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Google

Google Submits Patent Application For Online Voting (thestack.com) 44

An anonymous reader writes: Google has outlined a concept for real-time online voting in the Google home page in a patent to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Entitled 'Social Voting-Based Campaigns in Search', the application proposes a voting user interface (VUI) that will enable a user to submit one or more votes in a voting-based campaign, giving the hypothetical example of a campaign to vote for the 'Top American Singer', with users authenticated via Google log-ins. If implemented, the system would represent a new foray for Google into generating rather than recording analytics and metrics of popularity.
Encryption

Online Voting Should Be Verifiable -- But It's a Hard Problem 258

An anonymous reader writes with a link to a pithy overview at The Conversation of recent uses of (and nagging difficulties with) online voting and asks Regular 'internet voting too risky' arguments don't take some approaches into account like verifiability of votes by voters, observers, and international media. Could we have end-to-end verifiable online voting systems in the future? What are the difficulties? Where is it being done already? From the linked article (which provides at least some answers to those questions), one interesting idea:Another challenge to designing verifiability in online voting is the possibility of malware infection of voters' computers. By some estimates between 30%-40% of all home computers are infected. It’s quite possible that determined attackers could produce and distribute malware specifically designed to thwart or alter the outcome of a national election – for example undetectably changing the way a user votes and then covering its tracks by faking how the vote appears to have been cast to the voter. Whatever verifability mechanisms there are could also be thwarted by the malware.

One way to try to prevent this kind of attack is to make voters use several computers during the voting process. Although this is hardly convenient, the idea is to make it more difficult for an attacker to launch a co-ordinated attack across several computers at once.
Television

When Vote Counting Goes Bad 128

ZipK writes "Television singing competition The Voice disclosed on Wednesday 'inconsistencies' with the tallying of on-line and SMS-based voting. Although host Carson Daly claimed the show wanted to be 'completely upfront,' the explanation from their third-party vote counter, Telescope, was anything but transparent. In particular, Telescope claims that disregarding all on-line and SMS-based voting for the two nights in question left no impact on the final results, but they haven't provided any detail of the 'inconsistency' or their ability to predict a complete lack of impact. Sure, it's only The Voice; but tomorrow it could be American Idol, and by next month, America's Got Talent."
Government

Paper Ballots Will Return In MD and VA 420

cheezitmike writes "According to a story in the Washington Post, 'Maryland and Virginia are going old school after Tuesday's election. Maryland will scrap its $65 million electronic system and go back to paper ballots in time for the 2010 midterm elections. In Virginia, localities are moving to paper after the General Assembly voted last year to phase out electronic voting machines as they wear out. "The battle for the hearts and minds of voters on whether electronic systems are good or bad has been lost," Brace said. The academics and computer scientists who said they were unreliable "have won that battle."'"
Politics

WV Voters Say Machines Are Switching Votes 900

An anonymous reader writes "Three Putnam County voters say electronic voting machines changed their votes from Democrats to Republicans when they cast early ballots last week. This is the second West Virginia county where voters have reported this problem. Last week, three voters in Jackson County told The Charleston Gazette their electronic vote for 'Barack Obama' kept flipping to 'John McCain.'"
Security

Damning Report On Sequoia E-Voting Machine Security 200

TechDirt notes the publication of the New Jersey voting machine study, the attempted suppression of which we have been discussing for a while now. The paper that the Princeton and Lehigh University researchers are releasing, as permitted by the Court, is "the same as the Court's redacted version, but with a few introductory paragraphs about the court case, Gusciora v. Corzine." What's new is the release of a 90-minute evidentiary video — the researchers have asked the court for permission to release a shorter version that hits the high points, as the high-res video is about 1 GB in size. See TechDirt's article for the report's executive summary listing eight ways the AVC Advantage 9.00 voting machine can be subverted.
United States

Voting Machines Routinely Failing Nationwide 237

palegray.net writes "Voting machines in several critical swing states are causing major problems for voters. A Government Accountability Office report and Common Cause election study [PDF] has concluded that major issues identified in the last presidential election have not been corrected, nor have election officials been notified of the problems. How long can we afford to trust our elections to black box voting practices? From the article: 'In Colorado, 20,000 left polling places without voting in 2006 because of crashed computer registration machines and long lines. And this election day, Colorado will have another new registration system.'"
Government

States Throw Out Electronic Voting Machines 238

Davide Marney passes along an AP story about the thousands of voting machines gathering dust in warehouses across the country after states such as California, Ohio, and Florida have banned their use. Many of these machines cost $3.5K to $5K each. Local election boards are struggling to find ways to recover any of the cost of the machines, or even to recycle them. The picture in Ohio is the most confusing, as multiple court cases limit the state's options and result in a situation in which the discredited machines will nevertheless be used in the presidential election coming up in November. The state's new (Democratic) attorney general has just issued a rule banning the practice of election workers taking the machines home with them the night before elections.
Security

E-Voting Undermines Public Confidence In Elections 155

Jeremiah Cornelius writes "Techdirt columnist, Timothy Lee, hit the metaphoric nail on the head, claiming that e-Voting undermines the public perception of election fairness - even when there is no evidence of wrongdoing. 'In a well-designed voting system, voters shouldn't have to take anyone's actions on faith. The entire process should be simple and transparent, so that anyone can observe it and verify that it was carried out correctly. The complexity and opacity of e-voting machines makes effective public scrutiny impossible, and so it's a bad idea even in the absence of specific evidence of wrongdoing.' Add to this the possibility technical faults, conflicts of interest and evidence of tampering, how long before the US vote is viewed as an electronic pantomime?"
United States

Maryland Scraps Diebold Voting System 209

beadfulthings writes "After eight years and some $65 million, the state of Maryland is taking its first steps to return to an accountable, paper-ballot based voting system. Governor Martin O'Malley has announced an initial outlay of $6.5 million towards the $20 million cost of an optical system which will scan and tally the votes while the paper ballots are retained as a backup. The new (or old) system is expected to be in place by 2010 — or four years before the state finishes paying off the bill for the touch-screen system."
The Courts

Group Sues To Stop German E-Voting 92

kRemit writes "The German hacker group Chaos Computer Club today sued the German State of Hessen to prevent the use of electronic voting machines (Google translation) in the upcoming elections on January 27. This comes as a follow-up to the Dutch initiative 'We don't trust voting machines,' which succeeded in banning the same type of voting machines in the Netherlands."
United States

Colorado Decertifies E-voting Machines 169

mamer-retrogamer writes "On December 17, Colorado Secretary of State Mike Coffman decertified election equipment used by 64 Colorado counties, including machines made by Premier Election Solutions, formerly known as Diebold Election Systems. A report issued by the Secretary of State's office details a myriad of problems such as lack of password protection on the systems, controls that could give voters unauthorized access, and the absence of any way to track or detect security violations. Manufacturers have 30 days to appeal the decertification."

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