I mean, why on earth would you tamper with a voting machine so that it stuffs the ballot, but have it update the UI so that the user can see and report the error? This should fall to the way side of failing basic logic, but it doesn't because people want a sensationalist article to argue over. Changing votes would be much easier to do on the back end, and would have the additional benefit of never being detected by the user
Having no knowledge of this machine in particular, I can't say much more, but it's certainly feasible that this is the easiest or only method to modify the outcome of a vote.
Based on the description and assuming it's accurate, we could conclude that there is some sort of mapping of the display to vote selection that is configurable locally. This makes sense, as every locality has different ballots - school districts, etc.
We do know that these things tend to be pretty poorly written, so you also can't assume even reasonable or typical component design.
I don't think your logic is valid.
Doing it at the front end won't flip as many votes because many people will see the incorrect registration and stab at the touch screen a few more times until they find the right spot. But some will not notice, and in a close race that could be good enough.
He clearly says he tested for calibration error, and it wasn't the case.
This is of course, we assume he's not lying.
His "calibration test" doesn't actually demonstrate anything. Having some portion of the screen work incorrectly, while other sections of the screen work correctly, is entirely consistent with a calibration error for these types of touchscreens.
The only way to eliminate calibration error as the cause here is to: 1) re-calibrate the screen and see if the touch mappings are still incorrect. 2) if they are, the touchscreen itself could be faulty, so the next step is to replace the touchscreen with a known working version, and see if the issue persists.
Obviously there's no way he could have performed either of those steps, so there's no way he could eliminate calibration error as the cause.
Source: I've developed touchscreen kiosks in restaurants for years, and this behavior is entirely consistent with the miscalibrated touchscreens I've seen in the past. Often (generally with crappy touchscreens), a screen will hold its calibration for some period of time, and then stop working correctly until it's recalibrated once again.
Now, whether it's a good idea to use these types of crappy touchscreens in electronic voting machines is an entirely different question...
For such a major accusation, one would think to video all other choices working as expected, and only Obama being an exception. The simplest explanation for what he showed is a calibration error, but the matter is dramatically сomplicated if you take what he has to say for granted.
It seems ridiculous to be unable to comprehend something that would be as familiar as using a hand calculator to people like me and you, but there are people out there who are afraid to touch the power button on their computers because they think they'll burn their house down or get a virus or something.
Imagine people like that trying to learn a brand new user interface in the span of 5 minutes while people are waiting in line for them to finish. It's a small population of people but it could conceivably make a difference given the right conditions.
edit: I forgot to add that this would be a good way to commit voter fraud and still have plausible deniability. Also, it would probably be more cost efficient to bribe someone for this small bug that gives a 0.5% advantage than it would be to pay for the campaigning that makes a 0.5% difference.
In any case, I'm skeptical of the tampering hypothesis because only one person reported and filmed it.
Or it could be an attempt at plausible deniability. If all the machines need calibrating, but an uncalibrated machine just so happens to mis-register votes in the direction you want, that would give you an edge because you can guarantee that some machines won't be deployed correctly.
Further to this, why aren't the names randomized?!
Do you know how many millions of lines of code they would need to add to do this?
Voting machine manufactures have repeatedly proven themselves the most incompetent people in technology.
Unfortunately, when politics are involved, people default to assuming malice far more than they perhaps should.
I think our biggest problem is voter registration flaws and the lack of being able to identify that the person listed on the form is the actual one voting. We should also be dipping people's thumbs in ink like they do in Africa and Mexico to ensure that people don't vote twice.
Voter fraud is far more common than alleged insidious voting machine malfunctions. Those machines are checked by reps of both parties and under heavy, continual scrutiny. Voter rolls, on the other hand, or absentee ballots are rife with fraud. For example, thousands of military members won't get to vote this election because the department of defense failed to mail the ballots on time.
In 2010, I lived in China and didn't get my absentee ballot until 1 month after the election, even though I requested it 6 months prior from the US Consulate in Shanghai. I was disenfranchised like millions of other legal voters, both civilian and military.
Some people are more concerned about some old minority lady allegedly with the inability to get a free photo id, yet ignore the military and overseas vote. Yet for the old minority lady, she need only go to the local courthouse to get things straightened out, while a solider in Kabul doesn't have that luxury.
Another problem is blantant violations of election law by generally Democrat election judges. Examples from today: http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2012/11/06/judge-orders-oba...
And voter intimidation here: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/nov/6/problems-blac...
If the KKK were to show up at a Philidelphia polling site, there'd be cries of outrage and National Guard deployments, but since it's the New Black Panthers, it's ignored.
I've yet to see a credible instance of vote machine "malfunction" favoring Democrats covered by a reputable source, but if you have any links I'd be interested as it's certainly possible.
>Voter fraud is far more common than alleged insidious voting machine malfunctions.
Due to the nature of electric voting without a paper trail, there's no way to make this assertion as contemporary electronic voting can't be audited.
>Those machines are checked by reps of both parties and under heavy, continual scrutiny.
Electronic voting in its current form is a remarkably bad idea. It invites corruption as a scale that requires much more resources than traditional analog voting fraud.
http://fellowshipofminds.wordpress.com/2012/11/02/malfunctio... """touched the screen to vote for Mitt Romney but the machine lit up the name of Barack Obama. Stevens tried a second time and again the machine lit up Obama when she selected Romney. She tried a third time and finally Romney’s name lit up. Stevens reported the malfunction to board of elections personnel and was told the voting machine had been “acting up all day.”
Sher Coromalis ... says she cast her ballot for Governor Mitt Romney, but every time she entered her vote the machine defaulted to President Obama....
Marie Haydock, who also voted at the Bur-Mil Park polling location, had the same problem.
Is it just me, or is this problem that “arises every election” one where malfunctioning machines always seem to err in favor of Democrats?
Is there any video of these sorts of "garden variety" bugs happening in favor of Democrats?
In any case the mere presence of this type of bugs are a really strong point against wasting money in these devices.
The content of those articles plainly contradicts your summary -- The judge ordered the mural to be covered up.
This face-palming mendactity renders the rest of your comment suspect as well.
It's simply because of the stakes. The cost of ignoring a positive is much greater than the cost of freaking out over a false positive.
Not hard enough to knock the whole machine over, but way harder than "touch."
It doesn't even need to be malicious. Maybe someone really liked Obama.
I'm doubtful this is malicious not so much because I'm some idealist that believes voter fraud doesn't happen, but because of all ways to commit fraud, this is a but ridiculous - it's obvious to everyone the machine is recording wrong and it will be noticed.
This exact thing happened last election. Why does it only happen to the advantage of Republican candidates?
There was also this, a few weeks ago: http://www.nationalmemo.com/man-connected-to-virginia-gop-ar...
The fact is that there is a concerted, coordinated effort to tamper with the vote every single election. I have no way of knowing whether this specific incident was malicious, but I sure wouldn't be surprised if it was.
Exactly my experience as well. It was excruciatingly well behaved.
At the polling place, there were quiet conversations and line chatter, yet was very professional and well, British.
Even when I was a poll worker during the 2000 election, it still was decent and honorable proceedings, even if the campaigning was not.
All this nonsense about voter IDs, altering votes, making it difficult for people to vote in contentious areas (e.g., the Florida districts who have already filed suits in the last couple days) and the like should really be handled by applying the 14th Amendment. Or at least by the executive making a clear statement that it will do so.
Any attempt to disenfranchise people should be met with Section 2.
Besides, it is hard to convince a government to apply section 2 if the party in power is the one that was doing the disenfranchising.
If Florida is a state of party 2 voters then party 1 gains by preventing voting, not only do party 2 voters get removed from consideration in the state but the state gets weakened and so support of party 2's ends in congress is reduced?
Or am I misunderstanding? It's the first time I've heard of this part of the 14th amendment.
It's not meant to punish a party, as the House isn't organized to proportionally represent party membership. So, in effect, the amendment wants to ensure that if states deny the vote by N citizens, that they are then recognized as having T citizens (total population) - N citizens (who were denied).
And that's the first time I've visited the site.
If enough people cry foul to rule out a large group collectively lying or forgetting their confirmation numbers, fraud would be much easier to establish and localize. Moreover, requiring each independent database of votes to match to within some margin would also decrease the likelihood of fraud by requiring collusion between both organizations.
EDIT: Note that the confirmation number would be issued to you anonymously and sans receipt - there would be no way to prove your vote - you could have found some random confirmation number, and no recourse for a single citizen crying foul. The point, rather, is that if several hundred or thousand individuals noticed that their vote seemed to have changed, the likelihood that they were all making it up or forgetting their confirmation numbers would decrease substantially.
As an example, I worked with Michael Clarkson on an implementation of Civitas:
The problem is they are far too complicated to explain to voters which makes them unlikely to be adopted and unlikely to be trusted. Having a secure vote is obviously the primary goal, but having a vote that people trust is pretty important too.
This system was designed by a couple cryptographers, one of them Ron Rivest of RSA fame. For details on this and a couple other simple voting systems, see here:
'DOZENS' OF COLORADO ROMNEY VOTERS CLAIM MACHINES CHANGED VOTES TO OBAMA
Actually, he'd be much less credible than an anonymous 4chan poster without video.
The trick to these systems is there's some one-way hash done. This requires a lot of ballots, with enough hash collisions to ensure one's ballot gets lost within the herd.
Alas, elections in the USA are precinct-based, typically 1 to 1,000 voters in size. And our ballots are complicated. My ballot this election had 20 issues.
So combinatorially, it's very likely my ballot will be utterly unique within my precinct. Meaning my ballot is not secret.
Edit: Clarification at end.
The count needs to be verifiable, and needs to be simply comprehensible.
The paper process has the following check points:
* the ballot box is seen to be empty at the beginning of the process
* the turnout can be collected and collated by the candidates nominees during the day
* the first count is the ballot count which the candidate's nominees can check against the recorded turnout
* the papers are sorted for the second count, publically - and the candidates nominees do what is called 'a box count' from which we can predict the final result
* the ballots are bundled and tallied in public
* disputed papers are agreed by the candidates and the candidates representatives
* the candidates have an automatic right of recount if the margin is below a certain amount, and at the returning officers discretion otherwise
On top of that we have collected voter id information and Reading cards so we can estimate the result based on the marked register after the event.
What this means is that not only is the result verifiable, it is publicly verifiable by almost anyone with basic high school maths.
The reason this is important because I have worked elections with Nazi candidates - and I worked in Belfast when the civil war was on and the degree of trust across the political communities was very low.
The critical purpose of the public count is not to establish who has won the election, but to bind the losers, and their voters into the result.
If I had to stand up on a platform and the Nazi said "they used these machines to take away our vote" and my only response is to start talking about how there are some papers that show if you have hard to factor prime numbers you can generate some low-collision hash or some other random klingon space talk, then it is game over.
The proportion of the UK who withdrew their consent to be governed during the 30 years of the war in Ireland was less than 1% - rising to 10% of Northern Ireland. Making it easy for a tiny number of people to be pulled out of consent by political extremists is crazy, crazy, crazy.
The 2007 Scottish Parliament election in the UK had a crappy ballot (edited originally said 9% which was wrong an error rate 4 times higher than expected - think of Florida's hanging chads across the whole country). If 26 votes had gone another way in one constituency we would have had a Labour Government not a Scottish National Party one.
This ballot paper was combined with electronic counting and it was a total shambles.
As a tallyman on the night I could not endorse or verify the result at all - we had no idea what the result was - except what the machine said it was. Everyone was all geared up for legal challenges - but the leadership of the two parties got together and agreed that everyone should walk away and we would let the chips fall as they did.
I never want to see that again - and we don't hate each other in Scotland like you American's do.
Paper ballots, paper counting is the way to go. (Don't get me started on how your electoral boundaries operate - or the fact that you don't have an independent electoral commission).
I strongly agree with everything you said, and am thus interested in learning more. I had no idea the Scottish election was so ridiculously bad. Is there anyone campaigning against this in the UK I can donate money to, or lend my support to?
Paper ballet (and the process you outlined behind it) is important to prove beyond all reasonable doubt to the losers and their voters that the election was fair. The primary purpose of an election is to be seen as fair. Any reasonable doubt at all and legitimacy is quickly eroded and then you may as well not have bothered with democracy at all.
On reading it I see that I have misrepresented the figures from memory:
2.88% of regional/list ballots were invalid
4.075% of constituency ballots were invalid
1.83% of local government ballots were invalid
These were against a historical spoilt paper rate of about 0.66%
(I have edited the original post to correct it)
The regional and constituency ballots were on the same physical piece of paper and if you voted a full ticket (eg SNP/SNP or Labour/Labour) there was only one way to do it.
For small parties (Greens, SSP) which only ran on the regional list you had to split the ticket. And there was one valid way to vote Labour/Green and one invalid way - so the small parties were much more liable to get invalid votes. The number of independent/small party MSP's was lower than expected.
I'll weakly support ballot optical devices at poll sites in many USA jurisdictions, because our ballots can be quite complicated, until someone shows me that hand counting is generally feasible. With 30 issues on a ballot, sort / stack / count can get ugly.
Aside: Thank you for your work on elections. I wish more geeks would actually work an election, or at least observe, before spewing about how to fix voting systems.
I can speak for what happens in Portugal. We use the d'Hondt system with paper ballots, and it is not uncommon to have around 15 candidates on a ballot in certain elections, though we have no write-ins - only one checkbox per candidate.
In the last elections there were about 4,000 polling stations. Since about 6,000,000 people are allowed to vote, this is around 1,500 people per polling station on average (obviously, the distribution is not uniform). Turnout seldom exceeds 50%, so in practice the number of votes is much smaller.
Votes are counted by hand - no automation at all - at each polling station. Usually, within about 5-6 hours 99% of the votes have been tallied, with the remainder done with by the morning after.
I would say it is demonstrably workable to count votes by hand, even with a large number of candidates. I concede that write-ins may present a difficulty, but honestly: since (afaik) in the USA you can only vote on designated candidates, how difficult can it be to have all of their names appear on the ballot?
In the US, I think most places let you write in whoever you want. If they get enough votes, they win. Google "Lisa Murkowski".
The other problem is that unlike parliamentary systems, in the US we vote for multiple things and not which party/who your MP is. These are some of the things on the ballot:
1. President & VP
3. Congress Representative
5. Ballot measures
Unless each of these is on a different sheet of paper, counting them might be hard. Don't get me wrong though. I think that we should be using paper ballots. What does it matter if it takes 2 days instead of 1 to figure out who won.
Yes, I would imagine write-ins could complicate the situation considerably (thanks for the link, btw!) - though, if the proportion of write-ins is small, it probably won't matter much.
> The other problem is that unlike parliamentary systems, in the US we vote for multiple things and not which party/who your MP is.
This also happens in Portugal; we do use different pieces of paper (and different ballot boxes) for each of the positions we are voting for.
> I think that we should be using paper ballots. What does it matter if it takes 2 days instead of 1 to figure out who won.
Yes, I totally agree with you. There are more important things than a speedy count, and resilience to fraud is certainly one of them. And as far as costs go, they are probably dwarfed by the amount spent on the campaign. I really don't understand why anyone would be so eager to speed up the process, except for shady motives.
And, yes, we use one sheet of paper per election. On election day there are three separate elections (municipal, provincial, parliament) and optionally one or more referendums.
> I wish more geeks would actually work an election, or at least observe, before spewing about how to fix voting systems
Its the same every election - a hundred irrelevant cryptographically schemes...
I don't think this is true, since there's a massive correlation between ballot positions and they're not randomly distributed. Since the parties tend to take positions on amendments, bonds, and issues, that correlation extends to those as well.
There are certainly going to be unique ballots per precinct, and really tiny precincts like Hart's Location and Dixie Notch or whatever are subject to it too, but it's not "very likely" for the average US voter.
I dropped off my wife's ballot. It is totally normal for one person to drop off multiple ballots at the box. It would even be hard for you to notice multiple ballots being dropped. I did our two with one gesture.
The vote buying cow has already left the barn.
So it's far more important to let citizens verify that their vote was counted accurately, with some sort of anonymizing hash.
I did the same thing with my wife's ballot this morning, and I saw multiple other people dropping more than one ballot as well.
a) the secret ballot was introduced into the US (originally as the "Australian ballot") many years after the ratification of the Constitution
b) no amendment has prescribed it
I find it hard to quarrel with the judge. I do consider the secret ballot an excellent idea, but I don't see it as constitutionally mandated.
Nice to see Civitas would use a tamper evident log file (rolling temporal hash). Alas, generally, encoding the order of the ballots cast destroys voter privacy.
I stand by my earlier comment (cross thread): These crypto based voting systems rely on hash collisions to hide individual ballots within a herd of ballots. Because Civitas encodes votes as ranked preference (to support winner takes all, Condorcet, approval voting), there's even more information contained within each ballot, decreasing the likelihood of a hash collision, increasing the likelihood of inferring each voter's unique ballot.
Something did occur to me, however. Right now, all races are encoded onto a single ballot. Making it more likely that every ballot within a precinct is utterly unique.
But if each race was split onto its own ballot, then a crypto based voting system might be workable.
As loathe as I am to validate a crypto-based scheme in any way, these schemes aren't going away, no small part because the geeks keep pushing technological fixes for perceived societal problems. So I'm somewhat resigned that I should make the most of it, help make sure the worst parts are mitigated.
Then stick all the votes up on a server somewhere. Let us go and check our votes are in the list. We could then have informal verification and audits of the counts.
I assumed that if anything it was to prevent people being pressured in to voting a particular way (eg an abusive spouse) - what' wrong with selling your vote, surely that's still democratic: you've chosen to accept a particular candidate based on the outcome for you.
There is no reason to prevent someone from verifying that their vote was counted -- not vote buying (or the presumed ease thereof), not vote tampering or stuffing (really?), not potential outside coercion of any kind. Laws exist for all of these things already, and would not suddenly become unenforceable or ineffective in the presence of vote verification.
Coercive voting has disappeared because it is impossible for the coercee to prove to the coercer that they complied.
My granny used to tell of tying red ribbons (red being for the left) on the goats in the country and her mother getting a lift to the polls from the Tories (when women first got the vote) and voting Labour.
Verifying your vote cannot relate to ballot stuffing at all - so you can prove to yourself that you voted X, but I have 1,000,000 made-up votes for Y.
Besides just being distasteful, just handing over powerful positions in our society to the highest bidder seems like a formula for brazen abuse.
There is no valid reason, moral or technical, for preventing voters from verifying their votes were accurately counted, and verification does not enable any new crimes – but it does prevent the current crime where someone's vote is either miscounted or not counted at all.
Personally, I would like to have a receipt because I think the danger of my vote not having been recorded is greater than the danger of someone demanding my vote receipt off me.
Sure they do: use a lie detector and ask them.
Honestly, the situation you describe is the problem, not the presence or absence of verifiable voting. If you've got the mafia threatening your family, voting is the least of your problems.
What happens when I stuff the ballot box with a million non-existent votes?
Oh, so you voted correctly and you can prove it. Whoopy do!
> Let us go and check our votes are in the list. We could then have informal verification and audits of the counts.
You have the square root of bugger all - the integrity of the total count is what counts - not the individual votes.
Vote stealing and ballot rigging is a well understood human phenomenon - it is a solved problem.
Sprinkling some poorly thought out computer pixie dust on it is not even the beginning of an answer.
I think this verification may already be a reality. The alternative is to disallow any form of verification, as with the Reddit poster, but then we lose the ability to perform checks on the voting procedure, and would never have known about this current anomaly.
What's missing, though, is the proof that who you voted for is who the vote was internally counted for.
Due to anonymity you can't individually prove a confirmation number belongs to you - you could have found one on the street or made up some random number, but if 10000 people claim that their initial vote does not match the confirmed vote, it's worth looking into more carefully.
That'd be a felony in Wisconsin, presumably for that sort of reason. http://www.nbc15.com/home/headlines/Wisconsin_GAB_Is_Felony_...
Another possibility is to make the duress an option. You can fill out a fake ballot for your duress code if you want, but you aren't forced to(since most people don't need to worry about it)
So that people can't bribe or blackmail you into voting a particular way.
The ones I know are well armed, but about as non-violent as you can be and not be a Quaker.
The point is: Neither has he encountered union thugs beating somebody up because he was against unionization. It's a ridiculous myth.
But I don't know about 'union thug' being a myth: lots of actual violence back in the dark days of the last century. Carnegie brought in an army to bust up the union and it wasn't because they were meek lambs.
No, it was irony.
I know it's not foolproof as you could request a new ballot, but I'm guessing those buying votes aren't the smartest folk. Plus you'd be crazy to not accept the money upfront, as there's no way they're actually going to pay out after the fact and it's not like you can take someone to court for not upholding their end of an illegal bargain.
For example, voting machines could drop duplicate receipts into a bucket that voters are free to rummage around in.
The voter must retain her vote (A or B) in human memory, which cannot be externally verified, except by brain scan, etc... but that detail is rather unsolvable.
Punchscan is a bit impractical for verifying large ballots, but large contested ballots are rare.
I wonder what (if any) pitfalls it has, other than the increased complexity and less obvious correctness (i.e. it would be hard to convince a non-mathematically inclined person that it works properly).
It's possible that I'm getting a bleaker picture than reality, I suppose, since I only read about the broken stuff and not the instances where everything just works.
There are several "wards" in the city, and each contains a school that is the voting location. Outside of each location will be people holding signs of all candidates, but all they said this morning are things like "Happy voting" and "Thank you for voting."
Inside the location there will be about 8 lines with last name letters. A-D and E-H, I-M, etc. If your last name was Dorette you would get into the A-D line. This is one bottleneck, but it resolves very quickly. You say your name, they find your name and cross it off, and you are handed a paper ballot.
With the paper ballot you then wait in a second line until a booth (containing nothing but a marker pen and writing surface) is free. There are about 16 of these booths, with privacy screens behind them.
If all the booths are filled you will have to wait, BUT if you do not mind people being able to possibly see your vote you are welcome to go to a temporary booth, that is just a series of lunch tables with cardboard dividers. Less privacy, far more seats. Maybe 30-40 people can fill out ballots at once at the ward I was in.
You fill out your ballot with a black marker and bring it to the end of the room where there is a single machine. This machine does nothing but take your ballot and scan it, so the line here processes near instantly. The ballots are kept to be recounted by hand if need be, and most importantly, the machine portion of voting is not a bottleneck.
It went very smoothly today.
It sounds very similar to the last time I voted (also in a school building), except I never experienced a line longer than, say, 2 persons -- I guess we have more, smaller locations/voter --, and of course there was no computer at the end, you just put your ballot in the box. And there were no people picketing near the location, and nobody thanked me for voting. Well, that's not true, the people inside said thanks (and so did I).
Representatives of all parties are present when the votes are counted (and recounted). We get the results in the evening, 2 or 3 hours after the elections close.
It's not entirely comparable since our ballot is quite simple, two pages with large letters, it takes about a minutes to fill out with two crosses in the right place. From what I understand you often vote on loads of things at the same time and it takes a while to fill out correctly.
isn't it illegal to campaign within a certain radius of a polling place?
If you never hear about these things in your own country that means that apparently no one there cares.
- Voter ID to discourage minorities, students, elderly 
- "True the Vote", invoking a problem that doesn't exist 
- Another article on "True the Vote" 
- Blocking voting on the weekend before election 
- You don't see lines like this in other developed countries. It's not that they're not reported on because "no one cares", they're not reported on because there aren't any lines. 
- Again, you don't see stuff like this on election day outside of the US: 
- Thankfully, there are honorable republicans who also call this out, like Conor Friedersdorf: 
- And this, it's just... Baffling to people in the rest of the world. 
Again, this is unheard of where I live, not because people don't care but because we're not (completely) bamboozled!
Why would that discourage anyone? In slovenia, you are required by law to carry an ID when you turn 18/get voting rights. So there's really no excuse for anyone to not have an id (or driver's licence).
Minorities in the US are way less likely to carry photo ID. I could go on and on. In short, the situation is different than in Slovenia.
The UK briefly introduced and then scrapped a national ID system, bowing to public pressure. Read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Identity_Cards_Act_2006 -- a key phrase being "Many of the concerns focused on the databases underlying the identity cards rather than the cards themselves."
It's not something you can easily compare across borders and it's extremely loaded with all sorts of issues in the US, as far as I understand.
The US does not have national ID, and doesn't even require you to show identification to the police when asked.
So I guess we're talking about people under 21 who (a) don't drive, (b) have never needed an ID for any other purpose, and (c) can vote but for whatever reason, are too poor/disadvantaged/etc. to get an ID.
And those people get a provisional ballot anyway.
I guess I don't see the problem with requiring ID; we require for far less important things already.
That applies doubly so for a passport or driving license -- people with more money are more likely to have a car or travel overseas, so more likely to have those types of ID.
Where in most of Europe people can just go vote their favorite party and let the legislators figure out the details later, everything in the US is determined on one day.
So the incentives to game the system are immense, which is exactly why you see this kind of "Voter ID" laws to target unwanted demographics, and elaborate GoTV efforts with buses shuttling people around town, etc...
But even in the US, it doesn't have to be that way. Several states (mine among them) have moved to a 100% mail-in ballot system and eliminated in-person polling places.
Well, that's not strictly true. I recall waiting about half an hour on the election day for one of the elections I voted in in Ontario.
Several hours' wait during early voting seems a little bush league though.
Or that they don't happen...
Yah, somehow I doubt that, unless you managed to hire god to run your elections. Humans make mistakes, and machines and systems that humans build mess up.
If you never hear about problems that's quite worrying - that means no one is even checking.
California's system strikes me as ideal. Ballots are on paper but are machine-countable. Voters feed the ballots into the counting machines themselves, which verify that the ballot is valid (e.g., voted for exactly one person per race). If your ballot gets counted properly, the machine makes a happy little noise.
I like this because it has the fast results of electronic voting, but it has a proper paper trail and minimum mystery about the counting process.
What system, in your opinion, would minimize error?
What on earth? I marked the candidate I wanted to vote for with an X in a circle on a paper ballot. Marking circles for more than one candidate is a spoiled ballot you can replace instead of depositing if you wish. This isn't rocket science.
There's still plenty of margin for error (for instance, the printer could run misprint or run out of ink, the tabulator could be buggy), and corruption ("here, let me file that for you...") but I think it maximizes the benefits of touchscreen voting for disabled voters while minimizing the downsides.
*(Scotland 64%, Germany 68%, US 55%)
In many other countries these things are banned because people care.
(2) We are OK publicizing it.
(3) Probability would indicate that we'll have a certain error, and it'll be shouted about.
But it's very strange that it was "miscalibrated" to not select one particular candidate, no? :)
The internet loves Obama. There are many stories of people that support Obama cheating the system (right now there's a popular story of someone admitting on Facebook to voting for Obama 4 times...) and that isn't on the front page of HN, when that is absolutely confirmed to be a misuse of the system.
Everything that is a disadvantage for Obama is naturally going to get more attention, because most of the internet age that use sites like reddit and HN are the sort that want progress.
I'll bet there are machines that have this problem (assuming this is not an isolated incident and his a software/hardware issue) that vote for Obama when Romney is clicked, but that won't be big news in this circle of news because who cares about Romney here?
Edit: here you go, same problem that affects Romney votes on another machine http://www.cbs42.com/content/localnews/story/Voting-machines...
To be fair it is a claim of a problem affecting Romney by some person which is then refuted by another person (some sort of voting official?). The problem affecting Obama was captured first hand and confirmed as voting machine problem by second source per the Gawker article.
[ Note : I have no dog in this hunt - just pointing out something that I noticed. ]
I think the difference here is that there is absolute proof that it wasn't end user error whereas with the story you linked to there were no videos or any other demonstrations.
Being that none of these machines are open-source, that's really the important factor, the political persuasion of the companies manufacturing the machines.
The essence of democracy is an essential distrust of power, so yes, I'm concerned.
none of these machines are open-source, that's really the important factor
This is the least important factor.
If they made the machine, it is probably incompetence. iVontronic looks like it is owned by Printelect, which is owned by Owen Andrews, who seems to be affiliated with the Democrats.
In fact, the iVotronic Machines were indeed created by and originally manufactured by Diebold, though it was sold to another company in 2009.
I've been on here for 3 years, I'm a hugely valuable but underrated member of this community.
It's easy to call "troll" and try to sneakily shout out the other person. You should try some self-reflection if you're a republican. If you've got enough inquisitiveness to be on HN, apply that to deciphering what the republican party actually stands for.
> Yeah, statistically, democrats are smarter than republicans. I must be smarter than average!
If it makes you feel good, so be it. Please be sure to keep that cork on the fork.
Quick. Since you are so smart: How many years will it take to pay off 16 trillion dollars in debt while paying interest and continuing to over-spend at a rate of over 1 trillion per year?
In your answer consider the continued erosion of our manufacturing base, increased costs of a welfare society, erosion of human capital due to crappy union-driven education, the effects of tax increases and Obamacare.
Now, I expect an answer. Real numbers. No bullshit. Fire-up Excel and give us some numbers. See, there's the problem with self-appointed "smart ones": Talk is easy and cheap. Show me the facts, numerically, and we can start to have an intelligent discussion about how to move this country forward.
I'll bet you a cookie you don't move a finger to show HN readers a single proposal on how to deal with our national debt. Not one.
I am an independent thinker who appreciates portions of both platforms. I can't be swayed by pretty speeches, posters, ads, t-shirts, debate "gotcha's", etc. I cringe to think that there are Americans who vote "for the team" rather than through careful analysis and consideration of the issues in the context of the times we live in. The bigoted dismissal of millions of citizens by attaching a political label to them is sad and despicable.
Here's your chance to show us you are not just a troll. What's your answer to my question. Any reader should be able to plug your numbers into a spreadsheet and verify them.
Peter Norvig, who is a god among the mere mortals here, makes a better case than I could
If you even took a few minutes to play with the numbers you'd be horrified to realize where we are and, more importantly, where we are going.
Creating an economic model with a spreadsheet is a really scary and sobering exercise. I've done a couple. The aim was to see what needed to change in order to achieve what most would recognize as solid economic recovery over a period of time. I played with periods in the range of 25 to 50 years. And, while the numbers can never be 100% accurate, the reality painted by the model is nothing less than scary. Even if my numbers where 100%, nah, 200%, off the reality they paint is horrible.
No, you can't fix it by taxing the rich. Not even close. You can't even fix it by taxing everyone. You just can't. You have to cut spending with a vengeance and, yes, adjust taxes --for everyone-- slightly. Let's not get facts get in the way of a good bullshit discussion.
Do a model, discuss it with a few people and then go read the likes of Peter Norvig and see what you think of them.
Here's my answer to Norvig's "Why do you support Obama?" segment on the page you linked:
"End of war in Iraq". Who the hell cares. The war is a rounding error compared to what we've been doing to this country under Obama. What? Five, maybe six trillion dollars in additional debt? Please.
"Focus on al Qaeda and Taliban" Who the fuck cares? What happened in Libya demonstrates full-well that terrorism wasn't challenged in any way by getting this guy. Old history.
"Universal Health Care" Disaster. Talk to a few business people to get real data. They are scared to death. If Obamacare is so good, why did he have to grant exceptions en-masse to unions?
"Increase US Manufacturing" I used to own a manufacturing business. I saw, first hand, what was going on and have the scars to prove it. The economic dump was so deep that some kind of a pull-back was inevitable. I love it when people take credit for things they had nothing to do with. I use to do a lot of day-trading. There were days when stocks would over sell to such a degree that you absolutely KNEW --if you were conscious enough to remove yourself from the fray-- that they were going to come back up. Some of the easiest money I ever made, both on the long and short side.
"Save Detroit" Detroit has been an ugly mess for decades. The coddling of the unions made us less competitive and allowed abominations to creep into contracts. GM had, at one point, thousands workers actually reporting to work and getting paid a full salary to do absolutely nothing. Detroit needed a good hard reset. They didn't get it. We'll see where the story ends. I don't see any option for a happy ending because the culture and rules are the same, thanks to Obama. He needed those people to vote for him in future elections and swiftly bought their votes via the rescue plan. I wonder, how would Norvig feel if the Federal Government threw billions of dollars at a failing competitor. Ford did not need any money. The government artificially altered the market. And this is good?
"Bring back jobs" Government can only create government jobs. Obama did not create a single private sector job. The private sector created these jobs. Again, I refer you to my explanation when a market is over-sold.
"Cut taxes on middle class" Really, we are diluted and stupid enough to be happy with an extra $400 a year in our pockets? Wait, then they take it back out through other taxes. I get it if you want to believe in His Excellence Obama no-matter-what, but this is silly.
"Support green energy" I am still waiting to get a number from someone, anyone, on how many of the over five million jobs his holiness created were "green energy" jobs. Crickets. And Norvig is quoting a comedian for his facts? Whew!
"Avoid another banking crisis" So, our politicians create the mess that causes the economic downturn by allowing, no, demanding, that Freddie Mac, etc. create an environment where a McDonalds cook can buy a $750,000 home. And then we praise them for avoiding a banking crisis? Are we insane?
"Monitor and contain loose nuclear material" OK, I'll give him that one. Only because I have no way to refute any of it. I am tempted to say "who cares, any president would have continued to move in that direction", but I just don't know enough.
There's more, but I'm done. Thankfully the election will be over today. I hope I don't have to live with your decision. What's worst, I hope my kids don't have to live with your decision. I'll accept it if it happens to go that way, but it will be sad to see. We can compare notes in four years.
Do the numbers.
I don't know if you're purposefully being a caricature of republican voters or if you genuinely believe what you're saying, but when you mess with Norvig, you mess with the best. You cannot win against Norvig, he is a tech super-ninja. Those super-ninja skills can equally be applied to deciding who to vote for, and his opinion on this case is signed and sealed. There is no question that today's Republican Party is anti-public, anti-world, anti-science.
The best educational demographic for Democrats is "No High School". The best for Republicans is "College Graduate".
The linked facts do not support you. Only 4% of the population is in that category and of that category 63% voted D, 35% voted R. In no world does this equate to D are represented in the majority by those without High School educations.
Further-more, (from your own source) of the 28% of the population who are college graduates 50% voted D 48% voted R. This explicitly indicates more College Graduates voted D than R.
I never said that. If you want to criticize my post like an asshole, at least read it first.
Are you by any chance a Democrat without a high school degree? If so, I forgive your lack of reading comprehension skills. In that case, let me give you an example:
If I said, "The best racial demographic for Democrats is blacks" (which is just as true as my statement about education), that would not imply that I think most Democrats are black.
So check the 2012 results: http://www.cnn.com/election/2012/results/race/president?hpt=...
Yet again, the Republican candidate scores his highest vote share among college graduates, and the Democratic candidate scores his highest vote share among people without high school degrees.
Re-iterating your mouth noises does not show for the depth of the thought that originated them.
While I critiqued your lack-of-thought construct, you immediately countered with both an ad hominem and appeal to authority.
Good luck out there, you're going to need it.
Someone who votes Democrat is equally likely to have a college education as a Republican.
I provided a source showing that this is at least close to true, and possibly it tilts a bit towards the Republicans rather than being equally likely. I also provided an interesting tidbit that, while the college educated demographic is best for Republicans, the no high school degree demographic is best for Democrats.
Are you offended that I answered the guy's question by linking to some data, or that I added a sentence about an interesting tidbit of information from that data? Because immediately after I posted, you replied with unnecessary insults and ridiculous straw men. I hope you can understand why your post elicited a facetious response from me, which you self-righteously deem "ad hominem".
In Germany voting machines have been banned completely with good reasons, because they're unsafe and easy to to hack. And still we can pull off a purely paper-based votes with 82 million people completely without any lines in front of the voting booths and results within two hours after the election.
> "verification of the result must be possible by the citizen reliably and without any specialist knowledge of the subject."
Unless you're trying to bribe the counters/interfere with the counting ;).
It's hilarious when Americans use that as an excuse for things being sub-par in their country. I see it all the time for health care, roads, schools etc.
Yes, your country has lots of people in it, but it also takes in an enormous amount of tax, and has enormous government agencies to organize this kind of thing. Everything should scale up appropriately, but you guys have no figured that out yet.
I am simply providing an explanation that statistics indicates that there will be an absolute greater # of issues.
I would also suggest that governing at scale is hard and doesn't seem to scale linearly; much worse, as far as I can guess, based upon my news reading. Things like population density, diversity of industry, diversity of cultures start to play out in a very loud and complicated way. The only person I've met (who I talked about this with) who appreciated the scale of the US immediately was from Russia, which has similar scale issues.
I didn't say it was easy, but I said it's something that should be in hand
on top of geography, there is the issue that different states (in the U.S.) can have very different logistical/structural systems, different laws, different economic conditions, different budgets, etc
See: the disparity between road quality in Maryland (good density) and Pennsylvania (poor density). (or, to correct for climate, compare Pennsylvania with New York).
I'm certainly no expert on the topic, but I haven't heard any news about any major problems with Australia's roads. I'm curious to know how they compare with roads in the US.
USA density: 33.7/km2 87.4/sq mi population: ~ 314 mil
AUS density: 2.8/km2 7.3/sq mi population: ~ 22 mil
The roads in America are horrible by Australian standards. When I bring friends to the US they are shocked and say things like "it just doesn't look finished". This is more-or-less true for the majority of social services in America.
Of course, the climate in Australia lends itself to much better roads, but in comparison to Canada's roads, America's still suck, so there is no excuse.
I'm not saying that states with bad roads don't have themselves to blame, just that density is a factor.
You're saying that it's got more to do with how much the population is willing to be taxed, which I believe is the real reason.
I guess what I'm saying is that while dodging the real cause of this issue, Americans are going to point to large geography rather than large population as the 'root cause'. In this case that isn't entirely without merit, since for a lot of Americans (those in Maryland for example) the '(tax rate * population) / area' equation works out alright.
Now, I think that's a pretty fair comparison. The roads can be pretty terrible in Washington and Oregon from my experience. That may be because federal money for roads goes to other less dense states, but these proportions hold up fairly well nationwide too. I think it's just a matter of less public funding, it's that simple.
One summer when I was living in Philadelphia they removed the surface of the road in front of my apartment. Two months later they put it back. And if it's not that, it's crews filling in holes from road-work with about half as much asphalt as the hole needed, or the random patches of cobblestone street still left in the city, seemingly with little rhyme or reason.
The "300M citizens" excuse is even less valid in the context of presidential elections, because each state plans it independently from the others. So it is more like 52 tiny countries voting together!
Obviously scaling is hard, but I would expect that's one of the things a well functioning, well funded government should take care of, much like how Facebook and Google manage to scale well.
So to summarize, it's hilarious when Americans use the large population excuse for having sub-par services.
OP: When has this been used as an excuse for anything that you are apparently deeming as 'sub-standard' here in America? Cite a source please? Gotta be honest, I've never heard that excuse once.
I also had no idea the rest of the world had solved the problem of civics and effective government. Why are you guys keeping it a secret? Care to share?
Who's keeping it a secret? Elections Canada policies aren't exactly classified information.
Um, unless you're talking to India which manages to pull off votes with 1.2 Billion People. You are like 25% their population.
Of course, again, there is media acting as a watchdog, and a hope that the manipulation is statistically insignificant.
FWIW, most of the world votes on paper, and if history's anything to go by paper ballot is way more reliable than electronic, at least when it comes to auditability. I'm sure it's possible to design a secure and tamper-proof electronic voting system with a great, useable interface... but nobody seems interested in doing that.
 system, not machine, because you most likely want the machine recording votes and the machine tallying them to be fully separate.
For further read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_voting_machines
India also has option called "None of the Above" as a voting option, which is extremely democratic.
Booth capturing "found primarily in India" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Booth_capturing
intimidation on racial lines:
You are plain kidding if you feel elections in India are anywhere close to being as good as US.
Note that this doesn't mean it's counted right: it just means you have no way to worry about it. Maybe election officials are debating whether that line for Joe is a mistake or not. Now the problems are seen immediately instead of unseen, which was one of the driving forces for people who didn't want to ever go through the hanging chad issue again.
I'm certainly not saying computer voting is better than paper voting -- they each have their trade-offs. (I'd prefer paper ballots that voters can "self-scan" by a machine that is very conservative in what it accepts, but that's a whole separate discussion.)
this is a lot of people. I am sure that if we investigate the details of elections in India, Indonesia, and Brazil, we will find an array of fudged votes and issues.
In other words, I am pretty sure that the error rate for the mix of remote/paper/electronic voting will hold pretty constant regardless of population size.
You only hear about the ballots that crash, not the millions that land safely every election.
I have no idea why other states don't do this.
In any case, what am I supposed to do besides vote (at the polls - I'm all but convinced this is pointless), spend my money wisely (this is the best method I've come up with to enact some kind of change, but it's hardly effective since I'm not a billionaire), and write my "representatives" (who invariably respond with some boilerplate bullshit and go on doing whatever the folks paying for them (global business) want)?
David Frum weighing in: http://www.cnn.com/2012/11/05/opinion/frum-election-chaos/in...
In fact there was a case in my home state of New Hampshire a few years ago, where a state worker was investigated for not using funds that had been made available by the federal government for each state to use for elections. The state worker's defense was that the money had strings attached; basically there were some restrictions on how the federal money could be used during the election. The investigation was dropped immediately, in favor of the worker. Basically my state would rather spend millions of extra dollars to run the elections than allow the federal government to put restrictions on the way they run elections.
Do you feel it's beneficial for New Hampshire to be in a federal union where it doesn't control its economic policy, central bank issues, or foreign policy, but can ensure it has its way on such issues on who can get married and how you vote in the federal elections, where your votes are ultimately largely meaningless? That seems a bit neither here nor there to me.
The USA experimented with decentralized banks (each state printed its own currency for a while) and it was a mess, so centralized banking is more of a practical solution than an ideal one. Other issues including who gets married etc, are idiosyncratic to particular cultural and even subcultural groups, and seems best handled by responsive, representative legislation than blanket national policy.
That's also one reason we're so hesitant to get rid of the thing: at the same time, we'd need to nationalize election administration. If we didn't, it would be much easier for states to "cheat" and exaggerate their voting power by claiming higher voter turnout than what actually happened.
Think of it like a badly-designed old dataflow that you would love fix, but there are so many dependencies now that it's become a major project.
Opinions on whether something should be handled at state vs federal seems to ebb and flow in great proportions in the US.
That being said, I'm taking a two hour drive later today to vote because my vote-by-mail ballot never arrived, so...
What I've found is that it roughly correlates with education, and not in the inverse sense. More educated and accomplished Americans usually scoff at any and all hint of real not-an-isolated-incident systemic corruption as "conspiracy theory," grouping it in the same category as David Icke's tales of shape-shifting reptiles. There is no organized crime in America, no systemic corruption. Everyone is just doing their job.
To me it would seem like an easy win to push for it and push it through. "We need to preserve our democracy!" "Any one who doesn't vote for this bill, is unamerican!" "We cannot let our ability to vote be assaulted!" etc.
This makes a bit less sense when you look at how it ends up that a very few districts end up deciding the race - but I think the idea itself is sound. Those battlegrounds will shift, likely more rapidly than endemic corruption can take hold.
If we are looking at a future with pervasive electronic voting machines from multiple manufacturers, I would insist on having multiple different kinds of machines in each polling place. That way, any meaningful differences between machines would stand out.
It would probably cause a small dent and shift by people who don't notice or are confused (elderly).
The result here is that the voting machine was taken out of duty and will be investigated. If the strategy was to make the error so outlandish that nobody would believe it was happening, the strategy has failed.
Since it's pretty obvious that this would be the outcome, it's not a good strategy, and is therefore not likely to have been enacted.
Looks like a bug, actually swings a close election?
I've used that exact type of machine to vote in North Carolina (but this ballot is not from North Carolina). You have all sorts of people pounding on the screen all day.
Remember the reason we all wanted electronic voting after the year 2000: because it gives absolutely clear answers, not necessarily better answers. (Even the best systems have errors because there are humans involved.) You don't have to debate whether that smudge counts or does not count as a vote.
The lack of a receipt is deliberate and prevents vote-buying. A carbon copy of your vote will open as many avenues to fraud as it will close.
Even if this theoretically did increase the chance of vote-buying, I think it's still a worthwhile tradeoff for the massive increase in accountability we get from it.
It's not perfect, and not my preferred system, but it's pretty decent.
In a small community you can keep track of who voted in what order, then look at the receipt and know who voted for who.
Of course, we have ways of securing access to ballot boxes to a reasonable degree, and those ways are also applicable to the paper receipts.
Probably a receipt without a timestamp, and with a paper cutter would work as well.
Jim is not a nice man and is very demanding and abusive and goes to vote. He wants his wife to vote for X, but he suspects that she will vote for Y. Today, she can vote for X or Y and tell her husband that she voted for Y. He has no way to prove her wrong. With receipts, he can tell her, on no uncertain terms, that she is to show him her receipt afterwards. If she doesn't produce a receipt showing she votes for X, he'll beat her. With receipts she does not have a free vote, without receipts she has a free vote.
I want to buy your vote, and will pay you €10 to vote for X. Today, you can vote for who ever you want, and tell me you voted for X and demand payment. I have no way to prove you wrong. Hence vote buying is hard to do, because you can't know if you're actually buying votes. With receipts, I can ask to see your receipt, and only pay out if you vote for X. With receipts, vote buying now becomes an actual thing that I can do.
Employers could now request that employees tell/prove/check who they voted for.
Unions could now tell/prove/check who their members voted for.
Churchs could now tell/prove/check who their members voted for.
It's one of the biggest challenges in crypto-voting systems. And there are some solutions. But we need to hammer down on the "silly people, why not just print a receipt" idea really hard.
Assuming it's miscalibration, how many people used this machine before the video? how many afterward?
>I then called over a volunteer to have a look at it. She him hawed for a bit then calmly said “It’s nothing to worry about, everything will be OK.” and went back to what she was doing. I then recorded this video.
That sounds like they were very likely the first person to complain. What did the rest do?
I think you mean if the machine was intentionally designed to alter votes, it wouldn't do it in this fashion. The article doesn't even hint that this might be done on purpose.
Altering is an action, not something passive. If a machine is altering votes then it must be doing that intentionally. What is happening here is the person interacting with this machine is interacting in such a way that makes the machine believe he is pressing elsewhere on the screen.
The title reads as if the machine is doing something, the reality is the user is doing something in such a way that the machine believes they're doing something else, due to poor calibration.
> I initially selected Obama but Romney was highlighted. I assumed it was being picky so I deselected Romney and tried Obama again, this time more carefully, and still got Romney. Being a software developer, I immediately went into troubleshoot mode. I first thought the calibration was off and tried selecting Jill Stein to actually highlight Obama. Nope. Jill Stein was selected just fine. Next I deselected her and started at the top of Romney's name and started tapping very closely together to find the 'active areas'. From the top of Romney's button down to the bottom of the black checkbox beside Obama's name was all active for Romney. From the bottom of that same checkbox to the bottom of the Obama button (basically a small white sliver) is what let me choose Obama. Stein's button was fine. All other buttons worked fine.
My point is "alter" is something that has to be done on purpose, by using the word alter they are stating the system KNOWS the user is voting for Obama and changes it to Romney.
I disagree. If this person decided to walk away because of confusion/frustration/etc, then it would've been one less vote cast and would have altered that individuals vote. It wasn't intentional, but a software/hardware bug.
Cause it won't be spun like that at all.
 Joseph Hall comments here, also provides a link to further commentary by him: http://gawker.com/5958114/an-expert-weighs-in-on-that-viral-...
Being a software developer, I immediately went into troubleshoot mode. I first thought the calibration was off and tried selecting Jill Stein to actually highlight Obama. Nope. Jill Stein was selected just fine. Next I deselected her and started at the top of Romney's name and started tapping very closely together to find the 'active areas'. From the top of Romney's button down to the bottom of the black checkbox beside Obama's name was all active for Romney. From the bottom of that same checkbox to the bottom of the Obama button (basically a small white sliver) is what let me choose Obama. Stein's button was fine. All other buttons worked fine.
Edit: Just watched the video again. The video suspiciously freezes from 11s to 18s. Probably, something inconvenient being edited out amateurishly?
I used to work on kiosk software for restaurants. At the start of every day we had to go through all of the touchscreens in the restaurant and calibrate them. Sometimes they would lose their calibration halfway through the day and need to be recalibrated multiple times.
I remember the old Nintendo DS touch screen, which was resistive, required user calibration where you would press on the corners of the screen. If you missed the corners (which, with the relatively thick stylus and the relatively thick bezel on the original DS, wasn't uncommon), the accuracy of your touch positions would be very notably off, to the point that using touch-screen keyboards in some games would be difficult.
Obviously I don't know for sure if this was the exact case with this voting machine, but the point being, some touch screens do require calibration and there is a chance for error. Or, of course, it could simply have been a factory mistake.
Either way, I doubt there's any malice behind this error.
Multi-touch screens as used in smart phones use capacitive touch sensing technology, they do not require calibration.
Cheaper, older touch screen systems (such as those used with ATMs or voting machines) use resistive touch technology, they absolutely require calibration.
2. Because these machines are open to the general public who are hitting the screens with their meaty fingers all day.
I have used a ton of touch screen devices in public. I've encountered quite a few that were miscalibrated.
Public devices put up with abuse that your private devices do not.
My kids abuse my iPad pretty heavily but generally smacking on the screen with their hands and fingers a lot but I still have never seen it mis-calculate a touch.
I don't know much about electronic voting machines but I wouldn't be surprised if they mostly used resistive touchscreens (which are historically much cheaper to produce).
I recently had to help my mother recalibrate her sewing machine's touch screen.
If you've ever interacted with a touchscreen at an ATM, mall kiosk, or airport kiosk, it's likely that they were resistive or infrared based, and more susceptible to calibration errors.
Because the person who wishes to tamper with the outcome of the election only has access to (or, very likely, skillz to modify) the calibration template (which has to be reconfigured each election, hence is modified by more people), not to the entire source code and tool chain of the voting machine. Most attacks are not gigantic conspiracies with unlimited resources.
That being said, the only conceivable way to have a secure electronic voting process is to use a completely open source system. Open source hardware and software, with publicly viewable results.
Paper ballots have issues, too. They are different issues, and largely unseen by the general public until you have a really close election and have to use human judgment to decide whether that mark counts as a vote or not.
No magic can make the halting problem decidable.
[edit PS] Of course, this is purely academic. You might as well fantasise about a voting system made of Babbage-esque clockwork.
1. Allowing people with disabilities to vote. For example, headphone voice prompts for blind people, large print/high contrast for the elderly etc.
2. Making sure voters understand the voting procedure - particularly if there are multiple offices and issues on the ballot, multiple ballot papers and so on.
3. Ensuring voters' intent is recorded unambiguously. For example, you can't put marks in multiple boxes (intentionally or accidentally) and you can't leave a dimpled or hanging chad.
4. Perfect counting (assuming the data is entered correctly and the software works right) as opposed to manual counts where papers sometimes end up in the wrong pile.
5. You can offer voting in multiple languages.
6. You can randomise the order of candidates on the ballot, to evenly distribute any impact being at the top might have.
7. Ability to take backups for transit or deliver results electronically, avoiding boxes of ballots going missing.
8. Reduced counting costs and faster results, allowing more polling stations to be operated and allowing the polls to stay open later for the same result delivery deadline.
Whether it succeeds at offering these benefits, and whether they're worth the obvious cost in trust is debatable.
The machines used on Brazillian elections are simpler but much better thought out, since it's impossible to input the wrong candidate. You have to input the number of the candidate, review his information and photo, then press "confirm" button. It doesn't present a list of candidates to choose from, so there are no biases. The US should adopt a similar machine. 
"I first thought the calibration was off and tried selecting Jill Stein to actually highlight Obama. Nope. Jill Stein was selected just fine. Next I deselected her and started at the top of Romney’s name and started tapping very closely together to find the ‘active areas’. From the top of Romney’s button down to the bottom of the black checkbox beside Obama’s name was all active for Romney. From the bottom of that same checkbox to the bottom of the Obama button (basically a small white sliver) is what let me choose Obama. Stein’s button was fine. All other buttons worked fine."
Based on the reddit story, I think this was Central PA, which definitely falls into the "not allowed to take video" category.
And although I think this is overblown, in general I think this seems a legit reason to sneak a recording.
I wonder what the trade-offs are for randomizing each ballot.
But even at that, when a state has a razor-thin margin in an election, it can be maddening to figure out what happened.
The election to the United States Senate from Minnesota in 2008 was too close to call before the election, and even after millions of Minnesotans voted for one of three major party candidates, the margin between the top two candidates, Democrat Al Franken and Republican Norm Coleman, was so close that the margin was only one-hundredth of 1 percent of the votes cast in the election. That election really underscored the slogan "every vote counts."
It's quite indefensible to use a voting system that doesn't leave a literal paper trail. The technology is well proven. But what really gives most election results legitimacy and staying power is a wide enough margin among votes cast by people who show up to vote that the old saying "Vox populi, vox Dei" can apply to the result. The people speak, and even the voters who didn't agree with the plurality have to listen. It's appalling that any state would have a voting system that could obscure what the consensus of the voters is.
AFTER EDIT: Thanks for the several replies to this comment. Reading other replies posted to this thread since I first wrote this comment, I see several mentions of the systems in the Pacific Northwest states of having mail ballots mailed to voters. When I lived in Taiwan, more than a decade ago, I had a post office box there. Sometimes I would receive postal mail from the United States for the previous holders of that post office box, including State of Oregon ballots for two different Oregon voters (who were presumably each other's roommates while living in Taiwan). I always wondered, without giving into the temptation, whether I could have successfully filled out one (or both?) of those ballots and mailed them back from Taiwan to cast votes in an Oregon election. By contrast, I was never able to cast a Minnesota absentee ballot from Taiwan, even the time when I should have been regarded as having a stable permanent residence address here in the United States. So I missed out on voting in both the 1984 election and the ever-so-controversial election of 2000. I have no clear awareness of how mail ballots are authenticated as having been mailed by the voter to whom they belong (a signature on the envelope?) and hope that someone is checking to prevent those ballots from being misused.
Computer systems are trying to bring forward all the hidden problems that aren't found until we have to fight about the result and put them right in front of the user. By design, they are going to show more errors, instead of hiding them from the voter.
(I shouldn't need to say this, but I'm not saying computer voting systems are better. I tend to prefer pure paper. But each system has trade-offs.)
Paper ballots as the canonical record can always be: a) recounted on demand while being able to verify original voter intent (to a greater extent than digital or mechanical systems) and b) digitized for redundant storage and securely encrypted.
Therefore, IMHO, if you want to ensure democracy, ballots must: show tampering, be easy to complete, easy to count (and re-count) and quickly deployable/scalable. Scannable paper is the only option that really does all of that well.
From an operations perspective (MBA/Designer here), the bottleneck in the process is the filling out of the ballot, not the scanning/recording (with any electronic/scanning system), so why not make that part scale/parallelize really easily without requiring thousands of dollars of heavy, breakable hardware? Paper is better, all around.
Lots of people really don't like the fact that the senator is chosen based on how 3 people sit down and decide what that means, or whether this chad was punched out "enough."
Computer touch-screen voting systems, like all other voting, have flaws, but one thing they don't have is any ambiguity how you count each ballot.
(There are, of course, other ways to handle this. For example, you could fill out a paper ballot and have it read by a test machine that is very conservative in what it accepts, and alerts you to errors. I'm sure this has trade-offs, too.)
As someone who has designed questionnaires and computer interfaces, I think you miss a huge point here – electronic systems make vote counting easy because they constrain choice... but there's a lot less ability to verify that an electronic system actually captured the intention of the voter – just as this story shows.
So, how do you do that? 3 parts:
1) Use paper ballots, as I've argued for, above.
2) Count/scan each ballot immediately, before the voter leaves. Reject ones that do not process properly (i.e. the one you described above would be rejected if there were conflicting indicators). I thought I remembered MN doing that (I lived/voted there ~a decade ago), for example, and I'm pretty sure my poling place here in Illinois did that last time as well (haven't been there yet today). It's not an impossible task to enforce the same constraints on a paper ballot, doing so with the voter present and able to clarify/fix their ballot.
3)You try really, really hard to design easy to understand and use paper ballots (for all the reasons I said above, you need paper for an audit trail). Good communication design (i.e.: how you design/layout the ballot forms) matters a lot and most of them are terrible.
That, however, is no excuse for accepting an electronic system which gives up any ability to audit the count in a reliable way (and, unless the voter verifies a physical printout, no electronic system can be reliable, as discussed above).
Paper ballots are really the best solution we have at present and I'd argue the involvement of as many people as possible in counting and supervision is a good thing. With clear evidence like this video of probable fraud and at the very least incompetetence the current touch screen voting machines should be removed at least until they are properly vetted and verified.
Very rarely is there disagreement about what is a valid vote - but they can be very ambiguous. The paper is only approved if there is a high level of unambiguity about it - any doubt it goes out.
I was under the impression that (in the UK) all ballot papers containing anything other than "X" in one box were always rejected for that reason.
Then, in the presence of all the other candidates and agents, I would have go through my list and check off my secret codes.
Guess what? It would kick off big style and suddenly consent to include my magic ballots would be withdrawn by everybody else - the Returning Officer would make a decision and probably have a word with the polis - who are present at, and supervise the ballot boxes.
Protecting the integrity of the ballot is like securing a computer system. Identify the core vectors of attack and lock them down. So it is about "what is the rate of postal votes?" "are the postal vote samples inline with the end-result?" "what is the turnout? relative to last time and other similar constituencies?" "what is the churn in voter registration?" "is the final turnout consistent with the reported turnout?" "is it easy to buy votes?" "is it easy to register fake voters?".
The core point is not to make fraud hard but to make it visible. Of course the basic 'don't make it easy' steps need to be taken - but after that it is all about 'don't let anybody get away with it'.
The problem on HN is that nobody coming up with suggestions on how to improve the ballot is doing any 'customer discovery' - going out to talk to actual people who stand for election and run elections and who are trying to ensure that the vote is fair. The computer pixie dust being scattered around is fixing non-problems.
BTW it isn't an X it is a St Andrew's cross - St Andrew being the patron saint of truth telling - it means 'I swear by St Andrew that this is my true intent'. The 'kiss' on a letter likewise meaning 'I swear by St Andrew that my love is true'. One of the perks of being Scottish is that our flag stands for truth, love and democracy :)
I'm not trying to play Loki's Wager -- there really have been incredibly close elections where you have puzzle out just what the voter intended and it's just not clear. Nor can you make the boundary be "well if it's not clear throw it away," because you can't tell when it doesn't become clear. This isn't the most worst thing ever, but it's part of a legitimate design to want to limit this.
Computer-voting systems do have problems, but they don't have that one. And it at least gives the voter a chance to fix it if they are paying attention.
(Yes, I'm a fan of paper, but it's not strictly better than computer voting.)
Your picture of a someone inspecting a punch-card is not relevant to most paper voting systems - punch cards are like touch screen machines, they are unreliable technology, and should not have been introduced when the previous system worked perfectly well but just required manpower for counting (which can be mostly volunteers). Even the counting could be automated on paper ballots, but you need humans involved for the ambiguous cases, and I'm not sure automated counting is necessary if you have enough volunteers.
Simple paper ballots with a mark inside a square or circle are a tested solution which works well, and leaves an indisputable paper trail in case of recounts. Anything else we've tried just doesn't work as well, though no doubt it has made some companies fabulously rich in suppling the necessary machinery and constantly updating it when it proves to be unreliable.
So I'd contend that paper ballots, as used in the UK for example, are better than the computer voting machines available at present. I'm sure one day we'll come up with better machines, but they'd have to be open source, secure, verifiable and incredibly reliable - the antithesis of the machine in the video.
Count it before the voter leaves, reject any ambiguous ballots with feedback about what's wrong and have the voter fix it before they leave. Repeat until it's accepted.
This is the way it worked when I lived in Indiana. We had paper/optical ballots that were scanned immediately after we turned them in. We watched them get scanned, and could verify that the counter on the scanner incremented (not vote tallies, just a +1 for total ballots cast).
The suggestion is that, when the machine is scanning the ballot, if it finds something ambiguous it immediately rejects the ballot, returns it, and doesn't count anything, the voter gets it back, fixes the issue (or returns the ballot as spoiled and gets a fresh one they can mark correctly), and you repeat.
Nowhere in that does anyone else see the person's votes (except potentially on returning a spoiled ballot, but that's no more true under this system than the existing one if someone notices they mis-marked something, and they can always just mark more to obscure their original intent before handing it back).
The downside of all this is that the machine is still free to slant results if its software has been tampered with.
How close elections are is orthogonal to this issue.
(2) Electronic voting machines are stupid.
(3) Chads are stupid.
The immediate solution to (2) and (3) is to use a pen and paper.
Spoiled ballot. Vote not counted. What else would it mean?
Even if there is no checkbox next to the write-in spot you could reasonably argue that it still shouldn't matter what's written there unless none of the candidates have checks.
Instead of going to all the expense of flipping a coin, though, you could just take the person who seemed to get the most votes (after you've counted them all really hard to make sure you're within the margin of error). Just an arbitrary rule, no biggie.
Or have a runoff election, or have instant-runoff voting. Having elections determined by real or statistical coin-flips undermines the (important) story of self-rule.
The candidates agree, and the winner and loser both accept the outcome, works for me.
Your link to a place where they used a coin flip isn't disagreeing with him (nor really the grandparent, who wasn't claiming that you can't use a coinflip, but rather that you shouldn't use a coinflip).
"The greatest value of free elections is in all of the out-of-equilibrium outcomes that, because of the regularity of free elections, never come close to happening."
That's a very positive way to look at it. The problem of reduced legitimacy persists, though. The disgruntled Coleman supporters will probably always have a sneaking suspicion that the election was stolen from them, which tends to poison actual discourse.
Are you expecting the vote to be a proxy for the entire population of the country/state/whatever? Perhaps the entire population of eligible voters? Or, do you view it as simply the preference of those who took the time to vote?
Personally, I see little harm in disregarding the intentions of those who could vote but choose to not vote.
Issues of systemic inequalities in access to voting aside, I have little problem with viewing an election the task of accurately counting the votes of those who actually made it to the poling place. If you accept that concept, then the margin of error is extremely low – especially with electronic voting systems.
In reality, you should apply a finite population correction, which would make the "margin of error" a bit smaller if you get a substantial percentage of the population voting:
And to partly answer your question: Oregon makes it a felony to sign someone else's name to the identifying envelope.
I think you'll be less enthusiastic once you understand how it works.
In my jurisdiction, ballots are stuffed into an image scanner (like a high speed fax) as they arrive, the votes are detected, any ambiguous votes are "electronically adjudicated" meaning workers alter the database to correct for voter intent or write ins. There's a nightly summary report, allowing people to peek at early results.
Add the problems with USPS losing 1% of all first class mail, and the lower end demographics being more mobile (changes of address), you get some real disenfranchisement issues.
It's true that vote by mail increases turnout, mostly with primary and special elections.
It's also true that vote by mail silently disenfranchises about the same number of people it enfranchises.
The correct solution is postal ballots for people who need them, poll sites for every one else. Thereby maximizing the number of people enfranchised and minimizing the number disenfranchised.
 In addition, we have locked dropboxes in many locations so you can avoid the USPS and the elections office entirely.
That's a numerical statement. Can you provide the numbers behind it? How much is turnout increased, and where did you get the 1% figure for the USPS losing first class mail from? I would assume that mail going to central locations are more likely to be delivered than to individuals. Same with issues related to change of address.
I filed FOIA requests with USPS, which they ignored. The metrics are done by a private third party, claiming the data is propriety (privatization allows govt to hide uncomfortable truths).
I got the numbers client lawsuit against USPS. Bulk mailers do their own metrics / tracking (using test mailings). They claimed USPS's "UAA rate" (undeliverable as addressed) was higher than claimed, so they shouldn't be charged as much.
Counties have the option to allow it, but most don't, so most individuals don't have this option.
Not that they seem to mind, though - I haven't heard of any complaints, anecdotally.
Is this different than how the count works in states whose ballots are delivered via volunteers with ballot boxes?
Most central counts have been using optical mark sense scanners, which are those multiple choice test reader thingies. Douglas Jones has posted online an excellent survey and explanation of various election equipment used. http://homepage.cs.uiowa.edu/~jones/voting/
My jurisdiction is very liberal about trying to count every vote marked, per voter intent. I understand that other jurisdictions will reject whole ballots if there's any problems scanning it.
With mark sense equipment, if I ballot doesn't read correctly, it's corrected. Ballots can be unreadable for all sorts of reasons, water damage, unfortunate paper fold, ballot printed askew, etc.
Full image scanner are newer. Votes are inferred using image processing (recognition), vs diodes firing off.
"Electronic adjudication" breaks the paper trail. To correct for voter intent, they're changing records in a database. Versus modifying / correcting ballots or ballot duplication (copying votes to a ballot which will then scan correctly).
covered by the Washington Post
Virginia has both right now and a lot of people prefer to wait for the machine. I would love for them to switch completely to the paper marked ballots.
Las Vegas slot machines seem like a perfect archetype (to me, anyway). In trying to look up the security measures I remember from an episode of Modern Marvels I instead ended up with an NY Times opinion piece from 2004  drawing the same conclusion as I. Probably (based on admittedly nothing) the measures cited have become more sophisticated and rigorous
in the past 8 years.
Here are some highlights on slot machine security (as of June 2004):
* All machine software past and present are kept on file by the state
* Spot checks, spot checks, spot checks. Random and often.
* State gaming commissions are constantly looking for new ways to manipulate their machines; the article mentions firing a stun gun at a slot machine (best job ever?)
* Six month vetting process for companies and employees wanting produce gambling hardware/software
* User disputing the machine's actions has the right to an immediate investigation
Note: I am absolutely in favor of maintaining a paper trail for decades regardless of the state of digital solutions.
If you don't vote for the Lizard People, the wrong Lizard Person might get in.
In my area (northern MA), voters are given a ballot with a bubble next to each of the candidates' names. You use a marker to fill in the bubble next to the candidate you want to vote for, like 6-year-olds manage to do all the time on multiple choice tests in school. Then it gets read in by a machine, leaving a paper trail just in case.
How are these electronic voting machines any better than that? With all the technical/fraud issues surrounding them, wouldn't it make sense to just use paper?
If we do have to use electronic voting machines, I like your idea of it printing a paper ballot rather than tabulating the vote inside the machine.
Just because you never see this issue doesn't mean it doesn't exist. It's just that the ambiguous ballots don't matter in the vast majority of elections so no one cares.
I'm not saying computers are better than paper. They each have trade-offs.
There's never been any real discussion about it being complicated, confusing or needing any other kind of design change. (Which isn't to say that you couldn't make arguments in that vein.)
There's not much room for error in this design - it seems to work well for us.
EDIT: Out of 1000 people, how many will get confused by this design? http://www.umsl.edu/~kimballd/polk.pdf
SECOND EDIT: misaligned arrows were also a problem in Florida in the 2000 election
However, that kind of efficiency isn't required at all in a ballot. Making a couple of crosses instead of lines isn't going to make a big absolute difference in terms of the entire voting process. You want to maximize other things, first and foremost making it easy to understand and easy to recognize clearly for both the voter and the people/entities who count.
The system can work like this:
- Voter is assigned a unique ID, on his voting card issued upon verifying his identity. He can pick a security pin for added security.
- Voter is given a device thumb drive, RFID with some RAM, whatever storage device.
- Voter goes to a machine to vote. The machine cryptographically signs the voting result with his id. The machine writes the result to his storage device, emails him a copy, and/or puts the result on a public website. The machine also sends the result to a central server for compilation.
- Voter can go to any other machine on any other sites, plug in his result, his id, and his pin to see the voting result for verification. Voter can confirm by sending the result to central server. Or submit the signed result to third party website to display it for verification.
- If there's any mismatch, voter raises hell and demands to invalidate old vote (after verifying his identity, id, and pin), revote, and burn the tampering machine.
Edit: Id obviously means a public/private key pair.
It's not some conspiracy, just a calibration error.
They are great if you are looking for biased, unfounded, or fraudulent "facts" to support an extractive wealth policy that exploits "undesirables"
More troubling, exit polls and voting results have routinely disagreed with each other since 2000. In most countries that would be taken as proof that the election was not fair. But not in the USA!
http://www.ukprogressive.co.uk/breaking-retired-nsa-analyst-... claims evidence of systemic manipulation of the vote, with the trend strongly being in the GOP's favor. I have not personally verified, but it would not surprise me.
Anyone who has been paying attention this election cycle knows about the attempts by both sides to manipulate rules about who can vote, when, in ways that advantage themselves and disadvantage each other. That happens in a lot of elections but not to the extent of this one. With weird results such as, because of a recent law in Ohio, polling workers have to ASK for ID, but due to a court decision, they can't stop you from voting if you DON'T have that ID. (Confused polling workers are sure to get this wrong.)
The general trend is that Republicans want as many barriers to voting in person as possible, while Democrats want as many to be able to vote as possible. That is because more marginal voters are much more likely to be Democrat than the general population. The stated reason is "to prevent fraud" even though there is very little evidence of such fraud in practice. On mail-in ballots this reverses, since the GOP expects a large portion of mail-in ballots to be from military people who are likely to vote Republican. Fraud has been more of an issue with mail-in ballots, but obviously people are not as worried about that.
Laws get broken as well. For instance the 2000 election was decided in Florida, in part due to a voter purge that the courts decided was illegal. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_Central_Voter_File for verification of that. The lesson learned is that voter purges work, which is why Florida was trying to do a purge this year at the last minute despite being warned that it was illegal. Because flipping the choice for President was easily worth the slap on the wrist they got afterwards.
There already have been laws broken this year (see http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-250_162-57535950/man-charged-aft... and http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/national/fbi-launches-... for example), and everyone expects the lawyers to be gainfully employed as a result.
In short, get out your popcorn. When we exercise our right to vote, the vested interests exercise what they see as their right to manipulate the vote, and this time there is a decent chance of fireworks.
It's absolutely not proof. It's, at the least, evidence. Exit polls are statistical -- in my dozens of times voting, I've never hit an exit pollster.
But if you say "the exit polls disagree with the official numbers, so let's go with the exit polls" you have substituted your official election mechanism with the exit polls.
Given how successful exit polling was until 2000 in the USA, and given how successful it is in elections around the world, I do not believe that this is a plausible explanation of recent discrepancies.
But, as is common in this sort of situation, I have no way to prove it.
Still the national media had faced those issues and successfully did it for decades. Then their polls stopped working in 2000. Why?
Statistics is highly valuable despite not being proof. For example, it's a foregone conclusion that Obama will win today, based on earlier polls. It's not certain that he'll win, but the odds of him losing are nil, the stats show.
Normally I wouldn't worry about this, but if you want to give them power to invalidate an election (or force an "investigation," whatever that means), then you shouldn't just let them run around doing whatever they think is best.
but the odds of him losing are nil, the stats show.
I don't even know what mindset produces this thought. While Nate Silver doesn't think Romney will win, he gives changes that are a hell of a lot bigger than "nil."
Unfortunately current US elections are unauditable because voting machines DO NOT produce any kind of verifiable voting trail. Furthermore the apparent conclusion of the US media is that past discrepancies are evidence that their exit polling is flawed rather than that the voting process is being manipulated. (They are biased to decide that way because accusing the winners of manipulating the vote - even if it is true - pushes them away from the appearance of neutrality that they try to keep.)
Furthermore you can't do exit polling on mail-in ballots. So this potential signal of flawed elections is being lost at the same time that manipulation of elections is becoming even easier.
Personally if polls are overwhelming, and elections are in line with polls, I believe the result. But I believe that there are lots of people trying to slip a thumb on the scales, so if polls are close, I am dubious about the results. I personally believe that current evidence is that the Republicans are more successful in getting their thumbs on the scales, so I'm doubly suspicious when Republicans mysteriously do better than polls indicate they should.
I want us to have elections that I trust. I do not want crappy election machines. I want verifiable paper trails. I want random spot checks. We know how to run better elections than we do. We don't because nobody wants to put the work out. I want us to put the work out.
The machine in the video (at least when deployed in NC) absolutely has a paper receipt that gets printed every time a button is pressed.
According to http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/how-to/computer-s... a quarter of the country in this election will use paperless machines. No paper trail at all.
According to polls, the election will be decided by swing states that are expected to have margins of victory under 4%.
If, hypothetically, the election is decided for Romney in states like Pennsylvania which polls indicated were leaning Democratic on electronic machines where there is no paper trail, will you be inclined to believe that his last minute ads made that a fair win, or would you be inclined to believe that the election was stolen? (Note, the information that Pennsylvania is one of the states without a paper trail is in the article, published today, that I linked to.)
I, personally, would be inclined towards the theory that the election was stolen, and the purpose of his last minute ad buys was to create plausible deniability for the manipulation. If, on the other hand, there was a paper trail and audits verified the count, I would be much more comfortable with that election outcome.
Whether or not this machine is auditable, unauditable voting machines are a real problem.
You aren't reading your source correctly.
I read that as a quarter of the country will be using paperless systems in this election. If that is wrong, please explain the correction.
Grabbing another source, http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9233058/Election_watc... lists specific states where paperless systems are likely to be a big issue. Two of them, Virginia and Pennsylvania, are significant swing states that currently lean towards Obama in polls. If both have an unexpected swing to Romney, his chances of legitimately winning enough other states to carry the election are significantly increased. (According to what I see on http://www.electoral-vote.com/ he'd need to carry North Carolina and Florida - both of which he's at least tied in, and then any other swing state.)
Hopefully unaccountable election machines won't prove to be the margin of victory in this election. However anyone who thinks it is impossible is either uninformed, or unwilling to consider the evidence.
The media says that Obama and Romney are neck & neck, because that gets more viewers, which sells the advertisements they depend on. (Every presidential election in your lifetime is guaranteed to be declared a "virtual tie" by the media--you'll hear those exact words every 4 years.) Those who understand stats know (with almost certainty) that it'll be a landslide for Obama in the electoral college.
Found in another 5 seconds: "National Poll Shows Bush, Kerry in Virtual Tie"
I could go on.
And Bush/Kerry was also pretty damned close. Not one of the races I was referring to.
I went back to 1992 and still found "virtual tie" reports. That's 5 elections in a row.
Sure, but if the methodology is standard and the poll shows 60%/40% with a 3% margin of error, you can safely bet money on the outcome. Statistics works just as well for casinos; they may lose in the long run, but they almost certainly won't.
> "Likely voters" is a very subjective term and thus a difficult thing to quantify.
Stats can be used to determine the likelihood that those being polled will actually vote.
Since when have Democrats been passing laws to prevent old white people from voting?
They do this because they know that people who might or might not vote are much more likely than not to vote Democratic. Thus adding these people to the vote advantages themselves and disadvantages Republicans.
It is not as nasty as voter suppression, but it is no less a form of vote manipulation.
If you don't call this voting manipulation, what do you call it?
I agree that it is nicer than trying to disenfranchise people, but the intent is the same. And I believe that the people pushing the rule would be doing the opposite if that's what their poll data suggested would be effective. As evidence see the story I linked to above of somebody trying to disenfranchise Florida Republicans by calling them up and telling them that they were ineligible to vote.
Increasing voter access is NOT ANTI-DEMOCRATIC.
Restricting voter access IS ANTI-DEMOCRATIC.
Which one are you accusing the Democrats of pursuing? Thus is the crux of this entire thread.
Trying to disenfranchise people is wrong and should be outside the bounds of political activity, it's not 'the same' as trying to get your people to vote.
If they were taking up weapons and shooting up precincts likely to vote for the other guy, would 'the intent be the same'? I mean, they're just trying to win the election.
If the increase in early voting schedules (even assuming that there is an intent to manipulate on the part of one side) are favoring one side, it is easily neutralized by the other side by participating in the early voting with equal, if not more, enthusiasm.
On the other hand, the victims of voter suppression tactics have no easy recourse to counter these attempts.
Granted, I don't think that the US gov't is an example of a system in which we are achieving wild successes and are therefore wanting to keep certain people in office :-)
Besides the responses nearby taking you to task for the sophistry of your last sentence, I feel like it's worth highlighting the very real history of vote suppression in the South under Jim Crow. That's decades of violence, physical intimidation, bogus literacy tests, and a host of other tactics, directed at suppressing the vote of blacks and the poor. At every step of the way, these shameful tactics were justified as some kind of proxy for "intelligence" (and some other "wise" comments here repeat that justification).
Working to increase access to the vote is, in a very real sense, a continuing rejection of these disgusting tactics.
This is why I used the term "ignorant" above. It is as if you do not understand and appreciate the significance of this history. This is not a simple Democrat/Republican issue. Increasing access to the vote is an attempt to remedy, in an imperfect way, the biggest failing of American democracy.
I actually am quite aware of that history. I am also aware that of dozens of efforts in the last several years to change voting rules, every Republican effort has been to make it harder in the name of reducing fraud, while every Democratic effort has been to make it easier in the name of improving access.
It may not be a simple Democrat/Republican issue, but at this point it is definitely a highly partisan Democrat/Republican issue.
More people voting == voter manipulation??!??
I would call that a MORE REPRESENTATIVE democracy.
It's the difference between persuasion and "get out the vote". Persuading voters to your point of view is more honorable, but "get out the vote" is often more cost effective.
Just what we need? Definitely.
I cannot think of a scenario where having more people in a representative sample would be worse than having less.
It looks good if have there are a lot of people participating but you have not gained anything if those that voted did not have the slightest of interest in it.
Even the well-informed can end up thinking "my vote doesn't matter anyway, so why bother." And rationally, they are not exactly wrong. Yet, the system would break down if everyone took that view. People need to be encouraged to vote, even though they may see it as a waste of time, because in aggregate their votes are important.
It is well-known that the subset of the population that goes to the polls is NOT representative of the country as a whole. That is why pollsters are so careful to get polls of "likely voters". Because Republicans tend to be more motivated to vote than Democrats, so if they just took a poll of everyone they called, the results would always be strongly skewed Democrat.
(Getting this right is very tricky, and different methodologies around it is one reason that different pollsters often have a consistent difference in the polls that they produce.)
"As" nasty? Nice wording. There isn't a shred of nastiness in it at all.
As for making voting easier, Republicans see it as cynically making fraud easier in the name of getting uninformed people who don't pay attention to vote for you. If you see it as Republicans see it, what the Democrats are doing is not exactly nice behavior.
Complaining that it's dishonest and wrong is like the joke about "reality having a well known liberal bias"
Stop with the class-warfare nonsense.
Did I mention you need to be voting in Bel-Air to take advantage of this offer?
Yep, it's all pretty much the same everywhere. Let's drop that class-warfare nonsense.
I don’t get US voting. Why don’t you do it on a Sunday, like much of Europe? 12 hours, fine, but on a day when most people have to work. When you add in commute times and all that there has to be little time for many people to vote and you basically have to plan your day around it. If voting is on a Sunday you might even spontaneously decide to take a lazy Sunday stroll to the voting booth. (But then again, you have to register beforehand in many states, which also seems pretty crazy to me.)
Add the long lines (Seriously, what‘s even going on with that? Germany has a much higher voter turnout than the US – 74% vs 49% during the last federal election – and I have never seen any lines. The most I ever had to wait were two or three minutes, and I also haven’t ever seen media reports about long lines.
It seems to me that trying to make voting easier is very much the right thing to do in the US while making it harder is not.
However, I do not believe in any grand or small conspiracy theories and I don’t think there is any kind of large scale manipulation going on. It just all seems dysfunctional, not manipulated. When comparing it to German elections, why does it seem that politicians have so much control over it? They don’t seem to be shy to make politics with how voting is implemented – which is a total taboo in Germany†, no politician would ever dare to give off the impression that they are trying to change how the election is run in order to favor their party. Much of the organization is handed off to independent experts who take most of the decisions.
It’s not that hard. There are many Europeans countries where voting is just not a big deal and where there are never big issues like in the US. You are the oldest democracy in the World, shouldn’t you have figured out that stuff by now?
† There is one recent exception to this. The federal voting law was declared unconstitutional two times in a row from the constitutional court during the last years.
The way federal elections work is that it’s basically proportional representation – i.e. people vote for parties, any party with more than five percent gets the percentage of seats they won – but there are also direct candidates in every district, insuring that everyone has her or his candidate they can write to. Those direct candidates are elected using first past the post, but they are at least supposed to be inconsequential to the percentage of seats a party gets. If there aren’t enough direct candidates to fill the seats a party got, those seats are filled from a per-state party list of candidates.
However, what happens when a party has more direct candidates than they have seats? Before the constitutional court struck that down those “overhang mandates” were just added without changing anything else, basically skewing with the percentages. A party which got 50 seats might suddenly get 60 seats without other parties (without overhang mandates) also getting more seats.
In the last election this has favored conservatives, but taking this to the constitutional court was successful. The court gave the parliament time to change the law. What was unique and unprecedented, however (and a rare case of German politicians making politics with how voting works) was that the current conservative government decided unilaterally on a solution – instead of by working together, as had been tradition. However, that solution was also struck down (with constitutional judges showing pretty open dismay that the parliament was seemingly unable to solve this problem in the long time allotet and worried about the fact that an election is coming up in 2013) – leading the conservative government to this time around try and find a consensus solution. So it all was back to the tradition of not just changing election laws unilaterally without at least talking to the biggest opposition party and trying to find a solution both can agree on.
What will happen now is that parties without overhang mandates will get more seats to balance those overhang mandates of other parties, thus not skewing the percentages. I’m personally still not a fan of this solution – the parliament is already to big and now it will grow further – but it should be constitutional.
Stop with the naive "we're all in this boat together" bullshit.
The only positive thing is that such an easy to demonstrate failure might open the eyes of the less technically educated parts of the public to how bad an idea it is to use electronic voting machines.
Any suggested replacement of paper ballots comes with such a huge bag of problems (sometimes inherent in the method, and not merely problems of the implementation), and so few advantages that it puzzles me why anyone would want to introduce them.
Ideally, every voter would be able to verify their own vote after the fact via some cryptographic mechanism. But on the other hand, this mechanism should be such that the government (or another individual trying to coerce our voter) would not be able to verify the vote -- an almost contradictory, difficult requirement. I am not aware of such a method being employed in any large-scale election.
In the absence of such a method, you have a heap of problems:
1) How do you make it verifiable for the general public? Even if you accept that the general public will not be able to verify it (bad!), how would you make it verifiable even for experts? It's almost impossible to ensure that the code being run is the one you verified beforehand, especially on such a large scale, so this way is out of the question. (Remember, this is a high-stakes game, so you'd better know that your CPU in fact executes your opcodes correctly...)
2) Electronic voting & tallying opens the door for large-scale manipulation without leaving traces. If you want to remove 10000 paper ballots, you have to somehow get rid of them (with people watching). 10000 votes vanishing in a computer? No problem, just a memory operation, a bystander would never notice it.
Some of this can be dealt with by having the machine print out a paper ballot immediately after voting, and keeping those ballots. Then you're in fact using the relative safety of paper ballot voting to double check the electronic record.
1) The software is exactly the same for the whole country (138m voters). All software that runs on it is encrypted and signed, and the box is physically sealed to detect intrusion.
2) You verify your vote before it's committed to disk on the voting machine. See next point.
3) Every ballot box records votes to a flash card that is physically taken to the nearest court house, where a judge is responsible for the equipment that can decrypt, compile and transfer results to the federal system, using a private network. At no point a ballot box is connected to any network or external devices.
4) The equipment is programmed to only function during official voting times, and only after running a test suite and integrity verification
5) At the end of the day each ballot box prints it own vote report, archived locally, and keeps a copy of the results in it's internal flash memory
If you remove 10k votes from one machine, the numbers won't match: every voter is registered, and you have to sign a small declaration if you don't vote - the number of voters is always known beforehand. Voluntary elections like in the US pose an interesting problem, maybe you could require pre-registration?
I think bypassing all the security measures undetected would be one hell of an achievement.
In our country (Brazil), the electronic voting machine is strongly marketed by the government and big media as a model for the entire world to copy.
You put a man on the moon, flew the space shuttle, have a rover sending holiday pics from mars, not to mention, your entire computer industrie....
But you can not make or agree a voting machine that actually works beyond reasonable doubt?!
They're just not what certain states bought. Were these bought for nefarious reasons? Perhaps. Are they bad even if they were just purchased due to incompetence/graft? Yes.
Anyway, a similar mechanism to say "hey, this voting machine might be screwed up, somebody check it out ASAP!" would make a lot of sense.
Oregon worker altering ballots in the GOP's favor: http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/11/06/oregon-election-worker...
At least one worker taking votes and putting them under the voting box: https://twitter.com/danicamckellar/status/265907196372594688 https://twitter.com/danicamckellar/status/26590774867435110
... What the hell is going on over there?
A group set out to ensure that the election process in the Netherlands would become as fraud resistant as it was before the advent of paperless voting computers. They demonstrated that the voting machines could be hacked. It wass also a risk because of the small group involved in getting the results out of these computers, with no real possibility to check if they are real (because the source code is not open). Committing fraud would only have to involve a few people.
On May 16, 2008 the Dutch government decided that elections in the Netherlands will be held using paper ballots and red pencil only. A proposal to develop a new generation of voting computers was rejected.
More info at http://wijvertrouwenstemcomputersniet.nl/English
I'm sure there is probably mountains of state law on the issue but I would have to wager any guarantee of secrecy would be just that, provided for on a state-by-state basis. I would appreciate it if anybody could correct my misunderstanding with citations.
I think its much more important for an election result to be trusted than for it to be secret. Having both is optimal but not necessary for a valid result under the law with which I am familiar.
If he'd hit Mitt Romney, it probably wouldn't have selected Romney but the blank region above his name.
> Being a software developer, I immediately went into troubleshoot mode. I first thought the calibration was off and tried selecting Jill Stein to actually highlight Obama. Nope. Jill Stein was selected just fine. Next I deselected her and started at the top of Romney's name and started tapping very closely together to find the 'active areas'. From the top of Romney's button down to the bottom of the black checkbox beside Obama's name was all active for Romney. From the bottom of that same checkbox to the bottom of the Obama button (basically a small white sliver) is what let me choose Obama. Stein's button was fine. All other buttons worked fine.
Let's hope whomever gets elected spends money on education so that people start reading again and not just consuming the 5 second Reader's Digest version.
Don't troll. You are bad at it.
It's pretty clear that you didn't read (or understand) my comment. Don't comment, you're bad at it. Dumbass!
Miscalibrations can also happen in these sorts of resistive touch screens that fit the described behaviour.
That makes it not sound like a calibration error to me.
Or just operate under the assumption that some of the machines are compromised and make sure you have ways of recognizing faults after-the-fact.
Easy explanation- the voter was lying.
Senate - http://aec.gov.au/Voting/How_to_Vote/Voting_Senate.htm#paper...
This is how we vote in Australia. I have real trouble seeing any system of computerized voting or punch-card voting as superior having followed the United States' experiences.
What do you guys think? We use preferential-voting, so it's a little different but the idea is solid.
I was surprised to see how similar it was.
All these machines should do, presuming you need machines at all, is print out a receipt with the vote clearly indicated so that it can be deposited in a traditional ballot box. Leaving the tabulation a "trade secret" is really not a good idea.
If you were reprogramming the machine, wouldn't you be better off changing it to show Obama had been selected on the screen, but then print Romney onto the paper ballot? There's a better chance a voter won't bother scrutinizing the printout.
A lot of people are dismissing the calibration issue because of the "calibration test" the user described performing:
"Being a software developer, I immediately went into troubleshoot mode. I first thought the calibration was off and tried selecting Jill Stein to actually highlight Obama. Nope. Jill Stein was selected just fine. Next I deselected her and started at the top of Romney's name and started tapping very closely together to find the 'active areas'. From the top of Romney's button down to the bottom of the black checkbox beside Obama's name was all active for Romney. From the bottom of that same checkbox to the bottom of the Obama button (basically a small white sliver) is what let me choose Obama. Stein's button was fine. All other buttons worked fine."
However, this test does does not actually demonstrate anything. With resistive and infrared touchscreens, which are commonly used in kiosks, it is entirely possible to have some subsections of the screen work incorrectly, while the rest works correctly. Therefore the fact that some buttons work fine does not prove that the touchscreen is, in fact, correctly calibrated.
I've done a lot of work with kiosk touchscreens, and the first culprit I thought of when seeing that video was that the touchscreen was miscalibrated. The second culprit I thought of was that the touchscreen itself was faulty.
Resistive and infrared touchscreens are very prone to these types of problems, and I've seen many scenarios similar to this across hundreds of different touchscreens. (Often, just one corner of the screen will go out of wack, while the rest of it works perfectly. I've seen this happen many times.)
The only way to know if the screen was actually correctly calibrated is to re-calibrate the screen and see if the issue persists, and if it does, to replace the touchscreen itself (as it could be faulty, not uncommon among cheap touchscreens either). Neither of these steps was performed by the user, therefore he has no way of concluding that the screen was correctly calibrated. I suspect that once these tests are performed, it will be obvious that the touchscreen is to blame.
There's a lot of outrage here at the idea of the voting machine altering votes, but I think the following quote applies: never attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence.
The real outrage should be that these voting machines were deployed with such crappy touchscreens built into them (probably to cut costs for the manufacturer).
In my opinion the risks and downsides of moving away from pen and paper clearly outweigh any of the laughable advantages - unless of course you profit from a system that is in-transparent and manipulatable.
They have such a system in place for over a decade, it works perfectly. Just buy that and use it instead of reinventing the wheel poorly.
If only the specifications of the hardware and source for the software for the machine in question were available for us to analyze....
I think the title is link bait. The voting machine isn't altering the vote. It's just off kilter. Besides, it's not like the user didn't know what box was being checked!
Too confusing. I'm staying home.
Microsoft must be behind it.
Some systems have a "recount" button that returns the same result as before. Others have an actual paper trail that can be recounted by hand.
Edit: Also, it's been verified and taken offline. http://tv.msnbc.com/2012/11/06/machine-turns-vote-for-obama-...
All the commenter was saying was that whoever shot the video didn't share it before first splicing two different shots together.
That's not all the commenter was saying. OP was claiming the original video was staged and fake. He was accusing the Redditor if deception.
Call me when they verifiably lie, ala Fox, and then we'll talk.