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E-voting State By State 186

jcatcw writes "One-third of Americans will use voting machines next week that have never before served in a general election. Computerworld.com provides an overview of e-voting in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia — equipment, systems for voter registration, polling, significant legal challenges to the systems, previous media coverage, links to government watchdog sites, the vendors, technologies and laws that are important to the issue, and a review of 'Hacking Democracy.'"
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E-voting State By State

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  • by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2006 @09:37PM (#16683835) Homepage
    One-third of Americans will use voting machines next week that have never before served in a general election.

    Not to worry! I hear that the machines help you pick the right candidate [engadget.com], if you have trouble. Diebold actually licensed the clippy AI from Microsoft for that one.
    • Diebold actually licensed the clippy AI from Microsoft for that one.

      Actually, they'll give the technology behind Clippy [microsoft.com] to anybody who wants to play with it.
      • Actually, they'll give the technology behind Clippy [microsoft.com] to anybody who wants to play with it.

        Somehow, I feel like that gift from Microsoft is a lot like when we gave free blankets to the Indians.
  • I just heard on the news that the average age of poll workers is 70! I've seen many older people, even younger than 70, try to use a computer--and figure out what it's doing, and it's painfully difficult to watch. It's just a technology that they haven't grown up with, and have a hard time grasping. I'm not knocking the abilities of old dogs to learn new tricks, but it seems to me that the younger generation (including myself), need to step up to the plate here and start to help out in polling places.

    I m
  • by schnikies79 ( 788746 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2006 @09:53PM (#16683939)
    For the 3rd or 4th election we're using electronic machines that read a paper card. The candidates have an arrow pointing towards their name with the center missing, you vote for the candidate by filling in the arrow. It's simple as hell and older people don't seem to have any problems with it. Dunno why everyone wants a touch screen or something similar. There is simply nothing wrong with paper.

    The new state law requiring state issued picture ID is a nice touch too.

    Oh yea, Harrison Country, Indiana btw.
    • ``For the 3rd or 4th election we're using electronic machines that read a paper card. The candidates have an arrow pointing towards their name with the center missing, you vote for the candidate by filling in the arrow. It's simple as hell and older people don't seem to have any problems with it.''

      But do the machines tally and report the votes correctly? And do they protect against tracing back the votes to specific voters?
      • But do the machines tally and report the votes correctly? And do they protect against tracing back the votes to specific voters?

        Well, you can always randomly audit the machines, since there is a perfectly good paper trail (the original card).

        As far as tracing back, whenever I used optical card voting in Kentucky, the staff would simply pull off a voting ballot off the top of the stack and give it to you. The cards are numbered, but they never write down your number with your name.

        Optical cards are probably
    • Because if it's required, and if it isn't issued for free, then Indiana has reinvented the poll tax.
      • Because if it's required, and if it isn't issued for free, then Indiana has reinvented the poll tax.

        Well, in fairness the state does offer free state-issued ID cards from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles if you don't have a license.

        Of course, if you don't have a license, you probably don't have a car, making actually getting to the BMV more difficult. The public transportation system here sucks in the cities, and is non-existent out in the sticks, and the chances of being within walking distance to a BMV branch
        • Of course, if you don't have a license, you probably don't have a car, making actually getting to the BMV more difficult. The public transportation system here sucks in the cities, and is non-existent out in the sticks, and the chances of being within walking distance to a BMV branch is pretty slim.

          The same can be said for the polling place. My polling place is 5 miles away - at IRS rates, that's like a $5 poll tax, round trip, assuming the time I take off from work is incalculable.

          Even sending in the abse
        • by JimBobJoe ( 2758 )
          Well, in fairness the state does offer free state-issued ID cards from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles if you don't have a license.

          Georgia and Missiouri similar laws were rejected because while the ID card might be free, the birth certificate needed to get one is not.
    • by tbuskey ( 135499 )
      To quote Hyrum Smith:

      "Paper Still Works"

      He's the co founder of Franklin-Covy.
    • We use the same system here, and it is the best system I have used. Very cheap, too: some paper ballots and markers. No multi-thousand-dollar touchscreens required. Most importantly, IMO, everyone understands how it works, especially the precinct volunteers, who are generally older volunteers. If the counting machine fails, all the ballots could be recounted by hand as many times as required, and pretty much any citizen would be capable of stepping up to do so.

      The touchscreens are understood by a very f
    • by JimBobJoe ( 2758 )
      The new state law requiring state issued picture ID is a nice touch too.

      The Ohio law on ID requirements must have been made by morons at 2am on some illegal substance.

      It requires that the name on the ID "conform" to the name in the pollbook. What that means has not been spelled out, but it does imply to me that I could, as a pollworker, reject someone's ID because it says "John Q. Smith" and the pollbook says "John Smith."

      The other thing that's weird is that the photograph on the ID must be that to whom the
  • Couldn't most of the issues involved in e-voting be solved by producing the voter with a paper 'receipt' as proof of their vote (as well as a corresponding receipt for their precinct)? Taking it a step further, they could then, somehow, verify their vote by showing proof using this receipt. I'm purposely leaving out a lot of details here. But I'm just wondering if the voting system could benefit from the electronic monetary transaction technology and protocols that we interact with on a daily basis. Wha
    • The 'receipt' you are looking for is a paper ballot, the voter does not keep it since this encourages vote buying and voter intimidation. Ink stains on voters fingers (ala Iraq) would go a long way to stopping dead people from voting.

      The technology for fair elections [72.14.253.104] with timely results has been well known for centuries, there is absolutly no reason to reinvent it. The real problem is very few voters in the US seem to care their system is open to wholesale fraud that is completely undetectable (now that
    • ``Couldn't most of the issues involved in e-voting be solved by producing the voter with a paper 'receipt' as proof of their vote (as well as a corresponding receipt for their precinct)?''

      Yes, actually. Probably the simplest way would be to have the machine print out the vote, which is then dumped in a ballot box. But then, why use a machine at all?

      The next step up would be to have the same scheme, but with the machine actually tallying the votes, as well. You get instant election results, and you can verif
    • Couldn't most of the issues involved in e-voting be solved by producing the voter with a paper 'receipt' as proof of their vote (as well as a corresponding receipt for their precinct)?

      What if the code in the machine prints the value you entered, but saves another value to the storage device? Either by malice or poor coding, it's the same result. The paper means nothing; it's the bits on the storage unit that matter, and very few people can truly verify that the two match. If you trust the paper receipt,
  • by slusich ( 684826 ) * <slusich@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday November 01, 2006 @10:29PM (#16684159)
    This is one place where paper is still called for. Even if the paper is generated by computer in the form of a reciept, there must be some way to account for every vote. Perception of the voting machines alone is enough reason not to use them without a paper trail.
    • Take a look at Nevada's voting system. Were the only ones that require paper receipts that you can check before the ballot is cast. It's what you get when your machines have to be passed through the Nevada Gaming Commission.
    • ``This is one place where paper is still called for. Even if the paper is generated by computer in the form of a reciept, there must be some way to account for every vote.''

      Yes, and that's not the only criterion, either. It should also be impossible to trace votes back to specific people. I think the simplest way to achieve this is to have the machine print the information entered by the voter, and then drop that print-out in a ballot box (which will cause the print-outs to get mixed up). The machine may co
      • by mpe ( 36238 )
        It should also be impossible to trace votes back to specific people. I think the simplest way to achieve this is to have the machine print the information entered by the voter, and then drop that print-out in a ballot box (which will cause the print-outs to get mixed up).

        You'd still need a mechanism to ensure that ballot papers are difficult to forge. e.g. a non standard type/size of paper. Having the ballot paper embossed, stamped, punched, etc before the voter inserts it into the machine.
        N.B. one thing
  • Thanks to our Cowboy heritage, we ain't got these newfangled eVoting machines here in Oklahoma.....yet.
  • I know quite a few poll workers and I don't know any of them that I would trust to be
    able to turn on a machine much less anything else more technical that needed to be done
    with one.
  • What is wrong with paper ballots? Anyone? Bueller?

    Seriously, what is the reason that so many of the counties in the US are switching to electronic voting machines when they're clearly unverifiable, untested, and unreliable?
    • What is wrong with paper ballots? Anyone? Bueller?

      Really, it's the lack of consistency and irregularity of the analog paper ballot. In Florida, you had the "confusing" butterfly-style ballots. You also had precincts with the "hanging chad" problem where you had double-votes and "half votes" (where the hole in the paper wasn't completely punched).

      Done right, the biggest benefit of the electronic voting machine is that it totally eliminates ambiguity. No double votes, no half votes, no having to guess a

      • Done right, the biggest benefit of the electronic voting machine is that it totally eliminates ambiguity. No double votes, no half votes, no having to guess at voter intent.

        Done correctly, paper voting is the exact same way. I've taken a LOT of multiple choice tests where I haven't had any question of how to use the test.
        • Done correctly, paper voting is the exact same way. I've taken a LOT of multiple choice tests where I haven't had any question of how to use the test.

          You and I are not the general public. Hey, I had no problem understanding the butteryfly ballot. It's easy to say, "Well, if people would just do it correctly, we'd have no problem." Yeah, and...? As history has shown, it's very easy for people to do something dumb. The difference between paper and a computer is that paper is not self-verifying. A computer

          • If the general public has a hard time filling in a circle on a paper (which is how I vote, I'm in the military so I vote absentee), they will have a much harder time using a computer. The self-verification process of a computer is the problem, because the self-verifying process is what's corrupted and prone to hacking. Check out the simple easy sample paper ballot I designed. It's pretty close to what I use when I vote. If somebody can't figure that out, they don't need to be voting.
            http://i57.photobucket [photobucket.com]
    • Amen.

      If you want to falsify a significant number of paper ballots, you have to create a significant amount of spurious paper. The physical reality of tonnes of paper makes it difficult to steal an election.
      Computers, on the other hand, are relatively untraceable. It doesn't matter how difficult it is, the end result is that once it has been hacked, it's no more difficult to increase the votes by one million than by one.
  • by paulthomas ( 685756 ) on Wednesday November 01, 2006 @10:51PM (#16684295) Journal
    when I arrive at my polling place and am confronted with an electronic voting machine with no voter-verifiable paper trail, how do I opt out and fill out a paper ballot? Is there a standard procedure that I've been unaware of?

    Who else will be trying this?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Is there a standard procedure that I've been unaware of?

      Absentee ballot.

      • too late... :(
        • forgot to mention that I am out of town right now and can't really get an absentee ballot. I think the deadline has passed to have it mailed. I'll look into it though. thanks
      • What if it is illegal to vote absentee?

        In Texas your are only allowed to vote absentee if:
        http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/pamphlets/ea r lyvote.shtml [state.tx.us]
        * going to be away from your county on Election Day and during early voting;
        * sick or disabled;
        * 65 years of age or older on Election Day; or
        * confined in jail, but eligible to vote.

        They don't have anything about not trusting the vote. These are the only elligible reasons to vote absentee and not following the correct procedures f
    • That would be an absentee ballot you're looking for. If you know you can't trust your voting machines, you should arrange to get one before election day. City hall or your local major party campaign headquarters should be able to help you get one.

      Thankfully, I'll be voting somewhere that still uses paper ballots and permanent markers.
    • I think that you can ask for a provisional ballot. Absentee ballot is not the proper way to go.

      Of course they might not give you a provisional ballot if you are able to use the voting machine, I'm not sure.
  • I missed the registration deadline AGAIN. I had an excuse last year, I had never lived in a state with a deadline before. This year it's all my fault, but it still sucks.
    • So go now, while you're still thinking about it, and register. You're too late for this election but you're nice and early for 2008.
    • by Phillup ( 317168 )
      Check your state laws.

      Many states have a deadline... but also let you register the day of the election.

      They have a "black hole" in between so they can print up the voter rolls, etc... in preparation for the actual event. (These things do take time, you know...)

      But they also have a means of dealing w/ the late comers.

      But, you do have to show up!
  • The world has been looking on and laughing for years. If this election turns out to be a ridiculous debacle and the states don't trust a federal organisation to sort it out then it probably wouldn't cost a lot for the UN to run an election - they have the experience and a lot of people in that part of the organisation are from the USA anyway.

    An election has to be seen as free and fair and those that are elected have to actually get put in the post - look at Algeria as an extreme example of what happens to

  • As I was saying, they worked just fine in DeKalb County, GA.
  • Verified Voting [verifiedvoting.org] has long had The Verifier up on their site. This provides an interactive interface that gives more detailed info often on a county-by-county level. In many U.S. States the nuances of machines chosen and how they're deployed are up to the counties not the states. This results in an interesting patchwork of systems being run (often quite differently) under general and variable state laws.
    • Additional State info can be found at VoteTrustUSA [votetrustusa.org] vtUSA has good links to individual state and local groups as well as to programs that one can become involved in such as

      Voters Unite [votersunite.org] is also a good resource especially for lists of State Groups [votersunite.org], Failures grouped by individual vendors [votersunite.org], and a howto on helping entitled Pray With Your Feet. [votersunite.org]
  • Any state interested in better voting service, not just corporate welfare for digital voting system vendors (and who knows, perhaps rigged/broken elections), would test these new machines side by side with the old ones.

    Not the "public beta" insanity that puts machines known to fail into the critical path for so many votes. Rather, just have a demo booth, and ask every voter to vote on the demo machines, after they've voted on the machines that will be counted. Don't count the demo votes. But compare their t
  • There have been a lot of comments along the lines of "The old paper/optical scan system works fine, why go electronic".

    There are many reasons to move to a different system. Most of them dealing with accessibility. Electronic voting machines can present a ballot in multiple languages, electronic machines could present an audible ballot for the blind or a large print ballot for the sight impaired. Electronic machines are easier to vote on than filling in circles for those with motor skill issues.

    A 2003
  • Map requires Flash. Anyone care to compile the data for the 50 states plus a district in a text-friendly post?
  • "One-third of Americans will use voting machines next week that have never before served in a general election."

    Given that it's a midterm election with only a handful of close races, I doubt that one-third of (eligible) Americans will be voting AT ALL next week, much less using new and potentially unreliable machines.
  • Many states have programs that allow you to vote early. Here in Iowa, it's not unusual to walk into a supermarket a week or two before the election and find a table set up for early voting. The system uses the same paper ballot as absentee voting; the only difference is that you fill it out there and then drop it in a box.

    I voted earlier this week. If your state has a similar program, take advantage of it.
  • I consider myself a patriot, a realist, and an optimist. And as those things, I ask all you hackers on Slashdot, for the sake of Democracy, somebody, please steal an election. Preferably a major one.

    I don't want votes flipped between Democrats and Republicans. I don't want Greens or Libertarians to get a disproportionate amount of the vote, or even win. I want Oscar the Grouch to win a Senate seat on a write-in campaign. Preferably, several Senate seats and maybe a governorship or two.

    As Sunday's Foxt [gocomics.com]

The rich get rich, and the poor get poorer. The haves get more, the have-nots die.

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