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CS Students Called In To Monitor E-Voting 20

An anonymous reader writes, "Electronic voting machines used in Tuesday's elections apparently caused only isolated problems, although watchdog groups say it's too early to give an overall grade to their performance. One county in California, hoping to avoid any technological glitches, hired computer-science graduate students to set up and troubleshoot the machines. The behind-the-scenes look revealed some warning signs of e-voting." From the article: "The county election official expected many elderly poll workers to be confused by the technology, so she recruited... 59 computer-science graduate students from [UC] Davis to help poll workers troubleshoot the machines on Election Day."
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CS Students Called In To Monitor E-Voting

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  • Students (Score:5, Funny)

    by Apocalypse111 ( 597674 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @11:07AM (#16786423) Journal
    ...and lo, did the students look at the polls, and in wonderment, they did ask, "Where is the CowboyNeal option?"
  • Hmm (Score:2, Insightful)

    They really need to change the name of 'computer science' here in the states. We CS majors don't know anything about software. If you want some good software gurus, talk to the math people.
  • What a numbnut. Do it immediately or don't bother doing it.
  • Shweet (Score:1, Redundant)

    More likely these 733t h4x0rs reporgrammed the voting machines to write in Cowboy Neal.

  • so complicated that they arrived at the polls with a 15-page technical manual that poll workers frequently consulted.

    Woah! A whole 15 pages? That must be rough. Who do they have running those polling stations?

    "We're praying no one uses it," she said. "We call it the black monster."

    Oh, I guess that explains some of the phyche of the people running the polls in California.
  • Wrong choice (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Beryllium Sphere(tm) ( 193358 ) on Thursday November 09, 2006 @11:38AM (#16786775) Homepage Journal
    Grad students are cheap but the most effective choice would have been IT operations people, with the experience to yell immediately if someone with a clipboard and a vendor nametag shows up to install a patch.

    CS grad students would be a great choice for auditing the design and the source code. But that's not what happens on Election Day.

    Credit for good intentions, though.
  • Woah! A whole 15 pages? That must be rough. Who do they have running those polling stations?

    Some 15 page manuals can contain 14.95 pages of useless junk. There was probably even 3-4 pages of "this product is not for internal use", "warning! do not operate when wet", "caution! do not attempt to insert memory card into ear". 2 pages of FCC certification for electrical interference, and maybe 5 pages of "how to turn on this unit". Troubleshooting was probably 1 page of "if the unit behaves strangely, call 1
  • by Nicolay77 ( 258497 ) <nicolay.gNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday November 09, 2006 @11:57AM (#16786977) Homepage
    I believe they only want to identificate and send to jail anyone who can point out the flaws of the electronic voting systems.

    "Sir you published a way to change the votes in your web site, and that is clearly an act of terrorism. You are under arrest!"

    So in the future no one would even try to publish that kind of results.
    • I believe they only want to identificate and send to jail anyone who can point out the flaws of the electronic voting systems.

      Is identificate defined as Identify + Authenticate (i.e. We think know who you are, and we know it's really you)?

      Or does it mean that the Powers That Be take your mug shot, then take a DNA sample?

  • Woah! A whole 15 pages? That must be rough. Who do they have running those polling stations?

    Just because it's "only" 15 pages, doesn't mean it's 15 pages of useful info. I'm willing to bet that 5 pages are "stuff you shouldn't do with the unit" like "warning! not for interal use!" and "warning! do not operate when when". 3-4 page of FCC certification "this unit doesn't emit interference, and accepts interference from other units", and finally, one page of troubleshooting, which covers "try turning it off
  • Really? I'm at Florida State and we end up getting a minor in Math - Calc2, Discrete Math I&II, Statistics, etc are required for the degree.
  • "Will you please go help that old geezer get that machine set up? I know you're "on a raid", but Jesus..."
  • by rilian4 ( 591569 )
    If the GOP had carried one or both houses of congress by a slim margin, you people would be screaming about this. The article references many of the same problems that have been expressed in past elections w/ electronic voting machines and in many of the same well known precincts such as Broward County in the Miami area yet there has been little to no response here on /. or elsewhere. I repeat, if the GOP had carried one or both houses and the problems happened as reported in this article, there would be sc
  • There is a difference between crying foul the day after the election, and acting to ensure fair voting. Last time around, the same people were doing both, because of who happened to win. This time liberals aren't going to cry foul, for obvious reasons. I imagine, though, that they will happily stand up and agree that e-voting systems are still problematic, and document instances of problems. They simply aren't up in arms as much, since they believe that, for the most part, the right person won this time
  • I don't know if anyone has brought this up yet; however, a colleague of mine raised a seriously good point. If anyone is an expert at fraud prevention with electronic selection, it has to be the casino's or the people who build electronic gambling devices such as slot machines. I mean, isn't there some sort of permanent record on all slot machines where the casino can verify that no cheating has occurred? Haven't casino's figured out the majority of ways people can defraud them of money? Maybe people sh
  • Yeah, because when your democracy absolutely has to work, you want to trust it to college students, when the professionals couldn't design the machines well enough so a 70 year old could use it. And give them the task on the last day before the machines are due for production. Perfect, students are used to pressure.
  • As a CS student, I have a job to look forward to when I graduate!
  • Bring back the hanging Chads I say. :-) In all seriousness, e-voting should be as easy as taking a multiple choice quiz. Make the mouse (arrow) look like a pencil for the old timers. They can wiggle it back & forth over their candidate to "circle him/her in". Then the computer will inevitably ask... "are you sure"....."are you really sure"... --TS

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