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E-Voting Machine Crash Deepens Concerns

Old 10-14-04, 12:04 PM
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E-Voting Machine Crash Deepens Concerns

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A computer crash that forced a pre-election test of electronic voting machines to be postponed was trumpeted by critics as proof of the balloting technology's unreliability.



The incident in Palm Beach County which is infamous for its hanging and pregnant chads during the 2000 presidential election did not directly involve the touch-screen terminals on which nearly one in three U.S. voters will cast ballots on Election Day.


But critics of the ATM-like machines said it proved how fickle any computer-based voting system can be and highlighted the need for touch-screens to produce paper records.


Tuesday's public dry run had to be postponed until Friday because a computer server that tabulates data from the touch-screen machines crashed, said county elections supervisor Theresa LePore. Such "logic and accuracy" tests are required by law.


She said she suspected Hurricane Jeanne, which struck in September, may have zapped electricity and air conditioning to the room where the server was stored, causing temperatures to soar to 90 degrees or more and possibly causing the crash. The storm wiped out power to nearly 1.3 million homes and businesses throughout Florida.


The incident raised questions in the minds of computer hardware and software engineers about the reliability of other computers on which Floridians will depend for an accurate vote count on Nov. 2 especially touch-screen machines.


An Achilles' heel of electronic voting equipment, just like any machines whose circuits get hot with colliding electrons, is its inability to tolerate extreme conditions, many experts say.

[more]

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmp...ing_palm_beach

man how could we be facing this stuff again. Anyone expect that the election will be contested for sure?
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Old 10-14-04, 12:06 PM
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I don't know what to do. Do I trust a machine with no paper ballot to correctly record my vote, or do I trust the postal service to deliver my absentee ballot? I can't say I'm very confident of my vote counting in this election. Florida has fucked things up Big Time.
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Old 10-14-04, 12:06 PM
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If Repubs win, then yes it will be contested. If the Dems win, then there's no problem.
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Old 10-14-04, 12:14 PM
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We shouldn't have elections ever again. After 230 years of elections going pretty good, we've obviously lost our touch. We should just throw up our hands and let the UN delegate presidential matters to a new US presidential council made up of members from all the world.

Yup.
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Old 10-14-04, 12:17 PM
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What is wrong with scantron type voting? There is a record of the vote and it is still counted electronically. And they are not expensive.

I have no idea why this is such a tough issue.
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Old 10-14-04, 12:18 PM
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I guess I'm bothered the crash was "trumpeted by critics." RAH RAH, voting is unreliable.

Certainly the problems need to be wrung out. I have no idea whether a paper trail is either necessary or sufficient to avoid the particular problems which occured in this test. Were the test votes "lost" in individual touch screen machines or the central server couldn't collect them because it was down. Are the votes still in the touch screens waiting to be retrieved?

Is it unreasonable to expect a reporter to investigate important questions like this or is it better to just add to the rancor of the election? This article is a pile of dogcrap. Yet there are some real issues deserving of decent investigation.

Last edited by OldDude; 10-14-04 at 12:55 PM.
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Old 10-14-04, 12:39 PM
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OldDude this is just the latest story.

There is tons of problems out there to look at. The one that most worries me is that the total can be easily changed in one system with no way of anyone knowing. I heard this on NPR and have not looked for a web story to back it up. But if true this is scary for sure.
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Old 10-14-04, 12:50 PM
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Black Box Voting officials say the change can be made quickly without detection. "You simply open any text editor, like 'Notepad,' and type a six-line Visual Basic Script, and you own the election," according to the Black Box Voting Web site.
blackboxvoting.org

Yeap
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Old 10-14-04, 12:59 PM
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Could that site have any bias? Has anybody given Diebold a chance to prove or disprove this allegation (and if so, have they)?

I'm not saying there are no issues. I'm saying we are getting irresponsibly one-sided reporting so I'm clueless on what is the appropriate level of concern. Frankly if Diebold had successfully disproven all such charges, I would expect no coverage of the fact except from Fox, whom liberals wouldn't believe. That's how sad this election has become.
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Old 10-14-04, 01:06 PM
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I just have not been following it. Kind of because I dont want to know.

With everything this close and bothsides rasing money for recounts it seems like we may be in for another 2000.
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Old 10-14-04, 01:47 PM
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Originally posted by OldDude
I guess I'm bothered the crash was "trumpeted by critics." RAH RAH, voting is unreliable.

Certainly the problems need to be wrung out. I have no idea whether a paper trail is either necessary or sufficient to avoid the particular problems which occured in this test. Were the test votes "lost" in individual touch screen machines or the central server couldn't collect them because it was down. Are the votes still in the touch screens waiting to be retrieved?

Is it unreasonable to expect a reporter to investigate important questions like this or is it better to just add to the rancor of the election? This article is a pile of dogcrap. Yet there are some real issues deserving of decent investigation.
The articles give the impression that the test wasn't run at all because the server couldn't collect the votes. My impression is that the Touch screens function only as an input device... akin to a keyboard, and that they don't actually store anything, just transmit data to the server. Since the server was down nothing happens, like would happen if you typed on your keyboard when the computer was off.

My other issue is that yes computers are sensitive to heat, but they just crash, normally they don't permanently break. When they've cooled down they'll start running again. Any aggressive overclocker has seen this before. IMO, 90 degree temperature should not cause any problems, particularly on a server that they give the impression wasn't even on at the time (although the story is vague on details).
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Old 10-14-04, 02:09 PM
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Your hypothesis is certainly reasonable given the lack of detail in the article. I assumed the touch screens collected the local vote, then they all report to the central server. That would allow voting to continue, with collection delayed, which might be preferable to requiring the server to be totally functional during voting hours. (at the expense of more security software in each touchscreen to make sure results aren't tampered with)
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Old 10-14-04, 02:58 PM
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If Repubs win, then yes it will be contested. If the Dems win, then there's no problem.


Get real. Regardless of who wins, if it as close as last year, the side that's on the short end of the stick will contest it.
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Old 10-14-04, 03:06 PM
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What happens when people try to color in the dots on the screen with a Sharpie, hold them up to the light and ascertain the voter's intent??? Geez. I wish that stupidity hurt.
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Old 10-14-04, 03:17 PM
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Re: E-Voting Machine Crash Deepens Concerns

Originally posted by bfrank
An Achilles' heel of electronic voting equipment, just like any machines whose circuits get hot with colliding electrons, is its inability to tolerate extreme conditions, many experts say.



I think the machines store the data locally and then its transmitted to the server for tabulation.


computers crash. its a fact. if the software is written right, it shouldnt cause a loss of data. what i'm concerned about it that the software isn't open source as far as i know
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Old 10-14-04, 03:22 PM
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"We can always go back if everything totally crashes and burns," she said. "We still have the info on the cartridges and the voting machines."

LePore was referring to the memory cartridges in the touch-screen machines that record the votes.

they are stored on the machines.

"What happens if there's a hurricane on election day, or terrorists knock the power out?" Lipsio said. "The reality is these machines are dependent on electricity, and unless you're going to have generators at polling places, you need a paper backup system."
well duh. electronic devices need power. if there is a hurricane or a terrorist attack on election day, voting is probably the least of the people's worries.


In the July primary, numerous machines in one elementary school in Decatur, Ga., failed throughout the day, when temperatures exceeded 90 degrees, according to a report by poll monitors.
aren't we more concerned that a elementary school is at 90 degrees?
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Old 10-14-04, 03:46 PM
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quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"What happens if there's a hurricane on election day, or terrorists knock the power out?" Lipsio said. "The reality is these machines are dependent on electricity, and unless you're going to have generators at polling places, you need a paper backup system."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Without electricity, I wonder how the machines would print on their "sacred paper trail." I am amazed that these idiots think everything would be solved with a paper trail.
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Old 10-14-04, 05:11 PM
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Originally posted by OldDude
quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
"What happens if there's a hurricane on election day, or terrorists knock the power out?" Lipsio said. "The reality is these machines are dependent on electricity, and unless you're going to have generators at polling places, you need a paper backup system."
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Without electricity, I wonder how the machines would print on their "sacred paper trail." I am amazed that these idiots think everything would be solved with a paper trail.
Actually they say paper backup system, not paper trail, so I read that line as "we need paper ballots just in case the power goes out."

Of course I'm sure that would lead to the power "going-out" and paper ballots being necessitated in several areas
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Old 10-14-04, 05:36 PM
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what if they just had EPROM in the machine that would hold the count if the power went out?
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Old 10-14-04, 05:45 PM
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i think these machines have magnetic media (hard drives) that store the count.

its not storing the count thats the problem, its not being able to vote when the power is out
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Old 10-14-04, 06:07 PM
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Originally posted by Mordred
Actually they say paper backup system, not paper trail, so I read that line as "we need paper ballots just in case the power goes out."

Of course I'm sure that would lead to the power "going-out" and paper ballots being necessitated in several areas
Fine, but they haven't bought machines to count those hand-filled-in ballots. At best they might spring for the optional printer and a device by which the Diebold machine could recount the tickets it prints (if the power is on).

Now they could have bought optical scan equipment and counted the votes later, but that system has been shown to have a high percent of under/over votes. The optical scan system only gets high marks if the ballot is immediately scanned and the voter is immediately advised if the ballot is screwed up. You can't do that in a power outage.
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Old 10-14-04, 06:25 PM
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Originally posted by kvrdave
What is wrong with scantron type voting? There is a record of the vote and it is still counted electronically. And they are not expensive.
That's exactly how the Maryland absentee ballots work. Of course, on Election day they'll be using touch screens, but the absentee ballots are paper scantron-types with circles to fill in and #2 pencils provided.
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Old 10-14-04, 08:09 PM
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Originally posted by Venusian
i think these machines have magnetic media (hard drives) that store the count.

its not storing the count thats the problem, its not being able to vote when the power is out
It could be magnetic media, but my impression from the news story this morning was that it was flash RAM, probably some form of proprietary encrypted Compact Flash, or something similar. That type of media would likely survive a hurricane with its counts intact, unless it is physically crushed.
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Old 10-14-04, 08:13 PM
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At least it looks like I will get to vote multiple times in Ohio thanks to Democratic legal efforts.

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Old 10-14-04, 09:59 PM
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Originally posted by VinVega
I don't know what to do. Do I trust a machine with no paper ballot to correctly record my vote, or do I trust the postal service to deliver my absentee ballot? I can't say I'm very confident of my vote counting in this election. Florida has fucked things up Big Time.
I'd worry more about whoever is counting the absentee ballots than the postal service.
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