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Maryland Votes To Ban Diebold Voting Machines 240

vandon writes " reports: 'The state Maryland House of Delegates this week voted 137-0 to approve a bill prohibiting election officials from using AccuVote-TSx touch-screen systems in 2006 primary and general elections. The legislation calls for the state to lease paper-based optical-scan systems for this year's votes. State Delegate Anne Healey estimated the leasing cost at $12.5 million to $16 million for the two elections.'"
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Maryland Votes To Ban Diebold Voting Machines

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  • by Alex P Keaton in da ( 882660 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:26PM (#14894130) Homepage
    Is there no room for tampering with paper ballots? Have you ever taken a fillin the bubble test?
    What about the SAT being all screwed up? g.mistake.ap/index.html?section=cnn_latest []
    Rain blamed for SAT scoring error
    (AP) -- Blame it on the rain. The company that scans the answer sheets for the SAT college entrance exam said Thursday that wet weather may have damaged 4,000 tests that were given the wrong scores.
    Maybe it is because I live in Ohio, and am tired of Diebold being a whipping boy- but seriously- Is there a bigger potential for fraud with an electronic machine? There has always been bvote fraud, since long before the advent of electronic voting.... With a punch card I get no reciept, I just hope that after I put it in the box, it ends up being counted....
    • by murphyslawyer ( 534449 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:29PM (#14894163) Homepage
      With a Scantron style system, at least you can go back and count the ballots by hand.

      The electronic scanning simply speeds up the process.
    • by Daniel_Staal ( 609844 ) <> on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:31PM (#14894181)
      There is a bigger potential for covering up fraud with an electronic machine. If a paper ballot is tampered with (or gets rained on, or something else happens to it) it is noticable. The paper will show some sign. With an electronic ballot, you can tamper with the ballots and leave no sign.

      It's not that we need the ballots to be impossible to tamper with. It is that we need to know when they have been tampered with.
    • by markdj ( 691222 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:36PM (#14894225)
      You, the voter, don't get to keep the receipt. What happens is that you get to see is whether the machine voted for you as you wanted, and then that receipt is kept by election officials to act as backup in case the electronic count fails in some way. Then the receipts are used to recount the election. Because you can't read the machine directly with your eyes, if there is any question as to the tally produced by the machine, the paper receipts can be used to recount. Yes, there has always been fraud, and paper can be compromised, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't be doing better when adopting new methods and better procedures for securing the ballots. The idea that the tally is correct because the machine says so is a myth: "It must be right because the computer says so!" Diebold has consistently denied that their computers could fail and that a backup method for recounts was needed.
    • Yes, what could possibly go wrong with computer voting? l [] Your example is ridiculous. The problem with computer voting using a closed-source voting software program whose data is easily manipulated without leaving any trace is that anyone can more easily alter votes without detection. The fact that it rained on some SAT scores is irrelevant because it doesn't address the issue of manipulating votes. Surely you understand that someone can easily change
    • by Duhavid ( 677874 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:44PM (#14894304)
      Is there a bigger potential for fraud with an electronic machine?

      Since you cannot audit the process, the answer seems to be "yes".

      There has always been bvote fraud...

      True. That does not excuse rectifiable problems with successor systems.
      From my reading the vendors of these systems there is no effort to
      close the holes, only "trust us".

      With a punch card I get no reciept...

      And I dont think you will get a receipt with any new systems either.
      Only purpose that I know of for printing the vote is so that meaningfull
      recounts are possible.

      I am sorry that you are tired of Diebold getting whipped. Maybe you
      can convince them not to deserve it.

      Any system will have it's problems. That does not mean we should not
      have a best effort to have as correct and demonstrably correct a system
      as human minds can put together.
    • by EvilEddie ( 243404 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @06:18PM (#14894569) Homepage
      We are really advanced here in Canada....
      1. Paper
      2. Pencil

      Mark X on Paper.....

      No major screwups though......
    • I was taught in science class we use a pencil because if it gets wet it does not run.
    • Nice FUD.

      Paper ballots, even if "spoiled" by abuse after votes are cast on them, still offer lots of evidence. Evidence of the choice of the voter. And evidence of the crime of whoever abused them.

      Digital ballots leave no evidence. Hence the much higher risk that they will be abused, and votes rigged by (ab)using them. They're also much cheaper and easier to rig on a large scale, with fewer accomplices. Without physical records, like cheap, familiar, reliable paper, they're worse than useless.

  • by dotslashdot ( 694478 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:27PM (#14894143)
    I guess they couldn't hack it.
  • Oops... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:27PM (#14894147)
    Unfortunately, they voted using a Diebold machine, so it doesn't matter anyway.
    • Re:Oops... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by ackthpt ( 218170 ) *
      Unfortunately, they voted using a Diebold machine, so it doesn't matter anyway.

      I toured the House of Representatives, about 10 years ago, and noticed they had buttons to press for voting. I wonder who audits where the wires really go.

      • Re:Oops... (Score:5, Informative)

        by Tmack ( 593755 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:41PM (#14894261) Homepage Journal
        I wonder who audits where the wires really go

        If its anything like the one in the Ga House, they go up to a giant light board with the Rep's name, where it turns on either a Red or Green light next to the name, and tallys all the lights of the same color to give a play-by-play of the votes. If the tally is incorrect, its plainly visible. Im sure a rep would complain if their vote shows up incorrectly on the big board with their name next to it...


        • Re:Oops... (Score:3, Informative)

          by HUADPE ( 903765 )
          If its anything like the one in the Ga House, they go up to a giant light board with the Rep's name, where it turns on either a Red or Green light next to the name, and tallys all the lights

          It is a fairly similar system, with a blue backlit board [] above the speaker's chair, and members using ID cards to vote. After the 15 minutes of a normal vote expire however, members have to use the old system of handing in a green (yea), red (nay), or orange (present) card.

      • Re:Oops... (Score:3, Informative)

        by daveo0331 ( 469843 )
        Their voting isn't secret ballot. If someone was messing around with the wires, it would get noticed, probably by the representative whose vote was counted incorrectly (or their staff/party/lobbyists/constituents/local newspaper).
  • by InsaneProcessor ( 869563 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:27PM (#14894151)
    I'm a technology snob and love the newest and greatest stuff but....
    There are places where technology does not belong and the old fashioned paper trail is still the best. I do not trust any voting system that the voter does not mark the paper. Anything else can be hacked or riged too easily.
    • by kenf ( 75431 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:32PM (#14894187)
      How about using the computer to mark the paper ballot? Use a touch screen computer, similar to the Diebold setup to allow the voter to vote. Then the machine prints out a human readable, but scanable ballot that the voter checks, and deposits in a ballot box. You can use the scanner to count votes, and humans can also count them if needed.

      • Because... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Junta ( 36770 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:36PM (#14894226)
        That is a lot more expensive than a magic marker or hole punch.
        • Voting is expensive. Period.

          The idea is to increase the number of voters per booth/machine while only increasing the marginal cost per vote by a small amount. If you can pull that off, you've succeeded.

          Sometimes you have to spend a little money to gain a lot of efficiency.
      • How about using the computer to mark the paper ballot? Use a touch screen computer, similar to the Diebold setup to allow the voter to vote. Then the machine prints out a human readable, but scanable ballot that the voter checks, and deposits in a ballot box. You can use the scanner to count votes, and humans can also count them if needed.

        How about both and we let the voters decide what they want to use? Marking a couple of circles is easy enough for me (native English reader/writer) but maybe not for some
      • Do both. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by RealProgrammer ( 723725 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @06:45PM (#14894779) Homepage Journal
        If the computer prints out a ballot AND tallies its own score electronically, you get the best of all worlds.

        The voter checks the ballot printout and drops it in the box. Those are counted electronically and retained, same as now.

        Meanwhile, the touchscreen data has been batched and sent electronically to render the unofficial results the instant the polls close.

        The paper, the thing the voter dropped in the box, is the official ballot.

        If there's a notable discrepancy, bring in the accountants, alert the media, and wait for the lawyers.

        Doing both, counting and sending in the results by orthogonal mechanisms, allows much better security. Someone would have to tamper with both processes, and get them exactly the same, or an investigation would ensue.
    • For every instance in which technology is capable of enhancing an organization, it also introduces the ability to absolutely cripple it.

      Diebold is whatever it is... as will be any other attempt as similar technology. What is broken in this context is the _process_ first, and trust second. If they had been willing to address the process, in the open, then perhaps trust could have been achieved.

      It doesn't help when the Diebold CEO pretty much stated publicly [to paraphrase], "We _will_ deliver Ohio to the R
    • by Crazy Man on Fire ( 153457 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:42PM (#14894276) Homepage
      I agree. Paper ballots aren't broke. Sure, have a touch-screen system for disabled voters who cannot use a paper ballot. Hoewver, the touch-screen voting system should not tabulate any votes. It should simply print out a paper ballot that is deposited by the voter into the ballot box. Why is that so damn hard?
      • the touch-screen voting system should not tabulate any votes. It should simply print out a paper ballot that is deposited by the voter into the ballot box.

        Why would we deprive ourselves of one of the easiest things for a computer to do, and replace it with... what? Who counts your paper ballots?

        There are many ways to help safeguard the integrity of the machines, and you can see some of them up and down the responses to this article, more if you're willing to peruse things like the Risks Digest. To toss

    • by cdrguru ( 88047 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @06:15PM (#14894554) Homepage
      Unfortunately, while it might be nice to think about just paper ballots, there are expectations in the US that make it almost impossible to continue using them.

      First, is the accessability issue. You have voters that can't understand instructions and can't follow them when they are explained. A paper ballot that isn't verified for correctness immediately results in the "undervote" and "overvote" situation where they have either not enough marks or too many marks to figure out what the voter intended. Unless someone or something checks the ballots immediately, this will be a problem.

      The next problem is also related to accessability. We are faced with a situation where volunteering to work in a polling place is almost unheard of. So, they go to the Senior Citizens Center and recruit people from there. You would think that people would do anything to get out and do something different - not in the US. They struggle to get the minimum number of people that are legally required for the county and have to live with that.

      This means there are no "extra" helpers for people that can't read the paper or can't see the writing there. Or need some other kind of assistance. So any mechanical aid that can work with Braille or whatever else is required (writing 3x the size, etc.) is a requirement. If the machine can talk to them, even better.

      The last requirement is that if the legal and accurate results of voting are not available five minutes after the polls close, the news programs will just make stuff up. They will rely on exit polls or talking with party spokespersons to find out what the results might be.

      The idea that the voting results could wait for three days (or even a couple of weeks) after voting has completed is utterly unacceptable to the news media. They need results in minutes and they will do whatever it takes to get results to people. Accurate or not, it doesn't matter. Speed is the only thing that counts.

      This obsession with feeding results to people has seriously hurt us in the past and most recently in 2000. Announcing the winner of an election or even that a candidate is ahead or behind while the polls are still open should be a crime. It isn't today.

      Therefore, we are left with "imaginary results" if the real vote count doesn't come along fast enough. Can you imaging the chaos if the TV news programs announced a winner and three days later when the official count was done - not just the exit polls - it was some other candidate?

      Face it, immediate tabulation of vote results is a requirement. We are going to have results at 7:01 PM if the polls close at 7:00 PM, one way or another. And we are going to have "accessible" voting that does not require helpers, because there are no "helpers" - nobody wants to volunteer. We are going to have immediately verified ballots, because to do otherwise results in Florida in 2000 all over again.

      The one thing we are not going to have, at any point in the foreseeable future, is nationwide consistency in voting. It will be state-by-state and county-by-county until the end of "State's Rights". Not likely to happen any time soon, because it would require people to give up power they have in public offices. Ever heard of a politician doing that?

      • The last requirement is that if the legal and accurate results of voting are not available five minutes after the polls close, the news programs will just make stuff up. They will rely on exit polls or talking with party spokespersons to find out what the results might be.

        Exit polling has been refined to the point that it is quite reliable.

        Part of the suspicion over the 2004 presidential election results was that the exit polls were so far off the mark that the number crunchers said "it isn't really possibl

      • First, is the accessability issue. You have voters that can't understand instructions and can't follow them when they are explained. A paper ballot that isn't verified for correctness immediately results in the "undervote" and "overvote" situation where they have either not enough marks or too many marks to figure out what the voter intended. Unless someone or something checks the ballots immediately, this will be a problem.

        When I voted in a Toronto municipal election (2000?), the ballot was a letter-size s
    • by jd ( 1658 )
      Ballot boxes can be stuffed or go missing. When Republicans (or Democrats) collect votes - some places do collection - it's amazing how few of their opponent's votes seem to be present. (That last one is scary for England, as that's the system the two major parties are heavily pushing.)

      My preferred system would be to have:

      • A computer record electronically a vote in as tamper-proof way as possible
      • A printed copy on tamper-proof paper that the voter can examine before placing in the ballot box
      • The ballot boxes s
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) * on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:33PM (#14894191) Homepage Journal
    Soon to be followed by the age-old, tried and true method of picking leaders
    Eeny meeny miney moe,
    Catch a tiger by his toe,
    If he hollers,
    Let him go,
    Eeny meeny miney moe
    this of course is of great relief to many mothers hanging out clothes
  • by Billosaur ( 927319 ) * <wgrother.optonline@net> on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:33PM (#14894196) Journal
    The state House of Delegates this week voted 137-0 to approve a bill prohibiting election officials from using AccuVote-TSx touch-screen systems in 2006 primary and general elections.

    137 to 0 -- ouch!!

    Diebold has gotten itself into a quagmire and they don't seem to be able to pull themselves out. How hard was it to add a paper trail to the machines to start with?

    And yes, there's plenty of fraud with paper ballots and mechanical voting machines. But the idea is that electronic voting machines are supposed to be superior to those systems, and without a paper trail to verify that votes have been recorded properly, they're reduced to being no better and actualy, given their hackability, worse.

    • IIRC, they offered models that had a paper trail, but for whatever reason those models cost more than the non-paper trail models. Many counties opted for the cheaper models for whatever reason.

      My guess is that they assumed or were told that the electronic machines would allow them to go "paperless" as in "paperless office" and they failed to consider the ramifications wrt. voting
    • Diebold has gotten itself into a quagmire
      Who else but Quagmire? Giggity giggity goo!
  • by Slipgrid ( 938571 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:37PM (#14894235) Homepage Journal
    In related news, it seems that Diebold has since started a new [] ad [] campaign [].

    In more related news, stock of the Harland Company, parent company of Scantron [], got a small bump [] today.
    • Wow. Oh wait. I'm dense. Didn't realize it was a joke for a while. I was staring at them, like 'man, do they ever have balls'.

      The first makes me think how much easier it would have been for Stalin if he had had Diebold machines.

      The second said "We deliver the vote" reminding me of how some official in Ohio in charge of the voting machines said 'we will deliver Ohio to Bush' or something to that effect.

      The third: "Life's a crapshoot, elections don't have to be" reads like "why take
    • Three words concerning that ad campaign: Oh. My. $DEITY. It's as if they wanted to say: "Hey, we don't have arguments but just look at these pictures. Do you see that? Stalin, 9/11? That's what we fight against. You don't want commie terrorists to run this country, do you?"

      This just yells "UNPROFESSIONALISM".
  • Thank God (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jettoki ( 894493 )
    "We've been hearing from the public for the last several years that it doesn't have confidence in a system without a paper trail," Healey said. "We need to provide that level of confidence going forward."

    So open source the voting software, and record electronic votes in two or more remote, neutral party logs. Then you could easily compare the logs to make sure that votes haven't been tampered with. No black box, less chance of human error.
    • Re:Thank God (Score:5, Insightful)

      by JavaSavant ( 579820 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:48PM (#14894334) Homepage
      I don't think that's the complaint. The complaint is that as a voter, if I don't have a piece of paper that I can look at and say "why yes, that's my vote" then as far as I know my vote is just lingering in the ether, vulnerable to hacking and misrepresentation. Auditability on the software side is good, and I think your idea is a good one to regulate what happens with all of the votes after I accept my choices - but people still want to be able to see that what they touched on the screen is what ends up ultimately as their vote.

      FURTHERMORE, I'm a strong believer that touch screen systems should only exist to produce a filled out, printed ballot that is then processed by conventional means. The goal here should be to increase the accuracy of the vote, not the speed. Government can wait - I'd rather have it done right than done fast.

    • Oh fer Gawd's sake (Score:4, Insightful)

      by WinPimp2K ( 301497 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @06:40PM (#14894735)
      Lose the obsession on using software to vote. When you have to keep complicating the system (multiple remote logs etc) you are actually emphasizing the perceived insecurity of your paperless system. The voting machine itself is the single point of failure. If the feed from that machine is corrupt, your "neutral party logs" are also corrupt. The added layers of complexity do NOT make voters feel more confident that their vote will be accurately counted - it has the exact opposite effect. Because the problem here is one of emotional investment it will not be resolved through "reasoned argument".

      Seriously, Paper ballots that are marked on - not punched through. Use a machine and human countable (scantron) format. It is not bright, it is not shiny, it is not new. Howevere it works, and the methods of corrupting it are well understood by all involved - the same is not true of voting machines which will never be perceived as anything other than an opaque black box.

      Now if you are just suffering from a common desire to complicate things, why not complicate the democratic process, not the actual act of voting?

      For example, elections cost money, lets bring back a poll tax to pay for it. Say two bucks - and allow charities or political party reps to hand out two dollar bills to anyone who asks for one (but at least 100 feet from the polling place)

      Runoff elections are expensive too - eliminate them and use an IRV system.

      Straight Party Line voting is a pain to count - lets not allow it. If the voter won't explicitly vote for a specific candidate, then that candidate is undeserving of a vote.

      Ballots are getting unwieldly, have separate ballots for each jurisdiction (federal, state, county, city, precint, etc). There are never more than 3 races on the federal ballot. Why confuse those races with the JP and Sheriff's races?

      It's hard to get on a ballot especially with laws set to favor the major parties. Let anyone get on the ballot if they can pony up a "ballot placement fee". Let's say 1 penny per registered voter in the jurisdiction, but triple that to have party affiliation listed. (It would cost about a million bucks to get on the Presidential ballot, but triple that to run as a Republican, Green, Democrat, Libertarian) It would cost a lot less to get on the ballot where there are fewer potential voters - 5 bucks to run for Mayor of Cut-n-shoot TX for example.

      Just a thought or two on how to complicate things.
  • by revscat ( 35618 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:39PM (#14894251) Journal

    Flamebait, troll, yadda-yadda.

    It's true.

    Black-box voting systems have continually been championed by those who would criminally game the system for their own advantage, democracy be damned. They tend to defend their actions with nothing more righteous than cynicism: we do this because hey, everybody does it.

    No, everyone DOESN'T do it, and that is no justification in any event. The ends to not justify undermining democracy. Democracy is a large part of what makes societies strong, not weak, and undermining it only serves to strengthen the enemies of it, whether those enemies are foreign or domestic.

    So bravo to Maryland. I hope all states follow their example, and that those citizens who are forced to use unverifiable voting machines take a sledgehammer to them instead.

  • by jo7hs2 ( 884069 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:41PM (#14894263) Homepage
    As a Maryland voter, I was confused as to why we went to touchscreen voting anyway! We had a relatively new optical system (I called him R2D2 because of the size ans shape of the device that ate your ballot) that worked great, and was relatively fool-proof, I mean, it was a huge sheet of paper with big holes. We replaced that simplistic approach where dozens could vote simultaneously with dozens of little computers, of which only two or three were "allowed for use" at any given time, to conserve battery power. Needless to say, the systems were less than fool-proof as well. For once, this GOP'r actually is pleased with the Democratically controlled Maryland legislature.
  • by NevDull ( 170554 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:42PM (#14894280) Homepage Journal
    A Texas company called Accupoll had an electronic voting device which provided a VVPAT (Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail), which was approved in several municipalities, and was certified HAVA (Help Americans Vote Act) compliant.

    Too bad "On January 30, 2006, AccuPoll filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Pursuant to this filing, AccuPoll will cease operations and liquidate its assets. Therefore, AccuPoll voting systems are no longer available for purchase."
  • by k4_pacific ( 736911 ) <(moc.oohay) (ta) (cificap_4k)> on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:42PM (#14894287) Homepage Journal
    In other news Diebold announced today the introduction of the AccuVote-TSx-2 touch-screen voting system. The new system boasts the same features and functionality of the AccuVote-TSx, however, it has a different name to comply with a recently enacted law in the state of Maryland.
  • by b0bby ( 201198 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:42PM (#14894288)
    As a MD voter I have to say, great. I've used the Diebold machines and they are easy to use and helpful for complicated ballots and those who need other languages; I just don't trust that their results can't be manipulated in an undetectable fashion. I really wanted to see a paper trail and now it looks like Diebold will be forced to provide one. You really need to be able to trust your voting system, and having actual paper ballots outside the black box restores that level of trust. If that costs an extra $16 million, so be it.
    • As a MD volunteer election judge....
      I prefer that we don't introduce paper ballots, as discussed in the legislation, because they don't solve any problems. There's a good discussion at per.htm [].
      I've got a master's degree in Computer Science, and I've been an election judge for several years, working with the Diebold machines. In my opinion, the procedures established by the election board are sufficient to prevent the general public from accessing and/
  • by demon411 ( 827680 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:43PM (#14894294)
    this guy at my company who works on information security found the key [] hard coded in the diebold source code. source code which he found online. for those that don't know about cryptography, this is bad.
    He gave a talk about it last year and advocated a paper ballets and optical scanners as others have.
  • Halle-frickin-lujah (Score:4, Informative)

    by Conspiracy_Of_Doves ( 236787 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:46PM (#14894320)
    As a Marylander, I am SO happy they they are getting rid of those damn things.

    The dumb thing is that the system that we had before wasn't even confusing at all. Each candidate's name had a arrow with a gap in it. You simply used a pencil to complete the arrow for the candidate you wanted to vote for.

    You just turn this:

    - ->

    into this


    No one was even complaining about it.

    I assume that they just wanted to jump on the electronic voting bandwagon, no matter how much the entire IT community railed against the machines.
  • by swschrad ( 312009 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:48PM (#14894335) Homepage Journal
    and there is no way to recheck the vote.

    inability to recheck the vote is prima facie quite enough reason to outlaw those machines.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:54PM (#14894394)
    Diebold's main lobbyist, Harris Miller [], is running for Senate in Virginia.
    Yes, it's the same guy that crushed Cesar Chavez's union movement in California and lobbied successfully for multiple increases in the guest worker H-1B program as chief lobbyist for the Microsoft sponsored ITAA (

    What cracks me up is ... (get this) ... he's running as a Democrat.

    from ...

    The vendor community doesn't like it. "We oppose the idea of a voter-verified paper trail," says Harris Miller, president of the trade group Information Technology Association of America. Introducing paper into the mix, he says, defeats the improved efficiency and reliability e-voting promises.

    from ...

    Harris Miller, the president of ITAA, worked as a lobbyist/consultant for California agribusiness in the late 1980s. Miller's first big client was the National Council of Agricultural Employers, a group of large growers who use migrant and illegal alien workers. [20]

    His firm helped farmers to bring in "temporary" agricultural workers from Mexico. These farmers wanted to undercut gains that Cesar Chavez and UFW had made. This boosted the profits of Miller's agribusiness clients. Harris painted such pictures as "fields full of crops, just lying there, rotting in the sun because of the 'crisis' of a 'shortage' of farm workers." This was a prelude to using the same strategies for an organization that Harris founded in the late 1980s, the ITAA, which is a lobbying organization that represents "high tech" firms. He merely substituted the category of scientist and engineer that was in highest demand for the agricultural worker. He has become very wealthy from the new "high-tech bracero" program.

    A spokesman for the Farmworker Justice Fund, Inc. said "he [Harris Miller] was a lobbyist/consultant to the growers and was very active for years on the agricultural guest worker legislation. "

    Miller said that critics who deny there's a high tech labor shortage probably also think that the world is flat.[26] We can be thankful that this scofflaw didn't accuse us of believing in the Tooth Fairy.
    • Aw, hell no. Anyone know the date of the Virgina Democrat primary? I know Virginia will let voters vote in any primary; they do not have to be registered with the party; so, I know I can.

      Oh, if he's a Democrat, then I'm the tooth fairy. The K-Street Project purged Democrat lobbiests out of DC. And this is the guy hired to promote the company who's (now former) CEO promised to deliver the votes of Ohio to George W. Bush. The chances of him being a Democrat supporter, much less activist enough to run for
  • by tinrobot ( 314936 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @05:58PM (#14894424)
    Optical scan is also full of problems because the ballots are still counted by computers. There have been numerous reports of the Diebold Accu-scan system having a back door into the central tabulator, as was shown recently in Leon county, Florida. Optical does have the advantange of retaining a paper record of the vote, but it's still not the most secure method of couinting the votes...

    By far, the most secure method of counting votes is by hand. Several hundred people counting the votes (and witnessing the count) is far more secure than one guy in a backroom counting votes with a computer. The more people witness the count, the better.

    We need to have total transparency in the process. Hand counts ensure that.
  • by payndz ( 589033 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @06:10PM (#14894507)
    Every time this topic comes up, I'm always bewildered by the American insistence that there be some form of *machine* involved in voting. You pull levers, push buttons, tap touchscreens, etc, all at what must be surely a ridiculous cost (from TFA, $12 million to $16 million?!?) compared to the British system of a pencil, a piece of paper, a big box with a padlock on it and a bunch of volunteers to count the votes when the polls close. If a recount is demanded, then there's a big pile of papers with Xs on them right there.

    But then I remember - this is America we're talking about. The company that *makes* the machines has doubtless bribed... uh, 'lobbied' the relevant politicians to ensure that such machinery is the only possible choice for such an important task...

    • Absolutely, what is wrong with simply putting a cross in a box with a pencil. Sure, you have to physically count the things at the end of the election, but there are usually plenty of civil servants at the town hall with nothing better to do the next day. Old fashoned it may be, but its effective and reliable.
      • by Gid1 ( 23642 ) <> on Friday March 10, 2006 @06:47PM (#14894796)

        Agreed, although I'd point out that it's usually done before the civil servants get into work the next day!

        For the foreign-types here, the UK system goes something like this (for a General Election, which decides the Prime Minister, all the MPs, etc.):

        1. Polls open in the morning, usually on a Thursday.
        2. Polls close at 10pm countrywide.
        3. Seconds later, the media start announcing what their exit polls say: that way, the exit polls don't affect the result.
        4. Votes start getting counted by hand immediately.
        5. The first results are announced by 11pm.
        6. Enough results for the winner to declare victory are usually in by 3 or 4am.
        7. Rather than hanging outside with a transition team for a few months waiting for inauguration, the new guy (if there is one) becomes Prime Minister, moves into 10 Downing Street and starts work the next day.
        8. ...
        9. Profit!

        (more details) []

        Fast enough? It's a slick, quick, accurate, well-practised procedure compared to the total chaos, corruption and confusion that is Election Day in the US.

        Okay, there are far fewer boxes on the UK form, as the posts of assistant dog catcher, etc. aren't directly elected. Even so, there's nothing fundamentally wrong with a paper system. Oh, and no incomplete arrows, butterfly ballots, instructions, etc. A bunch of names with boxes. Put an "X" in the box next to the guy you want.

        I personally wouldn't have a problem with an optical scanner being used with hand recounts done only if the result is within the margin of error. Follow up with a leisurely hand count for statistical purposes at a later date. A hand count isn't going to take *that* long if it's resourced correctly, and accuracy is worth the wait. In the case of the UK it would just mean we'd have to wait until after the weekend to find out who's taking us to war.

        I also voted in Riverside County, CA last time around, and the ballot I was posted was pretty straightforward: well laid out, well described, simple to follow. Fill the little box next to the one you want. Saying that, I've got no proof it was ever counted, not that my vote would have made any difference in Riverside.

        • Fast enough?

          Actually that's one of my problems with the voting system right now: it's too fast. Hawaii and Alaska already know who won the presidential election by the time they vote. They shouldn't release any of the information until it's tablulated by EVERYONE. Did people in the 1800s run around in panic because they didn't know for _weeks_ who won? No. A pencil and paper is just fine and doesn't require any special setup... aside from a booth I guess. Maybe everyone is trying to save the enviornmen
          • Mmm... one nice thing about the UK's way of doing things is that the media embargoes results and exit polls until after the last poll has closed. I'm not sure whether this is a voluntary thing by the media, or whether it's a legal embargo, but it's really in everyone's interests.

            Of course, this is much easier to do with only one time zone, as all the polls open and then close at the same time.
    • Although your question was most likely rhetorical, I'll respond nonetheless. We Americans feel that most if not all problems can be solved by throwing computers at them. You see, kids suddenly become smarter when a computer is in the classroom. Similarly, crappy teachers become excellent teachers when a computer is in the room. It's also important to understand that effects are compounded by adding more computers.

      Applying what we've learned thus far...
      Vote counting going to slow? Turbo charge it by adding

    • The reason is because in the U.S. there are a large number of (a) idiots and (b) immigrants who unfailingly spoil paper ballots in mind-blowing numbers by overvoting, making ambiguous marks, and numerous other creative modes of spoilage. The upshot with machines and computers is some kind of strange obsession with making sure that every last voter's intents are captured accurately. Personally, I'd use a standard paper ballot and take the position that if you are too stupid not to spoil it (maximum 2 do-ov
    • In Canada, we dispense with the padlock.
  • In an effort to boost my karma by mimicking those statements most likely to be positively moderated, I hereby present the following post:

    "Well, it looks like the Republicans aren't going to win Maryland this year!"
    • They won't "win" by rigging touch screens... but they have many other tricks up their sleeve, (all of which have been done in Ohio and Florida, btw)

      -- Hacking the optical tabulators.
      -- Hacking punch card tablulators
      -- Removing "felons" (i.e. valid voters) from the voting rolls.
      -- Cancelling voter registrations of democrats.
      -- Counting votes in secret due to "national security" issues
      -- Allocating too few voting machines to Democratic districts, causing long lines.
      -- Voter intimidation
      -- Calling voters and t
  • Still need paper (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AeroIllini ( 726211 ) <> on Friday March 10, 2006 @07:47PM (#14895271)
    Why does everyone in Washington seem to think that machines are needed to eliminate paper entirely?

    There are two reasons to use mechanical/electronic/automatic voting machines:

    1. Accessibility. Voting machines allow people with poor eyesight, who can't read, or speak a different language to vote properly. The machine will check for over- or under-votes before the vote is submitted, it can increase text size, and it could even read the directions out loud into a pair of headphones, in a variety of languages.

    2. Counting speed. The vote counts can be completed the moment the polls close, keeping the media happy.

    Neither of these two reasons necessitate eliminating paper entirely.

    Here's how I envision an electronic voting system:

    The voter walks up to a touch screen which takes them through the voting process. They get assistance if they need it (see point #1 above).

    When the voter is finished, the machine prints out a page from an attached printer, perhaps onto specially watermarked paper. The printout includes a brief listing of who was voted for in each election in plain text so the voter can verify, and there is a bar code on the back of the page which encodes all that information. The voter signs by the plain text vote, folds the paper to hide the plain text votes and signature, and seals the vote with an official sticker. Then a polling place volunteer scans the bar code into the computer and drops the sealed ballot into the locked ballot box.

    In the event of a recount, the pages are all bar code scanned again in an official process. If further recounts are needed after that, the seals can be broken and the votes tabulated using the plain text. Obviously, calling for the breaking of vote seals ends the anonymity of the vote, and as such should be treated with great care by the election officials and only used in the most extraordinary circumstances. If the race is so close that votes need to be verified by hand, the need to break the seals should outweigh voter anonymity.

    All the code should be open source, of course, to be sure that the barcodes are actually encoding the proper information, and to maintain transparency in the entire process. Any company that refuses to submit to code review or open the code to the public should not be trusted with such an important task. Would you trust a contractor who builds your house but refuses to show you the blueprints or have a structural engineer review them?

    But my point is that paper is crucial to the process. It is currently the only way to ensure recountability and anonymity at the same time. Sure, there's opportunity for fraud, as there is in any process, but this limits the opportunity for *automated* fraud.
  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Friday March 10, 2006 @07:47PM (#14895273) Homepage Journal
    Steven Heller, the guy blowing the whistle on Diebold's voterigging crimes is now being persecuted in court with felony charges. Aphor's diary has details of his legal defense []. Including an easy way to do something about it: donate a little money to protect his rights, and your right to vote freely.
  • Exit polls have always been VERY accurate in predicting the vote outcome, as there is no reason for people to lie about who they just voted for.. but *for some reason* in Ohio this last Pres. election the exit polls were way off.. and that state was fully electronic, using machines by Diebold where the President of the company said he would "deliver Ohio" to President Bush.. and there was no paper trail.

    I'm not saying there is a conspiracy here, but in a situation like that where the exit polls were very di
  • As anyone who reads the news knows, this company is a total fraud.

    However, I still think the idea of an electronic voting machine has potential. Why not simply design some sort of open-source based system (easy to audit) that was made to work accross a plethora of manufacturer equipment (thy name is Linux). This would open the market to more competition, more scrutiny.

    Furthermore, I think generating a paper copy or "receipt" for both VOTER and ELECTORATE just makes sense. With all the money spent redesign

Disks travel in packs.