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E-Voting Raises New Questions In Brazil 158

Posted by kdawson
from the how-to-handle-diebold dept.
Zaatxe writes, "Today is election day in Brazil. About 125 million people are expected to vote for president, governor, congressman (for both state and federal levels) and senator. The Washington Post has some interesting details about the electronic voting machines used in Brazil. From the article: 'Elections in Brazil used to be a monumental challenge, with millions of paper ballots to count by hand, many of them delivered by canoe and horseback from remote Amazon villages. Fraud was widespread, and it often took a week or more to determine the winners. Latin America's largest country eliminated many of these hassles by switching to electronic voting a decade ago, long before the United States and other countries... Some computer programmers who have closely examined Brazil's system say... confidence is misguided... Some Brazilians are lobbying... to switch from Windows CE to an open-source operating system for the voting machines, since Microsoft Corp., citing trade secrecy, won't allow independent audits to make sure malicious programmers haven't inserted commands to "flip" votes from one candidate to another.'" Read more below.


As a Brazilian voter, it was a shock for me to see that the voting machines here are made by Diebold. But what makes me confident in the system can also be found in the article: "Given the choice of picking a system where wholesale rigging is easy, versus one where it's impossible, why has Brazil gone with the system where it's easy? Brazil did build in some safeguards during its transition to electronic voting — protections that still don't exist in the US. While the code behind Microsoft's operating system remains secret, independent auditors must approve of the overlying voting software before it is inserted into the nation's 430,000 machines. The software remains open to inspections for three months before election day. And hours before the polls open, randomly chosen voting machines are tested 'to verify that the software inside does what it is supposed to do.'"
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E-Voting Raises New Questions In Brazil

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  • by Gopal.V (532678) on Monday October 02, 2006 @06:17AM (#16274711) Homepage Journal

    India has been using an EVM [wikipedia.org] for a while, it has no operating system and is a bare-bones equivalent of a calculator with a line printer attached. Hook it up to a standard dot-matrix printer and get voting. It is probably as simple as a system can be.

    No government which outsources its technology to vote can remain soverign. Machiavelli didn't go on and on about mercenaries, for nothing. And all said & done, this doesn't actually mean an honest election brings up a good government - we're intelligent induviduals, who form dumb mobs, pulled & manipulated by politicians with electoral issues (which are non-issues in the real sense).

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by giorgiofr (887762)
      Mobs are more than happy to let themselves be manipulated. Then they can give free reign to all that's socially unacceptable but that they really feel like doing, because the responsibility does not lie on them any more. See, they are being *pulled*. Recently, it looks like people are too tired to even switch their brain on, so they fall back into mob mode very quickly indeed.
      I've had enough with the "I'm being manipulaaaaaated!!11" excuse. Grow a fucking spine and admit that you do what *you* want to do.
      • by Danse (1026)

        I've had enough with the "I'm being manipulaaaaaated!!11" excuse. Grow a fucking spine and admit that you do what *you* want to do.

        The problem lies in the complexity of the issues that are being faced by policymakers. The reason we have a representative government is because nobody has enough time to get fully educated on all of the issues out there. So we have to designate someone who will make it their job to become educated on the issues, and then make the decision that serves their constituency the

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Zaatxe (939368)
      If memory servers, the first voting machines here in Brazil were ordinary 386 PC's with no operating system, it booted with the voting software. I don't know for how long this model was used, anyway. Maybe it was just the first prototypes.
  • I voted today and... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by julioody (867484) on Monday October 02, 2006 @06:32AM (#16274787) Homepage

    I find it's somewhat weird that one can't directly vote as "null" (this means, in other words, you're refraining yourself from participating). In order to vote as "null", you have to pick an invalid candidate number. It's been like this since the last election (or maybe before, but I can't recall). There's apparently not much press on the fact. So I guess most uninformed people (majority, as usual) would simply do otherwise just thinking "they've done something wrong". For some reason, it seems to be this is a form of pushing the nation into voting *for someone*. Call me paranoid, but I can't see a good reason for that. It reminds me of that quote: "if voting worked, it would be illegal".

    And yes, I'd rather not participate. There may not be any evidence of fraud in our elections, but I don't see the point in participating in the circus of lies that is politics in Brazil. If after all these years no one has realized politicians (right/left wing, doesn't matter) aren't out to help anyone there, they well deserve what's happening now.

    The soul of South America lies within Colombia, Venezuela, Chile, and Argentina.
    • by Zaatxe (939368) on Monday October 02, 2006 @07:56AM (#16275159)
      I find it's somewhat weird that one can't directly vote as "null" (this means, in other words, you're refraining yourself from participating). In order to vote as "null", you have to pick an invalid candidate number. [...] For some reason, it seems to be this is a form of pushing the nation into voting *for someone*.

      1) A nullified vote means you made a mistake picking a candidate. This "mistake" can be delibered or not.
      2) If you are not willing to participate (considering that voting is mandatory in Brazil), the voting machine has a "blank" button.
      3) The voting machines have the "blank" button since the first prototype in 1996. Actually, the design of the voting machine hasn't changed much since then.
      4) The blank vote has always existed, since the paper ballot and it has the same effect of nullified votes. But the blank votes were the fraud source in paper ballots: some dishonest vote counters would fill the blank votes during counting. Believe me, that happened much often than you can imagine. With voting machines, that's impossible.
      • by doti (966971)
        Blank votes are very different from null votes.

        A blank vote means "I don't care". A null vote mean "I'm not satisfied with any of the candidates".

        Blank votes goes for the candidates with the most votes in the last turn. On the other hand, if in the last turn no candidate reaches 50%+1 votes (because of the null votes), the election is cancelled, and the current candidades may not run for the next one.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Zaatxe (939368)
          Blank votes goes for the candidates with the most votes in the last turn. On the other hand, if in the last turn no candidate reaches 50%+1 votes (because of the null votes), the election is cancelled, and the current candidades may not run for the next one.

          My dear heavens! Where did you take this idea from? The election could be cancelled if, and only if, more than 50% of total votes were null. "Could be cancelled", it's not for sure. It's up to the Supreme Electoral Court to decide what happens if more
          • There is no law stating that 50%+1 null votes would block candidates from running the next election. This is purely an urban legend.
        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by Rivabem (312224)

          Blank votes are very different from null votes.

          A blank vote means "I don't care". A null vote mean "I'm not satisfied with any of the candidates".

          Blank votes goes for the candidates with the most votes in the last turn. On the other hand, if in the last turn no candidate reaches 50%+1 votes (because of the null votes), the election is cancelled, and the current candidades may not run for the next one.

          No, null means "I'm so dumb I can't use a keyboard properly"

          The blanks votes goes for no one! It was true in

      • According to the Portuguese wikipedia page [wikipedia.org], which actually cites Brazilian statutes, the null vote is not the same as the blank ("white") vote. A blank vote doesn't count for anyone in particular. It's the same as if the person hadn't voted, since all blank votes are tallied for the winning candidate. The null vote, on the other hand, could actually win the election, requiring a new election within 20-40 days. One thing I'd like to know is whether the blank votes can put one candidate over the edge, givi
        • by Zaatxe (939368)
          One thing I'd like to know is whether the blank votes can put one candidate over the edge, giving him a majority. Lula was less than 2% from getting a clean majority, so if 2% of the population voted blank, would that have avoided the need for a runoff?

          No. And I can say that with all confidence, because Lula got 48.61% and blank votes were 2.73% (you can check the facts here [justicaeleitoral.gov.br].)
          Besides, if you sum up all the candidates % of votes, you will see they add up to 100%, therefore neither blank or null votes are
          • by bodrell (665409)

            Even worse than jury duty, however, is the fact that poll duty is for three consecutive years.

            You mean two consecutive elections, right? Since we have elections every 2 years... (I'm not contradicting you, just making your information clearer for the ones who doesn't know the Brazilian voting system).

            Actually, I'm a bit unclear on the matter. My girlfriend and her brother manned the polling stations last October--perhaps a mayoral election, I'm not sure. But it was definitely last year, not two years

      • 4) The blank vote has always existed, since the paper ballot and it has the same effect of nullified votes. But the blank votes were the fraud source in paper ballots: some dishonest vote counters would fill the blank votes during counting. Believe me, that happened much often than you can imagine. With voting machines, that's impossible.

        Also, some "smart" candidates used to run with names or aliases like "Branco" (Blank), or even common swear words like "puta", "viado" et alii (@ that time you could cast y

    • You always had to pick a invalid number since we started using eletronic ballots here. 0, 00, 000 or so on will do fine.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Allah Lah Ow (956238)
      Brazil is just as good as your vote, dude. And, btw, the reason you have to pick an invalid candidate number is to emulate the paper ballots where anything but what you're supposed to write there nullify the vote. It's just sad to see how many people give up their sacred right of choosing their leaders blaming the status quo. You're not a paranoid, you're just apathic. PS: The last line doesn't make any sense.

      • But what do you do when voting is mandatory, and everyone who actually makes it to the ballot turns your stomach?

        The trite answers of 'run for office yourself' or 'get active trying to get someone you want elected' don't cut it. I make a very good living doing a job I love. I don't want to have to give that up for a job in politics, which doesn't pay much more than what I make anyway, and which I would hate. I have supported candidates, both through donations and 'walking the neighborhood', but either
  • by logicnazi (169418) <logicnazi@nOspAm.gmail.com> on Monday October 02, 2006 @06:37AM (#16274821) Homepage
    I mean on the surface it would seem that this is a perfect opportunity for them to sell more hardware and make more money.

    The only explanation I can think of is that they are afraid their buggy voting machines will give different counts than the paper ballots. Despite all the worries and fuck ups with Diebold machines people won't really believe that the machines are problematic until they can see they screwed up in a real life situation. Sure there were a couple incidents where a machine started counting backward or people fucked up but this doesn't necessarily seem any more serious than the flaws in paper voting and after all these problems were caught.

    Yes if problems are caught there are probably others that aren't but it doesn't have the same PR effect.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by bremstrong (523910)
      For something as important as voting, it sure seems like the US as a country could afford printers.

      Anything to make it more likely that every vote is accurately tallied sounds like a worthwhile use of taxpayer dollars.

      Electronic voting machines that can't be audited--why again?
    • You are completely right about the fact that both paper ballots and comptuer ballots have some margin of error, and as an engineer i have to wonder why this margin of error is not known.

      Any approximation is useless without knowing the limits to which it applies. What needs to happen is a study needs to be done to find the percent error in the voting process (paper or electronic), and if the final votes are within this percent something needs to happen.

      If Bush wins an election by 1.0% of the population, while the margin of error on the voting process is +/-3.0%, well then did he really win the election?? Any counting process is useless without knowing error margins, voting included. What if the margin of error is +/- 10%?? This needs to be figured out.
    • IIRC, Diebold has had the printer-models since the begining. It's been the choice of the counties buying them to go with the printerless models to save money.
  • by logicnazi (169418) <logicnazi@nOspAm.gmail.com> on Monday October 02, 2006 @06:53AM (#16274875) Homepage
    Frankly I think the concern about using an MS OS rather than an open source OS is misplaced. In fact despite my general dislike for MS I have to say that in this situation MS is probably a better choice than a Linux based OS.

    Sure people are going to claim the 'lots of eyeballs' effect makes linux more secure. However, there are major sections of the code that are deep vodoo and very very few people understand. An attacker would of course choose to put his code in one of these sections and if you are really running this code atop a full blown OS and you know (because the government has demanded it be published) the software that will run on top of if there are probably tons and tons of innocent looking ways to screw with the results.

    I don't know if this would really work but one might imagine a situation where the ballot will be divided into two pages. Likely whether or not the vote was recorded and sent to permanent memory before the page is flipped or after will have some statistical difference in memory reservations or paging or some subsystem like this. One could code a race condition that scrambles the cast vote which while rare is slightly more statistically likely to happen in these situations than the other ones. Hell in an election often the young have different voting patterns than the old so you could just have some statistical relation to the speed at which options are picked.

    The point is the bad guy is likely to have lots of resources and be able to concentrate them in one very small area of the code in a way that looks valid or if discovered innocent. The eye balls need to look over all the code. Yet we know from the number of bugs found in the linux kernel that many bugs do make it past without even being engineered to like innocous.

    While the MS kernel is likely to be more buggy it is much harder to contribute a patch to the MS kernel making it more difficult for a bad guy to slip the code into the kernel in the first place. So while it would be nice if the kernel was visible to everyone I think not accepting third party patches is a more important security feature than being open source for a situation like this. Getting someone hired as part of MS's OS team or corrupting one of them is way harder than getting a patch acceted to the linux kernel that delibrately contains a very subtle area.

    Of course what they really should be doing is not using anything complicated like a real OS anyway and instead an EVM.
    • by logicnazi (169418) <logicnazi@nOspAm.gmail.com> on Monday October 02, 2006 @06:59AM (#16274893) Homepage
      More preciscely unless you plan to eliminate all errors that could affect the kernel running in the voting machine (impossible for either linux or windows kernel) the battle is between the eyeballs trying to find bugs that might affect voting and the bad guys trying to make bugs that affect voting.

      In an election situation there are just TONS of correlations between voting patterns and the state of the voting machine (how quickly people select options, how busy the machine is, how warm the machine is etc.. etc..). The bad guys just need to pick one correlation to use in their attack. The eyeballs need to look for every exploitable correlation making their job very very hard.

      This asymetry means that it is more efficent to raise the barrier to inserting the bug in the first place by using code that doesn't accept third party patches than to try to find the bugs once they are in there.

      Of course the right kind of OSS kernel would be even better, e.g., minix (I don't think tannenbaum accepts 3rd party patches) or some other closed development community but between linux and windows here windows wins for all the reasons that make it worse other places.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bky1701 (979071)
      "While the MS kernel is likely to be more buggy it is much harder to contribute a patch to the MS kernel making it more difficult for a bad guy to slip the code into the kernel in the first place." You seem to forget how easy it is to hex-edit and such. Pirates hack copy-protection far more sealed up then MS software, and all they are is a set of random people trying to give out free warez. A true conspiracy to hack the vote of a whole country is NOT going to be stopped by hex-editing vs. C editing, and wh
      • One of the reasons the pen and paper anonymous ballet system has lasted so long is that its a tried and tested system. People trust it, its very simple, and is fairly difficult to subvert/corrupt.

        Look at NASA, when they send up a space probe, the computer on board are not the latest and greatest, but more likely 486's. This is because you are are a tried and tested system and any bugs or issues are very likely to be already known.

        In a voting, just as in space flight, reliability is more important than effic
    • by fantomas (94850) on Monday October 02, 2006 @07:48AM (#16275117)
      I wonder if some of the concern by the critics is that the software running the voting machines is opaque, and owned by a US company. US involvement in South/Latin America is quite a politically sensitive issue and the US has historically used covert and military actions to influence politics in the region. So I'm not suprised there are concerns - even if misplaced - over the MS software.

      Imagine if there was a borderline vote in some US states and the voting machines were running a closed software package from a country that had potential influence and something to lose or gain over who got elected.

      I can imagine concerns might be raised in the voting areas by some people.

    • by rtb61 (674572)
      You seriously want to attach something a erroneous as microsoft's warranty to something as important as an election. Manual counting and voting requires fraud on a massive scale, electronic voting , only requires one bug, and the election results are what ever you want them to be. No fraud with electronic voting, get serious, it is just so much easier to hide and produce what ever results you want. Voting, it's about people electing people, why would you exclude people from any part of the process.
    • by suffe (72090)
      Dear company executive, if you by accident would make sure I win the election next yet then there is no end to what we can do together.

      Yours truly,
      GWB
      ------

      That wasn't very hard or costly.
    • by orasio (188021) on Monday October 02, 2006 @08:43AM (#16275443) Homepage
      That doesn't make sense to me.
      You are saying that in order to hack the linux kernel, you would need to make a patch to the mainstream kernel, and get it accepted. Someone will review your code, and you need to disguise it as a fix for something. For this step alone, that involves deceiving kernel hackers, you need the knowledge of a top level kernel hacker, and there are few of them, and _some_ of them can't be easily bought for any reasonable amount of money, because they are well known people, and have a reputation to protect.
      Then you need to make sure that the makers of the machines use a recent enough version of Linux. So you need to send the patch at least one year, and more realistically, a couple of years in advance.
      After that, you need to pray that, in the meantime, your code doesn't break anything for any of its millions of users. And some of those millions are actually watching the changelog, and could find some flaw in your patch by chance.

      With any closed kernel, there is not known worldwide development process, so it _could_ be much easier to instill a bad patch, you maybe just need to buy one developer for a ridiculous amount of money, and that would be it. Of course, they could have better safeguards, but we don't know anything about that, so we can safely assume the worst.

      Aside from that, I think these ways of skeweing the elections are overkill. You can always buy your votes on-site, and find a way to change the software of the voting machines on delivery, or maybe changing the whole voting machine before it goes to its place. You can buy some auditors, or people at Diebold. That would be much easier, safer and cheaper than changing the OS kernel.
      • by teslar (706653)
        After that, you need to pray that, in the meantime, your code doesn't break anything for any of its millions of users

        Never mind that, you'd also need to pray that you correctly guessed the candidates and the way people will actually enter their vote all those years before the election...
      • The reason for using a vanilla F/OSS operating system is that it will, for the reasons described by the parent, be unlikely that it's corrupted specifically for the purpose of throwing an election. The voting application should only make generic use of the OS services so that it is less likely that an unknown or little known weakness of the OS will be exploited or exposed. Other than Diebold's unwillingness to expose the source to their voting machines, the main problem with them appears to be simply that t
    • Well, you don't need source code to install malware on a system. Think about all the zillions of Windoze viruses out there. Therefore, *not* having the source doesn't make you any more secure. However, having the source code, does make it easier to spot trouble and fix it.
    • You are making the assumption that the Linux base used for a voting machine would be getting updates from the 'real world' distribution. There is nothing that says you have to use outside code after you start developing. In fact I can't imagine any project manager who would accept any outside code once the OS base had been selected.

      Electronic voting machines are all about eliminating variables. The only variable in the system should be the the candidates.

      The biggest objection to Microsoft is that you ar
    • Frankly I think the concern about using an MS OS rather than an open source OS is misplaced. In fact despite my general dislike for MS I have to say that in this situation MS is probably a better choice than a Linux based OS.

      The concern here is that all the voting machine software should be available for audit. Thus a MS based solution is not feasible.
    • by houghi (78078)

      Sure people are going to claim the 'lots of eyeballs' effect makes linux more secure. However, there are major sections of the code that are deep vodoo and very very few people understand.

      Even less people understand the voodoo of the MS kernel and there is no way to examine the kernel later. Say 10 people do understand the kernel voodo and are interested and able to analyze it, that would be enough to detect if somebody changed the kernel or not or did something else with it.

      With MS if 10 people can underst

    • by olman (127310)
      Of course what they really should be doing is not using anything complicated like a real OS anyway and instead an EVM.

      Sanity prevails at last.

      As an PCB designer, it seems to me to be insane to use anything remotely as complicated as Linux or Windows CE here. It's a machine designed to do one thing and one thing only, it's not supposed to run your bloody torrent client in the background.

      Kill the OS, put in some kind of bare-bones embedded OS, which has kernel memory footprint like 1kB if even that and write
  • Why do they need access to the OS code to determine whether the voting applications are fair? Surely some auditors could be given access to the relevant codebases (presumably under an NDA) to ensure that the code accurately records votes, and that once those votes are recorded they cannot be altered?
    • All you need is a printed paper trail. Then the system can be subjected to random inspections: Count the paper, look at the electronic tally and compare, to make sure it is within a margin of hand counting error. That is why Diebold *doesn't* want paper trails. They are afraid that it will show just how bad and unreliable their systems are.
    • by pembo13 (770295)
      I do not understand your post. How is "need access to the OS code" different from "given access to the relevant codebases" ?
  • by C0vardeAn0nim0 (232451) on Monday October 02, 2006 @07:21AM (#16274985) Journal
    the development of the system, and all the intelectual property associated, belong to the electoral justice.

    when the system was first develop and used in capitol cities in the 90's, procomp (one of the manufacturers hired to develop the system) was not a diebold subsidiary yet. the other two were Itautec (subsidiary of the 2nd largest private bank of brasil) and Unisys.

    all the intelectual property developed by the 3 companies was transfered to the union.

    since the IP belongs to the government, they can choose to hire other comapnies to manufacture the units in the future if they son choose.

  • Randomize the buttons so that the order of candidates changes every time, store the order in a table.
    When a button is pressed run a lookup on the table and increment to count for that candidate.
    Send some text to a line printer with details of the vote.
    Repeat untill end of election.
    Have a button inside that dumps the vote count out to the line printer.

    That's going to be a few hundred lines of code at worst, surley it doesn't take that long to pick up any bugs.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by mrogers (85392)
      That's going to be a few hundred lines of code at worst, surley it doesn't take that long to pick up any bugs.

      Actually it's only one line - but it's a line of Perl.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Zaatxe (939368)
      Randomize the buttons so that the order of candidates changes every time, store the order in a table.

      Forgive me, but that sounds like a VB programmer idea. Anyway, Sao Paulo state had about 1000 candidates for congressman. Are you sure putting them in the screen in with no preditable order would help anyway? It would only happen to make large lines in the voting precintes!
      In Brazil every party has a 2-digit number that identifies it. For executive candidates (president, governor and mayor) they use the
    • Wouldn't this expose the voting pattern of individual citizens? If it's being printed out on a printer in a sequential order then all it's going to take is for one poll worker to keep highly detailed records about the order in which machines were used by individuals.
      • Ok, store the votes in batches on 100 and print them out in a random order.

        That's still only a few more lines of code.

        Assuming that the random number ganerator is a stock one (line meisner twister) it's not going to take that long for a few experts to validate that the code has no bugs or deliberat vote squeing with 100% accuracy.

        You could even stick it all on a stock microcontroler so you don't have an operating system confusing things.
      • print the vote, cut it out, drop it on a bag.

        that won't give a lot of randomness, but would certainly make it harder to find voting patterns.
    • I believe that one can program an off the shelf point of sale system to do a vote count without much effort. You don't even need to write any software. Just get something from Sharp, NCR, Citizen, Canon, or any other of a whole zoo of commercially available POS machines. Also, anyone that can do: "Ya'want fries wizzat?", can then run an election, but that would be real grass-roots democracy and we don't want that, now do we?
      • by pembo13 (770295)
        That's what I always thought. I just assumed there was more to it than that, so I was wrong.
  • by Stormwatch (703920) <rodrigogirao&hotmail,com> on Monday October 02, 2006 @07:31AM (#16275037) Homepage
    No candidate reached 50%+1 votes, so we will have a 2nd round with the two leading candidates.

    Yet, the leading candidate is the current president, whose government was swamped by all sorts of scandals -- the most recent being that members of his campaign's staff were arrested while trying to buy a (probably forged) dossier against the main opposing party's candidates.

    In any decent country, such a man would not have reached the end of his term. Compared to Lula, Nixon was a saint! But here, reached the point where tons of people seem to believe honesty is not relevant to a politician. Or maybe they don't bother looking for it because they believe it's impossible to find...
    • by ParnBR (601156)
      People do mind about honesty, but they're rather vote for someone who "steals, but does" like Maluf than a seemingly good-intended less-known politician. And people can't remember stuff for much longer than a goldfish. I live in Brasília and I'm completely ashamed to know that people here elected someone like Arruda as a Governor. He violated the secrecy of the electronic voting panel, a few years ago, and lied about not being responsible for it. When undeniable evidence was found later, he admitted ha
      • Alckmin is definitely not Maluf-like.

        His main proposal is to reduce taxes, which may be the best thing a politician can do (and Brazil DESPERATELY needs); he intends to stimulate trading with rich countries, rather than third-world ones like Lula did; as governor of São Paulo, he reduced the state's payroll; and above all, as far as I know, he is a honest man.

        About Heloísa Helena, let me tell you something. One of PSOL's founding members is a runaway italian convict named Achille Lollo. In 1973, h
        • by ParnBR (601156)
          I admit he's not *exactly* Maluf-like. Maluf is a traditional conservative politician, of course. But when he talks about his achievements as governor of São Paulo, his speech does sound pretty much like Maluf's, especially when talking about the stuff he built. Please forgive me if I don't quote him, but I wasn't very interested about how many hospitals he built and such. It did remind me, though, when Maluf was a presidential candidate and talked about the same subjects, in 1989.

          I thank you for highl
    • by praedictus (61731)
      Tell me about it, both Jader Barbalho and Collor got elected yesterday. I get the impression a lot of people vote based on publicity, not on ethics. That and a lot of free cestas basicas discretely passed. It's similar to the pork barrel politics in the US. Roubo, mais faz - "He's a crook, but he gets stuff done"
      • The correct portuguese is "rouba mas faz" ("robs but does"). Actually, the equivalent to the pork barrel are the "emendas do orçamento" ("ammendments to the budget"). The "rouba mas faz" thing is the blatantly illegal part, bribes and backstage dealings.
  • The machine is in constant evolution, but some of them aren't very good, and I belive the machine is loosing it's safety guards. The original machine had a system read-only for the operating system, now it's stored on a SD card, still it's locked with a seal, and when election os over (by the way the election was yesterday and all results are already out) all machines are verified to see if there wasn't any violations.
    It's possible yes, to compromise a voting machine, but doing the same for a dozen of them
    • by Zaatxe (939368)
      It's possible yes, to compromise a voting machine, but doing the same for a dozen of them is really hard.

      Just to provide some extra information, they put one voting machine for every 450 voters in average. This would make a large scale fraud much harder if it's not an inside job. And inside fraud would be even harder, since the parties can inspect the software, if I'm not mistaken.
      Personally, I don't believe that has ever happened, because the last party in power lost the elections and this can also hap
  • by FFFFHALTFFFF (996601) on Monday October 02, 2006 @08:01AM (#16275195)
    Well, I worked with that machines and I can say they are secure. They dont have any output with external world, like ethernet and others kinds of communication. The votes are stored in floppy disks, with a big seal. If the seal is broken, the votes cant be official. But the seal is big and hard to damage. I believe today we have a great vote system, because we have the results in 13 hours after the election.
  • It's worse! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by alexgieg (948359) <alexgieg@gmail.com> on Monday October 02, 2006 @09:11AM (#16275667) Homepage
    Some years ago, those who distrust e-voting machines managed to put into votation in the Brazilian Congress a proposed law who would require 10% (yes, only 10 percent) of the machines to come with printers. The idea was for those machines to print two copies of the vote: one for the voter, who would have confirmed his vote, and another to be put into a sealed urn by the voter (who would be able to check whether the printing was correct). If doubts arose on the results of an election, those urns could then be opened for manual counting, and if big differences were found between these 10% of printed votes and the full results, the election would be cancelled and redone (probably with paper balots).

    A sound idea, don't you think? But, guess what? Yeah, the law wasn't approved. And as a result, there's absolutely no written proof at all of what or whom people actually voted for.

    Also, there's a law around that forbids independent research of voting intentions to be spread in news some days before an election. I'm not sure whether this law is being enforced right now, but the official reason behind it is that such researchs "interfere" in the voting decision of the people. Now, just imagine what this means: e-voting machines registering "votes" that cannot be traced, plus voting researches disallowed days before an election. Yes, you're right: if someone that was far behind in the voting intentions got elected, it might be alleged that the people changed their mind between the last allowed research and actual election day. How can you argue against it? You can't.

    This is the recipe on how you can build a dictatorship that has no appearance of being a dictatorship. You don't need to be violent. All you need is to put some clever technology into it, and you're done. Government becomes a permanent ownership of you and of your associates. After all, who said that multiple "competing" parties aren't really a single entity with lots of names, existing only for the people to believe they have choice?

    In the last two presidential elections (2002 and this 2006 one), all the four presidential candidates were from left-wing parties. There's a range: from soft left-wing to extreme left-wing. But it's all left. Different parties, or single-party with four different names for you to "choose" from?

    Who knows?
    • by Zaatxe (939368)
      A sound idea, don't you think? But, guess what? Yeah, the law wasn't approved.

      I remember that... too bad you just decided not to say why it wasn't approved. They tested this system in places where most voters are simple-minded people (for the Brazilian readers, it was in Sergipe and Distrito Federal) and they did it on purpose. It didn't work because it confused people. Instead of confirming the vote, most of them (for reasons I don't remember now) cancelled it, making the paper to be sheredded and the p
      • by alexgieg (948359)
        I don't see your point. This problem is nothing that proper TV-training cannot solve, as was the case with the use of the e-voting machines themselves has shown. Had these "dumb" people been trained for weeks before having an actual contact with the machine? No. There's no surprise then that they didn't manage well in actually using them.

        And no, as "a Brazilian" I shouldn't "know" any of it. As "a Brazilian" what I have is a duty to speak loudly on what's wrong. Paper balots are the best thing for democracy
        • by Zaatxe (939368)
          If you want technology, put it in assuring the manualo (sic) vote counting of the paper balots isn't tampered. Not on the voting itself.

          Excellent idea! But how to implement it? Removing the humans from the equation?

          Every voting system is flawless by itself. It's the human factor which messes everything. Are electronic voting machines hackeable? Probably. How much they can affect an election by tampering individual voting machines when there are 126 million voters and an average of 450 voters per voting
          • by alexgieg (948359)

            But how long do you think this could fool everybody, specially when the voting machines can be audited and the whole voting process is controlled by an independent power branch?

            We're talking about Brazil, remember? There's no real opposition, only an "opposition" that signed the "governability pact". The auditors can be buyed, and there's no guarantee that the independent government branch is actually independent. On the contrary, everything points to it being very little independent.

            And the why is simple:

    • by Rayonic (462789)
      Also, there's a law around that forbids independent research of voting intentions to be spread in news some days before an election. I'm not sure whether this law is being enforced right now, but the official reason behind it is that such researchs "interfere" in the voting decision of the people.

      Sounds like the US's "clean campaign" laws, albeit taken to the next logical level.
  • all these countries, including the U.S. that are having electronic voting issues are being used by less democratic nations to prove that democracy is bad. Slashdot is playing right into the hands of people like Kim Jong Il, and Hugo Chavez (yeah I know he was democraticaly elected but he has since legislated the country to the point he can't lose again". one thing that might help though it may be unpopular is a voter ID card if done right it could help alleviate the most blatent human issues, such as voter
    • all these countries, including the U.S. that are having electronic voting issues are being used by less democratic nations to prove that democracy is bad. Slashdot is playing right into the hands of people like Kim Jong Il, and Hugo Chavez

      Yeah. If you question the legitimacy of electronic voting without a paper trail, you are a terrorist.

      I say we report CowboyNeal to DHS for harboring this kind of terrorism.
      • by sydres (656690)
        I'll bite. I was not speaking of terrorism. And A paper trail may damn well work I was just making the point that the world is looking at democracy as it stands and scratching their heads over all the issues that are cropping up over voting. and besides with all the dupes and links to other message board sites I am about terrified to log into slashdot anymore
        • Nah. It was a joke. What you posted just sounded similar to something GWB would say.

          I can see how failures in voting processes could make democracy not look as grand as Americans say it is, but I don't see how not voting at all could be more favorable than voting with flaws.
  • With it, even Microsoft-run boxes are safe from everything short of a fire or other paper-ballot-tampering.

    Without it, the most open-source system may still be vulnerable to a subtle bug.
  • About 125 million people are expected to vote...

    I think we found the real story here: 125 million out of an estimated 186,405,000 (2005) [wikipedia.org]?
    Doesn't seem to add up with the percentage of their population under 15 years of age [iwhc.org] (30% according to that website).

    Even if it's only somewhat off:

    THAT'S A HUGE VOTER TURNOUT!
    HOW DO THEY DO IT?

    • by kalirion (728907)
      How do districts in the U.S. count several times more votes than they have registered voters? Yup, the same way.
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      In Brazil you can vote if you are:

      * between 16 and 18
      * over 70
      * illiterate
      * blind or otherwise disabled

      And you must vote if you are between 18 and 70 and literate.

      The numbers do add up, if you consider that the groups for which voting is optional are not required to register as voters. So, the number of voters is in no way directly related to the number of people over 15.

    • Honestly? Because it's such a crappy place to live. The worse it is, the more people are going to vote, hoping things will change.

      In Brazil, people STILL fight over land. They have a HUGE squatting problem. In the developed world, invested capital has increased productivity to the point where no one cares who has the most land. You know who has the most land? Farmers. Think they're living high on the hog?

      Now, there are big real estate moguls, but their land is valuable, not incredibly large.

      The poin
    • by keeboo (724305)
      I think we found the real story here: 125 million out of an estimated 186,405,000 (2005)?
      THAT'S A HUGE VOTER TURNOUT!
      HOW DO THEY DO IT?

      That's very simple: voting is mandatory in Brazil.
      If a person doesn't vote (and does not fill the justification form for not voting), he/she loses the right to a number of things including opening bank accounts, getting a new passport, etc... And if you're a public servant, you immediately stop receiving your salary.
      • Ooooh, and without a paper trail, how do you prove that you did in fact vote, if your salary payment is suddenly stopped? Something tells me that mandatory voting may be the law, but it is not enforced.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Dr.Potato (247646)
          "Ooooh, and without a paper trail, how do you prove that you did in fact vote, if your salary payment is suddenly stopped? Something tells me that mandatory voting may be the law, but it is not enforced."

          I worked in the elections ( I was drafted..) and can tell you how it works. The person who comes to vote brings his 'Voting card' (lacking a better translation for Titulo Eleitoral), presents it to a person of the voting staff (like me) who checks in a list if he is scheduled to vote in that area. After, an
    • Re: (Score:1, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      First, the population estimations are the ones that are probably wrong. Brazilian electoral data is very accurate (it is even used to check fiscal data).

      Now, the hight turnout is because most brazilians (the ones between 18 and 60 years) are oblied to vote.

    • do your math. 186 million minus 125 million equals 61 million. 61 million is close to 30% of 186 million.

      the numbers are correct.
  • by Yvanhoe (564877)
    You mean that a broad, automatic, transparent tampering, is difficult because it requires the tampering software to be concealed ? The fact that it would require to hire a few competent and dishonest developers surely doesn't make it secure enough to use it in any serious election.
    Also, why do the ballots move to the counters where counters could go themselves to the preccinct ?
    Stop thinking that democracy is a complex thing to organize. When one can have an army, one can have a voting system that is rel
  • If you don't have access to the source code of the voting machines, you're giving up control of your election to a private party. A small group of people at that company will give you some numbers to tell you who won, but you'll have nothing but their word on it. On a smaller scale, anyone who knows a security hole can crack a particular voting machine. Most polling precincts have at least some honest people. Or if not honest, at least they're split into 2 or more camps that watch each other. But with a cen
  • by dave562 (969951)
    Just because the default Windows OS isn't secure out of the box doesn't mean that it can't be made secure. It's a pretty trival matter to lock down a non-networked Windows workstation and make sure that it only loads a single application when it boots. As long as the application is secure and the voting machine itself doesn't have any publicly accessible floppy drives or USB ports then it's good enough.

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