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Fwd: [Demexp-dev] Thoughts on voting machines

From: William Neumann
Subject: Fwd: [Demexp-dev] Thoughts on voting machines
Date: Tue, 21 Sep 2004 14:20:03 -0600

Another message lost to "reply-to" land... Note that the first paragraph contains some off-topic stuff from earlier, while the last paragraph is about secure voting tech.

Begin forwarded message:

On Sep 20, 2004, at 8:36 PM, Brian Hurt wrote:

But to tamper with the paper votes, you have to get access to the physical
votes.  Doing it on a wide-scale basis, wide-scale enough to seriously
affect the election, is hard work.  It's hard work just to move that
amount of paper around, forget slight of hand. And you need to make sure
that no one else knows stage magic either.  Small corruptions are
certainly possible.  Large corruptions are a problem.

Really? During the last presidential election in New Mexico, the state went to Gore by just a couple hundred votes (if I remember the numbers correctly -- and I'm far too lazy to look them up. Trust me, it was close.) I also believe that if Florida went to Gore, New Mexico could have swung the election back over to Bush. It would have been little to no problem to flip the election with minimal planning and skill. Boxes of votes here in New Mexico are routinely misplaced. Entire counties are well known for their "questionable" voting practices. States like this one are perfect targets for affecting the outcome of close elections (like the coming election is expected to be).

Yes, large scale corruption is hard. My point is that large scale corruption is not necessarily necessary.

BTW: There is a lot of work out there done on secure electronic voting in the crypto literature covering secure shuffling, "receipt free" balloting, secure vote counting, etc. A couple of web searches should turn up hours of interesting reading. David Chaum presented a fairly interesting system in one of this year's IEEE Security and Privacy publications (the January/February issue -- the article is available online, I forget where, but google always knows) that uses visual cryptography for securing the receipts. He had to update the system due to issues with printing systems, and presented the changes at the rump session of this year's Crypto conference. You can more or less see the talk via wmv from the IACR website <>, he's about 2/3's of the way through, you can look at the program available at that page to help you search for his segment.

William D. Neumann

"You've got Rita Marlowe in the palm of your hand."
"Palm of my hand?  You haven't seen Rita Marlowe..."

                -- Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?

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