On Second Thought, Finnish Gov't Rejects Defective E-Voting Results

from the some-good-news dept

Back in February, we found it disturbing that Finland was allowing the results of an election to stand, despite the fact that at least 2% of the votes had gone missing due to e-voting glitches. However, it looks like some sense of sanity has been restored as a higher court has now rejected the election results and ordered a new election. One hopes that the new election won’t involve similarly screwed up e-voting machines. Speaking of which… in a separate article, we find yet another story of e-voting machines that were “mis-calibrated” in such a way that made it difficult to impossible for people to vote for candidates of their choice. At some point, given all of these problems with e-voting machines, you have to ask why elections officials still rely on them.

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Comments on “On Second Thought, Finnish Gov't Rejects Defective E-Voting Results”

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Nasty Butler (profile) says:

e-voting machine regulations

I don’t think it’s time to scrap e-voting machines just yet. I just think that elections officials need to make sure that the interface is standardized to make the process clear and concise.
If each country sets up regulations that prohibit individual provinces or municipalities from manipulating the system, preventing machines from being “mis-calibrated,” then I don’t see why e-voting machines can’t work. Create a standard and if a state, or province tries to cicumvent that standard, punish them.

White Gryphon (profile) says:

It all comes down to...


Dollars in the pockets of the corrupt and greedy, and dollars toward the favorite causes of those too honest to be bribed (benefit of the doubt about that :)) but too stupid and ignorant to think for themselves and know better. The very few that are left that are honest and intelligent are too few to make the difference.

Ahhhh, the smell of lobbying in America. That putrid, wretched smell…

Bhaktha says:

e-voting in India ...

The general elections (world’s biggest) are on in India. The first phase is tomorrow by the way (the electorate is so large that the elections are done in phases so that they can be run in a decent fashion).

E-voting has become “standard” in India for a while. The machines used are dead simple, with big buttons next to the candidate name. After the polling is over they are taken to a counting station and the votes read off the machine. Very quick and reliable. There are a few other anti-fraud mechanisms to deal with hooliganism in the polling.

Just wondering if the problems reported in US and now in finland are because leading edge technology is used (touch UI, networked machines et al). Maybe there is something to be learnt here from the e-voting experience in India ?


Leena says:

New elections are insanity

As a Finn, I think the decision made now is pure insanity. Some info which is missing from the post:
The missing votes involved only 3 municipalities and now these 3 have to take the election again.
The missing 2% had very probably no impact on the number of the representatives of parties because of the proportional representation system we use. There may have been some changes among the individuals who got the least votes and got selected.

Now there are some problems: The new elections are going to cost much and probably the money will come from the government which mean the taxpayers.
Who is paying for the new advertising? How do they get people voting again? The new result will be definitely not the same as it would have been.

The machines are in test use in Finland and will not be used now.

As for the future; I am totally convinced that sooner or later the elections will be run through internet. There are lots of mathematical voting protocols under construction.

Andy (profile) says:

I agree with Leena...up to a point

I also live in Finland and agree with Leena’s comments about the decision and background to the fiasco here.

However, my simple and overriding concern about e-voting of any kind is that you MUST have transparency. It must be clearly visible that what the voter selects is what is registered with no risk of programming being corrupted or subverted so that a vote for candidate X becomes registered to candidate Y or goes missing completely. Sadly, technology has greater ability to obfuscate the audit trail than a simple count of paper slips (which are themselves of course open to some risk of deception), so before any electronic system is used it must be demonstrably “honest”.

Pudro says:

"had gone missing"?

Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but none of these votes have “gone missing”. It wasn’t some odd glitch that made votes disappear or anything like that. (After all, if that happens how would you know?) Instead, it was just a very poorly designed UI that let people think they had voted when they hadn’t, right? That 2% is the amount of people who tried to vote but didn’t complete the process. Votes weren’t “lost” in the sense many are implying. They were “spoiled”.

(Still important to discuss and everything. Just clarifying.)

JustMe says:

Why are we still forced to use e-voting machines?

One word “kickbacks” IMHO, IANAL, FWIW, etc. Kickbacks to the district in the form of free devices or support; kickbacks to the official in the form of money now or a job later. I suppose some people do still think they are better/faster/stronger than the old systems, but we all know that eventually the bionics are rejected or go wonky somehow and it takes a very special two-part episode of season cliffhanger to sort it out. Sorry for the random 70s TV ref.

Also, Pudro – please clarify the difference from the point of a voter. If someone votes for candidate A and that vote doesn’t get recorded then the vote is lost. Spoilage traditionally refers to ballets which have contradictory votes, such as two votes for a candidate (in a system which doesn’t include preferences, ranking, etc.) and indicates some type of user error or ballot design error. By changing the word from ‘lost’ to ‘spoiled’ it seems that you seek to imply (no offense meant here) that some spoilage would be acceptable. But that just isn’t the case here. Through no apparently fault of their own citizens were unable to have their vote recorded. Bottom line, in a free and democratic (small d) society there should be no votes lost. While no system is perfect it is possible to accomplish this through a voter-verifiable paper trail along with saved copies of the ballets.

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