Texas E-Voting Machines Switching Votes For Non-Nefarious But Still Stupid Reasons

from the almost-competent-handling-of-the-democratic-process dept

For all the talk about election interference from nation-states, there's been not nearly as much concern about devices themselves threatening the integrity of the voting system. E-voting machines have long been an insecure mess. On top of that, they're prone to introducing errors -- either through flaws in the devices themselves or by users who aren't familiar with how they work.

The latter seems to be the issue in Texas, where voters have been complaining about their votes being switched. What sounds like just another crazy conspiracy theory may be nothing more than software not behaving the way people think it should behave.

Some Texas voters are complaining that machines flipped their straight-ticket selections to the other party in key races during early voting, especially the much-watched Senate battle between Republican Ted Cruz and Democrat Beto O’Rourke.

[...]

“The Hart eSlate machines are not malfunctioning, the problems being reported are a result of user error — usually voters hitting a button or using the selection wheel before the screen is finished rendering,” said Sam Taylor, spokesman for the office of Secretary of State Rolando Pablos, who was appointed by Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.

This appears to be happening only to voters voting straight-ticket. (Gross. -- Ed.) The software apparently populates tickets slower than voters are expecting. Hitting "submit" before it's ready to move forward causes problems with candidate selection. The Texas Republican Party is warning voters to be patient and double-check that all candidates have been selected before moving on. The same thing is happening to Democratic straight-ticket voters, causing them to "vote" for Ted Cruz if they aren't careful.

This would be somewhat comical if there was any way for voters or election officials to track which votes may have been flipped. But there isn't. The move to paperless voting has eliminated the backup system everyone looks to when things go wrong: the paper trail. The Hart eSlate machines produce no receipts, leaving it up to voters to catch errors before submitting their votes.

The Democratic Party is blaming the government for not doing more, which is a very Democratic Party thing to do. In this case, the Republicans are in control of the state and the Democratic Party has chosen to claim the Republicans don't care enough about the problem. The state's government has pointed out e-voting machines only need to comply with state laws, not actually be accurate and/or idiot-proof. It points to the voting machines' certification -- which last happened nearly a decade ago -- as evidence that the bare minimum requirements have been met.

It's a mess and it's probably not going to be fixed anytime soon. The state says it's up to the counties to replace voting machines they don't like. Counties likely don't have the funding to do so immediately and there's no way any county is going to hotswap e-voting machines with an election already in progress. The problems of the 2018 election will be kicked down the road to 2020 where it's likely the same fears of voting interference will be stoked while the faulty machines causing the problems remain in place.


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 1:43am

    'Eh, accurate voting isn't that important really.'

    The Democratic Party is blaming the government for not doing more, which is a very Democratic Party thing to do. In this case, the Republicans are in control of the state and the Democratic Party has chosen to claim the Republicans don't care enough about the problem.

    Come now, that's a bit hyperbolic isn't it? I mean I'm sure they are taking the matter seriously and are deeply concerned that votes might end up going to the wrong people. It's not like they're going to just handwave something as large as bogus votes during an election or anything...

    The state's government has pointed out e-voting machines only need to comply with state laws, not actually be accurate and/or idiot-proof. It points to the voting machines' certification -- which last happened nearly a decade ago -- as evidence that the bare minimum requirements have been met.

    ... huh. You know, they may be on to something in this case after all.

    One does have to wonder if they'll be singing the same tune should the democrat candidate win, or if suddenly potential 'bogus' votes will be of huge concern, leading to calls to redo the election.

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      identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2018 @ 4:33am

      Re: 'Eh, accurate voting isn't that important really.'

      Why do I even bothering reading Cushing articles anymore.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2018 @ 6:23am

        Re: Re: 'Eh, accurate voting isn't that important really.'

        Why do I even bothering reading Cushing articles anymore.

        It would be nice if you stopped commenting also.

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

      • identicon
        RK57957, 29 Oct 2018 @ 6:28am

        Re: Re: 'Eh, accurate voting isn't that important really.'

        SO you can leave comments about why do you bother doing something that you don't like?

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2018 @ 12:21pm

          Re: Re: Re: 'Eh, accurate voting isn't that important really.'

          I enjoy the TD articles and find them helpful and informative. I find Cushing allows his personal opinions to adversely affect the reporting of the information.
          Ombudsman much?

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2018 @ 2:29pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: 'Eh, accurate voting isn't that important really.'

            This is a blog, not a news site. You can't expect unbiased reporting in the news any more and you sure as hell shouldn't from a blog.

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

          • icon
            Mike Masnick (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 3:34pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: 'Eh, accurate voting isn't that important really.'

            I find Cushing allows his personal opinions to adversely affect the reporting of the information.

            Opinion site. We're an opinion site. The reason he writes for us is because we think his opinions are thoughtful and get people thinking. But if your complaint is that there are opinions in our writing... well, that's going to remain the way Techdirt operates.

            Ombudsman much?

            Again, this is an opinion site. You are free to disagree with opinions. And you can present an argument about why you disagree with Tim's opinions. You can do so in the comments or literally nearly anywhere else on the web. But merely complaining that you don't like the articles doesn't allow us to view your argument and understand what could be improved.

            So... yeah.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 9:17am

        Re: Re: 'Eh, accurate voting isn't that important really.'

        Without knowing more the magic coding TD uses that forces people to read and leave comments on articles they don't care for would be my guess.

        If you have issues with the article, by all means list them.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2018 @ 12:27pm

          Re: Re: Re: 'Eh, accurate voting isn't that important really.'

          I like TD quite a bit. If I like a restaurant and one of my meals comes out and doesn't taste good I will let them know. Maybe that is the way dish is supposed to taste and it is just a matter of preference or maybe the chef and messed up my order and multiple other orders but the manager thinks all the food tastes fine because no one complains and then wonders why no one eats at the restaurant any more.
          (See detailed critique above).

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

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 12:39pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: 'Eh, accurate voting isn't that important really.'

            If I like a restaurant and one of my meals comes out and doesn't taste good I will let them know.

            And if you do so in the manner you've done here, odds are they and other diners are just going to ignore you as an overly picky eater.

            'It's a bit too salty.'

            'It's a bit too spicy.'

            'The flavors are kinda bland.'

            All of those would be valid criticism in the restaurant example. 'It's bad' would not be, as it's utterly without any detail beyond that you in particular didn't like it for whatever reason, and provides no avenue for rectifying the situation beyond blind guesses on their part if they feel like wasting time/food.

            Similarly if you're going to criticize the article and expect to be taken seriously you'll need to list what you have a problem with specifically, not just make vague generalities like 'He lets his feelings get in the way of proper reporting of the facts.'

            If you're going to say/imply that he got something wrong then it's on you to list what specifically he got wrong and provide evidence that it is wrong, so that it can be corrected or at least so that other readers can know that it is wrong.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2018 @ 12:53pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 'Eh, accurate voting isn't that important really.'

              That is a valid criticism but since I posted as a reply to your reply I was assuming it would be understood that I was supporting your criticisms without being too wordy. Apparently not.
              You want specifics? I don't like this sentence without references. "The Democratic Party is blaming the government for not doing more, which is a very Democratic Party thing to do."
              How does this opinion relate uniquely to the story. As you said, if the tables were turned, I am sure the Republicans would complain, which is a very Republican thing to do, based on my viewing of Fox news anyway.

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

              • icon
                That One Guy (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 1:26pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 'Eh, accurate voting isn't that important really.'

                That is a valid criticism but since I posted as a reply to your reply I was assuming it would be understood that I was supporting your criticisms without being too wordy. Apparently not.

                Yeah, afraid you completely lost me there. Support of which criticism of mine?

                You want specifics? I don't like this sentence without references. "The Democratic Party is blaming the government for not doing more, which is a very Democratic Party thing to do."

                How does this opinion relate uniquely to the story. As you said, if the tables were turned, I am sure the Republicans would complain, which is a very Republican thing to do, based on my viewing of Fox news anyway.

                I'd chalk that one up to a dig/opinion regarding the democratic party by the author, but at the same time because it isn't really relevant to the story I don't see any problem with it not being sourced, as a minor throwaway line like that isn't really worth the effort and could distract from the main story. Were it important to the story I could see objections to it being unsourced, or if it was more than a throwaway, but as it is I'm not really seeing a problem with it, though I suppose I can see why you might have.

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

              • icon
                Mike Masnick (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 3:38pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 'Eh, accurate voting isn't that important really.'

                That is a valid criticism but since I posted as a reply to your reply I was assuming it would be understood that I was supporting your criticisms without being too wordy. Apparently not.

                Hahahaha. Oh, I see. You totally misread That One Guy's comment, which was obviously sarcastic, as being in earnest. That's hilarious.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2018 @ 5:16pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 'Eh, accurate voting isn't that important really.'

                  Well in my defense he didn't use the /sarc tag.
                  so...yeah.
                  ^^^^ I was being sarcastic, it is meant to be funny in case it was not very clear to everyone.

                  Maybe I misread the reply. I felt it was being critical of the Republicans (by sarcastically saying "I'm sure they are taking the matter seriously and are deeply concerned that votes might end up going to the wrong people"). Was I wrong to get this impression? I was annoyed by the unnecessary condescending remark critical of Democrats which I felt matched the tone of the reply.

                  Mike, I have been a non-financial supporter of TD for many many years. I understand that you receive a great deal of criticism from anons and trolls and your gut reaction is to return the attack.
                  I have contributed multiple comments that have been labeled as both insightful and funny. I have shared your site with multiple professionals including lawyers a c-suite occupants.
                  Your site's information has helped shape my opinions on multiple topics and I appreciate that.
                  If I have future criticisms I will be attempt to be more articulate, but a more likely scenario is I will not share any feedback and not engage in conversations.
                  I realize I am just one irrelevant voice and this whole exercise is meaningless and a waste of time. Good night.

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

              • identicon
                JEDIDIAH, 29 Oct 2018 @ 7:33pm

                Re: 'Eh, accurate voting isn't that important really.'

                Except local Republicans are telling people to take matters into their own hands and be careful about using these machines. They're putting it on the individual and that's a pretty stereotypical approach. Both reported approaches conform to usual stereotypes here.

                All government activity is mired in red tape and tends to move at a slow crawl. So are highly regulated private companies.

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

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2018 @ 8:17am

                  Re: Re: 'Eh, accurate voting isn't that important really.'

                  "Republicans are telling people to take matters into their own hands"

                  This is a problem that needs to be addressed as inciting violence is not something to be applauded.

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

          • icon
            Thad (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 12:52pm

            Re: tl;dr

            I like TD quite a bit. If I like a restaurant and one of my meals comes out and doesn't taste good I will let them know.

            And then what happens? You get a refund? I'm sure Techdirt would be happy to give you one.

            Maybe that is the way dish is supposed to taste and it is just a matter of preference

            In which case, maybe stop ordering that dish.

            or maybe the chef and messed up my order and multiple other orders but the manager thinks all the food tastes fine because no one complains and then wonders why no one eats at the restaurant any more.

            This article has 60 comments. I'd say the other diners are perfectly happy with their meals.

            (See detailed critique above).

            What detailed critique?

            You wrote a post that read, in its entirety:

            Why do I even bothering reading Cushing articles anymore.

            That is not a detailed critique. It is not constructive. It does not explain what your objection to Cushing's article was. It makes no argument. It's merely a statement that you don't like articles by Cushing. It does not explain why you don't like articles by Cushing, or what conceivable reason anyone else might have to give a fuck what you think.

            Constructive criticism is fine. It can lead to interesting discussions.

            Just saying "I don't like the guy who wrote this article!" is not constructive. Nobody cares whether or not some random anon liked the article or its author. If you've got something relevant to say, then say it; if you don't have anything relevant to say, then be quiet and let the grownups talk.

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

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2018 @ 1:03pm

              Re: Re: tl;dr

              Thanks for your brilliant insights (which was a copy of what That One Guy said but with profanity. Way to have original thoughts. Try not to get too excited about the internet and anons that you don't give a fuck about. I left a response while you were responding. Enjoy the reply above which I won't repeat. But feel free to wait for That One Guy to post so you can have something intelligent to copy.

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

          • icon
            Mike Masnick (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 3:37pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: 'Eh, accurate voting isn't that important really.'

            If I like a restaurant and one of my meals comes out and doesn't taste good I will let them know.

            You didn't do that here. Instead, you came into our restaurant sighed super loudly about how awful it was and walked out. Can you see why people might not take that criticism/feedback as seriously as an actual explanation?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2018 @ 1:54pm

        Re: Re: 'Eh, accurate voting isn't that important really.'

        Because you like to bitch. And then complain about the abuse we rightly heave upon you when you do so. Might want to talk to a therapist instead.

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

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2018 @ 2:19pm

          Re: Re: Re: 'Eh, accurate voting isn't that important really.'

          Let me see if I can use that "flag" trick to hide your bullshit. You just mad because your boyfriend Cesar got arrested on won't be able to comfort you and calm you when you get angry at meaningless comments on the interwebs.

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

    • icon
      Dirty Sanchez (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 1:58pm

      Re: 'Eh, accurate voting isn't that important really.'

      "deeply concerned that votes might end up going to the wrong people"

      The "wrong people" in this case being Democrats.

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

      • identicon
        Bruce C., 29 Oct 2018 @ 2:03pm

        Re: Re: 'Eh, accurate voting isn't that important really.'

        Funny how voter fraud is a really big problem when it can be used to suppress the vote of certain groups, but not such a big problem when it's the actual voting machines committing the fraud.

        If the machines "respond slower than users expect", that's a machine defect, not a user error. If they can't improve the performance, they need a "Loading.." screen that actually hides the sheet until it's ready to display.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2018 @ 8:20am

          Re: Re: Re: 'Eh, accurate voting isn't that important really.'

          The quantity of voter fraud cases during the past elections can be counted on one hand, as opposed to the quantity of electoral fraud cases.

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

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 3:41am

    We have devices in our pockets that can get us a 4 hour funny cat video in seconds...
    Yet we can't build a voting machine that finishes rendering before allowing the submit button to appear?

    Each side is going to use this to cast blame on the other side & we're still going to waste millions on the dumpster fire of e-voting while the 'quirks' of the system give rise to larger conspiracy theories.

    Is it really that impossible to build a single voting device, using a common platform, subject to code & output auditing??

    The market has no interest in building a better mousetrap, their shit machines have a nifty habit of being replaced every couple of scandals and they profit.

    Perhaps allowing people to control a market with no downsides to bad behavior is a bad thing the government shoudl address... (See also: Skyrocketing price of insulin resulting in dead citizens not due to hardship in making... but because we allow them to literally tell diabetics your money your insurance money and anything you can borrow... or your life)

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

    • identicon
      Ann Furiated, 29 Oct 2018 @ 4:58am

      Re:

      It's the same with electronic travel card topup machines. The displays are so slow that, because it appears they haven't responded, you press the "button" again. Except the stupid freakin' machine changes the menu option and responds to the "new" button press instead. Naturally it responds to this new completely unwanted selection instantly. And now you have to wait 30 seconds for the stupid thing to scroll up the other options, whereupon you stab at the display yet again, and the whole charade begins again.

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

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      identicon
      John Smith, 29 Oct 2018 @ 5:02am

      Re:

      "Perhaps allowing people to control a market with no downsides to bad behavior is a bad thing the government should address.."

      You mean like the power internet platforms like Gab have to not moderate speech?

      Where is the article on Gab anyway?

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2018 @ 5:05am

        Re: Re:

        Figures you'd want an article on one of your favorite haunts. What, no Google rant today?

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

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          John Smith, 29 Oct 2018 @ 6:35am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I like Google. They are very consistent in their "evil" to where they can be managed. They also pay content creators 68 percent of the gross. What's not to like other than people who weaponize Google?

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2018 @ 7:39am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            I thought you would want an article on bumper stickers, why they are so awesome, and how to get out of that visual obstruction ticket.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2018 @ 7:04pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Oh, I see. You're trying to use incoherent usage of English as your new shtick. You know tp has a monopoly on that, right? I mean, no matter how much you wiggle your ass at him he's not going to share his imaginary mansion with you.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2018 @ 6:37am

        Re: Re:

        If you want editorial control, start your own blog.

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

      • icon
        Stephen T. Stone (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 8:00am

        Here’s your article: “Gab is neither guaranteed or owed access to financial services such as PayPal or the use of hosting companies’ servers. That they got kicked off is well within the rights of those companies to do. Whether you agree with the morals and ethics of what those companies did is your own gotdamn business.”

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2018 @ 12:13pm

        Re: Re:

        You mean like the power internet platforms like Gab have to not moderate speech?

        If you think of "Internet Platforms" as bakers and Gab as a gay couple, it makes total sense. Amirite?

        Karma's a bitch, isn't it?

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

    • icon
      Bamboo Harvester (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 6:08am

      Re:

      "Yet we can't build a voting machine that finishes rendering before allowing the submit button to appear?"

      The problem is deeper than that - it's accepting multiple commands with each new command taking precedence over any previous command that hasn't been finalized.

      Simple to fix in the software - ignore commands while processing current command.

      Hell, DOS did it - it's why Ctrl-C was enabled. The machine was locked until the running command ended.

      But not something that should have been "missed". It's shoddy work, no excuses should be accepted.

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

      • identicon
        Whoever, 29 Oct 2018 @ 4:38pm

        Defaults to (R)?

        The problem is deeper than that - it's accepting multiple commands with each new command taking precedence over any previous command that hasn't been finalized.

        Why does it end up with the Republican candidate selected? Is this the default before the voter starts to select anything? If so, this is incredibly bad. There should be no default votes, no default selection, so waiting for rendering should not affect anything.

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

        • icon
          The Wanderer (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 8:46pm

          Re: Defaults to (R)?

          It doesn't.

          According to multiple articles I've read about this subject (including this one), when you choose to vote a straight ticket and manage to trigger this problem, it somehow checks the box for the Senate candidate from the other straight-ticket option - no matter which straight-ticket option you chose.

          That is, triggering the problem while voting a straight Democratic ticket votes for Cruz rather than O'Rourke, and triggering it while voting a straight Republican ticket votes for O'Rourke rather than for Cruz.

          How exactly the system might be managing to produce that result, I haven't managed to develop a clue yet.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2018 @ 7:16am

      Re:

      Yet we can't build a voting machine that finishes rendering before allowing the submit button to appear?

      To be fair, my iphone can load a funny cat video in seconds, but also can't finish rendering prior to accepting new commands. Though in Apple's case, it's a deliberate design choice rather than apathy.

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

    • identicon
      SirWired, 29 Oct 2018 @ 8:43am

      Better yet, skip the e-voting entirely

      E-Voting is a solution in search of a problem. Paper ballots, while not completely idiot-proof, (the myriad ways in which people screw them up is astounding) DO have the advantage of being easily auditable.

      A machine that fills out a scannable paper ballot would seem to be the best of both worlds. It gives both a way to check to see if your vote is recorded accurately, has an auditable paper record, while removing all the various ways people manage to fail to follow instructions with paper-only ballots. (And if the machine breaks down, or the voter is feeling paranoid, the old-fashioned way is still an option.)

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

      • icon
        James Burkhardt (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 8:48am

        Re: Better yet, skip the e-voting entirely

        I fully agree. It also manages to resolve concerns with hacking of the machines - any attempt to change the vote can be discovered before the ballot is cast, when the machine can do nothing about it.

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

    • identicon
      JEDIDIAH, 29 Oct 2018 @ 7:36pm

      The silly things we try to tell ourselves.

      Those devices are crap that barely function adequately for their intended purpose. They need constant patching and attention and have severe security and privacy issues.

      Consumer software is NOT the model you want to copy here.

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

  • icon
    Bamboo Harvester (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 5:57am

    It's not all that simple...

    ...Voting machines are paid for by each County. They aren't cheap, and most Counties don't put money aside for future upgrades.

    Most of the towns around me still use the "booth" mechanicals bought back in the sixties.

    The township I'm in used electronic voting machines a couple of cycles back. Which returned on the order of twice the number of votes actually cast. Thankfully, those machines did print a paper trail.

    There was enough of an uproar over that to consign those machines to the dumpster. Punch cards for the '16 election.

    The more complicated the device the more points of probable (NOT "possible") failure. It's basic engineering.

    Punch or checkmark cards are about as simple as you can get. Add in even an antique Scantron to count them, and you've created dozens of potential failure points.

    Vote from a cellphone? With the number of middlemen between your phone and the final data collection point, plus the software to tally, software to verify ID, etc.? That's asking for trouble.

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

    • icon
      James Burkhardt (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 7:44am

      Re: It's not all that simple...

      Santa clara has a really simple paper system that is less prone to voting error as a punch card, that is intuitive to use, and requires no equipment other then bic pens and a privacy screen.

      There are arrows pointing to your option, with the middle removed. fill the correct gap, and that is your vote.

      I agree with your assessment of voting concerns. I have advocated for a e-voting system that just fills out a paper ballot for you. It would save space on the ballot (a lot of information could be presented simpler on the ballot), the actual vote is cast by turning in a paper ballot with a paper trail (so failure/hacking of the voting machine would be mitigated by checking your ballot), allow voter guide information to be displayed to the voter, and eliminate the 'did they vote' question that comes up with punch cards or check mark ballots occasionally, as it would create a clean ballot readable by both machines and humans.

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

      • icon
        Bamboo Harvester (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 8:48am

        Re: Re: It's not all that simple...

        I'm all for paper ballots, no machines involved.

        While your e-vote solution sounds good, there's no way to tell if the machine is actually "counting" what the paper it spit out says it does.

        What if the machine is set to "reverse" every prime-numbered (D) vote for Governor, resetting on every X total votes? But shows it on your printout AND on screen as (D), but advances the (R) counter instead?

        Keep the machines out of it. Voting is IMPORTANT.

        Paper ballots and each site telephones in their final counts, right up the ladder.

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

        • icon
          James Burkhardt (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 8:59am

          Re: Re: Re: It's not all that simple...

          Bamboo, you mis my entire point - the machine you use to fill out your ballot does not count your vote.

          Most paper ballot systems, punch card, check box, ect, still use a machine to count the vote. That is part of the issues behind the 2000 election issues - the machines needed a proper punch for the vote to count, and during the manual count people had to determine at what point does the punch count given ambiguities in the law. With proper auditing before and after there is no reason why machine counted ballots should be a concern. It has the same potentials for manipulation as a person counting the vote.

          Also, you shouldn't count votes on site - it allows poll workers to associate your vote and invites reprisals. You take the lock box with the vote off site, where they are tallied, and then use the phone to report in.

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

          • icon
            Bamboo Harvester (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 2:17pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: It's not all that simple...

            I was referring to the machine used to "count" your paper ballot.

            Once the machines get involved, the probability for skullduggery skyrockets.

            The 60's era booths, all mechanical, are a lot harder to hack - unless someone swaps the paper ID strips over the levers around.

            If you use a machine to print a paper ballot that will be machine read, the simplest way to do so is to barcode the printed slip instead of optically reading either the printed candidate names or the "checkmarks" next to them.

            Now you've got to trust that the voting machine printed the correct barcode for your selections, AND that the counting machine is not only reading them correctly, but hasn't been "fixed" to discard or swap selections.

            As to shipping the tally boxes offsite for counting, Chicago proved decades ago how easy it is to swap those boxes with others containing the "correct" votes.

            There's no simple solution. But any method involving software should be suspect from the get-go.

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

            • icon
              James Burkhardt (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 3:13pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: It's not all that simple...

              Since you seam to continue to fail to understand how I expect this to be done, its more like the machine counted punch card systems developed in the 1960s to what you describe. I just note that those same systems failed in the 2000 election in Florida due to inconsistent use by the voters and punched cards being not easy for human eyes to read when recounting millions of votes - leading to the system being difficult for both humans and machines to read.

              I remind you, I vote in a county with no machines the public accesses. My vote is done with nothing more than a paper and pen, a fully paper ballot. But I have physical limitations that make filling out that ballot difficult on presidential election years, when the list of offices tends to skyrocket both federally and locally.

              A machine which generates my ballot in a human readable manner, much like the current designations, while also machine readable ala scantrons or hole punched ballots, with minimal if any software needed and auditability, would be incredibly beneficial.

              Your instance that my stance is to just "trust" machines are doing correctly is completely inaccurate. I don't want what the machine reads to be anything other than what I read. I want the machine to read that information the same way I do. Any other design is contrary to the whole point of the system. And that you assume I didn't think about that, as well as insisting that we use a system that is proven to have major flaws in a close election, makes me wonder what you are advocating for.

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

              • icon
                nasch (profile), 30 Oct 2018 @ 2:55pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: It's not all that simple...

                I think you're the one who's not getting Bamboo's point. You're saying to use machines and software to read and count paper ballots. He's saying even that is a bad idea, and there should be no software whatsoever in the counting process. Once election officials have a paper ballot, whether printed by a computer or filled out by hand, a human should read it and tally the vote. Once all votes at that location are tallied, a human should then phone another human to report the tally. That human adds the tally to all the other tallies reported to arrive at a final vote count without any help from computers.

                You said "machine counted", "machine readable", and "what the machine reads" so unless I've badly misunderstood you, the above is contrary to your suggestion.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    John Smith, 29 Oct 2018 @ 6:34am

    Does it say "Vote held for moderation" when the ridiculously slow button-refresh isn't working properly?

    Good thing THIS site doesn't have that problem.

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

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    John Smith, 29 Oct 2018 @ 6:37am

    When 3l33t3d00d15 wins the Presidency with 97 percent of the vote, you can now say you were warned.

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

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 6:52am

    Be prepared

    The Democratic Party is blaming the government for not doing more, which is a very Democratic Party thing to do.

    IF the Democrats win, be prepared to do an s/Democratic/Republican/g replacement on this line.

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2018 @ 9:34am

      Re: Be prepared

      Nah. The equivalent would be:

      The Republican Party is blaming the government for its incompetence, which is a very Republican Party thing to do.

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

  • icon
    crade (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 7:08am

    "Hitting "submit" before it's ready to move forward causes problems with candidate selection"

    Any software dev out there calling this user error isn't worth their salt.

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

    • icon
      TKnarr (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 7:20am

      Re:

      Have to agree. "Don't enable the Submit button before the form's completely ready to be submitted." is a standard thing for any Web page or application. If that button does anything before the form's completely loaded and rendered, the developers failed even India Consulting Firm Coding 101.

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

      • icon
        Bamboo Harvester (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 8:50am

        Re: Re:

        It's so standardized, and has been for decades, it's almost impossible to believe it's accidental.

        Before Party Tribalism comments commence, it's reversing ALL straight ticket votes, not just for one party.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2018 @ 7:24am

    Voting is important, but rocket science it is not.

    Pen and paper for voting.
    Optional: Scanners for counting (if you are lazy).

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2018 @ 7:43am

    You can see where the priorities lie:
    1) ATMs encounter very few problems
    2) Voting machines are a horrible mess of many problems

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

    • icon
      James Burkhardt (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 7:52am

      Re:

      Actually, ATMs have a number of vulnerabilities. However, the financial losses are incurred by the bank, not the consumer. Its one of the reasons there used to be an ATM fee even if you used your own bank's ATM. Thats why you don't hear about them most of the time - the bank is taking the loss. And at this point the savings to the bank overcome the financial losses, so most banks are willing to waive ATM fees at your own bank, or even at any ATM.

      ANY vulnerabilities are bad in voting machines, so you hear about them a lot. A hard to exploit ATM vulnerability is just something to factor into risk calculations.

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

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2018 @ 8:15am

        Re: Re:

        Ok, I guess ...

        However - when errors per use is compared, the picture is a bit different.

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

        • icon
          Bamboo Harvester (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 8:42am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Probably not - ATM's get hacked daily. They save the banks so much money that the losses are just absorbed and never mentioned, other than an obscure line item on the quarterly reports to the stockholders.

          Ever get "surprised" with a new ATM card in the mail that you didn't ask for? Or if you bank online, a sudden request to change your password?

          Those aren't because *your* card was hacked. It's because the *bank* was hacked, and lost a ton of user info, including the "security codes" from the back of the cards.

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

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2018 @ 9:37am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            So you are saying that it is a cover up?

            Also, I do not recall ever reading about an ATM that changes the amount withdrawn/deposited or the account number(s).

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

            • icon
              Bamboo Harvester (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 9:51am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Not a coverup. They just blame YOU for "poor security".

              As to the ATM itself, no, you don't see the amounts "changed". It just eats cards, or, my personal favorite, "Your financial institution cannot be reached" on the bank's OWN ATM.

              They glitch all the time.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2018 @ 7:45am

    Is it a bug or a feature?

    Are the same crappy voting machines used statewide? And if not, is there a correlation between the locations where they are deployed and the locations where voters are more likely to (try to) vote for one party?

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

    • icon
      Bamboo Harvester (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 8:38am

      Re: Is it a bug or a feature?

      Voting machines in most (all?) states are bought by each county. They get a list of "approved" machines to pick from.

      Everything from paper ballots with pencils to the latest web-enabled horror touchscreen system.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2018 @ 8:33am

    who cares really

    we can put a man on the moon
    we can make self driving cars
    but we can't build a voting machine with 2 paper print outs (so that I can get a printout of my vote, and there can be a printout for manual vote counts)

    nevermind, American Idol is on

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

  • icon
    John Roddy (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 8:42am

    Life-long Texas resident here, and an eligible active voter for over a decade. I'm quite familiar with these machines, and the punchline really is that they're just slow.

    And in Texas, under our reconstruction-era constitution that was passed in response to decades of corruption and paranoia, just about every government position you can think of is elected. Every single ballot has at least a few dozen different positions on it, and it gets so overcrowded that you can easily expect a few hundred different names to choose from in their respective positions. It's a ginormic freaking mess in about every way imaginable.

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

  • identicon
    Anon, 29 Oct 2018 @ 9:19am

    Not a problem

    I voted in TX last weekend... after you make your selections, a summary page is presented showing all your choices, you can go back and change any which are incorrect before hitting the final "submit vote" button.

    this is not a problem if the voter has half an ounce of common sense and actually reviews their choices before submitting.

    Just a case of people trying to make a story out of nothing; trying to find non-issues to be angry about.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2018 @ 9:20am

    Why is it that all of these "mistakes" only benefit Republicans?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Hero, 29 Oct 2018 @ 9:20am

    No paper trail

    > The move to paperless voting has eliminated the backup system everyone looks to when things go wrong: the paper trail.

    There has to be a way to do this without all the wasted paper. Maybe throw some blockchain at the problem or something.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Cowherd, 29 Oct 2018 @ 9:23am

    Another vote for the old fashioned way

    If these machines are really that slow, it would mean that pen and paper isn't just the most secure and reliable way to vote, but also the fastest.

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

  • icon
    David (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 9:55am

    A straight party ticket shouldn't be allowed. You should have to vote for each candidate separately. Party affiliation and incumbent should not be shown either. If you don't know enough about the candidates to know who you are going to vote for before you enter then you shouldn't be voting. The only thing worse than a non voter is an uneducated voter.

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

    • icon
      ShadowNinja (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 10:01am

      Re:

      Little known fact, in a number of areas it's actually **illegal** for straight party ticket buttons to auto-select local candidates. The machines force you to manually select all local candidates.

      It's a desperate way for local government officials to try and protect themselves in wave election years by hoping that voters for the other party won't check to make sure that they selected candidates in local offices.

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

  • icon
    ShadowNinja (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 9:57am

    The state's government has pointed out e-voting machines only need to comply with state laws, not actually be accurate and/or idiot-proof.

    The state's laws are seriously fucked up if voting machines don't need to be accurate.

    The move to paperless voting has eliminated the backup system everyone looks to when things go wrong: the paper trail. The Hart eSlate machines produce no receipts, leaving it up to voters to catch errors before submitting their votes.

    This brings up another issue with electronic voting machines that's often ignored. Electronic voting machines with no paper record are actually illegal in a number of states that they're used in. They're illegal because they don't comply with the state's recount laws for close elections (which typically happen automatically if the margin of victory is below 0.5%).

    Yet those laws are not being enforced in many states.

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

  • icon
    David (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 9:59am

    A straight party ticket shouldn't be allowed. You should have to vote for each candidate separately. Party affiliation and incumbent should not be shown either. If you don't know enough about the candidates to know who you are going to vote for before you enter then you shouldn't be voting. The only thing worse than a non voter is an uneducated voter.

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

  • identicon
    Kitsune 106, 29 Oct 2018 @ 10:24am

    Odd

    And here I thought the Republicans would be outraged. I mean, they want strict voter ID laws to keep even one fraudulent vote out. here is prime example and they say not an issue?

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

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 29 Oct 2018 @ 11:08am

      Re: Odd

      A very good point. For people so concerned about potential voter fraud they seem remarkably indifferent towards fraudulent votes(in the sense that they are valid but going to the wrong person).

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

    • identicon
      JEDIDIAH, 29 Oct 2018 @ 7:44pm

      Re: Odd

      Both positions can be handled the the rationale: If you can't be bothered, then you don't really care.

      This goes both for standing in line at the DMV and proofreading your ballot before you submit it.

      If you care enough about what's going on beyond just bitching and moaning and playing victim, then the problem goes away.

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

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 30 Oct 2018 @ 4:22am

        'It's your fault for not expecting the unexpected'

        I've got to be misreading that. Are you really suggesting that the blame should be on the voters because they should have known that the system is so badly programmed that it's possible to unintentionally vote for the other party?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Oct 2018 @ 12:12pm

    If the voting machines are too hard for people to use, they shouldn't be used.

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

  • identicon
    Ed Kless, 30 Oct 2018 @ 4:47am

    Straight ticket voting in Texas

    Unless the legislature reverses course, straight ticket voting will not be an option in 2020. This is the last statewide election in which it will be used.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 30 Oct 2018 @ 8:25am

    Re: This most important

    Is this a bot that copies prior comments and plays them back in other threads?

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

    • icon
      The Wanderer (profile), 30 Oct 2018 @ 8:46am

      Re: Re: This most important

      It's a spambot, which tries to shield itself from automated spam filtering by reposting (parts of) other comments, and putting its spam link in the comment's URL field.

      If you see a comment whose name is a hyperlink - particularly if the hyperlink points to a URL which doesn't seem to have anything to do with the contents of the comment and/or the topic of the article - and it's not visibly from a commenter whose name you recognize, try searching the thread for a distinctive line from that comment. If you find that it appears at least twice, one of the two comments is almost certainly spam, and thus flag-worthy.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 1 Nov 2018 @ 5:43pm

    E-voting is more damaging to democracy than the so-called "fake news".

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


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