Defending Weak Electronic Voting Machines

from the hello-Mr.-Straw-Man dept

I’m still a bit confused why anyone would object to electronic voting machines having more security and more ways to prove they’re accurate, but everyone has their reasons. Unfortunately, this debate is turning into a political debate of Republicans vs. Democrats rather than a focus on the actual issues. That explains this latest editorial in defense of current electronic voting machines, which seems to paint the whole discussion as a Democratic plot to make democracy more expensive. The author does try to go through all the complaints, but starts off with a completely pointless argument to set the tone of his argument. He picks up the comment of a comedian about how the machines can be hacked over the internet and points out these machines are not hooked up to the internet. This makes it appear that the people who are really complaining about these machines have no idea what they’re talking about and think the machines are hooked up to the internet. The real complaints about the system being easily tampered with are brushed off by saying no one has ever been caught tampering with these machines. The simple response to that is that he forgot to add the word “yet” to the end (and that just because no one’s been caught doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened). He then brushes off the idea that tampering is a real problem anyway, since people could only tamper with one machine at a time, since (apparently) messing up a few votes is okay. As for the very unlikely possibility that anyone is tampering with the voting software to better favor one candidate, he says that random testing takes care of that. Random testing certainly helps – but as the California situation showed, the random testing was done incorrectly and uncertified software was loaded after machines had been “tested.” Furthermore, there’s simply no reason not to make voting machine software publicly open so that independent testers can go through the code and verify there’s nothing wrong with it. Finally, all the way at the end, he gets to the real complaint that most people have with these voting systems: that there’s no recountable paper trail. His response shows just how much he doesn’t understand the real issue. He says that each machine records the electronic votes multiple times, and the recount is easy: just view one of the other records. This leaves out the important middle step: knowing that any of those records actually recorded the vote properly. I can make a thousand identical copies of the same incorrect records and it doesn’t help me to verify the accuracy of the original vote. He claims that the only reason to add a paper trail is to make the machines more expensive – but it’s already been shown that the addition of such a paper trail adds a tiny cost to each machine (many of them already have paper printers included). Besides, at what point did anyone say democracy had to be cheap? Ignoring all the politics on either side concerning these voting machines, why would anyone not support making these machines more secure while also including some way to verify the accuracy of the vote? Most people arguing for better security don’t believe there’s some big plot to steal an election or that hackers are waiting to mess up the vote. We just don’t like the fact that it’s possible and would feel a lot better with a more secure system. What’s wrong with that?

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Comments on “Defending Weak Electronic Voting Machines”

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thecaptain says:

No Subject Given

What I’m worried about is tampering by the company ITSELF. We’ve already seen that they 1) don’t want to show the code to anyone and 2) even if they DO get their code certified, they are very willing to jump in and patch it with uncertified code.

Its REALLY easy to make software that will show you your choice on the screen, and print out a paper trail that reflects that choice BUT ACTUALLY counts your vote for another party.

That should SCARE the crap out of everyone (yet doesn’t seem to)…I mean, imagine, a corporation with the power to hand over the presidency, guaranteed.

And if they are very subtle about it, rather than changing a HUGE percentage of the vote…just enough to make a decisive win (to eliminate the question of a recount if the win is by 1%) …they might not ever be caught.

That’s the problem with software…there’s NO 100% way to be ABSOLUTELY sure.

With a paper vote…you can be. Period. And lets face it, if you can’t figure out how it works and are too dumb to don’t deserve to live.

Doug Coulter (user link) says:

They've been caught, but not punished

Diebold’s been caught several times doing illegal things, but never busted for it, outside of being decertified, kinda, in CA. They’ve done illegal last minute uncertifed software “changes”, which may or may not have been legit (after all, Windows CE *does* need lots of help to work;), and have been caught downloading election results are reuploading “something” during polls-open times, flat illegal. Damned by their own (leaked, which tells you something about their security) documents. I’d give a website here if I had time to go chase it down again, but I think something like blacbox??? or groklaw or slashdot might fill you in on the details. I can’t wait till mickey mouse wins a presidential election. White hats, where are you in our time of need?
That’s all it’d take to put an end to this foolishness.

Their triple redundancy is just keeping 3 sets of books in one Microsoft Access DB (no pwd last I knew). This makes it easier, not harder, to cheat, but still know what the actual vote was, for reference. But we’ve all already put the fox in charge of the chicken coop by having existing beaurocrats in charge of most all this. Where do you suppose their loyalties must lie? Duh.

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