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.