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WI Bill Would Require E-Voting Paper Trail, Source 87

Posted by timothy
from the small-step-for-cheeseheads dept.
AdamBLang writes "Three Wisconsin legislators announced today that they began circulating a memo for cosponsors to a bill that would require electronic voting machines to produce a paper ballot. Additionally, the new bill includes a provision that the source code must be publicly accessible. After the November 2004 elections, there were numerous reports of problems with the new paperless touch voting screens. Problems include machines subtracting or adding votes, freezing up, shutting down and skipping past races."
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WI Bill Would Require E-Voting Paper Trail, Source

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  • by MindStalker (22827)
    First B@1tz
  • ...voting for people that don't exist. I love how acts like this come about After 2 terms.
  • by infonography (566403) on Monday August 01, 2005 @03:37PM (#13216635) Homepage
    Paper ballots. If We got paper ballots then how could be fix the elections?

    "It's not who votes that counts. It's who counts the votes." -- Joseph Stalin and up till now that's been Diebold.

  • Yes! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MarkusQ (450076) on Monday August 01, 2005 @03:38PM (#13216644) Journal

    It's hard to overstate the importance of this--no matter what your stance on any of the multitude of wedge issues, you should be behind this. Only people who somehow expect to gain from rigged elections could rationally oppose it.

    So let's keep a list of who objects, shall we?

    --MarkusQ

    • Paperless society pushers. :)
    • In this time of automated exploration of the solar system, robotic probes wandering around on Mars, computer systems decoding the human genome and whatnot, we find that addition in a simple tally of votes is just too damned hard to get right.

      Am I being cynical?

      Why is it that the American people sit idly by and allow the gutting of America? This Diebold voting scam was about the most obvious and malicious corruption (or coup) of the democratic process in the history of the world. But nobody even both
      • What's wrong, I'm not sure. I could be apathy, or something more scary like this [wikipedia.org] (mercury in immunity shots.)

      • There were marches. There was outraged protest. And the only reason I know is that I was there. If you watched the news that day all you heard about was the bread (or was it circus day?) that was deemed newsworthy by our *ahem* free and independent news corporations.

        Which leads to the question: If a democracy falls in the forest and there's nobody willing to report it--where'd all the bean dip go--dang, I forgot my question. Who's got the remote?

        --MarkusQ

        • If a democracy falls in the forest and there's nobody willing to report it

          i am unsure where you live, but i live in a federal republic. [wikipedia.org]

          but yeah, we need election reform big time and there are already alternative sources for info. just convince your friends to get of the couch. you need to start local.


          • Agreed, but I kind of felt that "a plurality of the local democracies comprising a federated republic" was a little heavy for the allusion I was aiming for.

            --MarkusQ

  • Certainly corruption and misreporting on a massive scale can be avoided entirely by "backing up" an electronic process with a paper trail - because paper based voting systems are infallible!

    Just ask anyone from Florida.
    • Certainly corruption and misreporting on a massive scale can be avoided entirely by "backing up" an electronic process with a paper trail - because paper based voting systems are infallible!

      Just ask anyone from Florida.

      At least paper ballots never return a negative number [bbvforums.org].

    • I think it's more important to me that someone gets a reciept for voting.. come on, you buy groceries all the time and they give you a reciept that half of the time you don't even keep, but for something as important as voting you don't get one? And that doesn't smell like corruption to you?

      An electronic voting system isn't that fucking hard people. But if you contract a company to do it, it's up to the company to be honest and that's not something we should rest on any one company.

      So why don't we jus
  • Quick question: Why isn't this already a national requirement? What reasonable explanation is there for such a glaring lack of security in the most fundamental of governmental institutions?
    • The US government is just a mess when it comes to integrating with technology. It thinks of itself as 50 different entity in each state, instead of 1 big network. Every state set up their own org, registry, .gov whatever as radically different from one another as possible. I am glad there is a paper trail.

    • The federal government doesn't have the constitutional authority to mandate how states run their elections.
    • by Anonymous Custard (587661) on Monday August 01, 2005 @04:40PM (#13217265) Homepage Journal
      "Quick question: Why isn't this already a national requirement? What reasonable explanation is there for such a glaring lack of security in the most fundamental of governmental institutions?"

      They'll tell you it's too expensive to have printers on all the voting machines. (Even though Diebold is the same company that somehow figured out a way to give you a receipt for every transaction you make at an ATM.)

      The real reason is that paper receipts make it too hard to rig the election.
      • They'll tell you it's too expensive to have printers on all the voting machines. (Even though Diebold is the same company that somehow figured out a way to give you a receipt for every transaction you make at an ATM.)

        Um, no they don't. Diebold is selling a voting machine right now [corporate-ir.net] that offers a paper trail.
        • The paper trail is not an end-all solution. Who says it can't print out one thing while tallying another?
          • the more immediate pure electronic vote can go forward with the machine, but the voters could verify their vote on the paper,then drop them in another tally box if they look good, then those paper votes get manually counted elsewhere and compared against the electronic result within a few days.

            That's one way to do it. Of course I am in favor of no e-voting at all. I've voted for decades, and it's only the last three I have been required to be dieboldized. My vote has disappeared, you can't see it, it's gone

            • Check out the results of this this search [google.com].

              They want to eliminate limits on tenure.
              • if only we could get limits on senators and representatives across the board. and not pay them. perhaps then people would serve for ideals rather than the power. call me jaded.

                • Unfortunately, that would get rid of some of the very few good ones we have left, like John Conyers [johnconyers.com]. :(
                • If you don't pay them anything, then only those wealthy enough to not work could serve. That wouldn't be much better!

                  Alternately, I believe that congressmen should get paid the average wage of the residents of their state. That would make the job pay well enough to live off of, but would avoid attracting those who just want the money. At the same, it would encourage raising the standard of living of those in their state (across the board), instead of just sucking them dry like parasites.

                  • in the church i grew up in, the pastor did not get paid. he was given a modest house, car and what he needed to live on by the congregation. i dont see why we couldnt treat politicians in the same way.

                    i think politics should be a short term service, not a career. currently only weathly people are typically able to get elected, so that is really a red herring. at the very least we will have have them rotated out. at best a new method of campaigning can be developed where the people of all incomes can get t

      • In truth Diebold has long sold electronic voting machines with printed receipts. They cost more and are worthless for anything but making the voter feel good, which is why most places don't get them.

        Also how would a paper receipt stop any rigging of the votes? The paper is worthless for accountablity once the voter has it in thier hands. It would be a feel good item that just destroies some trees and creates more garbage that needs to be cleaned up.
        • Also how would a paper receipt stop any rigging of the votes? The paper is worthless for accountablity once the voter has it in thier hands.

          The paper doesn't ever reach their hands. They see it through a window, so they can confirm that their exact vote was recorded in an unalterable way (unlike an insecure ms access database which can be changed without a trace).

          If there's any question, or for a spot check, the paper votes can be counted and compared to what the access database said. If the numbers aren'
          • That would be system that has a possiblity of being of some use. You would still have to work out rules on which is the official system of record, and when the paper recording would be used.

            However that is not the type of paper system that people are talking about. If you read the orginal post and even the parent of my first post they are all talking about a paper system where the voter gets a slip of paper, like an ATM machine.
            • No you misunderstood. The voter does not keep the paper, they put it in a ballot box. Keeping a proof of how you voted would allow vote buying (ie your boss insists you show you voted for his candidate or your are fired).

              I think having the voter move the paper from the machine to the box would inspire more confidence that it really is their vote (the machine *may* be incinerating the enclosed paper you see and printing another...) However I can see problems with some scheme where many voters are somehow mad
    • Voting systems need to be auditible whether that occurs through paper or some other methods, the goal is that the authenticity and origin of votes be verifiable with 100% certainty. Anything else is just missing the point. Jumping for specific technologies and methods is still putting things bassackwards.

      That said, I do suspect that the current US voting methods do not meet the requirements set out for an open and fair election by both the UN and the US when they go about observing elections. Invited U

  • Even though this particular story is local to the Wisconsin statehouse, it will be interesting to see what actual language ends up in their bill. If done well this could make an excellent template for us to push out to our own state and federal legislators. We've gotta start somewhere with a serious effort to regulate this into openness.
  • Not that I am overly paranoid, but I fail to see how this will change anything.

    Even with paper ballots being printed, how are we to know that our vote gets tallied on the right column? What is to stop the program from printing one result while tabulating another?

    Furthermore, even if source code is publicly available, what guarantees are there that the publicly available code is the actual code running on the balloting machine?

    I would personally have more confidence in the system if completely separate syst
    • When you're in a voting ward where 300 people voted for Candidate A and 100 people voted for Candidate B and everybody in that voting ward knows their neighbors were going to vote for Candidate A, when Candidate B wins, you can say "hey! something's up," pull out your paper trail, recount it, and and put Candidate A in office.
    • Well - I think that if the election binaries were regulated as closely as the slot machine binaries in Vegas, I would trust it...

    • At some point you have to trust someone. Currently in Wisconsin, we use optical reading machines. Think scantron fill in the bubble, but instead of filling in the bubble, you connect a line. When you vote, you're trusting that there isn't a flaw in the machine, and that the machine has been programmed correctly for that election to read the correct place for the correct candidate (the machine "knows" which candidate is which--at close it tells, by name, who won and gives percentages and tally counts). T
    • To all your questions at once, we can't ever know. If we have secret balloting (which we do, and should, have), no one can know how everyone else voted, except from the tabulation.

      You have to trust someone -- whether it is individuals or computers tallying the votes.

      Printed records allow recounts. As far as I am concerned, recounts should be mandatory, for all elections. Count once by computer, once by hand. The hand count takes precedence over the computer count.

      This bill takes several steps in
    • "What is to stop the program from printing one result while tabulating another?"

      This is a Wisconsin Bill. The state's Open Records Law already makes ballots, ie paper and optiscan, public records which can be inspected by anyone who asks to do so.
  • by Savantissimo (893682) on Monday August 01, 2005 @04:29PM (#13217149) Journal
    From the EFF [eff.org]:
    Best E-voting Bill Reintroduced - Lend Your Support!

    Verify the Vote In 2004, thousands of EFF activists helped Rep. Rush Holt's Voter Confidence and Increased Accessibility Act (VCIAA, HB 550) garner immense support before the session ended. The bill contains several critically important election reforms, including the requirement of a paper audit trail for all electronic voting machines, random audits, and public availability of all code used in elections. HB 550 was reintroduced in February, and it currently has over 130 bipartisan cosponsors.

    The momentum is on our side, and it's more important than ever to ask your representative to support this bill since many counties across the country are choosing voting equipment now. Tell Congress to stand up for election reform!


    There is a link on the EFF page so you can send a canned or customized letter of support for this bill to your Senators and representative.
  • I'm not by any means an expert programmer, but I can make a program that counts based on a users selections, and I see no possible way for an error to be made.

    if(optKerry)
    kerryVote=kerryVote + 1;
    else if(optBush)
    bushVote=bushVote + 1;
    else
    msgBox("You stupid moron. Please choose one or the other before voting");

    None of this leaves any room for votes to disappear, or more than one vote to be tallied per person. Am I missing something here? Is there any reason it should be more complex than t
    • That could easily be modified by someone who had the know-how, like so: Prior to review by supporter of an incumbent politician who's been paid to make sure the incumbent stays in office: if(optChallenger) challengerVote=challengerVote + 1 else if(optIncumbent) incumbentVote=incumbentVote + 1; else msgBox("You stupid moron. Please choose one or the other before voting"); Hmm. Let's fix this so that Incumbent stays in office. C:\evotecode> find "challengerVote";subst incumbentVote=>challengerVote
    • Yes, you're missing something!  You forgot the code to deal with third party candidates:

      if(optThirdParty)
        if (floor(rand()*2)
          kerryVote = kerryVote -1;
        else
          bushVote = bushVote -1;

      Only then will it become truly obvious that third parties only steal votes from primary candidates.

      =)
    • Am I missing something here?

      User Error?
  • Sometimes our senators make me really proud to be from this state. This is one of those times. Screw Diebold. Screw proprietary software. This is a democracy. We need voting machine code that is for the people, and BY the people. No exceptions.
  • <whimsy>

    Electronic Polling is Easy, Right?

    [ Voting Booth | Other Polls | Back Home ]

    This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane.

    </whimsy>
  • e-voting (Score:3, Informative)

    by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_2000NO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Monday August 01, 2005 @07:41PM (#13218484)

    a bill that would require electronic voting machines to produce a paper ballot.

    Good, they should. If atm machines can print a receipt so should e-voting machines. I seem to recall some years back about how Deibolt, one of the companies that makes them, said having these machines print receipts wasn't practical. Funny because Deibolt also makes atms.

    Falcon

    Help support Black Box Voting [blackboxvoting.com], they guard your right to have your vote counted.
    • Having a "receipt" is pointless, except for extortion uses; it isn't a reliable indicator of the machine tabulation and can't be used for manual recounting. Since Wisconsin already uses optical scanning ballots, a far simpler solution that will work with existing equipment is to use optical scanners for all electronic tabulation, but (where appropriate) use electronic voting systems to print the optical ballot. The voter checks in as usual and waits for the next available balloting station, which instead
      • Having a "receipt" is pointless, except for extortion uses; it isn't a reliable indicator of the machine tabulation and can't be used for manual recounting

        This is only true if those who control the system won't allow it. The voting machines can have a small window showing the paper record of the vote, with the paper being a roll. Once the roll is used up it can be replaced with an empty roll and the rolls are transported to one place for verification. Where available the machines themselves can be hoo

      • Re:e-voting (Score:3, Interesting)

        by jesterzog (189797)

        Having a "receipt" is pointless, except for extortion uses; it isn't a reliable indicator of the machine tabulation and can't be used for manual recounting.

        Well, it's only pointless if it's returned to the voter. I think what was meant by the parent (which wasn't very clear) was to simply allow the voter to confirm that their correct vote is also recorded on paper. The receipt can then be automatically dropped into a paper ballot box. (Or alternatively if it wasn't correctly recorded on paper, the

  • I first became interested in the paper trail issiue after seeing a poting here early in 2001, and began bugging Rep. Pocan shortly thereafter.

    Got the Attention of the State Elections Board in Jan 2003, resulting in decertification of prior machines that April.

    Pocan had a paper trail bill a little over a year ago which passed the Assembly unanimously, but was not acted upon in the Senate before they closed shop for the year. Pocan at the time told me adding an open source code clause was too late, buy promi
  • In order to ensure that the votes are counted correctly, the receipt for your vote should include the total number of votes, including yours, that each candidate has received, including the ones you didn't vote for. This way, if people want to, they can check against the people who voted before them that the tallies reflect the correct vote. The voting could still be anonymous, as all one would need to know is the number of votes that the previous persons receipt reflects, and judge it against their own.
  • One interesting thought, though. It makes sense that the paper ballots will be machine readable. So, who writes the software that reads the paper ballots during the recounts?

    Sigh... I hope this gets passed and enacted upon before the 2006 elections. This was introduced by my state representative - that's cool.

    R
    • Right, they have to be machine readable, and deposited in a secured poll box.

      The reason you cannot allow anyone to leave with a record of their vote, is that that record will be used by the bad guys when they coerce or bribe people into voting for their candidate. If no-one can prove who they voted for, you can't force someone to vote one way or another.
  • In my township we already have a highly reliable, open-source voting mschine that provides a complete paper trail. It consists of a 100 year old tin and wood box that we place our paper ballots in.
  • I worked as a local election judge in November 2004. I saw hundreds upon hundreds of people show up at the polls, and I can't remember how many times we cleared the memory of those microship-implanted cards. All told, I think we did a pretty good job at making sure that people at least provided an ID before we let them vote. Could that checkpoint have been invalidated? Sure, but you'd have to do the following:

    1) Change the computer printout of our list of names to allow voting at our facility.

    2) Pose as
  • I think that this is possibly the best thing to happen to voting since... before hanging chads, dimples, and pregnant dimples came into our vocabulary. Also, it's a tried-and-tested system, paper trails that is.

    At work, almost every electronic machine we use leaves a paper trail. Our registers print a journal of every purchase we ring up, and mistake we correct, in addition to keeping track pay-at-pump purchases, and the verbosity can be changed. The Minnesota State Lottery Machine produces a paper report

  • by JCY2K (852841)
    Wired has a running thing on the last page of every issue, Found: Artifacts from the Future. One of them is on this exact subject. It is here [wired.com]. I very much support both of these ideas. Open source makes sure no one's screwing with the machines intentionally and a hard copy makes sure people can't lie. Well not exactly, but it makes it harder.
  • How can anyone who opposes paper trails for votes, that don't compromise anonymity, possibly be taken seriously for even one second? How is it that these "accountable voting" laws are controversial at all?
    • I would not be in favor of giving each person a receipt because that can be used to intimidate people into voting a certain way. For example, someone stands near the exit for the polling place and beats up anyone that didn't vote the way they were "supposed to". I would be in favor of having the machine print out readable ballots that are then put into a regular ballot box.
      • Sure, but I haven't heard of any auditable voting scheme that lets people take any proof of the nature of their vote away with them. I do think that people should be able to get a floating holiday from work by presenting a receipt that they voted (not what was their vote), whether or not they vote on the day they take off. But if anyone can show that the anonymity of even having voted could be used for or against someone (for example, helping or hurting targetted "Get Out The Vote" crusades in certain stati

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