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IEEE Standards For Voting Machines

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the all-the-same dept.

Government 221

kgeiger writes "Voting machine designs and data formats are a free-for-all. The result is poor validation and hence opportunity for fraud. An IEEE standards group wants all election computer systems to speak the same language. From the article: 'IEEE Standards Project 1622 is working on electronic data interchange for voting systems. The plan is to create a common format, based on the Election Markup Language (EML) already recommended for use in Europe. This is a subset of the popular XML (eXtensible Markup Language) that specifies particular fields and data structures for use in voting.'"

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IEEE Standards For Voting Machines? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41849495)

So it has come to this.

Oblig XKCD (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41849999)

xkcd.com/463/ [xkcd.com]

Yeah... no. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41849499)

None of that will ever happen.
If it did... How can these voting machine companies deliver the vote to the guy who paid them lots of money?

Shit they don't even try to hide it anymore. lol

If such a standard ever did get put in place... it would go thru politics and end up with so many holes the standard would be just as useless as what we have now.

Re:Yeah... no. (5, Interesting)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#41850013)

It doesn't matter whether or not it happens. They're creating a fucking file format. That hardly protects against (a) fraudulent data input or (b) fraudulent reporting of results. Time to upgrade to dead trees, guys.

Re:Yeah... no. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41850763)

voting should never be replaced by electronic means...... else numbers could be made up. It is the one thing we need to be tedious about.

There is a more immediate problem (5, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#41849525)

I understand how a hand count works. I have no idea how most voting machines work, because their designs are secret. We can talk about standards after we get access to source code and design documents.

Re:There is a more immediate problem (5, Interesting)

hutsell (1228828) | about 2 years ago | (#41849727)

Even at the likely risk of being considered a tin foil luddite, this is the one technology I wish would never be made, even if there is a "100% assuredness" in both accountability and transparency people can feel comfortable about, even when it is something done in autonomous isolation.

The political system of representative government is about people interacting with one another; voting should reflect that process. Regrettably, since the time and energy to write a compelling argument here is way beyond my present capabilities, I've resigned myself to being on the losing end on a personal viewpoint about the philosophy of politics.

Re:There is a more immediate problem (2)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 2 years ago | (#41849907)

And how is ticking a box on a piece of paper any different or more "people interacting" than pushing a button?

It's not like the person counting the votes even knows who's vote they're counting. The only thing they vote counters bring to the table is human error.

Re:There is a more immediate problem (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 2 years ago | (#41850785)

They also bring transparency.

The fact that we CAN audit people after the fact and at least in theory burn anyone for cheating is itself a deterrent.

Voting machine tampering is harder to detect.

Re:There is a more immediate problem (1)

Gerzel (240421) | about 2 years ago | (#41850293)

Actually the US vote is about people NOT, very specifically NOT, interfacing with one another when the ballot is cast. The secret ballot where a ballot cannot be attached to a specific person after it has been cast is a fundamental part of our electoral system. It is put in there to prevent intimidation and calls to "prove" ones allegiance to a political faction by those who hold power over a vote, such as an employer.

There are examples today which show why the secret ballot is important. I recall a recent news article on an employer sending out an email to their employees that if Obama wins and taxes go up the employees will lose their jobs.

Machines if done right can make ballot stuffing and tampering much more difficult. The paper ballot is something I still agree with. I as a voter can see how I physically marked it and there is a physical artifact that must be replicated, tampered with or disposed of in order to change my vote. However not all voters are as able as I. Some lack sight and cannot see how they marked a paper ballot, and not everyone who is blind knows braille. The requirement for secret ballot means that not even a poll worker can read the ballot to someone, that person HAS to be able to interpret the ballot themselves and mark the ballot themselves, and ideally verify the ballot themselves.

Paper just doesn't meet all those requirements for all people.

Re:There is a more immediate problem (3, Interesting)

kenorland (2691677) | about 2 years ago | (#41850591)

The secret ballot where a ballot cannot be attached to a specific person after it has been cast is a fundamental part of our electoral system

Only since around the late 19th century, a little after the UK, and even today, many people vote by mail.

Secret ballots are a good idea, but I think people attach way too much importance to them. Once you get fraud down to within a few percentage points, it makes little difference, and the US is way below that.

Re:There is a more immediate problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41850357)

The one thing that upsets me about this approach is that requiring voting to be "hands-on" and "in-person" has a vast impact on efficiency which robs the voters of their power. A system which dramatically increases the efficiency of voting naturally enables more opportunities to vote, increasing the power of the voter (whether more opportunities will be presented is another matter).

The root problem preventing this voting efficiency explosion is an effective way of allowing a citizen to verify their identity electronically. This needs to be practically solved before we can even begin to entertain the notion of electronic voting. If it were solved then a completely open system based on cryptography would be possible, preserving an individual voters privacy while enabling independent organisations (even individals) to verify that there has been no foul play (or more accurately that if there has been foul play then someone's broken an important encryption standard.)

For the identity problem, massive bonus points for enabling people to identify themselves in the comfort of their home. I'm certain this will require a dedicated device but if that device were maximally open, simple in design, and cheap, I expect a workable solution could be found.

Re:There is a more immediate problem (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41850421)

The political system of representative government is about people interacting with one another; voting should reflect that process.

So how would you change the system? Note that the non-electronic version of voting does not include people interacting with one another. I've toyed with the idea of suggesting that representatives be drafted (like juries) rather than elected. That would replace politicians with ordinary people. We'd need a bunch of people to get a representative sampling. My thought was to draft five thousand people a year for three year terms. In the first year, they'd just meet with others. They could discuss the issues but wouldn't get a vote. In the second year, they'd be able to vote. In the third year, they'd be able to vote and to run for leadership positions (speaker of the house, majority leader, minority whip, committee chair, etc.).

The advantages of that method are: that it takes politics out of the representative selection process; unlike direct voting, it retains the idea that it is helpful for people to take the time to understand the issues (most direct voters don't have time to do things like read the actual budget); and that it makes our representatives more like us (the majority of current Representatives are lawyers, who make up a small minority of the population). The disadvantages are: that it takes away the idea of personal representation (I currently have a very specific person who is my Representative and can go to him with government problems); that it reduces representative experience (three years maximum; one year maximum for leaders); and that it could be expensive (it replaces 435 people with 15,000).

Re:There is a more immediate problem (3, Insightful)

WillAdams (45638) | about 2 years ago | (#41849887)

Given that some polling locations are likely to not have power on election day:

http://www.salon.com/2012/11/01/power_loss_threatens_vote_in_6_plus_states/ [salon.com]

the problems w/ unnecessarily using machines is obvious.

Use a paper ballot. Use machines to count them. Have standards for how said machines communicate the totals.

Above all, have a physical paper trail for the inevitable recounts.

Re:There is a more immediate problem (3, Interesting)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#41849903)

Everyone says this. It gets old. The PRI in Mexico rigged elections for 80 years using nothing but paper ballots.

Re:There is a more immediate problem (2)

perpenso (1613749) | about 2 years ago | (#41850077)

The PRI in Mexico rigged elections for 80 years using nothing but paper ballots.

OK, but as we all know automating/digitizing a process will often make it faster and more efficient. In this case the process of election rigging. :-)

Independent Audit (2)

pt73 (2506856) | about 2 years ago | (#41850351)

The problem isn't needing to know how the machine works. Even code audits can't confirm that the hardware is rigged to do something strange. You just can't be 100% sure. From what I understand (being outside the USA) is the real problem is no independent audit trail to confirm that machines have correctly capture voter intent..

So a better system is to have two machines. One is used to fill in a vote which is both machine and human readable. Once printed, the voter can confirm the vote by looking at it and then lodge the vote for counting by another machine. OCR could even handle that. An audit can occur by hand counting the printed votes. All other controls that apply to older voting methods can still be applied such as incorrectly filled in votes and controls for fakes.

Re:There is a more immediate problem (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41850405)

No. Just no.

How do we know that the hardware on the floor is the exact same hardware as that which has been audited by experts?

How do we know that the software running on that hardware is the exact same software as that which has been audited by experts?

How do we know that there isn't some obscure hole that the experts failed to detect?

How do we know that the experts aren't in fact in on the nefarious scheme (or schemes!) to steal the elections?

How do we know that the data that is being tabulated at the main data centre is in fact the data that was collected at the polling booths?

Sure, hand counted paper ballots have similar issues. But you can overcome those issues with paper ballots, in a transparent and obvious manner, by letting anybody who wants to watch the whole process from start to finish. You can't do that with electronics; it's just too complex, and there are too many ways to be sneaky about it to be certain that there are no problems.

I remember scrutineering ballots in the state of Victoria (Australia) some years ago. Anybody could rock up and do it. I picked up on a few mistakes, too. The fact that anybody can do this gives me much more assurance about the results that are published. Of course, you could have the issue of citizen apathy, but if that's an issue, well, the elections are moot anyway.

Any stats experts want to weigh in on this (0)

Jon_S (15368) | about 2 years ago | (#41849529)

I am definitely not the conspiracy expert type of person, but it seems like the authors did a pretty thorough analysis of possible voting machine tampering during the primary here:

http://www.themoneyparty.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/2008_2012_ElectionsResultsAnomaliesAndAnalysis_V1.51.pdf [themoneyparty.org]

I don't know enough stats to really delve into possible biases, and also who knows if they are starting from the right data. But I'd be curious about what others thought of this. If it is true, it is scary.

The ony possible flaw I saw from looking at the results is the anomalous results always came at the expense of Santorum, so perhaps there was some correlation between precinct size and vote patterns specifically for Santorum's policies that the authors couldn't tease out of the data.

Re:Any stats experts want to weigh in on this (4, Informative)

Jon_S (15368) | about 2 years ago | (#41849577)

Actually, this was the paper I was looking for:

http://www.themoneyparty.org/main/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Republican-Primary-Election-Results-Amazing-Statistical-Anomalies_V2.0.pdf [themoneyparty.org]

Same authors and analysis. But much more in depth treatment of the data and analysis of alternate explanations.

Re:Any stats experts want to weigh in on this (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41849857)

They need to run similar analyses on smaller elections in what they are confident are honest counties. If patterns like that show up, then this is merely the result of how/order votes are counted and polling versus voting. If small counties tend to get their results first (fewer ballots), then they will show up more in the early counts while larger ones are still checking signatures (or any sort of checking that need to be done). There could also be the inverse, larger precincts are setup to handle massive numbers of ballots and have lots of people to handle operations, so they get everything done faster. Far more significant, people may claim they voted for the candidate they really want to win, but they vote for their fallback who they know has a far better chance.

Re:Any stats experts want to weigh in on this (2)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | about 2 years ago | (#41850123)

I'm not a conspiracy guy either but I must admit that is pretty compelling. I would like to see those graphs, minus precincts that used electronic voting machines. If they show the expected "ringing" oscillations when removing the influence of voting machines, then that's pretty damning...

Re:Any stats experts want to weigh in on this (2)

kryzx (178628) | about 2 years ago | (#41850401)

Agreed. I'd also like to see this same analysis applied to actual presidential elections of the past, not just primaries. Especially a close one like 2000. It's great work that should be continued. Basically a Freakonomics approach to elections.

Remember 'default to bush' in 2004? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41850139)

Do you remember Diebold's 'Default to Bush' setting on its voting machines. Where voting machines would treat all none votes for president and misvotes (where you fail to press the screen properly or where the screen fails to work), as a vote for George Bush.

http://www.flcv.com/fraudpat.html

Nice huh? Someone in Diebold thought a default vote for the Bush was the right setting and QA in Diebold seem to agree!

Romney family, bought Hart Intervic a voting machine company. And after the RNC stunts: They (party elite) had the results of a vote on the teleprompter because the vote count. They changed the rules to remove 10 Ron Paul votes. They refused to even read out Ron Paul voters from the podium, so Ron Paul gets 48, Romney gets 8, they only read "Romney 8 votes". Incredible. Disgusting.

Looking through that data, particularly the odd result that Romney gains far more in districts that show signs of ballot stuffing (abnormally high turnout in a low number of districts that vote a particular way). Those would be perfect targets for investigation. You could cross correlate those odd results with the voting technology used.

Re:Any stats experts want to weigh in on this (2)

wildsurf (535389) | about 2 years ago | (#41850797)

As a career mathematician / software developer, NOT prone to conspiracy theories, this study nevertheless got my statistical Spidey sense tingling. If I were determined to rig an election, particularly through electronic voting/tallying, this is EXACTLY how I would do it; selectively target larger precincts, because the vote flipping is less likely to be noticed there. (And more importantly, because spot-tests of the system are unlikely to cast enough votes to trigger the mechanism.)

That said, the study is sloppily done, not peer-reviewed, and prone to accusations of cherry-picking. They claim to have replicated their results all across the country, but provide no data to back this up. (E.g. they should show a scatterplot showing voting mechanism vs. "anomaly" strength, for a large number of states or counties.) And their shining example, the 2012 Iowa Primaries (actually Caucuses), DID use paper ballots and precinct-level tallying, yet still showed the anomaly. I'd like to hear their explanation for how they think the fraud could have crept in here. They also use Duval County, FL 2012 Primaries as another example of the anomaly, but paper ballots were used there as well. I don't know if the tallying was per-precinct or centralized for that election; if it were centralized, the fraud could easily happen there because it's a single point of failure.

More than anything, I would LOVE to get Nate Silver's take on this study. Perhaps he would have some intuition for how the precinct size / vote correlation might have arisen "naturally," and presumably he has access to the databases required to re-run the study on a larger scale. Either way, it's absolutely clear that paper ballots and transparent precinct-level tallying are essential to ensure fair elections. They can pry my cold, dead trees from my cold, dead hands! ;-)

Shortest Standard Ever (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41849537)

Proposal for New IEEE 1622 Standard:

1.1 DON'T

1.1.1 Voting should be done on paper.

1.2 WTF IS WRONG WITH YOU

1.2.1 See 1.1 and appropriate sub-sections.

Re:Shortest Standard Ever (4, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 2 years ago | (#41849583)

You forgot 1.1.1.1 "Format like Word 97"

Re:Shortest Standard Ever (1)

redneckmother (1664119) | about 2 years ago | (#41849827)

You forgot 1.1.1.1 "Format like Word 97"

You owe me a keyboard!

Re:Shortest Standard Ever (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41850487)

Well we aren't going to vote that part in until we get our cut from Microsoft.

Re:Shortest Standard Ever (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | about 2 years ago | (#41849645)

There are ways to improve voting. This is a short step, to ensure compatibility between voting systems and those systems which report the results.

There are also good ways to implement electronic voting. This does not address those. Only the interchange.

I appreciate that paper should be involved. I also appreciate that open-source, or at least visible-source, methods can allow e-voting without tampering, and without producing a paper trail that someone who can influence your employment status can read.

Rejecting this accomplishes nothing. Accepting it accomplishes a step towards the right thing.

Would you reject a step in the right direction?

Why bother? (4, Insightful)

Kenja (541830) | about 2 years ago | (#41849549)

When Texas and Iowa are threatening to arrest election monitors, standards are not the issue.

Re:Why bother? (0, Troll)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#41849591)

An excellent example of "spin". A world in which people are not expected to follow state and local laws, simply because they are "international" and above such petty annoyances. Crazy, but here we are, eh?

Re:Why bother? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41849659)

The local should allow it. The states should pass laws allowing them, rather than threatening to arrest them. What part of expecting election monitors to be allowed is crazy? Even the most backward 3rd world countries allow independent and foreign election monitors to monitor their elections (well atleast the ones that dont try too hard to rig elections).

Re:Why bother? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41849711)

The states should pass laws allowing them ...

They are allowed. They can speak to anyone they want to. They just have to stay 100 feet away from the polling place like *everyone else* who is *not* a voter.

Re:Why bother? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41850795)

They are allowed. They can speak to anyone they want to. They just have to stay 100 feet away from the polling place like *everyone else* who is *not* a voter.

You sound a lot like this:

"But the plans were on display . . ."
"On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them."
"That's the display department."
"With a torch."
"Ah, well the lights had probably gone."
"So had the stairs."
"But look, you found the notice, didn't you?"
"Yes," said Arthur, "yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying Beware of the Leopard."

This is pretty much the same problem that election observers face in dictatorships. Why do Texas feel the need to apply the same restrictions as some less nice countries?

Re:Why bother? (4, Insightful)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | about 2 years ago | (#41850143)

Not because they're international, but because they're election monitors. Not generally the types of people that we would expect to attempt to influence elections. After all, if you heard that Syria was barring international election monitors within 100 feet of polling places, would you give them the same benefit of the doubt?

Re:Why bother? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41850781)

An excellent example of "spin". A world in which people are not expected to follow state and local laws, simply because they are "international" and above such petty annoyances. Crazy, but here we are, eh?

It's not because they are international. There is a difference between legal and moral and it is the obligation of every good person to make that distinction and do what is right.
You just have to look at places like North Korea or even relatively nice places like China and Russia to see that following the law isn't always the right thing to do.

This doesn't mean that it is a good thing if people break the law but following a bad law is not the correct solution, the law should be changed.

International monitors - a non-issue (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41849671)

When Texas and Iowa are threatening to arrest election monitors, standards are not the issue.

No, what Texas has said is that international election monitors have to follow the same laws as everyone else and stay 100 feet away from the polling place. They are perfectly free to speak to any voter beyond that 100ft radius.

Also I believe the treaty the US signed regarding election monitoring note that monitors must obey local laws.

Did I miss something? This seems to be a non-issue.

Re:Why bother? (0)

Bremic (2703997) | about 2 years ago | (#41849777)

The Republicans would never allow it anyway. Republicans own the companies making the machines now, so they know how to rig the votes and no one else does. An open standard would level the playing field, or potentially eliminate corruption; and that would never be supported.

Re:Why bother? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41850303)

If all of the machines are rigged by Republicans, why do Democrats have the presidency and a majority of the senate?

Re:Why bother? (2, Informative)

QQBoss (2527196) | about 2 years ago | (#41849929)

Texas, at least, is not threatening to arrest election monitors. It is threatening to arrest election monitors who don't follow Texas law regulating election monitors. There are (for early voting) and will be (for election day) LOTS of election monitors in probably every voting location in Texas within the 100 foot limit: the only ones who would be arrested will be those not following the law, and certainly not before they receive a warning to follow the law (though anyone from the U.N. should probably consider themselves already warned). If the U.N. wants to monitor Texas elections, they can- just follow the law. If they don't know the law and can't be bothered to read it for themselves, I am sure they can find a lawyer who will be happy to advise them for a reasonable fee (but only one and his number is unlisted, the rest of them will charge outrageous fees commensurate with their belief that laws should be written so confusingly that only an ordained lawyer can decipher them).

Agreements between the US government and non-US entities are just that- agreements between them at that level. They do not affect the 50 states unless those states also sign on to the agreement or otherwise pass/change laws to achieve compliance with the agreement, particularly with regards to voting which is a state level activity- the federal government only has a say as to when the vote is made, not how (unless the how falls afoul of federal law that the Supremacy Clause is in effect for). If the US government believes that this is so important that state law should be subsumed, the executive branch should elevate the agreement to a treaty and get it passed through the Senate to be ratified so that the Supremacy Clause can take effect. Until then, state law trumps international hand waving 'agreements' at the state level within the USA.

Now personally, I have no problems with international observers as long as the only thing they do is observe and don't interfere in any way, shape, or form. I think the USA should be setting a good example- demonstrating by example how to peacefully change government and prosecuting fully anyone attempting to interfere with that capability. But it is up to the federal government to persuade the states to achieve this, not to violate the Constitution and enforce it by fiat.

Re:Why bother? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41850773)

uhh ... no, state laws do not trump treaties; You should read that constitution thing again.

Re:Why bother? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41850817)

It's not the UN, it's the OSCE, of which the US is a founding member. The Texas law is not aimed at election monitors at all (but rather at people "who shouldn't be there", which should not include election monitors for obvious reasons).

Treaties are the supreme law of the land, it says so in the constitution. ("This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the land....") Treaties trump state law and even, unbelievably, HOA regulations.

And anyway, not allowing election monitors in polling places is asinine. You invite election monitors. If you don't want them to see your precious polling places, don't invite them and have secret elections. Either way their report will say "we weren't able to witness the election, so we can't rule out fraud".

Re:Why bother? (4, Insightful)

slacka (713188) | about 2 years ago | (#41850229)

"It's not the people who vote that count. It's the people who count the votes."
-Josef Stalin
With the election this close, I really hope it's the voters, not fraud, that decides the next president..

If you're going to standardize this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41849561)

Please for the love of God, don't make first past the post the one and only supported voting algorithm. I'm secretly hoping some day we'll be using something sane, and I don't want anything like this IPv6 transition all over again.

Re:If you're going to standardize this... (1)

norpy (1277318) | about 2 years ago | (#41850569)

Preferential voting is way better, it allows you to vote for your preferred minor party rep without missing out on your descision in the Red vs Blue battle.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant-runoff_voting [wikipedia.org]

Although there are some downsides, such as in the Australian senate where there are around 50 cadidates for each state in a half-senate election. Compared to the house of reps, where there are generally 4-8 candiates per electorate.
I don't think our solution to the "number all boxes from 1-50" problem is perfect, but most people would refuse to vote if they had to do that.

Re:If you're going to standardize this... (1)

azalin (67640) | about 2 years ago | (#41850671)

One could limit preferential voting to three (or five) levels without reducing the benefits it has over first past the post.

Re:If you're going to standardize this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41850801)

Preferential voting is way better, it allows you to vote for your preferred minor party rep without missing out on your descision in the Red vs Blue battle.

Or you don't buy the "A vote for a minor party is a wasted vote" BS.
A vote for something you don't really believe in is a wasted vote. As long as people keep voting for the lesser evil both sides will think that they are doing everything right and keep copying each others politics.
What we need is for a third party to get enough votes to be the difference between the winner/loser of the Red vs Blue battle. Then they might realize that they can win votes by not being evil.

You don't win just because the one you voted for won the election so stop voting for someone who doesn't represent you.

Re:If you're going to standardize this... (1)

azalin (67640) | about 2 years ago | (#41850693)

While they are at it, why not introduce a direct popular vote for presidential elections? The current system put a very unhealthy focus on swing states' issues and ignores the problems of large parts of the country because they'll won't/will vote for the candidate anyway.

Standard for Vote Theft (2)

Mr Bubble (14652) | about 2 years ago | (#41849617)

Awesome, now we have a standard format to send the fraudulent vote tallies to the server.

Re:Standard for Vote Theft (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#41850141)

Awesome, now we have a standard format to send the fraudulent vote tallies to the server.

Spot on. Not speaking the common language is hardly the worst problem with electronic voting machines in the USA.

Re:Standard for Vote Theft (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41850829)

Spot on. Not speaking the common language is hardly the worst problem with electronic voting machines in the USA.

I don't think the goal with this standard is to solve the problems in the U.S.
More likely it is made to allow multiple vendors to compete in smaller countries in Europe since the buyer then can combine several different brands without having trouble converting the data.

Just say no ... (4, Insightful)

riverat1 (1048260) | about 2 years ago | (#41849623)

Just say no to all electronic voting. I don't care if it's open source or not, how can you ever be sure about the software loaded on a voting machine unless you do it personally. And then how can anyone else who uses the machine trust you. I don't have a problem with machine counting of paper ballots because you always have a hand count to fall back on if necessary but I'll never trust pure electronic voting.

Re:Just say no ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41849661)

And paper ballots, which can be burned, shredded, or thrown into a river by the truckload, are better? Oh please.

Re:Just say no ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41849751)

And paper ballots, which can be burned, shredded, or thrown into a river by the truckload, are better? Oh please.

Yes they are. Digitizing the process just make the ballots far easier to lose.

Re:Just say no ... (1)

kagaku (774787) | about 2 years ago | (#41849691)

How do you trust the officials counting the paper ballots? How can you know if your vote is REALLY being counted unless you count it yourself? And then how can anyone else be sure their vote was counted?

Your logic doesn't just apply to machine voting, it applies to voting in general. We don't need to stick to old fashion methods, we need to stick to open standards and 3rd party independent oversight. There is no reason why we can't have a third party international oversight group with the full rights to walk into any polling location, open the box and download the software and validate off site. I'm sure there are many other checks and balances that folks can think up, but the basic idea is that the technology is not the problem. The implementation and lack of oversight are.

Re:Just say no ... (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | about 2 years ago | (#41849819)

You can't trust it. But that's ok for the most part as long as most people trust it. Elections work when they're trusted, not because they're 100% accurate. You can have a very accurate election but when the populace distrusts it then civil order starts to break down. Democracy really only works because of the shared delusion that it works.

For instance, the butterfly ballots in Florida really only have some minor problems, the whole mess is because statistically it was a tie. Because the counts could not definitely say who won the trust started to wear away almost immediately. Then some politics came in and both sides were essentially fighting about how to determine who won the tie. The coin landed on its side and the two candidates were huffing and puffing and try to blow the coin over.

In response to the eroded trust we now have these electronic machines. All black boxes, few voters understand them at all, they're probably easier to rig an election with, but they have the amazing advantage that you don't get a tie very easily. If you run a recount based on numbers already read and tabulated (ie, you're hitting refresh on the spread sheet) then you get the same result. It's completely bogus but people are mollified by the fact that you get the same numbers the second time. So the trust is back and the masses accept the person that the machine says won, even if they didn't vote for that person.

Except that there are the few people who understand technology who don't trust it, because they understand technology. The solution here is to have the electronic voting in a way that lets the techies trust it as well (and a common data interchange format is not the answer here).

If understand technology you WILL NOT trust it (1)

bussdriver (620565) | about 2 years ago | (#41850035)

Somebody who understands technology, will not ever trust computer voting. period.

Re:If understand technology you WILL NOT trust it (1)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | about 2 years ago | (#41850177)

You're exactly right.

Even if fraud is not perpetrated using these machines, they are going to fuck up at some statistically significant rate. Think papers jamming, touch screen calibration errors, etc.

And of course there's the eight people in Clay County, Kentucky, who are serving hard time for tricking people with electronic voting machines. One was even a judge!

http://www.kentucky.com/2010/03/26/1197075/jury-convicts-all-8-defendants.html [kentucky.com]

The county had new voting machines that year that required people to push two buttons after making their choices — one to review choices and the second to record them.

That created opportunity for a scam in which corrupt precinct officers duped people into thinking they had voted after pressing the first button, then switched the votes, according to trial testimony.

Re:If understand technology you WILL NOT trust it (2)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 2 years ago | (#41850227)

Funny you use this "period" as if it's an absolute belief of all people who understand technology. Yet we who understand technology know that a computer does not succumb to bias, misrepresentation, or threats. Corruption technically yes but not in the same sense :-).

You wouldn't trust the current attempts at electronic voting, but to assume a machine is not capable of providing better assurances than a piece of paper that gets ticked, put in a box, and then magically within the ether gets converted to a statistic of who is the least undesirable leader all the while being handled by multiple big fleshy corruptible bags of water is outright delusional.

Bring on the standards.
Bring on a fully auditable process.
Bring on a completely open machine.

Then if you still trust the highly flawed vote counting system which has very often given rise to all sorts of inaccuracies then we'll have the me in white coats waiting for you.

Re:If understand technology you WILL NOT trust it (1)

lingon (559576) | about 2 years ago | (#41850615)

Even if you did this, how do you know the software that is freely available and audited is really the software running on the machines? Even if you bring on all cryptographic signatures in the world, one exploit or overlooked design flaw is all that is needed.

Paper, while old and cumbersome, cannot be broken in all places at the same time in the same way. It's incredibly more difficult to rig a paper ballot election.

Re:If understand technology you WILL NOT trust it (1)

Burz (138833) | about 2 years ago | (#41850623)

Malware and backdoors are the equivalent of "bias, misrepresentation, or threats" to computers.

Computers are trusted only insofar as we can tell who asked them to do exactly what because they operate on a multitude of layers of indirection -- Anyone who thinks that what they see on screen is proof of what is recorded inside is beyond naive. As soon a secret anonymous ballot enters the picture, you've got a fundamental incompatibility with the digital world much as maximalist copyright policies are. Casting votes is not like bank transactions, for instance, where opportunity to get receipts abound and the systems in question are in constant use.

Even with open source voting software you still can't properly audit the systems because there's no way to properly inspect the operation of VLSI chips and its ludicrous to expect election commissions to do it even at the software level. If there is even one bit or gate of logic that cannot be examined then its BBV -- black box voting.

Re:If understand technology you WILL NOT trust it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41850497)

Somebody who understands technology, will not ever trust computer voting. period.

Could same the same about people.

Re:Just say no ... (2)

plalonde2 (527372) | about 2 years ago | (#41849897)

You don't have to trust, you just have to make corruption too expensive. Count in small batches, on site, at close of voting, with volunteer observers from every person on the ballot. It works, it scales, and it limits the effectiveness of co-opting a few individuals, unlike *anything* to do with electronic voting.

Re:Just say no ... (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | about 2 years ago | (#41850311)

If you can't trust them counting paper ballots how could you ever trust them to run an electronic voting machine? Heck, the people running the machines are barely competent and have to call in a tech if something goes sideways. If you really want an electronic interface I'd be okay with one that you record your votes on then it prints out your ballot so you can verify it's correct before you turn it in for counting. But the voting machine itself shouldn't keep an internal record of the vote.

Fortunately in my state we have vote by mail which requires a paper ballot. Any registered voter can observe the vote counting if they want to (limited by elections office space). It's my understanding that there are always observers, at least in my county. They do have an electronic machine or two in the county elections office for ADA reasons, so disabled people can use them if they desire. I'm okay with that.

I've been doing computer work, mostly systems and database admin with some programming thrown in, for over 30 years now. I know well the strengths and weaknesses of computers. It's too easy to blow them up either accidentally (guilty!) or on purpose with malicious intent. The vote is one of the fundamental rights in the US and I don't want it subject to those weaknesses. A hardcopy ballot that the voter can personally verify is the most trustworthy way we have of recording votes even though it's not perfect.

Yeah, I'm pretty cynical about what voting accomplishes right now especially at the national level but if enough people get exercised about something it can make a difference.

Re:Just say no ... (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 2 years ago | (#41849817)

Agreed. I voted "protest evote" in 2008, and I plan on voting it again. These things can be hacked. There are trials where people testify they were asked to hack them for a 51% vote. There was an event I suspect it was used in the primaries because the voting results were "lost" for hours in some old lady's house and came back 51% win. I just suspect as a hunch, but I'm just baseless guessing. To me, the electronic voting is just a way of trying to get voting out of the system. I show up to vote every time just for the very point I don't want anyone going,"The numbers are low, we can get rid of voting, no one cares anyway." The only way I'd accept electronic voting if there was a paper trail alongside it that can be confirmed after the fact.

Re:Just say no ... (1)

GoodNewsJimDotCom (2244874) | about 2 years ago | (#41849835)

Just as an edit, I'm not certain the votes came back 51% win from the lost votes. I heard that, but I can't confirm it.

Re:Just say no ... (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#41850149)

Just as an edit, I'm not certain the votes came back 51% win from the lost votes. I heard that, but I can't confirm it.

We're such amateurs. Hated dictators usually get 100% of the vote.

Re:Just say no ... (1)

azalin (67640) | about 2 years ago | (#41850717)

Just as an edit, I'm not certain the votes came back 51% win from the lost votes. I heard that, but I can't confirm it.

We're such amateurs. Hated dictators usually get 100% of the vote.

You meant "loved leader" didn't you? Because otherwise these gentleman in dark trench-coats would like to have a little conversation with you.

Re:Just say no ... (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 2 years ago | (#41850201)

It's actually quite comical that in this debate we put trust in an easily corruptible person over a computer.

I'm against what currently passes for electronic voting, but in no way do I think that relying on humans is more certain than doing it properly on a machine. Machines don't have bias and don't favour a political party so providing we can somehow assure the open programming of the machine then there's no reason not to progress with electronic voting.

Re:Just say no ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41850605)

Because you can't trust computers [wikipedia.org] . But more importantly, it doesn't matter if you can make the perfect electronic voting system and convince every computer scientist alive that it works completely correctly. The other 99.99% of the population still has no reason to believe the system says what you say it does. Simplicity itself is a major selling point for voting systems.

Hand-counted elections have observers. At the very least, all paper counted ballots are counted by at least two people: at the very least, one member of both major parties. Others are allowed to observe.

Re:Just say no ... (1)

azalin (67640) | about 2 years ago | (#41850737)

We don't trust "a person", we trust several representatives from different parties/candidates/groups to watch over each other. And because we don't trust them completely we keep the original ballots after counting, so we can recount them. For paper ballots it is rather complicated to mess with them on a grand scale without raising suspicion.
With computers/voting machines it takes only one person to change the data and no one will be able to prove foul play.

Great theory... like Communism (1, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 2 years ago | (#41849643)

The problem is that secure computerized voting is like cryptography (and not just because the two are related)... Straightforward in theory, but every manufacturer thinks they've got to make their own implementation of the encryption/signing/validation algorithms, and every ignorant administrator is swayed by the marketing to think that "proprietary" means "secure".

Even if we accept the idealistic worldview that the manufacturers want a fair election, there's no commercial sense in making a machine that's 100% open and verifiable, because that means that everybody else can copy the machine easily. We won't see a trustworthy computerized election any time soon.

Re:Great theory... like Communism (1)

meerling (1487879) | about 2 years ago | (#41849703)

They can cheat on paper votes, it's been done for centuries.
Elections aren't about making money, if the government wants the machines, it will get the machines.

Re:Great theory... like Communism (1)

Burz (138833) | about 2 years ago | (#41850687)

No, the mechanics of voting in a democracy cannot be re-made as a service provided by for-profit corporations.

Elections aren't about making money...

Talk about naive. What do you think corporate PACs and lobbyists are for? They have come to treat politicians as investments that offer a very high ROI.

More like government procurement ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41849855)

... there's no commercial sense in making a machine that's 100% open and verifiable, because that means that everybody else can copy the machine easily ...

It can be 100% open and verifiable and patented and copyrighted.

Or it can be like the many other things the government buys that are 100% open and verifiable. If the government says we want a bunch of these things people will step forward to make them. Whoever gets the contract will win. Its not like they are making the products on speculation and hoping to sell them on the open market.

Now you have two problems (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41849669)

Ah, yes, if there is one thing that will solve the numerous security and transparency issues that have been demonstrated in the current systems, it's more XML.

Machine voting already working perfectly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41849687)

Look machine voting were perfectly, here's an example of a machine voting:

http://youtu.be/f2O248VaDpA?t=3m11s

No need for any paper and hand counts at all! The possibility of a corrupt rigged vote is completely negated!

Toronto municipal elections (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41849709)

Toronto has figured it out for our local municipal elections.

When you vote you are given a scan-tron paper like what schools use for testing. You fill out the form and you get the pleasure of feeding the paper into the machine.

The machine can quickly do totals and it still leaves a hard paper trail.

The best of both worlds.

Only if you count the paper trails (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41849919)

It's the best of both worlds only if you count a sample of the paper trails and redo the election when they don't match with statistical significance. People do commit voting fraud, and if nobody stops it, and nobody recounts the vote because they control the supreme court, then what use is the paper trail?

FFS, you can even see it right here in front of television cameras AND NOBODY STOPPED IT:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2O248VaDpA&feature=youtu.be&t=3m11s

Romney family meanwhile has been buying Hart Intercivic, an Ohio voting machine maker, via their investment company HIG they have 2 seats on the board. And other board members on that voting machine company contributed to the Romney campaign.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/rickungar/2012/10/20/romney-family-investment-ties-to-voting-machine-company-that-could-decide-the-election-causes-concern/

Making a format for exchanging fraudulent election data doesn't make the data less fraudulent! All it does is put a gloss of engineering over the faked data.

Not seeing why it's so complicated (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41849741)

1. Code for geographic location
2. CandidateName : 1

How much more complicated do you need to make it? Obligatory XKCD http://www.explainxkcd.com/2011/07/20/standards/

A better idea... (1)

3seas (184403) | about 2 years ago | (#41849747)

Use Banking ATM's as they verify but here you use your tax dollar, deciding where it is to be used. This way the politician who cheat with our taxes won't be able to and the job of politician (fitting the "no taxation without representation") will be required to do the job of doing with our taxes as we instruct. For us that means we have to apply constraints of only taxes used towards the generation of team work benefits we all share in. For the government, they have to become transparent otherwise they don't get funding for what they keep hidden from the taxpayers.

Its really quite simple, even the tax processors are already in place to allocate our taxes was we instruct on our annual returns.

Bottom line.... its business and we who pay get to say where our taxes are used. Me regarding mine and your regarding yours.

Electing a politician to represent us in this republic is no different than hiring someone rto do a given job or set of tasks. May the most qualified.for this set of tasks be hired, instead of the best liar wanting to do with our taxes as they choose.

Will this work? In comparison to the complete failure of budgeting and accounting on the governments part..... Yes it will work, just as open source software does and as Iceland recovering economically because they have. According to the Declaration of Independence, it is our right and duty to put off bad government and replace it with what does provide for our security, now and towards the future.... and that is a hell of a lot more than warfare enemy creation.... I.E. financial retirement.

With ATM technology well established.... Why are there voting machine issues to begin with? There is only one answer.... to provide a way to cheat.

Mod parent as 'Funny' (1)

Burz (138833) | about 2 years ago | (#41850663)

ATM manufacturers created the computerized voting market. Check out blackboxvoting.org from their early days (Bush-II era) or read their book.

Secret voting is not even remotely like banking or paying taxes because the recipient of the information isn't allowed to know who generated which piece of data.

Paper or similar analog medium is the only correct way to do secret ballot voting. The result is subject to far more robust forensic analysis (should a crime be committed), recounts are straightforward and no one needs a PhD to fully audit the logic behind the process.

Paper trail... (1)

alanshot (541117) | about 2 years ago | (#41849865)

ITs about damn time we started talking standards. We should also talk vote verification too...

  Ive always said the best voting solution, and the only way to guarantee accurate results with electronic ballots is to use a blind serialized receipt system. For example:

When you insert the scantron form into the reader, push the buttons on the fully electronic machine, etc. it should show the votes registered and give you the chance to protest a machine error. (circled the box for Obama but Romney showed on the screen, etc.). You then approve the final and correct ballot to be submitted to the public record and it spits out the unique serial number of your vote on a recept, timestamped with all pertinent info like the machine serial, etc (which is all recorded in the official count log). Days later you would be able to verify what votes were cast (anonymously of course) by serial number. That would prove that your vote was indeed counted.*

You could also possibly look for fraud in the timestamps as well (a sudden flurry of near-simultaneous votes for candidate X within seconds of each other from the same machine, etc.) Statisticians should LOVE that. Imagine being able to get voter stats not only by precinct, but time of day, etc. hell, not that it does any good, but by individual machine too!

In my precincts we use the scantron forms. We fill in the circles and then walk up to a big scanner and feed it to the machine to be counted. The best verification I get as to whether my vote was cast is to watch the simple LCD on the scanner "total ballots cast" display increment by one after I feed the form. I have no idea if my votes were cast as intended, just that it registered my form as being accepted. Not real reassuring overall.

*On a related note, the other day I got a mailer from an obviously strongly Libertarian group... something about being for smaller govt, I dont recall the exact organization name. They showed an audit of sorts of votes in my immediate vicinity. It was the voter name, street address and name, and if they voted in 2008, 2010, and 2012(curiously, since they all said essentially "not yet" for that year... duh.). For 2010 There was my name and address with a "NO" under vote cast. I distinctly recall voting in that election. Hmmmmm... (the 2008 entry was correct)

Not that Im overly concerned since I cant verify it wasnt a ploy of some sort, but it is slightly unnerving since there was nothing on the mailer enticing me to call, email, donate, etc. Just a "FYI, Here's a voting record for your address and several of your neighbors around you for the past several elections. Dont forget to vote. Thank you."

Waste (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41850005)

Our county invested millions, I'm sure, on digital voting equipment that worked well and without a hint of fraud locally but trashed it all due to this uproar. So we close fire stations, lay off teachers and cops instead. Nice.

Is the IEEE the new Freemasons? (1)

acedotcom (998378) | about 2 years ago | (#41850087)

first off, i am against electronic voting....

so, there was a time when the freemasons were literally the architects of america. their stamp was on everything and their influence can still be seen in many places. so now the IEEE is pretty much everywhere, finalizing most of our technology and communication standards. if you are using a device that is networked in anyway, you are under the IEEE's influence. im not saying they are actively involved in a conspiracy to control an election, but could they?

I guess that if they could, if there was some greater conspiracy, i wouldn't be able to finish this pos

Why improve when we haven't addressed fraud? (2)

xeno (2667) | about 2 years ago | (#41850131)

When I see this news, all I can think is "Great, now there's an easier way to transmit and receive fraudulent vote tallies." What the USA really needs is a short & sweet federal law that says something like:
"It shall be illegal to certify any public election tallied by methods or mechanisms not available in their entirety for public inspection."

No more of this secret-sauce craziness. If you can't show how you count, you're surely up to no good -- and it's high time for that reality to be codified in law.

Voting machines are the icing on the cake (1)

ysth (1368415) | about 2 years ago | (#41850135)

Why not 100% vote by mail (in effect, everyone an absentee voter)?

It works here, and I have yet to hear a cogent argument against it.

Re:Voting machines are the icing on the cake (1)

goodmanj (234846) | about 2 years ago | (#41850263)

It all depends on what happens to the ballots after you mail them. Touchscreen voting machines are a clear assault on democracy, but it's not true that anything else would be better. There are plenty of ways to screw up any given voting system. Touchscreen machines just happen to be impossible to do right.

Re:Voting machines are the icing on the cake (1)

number11 (129686) | about 2 years ago | (#41850363)

Why not 100% vote by mail (in effect, everyone an absentee voter)?

It works here, and I have yet to hear a cogent argument against it.

And where you are, it's 100% impossible for anyone else to watch while you fill out the ballot, and 100% impossible for anyone else to fill it out for you. And your mail is 100% delivered, 100% on time. I bet the trains run on time there, too.

Standards are unnecessary (1)

techdolphin (1263510) | about 2 years ago | (#41850221)

These standards are unnecessary since electronic voting machines (EVMs) should be banned. There is no way to verify or audit the vote with EVMs.

Paper ballots that can be read by humans should be used instead. If there is a problem, the paper ballots can be recounted.

Once, when I took an online course, I printed out my test before I submitted my answers. I missed a question and checked my printout. I had answered the question correctly. So, did I accidentally change the answer, did the answer get flipped in transit or did the answer get flipped by the computer? This is why EVMs scare me. Like my online test, there is no way to verify the result.

Good standards don't change a bad idea (2)

goodmanj (234846) | about 2 years ago | (#41850241)

In other news, the Society of Aeronautical Engineers has recently announced a standardized zeppelin docking mechanism, so all hydrogen-filled dirigibles will be able to use the same berthing towers.

IEEE Make Money Fast! (1)

CuteSteveJobs (1343851) | about 2 years ago | (#41850433)

Here's the funny thing: Industry develops a standard and the IEEE gets together to approve it, but once they do they own the copyright on the standard and you can only get a copy from them, costing several hundred bucks. Some standards are split up, so instead of one fat book you are buying many small thin ones. Not a problem for big business, but a sizable expense for smaller ones and hardly an 'open' standard we want for voting machines.

Examples: http://www.techstreet.com/cgi-bin/browse?publisher_id=95&subgroup_id=36802 [techstreet.com]
A small number are free, though not many. http://standards.ieee.org/about/get/index.html [ieee.org]

The IEEE, just like academic publishers, restricts who papers can be shown too. The IEEE is a professional organization - not a for-profit publisher, but they act just another information monopoly.
http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100127/0423477913.shtml [techdirt.com]

Standards? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41850511)

What about standards for voters?

They could standardize (1)

FithisUX (855293) | about 2 years ago | (#41850631)

GPUs instead. I cannot understand their rush.

Is there a CowboyNeal option? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41850655)

What's a poll without CowboyNeal?

Use 2 indenpent vote collecting systems (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41850715)

1. Touch screen system to record the votes (supplied by manufacturer 1) - This system spits out a paper record that is human readable (ie you just voted for X)
2. The second system (manufacturer 2) is designed to accept the paper output from the first system (and store the paper document for posterity). It echos back to the voter "you just voted like this".

If entry in to both systems does not occur within say 20 seconds, the voter is audibly warned that they have not voted.

This way you have a triple-check. System 1 count, System 2 count and the physical evidence.

Vote by mail (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 2 years ago | (#41850789)

Just do friggin vote by mail and be done with it.

No lines, no problems with bad weather thanks to the postal oath of rain and snow, and people can vote in the privacy of their own homes.

And since screwing with the mail is a federal offense, you get the USPIS protecting the process.

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