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More Voting Shenanigans in Florida 680

stewwy writes "It looks like the the shenanigans have started already, the Register is running a story about the difficulty early voters are having with casting votes for Democrats." From the article: "The touch-screen gizmos seem strangely attracted to Republican candidates. One voter needed assistance from an election official, and even then, needed three tries to convince the machine that he wanted to vote for Democrat Jim Davis in the gubernatorial race, not his Republican opponent Charlie Crist."
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More Voting Shenanigans in Florida

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  • by Lemurmania ( 846869 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2006 @02:54PM (#16676705)
    I don't want to sound like a Mel-Gibson-style conspiracy nut, but it's hard not to reach for the tinfoil when you read anecdotal reports like this. It would take such a small shift of votes to change an election ... I dunno, can the party in power resist that temptation? Given that they can't resist any other temptations?
  • by Martin Blank ( 154261 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2006 @02:56PM (#16676735) Homepage Journal
    Serious question for those familiar with the technology:

    Is this similar to the electronic credit card signature systems that display my signature half an inch below where I put the stylus?
  • by HappySqurriel ( 1010623 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2006 @03:01PM (#16676859)
    I don't want to sound like a Mel-Gibson-style conspiracy nut, but it's hard not to reach for the tinfoil when you read anecdotal reports like this. It would take such a small shift of votes to change an election ... I dunno, can the party in power resist that temptation? Given that they can't resist any other temptations?

    One problem with anecdotal reports is that they can easily be abused by the media to skew people's opinions of what is happening. Suppose, for a moment, that these voting machines are buggy and that you have similar numbers of Republicans and Democrats that have problems voting for their candidates. Now with past voting irregularities in Florida there is an increased sensitivity in Democrat voters to problems like this; this means that these people are more likely to report these problems to the media, and the media are far more likely to report these occurances.

    I'm not saying this is what is happening, it is just a possibility.
  • Re:Worn machines? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cluckshot ( 658931 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2006 @03:04PM (#16676933)

    I am working reviewing the voting machine software for a major US State. The vendors are very slow bringing out any software for review. The review is technical and not for valid elections.

    I have looked at the software and I could see the weaknesses the critics describe. They are real. Any election system that lacks a paper trail including paper ballots that are user validated is in my view fraudulent. The systems have a lot of weaknesses as well.

    The most important thing that should change in election machines is that the process we uses should be machine independent. That is the failure or status of any particular machine should not halt the election or prevent the correct casting of a ballot.

    The true criterion for an election machine should be that it is (1) Easy to use. (2) Very very difficult for anyone to misuse. (3) It should have a paper ballot copy that is saved and validated by the voter and then placed in a secure box for validation and recounts. (4) The system should have off site valid totals kept in at least 3 locations at all times. These locations should be in different custody chains. (5) The election should be subject to automatic recounts if any of the 3 off site totals do not match up to the local totals or between each other.

  • by burnin1965 ( 535071 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2006 @03:23PM (#16677311) Homepage

    Screens slipping out of synch

    Serious question for those familiar with the technology:

    I work in a factory that utilizes several touchscreens of various types, makes, and models for the user interface on the equipment, these screens are subjected to 24x7x365 operation and sustain heavy abuse from pens, excessive physical pressure, and exposure to acid and solvent residues, they do not continuously slip out of sync. Once they are calibrated recalibration is very rare, perhaps once or twice every couple of years.

    The statement from the Supervisor of Elections about out of sync touchscreens being normal seems like BS to me. More importantly if the touchscreens do normally slip out of sync then they should not be used for an election and the Supervisor of Elections is failing to do their job if they are allowing such subpar equipment to be used for elections as they put the implementation of democracy at risk.
  • by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2006 @03:34PM (#16677601)
    Something else to consider is that the candidates are most likely always listed in the same order for every voter. Depending on the facing of the screen, it may cause problems for tall users, short users, or people on the extremes of each, and the errors will always be in the same direction for each of those groups.

    In the case of short people, for example, if Crist is listed first and Davis is second, then the alignment of the image with the touchscreen is likelier to be such that attempting to select Davis will lead to actually selecting Crist. Short people attempting to vote for Crist won't have the problem of accidentally voting for Davis, because they'd already be either off the top of the list of names or at the top of the touchscreen.

    One solution would be an adjustable screen that can be pivoted to face the user. If the screens are LCD, then the feature is self-managing, because users wouldn't be able to see a screen that's not adjusted to face them. Of course, a cheaper solution would be to make the selectable regions as large as possible. ("The fingers you are using to dial this phone are too fat. If you would like to order a special phone, please mash the keypad with your palm now.")

    Believe it or not, we have this parallax problem in our D&D group. We use a 1/4" sheet of clear plexiglass on our tabletop for mapping dungeons, and under that we put a grid mat (the grid mat sucks for writing on with markers, but the plexi works great). The only problem is that, depending on where you're sitting, the grid lines on the mat appear to match up with a different spot on the plexi, so if two people on opposite sides of the table are cooperating to draw out a map, sometimes their lines won't match up.

    Anyway, it bears mentioning that this was the same problem that led zillions of Floridians to accidentally vote for Pat Buchanan, and was partly to blame for the dramatic push toward "modern" voting machines. At least you don't get hanging chads with a touchscreen, I guess.

  • Re:Excellent! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by McFadden ( 809368 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2006 @05:43PM (#16680281)
    And yet, no word from Slashdot on the dead people casting absentee votes for Democrats as reported recently.
    With respect, it's the failure of the technology that makes it relevant to the slashdot readership. If every small incidence of voter fraud were reported, slashdot would have no room for anything else.

    In other words, STFU with your goddamn conspiracies, you loony wingnuts/moonbats. You fuck up politics and turn it into a big playground with two lines of children throwing spitwads back and forth and tattling to the teachers about various things.
    That's right. It's the conspiracy theorists that are responsible for the complete polarization and "fuckup" of politics these days. You keep on believing that. Sounds almost like a conspiracy in itself. (And that's ignoring the fact that you're the only person who's descended into pathetic name-calling and ranting, yet you feel justified in calling other people children).
  • Re:Question (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tbannist ( 230135 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2006 @06:23PM (#16680971)
    Um.. No. In fact there is a large amount of data which shows that my "theories" ARE fact. It was modded as a troll by Free Speech Suppressors fairly quickly, so you may have missed my earlier post with the link to several studies showing that there is indeed a Liberal media bias in America. My opinion is borne out by scientific study and fact.

    Studies carried out by conservative institutes, paid for by conservative political funds, and used for conservative political purposes. With such impartial credentials who could doubt the results?

    Occams Razor dictates that the simplest answer is most likely the correct one. What is more likely; That a national conspiracy involving Diebold, The Republican party, and THOUSANDS of election workers of all political stripes banded together to hand elections over to the Bush and the Republicans, OR, that a company has made an inferior product that sometimes causes irregularities in the voting records?

    I love Occam's Razor games. However, what you've done is create a strawman argument. First you need to add the "unfortunate" declaration by the Diebold that he was personally going to hand victory in Ohio to Bush. Then you subtract the election wokers of all political stripes, because they're not involved. Then you add Diebold employees who admit to having secretly modified the code days before an election occured, and having been deliberately lied to about what the patch did, and being instructed to keep the changes secret from the election officials. Now which explanation is simpler? That the liberal media is making this stuff up, or that just maybe there's something the should be seriously investigated.

    Oh right, you don't give a fuck as long as your side is winning, asshole.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday November 01, 2006 @06:36PM (#16681215)
    That is asinine.

    1. The mainstream news media carries a definitive liberal bias. It always surprises me how strongly things are spun to favor Democrats. Do you know who Bernard Goldberg is (honestly, don't just Google him)?

    Have you ever heard reports of or read translations of the tapes of Saddam Hussein discussing moving weapons into Syria prior to the US invasion of Iraq? Not that they are terribly consequential for anything other than PR, but it is amazing at how little exposure they received while "Bush lies, they die" continues to echo.

    2. Some of the richest people in this country are liberal. Think Bill Gates, Geroge Soros, Warren Buffett, etc. Not to mention that big bad Rupert Murdoch endorsed Hillary Clinton for her Senate reelection bid.

    3. His point was that Democrats seem to get past scandals much more cleanly than Republicans do. Think of the Foley-Studds comparison. No one told Tip O'Neill to resign.

    4. He is making a comment on Slashdot, not making a news report on a national medium. Before immediately calling someone names for voicing opposition to the Democratic party, you might want to consider the validity of what he said.

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