Diebold pulls voting machines from North Carolina
Monday January 02nd 2006, 12:04 pm

Diebold electronic voting machineThe 2000 and 2004 US presidential elections are yet shrouded in doubt due to irregularities in vote tabulation. Diebold, a maker of automatic teller machines and banking equipment as well as computerised voting equipment, is operated by a Bush kool-aid drinker. No conflict of interest here…

When the US state of North Carolina passed law requiring that makers of computerised voting machines submit copies of their source code, Diebold pulled its bid- but offered assistance in changing the law to obviate the requirement to release their source code. The Brad Blog, as usual, is on top of it.

US voters must continue to demand standardised and fully transparently accountable voting systems. Australia has long led the way in recording the will of the people, from secret ballots to compulsory voting. The Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) is yet another a brilliant Australian innovation. Votes are recorded by standardised means, by one organisation, not by dozens of individual contractors vying for contracts. Tabulation is done by transparent, statistically sound methods. The AEC conducts all manner of elections, from those for political offices and public referenda to those for union matters.

It’s well past due time for the US to practise what their Constitution preaches.


8 Comments so far
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The Australian system while supremely better at verifying the votes is not all it’s cracked up to be.
A ballot becomes invalid if your vote reflects a first and second choice only (even though you number every square) eg. 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2 etc.
I have to hope that my first preference does not have a brain fart and give my vote to a really offensive candidate.

Comment by suki 01.02.06 @ 3:52 pm

The world would be a better place if the AEC handled worldwide elections. I say, send them out to any place where democracy needs to be a little more… democratic :).

I do wonder if the system we use could be sustained in a country of 300 million as opposed to 20 million, however.

Comment by Le Driver 01.02.06 @ 7:22 pm

Suki, I’m with you; the preferential system has certainly got flaws. The Greens, through unprincipled preference allocations, are in part responsible for the debacle that is Howard’s bully majority in the Senate.

Voting ‘below the line’ is complex. It’d be a lot easier for the voter to manage (and would reduce unintended informal votes) if it were all on a computer (with open source software) instead of a ballot the size of a pillowcase.

LeDriver, I’m convinced that the AEC concept is better scalable than any other method. The key is standardised ballots or machines- just more of them.

In the USA, the local election board is responsible for the printing and tabulation of ballots. Ballots from one municipality may not resemble those from others.

Worse, polling stations are staffed on election day by volunteers from the two main parties, not by non-partisan observers. I’ve wanted Jimmy Carter or the UN to come in and observe US elections for many years. In whole, US elections would fare little better than many third-world nations in terms of tabulation accuracy and voter intimidation and manipulation.

Comment by weezil 01.02.06 @ 8:17 pm

Suki’s numbering system was legal up to a couple of elections ago, when the guy who thought it up was jailed for publicising it. Yes, jailed for stating something that was legal!

The solution is having optional preferential voting as happens in NSW. There should be no compulsion to vote for someone who is abhorent to the voter, as is now the case in Federal polls.

As for the the US system, the simple way of checking would be for the machines to print a hard copy of the vote, which is placed in a ballot box by the voter. If there’s any dispute, the votes could be manually counted.

Comment by tony 01.02.06 @ 9:47 pm

Tony, thanks for your note.

I’m very much in favour of voting machines dispensing a hardcopy ‘receipt.’ However, voting machines must be standardised and operating software’s source code released for independent validation.

The tabulation organisation and polling station staff must be non-partisan and verifiably so. There’s far, FAR too many opportunities for partisan manipulation and intimidation of voters.

Have you got any links regarding the legality of voting 1-2-2-2-etc? I’ve searched around and come up goose-eggs.

Comment by weezil 01.03.06 @ 6:50 am

I’ve found one link here written by Antony Green. It’s illegal to vote that way now, but memory tells me that it once wasn’t. It may be a few elections ago.

My recollection is that the guy who thought up the loop-hole broke the electoral law by publicising it and was jailed without charge until after the election, but I also can’t find any links proving this.

Hopefully it’s not a figment of my imagination!

Comment by tony 01.03.06 @ 4:52 pm

His name was Albert Langer. I remember, as his daughter went to school with an ex-girlfriend of mine. He copped a contempt of court charge and was sentenced 10 weeks in the clink (but only served about 3) because the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 “makes it an offence to encourage people to vote other than in the manner described in section 240 of the Act which provides for a full preferential system.”

There’s a good long article on it in the Australian Parliamentary Library here.

Comment by Evan 01.03.06 @ 5:32 pm

Thanks, Evan. My memory was wasn’t quite correct, but it’s a relief to find that senility is a way off yet …

Comment by tony 01.03.06 @ 7:12 pm

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