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Instant Gratification   

Sun, 28 Nov 2004

The importance of picking the right voting system

First of all, the solution to the e-voting problem is available at the Open Voting Consortium. If you’re not afraid of thinking, you owe it to yourself to review some of their material, otherwise just support them when the question of e-voting comes up. A good place to start reading is the Open Voting Faq. They are very smart people who have done a lot of thinking about all the good things and bad things that can happen during an election, and the “right” way to solve the problems that can come up.

Some common objections and solutions I’ve heard are as follows:

  1. If it’s a computer it’s got to be right. Counterpoint:

    “After two accidents involving police cars of Berlin, Germany, at first the drivers were blamed and appointed to a security training. But taking into consideration the driver’s nearly identical reports, which claimed that the cars on-board drive dynamic control systems had failed, BMW took on and inspected the case. The result was: Yes, after an emergency brake exceeding a certain preset pressure on the pedal, all stability systems are disabled and can only be re-enabled by switching off the ignition for five seconds…” [source…]

  2. Just give me a receipt like an ATM. The United States is probably one of the safest, most orderly societies around (compared to war-torn drug-dealing dictatorships, etc). This causes us to forget a lot of basic problems that receipts from votes can cause.

    • Vote-Buying.
    • Vote for my candidate, or I will kill your grandparents.
    • Forge 100 vote-receipts and make a big stink to the local news channel.
    (receipts aren’t bad, you just can’t leave the polling place with them).

  3. How do you recount? Election results must be reproduceable by a human afterwards, especially if a virus or spyware got into the election results (either on purpose, or with malicious intent). Open Voting has this part figured out by producing a paper ballot that can be validated without the use of a computer, or you can use a computer to check it faster.

Now, let’s see some links on “irregularities” in the 2004 election. I don’t (yet) think that any of these things happened on a large enough scale, or with a malicious intent in 2004 that would have changed the outcome. But when you see documented evidence like the following, my concerns very much get raised.

Can anybody guess what it means when you are missing audit logs for a specific block of time, and known events took place that should be reflected in the logs?

Look at our results again. It means you were Hacked.


Do you see any evidence AT ALL in the Audit Logs that the votes were tampered with? We know they were - I just showed you step by step that it was done.

Nope! No evidence - so feel free to ridicule anyone who complains as a conspiracy theorist or whining sore loser!

Now, Diebold officially insists that this cannot be done, but as with this example, this has repeatedly been shown to be false. Diebold’s staff knows it - in fact, in a memo by Diebold principal engineer Ken Clark in 2001, he says “Being able to end-run the database has admittedly got people out of a bind though. Jane (I think it was Jane) did some fancy footwork on the .mdb file in Gaston recently. I know our dealers do it. King County is famous for it. That’s why we’ve never put a password on the file before.”

( and for more detail,


When it can be done by a TRAINED MONKEY, it really starts to worry me.

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