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View Diary: YouTube Take Action: Diebold Hacked (+DIEBOLD REBUTS) (267 comments)

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  •  Jeffrey honey normally I love ya (2+ / 0-)
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    Jeffrey Feldman, geejay

    But you're way off on this one.

    But lets just look at your examples/arguments:

    (1) The monopoly aspect is the bad part, has nothing to do with technology. Ok, lets test with a little analogy. If paper ballots were all printed at the same print shop, a total monopoly between the govt and one Republican print shop, would that be a problem? No. Clearly, software IS different from other voting technologies, inherently and in ways that cause big problems. More on that later.
    (2)

    I went to vote, yesterday.  The person behind the table could not find my name in the book.  Ink on paper.

    Right, ok, think about it--the very fact that you can tell this story at all, proves the point that software is less safe!! Something strange happened, and you noticed it! Now, maybe nothing will ever come of it, so in that sense the "fraud" (assuming it is) will be successful. But at least it is in some way visible to some person. There is NO test, NO research, NO anything that can show an e-vote fraud.

    (3)

    I imagine in a case where someone questions the outcome of an EVM, the case would go forward if it had sympathetic backers at the level of the district, the city,the county, the courts, etc.  

    (I assume EVM = E-Voting Machine?) You're wrong. How would that happen? In your personal example, you go to your registrar and say, hey, this weird thing happened. Maybe she shrugs and you're SOL. But if millions of people say, hey, I had to vote provisional for no reason, that is something that could be followed up by a sympathetic system. How would that happen in evoting? Everything checks out because the software deleted itself. Then what? How would a court POSSIBLLY deal with that? Even a court that was willnig to be the most sympathetic and activist court ever?

    (4) But we trust computers for other important stuff like Banking, Medical, etc Your examples of the heart machine and ATM are not analogous. We don't rely on those things because we believe them to be bug-free or tamper-free. I write software, I can tell you WITH CERTAINTY they have bugs and are tamperable. We trust them NOT because they are trustworthy, but only because flaws will be detectable, thus hopefully quickly mitigated. That is all. If a heart machine has a bug and the patient dies, we will know that the heart machine had a bug. We trust heart machines because lots of people use them and are manifestly not dead. THAT is your paper trail. THAT is your trust. Empirical trust, not inherent trust. ATMs also connect to a physical reality outside of the software itself. If you don't get a physical $20 out of the machine, you know something is wrong. A detectable error. If the ATM machine hands you a $20, but doesn't deduct from your account, the bank will notice a whole bunch of missing money in its ledger at the end of the month. A detectable error. Because things outside of the machine itself are impacted by what the machine does.

    Because voting is supposed to be anonymous, there is no evidence. There is no dead body, there is no missing $20. There is no connection to a physical reality outside of the little software counter for each candidate. There is no ledger that doesn't match at the end of the month, because the software is the only ledger. This is UNIQUE to voting, compared to anything else we use computers for, again, because of the anonymous aspect of voting. If voting machines kept track of your name and how you voted, if there was a question, they could put the results on the internet, you could look up your name on the list, and see if what they have matches what you did. THEN E-VOTING WOULD BE SAFE AND NOBODY WOULD BE COMPLAINING. Because there is a verifiable connection to the outside world. But we can't do it that way, because of the anonymous thing.

    E-Voting IS different. Different from other voting technologies. And Different from other 'e'-applications. It just is. Apples and oranges.

    One way that evoting could be made safe, and probably better than any other technology (paper punch, machine, etc), is if the machine generates a paper ballot. This exists and has been advocated by computer people from day 1, but is resisted by companies, maybe it is less profitable. After you vote on the machine, it prints out everything you did on paper. You view the paper through a glass window. If the paper matches what you wanted, it gets dropped into a ballot box attached to the machine. If not, it gets dropped down another chute to the trash (or overwritten or something). Now if you question the software's total, you open the box and count manually. Best of both worlds. Plus, since the machine can mark paper more precisely than people, you don't have as much problem with hanging chads, etc.

    "Renaming French fries to Freedom fries was arguably this Republican congress' greatest accomplishment." -- Stephen Colbert

    by reid fan on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 12:04:19 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  yeah, yeah, yeah (1+ / 0-)
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      reid fan

      If Diebold was a well-known Progressive corporation that supported Democrats and the argument was that we wanted to get as many of these machines out as possible by 2008 because their ease of use had been shown to increase voter participation--if that were the case, there would be no Diebold-must-die diaries.  Kossacks would be saying, "Put better locks on there!"  "Create a virus monitoring system!"  "Design multiple pirate software failsafe systems!"   Then, the diaries about stolen votes would all be over at RedState/  As things stand right now, I doubt there are very many Diebold diaries on the right-wing blogs.  And logically so, because this is really about imbalance of Republican power and lack of oversight in our election system.  

      Sure, the software issue is bad for all the reasons listed.  No doubt.  I've had that explained to me know by about a dozen people and I agree with everything that's been written (almost everything).  But the debate is not about software.  It's about politics, corruption, imbalance.    Today, the software is the black box.  But last year the black box was Ken Blackwell, and before that the black box was Katherine Harris, and before that the black box was...etc., etc.   All of those had paper trails. None of them were ever resolved effectively.  Not even close.  

      And yes, if one Republican company was suddenly in charge of making all paper ballots and those ballots were shown to cause confusion (e.g., what happened in Florida), and there were enough ballots in some districts, but not in others,  then we would be in this exact same debate--just swap out the word 'software' for the words 'printing' and 'distribution' and the outcry would be the of same order.  Only, instead of software experts telling me I was an idiot (which I probably am), it would be graphic designers and ink experts.

      So machines that rely entirely on software have security problems.  So what?  Just design a machine that draws on as many advantages of the an electronic system as possible, blanced with as many advantages of a paper and human monitored system as possible--all of which have security shortcomings.    But I'm willing to give anything a try at this stage because the system as it stands is ridiculous.   We cannot have a 100% paper system without a drastic overhall of voting in our culture (e.g., an election day holiday with tens of thosands of paid workers), which is not going to happeh.  And we cannot simply convert over to an optical system because--from what I understand--that is prohibitively expensive.  So we come up with some kind of integrated solution.   Electronic with enough checks to give us more confidence in the system.  I mean...the real problem here isn't the machines, it's the fact that we've never had a national discussion about reform in our system of voting, a federal panel of experts, an R and D group convened, multiple test phases, slow roll out and implementation, tweaking, etc., etc., etc.

      I'm all for it.

      •  sigh (1+ / 0-)
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        Jeffrey Feldman

        Electronic with enough checks to give us more confidence in the system.  I mean...the real problem here isn't the machines, it's the fact that we've never had a national discussion about reform in our system of voting

        I think the real problem with this entire exchange and why you're driving everyone to distraction is that you have a false dichotomy. "isn't the machines, it's the fact that..." It's BOTH!!! Nobody is saying the other things aren't a problem.

        But we actually believe that even if everything else were fixed, completely paperless voting would still be unacceptable. The only "enough checks" that would ever be acceptable is a paper trail. But then, it wouldn't be what most people mean by "e-voting." Anything that has no paper trail is unacceptable, no matter who the vendor, no matter if it were open source, written by Paul Wellstone, no matter nuthin'. Unacceptable. And, truly, trust me, it isn't a partisan issue in the computer science community.

        It's all about Diebold=Satan on the liberal blogs, and I'll grant you that has to do with Diebold's politics more than a logical comparison of error rates. But don't let that fool you that there isn't more "there" there in the complaints from actual experts.

        "Renaming French fries to Freedom fries was arguably this Republican congress' greatest accomplishment." -- Stephen Colbert

        by reid fan on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 03:24:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  ah, here is our problem: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Jeffrey Feldman

        blanced with as many advantages of a paper and human monitored system as possible

        Yes, this is EXACTLY what we want to happen. This is what computer people have been asking for from the beginning. That is the dream of the anti-Diebold folks.

        But then we just have a terminology misunderstanding. This isn't "e-voting" in the sense that we use it as shorthand for "no paper trail." I and mamy other computer people fully endorse touch-screen voting that has a voter-verified paper, or as you say, "with as many advantages of a paper...system as possible."

        "Renaming French fries to Freedom fries was arguably this Republican congress' greatest accomplishment." -- Stephen Colbert

        by reid fan on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 03:31:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  LOL AHAH! (1+ / 0-)
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          reid fan

          So someone is actually reading my comments.  That can't be healthy.

          I do not believe, by the way, that the paper trail is the solution.  I believe the software is the solution.  This of course, is why this reform needs to be a team effort.  We already have a paper trail--it's called our crappy voting system.  Paper out the wazzoo and it all sucks.  Corruptable to the core--easily so, no mass conspiracy required.  But I see the point being made here by the techxperts and agree.

          It may seem mundane, but a touch screen system which eliminated all the nonsense of the overly complicated ballots, and somehow spit out a florida-senior-citizen-proof receipt (e.g. "Congratulations Mrs. Morgenstein, you did not accidentally vote for Hitler!") that would be a miracle on wheels.  And the electronics would deliver it.

          But again, I see how the names are very specific, here.

          In my voting reform fantasy, everyone who registers to vote would get a special voter ID card with a smart chip.  During voting "week" (e.g.), a registered voter could go to any ATM maching in the world and vote for candidates in his/her state. The dream system would also generate a paper trails, would be failsafe, monitored by an impartial third party, upgradeable, and 100% better than what we have now.  People who could not get to ATM machines could use dedicated machines that would be located in grocery stores, public transportation, post offices, etc..  The machines would be manufactured by public-private enterprise funded like a New Deal civil engineering project and monitored constantly by an impartial entity. That's the fantasy.  Now make it happen!

          LOL!!  We are just on the opposite side of the raft, here, but floating down the same river.  

          •  um, ok, we'll get on it :*) (0+ / 0-)

            We computer people only THINK we're superhuman, don't let us fool you!

            Seriously though, you have a good point about touch screen interface--you can change languages more easily, make the text huge for old people, etc. That is the baby in the paperless bathwater, and I hope it doesn't get thrown out.

            "Renaming French fries to Freedom fries was arguably this Republican congress' greatest accomplishment." -- Stephen Colbert

            by reid fan on Thu Sep 14, 2006 at 03:50:56 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

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