of voting doesn’t take very longer than a few minutes for the individual citizen. From they enter the voting place till they are done.

How is the counting done in Denmark? Do they still have to collect all the paper ballots and count them in a central place? If so, how do you avoid all the 'hanging chad' issues?


No they count them at every voting place, and sum the results.


Believe it or note, requiring ID to vote in the United States is considered controversial.


Because citizens are not required to have ID and those that don't have one are disproportionately racial minorities and/or in lower socioeconomic classes. Democrats would be much more willing to allow ID to be required to vote if there was a national ID card issued to every citizen, but Republicans would be against any system that would try to create a national ID.


We desperately need a national ID card. Social security was never designed for this purpose and it's terrible for it. Drivers license requires having access to a car and some way to learn how to use it.


If we're going to have a national ID card, then it needs to be:

1) Free. Period. Otherwise you're going to disenfranchise poor people who can't afford even $50 to get an ID.

2) Universally accessible. If we're going to require it, then we need to make sure everyone has one, from a little old lady living 100 miles from civilization in Montana, to the homeless living in camps near San Jose.


There's plenty of countries where neither of those is true, but the voting system requires a national ID and has better outcomes by any reasonable metric than the US.

So you don't really need those things, but they may be proxy issues for other hard-to-solve issues.


I am not very familiar with the systems other countries use so I am genuinely curious which ones you are referring to here and whether they are comparable to the US. The US has a centuries long history of laws designed to make it harder for "undesirables" to vote. The US's racial and socioeconomic makeup and its history of oppression of those groups makes this a much more contentious issue than some other countries that historically have been very homogeneous.


E.g. in Iceland you can vote with a driver's license, a passport or a national ID. Those cost, respectively, $45, $110 and $40. Although I see now the first national ID you get issued in your life is free, but if you ever lose it you pay the fee to renew it.

It's the same sort of thing in most European countries, you need to prove who you are, and usually doing that costs some one-off nominal fee. Voting is always going to carry some cost, whether that's money or in externalities imposed on voters.

I'm not saying Iceland and other European countries are "comparable to the US", I'm sure we could spend all day moving that particular goal post.

I was just pointing out that there's nothing wrong per-se with requiring ID to vote. I'm somewhat familiar with the US history on the matter, and realize that in practice, and I think uniquely in the US, it's a wedge issue that's historically been motivated by voter disenfranchisement.

But it's important to separate that practical concern about particular implementations from the very notion that having a national ID system and using it for things like voting could never work.

I'm curious about how this works in practice. If you're a tourist visiting the US during a vote can you just show up to a voting polling station and cast a vote? If you don't have to show your ID what happens from the time you walk up to a polling station until you cast your vote and walk out again?


> I'm curious about how this works in practice. If you're a tourist visiting the US during a vote can you just show up to a voting polling station and cast a vote? If you don't have to show your ID what happens from the time you walk up to a polling station until you cast your vote and walk out again?

In most states, you must be registered to vote before election day. In those states, non-citizens who attempt to vote will be asked their name and address before they are handed a ballot. When they are found to not be on the registration list for that polling precinct, they will not get a regular ballot. They may be given the chance to cast a provisional ballot, but it will be thrown out during the counting process when evidence cannot be found that the person was eligible to vote.

The voter registration process has proven to be a highly effective means of preventing ineligible voters from voting. The exceptions tend to be when different government departments fail to communicate effectively to catch people registering in multiple places, or ineligible criminals attempting to register. Voter ID does not meaningfully improve the security against non-citizens voting.


> In most states, you must be registered to vote before election day.

Okey, so there's a list of people eligible to vote at a given polling station, but how do you you get on that list?

If there's no mandate to show ID do you just show up for registration and say your name is John Smith living at such-and-such St? The federal census is every 10 years so that claim can't be checked against that. Do local governments maintain their own name/address databases?

Are they ever going to say "we don't believe that you live here". What do you do then? Show up with a utility bill with your name on it?


In my state, registering to vote requires providing either drivers license number, showing ID, or something like utility bills as proof of address. The form asks if you're a US citizen but does not require you to submit documentation proving citizenship.


Upthread there's mention of "homeless living in camps near San Jose". How does someone without a driver's license or home (so no utility bills) register?


Claiming to be a citizen, or claiming to be someone you’re not, is voter fraud, and can lead to a decade or more in prison.

As it happens, essentially no one in the US commits voter fraud of this sort (the go in, vote as someone you’re not, kind. Ballot stuffing may or may not be a thing, or rigging of digital elections may be a thing).

The US also makes voting day be on a normal work days, it’s not a holiday or weekend, and people don’t get time off work to vote. There are often very long waiting lines to vote. So telling people they need an ID to vote leads to people actually being disenfranchised, in the US, if they just forgot their ID.

And again, actual voter fraud is so rare that it’s national news when someone is convicted of it (and people go looking for it often).


Iceland was the type of country I was thinking of when I wrote that comment. Iceland has a smaller population than any state in the US and smaller than over 50 cities in the US. It is also very homogeneous when it comes to race and socioeconomic attributes. I am sure that they have found an approach that works for them, but it is tough to use them as a model for the US. Either way, even a requirement for a $45 ID would be seen by many in the US as a poll tax which was outlawed by a constitutional amendment during the civil rights movement.

To answer your questions about voting in the US, everything varies by state/territory. All of them require you to register before you are allowed to vote. The deadline to register is usually weeks to months before election day. A few states allow you to register on election day and your vote won't be counted until your registration is confirmed. When you register (or in the lead up to the election) you are assigned a specific polling location. Many states have some sort of absentee or mail ballot that allows you to vote if you can't or don't want to physically go to a polling place. You have to be registered ahead of time to receive one of those ballots.

On election day you show up to your assigned polling place and tell them your name. The polling place will have a list of people eligible to vote at that location and will match your name to their list. You might be asked to sign next to your name on their list to confirm you voted and potentially confirm your identity. I have no idea if anyone really reviews the signatures. If your name isn't on the list, you may be given a provisional ballot and then there will be a process to investigate why you weren't on the list. Provisional ballots generally aren't counted unless a race is extremely close and a large percentage of those ballots end up being disqualified for various reasons.

An extremely determined tourist might be able to lie their way into filling out a provisional ballot but it wouldn't be counted because their eligibility wouldn't be confirmed. They could potentially impersonate a known eligible voter, but that would require them knowing the correct polling place, knowing that person has not yet voted, and be willing to commit an obvious fraud. The upside for committing that type of fraud is extremely low considering the effort that would be required to swing anything but the smallest elections. There is no real evidence that anymore than a handful of people attempt this type of thing during any election.


Neither of those points could possibly be a problem.


You’ve clearly never seen your local government at work.


I think tjoff was being sarcastic, but I'm not certain.


I'm not particularly informed on arguments for and against this, but shouldn't a national ID require some modicum of trust in the national government? In their ability to keep the database safe from bad actors, including Executives that fancy themselves dictators?

A national ID sounds like a terrible idea for this country right now.


The US doesn't have a national ID at least partly because of a revulsion toward the USSR "papers, please" restrictions on movement. The "lack of trust" in the national government has very little to do with database security.


We already have one. It's called social security and it's a procedurally generated 9 digit number that is vulnerable to series prediction among other things, and essentially can't be (or almost never is) regenerated if it's compromised.

It's a very poor system that was never designed for its current use. We have many of the downsides of a poorly implemented national ID and very few of the upsides. We need an actual purpose built national ID.


You can get an ID card that works as legal id but isn't a driver's license, but it still requires going to the DMV and burning at LEAST several hours, which isn't an option available to everybody.


And it often costs money, and it's often a lot of hassle, and sometimes the employees charged with making it available give false information on what's required to get it.

Some stats on Wisconsin, which is supposed to provide a free voter ID: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/25/us/wisconsin-voters.html


Why does it take that long? I had to get a PSC, Ireland’s not-a-national-id-we-promise, to apply for a driving theory test a while back (days afterwards, the requirement to have one for a driving theory test was dropped after public backlash). It took about 20 minutes, and that was only because the civil servant’s computer was being uncooperative.


It's slightly insane that we make people go to a physical location and derp around waiting for a piece of ID.

You should be able to handle this like you do getting a passport. Fill out the forms, get a proper picture taken, slap it in the mail, get your shiny new documents back in two weeks.


Counterpoint:

I filled out the forms to renew my passport and took them to my local post office. The only person staffing the passport desk refused to take my forms because I hadn't filled in the name of my employer. I pointed out that the website explicitly states that that field is optional, and that the website will not even allow you to print a form that doesn't pass its validation. She hallucinated that the field is optional only in the case that you have no employer.

So, I had to travel to a passport office. The desk there really wanted me to fill in the name of my employer, but at least they didn't refuse to take my perfectly valid form based on their own personal delusions.


You already have to have an ID to get a job. Who can't do this once in their life?


and what happens when the id expires or you change your address or you change your name or the id gets lost or destroyed?


This is a crisis created by local governments. The private sector could easily solve this problem, but that would require bureaucrats losing their power.


I'm sure their friendly neighborhood community organizer will charter a bus for them to get their ID cards. If they're citizens, there will be somebody who wants their vote badly enough to walk them through that process and even buy them a sandwich for their trouble.

Let's join the rest of the world and make sure that the people voting in our elections are citizens. Community organizers have proven to be extremely effective at getting voters to the polls. If a preliminary step is for them to get them their card, I'm sure they won't flinch from that duty.


Transportation to a DMV office isn't the main limitation. Having the freedom to miss a day or two of work to spend waiting in line is a bigger problem, especially when those offices don't necessarily process non-driver ID cards on all ordinary business days.

> Let's join the rest of the world and make sure that the people voting in our elections are citizens.

The proper time to verify citizenship is during the registration process, when there's time to be thorough. You can't do a reasonable job of validating ID or checking that a person is only registered to vote in one place at the polling place.


I will support any system that insures that all voters have verified citizenship.


At what cost? Are you interested in ensuring that additional voting restrictions actually prevent more illegal votes than they prevent legitimate votes? What makes you think the base rate of non-citizen voting is even high enough to be a problem that can be addressed without invariably causing more harm than good?


Integrity of our system is important. It doesn’t need to be a partisan issue.


Sure, but how is any of that relevant to voter ID? If you really care about integrity of the voting system, then you should also care about prioritizing the problems that are real, easily exploited, and have the greatest potential for harm. Voter ID is largely a solution looking for a problem, with undeniable side effects of voter suppression. It's being made into a partisan issue not by its opponents but by the proponents who are unjustifiably elevating the issue above more important systemic election vulnerabilities.


Nonsense. We've been asking for voter id for years and you've been opposing it for years. Why is that? You talk about conspiracy theories. This notion that there is this huge population of legal, eligible voters who are functioning in our society without ID is ludicrous.

But if you want to implement paper ballots across the board at the same time, or even 1st, than let's make that happen. As you say, any progress is better than none. Since you are obstructing voter id and not obstructing paper ballots (I assume), than by all means, let's do that first.


> We've been asking for voter id for years and you've been opposing it for years. Why is that?

Ignoring for the moment how improper it is for you to take such a personally accusative tone: The voter ID opposition has been thoroughly justified by the lack of evidence that the problems it solves are real enough to need solving, and by the fact that even the slightest awareness of the context surrounding these voter ID proposals makes it clear that they are not good-faith attempts to make our elections more fair.

In short: nobody's falling for the lies. They're too transparent.


> nobody's falling for the lies. They're too transparent.

I would be pleased if you did not personally insult those who you are speaking to.

The lack of evidence is a farce, since any attempts to collect such evidence are met with stonewalling and refusal by democratically controlled local and state government.

In 2014, a study released by a team of professors from Old Dominion University and George Mason University estimated that approximately 6.4 percent of noncitizens voted In the 2008 presidential election. (Versus 56% of legal citizens voting)

As immigration reform becomes more and more of an issue, there is incentive for that 6.4 percent number to further increase, and indeed it may have in 2016, but that data is proving hard to pry loose. Since there are 11 million illegals in the US by the lowest estimate (high estimates are 20 million) this is not a non-problem.

As for the disenfranchisement canard. Even Nate Silver acknowledges it's non-validity. Silver has noted, this argument doesn’t make sense because the vast majority of adults in America hold some form of photo identification and states with voter ID laws offer qualifying documentation at minimal or no cost.


Turning ten people who have the right to vote away, to catch one cheater is a ten times worse violation of integrity then the converse.

Not letting a citizen vote is just as much voter fraud as a non-citizen voting. Except its worse, because it is performed by the state.


[flagged]


If you continue to post uncivilly and/or to use HN for political battle, we're going to have to ban you. Please review the rules at https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and follow them regardless of what topic you're commenting on.


It's in the realm of tinfoil hat and freakishly paranoid conspiracy theories that there's any meaningful amount of non-citizens voting. Feel free to design a system that meets the John Rawl's "veil of ignorance" thought experiment, such that the burden of obtaining such ID is equal among all. What would that really look like? If Joe Bob has to take 2 hours off work, without pay, to get ID, how do you get a Warren Buffet or Jeff Bezos to go without pay for two hours? Charge them $3 million for their ID card? And if you do, is their burden really the same when they still take home $30 million that day, while Joe Bob lost $30 out of his $600 weekly pay, plus the $30 cost of the license or 10% of his weekly take home? And even if you charge ~$17 million for Warren's driver's license, his weekly take home is still $160+ million. So is that the same burden?

By the way, the single prosecuted case of voter fraud from 2016 I'm aware of, is a man in Colorado, who voted for his wife after she'd moved out of state. They're both citizens.


Obtaining an ID card can be as easy or as painful as our local governments decide it to be. Amazing, it’s the most painful I have ever experience here in California where the DMV borders on insanity. I would think such a progressive state would care more about the burden it places on its citizens than on maintaining tight control over the process but such is California.


I was able to schedule my DMV appointment in California and was in and out.


Congratulations. Did you wave goodbye to the huge crowds of visibly frustrated people who have been waiting for hours on your way out?


Yes, the core irony that the same people:

a) Want to make having an ID as a prerequisite for voting

and

b) Are deeply against any form of national ID card (or anything else that makes it cheap and easy to get an ID)

It's almost (almost) like they want to prevent poor people from cities (who don't need cars) from voting.


Who says it needs to be a federal (national) ID card?

Also it’s hard for poor people to get ID cards because our governments make the process hard and time consuming. It’s a manufactured and not inherent problem.


Where is it not cheap and easy to get an ID card?


It's harder than you think, and easy to find out how/why:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law/getting-a...


The Real ID Act passed the House 368–58, and Senate 100-0, signed into law by Bush 2 in 2005. 54 of the nay votes were Democrats. While the law does not mean the federal government creates a domestic national ID, the federal government sets the standard for ID, and then requires that standard be used at federal facilities like TSA at airports, federal buildings, nuclear power plants and so on. So it in effect requires states produce the national ID card. Anyway, seemingly per usual, the U.S. invents the wheel multiple times, tries to standardize, grants many exceptions and extensions along the way, and in the end there are ~51 "standards".


You would think that tightly controlled democratic states such as California would make an effort to make IDs easier to get, but instead they create a bureaucratic nightmare which requires 6 hours of your day (visit to the DMV).

The state believes requiring IDs disenfranchises the poor. It’s actually the disfunctional state governments that do it.


The example in the OP notes that every adult gets a voter registration card, by default.

No proposal for voter ID in the US has ever accompanied a serious effort to ensure all citizens have easy access to suitable ID.

Many proposals have been explicitly crafted on the back of data gathering campaigns to determine which forms of ID "unfavorable" groups generally do not have.


We don’t require ID as such. Every citizen is issued a little piece of paper that they can trade in for a ballot for that specific election.

We used to look people up in big books, that are printed for the occasion, to make sure their piece is valid and they haven’t already voted - which took a long time and led to queues. That’s the part we digitized.

But you can vote without ID as long as you have that piece of paper and know your birthdate.

I’m actually not sure how the homeless vote (they can’t receive the piece of paper), but I guess they probably do a mail vote at their local municipality.


But there was some ID to get that piece of paper right?


Well, it’s sent to your address.

We do have a central registry of every citizen, so I guess that might scare some Americans.

You don’t need that though, you could pick up your registration at any municipality with your ID. That’s how I vote, I work from before the voting starts to after it closes, so I vote via mail.


> We do have a central registry of every citizen, so I guess that might scare some Americans.

US has same registry. It might not include every american but I'd be suprised if it doesn't have 99.99% of all Americans in it.


We require ID to vote in Ireland (theoretically; it’s a spot check thing). The difference is that practically anything is ID for this purpose; a social services card, bank statement, debit card, birth certificate etc etc. So if you either receive any type of social welfare or have a job you almost certainly have ID.

This doesn’t seem to be the case for most of the proposed American requirements, at all.

Most other countries in Europe have mandatory govt id anyway, so it’s not a major burden.


It sounds like this is done via automatic registration, which solves a major objection that opponents of voter IDs in the USA generally have (i.e., IDs are too hard for some people to get to make them a prerequisite).

Automatic registration is likely controversial in the US for different reasons, as other posters mentioned.


My polling place features first a comparison of photo id to the person and then an amateur attempts and fails to properly frank the voter's signature. How is it that passing the Real-ID photo-ID hurdle but failing the amateur-verified signature franking is acceptable in this country?

hashkb 6 months ago [flagged]

What you say makes sense. But we are talking about the USA.


I trust good digital voting systems more than a paper ballot.

Specifically, the system should be auditable in a way that makes it difficult to trace individual votes back to voters, but allows individual voters to verify that their votes are counted correctly.

There must be a good way to accomplish this while also addressing potential voter fraud. Does anybody know of any research in this area?

With paper ballots, I have no way of knowing whether or not my vote was counted correctly. And I find that really unsettling.


I sat and counted votes just a month ago. In order to cheat I'd have had to managed to destroy the votes sitting around a table with nine other people, none of whom I'd ever met before. The public, of course, is also welcome during the whole proccess. You can sit and watch the counting if you want to.


I prefer a physical thing that somebody has to physically steal, hide, replace, destroy. Something that can be signed for, locked up, and monitored with cameras for years after an election.

Computers are about convenience. Elections are important enough to do things the hard way.

Paper gives you natural decentralization. Computers will tend to be purchased from and serviced by a small number of companies.

Paper please.


>but allows individual voters to verify that their votes are counted correctly.

If everyone can prove how they voted it becomes much easier to intimidate or incentivize people to vote a certain way.


That is indeed the main issue with verifiable voting. The usual solutions offer various compromises, but it is not possible to both guarantee the ability to verify that one's ballot is counted correctly, and that you cannot prove for whom you voted.


We count votes several times, using different people. All counting is done under observation. Everyone on the ballot can demand a recount under their supervision, within reason (you can’t demand infinite recounts).

The people who count votes are either trusted employees of the muniplacity, members of a politician party or NGOs. I guess in a two party system it’s hard to understand why politician party members are impartial, but when you have several parties they govern each other + they don’t get to count their own votes, and there is at least one recount of only officials.

I’m not sure what system would be safer.

Without a paper trail you have no evidence. I guess you could use blockchain, but realistically, it would never be decentralized and 99% of the voters wouldn’t understand it well enough to know whether or not the software actually did what they intended, making it much unsafer.


That's only possible if you sacrifice some of the stronger anonymity requirements. In theory you shouldn't be able to prove you voted a particular way to ensure you can't be intimidated into changing you vote.

Unless it's good enough to verify whether your vote was counted, that should be fairly easy to do.


> That's only possible if you sacrifice some of the stronger anonymity requirements

Untrue. You can use strong encryption to ensure confidentiality and zero-knowledge proofs to ensure integrity. Then, you can use methods from homomorphic encryption to tally the ballots. There is a whole area of research dedicated to this.


So in your opinion the problem is (theoretically) solved? As in, we can have anonymous, verifiable, online, direct democracy such that 3rd parties cannot verify your vote without your private key?


As I said in another comment, individual verifiability and non-coercion are mutually exclusive online. However, there are indeed solutions for the other properties (including global integrity), and compromises between individual verifiability and non-coercion. For instance, you can have a look at Helios [1] or Belenios [2]. Current research is looking for stronger guarantees, a better compromise, or a more interesting voting system (such as Single Transferable Vote or Majority Judgment).

[1] https://vote.heliosvoting.org/

[2] http://www.belenios.org/


Yes, it's possible, and it is an area of research in cryptography. For instance, have a look at Helios and Belenios.


HBO 2006 documentary 'Hacking Democracy' on Youtube https://youtu.be/iZLWPleeCHE

'The film investigates the flawed integrity of electronic voting machines, particularly those made by Diebold Election Systems, exposing previously unknown backdoors in the Diebold trade secret computer software. The film culminates dramatically in the on-camera hacking of the in-use / working Diebold election system in Leon County, Florida - the same computer voting system which has been used in actual American elections across thirty-three states, and which still counts tens of millions of America's votes today.' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacking_Democracy

Same company in 2018, same issues


I don't understand these headlines. "After More Than A Decade of Vulnerable Voting Machines, US Still Uses Those Same Voting Machines" would be more accurate.


This story comes out every fall for every major-ish November election period. The resolution is always the same: WONTFIX.


We should routinely red-team elections. It would literally be amazing if I were kidding.


With all of this discussion in Washington about Russian hacking and Russian voter influencing, why are these demonstrably vulnerable voting machines hardly mentioned? It would seem to me this should be a number one priority to prevent outside interference.


In fact the voting system seems to be getting more, rather than less, shady in some places. Eg, LA county: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17823702


I've wondered about this and also the fact that 'hacking' our election isn't terribly difficult when all you have to do is manipulate a very small number of swing counties. My conclusion thus far has been that even the media must be necessarily complicit in the farce of a free and fair election system. There's a strong incentive for everyone to believe this in order to maintain stability.


The short unhappy answer seems to be that the parties are happy with a corruptible voting system.


That does seem like a logical conclusion. Conveniently, the GOP has made disenfranchisement part of their platform, which of course the Democrats then oppose by supporting zero-id elections, and we end up with a silly stalemate, hackable voting systemc, etc.

Staff up the FEC and then make it their job to seek out and provide ID to every single eligible voter in the country. Kinda like the census, be proactive and don't make disenfranchisement a thing. And then make it so polling places are open for days, maybe a week, including a full weekend, so everyone gets a chance to vote.

Or vote-by-mail. We've established it works.


Because this doesn't give you political points.


Well, when the best way to obfuscate your own voter influencing and voting machine hacking is to keep blaming it on the Russians (based mostly on the language packs installed in the attackers' text editors...), we have to wonder how much they really care about preventing interference in democracy...


There is no disagreement between every serious security professional I follow, and every security agency that has a prepared a report.

All of them believe it's the Russians based on all the available evidence.


The HN consensus seems to be that digital voting is very difficult to do right. I trust the consensus opinion, but this also makes me sad. The bigger picture that I think we’re missing here is the opportunity for huge-scale direct democracy. I know the usual debates against DD, but I think there’s ways to safeguard against those problems. E.g. you can’t vote on an issue without hearing both sides of it and passing a test that demonstrates that you understand the pros and cons of each side. Idealistic, I know, but I’m a firm believer that most people act more responsibly when you give them more responsibility.


Or alternatively, encourage people to delegate their votes to whoever they trust in their local network to understand the problem best, who in-turn can delegate to their favored expert. Basically recursive representative democracy. It can't be worse than picking your representative from a group of 2-5 per region, that you only know about through biased media sources. And in aggregate it weighs expertise and trust much higher.

https://markorodriguez.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/master-th...


Interesting idea that I have never heard of. Thanks for sharing.


Voter fatigue is a serious downside to direct democracy. Especially within the context of our attention economy. (Which then leads to additional gaming of the system. Etc...)

I'm a huge proponent of direct democracy. But I also think we are asked to vote on way too many things.

Alas, I only have one idea for reducing the number of elections. (Which would also improve outcomes.)

Replacing our current first-post-the-post (aka winner takes all) with approval voting (for exec positions) or proportional representation (for assemblies) would consolidate our separate primary and general elections into one event.


>I’m a firm believer that most people act more responsibly when you give them more responsibility.

Honestly, I believe the literal opposite. People act irrationally if they believe it's in their own self-interest.

What leads to to think that way? I'm genuinely curious.


Some random thoughts, starting with personal experience:

* When my team gives me ownership over a project, I take pride in that project and produce higher-quality work. This is loosely related to "people act more responsibly when you give them more responsibility" in the sense that direct democracy will make people feel like they have more ownership over issues.

* Homeowners tend to take better care of their place of living than renters.

* When people have kids, most tend to mature and act more responsibly in general. Not all, but most. In this case "having a child" is a proxy for "having more responsibility" in general.

In terms of studies, I'm intrigued by experiments [1] where people are assigned leadership roles randomly. They seem to suggest that people tend to make better decisions when given more responsibility. An even more radical idea that is more closely related to this study would be to assign random citizens to be in charge of a certain political issue, say for 6 to 12 months.

[1] http://bobsutton.typepad.com/my_weblog/2011/10/is-it-sometim...


>a test that demonstrates that you understand the pros and cons of each side

Then you just moved the controversial part of the process back to what the pros and cons are, or another step further still to who decides what the pros and cons are.


Yes, the gatekeeper problem is tricky. I ultimately think that each side would submit pros and cons, with no rules around what they can submit. Otherwise we run into the gatekeeper problem. So some sides would submit sensational, false claims. And we’d have to trust the people to decide what’s true and false. We’re already trusting us, the people, to make these decisions when we elect representatives. We might as well directly face the consequences of our choices, rather than shifting blame to a representative.


>”E.g. you can’t vote on an issue without hearing both sides of it and passing a test that demonstrates that you understand the pros and cons...”

I think this would be thoroughly gamed. You’d get “cheat sheets” on how to answer, or more importantly, you’d disenfranchise poorly educated people or people with learning disabilities (who afaik, still have a right to vote.)


I've thought about the gaming aspect. I'll put this idea out there, for any enterprising HN visitor who wants to take up the mantle: I think there's a general need for quiz technology that is difficult to game. I think this is a technology that could be applied in many different domains.

The disenfranchisement angle is important and is something that I haven't thought about. Thank you for pointing out.


It's asinine that we are still debating this. There really isn't much to debate at this point.


Voting machine manufacturers have vast funds and lobbyists.

Even when congress did manage to in a act bipartisan manner, lobbyists persuaded the white house to kill it.[0]

You'll find plenty of incredibly destructive practices (nearing national suicide actually) caused by money in politics and worsened catastrophically by Citizens United.

[0]Secure Elections Act.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/the-cyb...


We need to run elections through something like the finance system, digital, data always present and researchable, always able to be looked up that your vote was counted and correct, and fraud day one can be reversed as well as anomalies.

Finance systems expect fraud, and systems in place to detect and revert it. Voting has none of those protections.

The problem is so many voting systems, so many ways to fix the vote, recounts are impossible to trust.

People trust their money in their accounts and they trust that the financial system and software can track that. We need to move to something like that pronto with receipts, digital voting, ability to check your vote, data tracking, ability for researchers to get access to it, fraud protection and more.



As much as electronic voting has its issues, it allows for quick counting and would allow for more fairer ways of voting, like priority lists (I mean, you could do that using paper, but it is a PITA and very subject to mistakes)

Ideally printed/machine readable votes (one that the voter doesn't take with them) sounds like could be an answer


Of course it is. If you vote by machine you are ruled by the best hackers.

"Hackocracy"


Sounds like a feature, not a bug (sadly)



This video is about electronic voting. The article is about a device used to count paper ballots.


Paper ballot counting happens to be mentioned in the video at ~4:20


It would have been helpful if you had noted that in your original post. Just pointing to a opaque video URL without summary is inconvenient for the rest of the readers. Therefore, I posted quickly (without watching the entire video) in an attempt to spare others from having to waste their time.


Lot of generalizations and stupid assumptions in that video, like where he argues that of course the ballots will be uploaded over the internet without any authentication/checksum.

I don't see why a digital counting machine which is kept completely offline and is transported physically cannot be used, specially if we can verify it's counting functions by randomly verifying a few of those machines (also keep paper ballots, just use the machine to count ballots), or statistics, and use an external randomization/derandomization module.


Hang on. You want to use a counting machine, and then physically transport it around to avoid security issues instead of just using proven human counters and physically transported ballots because....???? Why? Just why? What problem is this solving? Does getting your results a few hours sooner make a single bit of difference to merit this madness?


Because paper ballots are easily subverted. In my country (India) it was not uncommon to have goons take up a polling booth and slid hundreds of fake ballots in, or throw in ink in the ballot box. Digital counters stop such attacks.


Perhaps because counting tens of thousands of near-identical pieces of paper is exactly the sort of repetitive, robotic task we've entrusted machines to perform more accurately than humans since at least the 1940s.


You realize that the article in question is about hacks against vote tabulating machines right?


I do.

But a non-hacked vote tabulating machine will still do the job better than non-hacked humans.

Add a high enough percentage of random hand audits of the machine but counts to ensure they're functioning correctly, and you should get a reasonably high confidence that you have the most accurate count.


> Add a high enough percentage of random hand audits of the machine but counts to ensure they're functioning correctly, and you should get a reasonably high confidence that you have the most accurate count.

Defies the purpose of electronic machines completely. Why use machines + lots of auditors, when just more counters (worth less than auditors) could do the same job, with a much higher cost to corrupt?...


But why? The number of humans to count votes scales linearly with the number of votes cast.


> over the internet without any authentication/checksum

As if the totally secure communications over Internet problem had been solved. Why are we seeing SO MANY issues with TLS, VPNs, hardcoded root passwords everywhere, ssh issues even!...


I am advocating a glorified digital calculator with printed out ballot copies. What's called VVPAT. Not online voting.


Voting is necessarily a proof of work algorithm, and when you represent the result, you only simulate its effect.

Sure, people don't care if it's simulated when they win, but when they lose, they care a lot.

Feel like I'm a lone voice in the wilderness on this one but I really feel like I need to shout from the rooftops that electronic voting courts violence, and it is culpable hubris to state otherwise.


> Voting Machine Used in Half of U.S. Is Vulnerable to Attack, Report Finds

Too much attention seeking in this headline. We knew from day one that there would be vulns. It doesn't matter how many people use them. Good that some have been found now. Let's support them by public reporting in seriously investigating the flaws they know about.




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