December 5th, 2008


Decertify all Diebold/Premier electronic voting machines NOW.

First I think congratulations are in order for Humboldt County California Registrar of Voters Carolyn Crnich. Crnich worked with local voters and began the "Humboldt Election Transparency Project". The Eureka Times-Standard describes the program like this:

The basic idea behind the first-of-its-kind transparency project is fairly simple: every ballot cast in an election is passed through an optical scanner after being officially counted and the images are then placed online and available for download. Software, created by volunteer Mitch Trachtenberg, then allows viewers to sort the ballots by precinct or race to conduct recounts at their pleasure.

After double checking all of the precinct's logs and ballots, Crnich said she discovered a deck of 197 vote-by-mail ballots for the precinct that had been run through the ballot counting optical scanner, but did not seem to appear in the final vote tallies.

After exchanging several calls with Premier Elections Solutions, Crnich said she was told that the software begins counting decks of ballots at zero, and that sometimes when a deck is deleted from the machine due to normal complications, the software also deletes the Deck Zero, which in this case was the vote-by-mail ballots from Precinct 1E-45.

Diebold/Premier has known about this bug since 2004, and five years later it is STILL not fixed.

What the hell are we doing using these known-inaccurate machines to count votes? What the hell are municipalities counties and states doing giving money to Diebold/Premier for these buggy pieces of crap?

Every last one of these machines should be tossed into a blast furnace.

First super-conducting transistor created.

Last year Andrea Caviglia and his colleagues at the University of Geneva in Switzerland grew a single crystal containing two metal oxides, strontium titanate and lanthanum aluminate, as separate segments. At the interface of these materials, the team found a layer of free electrons called an electron gas (Science, vol 317, p 1196). At 0.3 kelvin - just above absolute zero - these electrons flow without resistance and so create a superconductor. Now the same group says it can switch this superconductivity on and off by applying a voltage to the interface. The result is a superconducting version of the field effect transistor (FET) - a mainstay of digital electronics.

A conventional FET contains a sliver of a semiconducting material with a so-called "source" electrode at one end and a "drain" electrode at the other. Above this source-drain channel is an electrode called the gate, which acts like a tap: when a "switch-on" voltage is applied to the gate, a current flows through the semiconductor channel. That current's state - either off or on - can act as a digital 0 or 1. The speed at which a FET can switch is limited by the resistance of the channel, which creates heat. Higher speeds create more heat until eventually the device burns out. That's why a superconducting FET could run much faster.

Caviglia's team made such a transistor by using the lanthanum aluminate side of its crystal as a source-drain channel and the strontium titanate layer as the gate (Nature, vol 456, p 624). "With no electric field, there is zero resistance between the source and drain as the device is superconducting," says Caviglia. But with an electric field applied to the strontium titanate, the dense electron gas gets shifted away from the interface and the lanthanum aluminate stops conducting current. Caviglia said that computers using such transistors would be "much faster than the gigahertz speeds currently available".