E-voting

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DadOf5

Member
Messages
291
E-voting

My wife had to write an argumentative essay for college. One of her choices of topics was e-voting. I had an idea that e-voting was going to be a mess, but I didn't know how much it was going to be used or that there were going to be this many problems.

Anyway, here is the paper in its entirety. Its kind of long, but well worth the read. Does anyone else forsee an even bigger mess with these elections than we had in 2000?

E-Voting: Will Your Vote Count?

?Laura Eitniear

October 24, 2004

E-Voting: Will Your Vote Count?

After the presidential election of 2000, many voters and candidates alike began to wonder if our voting system was outdated. After a recount, which took several days and many votes going uncounted, due to errors in the way the card was punched, many states began to look at E-voting (electronic voting) systems. E-Voting does seem to be the way of the future; however there are many flaws in the current system that should be worked out before this system is used in an election. Some flaws include security issues, voters that are not computer savvy, handicapped individuals, and system crashes.

When the coding was done for E-voting systems, many individuals asked that the code be made public (open source) so that the candidates and voters could look over the source and be sure that it was correct. The companies that wrote the code resisted this action saying that others would be able to steal their code and duplicate it, thus becoming a competitor in the E-voting arena. However, Australians developed an E-voting system two years ago, their code was made open source and flaws were found in the code by people who then contacted the company. The company was able to fix these flaws and later hired another company to audit the code to further assure that all coding was done correctly (Zetter, 2003). Unlike our Australian counterparts, that openly allow constructive criticism and in fact invite the public?s assistance, the creators of United States E-voting systems have implemented very few changes suggested by computer experts. Computer experts from Johns Hopkins University and Rice University suggested the changes after testing the E-voting system. Some of their findings were that individuals could make their own voting cards at home, one voter could vote more than one time, and the system could be hacked via a phone line (Kohno, Stubblefield, Rubin, & Wallach, 2003). These issues are huge security issues that can very well effect our presidential election of 2004, even going as far as candidates demanding a recount, like in Florida?s 2000 election. However, this time there will be no hard copy (paper receipt) to recount; the only proof of the vote will be stored in the system?s memory, which is exactly what would be changed if there were to be a breech in security.

Admittedly, computers could make recounts of election results go much faster than the manual counting implemented in Florida in 2000. Even without a recount, the initial count would be done in minutes rather than hours or days. Voting would be very simple, and should the flaws be fixed in E-voting I would support its use nationwide. Computers are amazingly fast and if the software and hardware code is done correctly, E-voting could be very accurate and secure.

Many Americans today interact with computers often and are very secure with the knowledge of working such systems, for these people a secure E-voting system will be very inviting. However, for people that do not use computers this system can be extremely intimidating. In the United States everyone is allowed to vote, but not everyone has daily access to computers. Some of these individuals include senior citizens and minorities. These people may feel intimidated enough to avoid voting rather than to encounter something that they do not understand. This is simple enough to fix, a sample voting machine could be used and a voting official could help people that are uncomfortable to try the voting system and become acquainted with what they will be doing in the voting booth.

There are other United States citizens that were completely been ignored when the current E-voting system was created. Blind individuals will have no way to vote, they will not be able to read the screen, so they will not be able to cast their ballot. Although costly, this can be fixed with voice recognition software, or Braille capabilities. Braille will help those that are blind, but voice recognition would not only help the blind, but also individuals that are unable to use their arms due to paralysis or some other handicap. The Australian E-voting system uses ?English audio for vision-impaired and illiterate voters? (Zetter, 2003).

System crashes have already postponed testing of E-voting systems in Florida, caused voters in New Jersey to be turned away, and delayed the opening of voting in California (Konrad, 2004). System crashes can be caused by hacking, system coding problems, and even weather. If a crash were to occur then voting up to the point of the crash could be recalled from the computer?s memory, provided it was a system crash or power failure and not a hacker that wiped the memory clean. However, during the time that the system is down many voters would be turned away, and in today?s busy life styles, no one knows how many will return to cast their ballot. Unless every state is willing to provide alternative power sources for every E-voting machine, secure networks, and back up systems we have no way of voting should any of these things occur on election day.

Until the creators of E-voting systems acknowledge and fix the shortcomings in their product, there is no reason that Americans should be made to vote on such a flawed system. The way the system is currently set up you will not be able to vote if you are visually impaired, or have some physical limitations. If there is a power failure, you may be turned away from your local voting center. If you are able to vote, your vote may not be counted if there is some sort of security breech on the machine that you used to vote. Considering all of this, the current E-voting system should not be used in the 2004 Presidential elections; it needs more work, more testing, and most importantly more time is needed to fix these shortcomings. The way the system is currently, considering that one third of all United States citizens will be voting on electronic system (Newitz, 2004); it would seem inevitable that the losing candidates will be demanding a recount. With nothing to recount other than the computers memory those who demand recounts will be crying foul, this will be on a much larger scale than even Florida?s 2000 recount. The current election seems to be in the hands of the candidate that can afford the best hacker, rather than in the hands of the voting public.

Bibliography

Kohno, T., Stubblefield, A., Rubin, A., & Wallach, D. (2003). Analysis of an Electronic Voting System. Electronic Frontier Foundation. Retrieved on October 22, 2004, from http://www.eff.org/Activism/E-votin...arch_report.pdf

Konrad, Rachel. (October 14, 2004). E-Voting Machine Crash Deepens Concerns. Yahoo! News. Retrieved on October 22, 2004, from http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tm...ting_palm_beach

Newitz, A. (2004, November). Sorry, Your Vote Has Been Lost, Hacked, Miscast, Recorded Twice. Popular Science, 265 (5), 54-58, 124-126.

Zetter, Kim. (November 3, 2003). Aussies Do It Right: E-Voting. Wired News. Retrieved on October 22, 2004, from http://www.wired.com/news/ebiz/0,1272,61045,00.ht ml
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Unintentional

Active Member
Messages
577
E-voting

A lot of "experts" have suggested that when someone e-votes, they are give a piece of paper with a number code on it. They can then check on the internet with that code and make sure their vote was tabulated correctly.

The problem I see with this is, what if someone is being pressured to vote a certain way? They can be forced to give up this paper with a code on it to make sure they voted as they were ordered to under duress.

Current e-voting schemes seem to be 100% anonmous, but totally unverified except they can be compared to exit polls. But it has been proven people lie to exit pollsters. There seems to be no perfect solution.

I don't know if every state is the same, but in Indiana where my dad was an election sherriff, every polling place had to have a democrat and a republic official to oversee. The poll could not open without an official from each party. They also had mechanical voting since like forever. The 5th, 6th, and 7th recounts will all be identical with the 1st count.

Personally I think there should be a national voter id card that is free. It is totally unjust to let people in to vote without out some form of id. It seems to me that democrats are most against people showing their id before voting and they seem to be responsible for most of the fraud.

Maybey I should have posted this in "Can't you persuade me with honest topic" :lol:
 

CaryP

Senior Member
Messages
1,438
E-voting

Excellent post Dado. The electronic voting is going to be just one of the "messes" (frauds) of this election, that I'm betting will keep the final results of the election in the courts again this time around. There's already lawsuits being filed over rampant voter registration fraud - on both sides. Damn, where were you when I had papers to write?

Cary
 

DadOf5

Member
Messages
291
E-voting

Originally posted by CaryP@Oct 24 2004, 05:33 PM
Damn, where were you when I had papers to write?

Cary

I can't take credit for the paper. I wish I could because I think it is excellent work. This was entirely my wife's brainchild, I just posted it here because I thought you all might like to know about the e-voting. I know in some places you can get a paper or absentee ballot rather than using the machine. If you're lucky enough to live in one of these places, and you want to be sure your vote is counted, this may be the way to go.
 

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