Counting the Votes on PeeCees.

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by dpaanlka, Feb 5, 2008.

  1. dpaanlka macrumors 601

    dpaanlka

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2004
    Location:
    Illinois
    #1
    Tonight Illinois is tabulating the votes from our primary elections. I worked all day today helping different precincts around Peoria use their electronic voting machines and trying to solve any problems they may have been having, which seemed to be mostly devices being plugged in incorrectly.

    Afterwards, in the election commission headquarters, they were calculating the votes, which are stored on what appear to be PCMCIA cards that stored information in each electronic voting machine. All the votes were being read by proprietary software on a Dell PC. The Dell kept crashing, almost after every card was read (if at all) and the official had to unplug the reader and switch USB ports every time, then clicking through some driver error messages and wizards and restarting the tabulation software and doing this and doing that. It seemed like a constant, endless process.

    I thought it was pretty unsettling that our votes are being tallied like this.

    This is not intended for political discussion (notice I didn't mention my candidate) but rather a technical criticism of "the system" if you will...
     
  2. Shannighan macrumors 6502a

    Shannighan

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2007
    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    #2
    maybe they should use macpros or mac xServers (or w.e they are called)
     
  3. blairwillis macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2005
    #3
    Sad, very sad. I'm not a fan of electronic voting at all. Thanks for posting though, as it's interesting to see what's really happening.
     
  4. blairwillis macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2005
    #4
    Also, what was your take on the "security" of the system.

    How easy would it have been to subvert it?

    I've heard anecdotal evidence of easily hackable voting systems, but just curious on your perspective. I can't believe there isn't more public dissent on the poor systems in use.
     
  5. dpaanlka thread starter macrumors 601

    dpaanlka

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2004
    Location:
    Illinois
    #5
    I did a lot of assembly and disassembly of the machines, which were Hart eSlates (picture at bottom). They seemed pretty fool proof - voters interact with the system via a big dial and a few buttons. I don't see any way that an individual voter could tamper with the results through the voting machines.

    At the headquarters, the software that counts the votes is proprietary and there is no option to change votes or anything. I didn't actually use this, just watched it being used. I suppose if you stole the PCMCIA memory cards that were being used, you could easily change the votes, but you'd have to steal the card, hack it, and return it to the pile of untallied cards in a fairly short time span while avoiding notice from all the election officials buzzing around the office and the desk where the cards are being tallied in particular.

    Every polling place was required to have multiple Republicans and multiple Democrats monitoring the process (they wore tags indicating affiliation), and they all accompanied the election results to the election commission after the polls closed. Anything is possible, but basically the cards are never left in the presence of one person, or one party, at any time during the process.

    I would say that it is pretty secure. I would be more worried about incorrect tallies or results being skewed by the horrible Windows-based system of counting them, which seemed much more unreliable and much less well thought out than any other part of the electronic voting system.
     

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