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HBO's "Hacking Democracy" available online

Discussion in 'Now Playing - TV Show Talk' started by FauxPas, Nov 6, 2006.

  1. Nov 6, 2006 #1 of 40
    FauxPas

    FauxPas New Member

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    From Slashdot:
    "HBO's controversial special 'Hacking Democracy' on issues with Diebold voting machines is now available in full on Google Video."
     
  2. Nov 6, 2006 #2 of 40
    busyba

    busyba The Funcooker

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    ...until the Diebold techies hack google's website, that is. :D
     
  3. Nov 6, 2006 #3 of 40
    FauxPas

    FauxPas New Member

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    I just finished watching it and WOW, very interesting. Towards the end of the film, they demonstrate that an election can be rigged just by inserting a hacked memory card into the voting machine.
     
  4. Nov 6, 2006 #4 of 40
    jsmeeker

    jsmeeker Notable Member TCF Club

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    but electronic voting machines are the KEY to FAIR elections!!



    (wasn't that what "they" said back in 2000?)
     
  5. Nov 6, 2006 #5 of 40
    AJRitz

    AJRitz Princess Anti-Santa

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    Electronic voting machines WITH a paper audit trail ARE key to fair elections.
    But Diebold has insisted on pushing machines that don't produce a paper audit trail.
     
  6. Nov 6, 2006 #6 of 40
    jsmeeker

    jsmeeker Notable Member TCF Club

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    yes. The paper trail is the key. But back when all of it went down in 2000, many weren't making that distinction. They pointed to areas that had electronic machines (I used one in 2000, and it didn't have a paper trail) and seemed to lump them all into the same group. If it's a computer, then it's good, they said.

    Still, I think having the paper trail defeats the whoel point of the computer if you are going to have to check the entire paper trail.
     
  7. Nov 6, 2006 #7 of 40
    Fleegle

    Fleegle Chef-In-Training

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    These scares me is the flippant way the Volutia county people treated the original signed tallies from election day. Truly frightening! And they went out and threw more away, ones that were :lost", while they were filming!!!
     
  8. Nov 7, 2006 #8 of 40
    madscientist

    madscientist Deregistered Snoozer

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    Not true! There are many indicators as to how an election will go: pre-election polling, exit polling, etc. These are independant checks and balances. If a result is wildly different than the anticipated outcome based on polling, then you want to be able to go back and have a physical paper trail to count. Similarly, if the election is extremely close you want to have the ability to double-check it by hand. And, you can do spot-checks if you want to. No one is suggesting that we would count every ballot again by hand; that would indeed defeat the purpose.

    To me the scariest thing, even more than paper trails, is the closed, proprietary architecture of the system. It astounds me that state and local governments all over the country are simply agreeing to purchase voting machines with absolutely no control or oversight of them. They can't know anything about how the machines work, they are signing non-disclosure agreements so they can't disclose the results of testing or details of errors or problems with the systems, even to their own constituents! It's utterly outrageous.

    If there's one thing we should have learned from debacles like the DVD (CSS) and wireless (WEP) encryption it's that closed, proprietary security schemes are inferior to public, vetted security schemes. It may seem counter intuitive, but it's very rare that you get the most secure system by keeping it secret.
     
  9. Nov 7, 2006 #9 of 40
    The Flush

    The Flush Not So Notable Member TCF Club

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    The electronic voting machine I used this morning in Ohio prints out a record of your vote.
     
  10. classicX

    classicX Don't scream.

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    Miles away...
    You assume too much about their skill level.
     
  11. classicX

    classicX Don't scream.

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    Miles away...
    Personally, I think electronic voting machine are the future, and for them to be totally accepted by the public, they need to be open architecture, and there needs to be a way for voting staffers to easily check that the machine is working normally and hasn't been tampered with (i.e. a little memory stick that when plugged in checks the operating code against a checksum and lights a green light for good or a red light for bad, and also automatically disables the machine so that if the staffer is "in on it" he can't just perform the necessary checks and say that it passed when it indeed failed.) Even better would be an automatic checksum with big green and red lights right on top of the booth.

    Also, I agree that there needs to be a paper trail. Since the voter can't have the piece of paper, have the machine print it out behind glass so that the voter has to check it for accuracy, and when approved, it goes into a secure bin.

    After that comes internet voting..... :eek:
     
  12. vman41

    vman41 Omega Consumer

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    An audit trail that keeps things in sequence is at odds with the concept of casting a hidden vote. You don't want to be able to trace back a valid ballot to a particular voter.
     
  13. heySkippy

    heySkippy oldweakandpathetic

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    Sarasota County had a ballot amendment today mandate paper verifiable ballots starting 1/1/2008.

    I voted a big YES on that.

    It seems simple to me. Plug a printer into the touch-screen machine. When the VOTE button is pressed, print a paper copy of the ballot. In the case of a dispute, the paper ballot is the official ballot. Everybody wins.
     
  14. daperlman

    daperlman check the rhime

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    I just don't buy this. If someone wants to cheat and they are willing and able to defraud the electronic vote, they can job the paper trail. Paper is millions of times MORE susceptible to fraud. There is virtually NO way to ensure there no cheating or error unless we forego the principle of the secret ballot. In the mean time, there are many improvements that could be made in terms of physically securing equipment and facilities. Even having said that though... I would guess there is little or no HACKING of the machines... most if not all of cheating is done the old fashioned way (i.e. deceased voters and illegal aliens etc.)

    If people didn't mind a traceable (not secret voting system) which opens a whole other can of worms. There might be some opportunities to audit the process and match a paper vote with a computer vote... i.e. person votes prints verification and drops one half into backup voting box and keeps the other.

    One other possibility is each machine records the screen and keystrokes, while another camera records each group of computers. If there is funny business experts could try to match returns with screen cap with activity log with video...etc
     
  15. madscientist

    madscientist Deregistered Snoozer

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    What's wrong with the voter having the paper? At my polling place we have the "fill in the blank" ballots, where you fill in a circle with a black pen then take the ballot to a counting machine and feed it in. It's counted automatically, but the ballot is there for recounts if necessary.

    Personally I think something like this is a good solution. If you separate the "casting the ballot" from the "counting the ballot" and have the person voting physically take the ballot to the counting area, you have less opportunity for trickery. Every person gets to hand in one and only one ballot, and the ballot they hand in is visible to them so they can tell if it's not correct. For example, you could have the computer print the ballot with both a bar code recording the ballot, and the actual names. Even if someone corrupted the computer so it printed the wrong bar code, a recount would use the names and get the correct result.
     
  16. Lee L

    Lee L Got Basenji?

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    Well, you don't have to check the trail, it is just available if you need it.


    ARSTechnica did a pretty interesting analysis of the various ways that the electronic voting machines could be compromised, both one vote at a time and by thousands. http://arstechnica.com/articles/culture/evoting.ars


    Up until this election, we have used paper ballots that the voter puts into the machine. THey are similar to the Scan-Tron or bubble multiple choice tests from High School and College, only you use a black marker to complete an arrow beside the candidates name. As mentioned this seems to be an ideal solustion to me as the box is locked and sealed while the counting mechanism is removable and a non-traceable paper ballot is kept inside. If the ballots are tampered with, the seal will show that. This does assume that teh elections board is not conspiring to alter the seals, though with proper oversight, this would be nearly impossible.
     
  17. madscientist

    madscientist Deregistered Snoozer

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    First, I completely disagree with your premise: electronic votes are FAR more easily corrupted. The count is just a few bits locked away inside a very complex system, that no one can see or verify. At the end of the day the machine spits out a number and how can ANYONE know whether that number is right or not? Further, lots of people have their hands inside that system and have an opportunity to manipulate it in ways that are virtually undetectable.

    Second, you're correct that paper ballots cannot ensure there is no cheating or errors: no system can do that. However, it is virtually impossible to conduct any sort of wide-spread voting corruption with paper ballots, like you can potentially do with electronic ballots. You may be able to nudge the vote a bit in one precinct, or (if you're sufficiently high up the food chain) in a single race. But this is unlikely to matter in any but the closest races.
     
  18. ElJay

    ElJay Active Member

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    I'm a computer geek and I don't understand why these municipalities just don't use optical scan ballots like we do in Maine. You get the option of speedy computerized tabulation with the ability to do a manual recount. Plus you can validate that optical scanners are honest through a few hand counts and the magic of statistics. "Complete the line" or "fill in the dot" ballots couldn't be easier. It doesn't require 71 year old poll workers to set up or use computers.

    The Diebold system is a joke. When I heard a few years ago that they had tabulator software which used Microsoft Access, I just couldn't believe it. I don't trust that for any data that I care even just the slightest about. If Diebold made ATMs and security systems that are as bad as their voting machines, they would have been out of business long ago. Private business wouldn't put up with this crap, but it seems our local governments enjoy being taken for a ride. If these places feel they must absolutely have some sort of voting computers then they do need some sort of receipt printer that captures the voters intentions, such as in a 2D barcode. (They should have the actual name of the candidates encoded in there, not some candidate ID number that refers to tables which could get switched around later on.)
     
  19. madscientist

    madscientist Deregistered Snoozer

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    As I mentioned above, we use optical scan machines as well. I'm very happy with them and I don't see why we need anything more complex. They are very inexpensive compared to something like Diebold, they are extremely reliable, they have a simple, obvious solution when they break down, etc.

    There are purported advantages to fully computerized voting machines. The only one that I think is important is support for handicapped voters and voters who don't read English. The other advantages, such as sanity checking ballots (so you don't vote for two people in the same race, you don't get confused and choose the wrong person [machines show you very clearly who you voted for], etc.) don't seem to me to be important enough to warrant the expense, and risks.

    I do think that some voting methods should be avoided: those punch-through cards may be cheap but they are just asking for trouble. And, it's important that someone with a modicum of sense examine the design of the ballots for fairness.

    But touch-screen computerized voting machines seem like overkill to me: to complicated, too expensive, too fragile. If we have to go there, though, we absolutely should approve an open standard and require all voting machine vendors to publish all their code and machine specifications. They can make money on manufacturing and support: not as much as by creating a monopoly with proprietary hardware and software, but who says voting should be an opportunity for windfall profits for corporate America? They get enough from their lobbyists! :p
     
  20. jsmeeker

    jsmeeker Notable Member TCF Club

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    That's what bothers me the most as well. For me, it stood out more than the lack of a paper trail. If a slot machine can be controlled/inspected/checked for to ensure fairness, why not a voting machine?

    I'm still not convinced fully computerized systems gaurantee a totally fair election without the risk for any mistakes, foul play, etc.
     

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