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Re: [Demexp-dev] Thoughts on voting machines

From: skaller
Subject: Re: [Demexp-dev] Thoughts on voting machines
Date: 20 Sep 2004 14:27:27 +1000

On Mon, 2004-09-20 at 08:14, Brian Hurt wrote:
> On 19 Sep 2004, skaller wrote:

> I have problems with voting from home- security.  You don't know who 
> really voted, 

How is that different from a polling booth?

> just that some computer performed some mathematical 
> calculations.  Especially with the current state of computer security, I 
> would stake democracy on it. 

If you mean, stake National Government elections on it,
sure -- the infrastructure isn't in place. However,
people do bank over the Internet -- and most of them
probably think their money is a good deal more important
than wasting their time voting for some politician that
is going to get in anyhow.

>  You'd have to show me how to prevent 


and you'd have to show me how to make elections in Iraq
and Indonesia fair. The point being -- polling booths
and paper aren't foolproof either. In fact they're much
easier to stack.

BTW: recounting is nonsense in an electronic system.
Recounts occur because the validity of votes needs to be
checked properly -- scrutineers/counters make mistakes.
Computers don't. I would think the *software* should be
checked carefully though -- preferably by insisting it
is open source.

In fact, once votes are registered they could be published
so *anyone* can count the votes: the problem isn't counting,
its verifying.

In Australia this is far worse than the US because we
use preferential voting for the Reps. That means if
your favourite doesn't get up, you get another choice,
and if e doesn't get up, you get another, and so on.
This is called distributing preferences. So .. the votes
get counted, then if necessary recounted to distribute
preferences -- ARGGHGGG. This can take several WEEKS.

e what the vote recorded on the peice of paper
> is with no technological existance.  

I share your concern, but point out paper hardly
lacks 'technological existence' :)

> Note that America faces many similiar problems to Australia.  

America has a larger economy though.
> > 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).  

Ah, that's interesting. Here your registration is permanent,
and you just get crossed off a list. Yes, you need ID.
However, almost every single school in the country is a polling
booth, and so even for one seat, there can be a LOT of polling
booths with your name ready to be crossed off.

> 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.

In marginal seats here, the outcome is often decided by a few
hundred votes. This often changes the balance of power. For example
the current government has control of the Reps, but the Senate
is controlled by a minority party which has the balance of power.

BTW: the electoral/parliamentary system here sux -- IMHO :)
I think the American system is much better, in that the
Legislature is separated from the Executive.
(However the US Justice system sux even worse than ours :)

John Skaller, mailto:address@hidden
voice: 061-2-9660-0850, 
snail: PO BOX 401 Glebe NSW 2037 Australia
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