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Canada Considering Online Voting In Elections

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the no-more-polls-here-in-canada-south dept.

Government 324

ehud42 writes "Slashdot readers generally agree that voting machines such as those from Diebold are a bad idea. Well, what about online voting? That is what the Vancouver Sun is reporting. Given that voter turnout in our most recent election was the worst on record, Elections Canada is kicking around the idea of allowing voters to register online, update registration information online, and maybe even vote online."

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324 comments

What could possibly go wrong? (4, Insightful)

Jeian (409916) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500313)

...

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28500373)

.... security issues aside, I don't see how you could prevent vote buying once you take away the confidentiality of a person's vote.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

DirtyCanuck (1529753) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500659)

Now the voters will actually represent what the public really thinks. Actually going and voting is so insecure any hack can show up and say he is somebody else. The 80 yr old guy that does the "security" check is a joke. Much less secure than say... online banking. If I showed up at a bank and got a similar "security" check I would already have cleaned out all your accounts. It is going to encourage Canadians out in the boons and young folks to vote. F U C K Y E S

We need a system in place to boot governments that are not representing the public (like the one we currently have) with regards to policy, quickly and efficiently.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

Atlantis-Rising (857278) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500705)

Obviously you have never actually dealt with the bank's consumer facing 'security' measures. It's perfectly possible to go in and clear out other people's accounts, simply by claiming you're them.

The entire consumer-facing security system of banks is generally smoke and mirrors.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (3, Funny)

DirtyCanuck (1529753) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500787)

This is perfectly true, but considering it would probably be just as easy to do either, don't you think that the bank side of things would be the most lucrative option.
A. Get Cash
B. Vote as Dead Guy

Plus this if fucking Canada, if anybody can pull it off we can.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (1)

Virak (897071) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500815)

Insecure voting isn't being able to change a vote or two and be a slight annoyance. It's being able to change tens or hundreds of thousands or more and actually affect the results. And doing that in real life requires a lot more resources and it's a lot harder to avoid getting noticed doing it.

We need a system in place to boot governments that are not representing the public (like the one we currently have) with regards to policy, quickly and efficiently.

Perhaps, but this isn't it.

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (3, Insightful)

DirtyCanuck (1529753) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500855)

Canadians hand count all votes before the nights end. We have preserved one of the cleanest examples of democratic election on the planet.

Sorry to break the news to everybody but online voting in one form or another is the future.

So logically Canada would be the perfect country to adopt online voting because we are small (population) and have done so well in the past. What better a voting system to do comparison to then the Canadian. If we can't pull it off well then.......

Re:What could possibly go wrong? (5, Insightful)

Virak (897071) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500955)

I'm quite Canadian myself, which is why I'm especially worried about this. You seem to be failing to grasp the simple fact online voting is fundamentally different from the current system, and has serious problems that are (at best) hard to fix, and no amount of shouting "CANADA FUCK YEAH" is going to make them go away.

Where is the paper trail? (4, Insightful)

reporter (666905) | more than 4 years ago | (#28501011)

The article by the "Vancouver Sun" does not mention anything about a paper trail. Yet, a paper trail is vital to ensuring that the votes can be counted in a re-count if someone disputes the count generated by an electronic voting machine.

The silliness of the electronic voting machine -- and, also, online voting -- is that these contraptions are intended to (1) protect a voter from his own stupidity and (2) protect a voter from his own laziness. Frankly, why should we care if a voter is too stupid or too lazy to vote?

This entire electronic voting craze began after some voters in Florida could not follow simple instructions (on the voting ballot) in the American presidential election of 2000. Because they lacked the intelligence to follow simple instructions, they created ballots that were ambiguous.

These instructions are not rocket science. They are written so that a child in 8th grade can understand them. If a voter lacks even the intelligence to follow simple instructions, he likely lacks the intelligence to comprehend foreign policy and domestic policy. The loss of his vote is not a loss to democracy. An uninformed vote by an idiot would actually damage our democracy.

The other issue is the lazy voter. This online voting proposal mentioned by the "Vancouver Sun" is supposed to cater to him. Well, if a voter is too lazy to vote, then he is likely too lazy to make an effort to understand foreign policy and domestic policy. The loss of his vote is not a loss to democracy.

The bottom line is that paper ballots work just fine. We should continue to use them. Forget the electronic voting machines and online voting. They are far less safe and less reliable than mere paper ballots.

Let's keep the paper ballots.

Not a horrible idea... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28500339)

I think this could work, as long as they make it very VERY secure and accurate.

On the other hand, If you're too lazy to get off your butt and vote, I wouldn't mind it if your voice wasn't heard in my country. The problem isn't that its too hard to vote, its that people need to realize how important it is that they vote.

Re:Not a horrible idea... (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500371)

Is there any track record of the government making anything having to do with the internet secure short of keeping everyone out?

Re:Not a horrible idea... (1)

eltaco (1311561) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500975)

heh!

let me tell you about europe, specifically germany.
we don't have the idiotic two party system of the states or britain. hell, jump the 5% and you're in.

we all know politicians lie when they open their mouths. but nowadays, it seems, they aren't even trying to appear in the light of being the representatives of the people. more bs followed by even more bs. kill civil rights, kill social benefits, 'let the rich eat em all!'.

couple weeks back we had the european election here in germany. I really wanted to vote - really really did. but between the usual 5 suspects that have been conning us for the past 5-50 years and the new hardliners who just want to become part of the so-called 'elite' - it's all one big vote for "fuck you and bend over, dear tax-payer!".

maybe the people in canada aren't too lazy to vote - they might just be pissed off with the scum running the place.

"There are four boxes to use in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury, ammo. Use in that order." - Ed Howdershelt

As a Canadian let me be the first to say (4, Informative)

V50 (248015) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500343)

DO NOT WANT

As another Canadian let me be the second to say (5, Insightful)

Looce (1062620) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500565)

Do not want.

Diebold concerns aside, online voting can be so severely tampered with that it's not even funny.

Concerns of forced voting come first to mind, i.e. someone coercing you into voting a certain way. But a lot of things can go wrong, specific to computer networking and technology itself:
* A Trojan horse can be planted on a system and activated soon after the voting period starts, calling the election servers and registering a vote on the owner's behalf. This would be subject to reverse-engineering the election process as it goes through on a real host with Wireshark, but feasible with good auto-update code on the Trojan horse.
* An intermediary host meddling with data. This can be a router, WiFi hotspot with hacked firmware, or even an ISP. Mitigated with the use of HTTPS, but users must not bypass warnings of bad certificates!
* (If the election is validated by name) Brute-forcing names and hoping to hit a Canadian citizen's name.
* (If the election is validated by GeoIP) Using a Canadian host as a proxy.
* Other countries' nationals could rig the election (see the comment below about 4chan rigging the election [slashdot.org]) if validation is not performed or performed incorrectly.

So, yeah. It might work. But it has to be foolproof as much as possible. Maybe send each citizen a card with an online access code? But the non-technological means of tampering with a person's vote will still apply, i.e. coercing them by one way or another, or even the lure of financial gain: "here, pay you 20 bucks to vote for Mr. X"... which is a way for the system to become corrupted.

So again: Do not want.

Re:As another Canadian let me be the second to say (1)

lsdi (1585395) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500741)

The only problem with online voting are: -> DoS -> Stolen A3 certificates (possibly smart cards) and their passwords. Read about SSL, A3 certificates and mutual authentication. You don't have enought knowledge about this subject.

Re:As another Canadian let me be the second to say (1)

Looce (1062620) | more than 4 years ago | (#28501031)

Smart cards require a reader. Not many people have a smart card reader. This proposal is about making the most people able to vote online as possible.

HTTPS is already well implemented in modern (and common) Web browsers, thus you get pretty much instant online voting ability with it. Even if you have enough time to dispatch smart card readers...

Client-side certificates could work, yes, but as another reply to grandparent points out [slashdot.org], the certificate could link it to the citizen, which is something I didn't think of at first.

I have no real idea about mutual authentication and A3 certificates, indeed; I've only worked with server certificate SSL over various protocols, but it doesn't take much to see that online voting still needs a fair bit of working around problems.

Voting Codes and the Secret Ballot (1)

Mandrel (765308) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500853)

Maybe send each citizen a card with an online access code? But the non-technological means of tampering with a person's vote will still apply, i.e. coercing them by one way or another, or even the lure of financial gain: "here, pay you 20 bucks to vote for Mr. X"... which is a way for the system to become corrupted.

So again: Do not want.

Posting out voting codes would break the secret ballot, as codes are linked to people (even if promises were made to destroy the link data after the poll).

But this problem could be avoided by having people choose their own voting code card from thousands displayed on tables when they attend a polling station for their next regular vote. Then there's no way to connect a code to a person.

But as you pointed out, the problem of making it easy to sell your vote remains, disenfranchising the poor. But the problem may be manageable in countries that are sufficiently rich and have sufficiently strong democratic traditions.

Re:As a Canadian let me be the first to say (5, Insightful)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500663)

DO NOT WANT

And as a Canadian let me say that the reason that "voter turnout in our most recent election was the worst on record" was because THE CANDIDATES SUCKED. I almost voted for the Communist just because I didn't know him and therefore didn't want to punch him in the face.

And then there's the fact that you have to vote for the party and not the person, so if I hate Harper but like the local Conservative I'm screwed. So, to cast a vote I feel good about, both the local guy and the party leader have to be good. Two good politicians? This never happens.

Online voting won't fix a bunch of broken parties, it'll just make tech-savvy people ignore online voting just like they ignore real voting. Let's face it, it's damn easy to vote. If you can be arsed to get to the polling site, that's the hardest part. After that it's having your name checked off and marking an X. If you catch it outside the rush it's faster than popping over to the 7-11 for a Big Gulp. Seriously, if people are too lazy or indifferent for that, then anything with a more complex authentication strategy than an online "BRING BACK CANCELLED SHOW X!" petition is going to be too much work too.

Uphill in the snow both ways (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500913)

When my country was young you had to walk 50 miles in the snow to vote and 50 more miles to get home. It was uphill both ways. At least you got a break when you got to the polling station because it was nice and warm standing in line for 2 days.

Oh and we liked it that way!

PS: 5 minutes between posts? That's a bit on the long side guys. It should be something like: 2 posts in 10 seconds, 3 posts in any 60-second period, 4 posts in any 2-minute period, 5 posts in any 3-minute period, and after that maybe add 2 minutes to the period for each additional post, so 25 posts in 45 minutes. OK, maybe after the 10th post add 5 minutes per additional post. That would be 10 posts in 13 minutes, and 25 posts in 88 minutes. If monopolizing is a real problem, at some point, maybe after the 10th or 15th post in a short period of time, make it 10 or even 20 minutes between posts until the initial posts "age away." I'm not so picky on the actual numbers as I am in allowing posters who have, say, half a dozen replies to post to do it without undue delay.

4chan would rig it (4, Funny)

basementman (1475159) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500359)

4chan would rig it and have 7 billion people write in pedobear. Then they would convince a member to have his name legally registered as such and get plastic surgery to become a bear. Child porn, warez, and weird porn would be not only legalized, but taught in school and subsidized. Sad part is I think my oh so humorous prediction would be fairly accurate.

Re:4chan would rig it (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28500387)

Yeah, I'm sure that would happen in Canada. You're a fucking idiot.

Re:4chan would rig it (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28500643)

Is pedobear going to be running for every seat? It'd truly be impressive to see one person occupy all 308 seats simultaneously.

(We don't directly vote for our PM in Canada, in case you didn't notice.)

No way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28500361)

Not until it can be proven that person voting is the person they represent. Not until it can be proven that you aren't be coerced into voting a certain way.

I will never support this.

Re:No way (1)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500449)

So... you must not support voting of any sort then?

Voting in person is far from flawless in validating that you are who you are, and coercion is almost as easy for "walk in" voting as it is "online". $$$ for your vote, some employment benefit, sex, etc, either by assurance of more of it, or threat of less of it.

I think that the worst part of online voting, is that it will only trivialize it more, if you have to physically go somewhere to vote, you feel like you actually "did" something, online voting would be like, deleting spam from your inbox, something you did, but doesn't really matter that you did it.

Re:No way (5, Insightful)

Time_Ngler (564671) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500581)

How is coercion easy for walk in voting when no one but the person voting can definitely know who the person voted for?

When voting online, someone could be standing over your shoulder making sure you are voting for who they want you to vote for.

Re:No way (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28500585)

Sorry but if you're voting in person, how can the person coercing you know that you voted in a certain way? By forcing you to wear a spycam on your shirt?

Here's the thing... (1, Insightful)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500377)

The kicker of all this electronic voting is that is easy. It really is, it's a damn simple problem to solve. Even online voting.

It's fucked up constantly by the processes we all abhor, and there should be a lesson in there for us. But electronic voting is actually a very simple problem to solve.

Of course it is easy (1)

Skapare (16644) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500415)

It's so easy lots of people will be voting often ... all day long. In the mean time lots of other people won't have any idea how to get around the "You have already voted" pop-up they get on their first try.

Re:Here's the thing... (1)

MrMista_B (891430) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500421)

Alright, genius, if it's so simple for you, then how exactly do you solve the problem of fraud?

Re:Here's the thing... (1)

grasshoppa (657393) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500485)

Whoa there buddy; I meant it's easy to reimplement our current voting practices electronically.

I didn't say I'd solve all the problems inherent in the current system. BUT, it could be done. Hell, we've already done it. Two factor authentication anyone?

Re:Here's the thing... (1)

AnyoneEB (574727) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500793)

The main problem with online voting is the same as the problem with any other type of absentee ballot [wikipedia.org]: fraud and intimidation [wikipedia.org] which a secret ballot [wikipedia.org] is intended to reduce. That said, Oregon [wikipedia.org] does do all absentee. Perhaps the issues with a non-secret ballot are overblown. In a previous thread on this topic, another Slashdotter suggested allowing people to change their vote up until the last minute in order to make intimidation more difficult.

Secrecy once the vote has been entered is another, probably easier, problem: there are cryptographic protocols for doing secure computations [wikipedia.org]. Basically if you have a function like "sum votes" and each computer has an input (a vote) then via a series of communications, all of the computers will know the output of the function and that no computer cheated but not what any of the inputs (votes) were (unless they are somehow obvious from the output, of course). How to apply those to a real life situation is non-obvious.

More importantly, the common person is not a computer or cryptography expert. Most people will have no way to verify that their vote is being properly counted. Furthermore, malware is pretty common and writing one to change someone's vote without their knowledge would likely not be too difficult, although that could be solved by running the voting system off a bootable CD/USB flash drive.

OK you're on (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500773)

Ultimate challenge, NOT an easy problem to solve:

Design a vote-from-home system which is guaranteed to preserve anonymity and guaranteed to be tamper-evident against fraud. You are not required to account for failures in ballot delivery to or from the voter i.e. internet failure, other than to realize when an attempted delivery failed or at least that a ballot sent out was not received.

Real-world challenge, actually 3 challenges, may be very doable:

Design a vote-from-home system that has similar characteristics as the most secure voting system known to man, where "secure" is defined as:

*Challenge #1) the best preservation of anonymity known to man, i.e. best protection against intimidation/loss of privacy. This is not too hard.
*Challenge #2) the best protection against ballot-tampering known to man, i.e. best fraud protection of the actual vote. This is easy.
*Challenge #3, actually a whole range of challenges of varying difficulty) for a given voting district, create a system that is at least as anonymity-preserving and at least as tamper-protected as the current system used by the majority or plurality of their voters.

In other words, if I'm in some county in Idaho and I am looking to buy your system, and a majority of my voters vote at the ballot box on voting day using optical-scan cards and certain protocols to prevent tampering and prevent anonymity leakage, I expect your system to be at least as good as protecting anonymity and protecting the integrity of the count as the system I have now.

Re:Here's the thing... (2, Insightful)

patro (104336) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500995)

The kicker of all this electronic voting is that is easy. It really is, it's a damn simple problem to solve. Even online voting.

It's fucked up constantly by the processes we all abhor, and there should be a lesson in there for us. But electronic voting is actually a very simple problem to solve.

Technically maybe. But voter coercion is a hard problem. You can't check remotely whether the vote was forced while you can easily control it in the voting booth.

Secret Ballot is Essential (5, Insightful)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500389)

Voting must be anonymous and private. If you allow online voting, then nothing prevents someone from standing over your shoulder and paying you $50 to vote the way he wants. Yes, absentee ballots have the same problem, which is why I think Oregon's all-mail voting system is terribly dangerous. This vulnerability isn't theoretical: the scenario I describe actually happened throughout the 19th century and led to some very crooked elections. It's why we switched to a secret ballot in the 1880s. Let's not forget our history here.

Re:Secret Ballot is Essential (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28500427)

I can't wait for the bad old days all over again.

Re:Secret Ballot is Essential (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28500451)

This vulnerability is already present now, as you said, with absentee ballots. Yet there has not been noticeable voter coercion or vote buying as a result. If someone really wanted to buy/bully a voter, why not buy/bully them into voting by mail? Wouldn't the same deterrents (whatever they may be) against mail voting crime also work against electronic voting crime?

Re:Secret Ballot is Essential (3, Insightful)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500513)

I think there's still some cultural inertia against this kind of vote manipulation, but the taboo against it will slowly weaken. I think we'll start seeing more of it in closely-contested races where it's easier to hide.

Party strategy wonks would have to be stupid not to consider the possibility, and considering that questionable tactics like gerrymandering and voter suppression are the norm today, I don't see why clandestine vote-buying might not be slowly added to the toolbox. Also, the problem isn't limited to vote-buying. What about a boss of a company requiring his employees vote a certain way? (Or for you conservative folk, what about a union boss doing the same thing?) What about a spouse demanding that his or her partner vote a certain way? As soon as you can verify a vote, you can coerce somebody else's vote.

And yes, vote manipulation is a problem with conventional absentee ballots: that's why, until recently, you had to provide a good reason to get an absentee ballot. Only recently have states started sending them out to anyone who asks. When you limit the total number of absentee ballots, you limit the total potential for fraud.

Even in states that do offer unrestricted absentee ballots, going to a polling place is still the cultural norm. That's why vote-by-mail is so dangerous: it substantially increases the total
number of votes vulnerable to this attack.

Some states offer weeks-long voting (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500823)

Some states have the polls open for weeks, but you have to actually to to the polls and cast your ballot and show a voter's card or ID card or both. It's "no excuses" voting. You can still get a mail-in ballot if you need one.

Re:Secret Ballot is Essential (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28500865)

In the past: politicians would help organize transportation from the local nursing home to their polling place if they thought that the elderly residents would vote for them

Now: volunteers will help sign them up for absentee voting... they'll even help your half-blind 90yr old grandma with Alzheimer's vote for the "correct" candidate.

I agree with QuoteMstr. Absentee voting should be restricted to only people who actually have a reason they cannot physically be present at the polls on election day. That way everybody has the opportunity to participate but the absentee's are kept to a small enough percentage of the electorate that they aren't a worthwhile target for fraud or coercion.

All of these "improvements" are based on the premise that we need to make voting more convenient because increasing participation is important. NO IT IS NOT. Participation naturally goes up and down depending on how excited people are about an election (witness the increased turnout in the US for 2008)

The Canadian election in question is just one that nobody outside of the political class seemed to care about. The two realistic PM contenders nobody much cared about.. Harper is adored among the Conservative base, but most others seem to have a mild antipathy; the Liberal leader at the time (Dion) didn't seem to be liked by anybody. (Kind of a shame since he's actually a really bright guy.. but being the face behind the Clarity Act had probably doomed his popularity forever in Quebec and his mediocre English reduced his appeal everywhere else) Really everybody just assumed that the turnout was going to be unimpressive, and it was.

If either party produces a dynamic leader that people are excited about (a new Trudeau, basically) or there is a big issue that divides the Conservative and Liberal positions then you'll see a high turn-out election in no time. Measures to try to increase turn-out simply for the sake of increasing turn-out are pointless.

Re:Secret Ballot is Essential (1)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500977)

All of these "improvements" are based on the premise that we need to make voting more convenient because increasing participation is important.

Actually, I disagree with you on that point. Increased participation has two major effects. First, it increases the perceived legitimacy of government, which can give elected leaders more political capital to work with.

Second, and more importantly, increased turnout ensures that it's more difficult for a small, but determined group to sway policy.

Consider an imaginary town with a population of 100, 20 of whom own businesses in that town. There's candidate on the ballot who promises to eliminate taxes on businesses and shift them to the general population. All 20 members of the business community vote for that candidate, with the rest of the people being 2-1 against him.

If, due to voter apathy, only 50 people from the 80 members of the general population show up, then the pro-business-screw-everyone-else candidate will win (20+16)=36 to 33. Granted, when this politician's term is up, more people will vote and he'll be thrown out of office. But by that time, the damage will already have been done.

If everyone had voted, then the pro-business-screw-everyone-else candidate would have lost (20+26) = 46 to 53.

That's why voter turnout is important: it avoids small special interests controlling the government. Some places have mandatory voting, with a fine for people who don't show up: I wholeheartedly support mandatory voting. It's far better for a few people to vote for Lizard People than for special interests to distort government.

Re:Secret Ballot is Essential (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500577)

Some Counties in Washington State use All Mail voting.

Ballots mailed out.
Sent back in un-numbered un-signed inner envelope which is inside of a bar coded and signed outer envelope.
You mail it back in, or take it to ballot drop off places.

Its still a secret ballot. As secret as you want it to be. No one knows what you voted unless you let them stand there and watch.

Secrecy is always by choice.

An enforced secret ballot (in the voting booth) hasn't exactly forestalled vote buying, or tomb-stoning.

Re:Secret Ballot is Essential (2, Insightful)

BitterOak (537666) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500653)

Some Counties in Washington State use All Mail voting.

Ballots mailed out. Sent back in un-numbered un-signed inner envelope which is inside of a bar coded and signed outer envelope. You mail it back in, or take it to ballot drop off places.

Its still a secret ballot. As secret as you want it to be. No one knows what you voted unless you let them stand there and watch.

Secrecy is always by choice.

An enforced secret ballot (in the voting booth) hasn't exactly forestalled vote buying, or tomb-stoning.

One of the chief reasons for secret ballot is to prevent voter intimidation, so your boss or union leader doesn't coerce you to vote for their candidate or risk losing your job. If ballot secrecy is optional, what's to stop your boss from insisting that you opt out of secrecy and vote his/her way?

Re:Secret Ballot is Essential (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500685)

Actually, all counties in Washington state use all mail voting. I do believe that there is a vote in person option for disabilities, but that's it.

We just switched over completely a while back, I think the next election might be the first all mail vote here.

Poorest Turnout...... (0)

SIR_Taco (467460) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500405)

What the summary doesn't tell you is that the "last election" came to be from the government at the time being dissolved by the Governor General.

It was not a regularly scheduled election (ie the current term was only approx half way through) and the general consensus was that it was a waste of tax-payers money and/or a political publicity stunt held by the opposing party.

Re:Poorest Turnout...... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28500429)

Basically, the conservatives held an election because they wanted a majority, and then they didn't get it.

Re:Poorest Turnout...... (2, Interesting)

paulwye (1465203) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500783)

Basically, the conservatives held an election because they wanted a majority

Ah, so they're like...every government in our history? Every government heads into an election hoping for a majority (though some are more delusional regarding their odds than others). The grandparent complains that:

the "last election" came to be from the government at the time being dissolved by the Governor General

but in fact this is what happens prior to every single election, and what will continue to happen for the foreseeable future. The grandparent is also points out that the election was held 'early', however given that the current Prime Minister introduced the law which demands fixed election dates, and included in it a provision in which the PM can call an election at will, the law differs rather significantly from the American system. There's also a provision whereby a minority government (as is the case with the three most recent governments) can be toppled by the opposition parties.

In other words, the law is silly.

Re:Poorest Turnout...... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28500679)

This post contains one blatant falsehood and one technically true but extraordinarily misleading fact. The election was called because Parliament(not the government) was dissolved by the Governor General. However, all elections in Canada are called after Parliament is dissolved by the GG, so that was nothing new. The GG had zero choice in the matter anyway, as the GG is required by constitutional convention to follow the "advice" of the Prime Minister of Canada. It was the PM and the governing Conservatives who really called the election -- the GG dissolving Parliament is only a formality. To blame it on the opposition is ridiculous and has no basis whatsoever in fact.

Stick em up! Your money or your candidate. (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500409)

For all this whining about Diebold, most people don't have a problem using Diebold's ATMs for banking. For something that is a lot closer to affecting you significantly and directly, Diebold seems to be a pretty decent solution. If their machines made as many irregular transactions as electronic voting opponents claim, the machines wouldn't be fit to handle everyday banking.

You'd have to ascribe malice to Diebold's motives to honestly claim that they were trying to throw an election towards a candidate. With their stellar reputation in the banking industry, I am not ready to make that claim. More likely, I would consider 70 year old untrained volunteers who don't understand technology much more prone to make mistakes in machine handling. The problem isn't the machines' inability to count votes. It's the nincompoops who don't have anything better to do than sit around for 10 hours on election day failing to take even the most basic precautions in vote handling.

Re:Stick em up! Your money or your candidate. (4, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500621)

For all this whining about Diebold, most people don't have a problem using Diebold's ATMs for banking.

You know immediately if your banking transaction worked. You know at the end of the month if it worked for someone else, and there are bank guarantees. (Why did you think all the ATMs have cams?)

All they can steal with from your bank is some of your money. Not your country.

If you seriously believe you have offered a good analogy I submit you are clueless about the problem at issue.

Re:Stick em up! Your money or your candidate. (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500707)

But they did get busted engaging in shenanigans during a recent Georgia gubernatorial race. It wasn't ever proven definitively, but we still don't know why they mysteriously patched systems in Democrat leaning counties to fix a bug that wasn't actually fixed with the patch.

Yes, it's possible that it's innocuous, but we'll never really know for sure, and questioning the integrity of an outfit that behaves like that is the only way to preserve democracy as we know it.

Re:Stick em up! Your money or your candidate. (3, Interesting)

belmolis (702863) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500837)

The ATM company and the voting machine company are effectively different companies. Diebold, which makes ATMs, bought a company called Global Election Systems in 2001. GES is the company that makes voting machines. Although GES is now owned by Diebold, it remains a separate division, with its own management and engineers. The technology is GES technology. It is true that if Diebold wanted to badly enough they could impose changes on the voting machine division, but it can be hard even for an honest company to bring itself to crack down on a sleazy subsidiary, very likely at the cost of damaging the market for the subsidiary and increasing the likelihood of lawsuits.

Votes can be coerced with guns. (4, Interesting)

kabloom (755503) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500425)

In any election that lets people vote from anywhere, votes can be coerced with a gun, and people can show their actual vote to whatever corrupt mafioso wants to force their vote. These things are not possible (or at least they're more difficult) if the only places to vote are properly run, properly secure polling places.

Canada's Voter Turn Out Problem (4, Insightful)

Alethes (533985) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500453)

Allowing people to vote online isn't going to solve the turnout problem as long as we have a federal election every couple of years. Canada has had something like four federal elections in the last five years, which is pretty ridiculous. The voters are tired of it, and they're demonstrating that by not bothering to vote. I'm not saying this is the best way to demonstrate disgust, but the ability to vote online isn't going to fix the real problem.

Problem is...can't validate the on-line votes (2, Insightful)

Darkk (1296127) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500469)

Problem is the internet is worldwide medium. Accounts can be hacked or spoofed. Also the votes must be verified by hand. How are they gonna do that when it's all electronic with no paper trail?

It won't work. American public won't trust it and won't be for a very long time. Nothing is hacker-proof, I don't care how hard they tried to make it cracker-proof.. It won't happen.

Re:Problem is...can't validate the on-line votes (5, Insightful)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500683)

It won't work. American public won't trust it and won't be for a very long time.

Considering that the story is about Canadian elections, who gives a fuck what the American public thinks?

Right, you didn't read the headline, never mind the summary, and god forbid reading the article.

Re:Problem is...can't validate the on-line votes (1)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500993)

But would the statement draw a different point if written correctly?

It won't work. Canadian public won't trust it and won't be for a very long time.

Looks to draw the same ends, its every bit as sporadically reliable as any other technology.

From the Wheel to the Web, there is no one size fits all solution.

Re:Problem is...can't validate the on-line votes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28501019)

You don't have to be a jerk about it. He obviously meant to write "America 10 years ago", which is a common nickname for Canada. I prefer "Our Culturally Retarded Attic Dwellers", myself.

Re:Problem is...can't validate the on-line votes (1)

lsdi (1585395) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500883)

I've posted over 10 times this same thing here in this thread. Documents signed with A3 certificates cannot be hacked, cannot be faked. SSL mutual authentication with this same certificate cannot be sniffed. I still can't beleive people really think that pieces of paper are safer than this.

other possibilities arise (1)

drDugan (219551) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500481)

while in general this seems like a poor idea, for many reasons that will be posted by others, by pushing
forward a good online voting system, many other benefits could arise, such as:

- longer voting periods than one day - like a week or even a month to lock in a vote

- verification that your real vote has been received and counted while voting is still possible,
    possibly reducing some voter fraud types

- different voting methods than the simple, single vote, winner take all

- better support for various languages

- increased interest and participation by younger, more Internet savvy voters

- state developing and using strong cryptographic system for ensuring privacy and security of votes

- better, more frequent accounting of population

- increased social support for secure Internet systems and Internet access

- new open source, open standard systems for secure electronic voting

- Increased delivery and accountability of government services via the Internet

When computers are granted suffrage (1)

symbolset (646467) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500491)

Only then should they be permitted to count votes. Until then, if the issue is worth all of us voting on it, it's worth a few of us spending part of our day counting the votes.

/~30 years computer scientist here. I know more ways to cheat an electronic election than you do most likely. I don't know any way to secure an electronic election.

Re:When computers are granted suffrage (1)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500731)

30 years computer scientist here. I know more ways to cheat an electronic election than you do most likely. I don't know any way to secure an electronic election.

Don't bet on it. Combine a quarter-century computer experience AND worked at the polls, I probably know more ways to cheat elections, having caught cheats. You have to know how to cheat in order to recognize it ...

Stupid, stupid, stupid idea (5, Insightful)

Xaximus (1361711) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500503)

Why make it:

1) easier for the apathetic (and likely uninformed) to vote?

2) easier to hack an election?

No good reason. It's just a stupid idea all around.

Electronic Voting: Bad Idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28500511)

Electronic candidates, on the other hand, might be an improvement.

totally BAD idea, and it won't fix the problem (1, Informative)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500533)

If it is online, it can be hacked and the data can be faked. Epic FAIL in the offing.

The problem of low voter turnout has to do with the nature of Canadian politics. The facts, for our dear American cousins south of the border who don't know what's going on with their single biggest trading partner:

It's a multiparty parliamentary system. There are two dominant parties, the Conservatives and Liberals, a very siginficant local collection of politics call the Bloc (from Quebec, and includes hardcore separatist groups), and a significant minority party, the lefty NDP. There is also a significant Green party presence, although they lost their seat last election.

The party in power is the conservative party. Whether your sentiments are conservative or not, (mine are not, but that's not relevant right here) doesn't change the fact that the leader, Stephen Harper, is an imbecile who has ineptly squandered every opportunity to get it right. I don't much care for the Conservative Party, but I feel really bad for them having such a dumb ass for a leader. It's kind of embarrassing. You have my sincere condolences.

The party in power (Conservative) is a Minority government, i.e., it rules without a majority in parliament.

The second party, the Liberal Party had an obtuse francophone for a leader, who lead the party to a completely uninspiring defeat at last election. His name was Dion, and he was a smart man with all the personality of a can of paint and all the media saavy of an average middle school student.

Harper, in a typical bullheaded move, pulled some shenanigans right after the election, and pissed off all the other parties, including the Bloc. So they agreed to form a coalition, which would have put Harper out on the street, and Dion (the man he just defeated) in as Prime Minister. This was obviously a very bad idea as the Conservatives hated Dion, and the Liberals weren't exactly effusive with praise. In fact, they were anxious to ditch his sorry ass ASAP. Rather than face an ignominious defeat at the hands of Dion, Harper drove his Waaaaahmbulance over to the governor General's office and weeped bitter tears to the Queen's representative, because, Canada is (in a few narrow ways) still a fucking colony and the Queen is technically the head of state. He begged her to prorogate parliament, and she rolled on it.

This left Canada without a functioning government at one of the most critical times in world history: the collapse of American Capitalism in winter 2008/9.

So, if something truly insane happened, there would be no deliberative body to make policy and pass law. A truly desperate and stupid move by Harper, who was already on the shitlist of the conservatives for failing to get a majority gov't, and on the permanent shitlist of all the other parties for, well, basically being a bit of a dick.

In the process, the Liberals booted Dion and replaced him with a man named Ignatieff. Ignatieff is very smart, fairly slick, and every bit of a dick that Harper is, it's just that he has a few (if poorly implemented and largely hidden) scruples.

Who represents the NDP, the Greens and the Bloc is only of consequence to the constituents, as none will be a majority party any time soon.

So, now we're looking at another election, and it will likely be the third in 4 or so years. And my guess is it will have the same results as before. None.

The only thing that is likely to happen is the Liberals will take over with a minority government, and thusly be every bit as effective at governing this nation of cats as Harper, i.e, not at all.

So, this online voting boondoggle is jsut te latest drama in this soap opera of Canadian Politics.

tune in next week when they decide to ban beer, but only between 2 AM and 6 AM. Or something equally retarded.

RS

Re:totally BAD idea, and it won't fix the problem (1)

lsdi (1585395) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500857)

A document signed with A3 certificate cannot be faked. Mutual authenticated SSL conections cannot be sniffed and/or spoofed. But what I know... never heard of signatures on a piece of paper being falsified. :P

WTF is going on with the formatting??? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28500569)

Headlines are not showing up and the comments are completely unnavigable due to this bullshit. WTF is wrong with you nerd-holes?

We already have a proven online model (1)

Starlon (1492461) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500619)

Online finances have proven to work. Treat voting with the same level of security and attention, and you've got a winner in my opinion.

This is just treating a symptom of the problem (1)

rxan (1424721) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500623)

This is just treating a symptom of the problem that people don't feel like they need to vote. We (I live in Canada) should really be doing more to make people feel that their vote counts, and that it is a person's duty to vote. Sure, voting through the internet may be easier, but it won't make people want to vote more.

Why don't people vote anymore? My guess is our decentralized culture these days. In the past people got their news, entertainment, information, etc. from the same general sources -- usually local. Now everyone seeks everywhere for these things. When an election comes about, people don't even know who the candidates are let alone what are the issues at hand.

We need to treat the source of the problem. We need to get people rallied (in a word) to vote. We need a centralized place where people, especially young people, can get information on the candidates, their parties, and the issues they plan to attend to. Honestly, most of this information gets lost in today's culture.

Hmm (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500625)

I would rather it take actual effort to vote. That includes driving out to a centralized location, with other people, etc.

Because its much easier to get dumb people all riled up to vote one way if all they have to do is click a mouse button. Whereas they have to take action and maybe an hour of their day to go and vote the current way.

Re:Hmm (1)

Phurge (1112105) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500701)

I think the reverse will happen - all the crazy loonies will be the only ones motivated to vote. After all, how else do you explain 8 years of George Bush?

Not really news (1)

ls671 (1122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500645)

This is not really news, at least not for myself. I have produced a short report in 2002 with the issues related to e-voting for the GOC and I even suggested minimum requirements, so they were already looking at this back then.

Not much have changed since at probably not much will change in the future with regards to the issues. I guess they will simply go forward with it to save money when it will be politically acceptable.

we trust our money online (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28500661)

and let me tell you, our money is far more attractive to criminals than our votes will ever be.

will online voting increase voter participation? not likely in the long run. will making people feel that they are actually being represented and having their voice heard increase participation? most likely yes.

we've had paper ballots for decades and decades, it's doubtful that the method of voting is causing the problem here.

Do you value anonymity? (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500691)

Online voting is great for things like stockholder's meetings where you don't have a secret ballot.

I've yet to see a vote-from-home system be it internet, phone, mail, or private courier that is guaranteed anonymous and guaranteed auditable even in the face of a corrupt poll worker. Even paper ballot absentee voting is subject to corrupt officials figuring out who you voted for.

For that matter, some forms of at-the-poll balloting aren't guaranteed to be anonymous.

I can think of one scheme that might work but I'm sure there are bugs in it since I'm typing it in off the cuff:

You send a doubly-encrypted vote back to a vote-taking machine that affirms you are eligible to vote. It "decrypts" the ballot resulting in two files: Your encrypted voter registration ID and your encrypted ballot. It prints these out then scans the printout and sends the scans back to you over an encrypted channel. You can print this out if you want. This is your "receipt" and is a deterrent against anyone trying to delete your vote from the system.

It then dumps the voter registration printout into one hopper, and the vote into another hopper and updates a counter. The "hopper system" adds some randomness so there is no way to determine votes by order of arrival. The hopper is also translucent so observers can mark down when a vote is cast, but can't take a picture of the ballot or the voter registration info.

At the end of the day, the voter registration information is scanned, decoded, and printed, and separately, the ballots are scanned, decoded, and tallied. If the numbers don't add up to the counter the machine recorded, then something bad happened.

This does have one disadvantage over in-person voting: Absent biometric identification, there is no way to know who is casting the vote at the other end. You can't know that I didn't sign my senile wife up to vote over the Internet and use her password to vote. Then again, this is true for paper absentee ballots too - signatures are easily forged if you have a sample handy, and with a senile voter, they may be easy to get an original signature from the actual voter then cast the vote for her.

It ain't broke so don't fix it. (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500711)

There's no problem here so nothing needs to be changed. The reason that turnout was low (by Canadian standards - still good by American standards) was that few people saw the election as likely to change anything. And it isn't as if it is hard to vote in Canada. There are lots of convenient polling places and there is no significant wait. You can be in and out in less than five minutes. If voting is that easy and people still don't bother, they don't care. Let the people who are paying attention to the candidates and the issues vote. What good does it do to make it even easier for apathetic voters to vote?

I'd like to see something financial (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500727)

Okay, so the financial network systems are pretty well trusted. I wonder if we could use those as a means of voting? Let's say we transfer $1 to or from an external account which automatically transfers that same amount back. The account designated would be the candidate being voted for... well, no... that would eliminate "write-ins" wouldn't it.

The problem with online voting, which I seek to resolve in my mind, would be an effective way to track your vote and later prove your vote in the event of a recount.

The issue with electronic or even internet voting is the issue of accountability and traceability. "Trust" is a result of either a history of reliability or a preponderance of evidence that the thing is worthy of trust. We need the ability to verify a vote was recorded properly and that only proper votes were recorded. If those can't be done with sufficient public trust, they shouldn't be done.

It people cared.. They'd vote.. (1)

Garbad Ropedink (1542973) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500743)

The main reason the turnout for the last election was so bad was because we shouldn't have had it. There was no real solid issue being fought, and the leaders weren't worth voting for. That's why Mr. Dion is no longer the head of the Liberal party. We wasted millions of dollars for effectively the same government as we had before, give or take a few seats. People just didn't care at that point. There was some talk of having a summer election over possibly EI reform or some non issue like that. Fortunately that didn't happen. We'd just wind up with another minority government with possibly the Liberals in control, but effectively the same dysfunctional mess we've been stuck with for years now.

Eventually a big enough issue will blow that'll cause a good old fashioned proper election. Then we'll see a proper turnout because people will actually care about what's going on. Lack of access to polling stations isn't stopping people from voting. Elections Canada is like any other government office, it's staffed by morons who don't understand the job they were hired to do.

Compulsory voting.... (1)

Phurge (1112105) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500745)

If your voter turnout is low, instead of the epic fail that is electronic voting, why not legislate and make voting compulsory?

Re:Compulsory voting.... (1)

lsdi (1585395) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500921)

It would be worse. It would be easier to negotiate votes (read: buy votes). It would turn churches, unions, etc into parties.

What's the worst that can happen? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28500775)

They're still under the Queen, aren't they?

I voted online a few times (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28500819)

in Zurich, Switzerland. If you are interested and understand german you can take a demo vote here: https://evoting.zh.ch/

Saver than Diebold (1)

lsdi (1585395) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500821)

The bottom line is that SSL, A3 certificate and mutual authentication is a save. Saver than using voting machines, I'm sure. This methods are much saver than paper and pen voting. There may have problems with this kind of technology but make no mistakes, a peace of paper is way less secure than this.

This Probably Won't Improve Voter Turnout (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28500885)

I'm reminded of this article [nytimes.com] by Steven Levitt, author of "Freakonomics", which he ran in the NYTimes around 4 years ago.

On page 2 Levitt describes how when Switzerland switched to mail-in ballots, it had record low voter participation. The author seems to feel that people primarily vote because it is a social event. By removing the human element, Levitt feels that Switzerland removed the only thing that made voting worth doing, since he feels the chance of someone's vote affecting the outcome of an election is diminutive.

...I tend to argree with Levitt, at least about the social dimension of voting. I'd argue that changing to mail in ballots or online voting makes the event less social... and less fun. And this will have extremely serious impacts on elections, possibly more so than 4chan rigging a lolcat to win an election or whatever.

Compulsory voting, not online voting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28500887)

This is why you need compulsory voting like Australia has. 95% turnout. And our elections are less about partisanship and more about who's the best man for the job (or who is the lesser wanker).

Then again, America and Canada can't even manage proportional or preferential voting, and the Libertarians would go nuts about the extreme 'coercion' that is being forced to vote once every 3 or 4 years, so who am I kidding.

Election reform is the real issue.. (1)

LazyAcer (105424) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500899)

People don't vote because it always comes down to the lesser of two evils. I live in Vancouver Canada and our political system is so deeply broken it fails in almost every respect. Under the current rules we will never get a functioning government the people actually believe in.

If there was a candidate worth voting for, people would vote. Go ahead and make voting mandatory, they already tie our names to the elections canada voting list from a check box on our income tax return so that would be no problem... but if they can't give people someone to vote for, give them a way to voice their displease and have a NON OF THE ABOVE option. Then count all the NON OF THE ABOVE votes and report them for all to see, only then will the people will be heard.

In case you don't know (1)

Minwee (522556) | more than 4 years ago | (#28500923)

Canadian voting machines currently come in two types: "Number 2" and "HB". There has been some talk about how "Number 2" style voting machines producing inaccurate results, but nobody has been able to prove that yet.

Canadian elections are a very simple matter. Voters head off to their local polling station, usually a school or community centre, request a ballot or ballots from the elections officer who is usually accompanied by an observer from each of the major parties trying to make sure that nothing unusual happens, and then heads off to a simple wooden desk with a big cardboard screen on it. The voter marks a big 'X' in the circle located next to the appropriate candidate or referendum answer and then folds up the ballots and slips them into the big cardboard box next to the officer and observers.

That's it. No butterfly ballots, no hanging chads, no touch screens, no voting on what kind of potatoes should be served in the cafeteria on Capitol Hill and what they should be called, just one vote for your local representative and possibly a referendum question which is actually important. Ballots are counted by hand and the results released later that evening after all of the polls close.

Why mess around with a system that works?

Anybody up for re-election.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28500947)

I imagine would be in favor of online voting for some reason....

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