READER COMMENTS ON
"Study: Two-Thirds of Voters Fail to Notice Vote-Flipping on Touch-Screen DRE Voting Systems"
(16 Responses so far...)
COMMENT #1 [Permalink]
Patrick: Husband, Father, Liberal
said on 6/13/2007 @ 11:10 am PT...
Um.... Like I was just happy to find the place to vote.
so i'm like gonna vote - and ummm .... i like what that one guy wears.... so i was like yea!
now they tell me that my vote was like fliped-over or something like that - so I'm Like - WOW! I didn't know I was so popular and all...
voting is cool.
COMMENT #2 [Permalink]
said on 6/13/2007 @ 12:56 pm PT...
I think Ms. Everett's other primary conclusion is equally frightening: namely, voters like to use DRE machines. It's well worth quoting the chilling conclusions from pages 118-119 of Ms. Everett's thesis (with some emphasis added by me):
This work evaluated the usability of DREs versus that of older, more traditional voting methods in terms of efficiency, effectiveness, and satisfaction. The DRE did not differ from the bubble ballot, lever machine, or punch card in terms of ballot completion times or error rates. However, DREs were strongly preferred over these other systems. The paper bubble ballot fared well in evaluations also, but voters were significantly more satisfied with their experience on voting on the DRE. This indicates that although participants’ performance was not any better with the DREs, voters liked these electronic voting systems and might react negatively to any attempt to ban or restrict their use in elections.This satisfaction with DREs was observed even though voter’s ballots on these machines could be changed largely without detection. Up to eight races were added, removed, or changed and less than 40% of voters noticed. Older voters, those who spent very little time on the review screen, and voters who had not been following the news on DREs were the least likely to notice the changes. A voter meeting these three criteria would be a worst-case scenario from a security standpoint, and this leads to the possibility of targeted attacks of vote flipping by malicious software on electronic voting machines. For many voters, their choices can be changed on the screen right in front of them without detection. This also has implications for VVPATs, which have been suggested as a partial solution to vote-flipping schemes. The findings here suggest that it is highly unlikely that voters will detect changes to their ballots on the VVPAT that prints out on a roll of paper next to the machine if they are not even noticing them on a screen presented directly in front of them.
COMMENT #3 [Permalink]
said on 6/13/2007 @ 2:18 pm PT...
It makes no sense whatsoever to verify either a screen display or a paper print out. Under the very flexible guidelines currently recommended and occasionally used in our “elections” neither of them will likely ever be counted. Verifying something that doesn’t matter at all is logically a complete waste of time. There is no reason whatsoever for any logically thinking person to believe that the sum of what is printed out on either that worthless paper trail or that equally worthless screen display has any correlation whatsoever to whatever it may be that the machine secretly uses to secretly determine what only a fool might consider the “election results”. Only a complete fool would consider the useless verification of what is on that screen or paper to be any assurance whatsoever that any votes will be counted as cast. There is no logical reason whatsoever why either of those would have to be any verification whatsoever! Isn’t there anybody associated with our “election” process who could ever hope to pass a logic class? If there is why don’t they ever speak up about the royal mess we are naively expected to believe is somehow a democratic “election” system? It clearly is no such thing!
COMMENT #4 [Permalink]
said on 6/13/2007 @ 2:36 pm PT...
Hand count paper ballots...
COMMENT #5 [Permalink]
said on 6/13/2007 @ 3:42 pm PT...
Because, Mr Young, anyone associated with elections and speak out on any subject are beaten down by "EI Experts" as being in cahoots with Big Business and are summarily dismissed as part of the "problem". Also, the more you know, the worse you are tarred and feathered. Crystaline logic. I'd like to see the same type of study done by this grad student on paper ballots and hand (mis)counting.
COMMENT #6 [Permalink]
said on 6/13/2007 @ 4:30 pm PT...
Sorry, this is off topic, but it is really important and I don't know any other way to get Brad's attention.
This new report by Michael Collins lays out the 2004 stolen election in black & white for the layman.
COMMENT #7 [Permalink]
said on 6/13/2007 @ 6:39 pm PT...
I'm glad to see this study. Just had a very passionate debate in New Hampshire with Dr. Ron Rivest about this very topic.
Studies on cognitive processes have been very clear on this point, and go back 50 years. There is a vast difference between ACTING on a document, such as writing on it or marking on it, and PROOFREADING a document. The brain is, not surprisingly, set up to take shortcuts. Especially when one assumes that there will be no errors, as most people do when computers print out something they have seen on a screen, people's brain is programmed literally to skip over those errors.
The cognitive process of taking "shortcuts" in visual perceptive tasks should not surprise us. If our brains didn't do this, we'd have to ponderously analyze each thing we look at. That ... is ... red ... somewhat round ... has a stem ... and ... therefore ... must ... be ... an ... apple. No. The brain just tells you APPLE.
Especially with print proofreading tasks, our brain loves to take shortcuts. In fact, in Psychology 101 textbooks there are sample paragraphs where an amazingly high percent of people ALWAYS misread words put together in certain ways, because of the brain's tendency to take shortcuts.
This is such a strong tendency that professional proofreaders --- and let's not kid ourselves, VVPATs and ballot marking devices involve PROOFREADING skills, not just reading skills --- many professional proofreaders read paragraphs BACKWARDS to block the brain's annoying (for a proofreader) tendency to skip over errors.
Here's another point. I mentioned that I was debating this with Dr. Ron Rivest, a cryptography and mathematics expert. One of the things I took him to task for --- and I take every computer scientist to task for --- is the failure to use a disclaimer when issuing opinions about voters using VVPATS vs. marking a ballot themselves. Rivest told me he was unaware of studies showing that proofreading a ballot was inferior to marking it yourself. I told him:
1) Since cryptography and mathematics are an entirely different field of study than cognitive process research, one wouldn't expect you to carry around a compilation of the research in your head --- and you should be clear that you have no expertise whatsoever in these areas when you comment.
2) People assume that academics, even if a subject is not their specialization, apply a certain rigor to evaluating information. Such rigor would involve doing a review of the literature and examining studies for replication and further clarification. When an academic pronounces an opinion, there is an assumption that they have followed scientific procedure and applied appropriate rigor. That's simply not the case with the current crop of computer guys who presume to advise and write legislation on the very multi-disciplinary field of elections.
To which Rivest, who is a very nice guy by the way, replied that in academia everyone knows to discount opinions when they are not the person's area of expertise. To which I replied that such is NOT the case when "experts" provide input to congress, or sit on panels, and start blabbing about things not in their area of expertise. To which he replied that he will certainly take that point to heart and start being more careful about stating disclaimers on opinions not in his area.
This lengthy post is to illustrate the importance of bringing in people who actually understand cognitive processes, rather than propping up mathematicians and computer programmers to pronounce their OPINION about what voting system is most appropriate. And by the way, as one with a degree in applied psychology and decades of experience in writing and publishing fields which involve PROOFREADING, I can tell you that the number of studies that show the high number of errors for proofreading tasks and the studies on the brain's tendency for closure (shortcutting) are huge.
You cannot teach people to proofread by sticking a sign up that says "check your ballot" and many people will not be able to proofread accurately even when they take extra time and try hard.
And while we're bending over backward for disabilities, has anyone thought about the impact of forcing DYSLEXICS to proof their ballot?
COMMENT #8 [Permalink]
said on 6/13/2007 @ 6:58 pm PT...
Good point, Bev. So far, this study, the Cal Tech/MIT study and the experience with VVPAT's in Chicago all come to the same conclusion- VVPAT's are ineffective instruments to check the accuracy of touchscreen DRE's.
There is no scientific support to justify anything but a paper ballot, filled out by the voter. At the same conference, I was impressed by the ease with which some New Hampshire precincts utilize hand-counted paper ballots. It's not as difficult as some election officials would lead us to believe. It's also less expensive.
COMMENT #9 [Permalink]
said on 6/13/2007 @ 7:33 pm PT...
We clearly need to return to voter-marked paper ballots.
The study did contain some interesting information:
1) There were no instructions that emphasized the importance of verifying the ballot; only normal instructions that called attention to the review screen. Page 70 of the pdf:
As in the Study 1, the instructions on the DRE were standard voting instructions.
They did not give instructions on what to do if the review screen was inaccurate or in any
way refer to the fact that there may be changes made into the review screen. On the actual
review screen itself, there was the typical instruction to click on a candidate’s name to
select a different candidate for that race, but it did not mention the potential for
HR 811 requires that large-font signage within view of the voting booths be placed in the polling place instructing voters not to leave until they have checked the paper:
"The appropriate election official at each polling place shall cause to be placed in a prominent location in the polling place which is clearly visible from the voting booths a notice, in large font print accessible to the visually impaired, advising voters that the paper ballots representing their votes shall serve as the vote of record in all audits and recounts in elections for Federal office, and that they should not leave the voting booth until confirming that such paper ballots accurately record their vote."
2) The study found that being educated about problems with DRE security influenced the likelihood of detecting review screen errors. Page 117:
Another individual characteristic significantly predicted whether voters would
detect the vote flipping on their review screens. This was how carefully participants had
been following the news about potential security problems with electronic voting
systems, and it had an even stronger effect than age. Participants who had been following
the news more carefully were more likely to detect the review screen changes. It seems
that being exposed to and perhaps educated about the potential problems with DREs
raised the awareness of voters such that it caused a change in their behavior.
Education through the political parties and civic organizations can help a great deal.
And even with the very neutral instructions in the study environment, as opposed to the stronger instructions called for in HR 811, at least a third of voters noticed errors.
Is that acceptable as an end of voting reform. God no. Is it better than nothing? I say it depends on how serious one thinks that the security issues with DREs are. If one thinks that the security issues are very serious, even some check is better than nothing and can deter severe fraud.
Voter-marked paper ballots, being inherently voter-verified, are where we need to end up. Holt gives state activists the funding and the leverage (through the durability and accessible verification requirements) they need to advocate a phaseout of DREs, as happened this year in Florida, Iowa, Maryland, and Virginia.
COMMENT #10 [Permalink]
said on 6/13/2007 @ 7:41 pm PT...
#3 Bob Young,
They can pass a logic class.
The problem is they use logic for evil to destroy everything the United States of America stood for originally.
All you need to do is look at just about everything they use electronics in.
Databases, Electronic voting machines, Networks, Telcos, Crowd Control, Mind Control, Torture.
Like I said before, try to find that super duper two part directive on whitehouse.gov using their search engine. (I bet they fixed it since I said that) You can type the exact name and not find it. That's not a mistake man, that's on purpose. (looks like they fixed it now... But who would know now, since it's past tense) And who the hell is going to know to type the exact name(s)? And being in the past, it's easy to bury it now.
NATIONAL SECURITY PRESIDENTIAL DIRECTIVE/NSPD 51
HOMELAND SECURITY PRESIDENTIAL DIRECTIVE/HSPD-20
Then we have the thorn / wiki. Is there any doubt left they are attacking websites. This is their cyber war.
(I Personally had my website DDoS'ed for about a year and a half, and finally maintained some control (even under DDoS) by writing a LOT of iptables rules.)
This is their electronic war.
How much longer until your bank account will disappear? DO you have gold, or is it electronic?
If we ever do get these electronic voting machines stopped, they are going to be so in trouble.
But that's not the reality.
COMMENT #11 [Permalink]
said on 6/13/2007 @ 8:05 pm PT...
I hate having to make a second, third message, when I could have been more clear the first time.
By the way, I can't prove. (As in CAN NOT PROVE) that those two directives couldn't be found back at that time. Because I didn't capture it.
But even to this day it's easier to search for "executive power directive" on some other search engine.
So you can blow that off if you so desire. I ain't no journalist, but I know bullshit when I see it. The whitehouse.gov search engine is rigged. And it ain't like they don't know what's up, just look at their robots.txt for how much stuff they block. They know what they got on there.
The other thing about the DDoS on my websites. killing bogons, asia, and parts of other countries finally brought the cpu back down to say 2-15% from 100% cpu. I had to grep the logs every day and find where the say top 100 IP's were. Every day... cleaning out the /tmp dir. looking for rootkits. Try that and running a blog, doing a show, maintaining links, and other websites. It wasn't even my job!!!
I am no longer at that ISP, (Walt my personal friend + ISP since 1996 has since died) from lung cancer, or was it the chemo?
Regarding DDoS attacks, how ya going to prove it. Ya can't. I can't. It's done. They did what they wanted to me. It was around the time I put up that Hacked.jpg .
COMMENT #12 [Permalink]
said on 6/13/2007 @ 11:32 pm PT...
Howdy said "I'd like to see the same type of study done by this grad student on paper ballots and hand (mis)counting."
Sorry Howdy, but that's a strawman argument since paper ballots would always be hand counted by more than one person in an actual election if hand counting were the chosen method of tallying. In addition, what would be counted is what the voter actually put on the paper ballot and it could be recounted as many times as necessary and always reflect what the voter produced. If a DRE voting machine produces an incorrect secret electronic vote (or an unchecked, incorrect ballot), it doesn't matter how many times it is recounted- it will always produce the same incorrect result.
You should be 'summarily dismissed as part of the "problem"' if that's the best you can do.
COMMENT #13 [Permalink]
said on 6/13/2007 @ 11:49 pm PT...
Sean Flaherty said:
Is it better than nothing? I say it depends on how serious one thinks that the security issues with DREs are. If one thinks that the security issues are very serious, even some check is better than nothing and can deter severe fraud.
Fair enough. Except that if you go back and review the numbers, and factor in those educated about DREs as alluded to, you have to ask yourself, in elections as we have of late in this country, decided by anywhere from 1 to 3% (check the last two Presidentials, for example), that means if just .5 to 1.5% fail to check their paper trail to notice a flip, it's enough to flip the entire election.
The "good news" is that Holt's audits will confirm such a gamed election on a DRE as "accurate" for all time!
COMMENT #14 [Permalink]
said on 6/14/2007 @ 7:27 am PT...
That's what I'm talking about. Nothing but sacred opinion in american.
The american faith tells us we have the best democracy, best opinion, best electronic election movement, best government, best health care system, best economy, best educational system, and best journalists in the world. And "mine" is just a wee bit better than "yours".
So don't worry be happy. Why double check the best ??????
COMMENT #15 [Permalink]
said on 6/14/2007 @ 8:08 am PT...
COMMENT #16 [Permalink]
said on 6/15/2007 @ 7:06 pm PT...
I would fit into the 1/3 of the study who did catch vote flipping in '06. It was so subtle, especially because I knew who I was voting for for each office. I started whizzing through and barely noticed the flip. I almost fell off the floor when it happened again a few votes later.
I went in fully aware of the problems and hating having to vote on that machine. The "paper trail" is almost impossible to read because it was under glass.
How many times do we have to keep writing our reps so they get the message: PAPER BALLOTS ONLY!