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Re: [Demexp-dev] Thoughts on voting machines

From: Brian Hurt
Subject: Re: [Demexp-dev] Thoughts on voting machines
Date: Mon, 20 Sep 2004 16:25:49 -0500 (CDT)

On 21 Sep 2004, skaller wrote:

> On Tue, 2004-09-21 at 00:25, Brian Hurt wrote:
> > On 20 Sep 2004, skaller wrote:
> > 
> > > There is no such thing as a 'non-political' vote. Community
> > > decision making IS politics. 
> > 
> > There is a difference between, for example, electing the Debian board of 
> > directors, and electing the President of the US.
> > 
> > First of all, how valuable is the "prize"? 
> Exactly. It makes little difference who is President
> of USA (or Australia). It won't change anything.

Ignoring the cynical "you can't beat city hall" philosophy (side note: you 
can, it just takes work), the current US President gave billions of US 
Dollars in no-bid contracts to Halliburton.  A different president will 
almost certainly give said contracts to someone else, or at least open 
them up for bids (and thus make them less profitable).

>From a simple profit and loss perspective (Chicago School of Economics), 
it's worthwhile to spend tens, even hundreds, of millions of dollars to 
"rig" the election to protect those no-bid contracts.  If you wonder why 
they don't, there is a fair bit of evidence they already *have*- go read

That 1 carat diamond ring can be very valuable- especially to the girl who 
just got it as a wedding ring, or the guy who worked six months to buy it 
for his new wife.  More valuable, in many ways, and definately more 
meaningful, than the Hope Diamond.  But the Hope Diamond still needs more 

> Whereas USA elections are necessarily just a source
> of entertainment -- no matter how serious it is,
> I can't influence it, and no one in power is actually
> going to do anything sensible. They'll just go
> on with the same old drivel, lies, and deceit.

I have more ability to influence it than you do- everywhere I say "US 
Elections", please read "Austrialian Elections".  Same diff.

> >  Plus, while it's plausible the state of 
> > Minnesota would spend a few thousand dollars per voting booth, I doubt 
> > very much that Debian would.
> Sure -- and they don't need to, they can happily use
> computer systems instead because they're all technically
> savvy.

And because it's not worth it for someone to write specialized worms/virii 
to throw the election.  This is what I'm saying: the two voting systems 
need radically different approaches.

And trust me- you could write a worm or virus for Linux, no problem at 
all.  It's harder to do than Windows, you actually have to know something.  
But give me a few million dollars to hire the right people, and it can be 

Two things to note: I'm not advocating Demexp go one way or the other.  
Both are worthwhile projects, IMHO.  I'm just saying you can't do both.

"Usenet is like a herd of performing elephants with diarrhea -- massive,
difficult to redirect, awe-inspiring, entertaining, and a source of
mind-boggling amounts of excrement when you least expect it."
                                - Gene Spafford 

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