Wednesday June 11, 2008

An illustrated demonstration of the new optical voting machines and accompanying article. It’s like taking a test in college, with multiple-choice bubbles you fill in with a #2 pencil. But so then why do the scanners need to be at the polling stations? Why not a big fast scanner at election headquarters?

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  1. Matthew I. Pinzur    Wed Jun 11, 10:41 AM #  

    They want scanners at each polling place because it gives the voter a chance to fix a ballot that is either blank or has too many votes in a race (i.e. an “overvote”).

    Also, we’re in the process of fixing a typo in that online graphic… at this hour, it says voters “will now receive a receipt” after they vote. That should read (as it does in the print version) that voters “will not receive a receipt.”

    One letter, a world of difference. You will NOT get a receipt. By state law, the machine can’t print anything that indicates who a voter picked… at most, it could produce a receipt that simply confirmed that you voted. They decided not to do that in either Broward or Miami-Dade.



  2. Michael Calderin    Wed Jun 11, 12:07 PM #  

    A note that you voted doesn’t do anybody any good. Something like that wouldn’t be useful for recount purposes. It’s as useful as the “I Voted” stickers we get.

    The scanners in the precincts will actually be a big help. People will be given up to three tries to submit a ballot without over- or under-votes, including marks that don’t make sense or aren’t large enough to register.

    It’s not perfect, and the change could be confusing to some people, but it does have some notable advantages to the touchscreen machines we’ve used the past few years.



  3. Biscayne Bystander    Thu Jun 12, 07:36 AM #  

    Click on the link to my name.



  4. Miguel Marcos    Thu Jun 12, 09:04 AM #  

    Too many questions are raised because the system is just not straightforward.

    > A note that you voted doesn’t do anybody
    > any good. Something like that wouldn’t
    > be useful for recount purposes. It’s as
    > useful as the “I Voted” stickers we get.

    Sure it does. It doesn’t have to display any detail about the person who voted or the votes themselves as you can generate a bar code or similar feature on the fly and print it out.

    What happens to the paper ballot? Is it swallowed and kept by the machine? If so, is it kept for auditing purposes? If it’s not swallowed, why not print a bar code on it and let the voter keep it as proof of their vote?

    I find the USB flash drive thing as the only data source dismaying. Firstly, I hope there is more than one drive and that they are mirroring the drive data onto separate drives in case one fails. What’s the capacity of these drives, what kind of data do they save and in what format…

    There is no reason why they can’t transmit the data to a data center at the same time as it is stored locally in the USB drives. This way they could easily audit machines electronically at random for local or network failures as they could check locally stored data against network stored data. Plus having the data at the network center means preliminary results are available earlier with subsequent double checking against the locally stored drive data.

    ES&S is behind these machines. Are they giving government officials access to the hardware and code behind these machines so they can be independently audited? Why are these machines coming out just a few months before the general elections?

    The Herald article quotes “It will not, however, alert a voter who skipped one or more races. That would likely create a bottleneck at the machine because so many voters skip low-profile elections.” Pardon me? A simple question asking the voter if skipped races is intentional on the voter’s part is a bottleneck? (Yes, I know in the old paper ballot days, there was no notification. This is electronic now, though, and it’s silly to presume it could be a bottleneck? When you make a transfer at an ATM at your bank, you get a chance to confirm what you’re doing. If the bank can do it, the government voting machine can.)

    It boggles the mind how such a simple civil action of such huge importance is turned into a nightmare technology project across the nation.



  5. Biscayne Bystander    Fri Jun 13, 08:02 AM #  

    Miguel,

    The concept of power is a simple one I’m sure you can wrap your mind around. Politics is power. Why else would Hillary spend $10 Million out of her own pocket for a job that pays a fraction of that?

    Our two party system has colluded with corporations to make the process of voting as difficult as possible. The truth is they don’t want us to vote and they certainly do not want us to vote with any sort of accurracy or accountability.

    This is not a conspiracy theory. It is just a conspiracy. Watch the HBO documentary Hacking Democracy and see it for yourself. How else can y ou explain that blatant fraud that took place in Florida’s Volusia County in 2000?

    Don’t bother asking why the Media didn’t pick it up. They are in on it too.

    Here’s a great article I read on the Foundations of Party Power.



  6. Henry Gomez    Sat Jun 14, 01:07 AM #  

    There is no perfect voting system. The integrity of elections will always depend on the integrity of elections supervisors, poll workers, etc. But the chances for a fraud being committed by one person or a small group of people is dramatically reduced with this new system. The voter himself marks the ballot. The ballot is saved for spot check and recount purposes. It is impossible to overvote. An overvote is a voter error.

    I don’t see the lack of undervote notification as being so dramatic. The purpose of the new system was to bring back integrity to the elections process not to protect dumb voters from themselves. Many people consciously choose to not vote in certain contests where they feel uninformed about the issue or candidates. An undervote is not necessarily an error.



  7. Carlos Miller    Sun Jun 15, 01:09 PM #  

    How many more stolen elections are we going to put up with?



  8. adam    Mon Jun 16, 10:39 AM #  

    Well, luckily McCain has already admitted he can’t use a computer , so I doubt he’ll be rigging the machines.



  9. Matthew I. Pinzur    Tue Jun 17, 11:35 AM #  

    Just to close the loop…

    The paper ballot ARE kept for auditing purposes and can (and will) be used in recounts.

    The current machines do have the technology to transmit their results directly to the elections headquarters – at the end of voting, not after each ballot is cast. But, at least in Miami-Dade, they’ve decided to bring them to a handful of centralized places to do the transmitting… I think that’s to avoid the issue of technical problems at hundreds of polling places instead of just a few places where they can have experts on hand.



  10. jp    Tue Jun 17, 04:40 PM #  

    Hey whats going on where is alesh?!



  11. LJ    Wed Jun 18, 06:08 AM #  

    Don’t make me lose another great bookmark!!

    Come back.. pretty please?



  12. adam    Wed Jun 18, 11:39 AM #  

    yeah, I’ve just sat inside all day for a week.



  13. Carolina    Wed Jun 18, 12:09 PM #  

    Where did you go?



  14. marty    Thu Jun 19, 12:09 AM #  

    Hazte el muerto a ver qué entierro te hacen.



  15. Miguel Marcos    Thu Jun 19, 11:44 AM #  

    > The integrity of elections will always depend > on the integrity of elections supervisors,
    > poll workers, etc.

    And the voting system and the underlying technology.

    > But the chances for a fraud being committed by
    > one person or a small group of people is
    > dramatically reduced with this new system.

    I’d like to see the explanation of what the system and the technology do in this regard. The Herald article is light in details.

    There are only 2 companies in the US that I know of that produce this kind of technology, Diebold and ES&S. Neither one of them allow their technology to be independently audited as far as I know.

    > I don’t see the lack of undervote notification
    > as being so dramatic… An undervote is not
    > necessarily an error.

    For sure, but who said it’s dramatic?

    The article says following:

    “…It will not, however, alert a voter who skipped one or more races. That would likely create a bottleneck at the machine because so many voters skip low-profile elections…”

    That last statement is untrue. The scanner can easily and efficiently notify the user that some races have no vote and whether the voter wants to proceed or not. A bottleneck? In a country whose level of voter participation is sometimes well under 50% of eleigible voters? I think not. My point is that the marginal cost for warning voters about undervotes is negligible and it’s a benefit for some voters, especially the elderly.

    I wish there were bottlenecks at polls from massive voter participation.



  16. Biscayne Bystander    Fri Jun 20, 02:02 AM #  

    Miguel,

    Polls were bottlenecked in Ohio during the 2004 election. Voters had to endure rain, cold weather and hours of standing in line.

    If voter turn out were really important to democracy, why isn’t Election Day a national holiday? Or a day off for public service?

    1 thing is for sure. Our current system has been infultrated and without fair elections, honest election results and beurocratic accountability, the will of the people is not being carried out.

    Howard Dean was shown 1st hand the importance of having a paper trail for election results.



  17. Carlos Miller    Fri Jun 20, 02:51 AM #  

    Did Alesh ride his bike off the Seven Mile Bridge?



  18. Crumbs    Fri Jun 20, 12:32 PM #  

    I need my Critical Miami-
    I have no one else to live vicariously through!!!!
    Don’t leave me in the ‘burbs, Alesh!



  19. Mikhail    Fri Jun 20, 04:08 PM #  

    I’m wondering if he decided to bike back up to GA. Maybe?

    COME BACK!!!!!!!!!



  20. mad hatter    Fri Jun 20, 05:23 PM #  

    Alesh was arrested by City of Miami Police while biking up Biscayne Blvd and Judge Joe Fernandez ordered him held without bond when Alesh tried to pull out his laptop and blog during his bond hearing.



  21. LJ    Fri Jun 20, 06:17 PM #  

    Really? Is that true?



  22. l    Fri Jun 20, 06:29 PM #  

    god, i hope so



  23. mad hatter    Fri Jun 20, 11:51 PM #  

    Actually, he’s in the hospital with salmonella poisoning as a result of him eating contaminated tomatoes that he picked (i.e.: stole) from a field in Homestead during a bike ride through South Miami-Dade.



  24. duran duran duran    Sat Jun 21, 03:26 PM #  

    Alesh was abducted by alien beings while wondering through a back alley right before last week’s wynwood gallery walk. They are currently conducting a few “tests” and blogging should resume once he is back.



  25. adam    Sat Jun 21, 05:42 PM #  

    I think I am starting to see how the salmonella (transmitted by fecal-oral contact) could have ended up on those tomatoes.

    Please, do come back, though.



  26. Biscayne Bystander    Sat Jun 21, 10:24 PM #  

    Alesh was arrested while protesting Carlos Miller’s guilty verdict.

    What complete bullshit.