Forget Fixing E-Voting Machines; Why Not Just Jump All The Way To Internet Voting?

from the slow-down,-skippy dept

Just as we’ve been hearing more and more stories about e-voting glitches that should have everyone wondering whether we’re really ready to automate elections in this manner, one company in the space is pushing in the other direction. VoteHere, one of the biggest lobbyists in support of laws that required e-voting machines, is saying we should jump right on over to internet voting. The company’s founder actually can stand up and say “the technology is done” with a straight face. Considering the myriad problems with e-voting machines already (and the unwillingness of any firm to admit to the problems with e-voting) it would seem like perhaps we need a little more proof about the safety, security and accuracy of internet voting before we just accept the word of a company in the space. They point to some “small scale” tests as proof that the system works, claiming that hackers tried and failed to impact those elections. Of course, once again, there’s no way to know if that’s true, or if the hackers were just good enough to hide their trail. More importantly, the difference between a small scale election and a large scale, national, Presidential election is one of huge orders of magnitude in both users and importance. Hopefully the debate over problems in e-voting have enough attention that politicians won’t blindly rush to an equally questionable solution — but we’re not holding our breath here.

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Comments on “Forget Fixing E-Voting Machines; Why Not Just Jump All The Way To Internet Voting?”

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AJ says:


SOME things are better off left alone. I love computers and the internet and such, but I don’t think they apply to everything. If we can have more security and more assurance with paper votes, why don’t we just stick with them? We don’t have to throw technology at everything, it may be slower, it may take more people, and it may not be 100% secure, but it works. Some things are worth spending more time and money on, even if there slower, and for me, this is one of them. I don’t want even a remote possibility to exist that some hacker has decided the 08 presidential election…. just a thought…

Paul says:

Hand counting is probably less accurate. I got all curious about the voting machines after watching that HBO special on Youtube (or whatever it was). Then I actually went to vote the next day. As I watched my votes being printed on paper next to the screen, I formed the opinion that they made it sound a lot more scary then it actually is. I don’t like being mislead.

Random recounts can solve a lot of problems. And don’t automate the higher up and more significant process of combining the tally from different voting districts if we need more security. You’ll still save a ton of time and money and errors on the low-level vote counting. This applies to both internet voting or machine voting.

Rick Sykes says:

Internet Voting

Internet voting actually could happen right now. There are means of security that could be taken so that each vote would have a dual-side parity security check. A hacker would then need to hack each vote individually and that isn’t going to happen. Nevertheless, the important thing here is realizing that the Internet can actually give power back to the people. Right now, the popular vote doesn’t count and can be overridden by the electoral. If each person had their vote counted in real-time, the dream of the founding fathers would finally become a reality. We would be able to do away with representatives and the following special interest groups and get the real opinion of citizens made into law.

Angus (user link) says:

Give me a person!

I want a person counting my vote, not some piece of software written by the lowest bidder in Bangladesh …

Part of the electoral system is that it is humans voting for humans … having real human beings involved increases the cost and time, but it also means that serious problems require more people be involved and keep quiet about it.

Given the risks of allowing someone to manufacture votes, this is clearly NOT an appropriate area to digitise.

Anymouse says:

Mr Ethan, where have you been living?

“I don’t want a bunch of idiots to elect a fellow idiot to office in my country.”

Obviously you don’t live in the US, because this has been going on here for as long as I can remember. Two large groups of opposing idiots each select the candidate that they think least openly demonstrates their idiocracy, then they expect us to choose between the two of them…

What kind of choice is that? The idiot on the right, or the idiot on the left? Doesn’t really matter, because no matter who gets elected the same people are ‘running’ the country, while the chosen ‘idiot’ gets to distract us from the reality of what’s going on (hey, perhaps they aren’t all idiots after all, they got us all hooked and there’s nothing we can do about it).

The Man says:

Lets just keep the scan tron style voting around and save the tax payers a crap load of money. If the government is involved, the internet voting solution will be very costly and will not work. Sure, in theory it could probably work, but the government sure as hell will never be able to do it. Scan Tron style voting is brainless and has been used for years. Why waste loads of money for something done every two years.

If any of you out there are IT Professionals / Managers, you should know the phrase, “Do not institute technology for technologies sake.” That should be every businesses moto. Just because something is cool and you can do it, does not mean that it will fix a current business need. We have a good system in place, some voting machines suck and are old, but you can replace them with scan tron. Don’t spend money because something would be cool.

BC (user link) says:


Reading through the article, it’s not the company that says they couldn’t be hacked, but “Alan Winchcombe, the head of electoral services in Swindon”.

I also couldn’t find any reference for the “One of the biggest lobbyists” comment, do you have a source?

The Wired article definitely reads like an advertisement for the company, though. But it’s a legitimate topic. Paper ballots counted by people just isn’t ever going to fly again, so we should at least invest some time looking at real alternatives. It’s not unlike how the music industry has to understand that technology is radically changing the environment it operates in, and learn how to embrace those changes, rather than keep fighting to maintain its ancient paradigm.

Given that there’s a big move in elections to permanent absentee voting, I’d like to see a security review that compares the various “internet voting” products to the security of mailed ballots.

Toby says:

bunch of technophobes

I am all for e-voting. You people are ignorant that think an e-voting solution could not be made that is more secure and more transparent than what we have now. This is clearly what we need to get a handle on the reliability, integrity, and accountability of the whole voting process, things we definitely do not have right now. Plus it will finally make voting convenient, a win-win.

And if you want to make sure idiots don’t vote make voters pass a test first. If you think idiots aren’t voting now look who they elected for president, TWICE!

UniBoy says:

Read the U.S. Constitution some time...

It states:
“Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.”

The system of Electoral College IS precisely what the Founders wanted. They had some pretty good reasons for this compromise – The LEAST of which was the technology of the day making it hard to hold a national election.

“One Man One Vote” is a myth. It does not work. Review your history.

rstr5105 says:

Okay here's a little example....

Okay so we now go over to internet voting.

Hypothetically speaking I am a radical hacker and I want my party’s nominee in office. These are the steps I follow to get him there.

1) Cast my Internet Vote, making sure I vote for another candidate.

2) Log the IP address of the server I just sent that packet of information to.

3) Bypass the security on said server (it can be done, just needs time)

4) Re-arrange things for my candidate to win

5) If caught, say, “It couldn’t have been me. I voted for the other guy”)

Just a thought.

Bjorn (user link) says:

VoteHere and Robert Gates

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld will resign, reportedly to be replaced by former CIA director Robert Gates.

Gates was on the board of directors of VoteHere, a strange little company that was the biggest elections industry lobbyist for the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). VoteHere spent more money than ES&S, Diebold, and Sequoia combined to help ram HAVA through. And HAVA, of course, was a bill sponsored by by convicted Abramoff pal Bob Ney and K-street lobbyist buddy Steny Hoyer. HAVA put electronic voting on steroids.

John says:

Re: VoteHere and Robert Gates

Robert Gates was not on the VoteHere board of directors. He was on some sort of group of advisors along with some professors. This thread on Blackboxvoting proves it and their founder Bev Harris admitted she was wrong about it:

Note the posts by Saul Iversen, member of the BBV Action Crew, who has actually dug into claims made by the VoteHere technology. He says the stuff works.

Pat A. Vesely (user link) says:

Re: Re: VoteHere and Robert Gates

Please note: The opinions expressed by Saul Iversen on the Black Box web site are his own, and do not necessarily reflect those of Black Box, it’s officers, directors, or it’s membership. The designation “BBV Action Crew” is a product of the forum software and does not denote anything other than that a given poster on the forums has reached a specific number of posts on that forum.

That said, there have been conflicting reports in the past as to what Robert Gates’ association with VoteHere was. The fact is that Mr. Gates was on the advisory board of VoteHere and NOT the Board of Directors. That fact has been acknowledged by Bev Harris and Black Box

It is unknown to me at this time whether Mr. Gates was ever actually asked for any advice in his role as an “advisor”, or what expertise he was tapped to offer.

What is known is that another former member of the VoteHere advisory board, Aviel Rubin, was offered stock options in return for his position as an “advisor” to VoteHere. Mr. Rubin was presented by VoteHere as an esteemed member of their “advisory board”, although he was never asked for his opinion or advice on anything by the company during his tenure. To Mr. Rubins’ credit, he never accepted any compensation from VoteHere for his ‘work’ (or lack thereof) as an ‘advisor’.

In my humble opinion, this appears to be a case of ‘corporate resume padding’ for the sake of attracting investors.

Pat A. Vesely 😉
Charter Member
Black Box

Anonymous Coward says:

Receipts - Bah!

I’m tired of hearing about how some crap piece of paper is going to be some sort of warm-fuzzy to folks using an electronic method of voting. I’ve voted for over 30 years now and have NEVER gotten a scrap of paper that would ‘prove’ who I voted for. To those worrying about fixed elections, you’re worrying about something that’s no harder to do now than it is if you subscribe to one of the myriad of ‘hacker’ scenarios thrown around by the morons in the media and other so-called ‘experts’.

flashdim says:

To: rstr5105

rstr5105, if you think #3 is even remotely possible (yes, I am speaking outside of the Hollywood view of “hacking”) on a government system without being caught, you are sorely, sorely mistaken.

And don’t even think of that stupid “use a proxy” or “SSL tunnel” garbage. Everything is traced, everywhere. It’s the way the freakin’ Internet -works-.

Jason Moore says:

We Americans trust computers to send missiles thousands of miles away to hit a 3’ foot bull’s-eye target. We trust our money to flow all over the net. We created and perfected technologies that allow us to explore the outer reaches of space to study dust on other planets. I find it hard to believe that we can’t create an online voting system that would allow more people to participate in the democratic process. There is no need for secret ballots in an online voting system. Secrecy fuels corruption. Online voting results should be open, meaning any citizen is able to see who or what any other citizen voted for. This would act as a measure of security and accuracy. How about this for paper trail simplicity; after you electronically make and send your selections you print your ballot, after the votes are tallied a percentage of random ballots are sent back via snail mail to the voter to allow the voter to verify their ballot selections were recorded correctly.
Given all that we have accomplished in this country if our government wanted an online voting system we would have it.

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