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Voting Machines Banned by Dutch Minister 155

5heep writes "Dutch Government Renewal Minister Atzo Nicolai has banned the use of one type of computer voting machine in national elections next month. The turnabout came after a group called We Don't Trust Voting Computers protested the vulnerability of electronic voting to fraud or manipulation. The reason for this ban is the radio signals emitted by the machines which can be used to peek at a voters' choice from several dozen meters away."
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Voting Machines Banned by Dutch Minister

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  • by Panaqqa ( 927615 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @10:31AM (#16657135) Homepage
    I know more than a bit about electronics and electrical engineering, having spent part of my early career designing various gadgets. I have to wonder why all this fiasco with these electronic voting machines when it would be so very easy to simply build a small printer which uses a roll of paper (think cash register) inside to create a paper polling record.

    It would not add substantially to the cost, and the small rolls of paper that resulted would be perfect in cases where a recount was demanded or required. Why the resistance? Make it too difficult to steal an election?
  • by thrill12 ( 711899 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @10:40AM (#16657259) Journal
    Voting machines can be constructed in any way possible, but never completely exclude the fact that you can commit fraud with them.
    One solution often presented is the XBOX-type of security - encrypted links between hardware, redundancy etc etc - but as *we* know this type of security is breakable. You only have to do this once to break the security of all voting machines.

    Apart from this, some people mention the use of a paper trail. This trail itself has to be counted fully then, irrespectful of the outcome that the machines themselves produce, to verify a correct vote has been cast:

    The voting machine in itself can still not accurately or thrustworthingly tell the outcome of the elections and becomes a nice "exit-poll".

    Voting also brings with it the right for secrecy: this is something that does NOT occur in your examples. While the data is compartimentalized to certain groups of people, the data is still available on multiple sites and can be cross-verified. Voting machines store the data on 1 place (with or without redundancy) and when the vote has been changed, you can no longer cross-verify whether the voter actually did vote what he appeared to have voted...

  • by MeltUp ( 633868 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @10:40AM (#16657265)
    Why can't they make these things simple and thrushtworthy for everyone?
    It ain't so hard:

    - Enter voting office
    - Receive a "voting paper"
    - Enter voting booth
    - Insert voting paper into machine
    - Push the button for the candidate you want. (Machine's critical components are covered in faraday cage, to stop any readable transmissions)
    - Vote is printed on paper
    - Check the print and fold the paper along the prefolded line, so text is no longer visible
    - Publicaly put it in the urn (where they just fall in a disorderly stack, so order can't be traced)

    Counting (when the election is over, earlier is cheating off course)
    - Manually get all papers, and feed them into a counting machine
    - Machine sorts and counts all votes. returns each type of vote paper in easily countable stacks. Result is immediatly made public.
    - Count a large part of the votes by hand.

    Any problem with this type of voting? It offers all benefits of electronic voting, and none of the drawbacks (or so I'd think).
  • by FST777 ( 913657 ) <> on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @11:22AM (#16658003) Homepage
    More information:

    There have been roughly two types of voting machines in use in the Netherlands: one produced by Nedap and one produced by Sdu. The latter is the one that is banned a few days ago, because they could be spyed on from a distance. Curiously enough, the platform "we don't trust voting machines" proved that voting machines can be spyed on a few weeks ago, but they proved that with the Nedap machine.

    The platform never had a chance to test this problem with the Sdu, since they only had access to the Nedap machine (unofficially, they never had permission or anything but just received one machine from a muncipality when asked for it). The ministry of Government Renewal has not yet made any public comment on the problems with the Nedap machines.

    The muncipalities that used the Sdu machines are now forced to arrange Nedap equipment (which will certainly not be possible on such a short term, the elections are on 22 november) or use the old paper-and-pencil method (which will need massive restructuring of organization to arrange that on such a short term). Amsterdam is one of the muncipalities that already declared to go with the latter option, and it is already clear that there are virtually no Nedap machines to spare.

    This could become interesting. I predict chaos, but not more than chaos. The counting will take considerably longer (since I think there is not enough manpower to count on short term) but I still believe the results will be correct.

"my terminal is a lethal teaspoon." -- Patricia O Tuama