Apparently, Vote Tampering Is Only Acceptable If It's Done By Americans

from the Hugo-Chavez-To-Win-2008-election dept

Typically, when we write about voting machines, the stories have a predictable, though depressing, plot. A machine will be shown to have some sort of vulnerability that allows it to be hacked, while the company that produced it (usually Diebold, though not always) will try to prevent them from being made safer. Yet while politicians ignore these very real threats, they won't pass on an opportunity to scaremonger about a foreign conspiracy to subvert American democracy. So politicians are up in arms about voting machines made by Sequoia Voting Systems, whose major shareholders are Venezuelan. They fear that there may be built-in vulnerabilities that would allow Hugo Chavez to throw an American election should he please. One alderman from Chicago claims it's more than just a theoretical possibility, claiming that, "We've stumbled on what we think could be an international conspiracy to subvert the electoral process in the United States." This all sounds like an incredible stretch, and very similar to the fears about Lenovo products being used by the federal government. What's strange is that the uproar is an implicit admission that voting machines possibly could be tampered with in some way, so as to give inaccurate results. If they're willing to believe in a far-fetched conspiracy such as this one, why aren't they concerned about the actual cases demonstrating problems with voting machines?

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • identicon
    TriZz, 30 May 2006 @ 8:49am

    How about...

    The old school voting cards. This was never an issue then.

    Or - how about a receipt that's printed. When you submit your vote, there's a window (protected) that confirms your vote. Then you hit "yes" or "confirm" or something like that - then you have a paper trail.

    Sometimes the solution is so simple that it's hard to see it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      SPR, 30 May 2006 @ 9:44am

      Re: How about...

      If you have a paper trail then you also have a record of how a particular person voted. Not a good Idea. I work in State Gov in a state that is undergoing some turmoil about political cronyism in job awards. I certainly would not want the Governor to be able to find out how I voted!!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        dave, 30 May 2006 @ 10:11am

        Re: Re: How about...

        I'm sure the packets from diebold machines traveling over AT&T's networks are never, ever touched by the NSA.

        but I digress...I live in Tallahassee (yes we screwed up a few times) and our election supervisor said screw you Diebold, I'm testing your machines. Thank god for him.

        If we're going to rely on these machines with no records, we C A N N O T ascertain after a vote if the election supervisor or ANYONE on his staff tampered with them. And we can't be sure the machine wasn't faulty in recording votes.

        For some of the same reasons we have issues with others knowing how we vote, we cannot allow only certain people(election workers) to be the only ones able to alter votes. Thats confusing, basically if its possible to alter elections we need a record trail to prove it didn't happen afterwards. And we need continuous testing and improvement in our election machines. Diebold makes healthly profits off their machines and they have unwavering support from many government officials. They need to allow as transparent a testing process as possible so the voting public can have faith in their machines.

        I understand it will cost them money to do that, fine, we can find the money. Whats the point of supporting a process with state and federal money(buying diebold or anyone elses' machines) without verifying they work properly and are impossible to falsify results from.
        Or if results are falsified, at least the machines should show evidence of tampering.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Luci, 30 May 2006 @ 5:28pm

        Re: Re: How about...

        Do you honestly think they can't trace the votes, already? Ballot cards are numberd. You sign in when you come to vote. The two can be put together. Besides, with the electoral college your vote is effectively meaningless if the person representing your vote decides to vote the other way. There are no laws or rules of any kind in place forcing electoral voters to follow the popular vote of their region.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymousie, 30 May 2006 @ 7:43pm

          Re: How about...

          *Ballot cards are numberd. You sign in when you come to vote. The two can be put together.*

          Luci. Dude. Before you (literally) cast a paper voting ballot into the locked box, the number on the ballot card is torn off. Something tells me you didn't hang around long enough to see that part of the voting process.

          I think we should stick with paper ballots. But, I'm Luddite who doesn't want a cell phone.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Ivory Bill, 30 May 2006 @ 10:10am

      Re: How about...

      Why not just drop the printout (which I envision as resembling a cash register receipt) in the ballot can. There's your manual recount.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Phillip Vector, 30 May 2006 @ 9:18am

    Umm...

    Doesn't it seem strange that the last story about War and Video games talking about invading Venezuela and now this one talking about Venezuelan people against america...

    Anyone else find this strange?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      DerOoestericher, 30 May 2006 @ 9:26am

      Re: Umm...

      No. They've got a leftist government which is aiming to become a regional power.

      Oh, and oil.

      Your 2011 battlefield.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Jimmy Bear Pearson, 30 May 2006 @ 9:24am

    Perhaps physical card retention...

    I agree. I think physical paper material is probably the most important aspect of this issue. I don't mind saving paper when I send my family emails, but when it comes to the election of governmental figures, I think the use, handling, and storage of paper artifacts is quite reasonable (given the importance of accountability.)

    What we must keep in mind is that voters in the U.S. must be kept secret - it is important that "how someone voted" not be tied to an identifiable individual.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    WirelessGuy, 30 May 2006 @ 9:25am

    Venezuela is getting more press as the President there is drawing more and more anti-American rhetoric. The more he bashes on Bush and this country, the more people will write about his stupidity.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    The Truth Beacon, 30 May 2006 @ 9:38am

    Having been frauded against

    I can tell you that no system will ever be perfect no matter how much you bitch and complain about some company you think is evil actually - Heaven Forbid - making a profit off a product they produce. Having seen my vote last election cast for Kerry (and similarly entirely along the Democratic party lines) while I was at work (documented) even on the 'old' card system (which my county still used) you can be frauded against. Just because your propaganda isn't the one being pushed the hardest doesn't mean the other party is the devil.

    For shame - wasting so much of our time with your propaganda blatently biased. Why don't you just report the news like we all want, without your bias.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      The Truth Beacon, 30 May 2006 @ 9:41am

      Re: Having been frauded against

      For futher clarification - I know how my votes were cast because I sued and won to get the votes fraudulently cast under my name stricken.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 31 May 2006 @ 8:52am

        Re: Re: Having been frauded against

        For futher clarification - I know how my votes were cast because I sued and won to get the votes fraudulently cast under my name stricken.

        I'm sorry, but i still fail to see how it is possible that, even if you had proven that someone fraudulently voted for you, anyone could possibly have known who that person voted for. No records are kept of who votes for whom - just of who votes. It's called a "secret ballot."

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Professor HighBrow, 30 May 2006 @ 11:36am

      Re: Having been frauded against

      I fail To see how you've explain this "bias.." that you've agrgued here:

      How much you bitch and complain about some company you think is evil actually - Heaven Forbid - making a profit off a product they produce

      Electronic voting machines are a little different than "Those guys that made the paper." Or, those old ladies that actually looked you up old school style to make sure you were in the book as a registered voter.

      Yes, heaven Forbid anyone make profit from it, because that's ridiculous to profit from voting. Where's there's profit, there's just another chance to link money into politics again. I voted the same way, but I still don't like the idea of any company being in complete control of machines that decide a narrow election. It's just another chance for corrupton to enter "the system."


      Of Course, we could always Reurrect Jimmy Hoffa and the ballot wouldn't matter...

      I Like the "Documented Receipt of Vote" idea. So simple! if it comes to question, here's a non-forgable (as good as our money) document of the vote. How much would that really cost when it comes to people that didn't unch the right "chads"?

      Wanna Recount? Here's my reciept. It's as good as a $20 bill.


      --Prof HiB

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dan, 30 May 2006 @ 9:39am

    Voting

    The only kind of voting that makes sense to me is Internet-based. For those who don't have PCs or Mac's, the voting booth's would have them. Every citizen would have a public key (ssn?) to prevent duplicates, and communication would be encrypted with completed ballots stored in redundant databases (at least) three for post-election error/fraud correcting. Gee, if that happened, we could even vote from home, work, or at the airport--but then more people would vote--could be bad for congress. On important things like "should we go to war?" they would know how we feel immediatly. I doubt the lobbyists would like the idea since it would have the potential of reducing their influence.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Stu, 30 May 2006 @ 10:27am

      Re: Voting

      Hey! I like the idea you've come up with here! Other than the key would have to be something other than SSN as mine was recently stolen with millions of other vets. However we could take it a few steps further and eliminate the need for the House or Senate. After all they are there simply to represent our vote.. If we can vote for ourselves we won't need theirs!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Dan, 30 May 2006 @ 9:39am

    Voting

    The only kind of voting that makes sense to me is Internet-based. For those who don't have PCs or Mac's, the voting booth's would have them. Every citizen would have a public key (ssn?) to prevent duplicates, and communication would be encrypted with completed ballots stored in redundant databases (at least) three for post-election error/fraud correcting. Gee, if that happened, we could even vote from home, work, or at the airport--but then more people would vote--could be bad for congress. On important things like "should we go to war?" they would know how we feel immediatly. I doubt the lobbyists would like the idea since it would have the potential of reducing their influence.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Sean, 30 May 2006 @ 10:06am

    Paranoid

    We have a government that's becoming increasingly paranoid, is spying on it's citizens more and more, and trying to make illegal to look too closely at their activities. I just don't like where this is going.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Emceay, 30 May 2006 @ 10:12am

    Soul-less for office.

    They turn a blind eye to the real issue because it's how they found themselves in office. I'm amazed that diebold can almost say they're gonna rig it and no one listened. Lately I've just begun to adopt the ideal of not giving a shit. Because, frankly every time I want some law or bill passed these assholes vote it down, so what do I care if they're finally afraid of a taste of their own medicine.
    Our system is broken, we're losing freedoms as time passes. So I just can't bring myself to care about these fools in suits. They care about nothing concerning me unless it involves incarceration or taxes.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    King Nice Guy, 30 May 2006 @ 10:14am

    Just make me king of the world

    Just make me King of the world. I promise to be nice- we won't have to waste public resources on voting- and the world can live in harmony.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Emceay, 30 May 2006 @ 10:17am

    "I work in State Gov in a state that is undergoing some turmoil about political cronyism in job awards. I certainly would not want the Governor to be able to find out how I voted!!"

    Somehow that sounds like modern day serfdom. Hierarchy disgusts me.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bksm, 30 May 2006 @ 10:26am

    spell your headlines correctly.

    acceptable. acceptable. acceptable. Not acceptible. someone do your editing for free or something?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Emceay, 30 May 2006 @ 10:46am

    It's not democracy, it's government that's broken.

    "If we can vote for ourselves we won't need theirs!"

    Switzerland has a direct democracy, they vote on initiatives individually. In 120 years they've voted on 240 initiatives and 10% passed.
    I don't like how we vote in clowns that don't listen to us and pass laws that hurt us without reading them. It's gotten worse over the past 4 years, but I don't see our congress conceding power, ever. It's far too easy for them to not go to jail when their buddies can change the law without asking the people.
    I don't like how we split the power into branches but one branch has a solitary individual at the top. Personally I think vice presidents should never be on the ticket. Rather, the second runner up (in this case kerry) should be vice to truely balance out the people. It makes no sense that about half of the people in this country are currently under-represented, now democrats know what it's like to be black.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Pro Choice?, 30 May 2006 @ 1:51pm

      Re: It's not democracy, it's government that's bro

      "now democrats know what it's like to be black."

      ???

      I don't recall being asked what color pigmentation I would like to have in my skin. You still have choice on which flavor of poison you would like with your election day breakfast... At least you do here in the good old USA.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mark, 30 May 2006 @ 11:55am

    Scaremongering

    I once sat across the dinner table from my cousin, who explained at length how Russian Communists were using technology to control the weather in order to destroy the American heartland. Turns out she was repeating word-for-word what her high school history teacher was "teaching" every day in his classroom.

    International plots to overthrow elections via rigged voting machines? That conspiracy theory is somewhat tame by comparison. The sad truth remains that certain segments of the American population are always ready to believe the worst about foreigners -- or, really, anyone who looks or talks differently than they do. The same folks also tend to think that complaints against Dieboldt are just Democratic sour grapes about the most recent presidential election. Stupid is as stupid does.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Getting Warmer, 30 May 2006 @ 12:07pm

    American Idol

    Make the candidates get up and entertain us for an hour weekly.

    We all call in after each show to support our favorite candidate.

    It is more reasonable than what we have now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    TechNoFear (profile), 30 May 2006 @ 10:01pm

    Diebold also makes...

    Diebold also makes the automated Teller Machines for banks (look at the logo on the next one you use).

    Do you think the banks would put up with the security system (or lack thereof) in these machines?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymousie, 1 Jun 2006 @ 6:08am

      Re: Diebold also makes...

      *Diebold also makes the automated Teller Machines for banks (look at the logo on the next one you use).

      Do you think the banks would put up with the security system (or lack thereof) in these machines?*

      A company can produce perfectly both a cleansing soap meant for humans, and an acidic lye that would burn through human flesh.

      So your point would be ... ?

      The subject is voting machines, not automated teller machines.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Jun 2006 @ 2:04pm

    clergy depositors blessed siphon feet collaboration Ainus

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Use markdown for basic formatting. HTML is no longer supported.
  Save me a cookie
Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.