[FoRK] Irregularities, or the lack thereof

Justin Mason jm at jmason.org
Wed Nov 3 10:25:38 PST 2004


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Jeffrey Kay writes:
> BTW, when I voted on the WinVote machine in my precinct, my first 
> reaction as I finished was to ask the voting official for a receipt (he 
> looked at me like I was from another planet).  I couldn't help notice 
> that the power on those devices was daisy chained, so if you unplug the 
> first, the rest are screwed.  I was also wondering if they used hard 
> disks or flash to store the votes. If a hard drive crashed, you'd be 
> toast.   And, of course, being Windows machines, I wondered whether the 
> write cache was disabled in the O/S -- I've had to clean up too many 
> computers that died before that cache was flushed.

Most of the DRE voting machines use flash -- namely PCMCIA memory cards
for the most part, if I recall correctly.  Worth noting that in Belgium
a couple of years back, one candidate received 4096 extra votes without
any irregularities being detected by their DRE voting systems.
That number look familiar to any computer scientists? ;)

Also, in this election, an optical-scan counting server suffered flash
memory failure and lost its vote data.  thankfully, though, since it
was optical-scan paper ballots, they can be recounted.

BTW, check out the case of the missing Diebold counting server's audit
log: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/#breaking .

I doubt it *really* was likely to be hacked, but this kind of sloppiness,
and the subsequent "nothing to see here" hand-waving from election
officials, is crazy!

> It really calls into question whether there's some system that can be 
> put into place to solve some of the voting fraud issues.  As a voter, 
> you want your vote to be assured, yet private.  When the Bushies come 
> after you, you want to have complete deniability regarding who you 
> voted for.  However, in the event of a recount, you'd like to be able 
> to offer some positive proof of your vote.  I was contemplating this 
> while waiting for an hour in line to vote, but it seems like an almost 
> impossible problem.  There are aspects that of this problem that 
> reminded me a bit of the digital money concept that some folks worked 
> on about 5 years or so ago. Perhaps there's a hint there.

FWIW, all my looking into voting technology and its issues has led me to
believe that there's no better system than the good old optical-scan paper
ballot.   (I'm vaguely involved with ICTE, http://evoting.cs.may.ie/ , so
I've been following this issue keenly for the past year or two.)

- --j.
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