Blackbox Magic?

Looks like we're going to experience a bit more fun than expected in this May's elections. Orange's voting machines, along with 100 other NC counties, have been decertified. From the HeraldSun's Emily Coakley

Orange County's Board of Elections is working to buy new voting machines after the county's current machines were decertified by the state earlier this month.

The county isn't alone. Voting equipment for all of the state's 100 counties was decertified, said Todd McGee, director of communications at the N.C. Association of County Commissioners. This has led to some worry among county officials.

Chief among the concerns is whether the two vendors approved to supply voting machines to the state will be able to deliver orders from 100 different counties by the May primaries, McGee said.

Hmmm, I think there's a bit more to worry about than whether the vendors will deliver on time.

So, what can we do to influence the choice of equipment?



I think there's a bit more to worry about than whether the vendors will deliver on time.

Ya think?

It's getting downright scary these days with the media and the bureaucrats motoring on like business as usual. We are in the middle of a friggin' coup and the big concern is getting new machines on time?

By the way, check out today's pathetic N&O editorial calling for renewal of the Patriot Act . . . and then write to Steve Ford and tell him to get a new job.

From the article it appears OC is leaning towards optical scan ballots. This is excellent news for verifiable voting. Now if we can just get the SBOE and the rest of the state to agree....

We are in the middle of a friggin' coup and the big concern is getting new machines on time?

IMO, This kind of rhetoric isn't helpful. That will do nothing to convince the people who really need to be convinced.

Adam, any suggestions on "helpful" rhetoric?

In rereading my post, I see that I inadvertently mixed apples and oranges. Mr. Hupp has concluded that the "friggin' coup" I referenced had something to do with the OC BOE decision and verifiable voting.

Let me clean that up.

The "coup" I'm referring to the Bush administration's utter comtempt for the rule of law. And the point I failed to make is this: How can we be going about business as usual when our democracy is collapsing before our eyes?

Given all the serious contretemps of the current madministration, from oilman writing energy policy in the Oval Office to yesterday's clear admission of an impeachable felony, I don't think James rhetoric is unreasonable.

Heck, the lack of an immediate call for impeachment by today's Dems only adds further credibility of "coup" by spineless fiat.

What a horrible, wretched, terrible time for our democracy.

The insanity at the national level - the continued shredding of the Constitutional spirit - shouldn't stop us from trying to preserve and nurture basic democratic principles.

We should demand the highest accountability and transparency from our local governments.

We should demand that Orange County institute democratic principles that break one party rule (non-partisan elections), ensures widest participation (proportional voting instead of the ersatz "inclusiveness" of districting) and, for "friggin'" sakes, doesn't use tools, like the eminently hackable Diebold, to count our votes.

Why? Because if there is going to be a dark age for our democracy let us at least try to keep a small flame of our founding principles going here...

Chin up James, you're in good company.

Thanks, Will.

Living out here in the Internets, I know I sometimes lose touch with local concerns. Very glad to see your post tie it all together.

Via Wired's article Diebold Hack Hints at Wider Flaws

Election officials spooked by tampering in a test last week of Diebold optical-scan voting machines should be equally wary of optical-scan equipment produced by other manufacturers, according to a computer scientist who conducted the test.

This is slightly off topic. Do you guys know if there been any interest in adopting a primaily vote-by-mail process here, either in OC or NC at large? Do you have any thoughts about that?

Will--the others may be open to a=hacking--but at least there is a paper trail.


The recent article in Wired magazine "Diebold hack hints at wider e-vote flaws" was probably glossed over by most people as yet another slam Diebold piece. In actuality it was an important article in that it underscores the problems with any type of computerized voting technology, whether DRE, optical scan, etc.

The vast majority of people have no real idea of just how insecure telecomputing (telecommunications and computers) technologies are. The number of bought and paid-for sophisticated, professional computer attacks, break-ins, theft and manipulation of data that is occurring at present in the commercial and government sectors is alarming and growing. Billions are being spent by the government and private industry in their efforts at securing military and commercial systems, yet the attacks and losses continue to increase. Compare how much money is being spent on securing our electoral computing and networking devices and I think it's safe to conclude that our elections are like a sitting duck.

It is unfortunate that most people believe that computerized voting is a foregone conclusion. After more than twenty years of working with telecomputing technology, I will tell you that my level of trust in the outcome of an election today is commensurate with the extent to which telecomputing technology is used in the election process. From casting the vote at the precinct station to the final tally, the more segments of the process end-to-end that make use of digital recording, transport and storage of voting information, the greater my distrust in the legitimacy of the election outcome.

Given the technocratic underpinnings of our 21st century world and widespread adoption of telecomputing technology for the electoral process, I am pessimistic about all our elections. There are limits to any technology and the use of telecomputing in the electoral process is inappropriate. The time and trouble we will spend both on the front end (in obtaining satisfactory assurances as to the trustworthiness of the devices and networks we will use), and on the back end (verification of uncorrupted data) in our pursuit of sound elections, is absurd. The protections afforded us by hand recorded, transported and counted ballots are worth the time and trouble if we want election outcomes we can trust.

Looks like the folk in Chatham are a bit upset about their machine choices.

Voting machine meeting turns feisty

According to our BOE, we'll have a chance to weigh in

Public Meeting on Election Equipment
Jan. 11th, 2006
Superior Court Room
Hillsborough Courthouse


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