OnlinePrimary: a Showcase of Naivete

Somebody wake me up: I can’t believe that anybody, especially ReadWriteWeb would buy this:,  an effort to to provide a simple, Internet-based system to demonstrate how the US presidential primaries, and later the elections can be handled easily:

“I don’t understand why the straightforward process of casting and tallying votes should require special-purpose machines costing tens of thousands of dollars each, from companies so suspect of fraud and incompetence that they have to change their names (as Diebold Election Systems recently did) to hide from the shame.”

Richard at ReadWriteWeb is somewhat doubtful himself, noting:

In my tests, OnlinePrimary turned out to be a basic website form and still a little buggy (an SQL error popped up after I entered my selections)

Richard, it’s really not about the bugs; it’s the very concept itself.  Anyone can create a webform to collect data – it does not demonstrate anything.  The issue with electronic voting is not how to capture data.  I am by far not an expert, but I think the critical issues all boil down to these points:

  • Identification / Verification of who votes (did not ask for any)
  • How many times can you vote (I just voted twice)
  • Can your vote be tampered with (sure…)

Plain and simple.  Not so plain and simple to resolve. And this simple webform does not attempt to address any of these issues.  This is what we ended up with at an event with much smaller scale… I’m sure you as co-host of the Crunchies also experienced some issues… would the Presidential elections invite a thousand times more fraud attempts?

Update (2/5): Not that there’s much verification in real life, either…


Election Humor

Techmeme’s political sister-site, Memeorandum is full of speculation on how the New Hampshire polls could be so wrong. As usual, conspiracy theories abound, amongst them speculation on the role Diebold’s voting machines  played in the results.  I’m not joining the speculation, nor can I completely ignore it; after all, we’re hearing about voting machine problems all the time, several states decertified them… but I simply don’t have enough facts to take sides in this debate (although I wrote about the issue in the past)  That said, a little laugh does not hurt … and you have to admit these posters are just hilarious:


There’s more where they come from: Diebold Variations, (c)2004-06 Rand Careaga/salamander.eps.