Why Voting Machines are not like ATMs

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    • #236445
      • Total Posts: 9,978

      ATM software is open, but voting software is proprietary

      Banks insist that all code in ATMs be fully disclosed to them and they won’t trust their money or their depositors’ money with anything less. Voting software by comparison is considered proprietary by companies that make both ATMs and voting machines and proudly boast of their open source software for the former. This situation could conceivably be changed by demanding that voting software also be fully disclosed, but there are other reasons why open source code is not by itself sufficient to make voting machines like ATMs.

      Individual ATM transactions can be tracked, but individual secret ballots cannot be tracked

      Every transaction in an ATM is completely tracked with redundant account numbers traceable to the account holder, and your transaction is photographed for security purposes. In contrast, a secret ballot cannot possibly be associated with such an identifying number and still remain secret. The very secrecy of the ballot creates a virtually untraceable system that is wide open to both fraud and the cover-up of material irregularities. It is not feasible to provide a receipt in elections to prove a transaction because of concerns about using it to sell votes.

      To make voting perfectly analogous to using ATMs, you’d have to have every account holder at a bank make a non-traceable cash deposit on the same day (election day) by dropping this anonymous deposit (ballot) into a large bin. Bank officers would then calculate the total amount of money deposited in secret with no public oversight. The account holders would then come back at the closing of the business day with media in tow asking for reliable bank totals and overall account results.

      ATM errors have no consequence for users, but ballot tabulation errors have very serious consequences

      With banks, you have at least 60 days after receiving your statement, if not much longer, to contest and challenge the transactions involving your account. With voting, there is no possibility at all of correcting your vote after you leave the polling place. In fact, voters are considered legally incompetent to contest their ballots with extrinsic evidence. At any rate, you couldn’t locate the specific ballot anyway, and some elections officials cite academic research purporting to prove that voters can not correctly recall their votes after having voted.

      Broken voting machines have disenfranchised many, many people who have had to get back to work or school before a functioning one could be made available to them during limited voting hours. A broken ATM just means that you have to go to another bank branch or supermarket, at any hour of the day or night.

      In summary, you vote untraceably (assuming that you aren’t turned away unable to access a functioning machine), you’re not allowed to challenge or change even your own vote, you’re not trusted to remember it, and then the elections officials will refuse to disclose their data (ballots) or their analysis methods (counting software) on the grounds of trade secrecy, but will only release their conclusions (election results). Such a system has absolutely none of the safeguards built into ATMs, which have quadruple redundancy. If you take out $100, you can count the five crisp $20s, check the receipt, cross-reference it with your bank statement listing individual transactions tagged with unique numbers, and if necessary, request the photo of you making the transaction.

      ATMs have extensive real world testing that vote counting systems can never have

      Principles of elementary systems analysis dictate that any complex system, whether mechanical or electronic, is highly unlikely to ever be free of bugs. Such systems can, however, eventually be made robust and reliable by banging them against reality hard and often. ATMs are part of a complex system that has had most of the bugs worked out of it by being constantly tested in the real world, billions of times an hour, 24/7, 365 days a year. If you run into one that isn’t working, it’s usually no problem to find another one.

      In contrast, voting is something we do a couple of times a year, and letting machines with complex hardware and software do it for us must inevitably always be a beta test. This is why you rarely hear of ATMs that don’t work because of heat or cold or humidity, but commonly hear of voting machine breakdowns for those reasons and many others. If we only drove our cars for a couple of hours once a year, they’d suck pretty badly too. Beta test mode is absolutely unacceptable for something as important as voting.

      We can safely entrust others with tracking ATM transactions, but we can only trust ourselves to supervise vote tabulation

      The current situation is this. We now have no basis for confidence in election results because data and the methods of its analysis are never disclosed, only conclusions. Voters are considered legally incompetent to change or challenge their votes, or even to recall what those votes were. Therefore, we need to fight for democracy here in our time, meaning demanding vote counting methods that are transparent and public, as Thomas Jefferson anticipated every generation would.

      Jesus: Hey, Dad? God: Yes, Son? Jesus: Western civilization followed me home. Can I keep it? God: Certainly not! And put it down this minute--you don't know where it's been! Tom Robbins in Another Roadside Attraction

    • #236466
      • Total Posts: 1,285

      And ATM’s produce paper receipts, while many electronic voting machines still in use involve no hard copy record.

      Destruction is easy; creation is hard, but more interesting.

    • #236502
      • Total Posts: 2,181

      Nor like using a debit card. One of the frequently used canards I hear. But the main point I take is when I go to the bank and withdraw $40.00, both myself and the bank know what both sides of the transaction should be, i.e. the accounting for the transaction is this:

      Bank – reduce, or credit cash, an asset $40, and reduce or debit liabilities $40.00.

      Myself, reduce my bank account balance $40.00, increase my physical cash $40.00.

      Both sides know exactly what the transaction was and what should have happened. If the ATM spits out only one $20, then I know I’m shorted and can file a complaint. The bank will check the physical cash in the drawer and reimburse me $20. Possibly without even checking for that small amount.

      With voting only one side knows what the transaction was and they have no way of knowing how the vote was counted unless there is a physical record of the vote that’s secure!

      So e-voting cannot be secure! Even blockchain technology is not completely secure. That’s not just my opinion but the opinion of a major regional bank’s internal cyber security that I’m aware of.


      In America, “Liberty” means “Free to Die in Service of Capital” - Amfortas the hippie.

      Most of today’s elites have the moral and social reasoning capacities of spoiled toddlers.

      “People of privilege will always risk their complete destruction rather than surrender any material part of their advantage...but the privileged also feel that their privileges, however egregious they may seem to others, are a solemn, basic, God-right. The sensitivity of the poor to injustice is a trivial thing c

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