Colorado The Latest To Ditch E-Voting Machines

from the sounds-familiar dept

Just days after Ohio announced problems with all of the e-voting machines used in that state, Colorado has decertified e-voting machines from all four major vendors in the space, noting serious problems with them all, including a 1% error rate in counting ballots (1%!). So at what point do the e-voting companies stop stonewalling and finally just admit that they need to start again from scratch? At this point, it's beyond clear that none of these firms is even the least bit trustworthy -- and yet, they continue to protest these decertifications, despite piles upon piles of evidence that these machines have serious problems.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    T.J., Dec 18th, 2007 @ 10:43pm

    And we wonder...

    How we have someone like Bush in the White House.

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

  2. identicon
    Raymond, Dec 18th, 2007 @ 11:00pm

    To put into perspective...

    At the recent Australian election the seat of McEwan which had about 100,000 votes was won by 12 votes. It was very close.

    An error of 1% would be about 1000 votes. That would be roughly 100 time the winning margin. Note that we do not use e-voting.

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

  3. identicon
    Tim, Dec 18th, 2007 @ 11:21pm

    Its Sad

    Its a sad thing that most of the people here in this country will ignore the problem until it is to gargantuan to deal with. And by that time, it won't matter who votes for what, we're getting whatever schlub the PTB decide we need.

    America really is in a sad state of affairs.

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

  4. identicon
    oldephartte, Dec 19th, 2007 @ 12:32am

    Voting irregularities
    Here's obsessive reporting on the topic.

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

  5. identicon
    Enrico Suarve, Dec 19th, 2007 @ 1:43am

    Re: Its Sad

    No offense intended Tim but did you write this post in 1999?

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

  6. identicon
    Neverhood, Dec 19th, 2007 @ 4:44am


    I can't believe that all four companies can get it so wrong. I mean, how hard can it be to make a machine that counts how many times you press a button?

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

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 19th, 2007 @ 5:06am

    Re: Re:

    Which button? and what is the sum of 1 + 1.

    Is it 2 or is it 10?

    How about 1 + 1 + 1?

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

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 19th, 2007 @ 5:12am

    Re: And we wonder...

    You just keep on wondering, because obviously you're never going to learn anything new. I live in a state that the Democratic party has done whatever necessary to win, including the use of e-voting machines.Realistically, these issues have a small impact on national elections, the vote pool is large enough that irregularities generally cancel each other out. The big problem is state and local elections where the number of voters is far smaller and a 1% error rate could have drastic implications.

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

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 19th, 2007 @ 5:17am

    You mean to say that counting manually doesn't produce a 1% or thereabouts error rate????

    Have you ever worked for an election??? Have you ever counted ballots???

    Do you even know what the heck you are talking about???

    I have many times and you are just passing gas. The voting machines have become for the American Left the equivalent of black helicopters for the Birchers.

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

  10. identicon
    Rich Kulawiec, Dec 19th, 2007 @ 5:32am

    Voting systems redux

    The litany of outright failures (as well as the ease with which security breaches are found) with all current electronic voting systems highlights one of the principles of secure software: it's not secure until everyone knows exactly how it works and it's still secure. This principle has been well-known for decades, yet inexperienced people still keep insisting that it doesn't apply to their work.

    They're wrong.

    If the vendors were truly sincere about trying to craft products free of software defects (likely an unobtainable goal, but certainly one worth striving for) then they would have long since published all the source code for public peer review. It's become clear -- over the past several years -- that (a) they're not going to do that (b) they're still peddling the security-by-obscurity approach, which has a 100% failure rate and (c) the huge number of glaring errors found without the source code strongly suggests that they know publication would be embarrassing -- due to the pitifully low quality of the code.

    Of course, maybe I'm wrong about (c). That could easily be proven by any vendor that's willing to put their source code where their PR currently is.

    There's a broader perspective on this, though: these systems are expensive, bug-ridden -- and unnecessary. Manual counting procedures (when used properly) are well-understood, accurate, and highly resistant to manipulation. They're also slow -- but as I've said before, there is no need for speed. (Yes, I'm sure this would greatly disappoint TV networks, but that's their problem.) The continued insistence on electronic voting systems (by those who lack basic security knowledge, or by vendors trying to profit) is yet another example of technology misuse. And unlike some of the others, whose effect is, in the long run, negligible, this one undercuts the franchise -- one of the cornerstones of democracy.

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

  11. identicon
    Alfred E. Neuman, Dec 19th, 2007 @ 6:59am

    Patent Dispute

    Four different companies supply a product with similar characteristics? Sounds like a patent violation in there somewhere. Why have they not been in court demanding compensation? Certainly XYZ corp has a patent on bad security software that allows covert vote manipulation.
    You think voter apathy is bad now ........

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

  12. identicon
    ReadingMan, Dec 19th, 2007 @ 7:18am

    Need to read the article

    The article addresses two concerns insufficiently separated by the author. If you follow the links and read the articles -- pay particular attention to the previous articles on the subject because they give greater depth to the topic -- you will find that the "electronic" scanning machines are subject to security issues, not miscounting. This is little different from ballot boxes and paper ballots in that if you allow corruptible and partisan people access to the polling machines they can cheat. It is a little different in that the actual software can be suspect, malware can be loaded on the machines, and (if allowed on a network) there could be network attacks against the machines. However this is not inaccuracy.

    The inaccuracies mentioned refer to optical scanners specifically, some of which were also decertified in Colorado. These inaccurate optical scanners, by the way, are the solution that is now being preferred by many of the same states decertifying the electronic voting machines. In their favor, the paper ballots provide some record of actual votes cast and might possibly make it marginally harder to commit undetectable election fraud.

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

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 19th, 2007 @ 8:35am


    Did you know you can get away with using a single question mark

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

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 19th, 2007 @ 10:32am

    Nice hype, guess it gets the page views up.

    OK, what was the error rate for the paper ballots? Is it more than 1%?

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

  15. identicon
    Raymond, Dec 19th, 2007 @ 11:39am


    Was this a reply to me? I suspect that counting manually has a very small margin for error. I do not know the specific process they use for an Australian Federal Election. Do you? Would you care to enlighten us on all the known pitfalls of the process?

    I have never worked for an election. I do know that the electoral role in the seat of McEwan in about 100,000, that 1% of 100,000 is 1000 and that the margin declared was 12 votes.

    As I was talking about the magnitude of the quoted numbers rather than their accuracy I am perfectly qualified to talk about them.

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

  16. identicon
    Chronno S. Trigger, Dec 19th, 2007 @ 1:33pm


    I think we have already covered the fact that paper ballots have a lower than 1% error rate.

    Imagine if you have a calculator and it said on the package 1% error rate. That means that out of every 100 calculations you do it has 1 that's wrong. Would you accept it? I sure as hell wouldn't. A computer is just an advanced calculator. 1 + 1 + 1 always equals 3. There is no other possibility. So if a computer has a 1% error rate that people have noticed, how much error goes unnoticed?

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

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 19th, 2007 @ 2:08pm

    Paper ballots have a lower than 1% error rate?

    Are you ignoring why electronic voting became a hot button in the first place? Hanging chad anyone? If there wasn't a problem with paper ballots, electronic voting would never had come into being.

    Do you also know that in Arizona that same year, they had counting problems worse than Florida did, but no on cared, because the vote wasn't close. In that same year, Iowa and Oregon also had counting problems, but again the votes were not close.

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

  18. identicon
    Steve Strauss, Dec 19th, 2007 @ 2:30pm

    Colorado e-voting machines

    There seems to be a possible inaccuracy in the quoted report as locally both 9News and the Denver Post are reporting that all the e-voting machines by Premier passed recertification:

    "Coffman says all of the voting equipment submitted for recertification by Premier passed."
    "The only machines approved are made by Premier Election Solutions, formerly known as Diebold Election Systems." ng_machines

    But the problems should cause other states to look at their e-voting before the election next year - not after.

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

  19. identicon
    Tim, Dec 20th, 2007 @ 10:44pm

    Earth to poster Mike Masnick.... as has been said in comments to your post... why did we switch to e-voting in the first place?? The Democrats demanded it after FL and the 'hanging chads'. Right? You agree?? You should, because it is a fact. It is well known that e-voting machines are still statistically better than anything we've ever had. Again, 'hanging chads'.
    If Diebold et all systems are so easy to hack... I would think that the kiddies would be hacking into the ATM network and spitting $20bills all over. They are not. It is secure. Doh!

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

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