Cracker by Damian Christie

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Cracker: All In

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  • 3410,

    Over the other side of Pacific, watch this video of a screwed up voting machine:

    Since when does software need to be calibrated? Am I missing something?

    Auckland • Since Jan 2007 • 2618 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Since when does software need to be calibrated? Am I missing something?

    I presume calibration means "when a person pushes in this part of the screen, put a tick by this name". The machine is probably generic and you can recalibrate it using that little memory card he had to do a completely different election. Different card has different ballots in it, different names etc.

    Why a machine should "fall out of callibration"? That's dodgy or fucked up. It's just maths, which shouldn't change during the day.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Amy Gale,

    Seriously, an argument for little bits of paper if ever I saw one.

    Oh, but America is Far Too Special And Unique for paper to work.

    (See also: voting on a Saturday, having a tolerable health care system, etc)

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 471 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Why a machine should "fall out of callibration"? That's dodgy or fucked up. It's just maths, which shouldn't change during the day.

    Happened across the States in 2004. Just enough votes to switch from Kerry to Bush to not be too noticeable but enough to win. Saw something a while back, think it was called stealing America one vote at a time, which showed how thousands complained that their votes were switching and locking in and,on election day, across the States ,it was being reported "only a few glitches. Some states have gone back to paper because of this, but only a couple afaik.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Yes, touch screens aren't infallible. Making sure that they're registering touches in the correct places, especially when the touched area is relatively small, is important. All the more so when you're voting for the leader of the world (not that most Merkins actually recognise how much impact their choice has on the rest of us).

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Oh, but America is Far Too Special And Unique for paper to work.

    (See also: voting on a Saturday, having a tolerable health care system, etc)

    I believe that voting on Tuesday is written into the Constitution, no? Changing that would be no small feat.

    As for paper, the usual argument is that paper takes too long because America's got such a large population. Cue bleating from t3h meedja, who demand instant gratification and to know the result 30 seconds after the polls close. Who needs accuracy and verifiability in an election anyway? It's not as though they're voting for anyone important or anything, only the most powerful man in the world, with the ability to fuck up the entire global economy. Far more important to let those journos get to bed at a reasonable hour after telling the world who their next leader is.
    Of course, as is observed regularly on Slashdot in stories about electronic voting, the larger the electorate the larger the pool of potential counters. It's a perfectly scalable system, and all the more so if you use OCR and only hand-count ballots that can't be read by machine. But that does make it much harder to do dodgy things to the result, since the ballots are readily available for recounts and verification.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Happened across the States in 2004. Just enough votes to switch from Kerry to Bush to not be too noticeable but enough to win.

    Yeah, I know it happens. It's just stupid.

    If computer game designers can tell when my avatar in a shooting game hits the bad guy, when both my avatar and the bad guy are moving around, I'm not sure why they can't tell when a person is pushing a static button.

    Not to get up in arms or anything, but some would say having your vote registered correctly is kinda important.

    Trusting the system that registers it, also kinda important.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Let's get the game designers to make the voting systems work. Might make the polling booth more exciting and attract the yoof vote. :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19707 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    Let's get the game designers to make the voting systems work. Might make the polling booth more exciting and attract the yoof vote. :)

    I have this wonderful vision of young people waiting patiently to enter the booths, with the silence occasionally broken by cries of "Boom! Headshot!"

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

  • Amy Gale,

    I believe that voting on Tuesday is written into the Constitution, no?

    Nah, it's just a regular ol' law. And even if it was in the Constitution, an amendment would 'only' need a 2/3 majority in both houses.

    tha Ith • Since May 2007 • 471 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    If computer game designers can tell when my avatar in a shooting game hits the bad guy, when both my avatar and the bad guy are moving around, I'm not sure why they can't tell when a person is pushing a static button.

    Because it's not a real button. It's a series of coordinates on the presented screen, that must coincide with the coordinates the screen returns. If the screen is miscalibrated, it will return wrong coordinates. If the returned coordinates don't happen to intersect at all with the "button" you thought you were touching, the result won't match your expectations.
    The software remains correct at all times. What becomes incorrect is the touch detection systems of the screens. If they become sufficiently incorrect, no part of the displayed button will intersect with the coordinates the screen is returning.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Don Christie,

    Paper voting in the USA is on the increase.

    If computer game designers can tell when my avatar in a shooting game hits the bad guy

    You are sure about that, are you?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 1645 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    an amendment would 'only' need a 2/3 majority in both houses.

    Plus approval by 3/4 of the states, which is why the 27th Amendment took 200 years to ratify.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    You are sure about that, are you?

    Well, I think the last shoot-em-up game I played was Wolfenstein 3D, and it worked then.

    It's possible that the wondrous advances in computer technology since the 1980s have broken the simple algorithms they used to figure it out. If they can break 'tick the box to vote', anything is possible.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Kyle, if it was just a mouse-based interface, you'd be right. But touch screens add a whole other layer of potential for fucked-uped-ness, because they have their own software for interpreting where on the screen the user has pressed. Mice don't decide how far you've moved and where you've clicked, they just do their thing and let the far-end software make the decisions.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    But touch screens add a whole other layer of potential for fucked-uped-ness, because they have their own software for interpreting where on the screen the user has pressed.

    Only some touch screens do that. Infrared and ultrasound models stay aligned.

    Why counties are using technology that goes out of whack and could make people vote for other people if they're not paying close enough attention...

    Again, paper works quite well for this whole voting thing. The #1 requirement for a voting system is surely 'getting it right'.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    Heck, if Apple can make touch screens work cheaply enough to drive the iPhone, etc, then where's the problem?

    I have this wonderful vision of young people waiting patiently to enter the booths, with the silence occasionally broken by cries of "Boom! Headshot!"

    Hmm. Practical implications. Wonder if they'd also expect chat channels to check what their voting peers were doing?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19707 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Again, paper works quite well for this whole voting thing. The #1 requirement for a voting system is surely 'getting it right'.

    Unless you're the US, in which case the #1 requirement is "Keeping t3h meedja happy" by giving them a result as quickly as possible. Accuracy is entirely optional. </cynicism>

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    And on an entirely-related note: WaPo is reporting that Maryland and Virginia will be going back to the old ways after Tuesday's election.

    "The battle for the hearts and minds of voters on whether electronic systems are good or bad has been lost," Brace said. The academics and computer scientists who said they were unreliable "have won that battle."

    A victory for accuracy and verifiability over the demands for instant results.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • JohnAmiria,

    watch this video of a screwed up voting machine:

    __"You should never leave the voting booth without knowing who you voted for" __says the technician, who will be on hand to 'recallibrate' as required.

    Yeah, right. Considering how many PAS ppl hit 'post reply' when they mean to hit 'preview' (myself included) ... there's no way they will have enough techies on polling day.

    I've seen another clip which shows how if you load -5000 votes for a candidate into a Diebold voting machine, that candidate will be on zero if 5000 votes are cast. (lost the link sorry). You know the system is corrupt when they say it's too expensive to give voters a paper reciept of their cast ballot. (Yet bank ATM's manage it)

    hither and yon • Since Aug 2008 • 215 posts Report Reply

  • Ian MacKay,

    Makes our old paper system pretty reliable. When counting up we would go to enormous lengths to check the where-abouts that last ballot had got to. Having officiated in 13 elections I can think of not one error. We are well served.
    Though I did give a special vote to a 94year old women whose Husband Tom had died the year before. Tom "voted" but by making the notes in the appropriate form this dear old lady went away happy, and no corrupt vote was cast.

    Bleheim • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    Using machines to print out ballot papers, which are then OCR'd during the initial count, is fine. Using machines to tally votes right from the get-go is just begging for all kinds of fuckery and skulduggery. The former would greatly speed up counting, since you could be pretty certain that ballots would be in the correct form, and I think it's something that could be investigated here.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    You know the system is corrupt when they say it's too expensive to give voters a paper reciept of their cast ballot. (Yet bank ATM's manage it)

    And didn't Diebold make both?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19707 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    And didn't Diebold make both?

    Diebold: making Kiwibank customers vaguely uneasy since quite a while ago.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1609 posts Report Reply

  • Matthew Poole,

    bank ATM's manage it

    And didn't Diebold make both?

    Emphasis on the past tense. Diebold Election Systems or whatever it was called got flogged off. They decided that there wasn't enough money in election systems, particularly for the harm being done to their reputation.

    Banks pay good money for quality ATMs, for reasons that include the fact that ATMs make money by reducing the necessity for staff, and that cheap ATMs potentially cost more due to increased servicing as well as possibly screwing up on dispensing. Voting, on the other hand, is purely a cost. There's no money to be made from having voting systems, so operators will naturally be attracted to the cheapest possible option. That accurate voting has a value all of its own doesn't attract the accountants, especially in a money-centric system such as the US electoral one.

    Auckland • Since Mar 2007 • 4097 posts Report Reply

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