Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Slashdot Deals: Cyber Monday Sale Extended! Courses ranging from coding to project management - all eLearning deals 20% off with coupon code "CYBERMONDAY20". ×

Florida Group Wants To Make Space a 2016 Presidential Campaign Issue (examiner.com) 118

MarkWhittington writes: According to a story on News 13, an Orlando TV station, Space Florida is working to make space a political issue in the 2016 presidential election. Thus far the campaign for the presidency has been dominated by more mundane issues such as the economy, illegal immigration, and the threat of terrorism. Space Florida, which is "the State of Florida's aerospace economic development agency," is said to be "working with three other battleground states to make sure America's space program is a part of the campaign for president." Presumably one of those states is Texas, which has lots of electoral votes

Electoral System That Lessig Hopes To Reform Is Keeping Him Out of the Debate (usatoday.com) 239

schwit1 writes: Lessig has raised a million dollars, which is nothing to sneeze at, but he's being given the cold shoulder by the Democrats when it comes to participating in the debates. I think he's got a good argument for being included — he's certainly as serious a candidate as some of the others, and I'm hearing a lot about his campaign.

Why are they keeping Lessig out? According to Lessig, it's for the same reason he wants in: "My view is that if we can get this message [of reform] into the debate it would change the dynamics of this Democratic primary entirely. This issue framed in this way totally blows up the Democratic primary."

Hillary and Bernie, he says, are promising the moon to voters, but can't deliver. Lessig told me, "If I can get on that stage and say the rocket can't get off the ground, and we have to change this dynamic first," the narrative shifts in a way that the leading candidates can't address.


Virginia Ditches 'America's Worst Voting Machines' 393

Geoffrey.landis writes: Computerized voting machines are bad news in general, but the WINVote machines used in Virginia might just have earned their reputation as the most insecure voting machine in America. They feature Wi-Fi that can't be turned off (protected, however, with a WEP password of "abcde"), an unencrypted database, and administrative access with a hardcoded password of "admin." According to security researcher Jeremy Epstein, if the machines weren't hacked in past elections, "it was because nobody tried." But with no paper trail, we'll never know.

Well, after ignoring the well-documented problems for over a decade, Virginia finally decided to decommission the machines... after the governor had problems with the machines last election and demanded an investigation. Quoting: "In total, the vulnerabilities investigators found were so severe and so trivial to exploit, Epstein noted that 'anyone with even a modicum of training could have succeeded' in hacking them. An attacker wouldn't have needed to be inside a polling place either to subvert an election... someone 'within a half mile with a rudimentary antenna built using a Pringles can could also have attacked them.'"

Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales Is Now Chairing Lessig's Presidential Bid 119

Funksaw sends a followup to Tuesday's news that Lawrence Lessig is pondering a presidential campaign: Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales is now chairing the committee for Lessig's campaign. Wales said, "Larry's run for President is different. He's crowdfunding his campaign instead of seeking out rich donors. He's showing people that we can change the rigged political system. ... The Internet community came together to fight back against SOPA and we were successful. Now we’re behind Lessig to fight for citizen equality." Lessig's goal is to raise a million dollars by September 7, and they're already at roughly $300,000. Relatedly, Newsweek had a brief interview with Lessig over his potential campaign, and Eric Posner wrote an insightful piece about it at Slate.

Internet Search Engines May Be Influencing Elections 67

sciencehabit writes: Thomas Epstein, a research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research in Vista, California, has found that the higher a politician ranks on a page of Internet search results, the more likely you are to vote for them — 80% more likely in some cases. The story also suggests that the folks at Google may already be influencing elections. "Google's algorithm has been determining the outcome of close elections around the world," says Epstein. As predicted, subjects spent far more time reading Web pages near the top of the list (abstract). But what surprised researchers was the difference those rankings made: Biased search results increased the number of undecided voters choosing the favored candidate by 48% compared with a control group that saw an equal mix of both candidates throughout the list.

Political Polls Become Less Reliable As We Head Into 2016 Presidential Election 292

HughPickens.com writes: Cliff Zukin writes in the NY Times that those paying close attention to the 2016 election should exercise caution as they read the polls — election polling is in near crisis as statisticians say polls are becoming less reliable. According to Zukin, two trends are driving the increasing unreliability of election and other polling in the United States: the growth of cellphones and the decline in people willing to answer surveys. Coupled, they have made high-quality research much more expensive to do, so there is less of it. This has opened the door for less scientifically-based, less well-tested techniques.

To top it off, a perennial election polling problem, how to identify "likely voters," has become even thornier. Today, a majority of people are difficult or impossible to reach on landline phones. One problem is that the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act has been interpreted by the Federal Communications Commission to prohibit the calling of cellphones through automatic dialers, in which calls are passed to live interviewers only after a person picks up the phone. To complete a 1,000-person survey, it's not unusual to have to dial more than 20,000 random numbers, most of which do not go to actual working telephone numbers.

The second unsettling trend is rapidly declining response rates, reaching levels once considered unimaginable. In the late 1970s, pollsters considered an 80 percent response rate acceptable, but by 2014 the response rate has fallen to 8 percent. "Our old paradigm has broken down, and we haven't figured out how to replace it," concludes Zukin. "In short, polls and pollsters are going to be less reliable. We may not even know when we're off base. What this means for 2016 is anybody's guess."

How Facebook Is Influencing Who Will Win the Next Election 72

An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from Forbes: [Facebook] announced yesterday that it was shutting down a feature that the Obama campaign used in 2012 to register over a million voters. During the election supporters shared access to their list of Facebook friends list with the campaign through an app. Researchers have found that while people view often political messages with skepticism, they are more receptive and trusting when the information is coming from somebody they know. The feature was credited with boosting Obama’s get-out-the-vote efforts which were crucial to his victory, but Facebook has decided to disable this ability in order to (rightfully) protect users from third-party apps collecting too much of their information.

The company insists that it favors no particular ideology and that its efforts are “neutral.” The first part is likely true, but the second is not possible. The company’s algorithms take into account a proprietary mix of our own biases, connections, and interests combined with Facebook’s business priorities; that is the farthest thing from neutral. Facebook says it just want to encourage “civic participation,” but politically mobilizing the subsection of people that are on their network is not without its own impacts.

Ask Slashdot: Should I Fight Against Online Voting In Our Municipality? 190

RobinH writes: Our small-ish municipality (between 10,000 to 15,000 in population) has recently decided to switch to online voting. I should note that they were previously doing voting-by-mail. I have significant reservations about online voting, particularly the possibility of vote-selling and the general lack of voter secrecy, not to mention the possible lack of computer security. However, it's only a municipal election, and apparently a lot of municipalities around here are already doing online voting. I'm not sure if the rank-and-file citizens care, or if they would listen to my concerns. Should I bother speaking up, or should I ignore it since municipal elections are not that important anyway?

Australian Electoral Commission Refuses To Release Vote Counting Source Code 112

angry tapir writes: The Australian Electoral Commission has been fighting a freedom of information request to reveal the source code of the software it uses to calculate votes in elections for Australia's upper house of parliament. Not only has the AEC refused an FOI request (PDF) for the source code, but it has also refused an order from the Senate directing that the source code be produced. Apparently releasing the code could "leave the voting system open to hacking or manipulation."

Zimbabweans Hit By Cyber Attacks During Election 63

judgecorp writes "During last week's Zimbabwean election, some huge denial of service attacks took down sites including several reporting on human rights issues and potential irregularities in the election. Those affected suspect government involvement. ... GreenNet is only just recovering today, with some customer websites still down, having reported the strike on Thursday morning, the day after Zimbabweans headed to the polls. It appeared to be a powerful attack – TechWeek understands it was at the 100Gbps level – aimed at GreenNet’s co-location data centre provider Level 3, which subsequently did not let GreenNet move workloads within that facility. ... The DDoS that hit GreenNet was not a crude attack using a botnet to fire traffic straight at a target port, but a DNS reflection attack using UDP packets, which can generate considerable power. DNS reflection sees the attacker spoof their IP address to pretend to be the target, send lines of attack code to a DNS server, which then sends back large amounts of traffic to the victim."

New York City Wants To Revive Old Voting Machines 211

McGruber writes "The NY Times reports, 'New York City has spent $95 million over the past few years to bring its election process into the 21st century, replacing its hulking lever voting machines with electronic scanners. But now, less than three years after the new machines were deployed, election officials say the counting process with the machines is too cumbersome to use them for the mayoral primary this year, and then for the runoff that seems increasingly likely to follow as soon as two weeks later. In a last-ditch effort to avoid an electoral embarrassment, New York City is poised to go back in time: it is seeking to redeploy lever machines, a technology first developed in the 1890s, for use this September at polling places across the five boroughs. The city's fleet of lever machines was acquired in the 1960s and has been preserved in two warehouses in Brooklyn, shielded from dust by plastic covers."
Open Source

To Open Source Obama's Get-Out-the-Vote Code Or Not? 356

An anonymous reader writes "There's a battle brewing amongst Obama's election team. The political folks want to keep the get out the vote code closed source so republicans never get access to it, but the programmers want it open sourced so it can be improved upon. 'In this sense, the decision to mothball the tech would be a violation of the developers’ ethical principles. But the argument is about more than whether putting the tech back in the hands of the public is the right thing to do. "The biggest issue we saw with all of the commercial election software we used was that it’s only updated every four years," says Ryan. It was these outdated options that convinced team Obama to build all the campaign tech in-house. If the code OFA built was put on ice at the DNC until 2016, it would become effectively worthless. "None of that will be useful in four years, technology moves too fast," said Ryan. "But if our work was open and people were forking it and improving it all the time, then it keeps up with changes as we go."'"

Project Orca: How an IT Disaster Destroyed Republicans' Get-Out-The-Vote Effort 578

cheesecake23 writes "Many talking heads have attributed Obama's success to an unmatched 'ground game.' Now, inside reports from campaign volunteers suggest that Project Orca, a Republican, tech-based voter monitoring effort with 37,000 volunteers in swing states, turned out to be an epic failure due to dismal IT. Problems ranged from state-wide incorrect PINs, to misleading and delayed information packets delivered to volunteers, to a server outage and missing redirection of secure URLs."

Barack Obama Retains US Presidency 1576

Fox News, NBC, and CNN have called the U.S. election for incumbent Barack Obama. Of the so-called 'battleground states,' Obama carried Ohio, Iowa, Wisconsin, and New Hampshire, which, along with all of the solidly Democrat-leaning states, was enough to push him beyond the 270 required for victory. You can check this chart to see the full list of states that have currently been called, and by which news networks. The NY Times has an excellent interactive map showing all election results updated in real time, as does CNN. It's currently projected that the Republicans will retain control of the House of Representatives, and the Democrats will retain control of the Senate.

New Jersey Residents Displaced By Storm Can Vote By Email 189

First time accepted submitter danbuter writes "In probably the most poorly thought-out reaction to allowing people displaced by Hurricane Sandy in New Jersey [to take part in the 2012 presidential election], residents will be allowed to vote by email. Of course, this will be completely secure and work perfectly!" Writes user Beryllium Sphere: "There's no mention of any protocol that might possibly make this acceptable. Perhaps the worst thing that could happen would be if it appears to work OK and gains acceptance." I know someone they should consult first.

Never appeal to a man's "better nature." He may not have one. Invoking his self-interest gives you more leverage. -- Lazarus Long