E-Voting Screwup Puts Medical Marijuana Back On The Ballot

E-Voting Screwup Puts Medical Marijuana Back On The Ballot

It's time for everyone's favorite head-scratcher: e-voting! On the one hand, we all like machines and their ruthless efficiency. On the other, they make it even easier to rig elections without leaving any evidence behind, and the companies who sell them are notoriously partisan and secretive, a bad combination for an election technology.

A Berkeley, California, referendum on medical marijuana in 2004 failed by only 191 votes, so proponents of the measure went to court seeking a recount and access to records and audit logs of the Diebold e-voting machines the election had been conducted on. California law now requires a paper record of every vote, but it wasn't in place at the time, so the vote data only existed in the machines' memory. The plaintiffs eventually got their court-ordered recount, but by then the machines had been returned to Diebold – and the vote data had been erased. According to Wired's Threat Level, election officials lied to the court repeatedly about why they couldn't provide plaintiffs access to the (deleted) data, which is not a smart thing to do. Don't lie in court, kids (unless you're friends with the President, apparently).

In response, the court just tentatively voided the vote and ordered the measure back on the ballot for the next election. (Tentative here means the judge is affording the defendants a hearing to contest her decision before it becomes official.) It also issued tentative sanctions for the county officials, requiring them to pay the plaintiffs' $22,600 recount fee as well as some attorneys' fees. The result? Maybe other counties will be a little more careful with electronic voting records, and a little less trigger happy with the delete key.

 

Thumbnail image courtesy of Daniel Morrison.

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SaCo

please update your voteing machine to service pack 2

im waiting for voting machine ultimate

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MantaBase

Well,

Diebold shouldn't be allowed to make any machine associated with voting in my opinion. This e-voting thing isn't rocket science and getting it right shouldn't be so difficult. Heck, I would trust and E-machines to do a better job at knowing what is required.

1) The software (at minimum the part that acquires and stores results) should be open to the public. The identity verification software should be open for review by Congress.
2) The program and OS should be read only embedded - ROM
3) The configuration data (names of candidates and what type of question being asked, etc...) should be on OTP-EPROM - or at minimum EPROM.
4) Three SFF printers should be used with different color paper. One simply records a paper ballot with a start and stop bar code for a bar code reader (malfunction detection), a second is a backup for the first, a third is used for for recording a hardcopy version of the machine's internal data table (which is why, if the designers were smart, data is done in an "append" type fashion). And NOT thermal printers!
5) The machine should have no networking capabilities and any I/O ports should be secured during operation.
6) Mirror/RAID anyone?

Lol - I guess I'm ranting, but the point is, the task at hand is not difficult - so mistakes should rarely be tolerated.

Manta

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erin

An e-voting scholar gave an interesting talk here the other day. It turns out there's more to worry about than just transparency and accuracy. We have a strong tradition of secret voting in this country (to prevent people from being pressured or punished for their vote). But the goal of letting everyone know their vote was counted is in tension with the goal of *not* giving anyone a receipt that can be used to prove how they voted.

But right now, I agree, the biggest problem with e-voting is that the systems are proprietary, so there's no way to know if they're actually recording the votes that get cast.

avatar

nedwards

Dude, e-voting is like, totally harshing my buzz, you know?

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