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Elections - robots

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148959.  Mon Feb 19, 2007 3:27 pm Reply with quote

ďAutomated callingĒ - robot phones replacing door-to-door human canvassers - is coming to Britain. In the US, itís been used for some time, but at the most recent mid-term elections, two new wrinkles were added by the Republican party: one is a system which, if you hang up on the automated message, simply rings you back again ... and again and again, until the computer is satisfied that the entire message has been played out. Secondly, realising how annoying this is, some Republican campaigns made auto-calls which seemed to come from Democrat candidates. This latter trick is thought to have saved them a few close contests.

- Morning Star, 24 Nov 06.

148988.  Mon Feb 19, 2007 5:14 pm Reply with quote

I don't know how common this is, but I can tell you that I haven't ever experienced it. However, we do have a lot of annoying robot calls from tele-marketers.

148989.  Mon Feb 19, 2007 5:14 pm Reply with quote

Very good. I live in a safe seat, and find that no member of any party bothers to canvass at all in this constituency, or at least not that I've seen; it's hard to know which situation to prefer. What I'd like is a hustings in the Town Hall - it appears to me to be bonkers to vote for someone you've never set eyes on just because she's a member of a particular party.

148990.  Mon Feb 19, 2007 5:16 pm Reply with quote

Ref Jenny's post, I can vouch for that - I spent some time in Maine last year, and got constant telephone calls from robots selling telephone companies.

148992.  Mon Feb 19, 2007 5:18 pm Reply with quote

Dish network is the worst culprit. When I finally got to speak to a human being calling from Dish network, I informed her that even had I been interested before, the telesales campaign had pissed me off to the extent that under no circumstances would I buy their product, however good the deal was.


153549.  Sun Mar 04, 2007 4:16 pm Reply with quote

"Estonia has become the first country [in the world] to allow voters in general elections to cast their ballots online." /Guardian, 03.03.07/

Copy in "Estonia"

156751.  Thu Mar 15, 2007 7:38 am Reply with quote

I thought I might have posted this Mythconception before, but if so, I canít find it. Apologies if itís a repeat.

<<<THE MYTH: The secrecy of the ballot box in British elections is inviolable.

THE BACKGROUND: Well, this has got to be true, hasn't it? The secret ballot - successor to the show of hands - is, along with universal suffrage, one of the basic principles of modern democracy. If nobody but you knows for sure who you've voted for, then you can be neither threatened nor bribed into voting (or not voting) for a particular candidate, since the briber or threatener has no way of ensuring that you do what he has told you to do.

THE "TRUTH": Next time you cast a vote, notice the number printed on your ballot paper and its counterfoil. Then notice as the polling clerk writes that number next to your name on the electoral register. It's that simple: your vote is not secret. All it needs is for someone to use this anti-fraud measure to check the numbers on the completed ballot forms against the numbers and names on the register. But who would do such a naughty thing?
Well, obviously, MI5 would. And did, it is generally accepted, during the 1970s, that decade of unrivalled Establishment paranoia, in order to compile lists of Communists, Trotsykists and other enemies of the state.
Britain's electoral mechanisms are charmingly olde worlde and low tech. In a fascinating conspiracy thriller published in 1994, the journalist and novelist James Long shows how the integrity of the ballot is based on little more than trust. In his story, a secret society of international financiers fixes the 1992 general election, post-balloting, to prevent Labour winning, and thus to make the world safe for privatisers and other crooks. As Long points out, that Tory victory depended on just 1,241 votes in eleven constituencies.
It should be noted that hard-core conspiracy theorists prefer to study the 1987 general election, which closed, many believe, with the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition both convinced that they had swapped jobs - until the official results were declared ...

SOURCES: Principally, Game Ten by James Long, Simon & Schuster 1994. Long quotes several of his sources in an author's note.

DISCLAIMER: Truth is rarely subject to landslide victories. If you wish to vote for a different outcome, fold your thoughts once and slip them discreetly into FT's big black PO Box. Confidentiality not guaranteed.>>>

156794.  Thu Mar 15, 2007 9:51 am Reply with quote

It may be too complex to roll into a question, and too American to be of much use to QI, but there's certainly a lot of material in the whole issue of voting machines.,_voting_machines

156799.  Thu Mar 15, 2007 10:11 am Reply with quote

Presumably, the sole purpose of voting machines is to facilitate match-fixing? They certainly don't seem to have any advantage in terms of counting speed.

156802.  Thu Mar 15, 2007 10:16 am Reply with quote

The theory is that they do have an advantage in terms of counting speed, bearing in mind how far-flung from each other the voting precincts can be in the US.

The worst part about them is that there is no paper trail so no way of checking any disputes manually. The manufacturers (mainly Diebold, who are a contributor to the Republican party though of course nothing should be read into this) claim that they are unhackable, but as you will see from the links above many people dispute this and there are certainly some interesting distortions in voting patterns if you look at the results closely.

156812.  Thu Mar 15, 2007 10:51 am Reply with quote

Needless to day, I canít find it now ... sigh ... but somewhere Iíve got, or else used to have, a cutting showing how much slower voting machines are than the ole pen-and-paper system. Certainly, there are pen-and-paper countries with much more scattered electorates than the USA.

156824.  Thu Mar 15, 2007 11:25 am Reply with quote

Different bits of the USA use different systems too. Here in Maine we still use pencil and paper and count the votes manually. However, with a population of only 1.2 million, we're rather smaller than somewhere like New York or California.

156838.  Thu Mar 15, 2007 11:50 am Reply with quote

The size of the electorate doesn't make any difference, though, does it? Because (manual) counting would be broken down into wards/precincts/constituencies etc.

157557.  Mon Mar 19, 2007 8:47 am Reply with quote

Surely electronic voting machines would be able to count up the votes in an instant. No more waiting through the night, sometimes until the next day, to get the results.

Unless there was a dispute, of course, in which case it's utterly vital that there's also an reliable paper trail that you can use to verify the result. Has Diebold offered any excuse why they haven't built a paper trail into their system?

157601.  Mon Mar 19, 2007 10:48 am Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:
. Has Diebold offered any excuse why they haven't built a paper trail into their system?

It was supposed to be 'too difficult'. Not many of us believed that, and surprise surprise it seems that Diebold are now thinking of ways around the problem. However, this little piece of gossip - and of course this may not be accurate and is only an allegation on the part of the person who made it - says:


Oh Sure, Now Diebold Discovers A Paper Trail
from the took-'em-long-enough dept

Despite months and months of protests from Diebold about just how hard it would be to add a tiny printer to their voting machines, now that the elections are through, they've (oh, look at that!) come up with a voting machine that includes a verifiable paper trail. Of course, what they haven't said is how much it will cost to add a cheap printer. In the past, internal emails at Diebold showed that they planned to charge a ridiculously high fee for the printers, just because they can.

(linked to the above comment, from another poster)

I think it's now been determined exactly why Diebold is so afraid of adding a paper trail to their voting machines: they keep getting burned by paper trails. After emails exposed just how insecure their voting machines were, a set of internal Diebold communications show an employee suggesting that, should they be required to retrofit voting machines with paper trails that they charge ridiculously high fees to do so. Diebold has said that the cost of the printers included in a voting machine would run about $1,000 to $1,200, which may seem a bit high for a pretty simple printer. The internal memos, however, point out that this is just part of the strategy. Since they're going in and replacing or retrofitting machines that have already been bought, Diebold sees them as captive customers who will be forced to pay whatever Diebold wants.

This link is an announcement made in January 27th that Diebold are now selling their machines with paper trail possibilities built in, in response to requirements from various states' legislatures under pressure from local voters.


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