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View Diary: Miami Herald Reports on Hacking Tests of Voting Equipment -- Poll (201 comments)

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  •  That would be great, (4.00)
    but in Cali at least they're not allowing anyone to do tests except what the repub Sec of State says, and Harri isn't one of them. It's fixed... they're not allowing any opposition except Black Box Voting to attend the hearings and tests. I suppose they have to allow a token to attend so it's not too suspicious.

    But we're basically screwed. The writing's on the wall. I did get my letter to the editor of my local newspaper published, so that's something anyway. I tried.

    I don't like Bizarro World... I want to go home to America.

    by willers on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 09:15:22 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

    •  The problem is this (none)
      I can't speak for Ohio or Florida, but I can speak for Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

      In both states, before the cards get taken to a central location, printouts are made of the results at the precinct level, for all to see. Poll workers for big campaigns and large field organizations, write down the results and phone them into the HQ of a campaign. Those unofficial numbers are then tallied by the campaigns. This is how most campaigns know on say, for a gubernatorial race, whether they have to concede or not. It is also how, the Boston Herald, for example, knew that Mitt Romney was going to win the governor's race in 2002 and could print out a front page cover announcing his win before 10 p.m.

      So, this concept of someone waving an agriculture device over the card to change the vote result before it gets to the central location is a complete bogus argument. It isn't "real world," if you will. In addition, with optical scanning machines, the paper ballots can be recounted. Why would any campaign in their right mind rig a machine in which the paper ballots could be counted only to find out the machine was rigged? It makes no sense. DRE machines, without paper ballots? Sure, no paper trail, they are dangerous, they shouldn't be used. The fear of optical scanning machines is baseless.  

      I point you all to this post I wrote a couple of years back about some of the crude accusations made by the Black Box Voting folks:

      Vote fraud, conspiracies, and real solutions to the elections problem

      Here in New Hampshire, we have had tons of recounts and the optical scanning machines have been as accurate as the hand recounts. In Massachusetts, it has been the same thing.

      It is getting really frustrating to deal with all of these things that the Black Box Voting folks keep throwing out. First, it was that ES&S folks were crazy Christians and were rigging the vote. Then it was that someone Democrats with no money running against Republicans in red states with millions of dollars were victim of fraud. Then it was that the phone lines could be hacked into and the votes switched even though most of these machines are stand alone machines not hooked up to phone lines. Now, it is an obscure agriculture device which can supposedly switch the numbers enroute to the town clerk's office - in thousands of precincts across the nation, all at the same time - after the printouts have been seen by everyone anyway.

      And yeah, pigs can fly. Come on people.

      A political fanzine containing random musings about politics, music, the media and modern times: Politizine

      by politizine2 on Thu Dec 15, 2005 at 07:51:00 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Are you saying that someone at the Boston Herald (none)
        Knows a guy who knows a guy with an ag scanner?
        Like someone at FOX News (like his cousin) knew W was going to win Ohio (just like the head of Diebold said he would)?

        If we were serious about voting and counting votes, we'd cast our votes on Thanksgiving and count 'em on Friday, each one by hand, and every registered voter would have an equal chance of being picked for counting duty.  If each counter counted 25 ballots per hour (it's government work, after all), 1% of registered voters, each working a four-hour shift (with generous breaks), could count the vote, and the results could be public by noon Pacific.

        All those Thanksgiving football games (at least here in the cradle of Thanksgiving) would be extra draws to local polling places.  Imagine...

        Democracy demands participation.  Not by computers, or tabulating machines, or agricultural scanners, but by people with an interest in the process.

        •  I agree with you (none)
          But your sarcasm shows that you didn't get my point, which is OK. There is tons of participation in this process. Like I said, a good, organized campaign, has volunteers at each precinct watching over the process, seeing the results as they are printed out of the machine, and understanding the results there. What this article is proposing is completely unrealistic and not viable. Limiting the number of polling machines in a precinct which creates long lines of potentially Democratic voters? Yeah, that's fraud and doable. But this isn't realistic.

          A political fanzine containing random musings about politics, music, the media and modern times: Politizine

          by politizine2 on Fri Dec 16, 2005 at 06:26:02 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks for your insight (4.00)
        I would, however, like to explain some of the difficulties critics of electronic voting have in dealing with this issue. I'm certainly not an expert but I have followed the issue fairly closely and have been skeptical of all parties involved, including Black Box Voting.

        First, there seems to be a crazy quilt of different procedures used in electronic voting. From all the tales I've seen, they apparently do differ depending on the state and the equipment used. And I have yet to get a straight answer to this question: Do electronic voting procedures differ on the county or municipality level within a state?

        Beyond this, procedures also seem to differ wrt networking. Are some machines networked? If so, how many and when is the network connection made?

        One person on this thread mentioned that in Illinois, post-election audits of electronic voting equipment are routinely done. That's the first time I've heard of that procedure being done, and I'd be interested in knowing the details and whether any other states have similar checks.

        You say that "with optical scanning machines, the paper ballots can be recounted." That's exactly the reason why I prefer optical scanning machines to touch screens, particularly those without a paper trail; such machines should never be used.

        However, while the paper ballots used with optical scanning machines can be recounted, there are often legal roadblocks that prevent them from being recounted, particularly if the election isn't very close. But if the software has been compromised, say with a last-minute update, or if the machines had been hacked through a network prior to printing out the totals, large-scale fraud is very possible and there's a pretty good likelihood it will never be discovered.

        One of the most notorious electronic "glitches" in recent years happened with optical scan machines. During Election Night 2000, 10,000 votes for Al Gore in Volusia County, Florida, suddenly disappeared and were later found to have been redistributed (by the central tabulator, IIRC) to various minor party candidates. Giving the benefit of the doubt, I'm assuming that those votes were eventually reredistributed to Gore, but I've found it difficult to find a straight answer to that question.

        There are two common-sense safeguards that would protect our votes against this possibility of large-scale fraud: 1) copies of all software, including updates, should be on file in the state capital and be open for inspection by all political parties; and 2) random audits of precincts, chosen by non-electronic means (such as the floating balls used in state lotteries), and if there is a major discrepancy between the paper ballots and the electronic totals, a full recount should automatically be done using the paper ballots.

        As I've mentioned in other posts, I don't know whether recent elections have been stolen, although IMHO they do smell funny. The big trouble is, it's very difficult to prove that these elections have been honest, due to technological and legal roadblocks. All I want is for our elections to be as reasonably secure as the video slots in Atlantic City.

      •  I respectfully dissent (none)
        I, like a poster downthread (who claims to be well versed and experienced in the political arena ) do not beleive that humans do not commit election fraud. If experience teaches us anything, election fraud will occur any time partisans have the chance, especially when they think they have found a means to do it undetectably.  When each party spent over 500 million dollars just on the presidential race, beleive me, there is motive for fraud.

        While I understand your criticism about BBV, this article in not about BBV.  This article is about a Finnish Security expert BBV hired to see if he could hack an election system.  The expert found a way using computer parts readily available on the internet.  These computer parts just happen to be used customarily in the agricultural arena.  But that is what also makes them so accessible.

        What is most disturbing to me is that optiscans are considered to be the most secure computer based system because the computers are not needed to generate the ballot and because the voters can verify the ballot they cast.

        This Finnish expert has proven that the most secure computer based system can be easily hacked.

        Furthermore, as other posters downstream have shown, a sophisticated computer hackier is quite capable of making changes so very minor that automatic recounts are not statutorily triggered, and of making changes so minor that statistical analyses will not catch them either.  The only way to catch them is to do a full manual recount.

        Finally as other posters have shown, it is often quite difficult to get partisan pollters to take a recount seriously, or to even do them at all, and that there are often no legal safeguards in place to require proper recounts or statistical analyses.

        Based on this poll, it is you who are in the vast minority of people who should "come on."

        I think it is you who doesn't get it.

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