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As background, this legislation was introduced by Democrat Mark Pocan, but the Wisconsin legislature is republican controlled.  Nonetheless, the vote was 91-4 in the assembly and 29-2 in the senate. You can read the full text of the legislation here, but some important nuggets:

"If a municipality uses an electronic voting systm for voting at any election, the municpal clerk shall provide any person, upon request, at the expense of the municipality, the coding for the software that the municipality uses to operate the system and tally the votes cast."

more below...

As Milly Watt has diaried, Diebold is fighting similar legislation in North Carolina and we may yet face a similar attempt here in the land o' cheese.  I will try to keep the Kos community posted.

Additionally, the previous verification requirement has been strengthened from merely providing a receipt, to requiring that an actual paper ballot to be printed:

"If the device consists of an electronic voting machine, it generates a complete paper ballot showing all votes cast by each elector that is visually verifiable by the elector before the elector leaves the machine and that enables a manual count or recount of each vote cast by the elector."

Cross posted at my blog.

Hat tip to my new favorite local blog Badger Blues for the story.

Originally posted to Uranus Hz on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 04:26 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  OMG! (4.00)
    Time to go open a bottle of champagne...

    Oh wait, I'm in Wisconsin.  Time to go open a bottle of Fat Squirrel.


    I re-did my website! See how pretty is now.

    by OrangeClouds115 on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 04:22:58 PM PST

    •  This is sad... (4.00)
      I've lived in Wisconsin for 4 years and yet I had to google "Fat Squirrel" ...
    •  Heck with the champagne.. (none)
      Although I love Fat Squirrel, with political news like that, lets give our capital leaders 3 cheers with a bottle (or two) of Dark Doppelbock, made by Capital Brewery!!

      And what an odd coincidence, Capital Brewery is actually in Middleton,WI, RUSS FEINGOLD'S home city!!

      Wisconsin... brats, dark beer, cheese curds, Russ and open source electronic voting.  The taxes suck here in Waukesha county, but I love the aforementioned combination. YaHoo!  Red
      only my toys are red

  •  oh and I forgot (4.00)
    Recommend it up people!  We need to share this with everyone! Spotted Cows & Fat Squirrels for all Kossacks!

    I re-did my website! See how pretty is now.

    by OrangeClouds115 on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 04:24:25 PM PST

  •  Yeah (4.00)
    Wisconsin is back in AMERICA

    Is it the first state?

  •  Common sense prevails (4.00)
    and that's cause for celebration.
    •  Sad but true (4.00)
      I can't believe the Republicans voted for this.  Yeah!

      Does the devil wear a suit and tie, Or does he work at the Dairy Queen- Martin Sexton

      by strengthof10kmen on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 04:52:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well (none)
        after witnessing the saturation of the republicans here in Wisconsin push vehemently for a Voter ID bill, I assume they wish to support this legislation to show they are "concerned" about a wide range of voting-ethics related issues.  Regardless, they're still pushing Voter ID without regard to the inherent discrimination involved (such as minorities' having more difficulty in obtaining proper identification, whether it be time to go to the ID station or money to pay for one) so they're still not really concerned with fair elections, only issues that help them unfairly obtain positions in the government.  And one cannot forget that e-voting is viewed to be flawed by many people, therefore voting against the bill would have more obviously illustrated their ulterior motives.  

        Bullshit, Jesus, those are obviously my footprints.

        by als10 on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 07:35:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Killer news. (4.00)
    Heard it on WPR this afternoon on my way home and did a "WOO-HOO" thing in my car that made the person in traffic next to me look at me funny.  I hope this trend spreads to other states like the plague.  Thanks for posting it, Hz.

    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

    by Barnum on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 04:28:59 PM PST

  •  tip jar (4.00)
    I forgot to put one of these up.  And thanks for the recommends.

    The revolution will not be televised - on FOX

    by Uranus Hz on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 04:30:56 PM PST

  •  Highly recommended (4.00)
    no state should allow any voting machine that does not have a paper trail (verified by the voter) as well as open source software.  The only reason NOT to vote these safeguards in is because someone is behind manipulation of the votes.

    "September 11, 2001, already a day of immeasurable tragedy, cannot be the day liberty perished in this country." Judge Gerald Tjoflat

    by SanJoseLady on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 04:38:03 PM PST

  •  Nevada Spends More Time (4.00)
    Checking out code and related software items related to slot machines than most states do concerning electronic voting.

    Most states simply outsource the entire operation, and rely on vendors to provide technical (and often, legal) oversight of these machines.  

    I strongly believe that states must develop their own codes and manage software, akin to how Gaming Control does with slot machines, to ensure the product does what it is REQUIRED to do under law:  provide secret ballots which CANNOT be manipulated by outside sources.

    The only way to do this is by allowing state employees to do all of the work.  At least they will provide an audit trail, subject to direct intervention and regulation.

    •  Can anyone,,,,, (4.00)
      tell me why this couldn't be overseen by the GAO?  The coding, I mean.  They are notoriously non-partisan.  I would hate to see any state/federal agency in charge of this, as the party in charge would be tempted to tamper.

      The GAO tracks statistics, and it seems to me voting records are the most important statistic.  

      "But your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore"--Prine Pay attention Georgie - 2160+ dead Americans. Jesus Christ, make it stop already.

      by Miss Blue on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 04:51:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Because voting is a state matter (none)
        Never mind Supreme Court '2000.
        •  technically (none)
          Unless I am mistaken, that IS what the supreme court decided in 2000.  It was a state matter, constitution does not guarantee citizens the right to vote for president. Therefore, the decision of the florida courts stood.  Bush 'won'.

          The revolution will not be televised - on FOX

          by Uranus Hz on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 05:46:48 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Backwards (4.00)
            The decision of the Florida courts was that the recount should continue.  The US Supreme Court reversed Florida.

            The 9 judges each voted exactly opposite of their judicial philosophy.  They voted for whom they wanted for president.  The 5 states-rights judges voted that the federal government had jurisdiction under the 14th amendment and others, and the federalists voted for states rights.  It should have been a 5-4 decision with Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas, et al voting for Gore.


            Democrats *do* have a plan for Social Security - it's called Social Security. -- Ed Schultz
            -3.13 -6.05

            by FredFred on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 06:38:34 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  No (none)
            The SCOTUS overruled the state supreme court which had ruled for further recounts
  •  Are the paper receipts the ballots (none)
    of record?

    That is the true bar to which we need to strive, anything short of it is just for show and can be manipulated or discrepancies disregarded.

    The ability to quote is a serviceable substitute for wit. Somerset Maugham

    by verasoie on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 04:44:13 PM PST

  •  I am,,,,, (4.00)
    particularly pleased to see the one-sided voting in favor of this.  At least it appears the majority of WI Republicans still believe in America.  

    "But your flag decal won't get you into heaven anymore"--Prine Pay attention Georgie - 2160+ dead Americans. Jesus Christ, make it stop already.

    by Miss Blue on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 04:48:28 PM PST

  •  Progressive Politics are still alive... (4.00)
    ... and thriving in my beautiful little home state :).

    Most people are idiots... But don't tell them. It'll spoil all the fun for those of us who aren't.

    by d3n4l1 on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 04:56:50 PM PST

    •  Why then did they (none)
      piss all over Dean when he was reaching out to them as a last chance attempt to make it in the 2004 race?

      /still upset.

      Wars always bring bigger problems then they settle... It's up to us to have such a good democracy that other people want it too. -Woody Hayes 1986

      by Irrelevant Prolixity on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 05:46:25 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Don't blame me... (none)
        I voted for Dean in the primary.  But I think it was over for Dean before then.  After the scream in Iowa, the Kerry electability myth grew exponentially, and Dean's goose was cooked.

        I attended rallies for both Dean and Kerry.  The Dean rally had about 300 people and seemed a little dull.  The good Doctor was a little out of it.  In contrast, the Kerry rally was huge (about 1,200 people) and had a vibe of impending victory to it.  It's really too bad.  I wish I had seen Dean in person in 2003, when things were going so well.

        •  It made me sick , too (none)
          to see how someones people seemed to sabotage Dean.

          I hate dirty trick politics.

          Let the people choose the best candidates -- they shouldn't be picked by the wealthy, in the same manner they choose a car, for instance.

  •  Thanks for the good news (4.00)
    Here's a little more: CT Sec of State Susan Bysiewicz announced today that CT is suspending all purchases of touch-screen voting machines due to "a lack of qualified vendors".

    Double Whoo-Hoo!

    Al Qeada is a faith-based initiative.

    by drewfromct on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 05:01:58 PM PST

    •  I'm not so sure about this (none)
      There are two Open Source voting projects I've heard of. Anybody can download their code, build a voting machine around it, and sell it to anyone willing to buy. (we'll assume a certain amount of Linux expertise, of course)

      Assuming the code is ready, of course. But anyone who wants to sell voting machines in a new Open Source environment should be willing to hire programmers to contribute to the Open Source project.

      Looking for intelligent energy policy alternatives? Try here.

      by alizard on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 10:23:07 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  can non residents receive the code too? (4.00)
    (even if it probably is only vb)

    On the _9th_ day of Fitzmas, my true love gave to me.

    by lostinbrasil on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 05:06:45 PM PST

  •  Yay Wisconsin! That is all. n/t (none)
  •  Such a relief to get GOOD NEWS (4.00)
    and to find that there are repubs that believe in true elections and transparency.
  •  About time (4.00)
    At least our votes will be counted properly. Maybe we can now vote out neocons and fix America's problems.

    A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

    by Tux on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 05:20:50 PM PST

  •  Here's to Wisconsin! (none)
    Blazing a trail for other states to follow!

    "You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best you have to give." -- Eleanor Roosevelt

    by marylrgn on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 05:32:48 PM PST

  •  Is there open source voting software? (4.00)
    There is linux.

    This site is powered by snoop, which is open source.

    My son uses Open Office.

    Is there open source voting software? If not, why not?

    Anyone know?

    •  it would seem to me (none)
      to be almost trivial.  It basically just needs to be able to count.  That's about one step up from 'Hello world'

      The revolution will not be televised - on FOX

      by Uranus Hz on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 06:07:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Sounds like a good project . . . (none)
         . . . for the fabled netroots.

        If it is so easy, why don't some geeky folks just do the damn thing? MIT and Caltech could probably get it done quickly.

        It would save a TON of money for cash strapped local governments who end up paying for the machines.

        I would do it myself if I had any computer knowledge.

        Seems the tough part is not the counter but the touch pad interface. Then all you need is a printer command to file your vote electronically while printing a hard copy that can be saved for recounts and audits.

        There must be something we're missing? If it is so easy, why is it not done?

    •  There is as soon as someone making it decides... (none)
      ... to open the source.

      Secondly, voting software isn't 'complex'.

      Heck, Scoops polling system has all the basic elements required of a electronic voting machine - the ability to set choices, record selections of the choices and tally the results.

      This stuff isn't rocket science and doesn't require a ton of development time to get right, including paper output of the votes.

      "We're spending our BILLIONS over there so we don't have to spend them here." - Joon

      by Siberian on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 06:10:34 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  CA's Open Voting Consortium (4.00)
      has developed a prototype Open Source voting system. The San Jose Mercury News editorial board called OVC "the real deal" back in April 2004. Merc link isn't current anymore, but there's a .pdf here:

      Where you can also find these quotes from the October 2005 GAO report:

      The GAO report says Open Voting Consortium, "Developed a prototype for an open-source electronic voting application that uses commercial hardware and operating system components and provides (1) an electronic voting machine that prints a paper ballot, (2) a ballot verification station that scans the paper ballot and lets a voter hear the selections, and (3) an application to tally the paper ballots."

      OVC is cited in the GAO report along with Caltech/MIT, National Academy of Sciences, the Brennan Center for Justice (New York University) and other groups such as Verified Voting, VotersUnite!, VSPR, and ACCURATE in the section on "Nongovernmental Initiatives to Improve Voting System Security and Reliability."

      P.S. to the diarist: first, THANKS!, and second: I'm no expert, but as I understand it, "Open Source" actually means developing software using an open process. Wisconsin requiring vendors to allow their finished software to be examined after the fact is extremely good news, but not quite Open Source. you can learn more at the OVC site.

      •  That's the ticket! (none)
        Not sure about the "operating system components," however. In North Carolina Diebold was saying that some of the components were Microsoft and that those were the ones they could not reveal the software on due to IP law.

        No reason linux could not be used.

        Total transperency is the only answer to both real fraud and tin-foil.

        •  Still not a complete solution (none)
          The problem is still that you have no way of knowing if the binary image running on the voting machine corresponds to the source code being distributed to the citizens.  You also cannot verify that the count has not been tampered with, nor that the machine is not malfunctioning due to cosmic rays or whatever.

          That part of this bill that is not an illusion is the paper voter receipt requirement.

          •  Open Records (none)
            The Paper is the official ballot. The WI Open records law allows anyone to go back and examine them after the official canvass, and they're used in any recount.

            A friend did this for ~100 precincts in '04. found 2 offsetting discrepencies for a polling place with 2 wards, where 17 ballots were fed to the wrong optical counter, but with the same candidates, no net effect. (The wards in question are in different County Supervisor districts, but that's the Spring election.)

            A Senator YOU can afford
            $1 contributions only.
            Masel for Senate
            1214 E. Mifflin St.
            Madison, WI 53703

            by ben masel on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 08:16:55 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Not necessarily process... (none)'s possible to develop open source software using a closed process. However, as it's generally defined, open source has to meet at least one additional criterion, namely allowing the creation of 'derived works' by modifying that source.

        The Wisconsin statute doesn't require that; someone could sell proprietary software to the state and allow them to publish the source code, but with a license that said nobody's allowed to do anything with the source code other than verify their system. That wouldn't be open source as such.

        However, publishing proprietary source code is not something most companies want to do, so an organization developing a truly open source project would have an advantage.

        You have reached the point where you must choose
        Between what you lost and what you stand to lose - Michael Penn

        by GreenCA on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 08:52:24 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  right (none)
          This is NOT technically open source, because the law does not make it a requirement that you can write source code derived from the code.

          So if Diebold (for example) is operating in the state, they can simply provide their copyrighted code for inspection. And without explicit permission, you can't take that and build on it. So the law does not require that the code be "open" per se -- just that it's not fully closed. It has to be available for inspection.

          As with all laws, this one has its potential loopholes, but it's definitely a step in the right direction.

          Kudos, cheeseheads!

          The world won't get no better if we just let it be.

          by drewthaler on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 07:42:35 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  australia (none)

      their voting system is open source.  i would imagine it would just be a matter of copying what they have and modifying it.  hire a few developers and you've got yourself a voting system.. no fuss no muss.

      You can lead an elephant to water but you can't make 'em think.

      by bill in wa on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 07:13:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  adsf (none)
        oh and just wanted to follow up..

        some of the goodies..

        • system went from design to production in 6 months
        • cost $125,000 to develop and implement

        sure, it's not flashy, doesn't have a big corp. logo on it and well, at this point, doesn't have verifiable printable ballots.. but i figure you could spend a few billion to add printer capability and still come out ahead.

        You can lead an elephant to water but you can't make 'em think.

        by bill in wa on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 07:20:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Which states with otherwise (none)
    predicted democratic victories were Diebold machines used?

    Other then Ohio?

    And what were the contributions?

    They're easliy hacked, arent' they, so realistically, Kerry COULD have won Ohio..

    Does Susan whats-her-last-name Ralston play a part in this?

     Hi Clay;)

  •  I've heard from someone it was a done deal, Ohio, (none)
    they didn't even have to steal -- Cheney and the WH had it all lined up, before the election.

    Boy, Cheney knows everything that goes on, doesn't he?

  •  And who will think to ask? (none)
    "If a municipality uses an electronic voting systm for voting at any election, the municpal clerk shall provide any person, upon request, at the expense of the municipality, the coding for the software that the municipality uses to operate the system and tally the votes cast."

    How many voters actually know this much about such machines to even ask this question, and will they first be asked if they want to know the coding, or will it be left up to them to initiate the question? And as far as the paper ballots are concerned, if the voter can't leave with a paper copy of their vote in their possession, I wouldn't trust it anyway... Although, it is a start.

    •  when have you ever (none)
      been able to leave with a copy of your ballot?  And how would it help prove the legitimacy of the results if you could?

      The bottom line is if there is a descrepancy between the exit polls and the official count, the counting software can be examined and the actual paper ballots can be counted (and recounted) by hand.

      This actually eliminates some of the abiguity on ballots.  Presumedly the machine will print a cleaner mark for each candidate you vote for than the markers we currently use by hand.

      The revolution will not be televised - on FOX

      by Uranus Hz on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 06:42:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I haven't... (none)
         Which is why I think it should be instituted. If I can write out a checking deposiy slip and have a copy for myself, I should be able to mark a vote on a similar document and keep a copy for myself. What's wrong with that? Sorry, I don't trust the fact that electronic machines will STILL be used in thia country. I just see all these initiatives as keeping the status quo while trying to make the peop;e belive they actually got something, when basically it is the same damn thing. The machines will count the votes. Unless they can assure me that the machines still cannot be hacked with or without a paper ballot that can also be manipulated once out of my view, I don't trust them. Period. So no wonder Republicans voted for this. They would love nothing better than to keep these machines in place. I say, get them all the hell out.
        And again, who will think to ask about the code if they don't even know how the machines work?
        •  Oh, and nevermind... (none)
          I read it again, and it said the code will be given "upon request" Loke that's going to work. Most voters don't even know what makes these machines tick or that a code is even used. How will they be made aware of that before the elections? Truly, I am offended as an American that I am being FORCED to vote on machnes in this country. If they really want to bring back Democracy, give voters a CHOICE as to whether they wany to vote on these machines or cast a  written paper ballot.
          •  You misunderstand (none)
            the point of any open source software. It's not that users have to or need to be able to read the source code. It's that someone competent (and in the case of voting, someone trustworthy) can read it, review it, and test it.

            I know a lot of people in WI, many of them liberal to radical, who are perfectly capable of requesting, reading and understanding voting machine source code. That's all it takes.

            That said, it'll be interesting to see how the law is written and implemented. It's important to be able to verify the machine code (the actual code that runs that's created from the source code), since you can hack compilers or database software too. That isn't hard to verify as well, but I don't know if the law provides for that kind of assurance.

            Verifying the source code is good, but not sufficient to guarantee an honest system.

            We all go a little mad sometimes - Norman Bates

            by badger on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 07:45:15 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  asdf (none)
              "many of them liberal to radical"

              lol.  As i like to say here in the People's Republic of Madison, we have both kinds of politics, left (Democratic) and REALLY left (Progressive Dane)

              The liberals argue amongst themselves while the republicans are largely left out of the whole thing.  I love my little blue bubble:

              City councilman: DEM (Sanborn)
              Mayor: DEM (Cieslewicz)
              State Assembly rep: DEM (Burceau)
              State Senator: DEM (Risser)
              Governor: DEM (Doyle)
              US rep: DEM (Baldwin)
              US Senator: DEMx2 (Kohl, Feingold)
              POTUS: REP (that chimp fella)

              The revolution will not be televised - on FOX

              by Uranus Hz on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 08:01:07 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  My councilman (none)
                (when I lived there) was Paul Soglin, although that was probably more impressive way back then. I'm pretty sure Fred Risser was my State Senator - he's been around a while.

                We all go a little mad sometimes - Norman Bates

                by badger on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 08:06:37 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

            •  and who decides who is competent enough? (none)
              Again, in my opinion there should be NO electronic voting machines in this country, and I'm frankly tired of Democrats bringing forth bills to make us think they are on our side in this, when they are still beholding to the companies that makes these machines. I understand fully... electronic machines can be hacked, and so long as they are used, I do NOT trust this process, and I don't care if it is a Democrat or Republican running it.

              And again, according to what was quoted here, the code would only be divulged to a voter "upon request." That tells me it is still the same as it was before. It should be MANDATORY whether requested or not. And wow, the USSC isn't involved in making sure all states do things the same in all counties? They sure gave a damn when it came to stealing the 2000 election no one now gives a damn about rectifying. I wish people would understand that 2000 happened deliberately so that they could get these machines in place and put their real coup against the people in motion. These machines need to be boycotted, not validated, and I'm sorry, but I can't be happy about bills that keep them in the voting process at all.

              •  Hanh? (none)
                "It should be mandatory"? You mean, every voter should be forced to take a copy of the source code when leaving the voting station?

                The point to this law is simply that the company that manufactures the machine is required to release the computer program, in its source form, to the municipalities, which are required to give copies to voters who request them. It seems to be modeled after Wisconsin's Open Records law, which similarly requires most government agencies to release most government records, at cost, to citizens who ask for them.

                The source code would be of no use at all to 99% of all voters, but it would be of considerable use to any watchdog group that wanted to evaluate and report on the system's security.

          •  It only takes one or two people (none)
            and the gig is up. I don't know jack about source code but I know people who do.  If my village went to electronic voting I would just ask my friend who used to do computer hacking as a job(he was hired to hack into computers and tell businesses where they were vulnerable)to look at it and tell me what he thought.  If it was bad or if it was vulnerable I'm sure it would be a letter to the editor in our paper in a flash.  Everybody reads the local paper because it lists all the police calls so in the gossipy suburbs it's a must-read.

            I think voting machine source code is probably both bad and vulnerable and the clowns that make it will probably want to stay away from Wisconsin so that they are not embarrassed and/or sued.

            I'm crossing my fingers that this is the start of paper ballots everywhere.

            But I do see your point that it's ridiculous that the voters are given the burden of proving the machines are crap and not that the machines have to prove to the voters that they are not crap.

            Does the devil wear a suit and tie, Or does he work at the Dairy Queen- Martin Sexton

            by strengthof10kmen on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 07:58:09 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Wait. There's a reason (4.00)
      voters are not allowed to leave the polling station with a paper proof of their vote -- vote buying: "A vote for my candidate is worth a tenspot, just show me the proof." Or worse -- vote extortion: "You wanna keep your job, pal, you come in tomorrow morning with a paper proves you voted the way I told you."

      It used to happen. Just because it's an old method of rigging an election doesn't mean it doesn't still have to be guarded against. You open up an old loophole, the same old cheats start happening again.

      Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is. - TNH

      by Canadian Reader on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 06:54:02 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Corporations buy votes everyday (none)
        And all I know is that there must be a better audit trail than leaving it up to those who run electronic machines that can be hacked.
        •  They buy politicians, that's true. (none)
          But right now they can't buy a voter's vote directly. The secret ballot with nothing taken away ensures that a voter could take their money and still vote for whomever she felt like voting for. Without proof, there's nothing to sell, therefore they can't buy.

          Politicians whose votes are for sale are a different problem, one that can't be solved by changing the procedures in the voting booth.

          As for audit trail, the verified paper ballot, no matter how produced, should be placed in the ballot box. That should be the real vote -- the physical piece of paper. There are time-tested methods to prevent cheating with paper ballots.

          Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is. - TNH

          by Canadian Reader on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 07:49:55 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's a cop out (none)
            I don't sell my checking deposit slips to prove what I have financially and ahve never been blackmailed to do so, so why would you plant in peoples' heads that just because Americans actually have a hard copy of who they voted for, that it would be sold to someone? You don't know that at all. And our votes are still a matter of record to anyone with the power to find that out  amd use it with or without a receipt. My main point here is that electronic voting machines are dangerous to Democracy, and  I don't trust them because our votes ARE sold directly in that the person we vote for can be changed. Having a hard copy of our vote can be used as an audit trail to verify that who we voted for stays that way, as I would make audits mandatory with voters having to match their receipts up against the system randomly.This wouldn;tjust be a piece of paper, it would be a document with a code that could not be denied as yours. I would rather take my chances with that. Something has to give in this country. For the life of me I don't understand why people seem to NOT want the voters of this country to be more assured that their votes are being counted properly.One source for a papertrial does not cut it for verification purposes. It seems Democrats are just as addicted to these machines as Republicans are, and that is truly disappointing. It truly makes me not want to vote at all.
            •  What's up, dude? (none)
              You seem really worked up about all this in some ways that are a bit ... irrational, i think. I mean, what does your checkbook have to do with people buying votes?

              The problem with a paper receipt carried by the voter is simply that it obviates most of the protections of secret balloting. You say that, "our votes are still a matter of record to anyone with the power to find that out  amd use it with or without a receipt," which is a rather extraordinary claim. Assuming that this is not true, and assuming that we switched to a system with paper receipts carried out by voters, corruption will be inevitable -- especially in small towns. Want a zoning exemption? Better pony up your most recent voting receipt, so Councillor Bubba knows you're behind him. Etc. And that's the mildest form of extortion you can envision.

              •  I bet you were against exit polls too? (none)
                Don't they tell the world who you voted for?  Perhaps having the voter take the receipt out of the polling station is risky, but then, there would have to be a way to keep it on file where the voter could then review it upon request to match it to the machine. And  I am not irrational about this, and that was uncalled for. I'm so sorry that Americans who truly are inflamed by this and simply want what is best for the VOTER bothers you.
                •  I lie to exit pollsters. (none)
                  and i'm not alone.

                  A Senator YOU can afford
                  $1 contributions only.
                  Masel for Senate
                  1214 E. Mifflin St.
                  Madison, WI 53703

                  by ben masel on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 08:31:43 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  What is best? (none)
                  I too am quite inflamed about the sorry, nonsecure state of touchscreen and other balloting systems in this country. I'm still infuriated by the counting standards applied in Florida 2K. 3 corners my ass.

                  Someone else posted a response that further elaborated on the kinds of threats posed by non-secret balloting -- which would be the case with carry-out receipts.

                  What bothers me is not that you want what's "best for the VOTER". What is irrational is not that you are concerned about the fraud potential posed by these new systems. Rather, it is your apparent refusal to understand what this law does, why it is an improvement on the previous situation, why it is not useless, and so on. You say bizarre things like, "I read it again, and it said the code will be given 'upon request' Loke that's going to work. Most voters don't even know what makes these machines tick or that a code is even used. How will they be made aware of that before the elections?" In fact, upon rereading this, it is clear that you don't get what the law is about, or what it is for. It is specifically a response to the "black box" nature of the machines. It is not a measure intended to address the concern of an individual voter over an individual ballot, it is intended to address a systemic concern over the security and honesty of the balloting system. It is meant to enable interested groups to verify that the system is not full of bugs and/or cheats. It's an explicit response to the refusal of companies like Diebold to reveal their recording and tabulating software. It ought to be a rule for all tabulating systems, including the ones that count scantron-style or punchcard pallots. And it appears that Wisconsin law is broad enough to cover these systems as well. Which is good.

                  Is the Wisconsin law a perfect fix? No, not really. But do electronic balloting systems have substantial advantages to offer? Yes, as we have seen clearly in the last 5 years, with more and more stories about how many ballots go uncounted because they have somehow been spoiled. Personally, I favor the idea of a touchscreen system that prints the ballot for review, with a counting system that scans the actual printed ballot. Why? Because it is almost impossible for someone to screw it up, and almost impossible for someone to alter/spoil the ballot during a count or recount.

                  Exit polls are problematic for a few reasons, including the potential for coercion, but significantly of course, you cannot be compelled to tell the truth in an exit poll. 10 years ago, when I was more concerned about the distorting effects of media poll coverage than I was about vote fraud, I advocated lying in exit polls. As of Nov 2000, I have changed my tune.

            •  You're young, right? (none)
              Nobody has any interest in buying your checking deposit slips. The vote-selling business stopped being possible before I was born, but I'm old enough to have heard stories from my grandfather. In Canada, by the way, so it wasn't just Americans who engaged in the practice. And it wasn't at all uncommon for a boss to gather his employees together and tell them how they had to vote if they wanted to keep their jobs. We're talking the late 1800s here, when workers had no bargaining power. Seems like the US is headed back to those days, so this isn't just ancient history.

              The only reason it stopped was the secret ballot. If you remove the enforced secrecy, you will start to see voter coercion again.

              So your vote had better not be a matter of record! Your party registration isn't secret -- and to my mind that's already a terrible invasion of privacy -- but you still have the right to change your mind at the last minute in the voting booth, and nobody should ever, ever be able to prove what your final decision was.

              I share your suspicion of electronic voting machines, and yes, absolutely, there should be a paper record. What I'm saying is, you should not be allowed to take that paper record out of the polling place. After you've examined it and verified that it truly represents your intentions, it should be securely deposited in a ballot box.

              That paper ballot should serve, not just as audit trail, but as your primary vote. The pieces of voter-verified paper are the best record of the true vote, and that's what should be counted. The electronic record, if consulted at all, should serve only as an independent audit trail, to be a further check on the known ways of cheating with paper ballots.

              If someone fiddles the electronic count, then it will not match the paper ballot count. Such a discrepancy should automatically trigger a judicially supervised recount of the paper ballots.

              Ballot boxes of course need to be numbered and accounted for, and watched carefully until the ballots have been counted. If someone sinks a bunch of ballot boxes in the river (a classic ploy, back in the bad old days before there were procedures to make that not work), the missing ones will show up on the box count, and that should trigger a police investigation, one that needs to end in long jail terms for whoever did it.

              Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is. - TNH

              by Canadian Reader on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 06:46:47 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  paper ballot counts can be manipulated (none)
                So if they both jive, you still don't know if they have been manipulated. That then isn't good enough for me. And frankly, all of the people who claim they share my distrust of these machines yet don't call for them to be taken out of this process (including Congress), just aren't convincing me. I will NEVER vote on one of those machines... And I shouldn't have to if I don't want to, and resent how Democrats and Republicans alike are forcing them upon us. Simple as that.
                •  Yes, paper ballots can be manipulated. (none)
                  But not in the same ways as the electronic counts, and the procedures for stopping those manipulations are well known and have been tested and refined over decades. It is highly unlikely that a potential cheater would ever be able to jigger both of them in such a way as to have the counts match.

                  The electronic machines are fine, as long as they are just used as an input method for printing the real ballots. The electronic count can be an audit trail, and an early indicator -- along with the exit polls -- for you impatient Americans. It just can't be the real vote count.

                  Because a paper ballot is a physical object, it can't be changed undetectably after the fact, the way an electronic vote can. You have volunteers appointed by each party at every polling place, charged to keep an eye on things. When ballot boxes are being transported, someone has to sign for them, and be held criminally responsible if they are lost. When counting is being done, you again have people from each party watching.

                  Kind of like the Florida recount, you know, except leaving out all the hanging chads, fake riots, and hysterical news coverage. Make it into normal routine and it works fine. Who cares if it takes you a few extra hours to find out for sure who your new President is?

                  Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is. - TNH

                  by Canadian Reader on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 07:45:55 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

              •  "your party registration isn't secret" (none)
                Wisconsin doesn't do registration by Party. In the Primary you get a ballot with all Parties candidates listed, but can only vote for Candidates of 1. In towns using optical scan, the counter rejects your ballot if you've tried to vote for candidates on more than one Party's column, you turn that one in, it's torn in half, goes to the "spoiled ballot" bin, and get a fresh blank to try again.

                A Senator YOU can afford
                $1 contributions only.
                Masel for Senate
                1214 E. Mifflin St.
                Madison, WI 53703

                by ben masel on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 07:22:02 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

    •  EFF, ACLU, Slashdot, DKos (none)
      As others mentioned, the paper ballot is explicitly for a recount purposes. Right now there is no paper record, so recounts are impossible... and therefore faking a vote tally electronically is possible.

      Having a real paper record simply means you can do an independent accounting of what the machine did -- which is something that we absolutely require from ATMs, but somehow didn't require from e-voting (yet).

      As for who will do it, you will have major groups like the EFF and ACLU doing it immediately, as well as other watchdog groups like Black Box Voting. As for awareness, well, how many people from Wisconsin visit Slashdot? I can't say for sure, but I bet it's easily 20,000 or more across the state. And slashdot likes to focus on this sort of thing. Not to mention DKos and other sites. You'll have pretty good awareness, and a significant number of truly independent experts looking at the code.

      Heck, I'm sure a lot of college and high-school students will download it just to check it out... as a kid you don't get a chance to look at real production systems all that often. I'm sure they'd find it edifying and horrifying all at once. :-)

      The world won't get no better if we just let it be.

      by drewthaler on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 07:55:54 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  the key point, i guess (none)
        Is that while you won't have everyone inspecting the code, you will have the right people doing so. Even if that's only 0.5% of the population, it's a large enough number that you'll have truly independent experts working on it.

        Of course, inspection is only the first step. If a problem is found, and even the best code has potential problems from time to time, political pressure needs to be applied to make them change. The law doesn't require this either.

        But that's probably not a big problem -- the aforementioned groups are pretty good at applying pressure too.

        The world won't get no better if we just let it be.

        by drewthaler on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 08:07:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Uranus hz? (none)
    Does anything else hertz?
  •  Oregon (none)
    I had read that our Governor Kulongoski would consider setting up the various black boxes sitting in a warehouse if our state could also adopt open source software.

    Open source is the way to go - very cool of Wisconsin. Kudos to all in the state legislature for this.

    "People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people."- "V" in "V for Vendetta

    IMPEACH Bush

    by smugbug on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 06:53:01 PM PST

  •  I am so proud of wisconsin.. (none)
    Yaaaaa.  I am jealous, we have blackwell of ohio that just ordered diebold in all 88 paper trails..I used to be so proud of ohio..
  •  with love from minnesota (none)
    we're so proud of our neighbors.  nice job.  i toast you with some cheese.

    "Never separate the words you speak from the life you live" - Paul Wellstone

    by vome minnesota on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 07:05:22 PM PST

    •  Cal passed us up, we're actually (none)
      now the cranberry state.

      should you not be the person to whom I am writing, you are hereby forbidden to have begun reading this message

      by le sequoit on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 10:22:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  yeah, but... (none)
        california cheese tastes awful. they think salt=flavor.
        and their cows don't even get to move from one spot in their entire lives.

        we'll always be the real dairy state.  

        •  Agreed (none)
          "Real California Cheese: From sessile cows comes awful cheese."
        •  and then (none)
          There's all that toilet paper.

        • 1901 Northern Paper Mills Company is chartered in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and the first sanitary tissue is produced in 1902.
        • 1908 Hugh Moore and Lawrence Luellen get funding for the construction of Health Kup, and the Individual Drinking Cup Company is established in 1910.
        • 1919 1919 Also in Green Bay, Fort Howard was founded by a former Northern Mills employee, Austin E. Cofrin.
        • 1920-1929 Northern Mills introduces toilet tissue on a roll!

        • La Follette, Feingold, the Dixie(?) cup and tissue on a roll.
          You're welcome, world!
          Could we see a Quilted Northern Field if the Pack get desperate?

should you not be the person to whom I am writing, you are hereby forbidden to have begun reading this message

by le sequoit on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 09:24:18 AM PST

[ Parent ]

  •  and ginseng (none)
    don't forget the ginseng.  Even the chinese will tell you the best ginseng in the world comes from wisconsin

    The revolution will not be televised - on FOX

    by Uranus Hz on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 09:26:39 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

  •  Love you too, (none)
    especially loved your Wellstone; feeling of sadness whenever I see his name..

    A society of sheep must beget in time a government of wolves. Bertrand de Jouvenel

    by Little Red Hen on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 06:29:27 AM PST

    [ Parent ]

  •  Real voting reform ... (none)
    ... in Congress was introduced by Sen. Clinton (D-N.Y.) [and Sen. Boxer (D-Calif.), although Sen. Clinton is listed as the sponsor] and Rep. Tubbs Jones (D-Ohio) on 17 February 2005.

    Title I of the bills (S.450/H.R.939) mandates a paper trail for all electronic ballots.  Title VII of the bills restore federal voting rights to ex-felons who have completely served their sentences.  Title VIII makes Election Day a federal holiday.

    These are two of the best bills in Congress right now.  The Senate bill has only 6 co-sponsors including Sen. Boxer (Sens. Dayton, Kerry, Lautenberg, Leahy, and Mikulski).  The House bill has 75 co-sponsors, but Leader Pelosi and Whip Hoyer are not co-sponsors.  Please tell your members of Congress to co-sponsor these bills.

    The quest for freedom, dignity, and the rights of man will never end. - Justice Brennan

    by jim bow on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 07:06:02 PM PST

  •  How About Requiring Certified Secure Systems, Too (4.00)
    Diebold, at least, seems to be using Microsoft Access and Visual Basic to cobble together an insecure and easily hacked system.  For a start, how about mandating all software used in electronic voting systems be CCEVS certified?
    CCEVS Objectives

    The National Information Assurance Partnership Common Criteria Evaluation and Validation Scheme (CCEVS) Validation Body ... is an activity jointly managed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Security Agency (NSA) and staffed by personnel from those agencies.
    ...The purpose of the NVLAP accreditation is to ensure that laboratories meet the requirements of ISO/IEC Guide 25, General Requirement for the Competence of Calibration and Testing Laboratories and the specific scheme requirements for IT security evaluation. Other requirements for CCTL approval are CCEVS-specific and are outlined in scheme policies and scheme publications.

    It is ridiculous that none of these electronic voting systems are certified secure - unless, of course, that is a feature rather than a bug...
  •  Such an OBVIOUS thing to do!! (4.00)
    • Firstly, note, it sensibly said "any person, upon request, at the expense of the municipality" and not "any voter"; Now we need this to be replicated in  every state; but the devil is in the details; what if the code "provided" is subsequently altered? what if duplicate codes are in use or hidden codes (like spyware and such)??
    • we need election supervisors that understand code, and can certify the code that was used at time of election, seal and leave it untouched until examination
    • and we then need a committee of software coders that will undertake to review every municipality's software and certify it after the election is over as having had a valid aggregating procedure.
    Who would undertake all this the FEC?
  •  Hooray! (4.00)
    Finally, a bill the Govenor won't have to veto.

    Does the devil wear a suit and tie, Or does he work at the Dairy Queen- Martin Sexton

    by strengthof10kmen on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 07:22:12 PM PST

  •  So what you're really saying (none)
    is that there is such thing (they're not extinct) as a republican with integrity and respect for our votes?
  •  Conneticut Too? (none) :
    ANOTHER STATE REVERSAL! Connecticut Announces It's Ditching Electronic Voting Machine Plans for 2006!
    Feds Said to Approve Return to Lever-Style Voting Equipment!
  •  This is all fine and good (none)
    but does it also provide for verifiable, certified binary images of the software?

    It is one thing to provide access to the source, it is another thing to verify that the actual runnable software is actually that produced when that source is compiled in a pre-defined environment AND that every single voting station used in an election uses the same binary image.

    It is also verification and certification of the whole system, that there are no loopholes in the system that allow modification, deletion or insertion of voting data.

    The whole system needs to be publically and openly checkable.

  •  I'll take the tips.... (4.00)
    Rep Pocan (my neighbor) introduced a version of this bill in Sept. '04, with paper trail, but without the open code requirement. I cornered him at the coffee shop, spent an hour explaining the importance of an open code requirement, and he promised to add it, if it didn't pass as is last year.

    The original bill went thru the Assembly, but was not taken up by the Senate before adjournment, and Marc followed through with the needed changes before re-introducing last February.

    A Senator YOU can afford
    $1 contributions only.
    Masel for Senate
    1214 E. Mifflin St.
    Madison, WI 53703

    by ben masel on Wed Jan 04, 2006 at 10:32:48 PM PST

  •  Fantastic! (none)
    Thanks for letting us know.

    Time to go do a little dance around the office.

  •  Slashdot (none)
    This was posted on Slashdot as well... if you ever wanted to see a totally inane discussion, go read that.

    Wisconsin Requires Open Source, Verifiable Voting

  •  Next Step (none)
    Next Step would be to do the same with the software that draws up voting districts. Take the drawing of districts out of the hands of politicians is something people of all political stripes can get behind.

    "Perhaps the meek shall inherit the Earth, but they'll do it in very small plots . . . about 6' by 3'." -- Robert A. Heinlein

    by marko on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 06:07:42 AM PST

  •  California and Florida has booted Diebold too! (none)
  •  Congratulations! Now AUDIT it. (none)
    Amazing and wonderful news.  This should be federal law.

    But now, WI (and every other state) needs a mandatory, automatic manual hand count audit of a random 10% of districts.  We have already seen how calls for recounts can get shut down unless there is MASSIVE evidence of vote fraud.  Close elections call for automatic audits.  

    Having the paper there is useless when it's so easy to prevent recounts.  Manual audits PLUS paper ballots are the only way to deter vote tampering and ensure equipment used to record and tally votes is operating as expected.

    We do automatic, manual audits where money is concerned.  The same should apply to voting.

    Impeachment begins in the House.

    by raisin on Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 11:58:25 AM PST

  • Close


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