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Re: [Demexp-dev] Thoughts on voting machines

From: Brian Hurt
Subject: Re: [Demexp-dev] Thoughts on voting machines
Date: Sun, 19 Sep 2004 17:14:48 -0500 (CDT)

On 19 Sep 2004, skaller wrote:

> On Sun, 2004-09-19 at 10:14, Brian Hurt wrote:
> > I'm not sure what the scope of this project is, or what the current design 
> > is.  So I thought I'd just throw these thoughts at the wall and see what 
> > stuck.
> > 
> > First off all, the only voting system I'd trust needs paper.  The paper 
> > ballot is the legal, official ballot.  And the voter has to hold the peice 
> > of paper- and understand what the paper says!
> Nah, Australia will soon offer electronic voting -- fill in
> the form on a computer terminal in the polling booth.
> Later, vote from home will be offered. We have more
> voting than most countries -- voting is compulsory,
> there are three tiers of government, and 2 of those
> tiers have two houses which sometimes have separate
> polls. Also, whilst most people live in cities here,
> the remaining few cover a large area. Finally,
> we use preferential voting for reps where, until recently
> the *only* legal vote requires you number consecutively
> *every* box on the form.

I have problems with voting from home- security.  You don't know who 
really voted, just that some computer performed some mathematical 
calculations.  Especially with the current state of computer security, I 
would stake democracy on it.  You'd have to show me how to prevent not 
only zombie votes (that's easy enough), but also DNS poisoning for man in 
the middle attacks, virii and worms loading up hacked versions of the 
voting software, etc.  Austria is more than large enough to make it 
worthwhile to put out major effort to corrupt the elections.

The biggest problem I have with paperless voting is no recounts.  This is
why my demand is for paper.  And why I demand the official paper ballot be
held in the voter's hand at some point in the voting process, in a way
that the voter can determine what the vote recorded on the peice of paper
is with no technological existance.  Paper, locked in secure boxes, is
amazingly hard to tamper with.  So you've discovered the election has been 
hacked, and the paperless results aren't correct- what do you do?  If you 
have hardcopy backup, you can resort to counting the ballots- by scanning 
and OCRing, or even by hand counting.

Note that America faces many similiar problems to Australia.  I'm not sure 
which is less populated- the Outback or the Dakotas.  I do know there are 
some big flat empties around these parts.  If worst comes to worst, you do 
mail-in ballots.

> Also the paper based system is easily abused (you can
> easily vote as someone else, and do so 20 times
> at different polling booths).

Here in Minnesota, we have a simple solution to that.  You can register to 
vote at the polling place (provided you have sufficient ID).  But when you 
do, you are required to fill out a form and sign it testifying that you 
are legal to vote in that district (and no other).  Falsifying it falls 
under the pains and penalties of perjury- lie, and you're going to get 
familiar with the inside of a cell.

Plus this is hard work.  Collecting enough false identification (even 
through ID theft), and then personally shuttling around to all the 
different polling places to vote.  A lot of work, for not a lot of reward.  
Congratulations- you managed to case 19 fake ballots.  Small scale vote 
tampering I'm not too worried about.  It's large scale vote tampering I'm 
worried about.

"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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