Flutterby™! : OH My - Back to the future

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OH My - Back to the future

2004-11-08 22:18:54.504297+00 by ziffle 18 comments

I thought all this foolishness went away years ago with 8 bit operating systems.

"Officials found the software used in Broward can handle only 32,000 votes per precinct. After that, the system starts counting backward."


In Mayberry we use paper which is then fed into a reader.


[ related topics: Politics Software Engineering Current Events ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-08 22:45:08.710682+00 by: Dan Lyke

Bahahahaha! There was a similar issue with San Francisco's instant runoff system, with, oddly, the numbers 60,000 and 65,000 cropping up in press reports. I'm betting on somewhere closer to 65,536.

It's kinda weird, I've looked at several bits of code recently that seem to do a lot of premature optimization or are written at a much lower level than they should be. In my old age I'm becoming quite a fan of higher level interpreted languages, and expect that shortly I'll start sounding like those old Lisp weenies.

#Comment Risks Digest Commentary made: 2004-11-09 03:03:22.029101+00 by: td

Today's RISKS Digest mentions that the Broward County problem was encountered during midterm elections two years ago and never fixed. Also mentioned is that the SF preferential ballot problem was a compiled-in hard maximum on the number of voters supported, and that a simple edit & recompile (which, of course, requires recertification!) fixes the problem.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-09 10:28:09.132332+00 by: jeff [edit history]

There was a report of a (10,000 vote plus) precinct in Ohio in which the single machine only had a "capacity" of 3705 votes (not even a power of two). But of course, that was in a state where Diebold CEO Walter O'Dell said that he would personally "deliver to George W. Bush." Ladies and gentlemen, we are entering uncharted waters in our "democracy." In a word, "scary."

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-09 10:38:08.824699+00 by: jeff

We've Been Had

by Edgar J. Steele

November 8, 2004

"It's amazing I won. I was running against peace, prosperity and incumbency." --George W. Bush, June 14, 2001, speaking to Swedish Prime Minister Goran Perrson, unaware that a live television camera was still rolling

"You know, a long time ago being crazy meant something. Nowadays, everybody's crazy." -- Charles Manson, serial killer and one-time cult leader

I'm glad that Kerry lost. However, I am horrified that Bush won. Or did he?

We get the government we deserve, it is said. What, exactly, did I do to deserve this? And I'm a conservative, too. Imagine how the liberals must feel.

For every person I know who voted for Bush, I know four who voted for Kerry or a third-party candidate, not to mention another six who didn't vote at all! But, then, I run in some unusual circles. Even so...

The Zogby Polls, which usually are pretty accurate, had Kerry winning a clear majority, not just a plurality, and sweeping the Electoral College. Exit polls, which are even more accurate, had Kerry winning going away, especially in the key "Battleground States" of Ohio and Florida, both of which inexplicably ended up in Bush's column at the end. I noticed that, for once, none of the network anchors really discussed either type of poll, though CNN has been accused of jiggering its report of exit poll results. In an excuse switch reminiscent of Iraq being blamed for possessing weapons of mass destruction, suddenly the blame for the voting-booth conversion to Bush is being placed upon the desire of the common man to stamp out homosexual marriage. As comedienne Judy Tenuta likes to say: "It could happen!" Yeah...right.

Dick Morris, ex Clinton political consultant, wrote an article for The Hill, read by a great many Washington insiders, in which he said, "This was no mere mistake. Exit polls cannot be as wrong across the board as they were on election night."

Yes, I called for Bush's ouster well over a year ago (IMPEACH BUSH NOW and Bush Must Go!), but I'm still pretty much a conservative. Aside from the lunatic-fringe Christian fundamentalist/dispensationalists, many conservatives started talking about Bush that way at about the same time. That's just paleoconservatives, however; we who predate neoconservatives, those who are but old liberal whine in new battles. That's why you should listen to my ilk more closely than the liberals who just upped their intake of Prozac, alcohol and a variety of other reality-altering substances. They would be railing against anything Republican or conservative just now. People like myself are a different matter altogether. And there are a lot of us. Which is why Bush's victory quite simply does not pass the smell test.

It seems clear to me that Bush didn't win fairly. I think Kerry actually won the election and allowed Bush to steal it. In retrospect, it appears to me that Al Gore did the same thing, albeit less abjectly than did Kerry. But, this time Bush got caught with his hand in the ballot box. I've just had a heel-of-the-hand-forehead-thumping "aha" experience. How could I, of all people, have missed something so obvious?

Yes, I have noted rampant vote fraud in the past and expected it this time, as well. I have witnessed it first hand at the local level. I have read many credible reports from others at all levels, concerning past vote fraud. Yet, I did not believe it was so blatant...so massive as what obviously just occurred. How could I possibly expect others to see it now if I didn't see it coming? How could I be so...dumb?

Now comes the hard part: How do we make clear that free elections in America were a thing of the past as long as four years ago?

It's a good thing that Kerry won't be in the Oval Office; but, another four years like we just had? America won't make it. On the other hand, that could turn out to be the good news, I suppose, for survivors of what America is about to become.

Bad as Kerry would have been, he would have been gridlocked by the Republican Congress. None of that for Bush, though, who has presided over the biggest runup in deficits and most criminal war that America has ever seen. Kerry could never have obtained the blank check for war that Congress handed to Bush - and will again. Expect the upcoming mid-term election in 2002 to produce more of the same miraculous Republican victories and give Bush the 60-Republican Senate edge that he needs to advance any legislation without danger of Democrat filibuster.

The smell left over from Election Day is bad enough, all by itself, but there is evidence, lots of evidence, of vote fraud on a scale not seen since the heydays of Communist Russia. Next we will see ballots with only one name appearing in each slot (given our "choice" of candidates, we essentially got there years ago, however).

How on earth did despicable Democrat Tom Daschle get beaten? Mind you, the only Senators I would be more pleased to see go are Hillary, Feinstein and the execrable Charles Schumer, but it seems extremely unlikely that Daschle's constituents would have voted him out of office in a fair election. Is it just coincidence that Daschle has been a particularly nettlesome thorn in George W. Bush's side for the past four years?

The problems in Ohio on election day are starkly outlined by attorney Ray Beckerman in his Basic Report from Columbus: "Touch screen voting machines in Youngstown OH were registering "George W. Bush" when people pressed "John F. Kerry" ALL DAY LONG." One precinct in suburban Columbus reported that nearly 4,000 votes were "accidentally" credited to Bush. Mr. Beckerman also reports that lines in predominantly-Democratic precincts were 5-10 hours in length, versus near nonexistent in Republican strongholds, for the simple reason that precincts expected to line up in the Republican column had five times as many voting machines as others. Beckerman outlines a number of other irregularities in one of this election's two key "battleground" states, the one that gave the election to Bush, just as Florida did four years ago with a healthy assist from the US Supreme Court. Is all of this simply coincidental in an election where the disputed votes decided the outcome?

The other key battleground state, Florida, reported similar problems: "(S)everal dozen voters in six states - particularly Democrats in Florida - who said the wrong candidates appeared on their touch-screen machine's checkout screen...In many cases, voters said they intended to select John Kerry but when the computer asked them to verify the choice it showed them instead opting for President Bush..." (Globe and Mail, 11/3/04). More coincidence?

But, the machines don't have to be obviously in error to be rigged. Ronnie Dugger, in How They Could Steal the Election This Time, several months ago described the November 2004 election machinery: "36 million (votes) will be tabulated completely inside the new paperless, direct-recording-electronic (DRE) voting systems, on which you vote directly on a touch-screen...you get no paper record of your vote...you never know, despite what the touch-screen says, whether the computer is counting your vote as you think you are casting it or, either by error or fraud, it is giving it to another candidate. No one can tell what a computer does inside itself by looking at it; an election official 'can't watch the bits inside,' says Dr. Peter Neumann, the principal scientist at the Computer Science Laboratory of SRI International and a world authority on computer-based risks...The four major election corporations count votes with voting-system source codes (which) are kept strictly secret..."

Even if they aren't obviously in error or secretly rigged, these new machines can still have their tabulations changed, with nobody the wiser. One of my favorite Internet columnists, Devvy Kidd, two weeks ago predicted "monstrous problems that will make Florida 2000 pale in comparison." Quoting from the December 1996 issue of Cincinnatus News Service, a vote fraud newsletter, Devvy went on to note, "The missing link in the vote fraud investigation has been found. The November 1996 issue of Relevance Magazine reveals that two-way hidden modems are being built into the ever growing number of computerized optical scanner/direct recording voting machines in use all across the country from New England to California...these hidden modems are accessible by remote cell phone technology...these voting machines can be accessed and manipulated from a central super computer without a phone line connected to the wall, and without the local precinct workers knowing that anything is happening at all." I wonder why Dan Rather didn't tell us about this?

Just look at all the "user login" notations in this rare audit log from Washington State's King County, where a number of voting tabulation irregularities are now under investigation. No notation is made, of course, of what those anonymous users did, once logged into the database. Go here for an interesting report and speculation about how and by whom the voting machines are being hacked - particularly, note the Republican connection through an attorney.

Diebold, Inc., is one of the country's biggest suppliers of paperless, touch-screen voting machines. Diebold's CEO, Walter O'Dell, wrote a letter four months ago soliciting major-league campaign contributions for Bush, in which he said, "I am committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year." Diebold is based in Canton, Ohio. Coincidence?

Convinced yet? I am.

This year apparently wasn't the first to see this new technology exploited, either. In "The Stolen Election of 2004: Welcome Back to Hell," Larry Chin reports on touch-screen "black-box" voting: "The technology had a trial run in the 2002 mid-term elections. In Georgia, serviced by new Diebold systems, a popular Democratic governor and senator were both unseated in what the media called 'amazing' upsets, with results showing vote swings of up to 16 percent from the last pre-ballot polls. In computerized Minnesota, former Vice President Walter Mondale - a replacement for popular incumbent Paul Wellstone, who died in a plane crash days before the vote - was also defeated in a large last-second vote swing. Convenient 'glitches' in Florida saw an untold number of votes intended for the Democratic candidate registering instead for Governor Jeb 'L'il Brother' Bush." More coincidence, do you suppose?

Now pay particularly close attention to the very next sentence from Mr. Chin's article: "A Florida Democrat who lost a similarly 'glitched' local election went to court to have the computers examined - but the case was thrown out by a judge who ruled that the innards of America's voting machines are the 'trade secrets' of the private companies who make them." So, the legal system steps in and removes any chance of our being able to audit what these things do. Coincidence?

And it's not just the touch-screen voting machines that are susceptible. CommonDreams.org's Thom Hartmann notes that "(I)n Florida's smaller counties the results from the optically scanned paper ballots - fed into a central tabulator PC and thus vulnerable to hacking - seem to have been reversed" (Evidence Mounts that the Vote was Hacked, Rense.com). Mr. Hartman's analysis shows that Florida would have gone to Kerry, had those small-county anomalies been more consistent with actual party affiliation registration by voters. Do you believe in coincidence? Did all those rural Floridian Democrats really vote for Bush, do you suppose? Florida, alone, would have changed the outcome of the election.

Also in Florida, the other key "battleground" state that was widely expected to go Kerry, the official election results of Palm Beach's (of 2000's "butterfly ballot" fame) disclosed that, while 454,427 people voted, 542,835 votes were tallied, a discrepancy of 88,000 votes. Shortly after this oddity was picked up and reported by The Washington Dispatch, officials inexplicably "found" over 91,000 additional absentee ballots which had, somehow, already been counted, thus balancing its own tally. More coincidence, I suppose.

Americans seem to believe that the world thinks as we do; that, somehow, Bush is viewed favorably. He is not, as vividly demonstrated by England's Danny Dayus in his article, Don't Be American: "According to recent opinion polls, a majority of people in the USA actually believe that most of the world favoured the re-election of George W Bush as president - this despite several surveys that suggest that support for Kerry over Bush in the wider world was something between a 2:1 and 10:1 ratio."

At left: George W. Bush in an increasingly typical pose. Talk about character. Can you imagine George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy or, even, Richard Nixon ever doing this publicly? Why is this man's obvious mental imbalance, intemperance and lack of propriety not apparent to every American? This is precisely the image of America now held by the rest of the world.

This election was a foregone conclusion, as some noted beforehand. Greg Palast, Harper's editor who investigated American vote fraud on behalf of the British Broadcasting System, reported on November 1 that upwards of one million votes, expected to be cast overwhelmingly for Kerry, would not be counted "(B)ecause, in important states like Ohio, Florida and New Mexico, voter names have been systematically removed from the rolls and absentee ballots have been overlookedoverwhelmingly in minority areas..." More coincidence, of course.

Houston, we have a problem. Many have taken me to task recently for advocating voting - just not voting for Democrats or Republicans - rather than pointedly not voting. In view of the massive and unprecedented vote fraud that now is apparent, my attitude concerning this is undergoing revision...and I'm leaning toward not voting. Of course, I'm having some other leanings, too - leanings that might get me put in jail, were I to share them with you.

Look - the people apparently disenfranchised this time around primarily are those with whom I generally disagree, but it is the fundamental unfairness of what has taken place that most offends me, not to mention the path down which America now treads. If I really believed this election showed the true color of conservatism, I would join the liberals in a heartbeat and replace my "Nuke the Whales" bumper sticker with one that says "Save the Baby Seals."

If this is what it means to be conservative today, I want to be liberal.

New America. An idea whose time has come.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-09 11:07:05.533918+00 by: meuon [edit history]

New America: Brought to you by a new generation of voting Christian Republican. Rightous, living in a closed society within our own country and changing the status quo by legislation. Using the government to legislate religious doctrine. In clear and direct violation of the constitution.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-09 11:11:24.344077+00 by: meuon

As for the 32k limit in code.. And I thought all the bad coders were doing .ASP pages.. BBaaahhhh! Waaah!

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-09 12:22:30.035908+00 by: Larry Burton

>> In Mayberry we use paper which is then fed into a reader.

Which is the way it should be. I never understood why Georgia moved away from that ballot and to the touchscreen.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-09 13:54:17.150601+00 by: petronius

No Diebold machines were used in Ohio.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-09 16:01:06.507917+00 by: Diane Reese

In my county in CA, we were given the option of using the touchscreens or asking for a paper ballot -- although I think that was limited to this election only. If you paid attention beforehand, you'd know this: no signs or indicators were posted in polling places. HOWEVER, at my little fire station polling house, the two people patiently checking in longer lines of voters than I've ever seen before actually *ASKED* each voter if they'd prefer paper or touchscreen. (!) I chose paper, and later learned that the paper ballots won't be counted until the end of November. What's up with that?? It's just an optical scanner thingie, jeez, hire me and some teenagers and we'll have it done in a day or two.

So I guess you get to pick: use the machine and have your vote "counted" promptly (see above for reliability), or use paper and maybe if you're lucky your vote will count. That seems backwards to me somehow... bring back those excellent mood-inducing machines we used in NY, with the heavy curtains that pulled shut behind you and the metal levers we pushed down next to our candidates name, and the big red handle that opened the curtains and tabulated our vote when we were done! (And no, I am not a Luddite. I don't even play one on TV. ;-)

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-09 17:31:10.514889+00 by: jeff [edit history]

Petronius: I'm curious to know what type of voting machines were used in Ohio?

It's my understanding that Diebold provided over 50% of the machines which were used around the country. Here are some links which provide some interesting background:






#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-10 06:49:54.552881+00 by: Diane Reese

Please also add http://blackboxvoting.org to the above list, if you want the perspective of people who are actively organizing to audit recent results. (Except they seem to be sporting some cheesy "bandwidth limit exceeded" error regularly...) Why there are .com and .org, which even refer to each other on their pages yet are not affiliated, is one of the great mysteries of life.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-10 13:58:31.546996+00 by: petronius

The Ohio machines were made by the people with the other 50% of the market, Ivotronic and Microvote. Diebold did not meet the state's requirements for certification, and was dropped in July of this year. As to the other claims, I suggest looking over at the fanatically anti-Bush Salon for an overview of the claims, and why most of them are flat wrong. The most interesting point is the famous rural Florida counties that are mostly registered Democrat but vote Republican. A deeper look into the record show that this pattern has been going on for years. Holmes county, for instance, is 72% Democrat by registration, but has voted Republican for state and federal offices for 8 of the last 9 elections.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-10 18:03:42.55176+00 by: jeff

The current uproar manifests itself not in pre-vote, political party affiliation, but rather in statistical discrepancies between exit polling (usually scientifically sound, based on large sample size demographics) and the way that the actual e-voting played out. It is my understanding that such statistical anomolies have not been manifest in past elections. Lots of new data to understand.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-10 18:45:34.822052+00 by: Shawn

I am intrigued by these descriptions of New York voting booths with great red levers. I have no idea what devices were used in Washington (the State), since I haven't been to a polling place in years - voting absentee is so much more convenient, and it's on paper.

Back when I did frequent polling places we used those chad-punching rods and it never would have occurred to me to even suspect that somebody could screw those up.

#Comment Re: Washington made: 2004-11-10 19:12:08.400348+00 by: Jerry Kindall

The State of Washington uses mark-sense readers, like Scantrons. You fill in an oval next to the candidate you want. The ballot is then fed into a reader, which ingests it and beeps happily before depositing it into a locked container.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-10 22:45:51.497527+00 by: Diane Reese

Shawn, this is exactly what our old NY voting booths looked like. Those curtains pulled closed behind you when you pulled that red lever, you tweaked around with the mechanical indicators next to the names you wanted until you had it "just so", and then you pulled that red lever the other way, the machine went KA-CHING!, the curtains clunked open, and you walked away sure your vote had incremented the right totals. At least, it never occurred to me that it might not have... I do miss those machines, the experience of voting was so MYSTICAL and SPECIAL and IMPORTANT. And as a child who accompanied her mother into such a booth, and a parent who brought her own children into the booth with her when they were small and we still lived there, it was indeed something to look forward to from an early age.

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-12 18:01:55.359789+00 by: jeff [edit history]

RE: Petronius, "No Diebold machines were used in Ohio." This was mostly true (86/88 counties):

Hardin County, 38 Precincts, Diebold Optical Scanners

Lucas County, 530 Precincts, Diebold Optical Scanners

Source: A spreadsheet photocopy I obtained by walking to Ken Blackwell's office (Secretary of State) less than 30 minutes ago. The spreadsheet contained the following information:

County, Telephone Number, Precincts, Registered Voters, Absentee Ballot, (Counting Methodology), Precinct Ballot (Counting Methodology), Device Type (punch card, scan, dre, etc.), Certified Tabulating System (scan, dre, ballot, etc.), Vendor

Ohio Secretary of State

180 East Broad Street, 15th Floor

Columbus, Ohio 43215

Telephone: 877-767-6446 (toll free)

TTY: 614-466-0562

Fax: 614-752-4361

#Comment Re: made: 2004-11-15 06:04:48.926988+00 by: Shawn

Thanks for the pic Diane. I've been reading descriptions by other bloggers. It certainly looks like something one would feel had real force/power/meaning when used.