Posts: 1926
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2003 12:17 pm

Voting Machines, What For?

Tue Nov 25, 2003 8:15 pm

i read an article about the company diebold that makes voting machines and also atm's. the article was about a windows worm invading embedded windows xp atm's(made me think why in hell use a windows on a atm anyway and not some custom made bsd, better safer cheaper). but to get to the point, it also made me think about voting machines.
i dont understand the need for them.
i am used to vote by crossing the box of the party/person i vote too and then folding that sheet of paper or putting it in an envelope and then in the voting box that stands in a public place.
you identify for vote with your id/passport at the school/other public place where the voting takes place. there representatives from every party and other volunteers all conduct the process together and ensure that it all goes on in the proper way. so one person one vote, and when the voter didnt make a proper vote, i.e. tick more then the appropiate boxes or has written paroles etc onto the sheet the vote by law is not to be counted.
i do not see any practical way to manipulate those "old school" voting/election system we use here, and dont understand the need of voting machines at all(it has been discussed here aswell).
i think they only get bought to please the industry. i have yet to see a voting machine solution that is safer then the pen+paper method in terms of tamper resistance.
it raises alot of why and what for questions but nowhere i have seen a good reason for those machines.
here in germany pen+paper elections take about 4 hours to materialize more or less accurate results that represent the final result by about 98% and the final count is done in less then 24hrs. so speed doesnt really justify the investments especially since people go to office a few weeks or months later anyway.

so my question to the ppl here: what is the purpose of voting machines?
Posts: 5752
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2000 5:30 am

RE: Voting Machines, What For?

Tue Nov 25, 2003 9:48 pm

The purpose of voting machines:

A) instantaneous, accurate tabulation
B) fraud prevention

Any questions?
An unexamined life isn't worth living.
Posts: 1926
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2003 12:17 pm

RE: Voting Machines, What For?

Wed Nov 26, 2003 12:11 am

a) they do not give an instant result because as a new "fraud prevention" feature they print out sheets with the vote that the voter has to put into a ballot box and then the votes get crosschecked, thats no improvement over the normal ballot box system

b) due to alot of reasons i dont see the electronic system safer towards fraud attempts, be it regarding software used in the machines or the software used in machines to read them out or transmit them over a network to a central system.

nothing beats the safety of a ballot box vote that counts the votes and then reports the officies numbers to a central office.
there are usually a dozen or so people involved from all spectrums of the political parites involved in the election plus volunteers. i dont see how a voting machine could be safer then the natural checks+balances. chances are slim to none that you get said bunch of ppl alltogether corrupted to report a false result. and you always have the golden rule that if more then 5 ppl know something, it will get out sooner or later. and you always have the ballots when in doubt. so even if there is a very remote chance that a dozen people who are from whatever political party all decide to report something incorrect and fake the vote, it would after all just be the result of a few thousand voters. such a system is simply not exploitable on a large, federal vote, scale.
so a network or even just singled out installations are more fraud resistant then thousands of volunteers from all sides of the political spectrum?
call me crazy but i seriously doubt that.
i still think its just money wasted on stuff that isnt needed to please the companies that make them unless someone gives me convincing arguments on why they are better
(which was the reason i opened the thread, i really want to know what the advantages are since i see none)
Alpha 1
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Joined: Sat Feb 03, 2001 12:12 am

RE: Voting Machines, What For?

Wed Nov 26, 2003 12:15 am

As TWFirst said, the instantaneousness of it is nice. There are still some voting districts that take forever to count their votes-they're still voting the way the did in the 1930's for goodness sake! Why not take advantage of the technology available to make it less cumberson, more accurate, and faster?

I'm sure some people are worried about security in such a system, but is it any less secure than a bunch of ballots that some poll worker forgets to turn in, or loses?

Take advantage of the technology. Make it a better system for voters. Why, Zak, do you want a method as time-consuming as the one your grandparents used?
Posts: 5752
Joined: Wed Apr 19, 2000 5:30 am

RE: Voting Machines, What For?

Wed Nov 26, 2003 12:35 am

Zak obviously hasn't heard about the Broward County elections supervisor's scandal in FLL (i.e. Miriam Oliphant), nor has he heard of ballot box stuffing.

What I don't understand is why he cares so much about this anyway...
An unexamined life isn't worth living.
Posts: 1926
Joined: Mon Sep 22, 2003 12:17 pm

RE: Voting Machines, What For?

Wed Nov 26, 2003 1:47 am

first of all i dont know what system in detail is employed in the u.s. with ballot boxes. the system used here is described above.
secondly i think i laid out the reasons why i prefer the system described earlier and from all the current approaches on voting machines, i have not seen conceptually a system that does indeed work as safe as such a system should work. or they do but in the end are more work intensive as the "old way".
i care about this? because i for one dont like to see the control of the most important thing in a democracy turned over to things not fully proven safe and sound.i think it is one of the most important things for a citizen to worry about the voting process and how these things proceed since that is in fact the base of the whole country and society. and i honestly believe the SAFEST system should be used and not the quickest. so naturally i made up my mind about what a voting system should look like after certain things that happened in florida etc, and that issue came back to my mind with the article about the ATM's infected with a windows worm(i thought wtf windows on atms they should know better then that and even network them in such a way)

i worked in the IT for 9 years, and im 25 now. i do know what works and what doesnt, and honestly what is currently around doesnt convince me at all.
i prefer the normal way of elections since they are KISS. every person understands ballot boxes and how stuff works, you take current solutions and they are simply not satisfying. in safe mission critical computing fields, "security through obscurity" is not considered secure. and that is exactly the security voting machines usually rely on. look at the dvd copy protection, once it was found out systematically it has been void. safe is only what gives the "attacker" no advantage in terms of accessibility even if he knows all details of what kind of technology employed.
the only concept i see that would work would be standalone voting boxes with an absolute open concept, hardware and software. and have the group that do the counting now just read out whatever counters the thing has behind a locked and sealed door that has been reset before it was set up by the ppl and is still undamaged. a simple counter thing would do.
but that again leads to the issue of people pressing incorrect buttons etc.
everyone knows how to check a box and read a ballot(ok i have seen some failed designs that didnt really work out but thats been dealt with in most democracies i hope) and make an x with a pen.
this is one of the things where i really agree to the "if it aint broke dont fix it" sentence, even tho i usually think it is stupid. but it really applies here

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