READER COMMENTS ON
"ES&S Improves in Ohio! E-Voting Machines Only Fail 10% of the Time!"
(26 Responses so far...)
COMMENT #1 [Permalink]
said on 3/10/2006 @ 4:37 pm PT...
How hard is it to make a computer program that adds one vote for a candidate when a person use a touch screen to pick his candidate?
It's simple mathematics for gods sake... Thank god they don't make calculators!
COMMENT #2 [Permalink]
said on 3/10/2006 @ 4:47 pm PT...
But don't forget Diebold makes almost all ATM machines,and you don't hear about this shit with those machines. Never f**k with peoples money. Now Democracy Fuggadaboutit!
COMMENT #3 [Permalink]
The Old Turk
said on 3/10/2006 @ 5:34 pm PT...
..... thank God they don't make heart pace makers
Election Systems and Software (ES&S) and the other electronic voting machine providers are under
intensive scrutiny to prove that their products can
perform as expected,.. to correctly tabulate proper
voting counts. In order to prove their equipment worthy for any involvement in our voting process
their quality control departments must be on
hyper-alert to make sure a defective produce does not go out the door and end up in the voting booths across America. They are much aware all eyes are
now on their product they are/should be putting their best possible foot forward. Time and time again they fail the reliability test,.. for a produce that is not prone to inexcusable error rates.
A memory card that tabulates each vote count
from a subcontractor,.. to be installed to an ES&S
voting machine,... with a 30% error rate is just not acceptable. That memory card is deemed defective
( how did it get past inspection of quality control )
and a replacement card is provided,.. and this
new memory card that is defect free now registers a 10% error rate,... again this is not acceptable.
Recent national elections have been excessively heated,.. primarily because the country is very sharply divided politically,.. the the percentage
of the total vote between the winner and looser is often around 2% to 3%. If we have a 10% error
rate with these election voting machines,.. how can
we possibly determine who the winner was and who the looser was of that election ? We can not !
The only thing we know for certain,.. when we use these bogus electronic voting tabulation machines is that we have a contaminated election result. THIS CAN NOT BE TOLERATED AND IS NOT OKAY.
Democracy is being offered for sacrifice,.. at the
alter of political expediency.
COMMENT #4 [Permalink]
said on 3/10/2006 @ 7:23 pm PT...
We're left to conclude these shortcomings in these machines are quite intentional!
**'Expose Tom Feeney'**
"SUPPORT CLINT CURTIS!"
COMMENT #5 [Permalink]
said on 3/10/2006 @ 8:14 pm PT...
So what Ohio is saying, and what we all know about Ohio, is that our election process is not very important. We demand overwhelming statistical evidence in testing medicines, in the safety of automobiles and aircraft, but the best we can do to safeguard our democracy is 90% accuracy. Shit, that 10% would make the difference in probably 3/4 of the elections going.
You know why elections are different? There isn't anybody you can directly sue when an election gets fucked up. Not punitively anyway. And even if someone does get successfully sued for overseeing election fraud, will it result in changing the outcome of the election? If a car defect kills someone, a company gets their ass sued for mega-millions. Nobody dies in election fraud...the ramifications are all residual (i.e. 2300+ dead troops as a result of the stolen 2000 election, and so on.)
COMMENT #6 [Permalink]
said on 3/10/2006 @ 9:08 pm PT...
COMMENT #7 [Permalink]
said on 3/10/2006 @ 10:28 pm PT...
Oh, man, Soul Rebel, how I wish nobody died in election fraud!
COMMENT #8 [Permalink]
The Old Turk
said on 3/11/2006 @ 2:41 am PT...
The,... "Racketeering Laws" would come in very
handy. Intentional/malicious -VOTING SYSTEMS-
Oh thanks for the reminder,...
about the GMC Recall,..
>anti lock brakes/salt and sand - malfunction
>tailgate stop cable/rust and corrosion malfunction.
Last summer a teenage high school kid was working at a local golf course mowing lawns for summer job to make some spending money.
A crew of four were journeying from one end of the golf course to the other. Two young men sat on the
tailgate as they were traveling back to the shop for lunch,.. and the tailgate cable/wire that holds the
gate horizontal broke when the pick up truck went
over a hump in the road. They were going about
30 MPH,.. both young men crashed to the blacktop
road,.. one hit his head and fractured his skull,..
that boy never made it back to finish high school.
He is over at the cemetery now. GM knew about
that malfunctioning tailgate cable/wire,.. after
1,200 deaths their cost/benefit analysis indicated
it would then be economically feasible to do a
re-call. How is that ?
It's compassionate and conservatism !!!!
Compassion - for the share holders of
General Motors Corporation.
Conservative - for the welfare of the parents and
Damn those - Tort Lawyers !!!
Ethics is secondary.
Capitalism is primary.
Connections,..Cronyism,..& Lobbyist run supreme.
COMMENT #9 [Permalink]
said on 3/11/2006 @ 2:46 am PT...
All this nashing of teeth over paper receipts means
the voting machine companies get to make millions
more selling machines with paper receipts. Unless the underlying security issues are resolved, the outcomes will still be for the GOP. I still haven't seen any machine that is actually 100% accurate and hackproof. Until such time we are living in a country without democracy
COMMENT #10 [Permalink]
said on 3/11/2006 @ 4:14 am PT...
It would be interesting to discover who the subcontractor is who's supplying the faulty memory cards. Dumpster dive, anyone?
COMMENT #11 [Permalink]
The Old Turk
said on 3/11/2006 @ 5:19 am PT...
I've got my rubber gloves !!!!!
COMMENT #12 [Permalink]
said on 3/11/2006 @ 10:39 am PT...
"Memory Cards" .. I guess I don't understand why they aren't using "flash memory" like what they have for cameras, PDAs, USB Drives, etc. etc. etc. .. No batteries because there's no "volitle memory".. Or, use internal hard drives (some USB drives are like that) to store the data on.. the power comes from connecting to the port, nothing internal.
Although, if the cards are doing more than "holding counts/data", then they might need to be powered (though, the USB standard powers some devices so one would think some ammount of electronics could still be in the card and only function while plugged into the machine). But I think we should all question what the "card" would be doing if it's doing more than holding data.
As to "standards".. the problem is, Bill Gates. More to the point, the entire computer industry has followed suit to how he started doing business all those many years ago (mid to late 80s.. IIRC). There was a time when you could go to the store and buy a software product (game, application, etc.) and it WORKED.. right out of the box, and needed "nothing more" to work as expected. You could "upgrade" a product which meant getting NEW functionality for your money. Now (and it seems to have started mostly with Microsoft OSes and products) you buy something and by the time you get home, you need to log onto the internet to get the latest "patches" to fix bugs that were there when they shipped the code. MOST TIMES, those bugs were KNOWN, but, much like GM did a cost analysis to decide how many people died before recalling the trucks, the software companies decide how many potential customers might not come back, how long it will take to "fix it" -before- it ships, and what that means in terms of "immidiate cash flow", and ship based on others in the industry having release dates (2 major graphics programs coming out near the same time.. you want to cut into the other guys market so you have to ship today instead of in 2 wks when your bugs are fixed).
Most of the reasons most people seem accepting of receiving crappy programs at the store is because they don't understand the technology. They listen to PR guys blathering about "there's just so much code! bugs are going to be in there, no matter what. That's why we patch for you!".. Yet, look at some of the OTHER things that use "computers" and "software" but seem to work when you buy them.. Respirators, Iron Lungs, MRI machines, VCRs, Calculators, etc. etc. etc.. That is, there are PLENTY of things that go out the door "working" because you can't "just patch it" or they will be used in "life and death situations". So, I ask, if it CAN be done, why isn't it being done?
I'm a Software Engineer. My job is to tell computers what to do and how to process data. I, of all people, understand that there are times when "bugs" will get into the system and need to be fixed later. The concept is sound, to be sure. The PROBLEM is, I -also- know that 90% of the bugs that seem to get of the shop (not my code, but in general) get there because someone is making a "business descision", and not giving a shit about the code. Hell, a lot of the times the developers KNOW about the bugs and are trying to get them fixed, but the "business types" don't care.. they want the code/product out so out it goes, broke. If "consumers" decided that it was unnaceptable to be sold known broke things, the practice would go away. Since most "consumers" of computer related things are clueless, they accept the crap they get.
There was a few amuzing articles/speaches about how if your car acted like Microsoft's OSes things would be insane.. Like buying the car, but the wheels are optional.. You'd be driving down the freeway at 60 MPH and your car would just lock up.. you'd have to turn it off, then restart it and go on your way. Every now and then you couldn't turn left.. or the brakes wouldn't work until you turned off the engine and started it again.. If you decided you wanted different colored seats, you'd have to replace the engine, wheels, trunk lid, and windshield wipers or the seats wouldn't go in.. Stuff like that. Yet, people just accept that from computers, and these electronic voting machines is the result. The retarded bastard step child of the computer industry's standard practices.
Paper ballots and human hand counting. It's really the only viable option until the world changes it's attitude about computers, and all corruption is gone from the planet. Only then, in a eutopia, can we trust machines with our votes.
COMMENT #13 [Permalink]
said on 3/11/2006 @ 12:23 pm PT...
Like I said, the ramifications are all residual - why, do you have evidence of people being killed over voting machines...maybe I missed that.
COMMENT #14 [Permalink]
said on 3/11/2006 @ 12:25 pm PT...
ES&S has a great many machines placed in North Carolina, so I hope the Tar Heels are hot on the case. What bothers me now is what has bothered me all along--- everybody already bought the damn things and have narrowed their vision to fixing a defective product. Either that or pick the "least worst" from a bunch of defective equipment manufacturers. This whole approach stinks. As I pointed out before, it is precisely analogous to buying prototypes for military weapons. The contract is open till the prototype is mass-producible and functions within a specified range.
Voting is important to National Security, but it should not be handled like a Pentagon defense contract.
COMMENT #15 [Permalink]
said on 3/11/2006 @ 2:49 pm PT...
I'm sitting here trying to find where the battery is in my camera's memory card! (Sarcasm)
I agree - why are batteries needed for a memory card?
I can pull the card out and throw it in a drawer and my photos are still there months later!
In 7th grade (1962) I built a simple computer for the science fair. It had only switches, lights and relays. It gave results based on which switches were activated. No complicated programs where required and it gave accurate results every time.
How hard can it be today to simply count how many times a particular button is pushed?I
I mean how hard is to program "if button A add 1 to column A, if button B add 1 to Column B, sum Column A=, sum Column B=" etc.
I could do it on a spread sheet in about 1 minute, shouldn't take a lot more in C++ or other code.
And why should it be proprietary, it's only counting for crying out loud.
Oh I forgot - Obscene Profits - The new American Ideal!
(Hat tip to RLM)
COMMENT #16 [Permalink]
said on 3/11/2006 @ 7:54 pm PT...
I'm with the Software Engineer in #13.
Counting our votes must be doable at the "lowest common denominator" education level of the adult population in this country [unless we want to start restricting the right to vote to those few among us who know how to read and audit software code as it counts our votes..].
We, the People MUST be in control of the process: we must understand it, be able to do it unassisted, be able to explain it to others, be able to stand behind the results without any "tech support" and be able to report on it in detail in the media. Outsourcing and privatizing our democracy IS NOT AN OPTION.
When the software engineers are telling us to use hand-counted paper ballots, we damn well better listen [Chris Dodd, Steny Hoyer, $3.9 BILLION HAVA cosponsors - are you listening yet...?].
P.S. I don't know anything about batteries in ES&S memory cards --- do they (or at least, their subcontractor(s) - unreal...) have machine specs posted anywhere on the web? But it's an excellent point to pursue, and should be pinned down. I can't imagine conducting an election and simply "having faith" that months-old memory cards will retain their battery charge and not suddenly lose their vote counts mid-stream. What a crock.
COMMENT #17 [Permalink]
said on 3/11/2006 @ 8:33 pm PT...
must be memory cards from the 60's in ES&S machines...batteries?
COMMENT #18 [Permalink]
Paul in LA
said on 3/11/2006 @ 9:11 pm PT...
PCMCIA cards don't have batteries on them, TMK. They use the power of what they are plugged into, and because of power draining the standard has gone from a 5-volt card which used a lot of power, to a 3.3-volt card which is sparing of power.
The power-supplying unit MAY NOT MOUNT PC cards when there is not enough battery power to run them. The suggestion is that the voting units themselves have battery problems which prevent them from having enough voltage to mount the cards.
In which case (and I am NOT a tech), the problem is actually deeper than the cards. The units themselves may have minimal power available. Suitable for throwing against a wall --- not for counting the votes that determine who will rule.
The cards may be the OLD 5-volt standard, which sounds likely. 5-volt cards may not mount where a 3.3-volt PC card will. All platforms will accept 5-volt cards; 3.3-volt cards will not insert in 5-volt card slots.
"The platform will only power the PC Card if it is capable of providing a voltage the PC Card can accept. If the platform is incapable of providing the power the PC Card requires, it may display an error message on the screen to notify the user of that fact."
COMMENT #19 [Permalink]
said on 3/11/2006 @ 9:28 pm PT...
Paul in LA #18
You seem to be confusing voltage with power.
Power is essentialy volts x amps and is expressed in watts.
Watts is the measure of power. If the volts are decreased the amps would increase to equal the same watts.
If in fact the 3.3 volt cards use less power they must also be using less watts. A3.3 volt card using the same amps as a 5 volt card would be using less watts (power).
With today's advances in chip structure it is certainly possible that new cards use less power, but it is not a matter of the voltage. Of course a 3.3 volt card would probably be destroyed if 5 volts were applied.
In power transmision higher voltages are desired as less amps are required to do the same amount of work. This enables the use of smaller conductors to carry the same amount of power.
COMMENT #20 [Permalink]
said on 3/11/2006 @ 10:30 pm PT...
Below, I have cut and pasted from the Elections Canada website, what happens to our simple 'paper and pencil' ballots after the polls have closed. Notice that there are numerous witnesses and checks built into the system so there isn't ANY WAY that an election can be rigged.
What happens after an election?
After the polls close, every deputy returning officer counts the votes for his or her polling station, assisted by the poll clerk and witnessed by the candidates or their representatives.
The deputy returning officer records the number of votes received by each candidate and the number of rejected ballots on a Statement of the Vote. The ballots and other election documents are then sealed in the ballot box and delivered to the returning officer.
Validation of results
Every returning officer will validate the results by adding the totals given on each Statement of the Vote. The returning officer then delivers a certificate announcing the validated results to the candidates. On the seventh day after the validation, he or she writes the name of the candidate who has received the most votes on the election writ, signs the writ and returns it to the Chief Electoral Officer of Canada.
A judicial recount occurs automatically if the two leading candidates receive the same number of votes after the validation, or if they are separated by less than one one-thousandth of the total votes cast in the electoral district. Any elector may ask a judge to carry out a judicial recount within four days of the validation of the results, with a $250 deposit and an affidavit that the count was improperly carried out, ballot papers were improperly rejected or the returning officer carried out the validation improperly.
If the two leading candidates still have the same number of votes after the recount, a by-election will be held for that electoral district.
As soon as the returning officer receives the judge's certificate stating the results of the judicial recount, and if there is no tie vote, he or she writes the name of the winning candidate on the election writ and returns the writ to the Chief Electoral Officer.
How much did the 2000 general election cost?
The cost of the 2000 general election, including the partial reimbursement of election expenses to eligible candidates and political parties and the maintenance of the National Register of Electors since the 1997 general election, was $200.6 million.
As far as the cost per voter works out, I can't say as I don't have the figures for number of voters, but it probably works out cheaper than using machines. And even if it doesn't, then the cost would be worth it just for the satisfaction of knowing that ALL the votes cast were 'open and above board'.
COMMENT #21 [Permalink]
said on 3/11/2006 @ 10:52 pm PT...
I also spoke with a friend who always assists at polling station on voting day and asked what happens to the sealed boxes when the polling station closes. Was told that the boxes are delivered to the headquarters of each riding. Each of these headquarters are run by Elections Canada and NOT by any particular party.
Once all the boxes for that particular riding have been delivered to the headquarters, then the total count figure for each candidate is relayed by phone to the people in charge and the results are then posted and available for anyone watching the election TV coverage.
COMMENT #22 [Permalink]
said on 3/12/2006 @ 8:03 pm PT...
Yes the batteries failing excuse seems to be an attempt at dishonestly shifting blame from ES&S, who wouldve imagined sic....
Im still in favour of an open source solution to electronic voting. When code is open to the public for scrutiny, any and [every] bug or security flaw is quickly found and resolved by the various geeks dowloading it from the web who like to get credit for their cleverness.
A national evoting program is much simpler and more high profile than the linux operating system so I imagine there would be an unhackable, unbreakable, perfect codebase in a very short timeframe.
There is not much hope for a return to paper since it just makes sense to have computer enabled elections.
I understand that there is a fear that the computer is hackable no matter what, but this really only holds true for computers whose software is proprietary and where the code therein is not super rigorously examined by people taking a hostile approach to the program.
COMMENT #23 [Permalink]
said on 3/12/2006 @ 8:22 pm PT...
This has really been bugging me for a long time. What kind of "memory cards" do these machines use? PCMCIA volatile memory? Compact flash or secure digital in a PCMCIA adapter? What is it? I remember back in '04 that one machine in Ohio fucked up some of its numbers and the official explanation was that the tabulator was "doing too much other stuff in the background and the data was transferring too fast" or some bullshit like that. I pointed out at the time that the protocols have ample protection against such problems. So really, what kind of rig are these guys running?
If someone, Brad, could point me to detailed technical documents on this I'd VERY MUCH appreciate it.
It amazes me how sloppy and wasteful these voting machines are. They basically use off the shelf hardware and software. Any competent engineer could devise a system cheaper, more compact, and infinitely more secure voting machine. If paper ballots weren't the prefered voting method, it would pretty easy for a startup company to destroy diebold and ES&S in the market.
COMMENT #24 [Permalink]
said on 3/12/2006 @ 8:40 pm PT...
"If someone, Brad, could point me to detailed technical documents on this I'd VERY MUCH appreciate it."
I could show you teh specs.. but it's proprietary and top-secret.. I'd have to kill you afterword..
"Trust me", it's all fine and works great!
COMMENT #25 [Permalink]
said on 3/25/2006 @ 10:33 am PT...
FOLLOWUP QUESTION FROM BRAD: A "battery problem"? Not to be overly skeptical here, but my understanding is that these memory cards are magnetic media which are slipped into the PCMCIA slots, no? Power is supplied from the computer itself via the PCMCIA slot (if I understand things correctly), and thus no "battery" is needed on PCMCIA cards which simply store data magnetically. Am I missing something here? Does anyone here have more knowledge on this sort of thing for us? Please share in comments if you do...
PCMIA cards currently come in three types (sizes). Type I PC Cards are typically used for memory devices such as RAM, Flash, OTP, and SRAM cards. The battery on these cards preserve the contents of volatile memory when the card is not receiving external power.
Here is a Q&A from the PCMIA web site that gets to Brad's question.
I've been tasked to build a circuit board to interface with a simulated weapon. This weapon has a control unit with a Type I SRAM PCMCIA card installed. It writes events to the card when the weapon has fired, or been hit by another player. My question is concerning the BVD1 and BVD2 status lines. Other than them being some sort of battery detect, I'm not sure how they're used. I'm seeing a +5V level on them some times, and other times a +4V level. I know the single battery in the PC Card is a +3V lithium. Why are there 2 battery detects?
Why are they at a +5V level? I know that the PCMCIA Vcc is a +5V level. Is the battery simply used as a "keep-alive" voltage for the SRAM when the PCMCIA Vcc is not present? The reason I'm asking this is because I'm seeing considerable noise on the BVD lines. I believe the weapon runs a self-test which includes checking the card's battery detect. I see an error stating "low card battery" due to the negative noise spikes on the BVD lines. Is is possible to get some sort of a block diagram or more detailed for the BVD circuits?
The battery on the SRAM cards is used to the preserve the contents of the memory while the card is out the PC Card socket. The BVD1 and BVD2 are status pins used to indicate the state of the internal battery (Good, weak, battery dead). These signals are generally logic levels that only have to meet PC Card logic levels requirements. Any noise that you are seeing on these signals may be caused by the host system inducing noise.
COMMENT #26 [Permalink]
said on 5/2/2006 @ 3:24 am PT...
I also oneself something would want to find out on this theme. Very attentively I will read every post.