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View Diary: Another 'Diebold Miracle' Begins... (51 comments)

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  •  I'm Sorry But this is Totally Wrong (6+ / 0-)

    This is factually inaccurate:

    TOUCHSCREENS DON'T NEED TO BE CALIBRATED.

    Absolutely, 100% false!

    One of the first major software development projects I worked on for the Smithsonian Institute in the 90's was on Multimedia kiosks which used touchscreen monitors. They did have to be calibrated. Usually it was a matter of getting the mouse pointer to track properly with the touch points.

    Voting machines don't usually display the mouse pointer, but it's still there (invisible). If not calibrated correctly, you could touch something on the left hand side of the screen and the pointer will actually be on the right side, or touch a line and the line two slots below is where the pointer is.

    That's how touchscreen technology works, all of it, it's all the same, and it all has to be calibrated.

    It's more likely that is the case than some nefarious plot, though it is also possible that someone deliberately miscalibrated the machines, though I believe that to be unlikely.

    •  Very true. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dobber

      I worked for a number of years selling cell phones. The first thing you do when you pull a Palm or other touchscreen phone out of the box is to calibrate it.

      A crosshair pops up at the corners, and you touch it with the stylus. If you miss...well, I missed once. Pressing the 5 on the touchscreen resulted in dialing a 4.

    •  We don't need machines (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dobber, Wisteacher

      Machines need to hit the scrap-heap of history. The touch screen might have some issues - but the real issue is in the tabulation of the votes. That's where the real mischief can happen, away from the eyes of the public.  

      We need paper ballots with ink dots (like the ink-a-dot system in CA) and optical scanning with random hand count audits conducted by bi-partisan teams.  And a transparent, verifiable chain of custody. Simple. Easy.

      We don't need quick results. We don't need any more advanced technology. What we need is the ability to really believe in the integrity of our voting system.

      Change the media ownership laws - break up the corporate media monopoly!

      by moosely2006 on Tue Oct 28, 2008 at 09:01:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Machines are not the issue (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Gary Norton, fhcec

        I have a very simple approach to voting: 1) all citizens have an absolute right to vote; 2) the government has an absolute obligation to count each vote, accurately, every time.

        The implementation issues are where the issues lie. Even a piece of paper and a pencil is a technology. It's just a means of recording a vote so it can be counted later. The counting is also going to involve technology of some sort, even if it's a bunch of sheets of paper with tic marks on them. No matter what technology is applied, there is the possibility of inaccuracy, either from malicious intent or just screw ups.

        The answer to this conundrum begins with intent. Somebody in authority has to want a system that is accurate and reliable and objectively fair. Then you have to involve some people who are smart enough to devise systems that meet the criteria and account for human frailty.

        Voting can be done accurately and it can be done with machines. But it's going to take some insistence on our part to get it going and it's always going to have to be transparent. There is no way that there will ever be any level of trust in a voting system that is the property and "trade secret" of some private enterprise who has a stake in the outcome.

        Count every vote, every time.

      •  What we need is a massive affirmation (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        moosely2006, jaenellie

        of the sanctity of our ballots and election systems. No matter what the issue, an honest election trumps it.

        NO ISSUE NO ISSUE AT ALL is more important than free, fair, and honest elections.

        Not the unborn, not guns, not low taxes, not tax breaks, not war, not anything.

        HONEST ELECTIONS trump everything else. Otherwise, our government and our experiment in self-governance is done for.

        This affirmation has to be buttressed by fair procedures, vigilant oversight, and swift and sure penalties for transgressions.

    •  I had a Palm device (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      moosely2006

      The touchscreen did need to be calibrated. Of course, the amount of correction was approximately a tenth of an inch. That was the amount of error.

      A touch screen voting machine's amount of error may be something similar, but how does that translate into a vote jumping from one end of the screen to another? How does that account for the vast preponderance of voting errors favoring Republican candidates?

      Reinstate the Fairness Doctrine!

      by jimbo92107 on Tue Oct 28, 2008 at 09:05:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Like this (0+ / 0-)

        It has to do with the quantization of screen objects. For example, if you split the screen in to two columns, clicking anywhere in the column will manifest the click in the checkbox in that column even if it's 2 inches from the edge of the column.

        If the screen is improperly calibrated your click in the center of the left hand column may manifest just to the right of the right hand column edge, once it's in the column, the checkbox in the column will register the click.

    •  The commenter (not the diarist) is correct. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      moosely2006

      If you have ever used a Palm Pilot, or other touch-based PDA, you may be familiar with some of the steps you take at startup:  touch the upper left corner, touch the lower right corner, touch the center?  That's calibration.  Once the machine learns what the touch screen thinks are upper left and lower right, it can translate any further touches into the (X,Y) coordinates of the underlying screen area.

      You may also have seen this if you use a lot of touch-screen ATMs: sometimes you have to poke the screen a little below the displayed button, or a little above it, because the areas of sensitivity don't quite match the displayed buttons...

      Yes, touch screens need calibration.

      All that being said, there are lots of other ways voting machines can be rigged.  My vote (already sent in) was on paper.

      Let us discard all this quibbling about this man or the other man, this race or that race...Let us unite as one people declaring that all men are created equal

      by ThatTallGuy on Tue Oct 28, 2008 at 09:07:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I hope your vote was counted (0+ / 0-)

        But after you dropped it into a box, how do you know it wasn't thrown away or flipped at the other end?

        Reinstate the Fairness Doctrine!

        by jimbo92107 on Tue Oct 28, 2008 at 09:16:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  There is no such thing as a perfect system. (0+ / 0-)

          But fraud involving machines can be centralized -- meaning that it can be completed over broad areas with complicity from just a few people.

          Fraud involving paper requires you to be where the paper is -- it won't affect people in the next township or the next state.

          Let us discard all this quibbling about this man or the other man, this race or that race...Let us unite as one people declaring that all men are created equal

          by ThatTallGuy on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 07:03:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Agreed (0+ / 0-)

            Electronic voting machines allow a small group of criminals (mostly in Republican-owned voting machine companies) to subvert a large portion of state and national voting systems. Evidence indicates that has been happening for at least the last decade.

            Voting on paper, while still somewhat vulnerable, leaves tangible evidence of your vote, which requires a much larger conspiracy to subvert, which in turn is harder to hide. However, as long as the voting apparatus is in the hands of the Republican party, the system will be subverted in various ways that all help suppress the output of Democratic votes. It is the final factor in Karl Rove's "permanent Republican majority" that must be foiled with tireless vigilance and constant legal pressure.

            Reinstate the Fairness Doctrine!

            by jimbo92107 on Wed Oct 29, 2008 at 07:34:15 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Calibration of the touchscreen shouldn't require (0+ / 0-)

        pushing a reset button if that causes the entire system to re-start.

        The touchscreen should have an offline calibration capability that disconnects it as an input device and allows the mapping of the tactile locations to the screen grid.

        Electronic systems should be allowed only if the source code is completely open for inspection and there is an auditable process for the software provisioning that ensures that only a certified version of the code (the state's secretary of state needs to do the certification)is loaded onto these systems.

        And the feds need to have the ability to also monitor and audit this software.

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