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Pssst: You Want A Secret Ballot

smitty_one_each (243267) writes | about 8 months ago

User Journal 26

Per the Daily Caller

Per the Daily Caller

A Clemson University professor is developing a new electronic voting system that will allow voters to cast their ballots from home computers, tablets and smartphones.
As Clemsonâ(TM)s chair of human-centered computing, Juan Gilbert has lead teams of students over the last 10 years to create an online voting system accessible at home or on the go that will be more accurate, have increased verification and make voting more accessible to people with disabilities by offering mobile and voice-command options.

It is laudable to improve accessibility for all voters. If you're getting mugged for taxes, you really should be casting a ballot.
At the same time, retaining anonymity is key. That's why, in the polling location where I've served in the last couple of elections, verifying voter eligibility is separate from the part where the ballot is cast. Information Technology professionals would tend to want to engineer all of the ambiguity out of the system. However, the easier it is to correlate a specific person to an election outcome, the more likely abuses become.
You really don't want Checkov's Gun showing up at election time.

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What "Secret Ballot" Actually Means (1)

pudge (3605) | about 8 months ago | (#45874001)

The term "secret ballot [wikipedia.org] " is often misunderstood: its purpose, according to nearly all references, including the American and English Encyclopedia of Law in 1899 [tinyurl.com] (p. 585), is not only to allow a voter "to vote without any other person knowing for whom he votes, but to compel him to vote secretly, and thus prevent bribery, coercion, and other evils." (emphasis added)

So this is not just about correlating a vote after the fact, it's about -- as the Constitution of the State of Washington says -- securing absolute secrecy in preparing and depositing the ballot (ironic, since Washington was the first state to go to all-mail voting, thus simply ignoring this provision of its constitution).

Voting remotely is most likely something that is simply incompatible with having a secret ballot at all. I cannot think of a way to have a secret ballot except at a polling place.

Re:What "Secret Ballot" Actually Means (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 8 months ago | (#45874501)

What you say is true, but the intent is still to separate the information about the vote from the person who cast the ballot, while ensuring that the vote, itself, is not compromised.
Also, the submission version made the front page. Which means I'm almost sort of nearly kind of cool like damn_registrars, now.

Terminal Balloting (1)

Austrian Anarchy (3010653) | about 8 months ago | (#45874665)

I've been hearing about this computer voting via unsupervised computer terminal since about 1980 or 81, in PoliSci 1001. That corner it is just around never manages to get here, and I agree with Smitty, it never should.

Re:Terminal Balloting (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 8 months ago | (#45874773)

I think that, as decades unfold, humans are going to walk back the "technology everywhere" thing. For legal reasons, chiefly.

One workable algorithm (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about 8 months ago | (#45879329)

That is currently being tried in Oregon, albeit with snail mail, is the "secrecy envelope algorithm".

On a computer, it would work something like this:
Vote is stored in a packet, which is encrypted without voter's identifying information. That encrypted vote, is stored within another packet *with* the voter's identifying information. The second packet is also encrypted, and sent to the poll counters. On the poll counters side, you have two networked computer systems (or possibly just two processes). The first server decrypts the outer packet, checks to see if this voter has already voted, then if voter is recognized and has not already voted, passes the inner encrypted packet to the vote counting server, that then tallies the vote and prints a written record of votes received. Since the second process never has access to the user's id, there is no way to tie a given vote back to a given person.

Oregon's snail mail version is similar. You place your ballot in the secrecy envelope, then place the secrecy envelope in the addressed and signed envelope. At the polling place, your signature is checked, and if valid, they throw away the addressed and signed envelope and pass the secrecy envelope on to the balloting room, where it gets opened and counted.

Re:One workable algorithm (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 8 months ago | (#45879835)

Man in the middle can still screw it up. You still have to trust the chain of custody. Computers are not ready for prime time. It's time to seek an alternative to majority rule anyway. It has hit the brick wall.

Re:One workable algorithm (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 8 months ago | (#45882659)

It's time to seek an alternative to majority rule anyway. It has hit the brick wall.

We don't have anything like majority rule. Hell, we can barely get a majority of registered voters to cast ballots.

Before we give up on democracy, I'd like to try a requirement that all citizens vote. Of course, that's the last thing that our ruling class wants.

Re:One workable algorithm (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 8 months ago | (#45883443)

If you paid a penalty for not voting, that would affect behavior quite a bit. Hmmm.

Re:One workable algorithm (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 8 months ago | (#45900225)

Not unless "None of the above" is on the ballot. The right not to vote is just as important as the right to vote.

Re:One workable algorithm (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 8 months ago | (#45903317)

Checking in to vote is completely separate from the casting of the ballot. It has to be, or it's not a secret ballot.
Submitting a blank ballot is called an "undervote". It's not particularly bright, but you retain that privilege. Also, some elections support write-ins.
I've worked as an election officer the last two Novembers. Some minutia varies slightly from state to state, but my remarks are mostly valid wherever you go.

Re:One workable algorithm (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 8 months ago | (#45903713)

Rather than mandate people registering to vote, make a mandate for them to run for office, one term only, and draw their number from a hat. Then you will have fair 'elections'.

"Them" (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 8 months ago | (#45905285)

Great joke, but do you really want Kermit Gosnell randomly cast into office? I should think a little more specificity would help.
In all candor, though, some minimum level of competence should be required, an argument I think our current and previous Presidents underscore.

Re:"Them" (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 8 months ago | (#45908097)

Nope, don't care. It will be infinitely more controllable and honest than what we have now. Competence is not in play. All of your presidents are serving their patriarchs very well, or they simply wouldn't have the job. Indeed they do have the Sword of Damocles over their heads.

Re:"Them" (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 8 months ago | (#45912965)

infinitely more controllable

What in the world does that even mean, and how are you measuring it, unless you're the lucky lottery Weiner?

Re:One workable algorithm (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 8 months ago | (#45883823)

Before we give up on democracy, I'd like to try a requirement that all citizens vote. Of course, that's the last thing that our ruling class wants.

Indeed our voter turnout is abysmal (and that's really putting it lightly) in this country. However I'm not sure how you could possibly make voting mandatory and enforce it. The results would certainly be interesting, though. It would certainly scare the crap out of certain politicians if voting was mandatory - at least, if the voters actually were informed by something better than talk radio and random TV sound bites.

Re:One workable algorithm (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 8 months ago | (#45884251)

You got to the voter rolls, and nail everyone for, say, $500 for failure to participate. Much better mandate than that rotten Afford Care Act.

Re:One workable algorithm (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 8 months ago | (#45884503)

You got to the voter rolls, and nail everyone for, say, $500 for failure to participate

So then do you mandate enrollment in the voter rolls? What if someone never registers after the turn 18? What if they move during an election year? Who is responsible with making sure that dead people are properly removed from the list? Who is responsible for making sure that people who are erroneously removed are able to get back on the list in time to vote?

And who does the $500 go to?

The intent is not bad, but the execution could be a nightmare.

Much better mandate than that rotten Afford Care Act.

Funny how it was a fantastic application of a market based solution when Romney did it in MA and then when the Heritage Foundation wrote it into the Health Insurance Industry Bailout Act of 2010 and it became federal law it became the Worst Idea Ever(TM).

Re:One workable algorithm (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 8 months ago | (#45885831)

Which famous last words do you want? "We have to pass the bill to find out what's in it," or "What difference, at this point, does it make?"
I thought that the Progressives had ushered in an era where passing legislation is akin to getting liquored up and conducting scientific experiments with unstable reagents.
What, do you want us to go back to reading legislation, and actually considering its effects prior to deploying the rectal ramrod?
Next, you're going to demand budgeting, and realistic, sustainable safety net programs.
You, sir, are a dangerous extremist.

Re:One workable algorithm (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 8 months ago | (#45887595)

Progressives didn't pass the Patriot Act, which was the ultimate "pass the bill in order to find out what's in it" law.

There are no progressives holding national office in the United States, anyway. Maybe one or two who are relatively new. And Elizabeth Warren? I hope she's got good security because the NSA is probably prepping another Sirhan Sirhan just for her.

If there were any progressives in congress there never would have been an ACA.

I beg to differ (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 8 months ago | (#45896023)

Progressives didn't pass the Patriot Act

The whole of the last century in U.S. history has been a tale of Progressive collapse, with a bipartisan fiction for pure entertainment value.

Re:I beg to differ (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 8 months ago | (#45900351)

Of course this will be your attitude as long as you feel you're not on the winning side. Even though you are correct this time, coming from you the words ring hollow, little different from your 'liberty' schtick. It's just yer mass media, Rush Limbaugh culture talkin'.

Re:I beg to differ (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 8 months ago | (#45903257)

The winning side is the inside of Beltway.

Even though you are correct this time, coming from you the words ring hollow

I voted for Perot in '92. The difference, 20 years on, is the Internet. Sorry that my "'liberty' schtick" doesn't ring true for you. Your criteria are unknown to me, much less, why I have to prove anything to you in the first place.
My only real judge is the Almighty. Now, granted, I cratered immediately on that scale. My point is that all of these horizontal comparisons just aren't helpful, and we're better off letting them go.

Re:I beg to differ (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 8 months ago | (#45903687)

Your criteria are unknown to me...

Of course, you can't comprehend true liberty, without privilege.. It too, is outside your visible universe.

Re:I beg to differ (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 8 months ago | (#45905271)

You oscillate between 'liberty' in some responses, an intellectual concept, and a purely carnal, materialistic formulation of life in other replies here on /.
How do you synthesize the two ideas?

Re:I beg to differ (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 8 months ago | (#45908039)

It is not "two". It is in the most basic sense, one. Liberty is liberty, all inclusive, totally consensual and cooperative. You are still only working the surface with elaborate, eloquent, though very superficial cultural abstractions in the vain attempt to separate man from nature.

Re:I beg to differ (1)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 8 months ago | (#45912953)

The physical is one dimension; the mental, another; the spiritual, a third. I concede there is much political power in flattening people to one-dimensional objects. Happiness, however, real joy past hedonistic physical pleasures, is about developing all three dimensions in their proper fullness, and maximizing one's individual volume.
That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.
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