Florida Judge Says Candidate Can't Look At E-Voting Source Code

from the business-trumps-democracy dept

In a ruling that shows how a judge seems to believe that business trumps democracy, the candidate who is suing over what appears to be a case where e-voting machines lost thousands of votes in a very close race, a judge has found that the candidate cannot have access to the e-voting machines' source code, because that would expose "trade secrets" the company holds. Frankly, this argument (which has been used before) makes no sense. This isn't rocket science here. These machines are supposed to count votes and make sure people don't vote more than once. There's no "trade secrets" involved in that at all. Furthermore, considering these machines are for public elections, as Tim Lee says in the link above, the source code of the e-voting system is the equivalent of the voting process. What democracy doesn't make the voting process clearly available for anyone to understand? Apparently, the answer is any democracy that relies on today's e-voting machines.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Protoplasm, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 2:49am

    Next we'll hear about the Church of Imminent Domain. That's when the separation of church and state, the Church being the Private Sector, and the State Democracy, is repealed in favor of a Corporate Religion of Commerce.

    Avoid the rush, sell America before there's nothing left!!!

    Just more "Profit at all Costs!".

     

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    Enrico Suarve, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 3:02am

    Laughing stock

    Sorry but its true - This whole farce is making America a laughing stock

    For generations America has run around the globe making out they invented democracy and 'saving' the world...

    Bushes 1st election was a watershed moment - his 2nd election was marginally better (possibly they just got better at cover ups?) and this whole electronic voting thing is just opening up new doors in painful farce

    A voting system which last time I checked was based on MS Access, has no discernable audit and seems to lose votes at will?

    Did the US government ask Diebold to create a voting system or a system which automated fraud?

    In the UK we had a system a decade or so ago which stated that people who didn't pay a tax (which was thought unfair at the time) would have no right to vote - there were riots and people went to prison standing up to it...

    America had a few guys a few centuries ago who stood up to a king and lost a lot of sons in the process to get the ability to vote...

    Right now you have a computer, programmed by incompetents (hopefully they aren't actually fraudsters) which is stealing your votes...

    At what point is someone going to get off their ass and do something more than write a few blogs (no offence intended Mike) - at what point does America, 'champion' of democracy do some championing inside their own borders? Or is there just not enough profit in it?

     

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    Vote Fraud, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 3:21am

    Statistics...

    While I know there are 'issues' floating around diebold and the whole e-vote... can someone pull me a statistic of the candidates and their partys who are constantly contesting votes...

    Everytime I see it contested in reports its always a lib... In this last election round the Conseritives lost alot of seats some even by a close margin and I didn't see a huge stink raised about vote fraud, except in a few seats, and it was the lib who was calling for recounts...

    I think that Diebold code does not need to be released to any candidate who comes along to gawk at it, but sure make a commitee of people who actually know what the heck they are doing and hold diebold accountable if they are screwin up by all means...

     

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      Sanguine Dream, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 6:04am

      Re: Statistics...

      It doesn't matter to me who is doing the complaining in this situation of e-votes. It's a known fact that the code in at least some of those machines is flawed (and wasn't that revealed only after someone stole the source code?)

      What I want to know is why these machines are being depended on more often when it is solid fact that they are not fully reliable and now people are going out of their way to keep the source code hidden.

      I would much rather have a conservative win fair and square than for a liberal to win by cheating.

       

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    ScytheNoire, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 3:59am

    eFraud

    it really is a joke, because any one can buy an American election now easier than ever, because those machines are so easy to tamper with and rig an election. pay enough money to the right person, and you can win any election. just looking at stats from recent elections in America, it's a pathetic joke. as a Canadian, we laugh at it because we know it's not true democracy, not that ours is better, but at least we don't have the rampant fraud that has been happening in the United States. dead voters? more votes than people in a district? please. then you toss in a President who hasn't won any election. America is a pathetic joke when it comes to democracy. it's a dictatorship. people have no rights. it's all about the money and corporations.

    America - Land of Hypocracy

     

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      Howzer, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 6:10am

      Re: eFraud

      ...and Canada is somehow better? Forgetting Adscam & HSRC and shall I go on. These are just the ones that got caught in Canada.
      Don't delude yourself that corruption in Canada is somehow better than the USA. Its just as rampant. Same corporations, just different politiicians.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 10:17am

      Re: eFraud

      Riiiight. Well, Bush did win BOTH elections, according to the U.S. Constitution, and the second one, he won the popular vote as well. But what do I know, I'm just a stupid, fat American, right? Please, oh great Canadian, enlighten us with more words of wisdom. I hunger for enlightenment. Or, if you're unwilling, I could just find a short bus to ride around on and record the conversations. I'm guessing that'd be about as effective.

       

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    The infamous Joe, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 4:37am

    DeDEVILtails

    I'd like to point out in the midst of all the America bashing that we aren't a democracy at all.

    At least bash us correctly.

    "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands..."

    Also, a quick google search of "Democracy vs Republic" will enlighten you.

     

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      Dosquatch, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 5:06am

      Re: DeDEVILtails

      Also, a quick google search of "Democracy vs Republic" will enlighten you.

      ... keeping in mind the whole while that Republic is to the Public as Refried is to the beans.

       

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      Enrico Suarve, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 5:11am

      Re: DeDEVILtails

      OK Joe - you got me in the fine detail but the point still stands - you are a Democratic Republic

      Maybe the founding fathers did pick republic over democracy as the base for your system of government (which they did), and some of them did indeed debase the idea of a system of government based soley on democracy, however they did include democracy as a central tool to be used to benefit the republic

      I am pretty bloody sure that Washington and his homies would not approve of the present 'EZ-Rig' election system in place

      Jefferson was pretty clear in one document he wrote how he saw things and a fair few of his friends agreeded "...to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it, and to institute new Government..."

      So my question still stands...

       

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        Woody, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 1:10pm

        Re: Re: DeDEVILtails

        To Enrico Suarve

        Actually, the founding fathers so believed in the populace's ability to elect leaders that they created the electoral college; a group of people in each state who actually elect the president and are NOT obligated by any federal law or mandate to follow the state's general election results.

        Rather the founding fathers thought that the general public was too ignorant to elect a leader (no TV, radio or same-day cross-country newspapers), so only those of the (state local) leading (ruling?) elite actually got to cast a counting vote as only they might have had a clue.

        Not only did they approve of "easy to rig" elections, they created it in its original form.

        This is how, to this day, a presidential candidate can win the national popular vote and still legally (and "fairly") lose the election. For better or worse, this is among the reasons why the USA is not and never was a Democracy.

        Also consider that Jefferson and Washington kept slaves (all men created equal). Furthermore, the US Constitution does not contain any dissolution clause and to *act* (to be separate of speaking) against the government is generally a punishable offense.

        Yet, all things considered, I have not seen any other country in which I would rather live. They all suck, just in different ways and to different extents. Government is a unfortunate necessary evil that history shows will at some time become so convoluted in its original purpose or 'corrupt' as to do itself in.

         

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          Enrico Suarve, Jan 3rd, 2007 @ 2:22am

          Re: Re: Re: DeDEVILtails

          Fair enough - I bow out, I've been ignoring the constant posts on eVoting machines for precisely the reason that as soon as someone suggests there might be a problem with the US electoral system you all put your fingers in your ears and run around going "la la la everything is fine"

          You're right - the best men could come up with 200 years ago wasn't perfect but why would anyone ever seek to improve?

          Just do the world a favour and either attempt to be democratic in more than name only, or quit 'liberating' other countries and forcing a system you obviously don't want down their necks

           

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    echostorm, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 5:06am

    Beware

    Beware he who would deny you information for in his heart he dreams himself your master.

     

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    misanthropic humanist, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 5:09am

    already proven

    "Frankly, this argument (which has been used before) makes no sense."

    Yes, the argument makes no sense. It is also irrelevant. Enough source code has already been leaked and found to contain blatent backdoors to facilitate fraud. What more is there to argue about?
    Democracy in the USA is a sham. Which only leaves the question, what are Americans going to do about it?

     

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    Semi-Local, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 5:18am

    Read the order

    Read the order.

    Jennings' attorneys didn't challenge the "trade secret" bit, which I think was a huge mistake. The judge based his ruling, at least in part, on that. Just about everything from that case is available, and I wish people would take a bit of time to research things. The order is being appealed, the case is not over, and it isn't as simple as a one paragraph post may lead you to believe.

     

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    S Mullen, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 5:42am

    GPL/OSL Voting Software???

    If there was ever a need for a new open source project, the need for a voting system (software and hardware) would seem to be it. The open source community has great credibilitly with system security already. Why not expand this to voting. Open source code and readily available hardware components could be "integrated" together. Packaged with "penetration testing" and "audit" packages, a procedure manual could be established that checked integrity before, during and after elections.
    While the commecial software industry would cry foul and try to point out that readily available source code would give "bad guys" ideas to break in, they would eventually have to find a way to live with the GPL/OSL systems. It also means that hardware vendors would build systems designed to the Open Sourced specs because the market would be so large.
    If the Open Source Security Guru's were to put as much effort into estabilishing a non-profit, open source Voting Machine organization as they do (rightfully) bashing the commercial market, we'd have a solution fairly quickly.

     

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      misanthropic humanist, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 6:15am

      Re: GPL/OSL Voting Software???

      Such a thing already exists. There are several open source vote systems. You will never see them deployed while the current president of the USA and his cronies are corruptly involved with the companies producing the commercial voting machines. No measure of market forces or public opinion is going to correct this situation, it is fundamentally flawed at its root. Electronic vote counting is not a sound basis for democracy, and it is not neccesary. Neither the government of the day, nor any private interest like a company can be trusted with this essential process. The system that has worked for hundreds of years is the only acceptable one - that votes are counted by ordinary members of the public using tangible and verifiable paper instruments. E-voting is and always has been a problem looking for a solution, and until Bush and co-conspirators hijacked the system there was no problem. Now we have one. It is not figuring out the most efficient way of implementing democracy, it is how to rescue any semblence of democracy at all!

       

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        identicon
        Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 10:03am

        Re: Re: GPL/OSL Voting Software???

        "until Bush and co-conspirators hijacked the system there was no problem"

        Wow that is stupid beyond belief. People used to accept errors in voting to an extent and move on. This no longer happens, if you don't win, you fight until someone just gives up now. Blame the machine, blame the paper, blame the f**king layout of the ballot, but don't accept that you didn't vote correctly.

        If you think the system is so slanted toward Bush, then explain one small thing to me:

        The Democrats, and as an independent I feel rightly so, won both houses of Congress with flawed machines.

        Now is the Bush team smart enough to run this great scheme to get these flawed machines in place and steal elections...or...too stupid to know how to? Pick one and be consistent.

        Face it, the systems were quick jobs with no quality control and thus half assed. There is far more corporate greed and incompetence in this situation than conspiracy.

         

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    Overcast, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 6:20am

    This E-Voting is nothing but a SCAM plain and simple. I hate it, it should have never been used.

    We can thank the Democrats for the 'voting' reform they pushed for.

    It reformed it alright - he who controls the code and database controls the vote now.

    Why even bother voting?

     

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    UniBoy, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 6:26am

    Do not blame the government...

    At least not the FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

    Federal elections are (rightly so) controlled at the State level. The fact that any individual state (Florida, in this case) cannot get their shit together is an indication of incompetence on the part of the State government.

    So, in this case, you ought to be bad-mouthing Jeb Bush, not George Bush ;)

     

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    The Original Just Me, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 6:28am

    Check the court parking lot for a new Saab

    Sometimes you just gotta wonder if judges can be bought.

     

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    Overcast, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 6:44am

    LOL

    Of course they can!!! I'd bet 95% of the reason they got into 'Law' to begin with was the almighty dollar!

    How many people become Lawyers for true love of the law? Maybe a few... but I doubt many at all

     

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    Scott Hunter, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 7:16am

    Silly...

    You folks need to deal with the fundamental issue. Somebody somewhere said the word "technology" and the idea of electronic voting concept dazzled like gold before your eyes. It was simply another opportunity for somebody to turn democracy into an "industry" and make money...

    Why you insist on anything but standard & wholly reliable pencil & paper is beyond me. The rest of the world that still has effective electoral processes - including many third world countries - laughs at you.

    Junk the fucking machines. Place the candidate names & party affiliation upon a sheet of paper and checkmark or 'X' next to your choice. Its still the best, simplest method.

     

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    citizenj, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 7:35am

    who contests votes

    The assertion that only libs challenge votes is false. In New Orleans a republican found that when she voted for herself in testing all votes came up as her competitor. you can find more information re: who challenges at blackboxvoting.org. Transparency is necessary for the system to work. when forces collude to hide information necessary for our government to work 'by the people, and for the people' then something needs to change.

     

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    citizenj, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 7:38am

    also

    I should add that the documentary by HBO: Hacking Democracy is an excellent primer on e-voting issues. watch it, it should be available on your favorite torrent site.

     

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    wolff000, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 8:29am

    Makes me sick

    I don't know what's worst the inane comments posted here or the whole debacle with the current voting machines. Yes the machines are flawed and need a replacement that is transparent including software and hardware. Why do people think that voting with pen and paper is any less open to corruption is beyond me. Those that scream other countries have it right haven't been watching the world news. Almost every election in other countries is just as debated and plagued with corruption as it is in the US and some are a lot worse. The US has some major flaws in the voting process but we are far from the worst. I agree major reform is needed but if you want to bash do it with facts instead of bs.

     

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      wolff000, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 8:31am

      Re: Makes me sick

      Yes there are multiple typos in the above post. I need to learn to proof read. FLAME ON!

       

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      Enrico Suarve, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 9:28am

      Re: Makes me sick

      Honestly I can't think of any other member of say the UN Security Council (permanent or temporary) in the last 10 years or so which has had an elections which is was you put it “as debated and plagued with corruption as it is in the US”

      I think the statement that “almost every election in other countries” is going a bit far

      Sure there are plenty of countries which do have this problem but I don’t think from watching world news they are even close to the majority (simple fact – boring, dull “we had a vote – this guy's won” elections don’t make the news quite as much)

      Its also true that I can’t think of any country which has had a bitterly contested in the last ten years and then gone on to invade other countries in the name of ‘democracy’ – I think it’s the blatant hypocrisy which is stringing you up

      Pen and paper is open to corruption and ballot box stuffing etc and yes this does happen but at least there is the chance that observers can limit this. The same isn’t true of eVotes where the logging etc goes on at a digital level inside a box hidden even from the person creating the vote

      Simple human nature states that a vote you can see then put in a box you can see is going to give people more confidence in a system – why is an eVoting system even needed?

      Yes paper counting takes longer – as do recounts but should you be removing accountability and reliability in favour of convenience? Is democracy that unimportant to you?

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 10:07am

        Re: Re: Makes me sick

        One Election, last year(2006):

        Mexico

        "Its also true that I can’t think of any country which has had a bitterly contested in the last ten years and then gone on to invade other countries in the name of ‘democracy’ – I think it’s the blatant hypocrisy which is stringing you up"

        Please stick to one rant per sentence, adding them together is not only idiotic, it serves no purpose.

         

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          Enrico Suarve, Jan 3rd, 2007 @ 2:44am

          Re: Re: Re: Makes me sick

          Hey Anonymous, my Apologies you're right - Mexico was a member 2002-03

          Although I still don't think this comes close to a majority - in the 1990's there were 1617 presidential or parliamentary elections worldwide are far as I can tell. I don't remember 809 being contested (thats a majority incidentally - one side having more of something than another)

          As for one rant per post - how does linking things together serve no purpose (unless you mean it doesn't serve your purpose)

           

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    Matt, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 9:10am

    Open Source Voting

    If anything at all should be open source, it should be the e-voting software. Look into the movement to make voting software open source. It has nothing to hide, no court orders required.

     

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    frankthetank, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 9:19am

    any system of voting will have flaws. true. howevere E-Voting has been touted as the end all be all of voting, to stop such things from happening. i'm not dumb enough to believe evoting is completely accuate.

    next, democtats challenging votes? sure. in my backwater bumblefart city in PA our county is highly deomctatic. a few years back, (with paper ballots i may add) many lifelong democtratic voters started voting republican. why? the nursing home they were in, had a crook, who "stole" elderly votes and even those who were dead. so. i can see why democratics would challenge votes. what's worse, a lib challening a vote, or the con (no pun intended) who stole the vote?

    the only reason i vote is to have my right to complain when things aren't going my way.

     

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    Chronno S. Trigger, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 9:55am

    E-Voting

    When did they ask us if we wanted E-Voting? Did they?

    I want to run for president and actually get this stuff changed. sad to say by the time I'm old enough to run it will be 2020. By then these may not be the issues any more. maybe by then it won't be a bald faced lie, but instead we'll just have an emperor and I won't have a chance.

    But if I can run then you'll know me by my ideas to get rid of this E-Voting crap (Or at lease make it open source so we can test it properly). Make layers responsible for all Cort costs if the suit is found frivolous. and I'll definitely be removing a lot of the government departments that just interfere with our lives (Say homeland security) or at least make them do what they are payed to do.

    I believe in protecting this country, but if that means taking away our freedom then we're not protecting anything.

    PS. I'll also have bad spelling but I don't need to spell it to understand it.

     

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    Crosbie Fitch (profile), Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 11:35am

    The judge is right

    Because the source code has not been published and cannot be sequestrated, the voting machine (and all votes cast using it) is a priori invalid.

    Caveat emptor. A machine is not acceptable for democratic voting unless all source code is published.

     

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    Overcast, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 1:49pm

    It's good that you found one republican that challenged a vote..

    Now find one Democrat that lost who hasn't!!!

    Then they whine and scream about 'old outdated' voting machines. I was GLAD they were old and outdated. They should remain so.

    New technology just opens avenues to new ways to cheat the system. Look at how much easier it is to steal with Credit Cards now - AKA Identity Theft. And soon, they'll be wanting to put chips in your arm... eventually, that will become a REAL gem of a system. He who controls that database will control the world~

    I'll take cash thank you!!

    I'm not real partisan, but it's the truth. I'll vote for either paty, if they show true patriotism and REAL concern for the common man.

    But BOTH parties sit up on their Hill, Sipping Booze, Smoking Cigars, Groping Hookers, and LAUGHING at all of us.

     

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    misanthropic humanist, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 4:12pm

    shame and blame

    wolff000 - "Why do people think that voting with pen and paper is any less open to corruption is beyond me."

    I don't have time to educate you on all the issues. Please go and do some research on electronic voting fraud to understand why an opaque system based on closed source proprietry hardware built by companies which are owned by friends of the current administration is a bad idea.

    To me it's self evident. YMMV.

    AC#29 - "Face it, the systems were quick jobs with no quality control and thus half assed. There is far more corporate greed and incompetence in this situation than conspiracy"

    In my opinion you are being naive. This is one of those cases where it is entirely correct and prudent to ascribe to malice and subterfuge what would normally be accounted for by incompetence. To me, and I suspect many others, the fact that the companies in question are owned and run by friends of politicians in power is unaceptable, nay it is frightening and disturbing - *even if there were not evidence of fraud!*


    "Now is the Bush team smart enough to run this great scheme to get these flawed machines in place and steal elections...or...too stupid to know how to? Pick one and be consistent."

    I pick the former. I never asserted anything else. You did. Is that consistent enough for you?

    "Blame the machine, blame the paper, blame the f**king layout of the ballot, but don't accept that you didn't vote correctly."

    Indeed, there is a culture of blame in the USA. But it is part of a wider infantilism which seems to stop many Americans behaving like grown adults, taking reponsibility for their lives and for their duty to uphold the rights of others. Notwithstanding this lazy cowardice the issue of vote fraud is a wide open sore and deserves all the attention it gets. Democracy is not something you can take as given, it must be fought for every day and vigillance must be maintained.

     

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    Chris, Jan 2nd, 2007 @ 6:30pm

    RE: shame and blame by misanthropic humanist

    Excellent post.

    It will be interesting to see what History says of this period.

     

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    identicon
    Overcast, Jan 3rd, 2007 @ 8:11am

    "Technological progress is like an axe in the hands of a pathological criminal."

    "Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler."

    Albert Einstein


    Two Good Quotes for Voting Machines - should be printed on the front of them.

     

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