The Null Device

Debugging Democracy 2.0

In the US, there has been some concern recently over automated voting machines that allow elections to be easily and undetectably rigged (not that anyone in a position of power would do such a nefarious thing, of course). Now the state of Nevada is putting its expertise in auditing slot machines to use on the voting machines. Slot machines (of which Nevada is full) are apparently subject to extremely rigorous technical audits to find any possible security holes, vulnerabilities or bugs that could compromise their fairness or allow them to be rigged; voting machines face no such standards. (via Slashdot)

There are 9 comments on "Debugging Democracy 2.0":

Posted by: Michael http:// Fri Dec 5 15:40:34 2003

There's a lot of good stuff in "Stupid White Men" (Michael Moore) about the voting machines in use in America, and who owns the companies that supply them. Scary reading, actually. Makes me pleased that we stil have manual counting with scruitineers in Australia.

Posted by: gjw Fri Dec 5 21:52:08 2003

I don't see what the problem with manual counting is, really. At Australian Federal elections, despite manual counting and preferential voting, we generally know the result by 9pm that night. The senate takes a bit longer, but it doesn't sit until a few months after the election anyway, so what's the hurry?

Posted by: Ben http:// Sat Dec 6 07:55:52 2003

I think you'll find that, even with the far lower number of sheeple who vote, the US has a lot more votes to be counted than Australia.

Posted by: gjw Sat Dec 6 09:32:34 2003

And a lot more people to count those votes too ;)

Posted by: mark Sat Dec 6 23:54:12 2003

I think manual voting <em>is</em> a pain (especially for the counters; by the time you come across your hundredth ballot, wouldn't you be ready to go on an anti-government rampage?), but considering the dangers of electronic voting (yes, I'd say this even if it wasn't the right-wingers who hold the ability to rig entire elections), it's well worth it.

Posted by: Ben-Gurion Jacarutu Sun Dec 7 10:33:38 2003

Plenty of elections have been rigged long before electronic voting was even thought of.

Posted by: mark Mon Dec 8 14:15:36 2003

Oh, sure. But I doubt it could be done as securely, or hidden so well.

Posted by: Graham Tue Dec 9 01:19:32 2003

Senate or upper house papers can be a pain, but they don't have to be finished that night. At your average booth in an safe electorate, lower house ballots can be done within the hour, a little bit longer if it goes down to preferences.

Posted by: Ben-Gurion Jacarutu Tue Dec 9 01:41:47 2003

Mark, I'd have to disagree. Before you had electronic voting, all you had was essentially someone writing down on a piece of paper the number of votes in a given bag. Add to that that a lot of the votes wouldn't make it back to the counting post (floods, fires, Indian attacks etc.) and the well-known corruptability of the officials who counted and supervised counting of votes, voting nowadays is probably as clean as it's ever been. Remember what the historian says in the documentary 'The Real Gangs of New York' (which can be found at the back of the DVD). Nowadays the use of violence at the ballot box is considered almost unthinkable, but less than a century ago it was considered the norm.