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An Anonymous, Verifiable E-Voting Tech

CmdrTaco posted more than 3 years ago | from the i-didn't-see-what-you-did-there dept.

United States 236

Kilrah_il writes "After the recent news items about the obstacles facing E-voting systems, many of us feel it is not yet time for this technology. A recent TED talk by David Bismark unveiled a proposal for a new E-voting technology that is both anonymous and verifiable. I am not a cryptography expert, but it does seem interesting and possibly doable."

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how much does it cost? (2, Insightful)

alen (225700) | more than 3 years ago | (#34111454)

and how much better is it than marking a circle with a pen and having someone scan the ballot into a machine? most of the issues with e-voting have been that people are too dumb to see what they are doing

Re:how much does it cost? (2, Insightful)

jcrb (187104) | more than 3 years ago | (#34111566)

Agreed, E-voting is the classic solution in search of a problem.

Re:how much does it cost? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34111706)

Problem: Politicians who desire the ability to freely pillage and back-stab the population have to worry about winning elections.
Solution: E-voting.

Re:how much does it cost? (2, Insightful)

KarrdeSW (996917) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112088)

Problem: Election workers don't feel like counting paper ballots by hand or feeding them one at a time through a scanner.
Solution: E-voting. I'll just print off an Excel report.

FTFY

The people who write and distribute RFPs for electronic voting systems are generally not interested in the outcome of the election, they are just a worker drone trying to utilize technology to make their job a bit more glamorous than counting papers.

Re:how much does it cost? (1)

literaldeluxe (1527087) | more than 3 years ago | (#34111974)

Agreed, E-voting is the classic solution in search of a problem.

Unless you have a disability, in which case it is the classic "solution to a problem". GP: "marking a circle with a pen" is impossible for someone who is blind or has dexterity issues. Whether or not e-voting would currently benefit other people is irrelevant; it is needed, and that need is growing.

Re:how much does it cost? (4, Insightful)

onionman (975962) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112374)

Agreed, E-voting is the classic solution in search of a problem.

Unless you have a disability, in which case it is the classic "solution to a problem".

Where I went to vote, anyone who wished had the option of bringing an assistant. I recall doing this for my grandmother when her health was failing. She couldn't see well enough to read the ballot much less fill in a circle. So, I would read the ballot to her, and she would tell me what to mark.

I'm all for throwing money at math and CS (it keeps me employed), but I still think that E-voting is unnecessary. Just use paper. With paper, the ballots can be recounted in front of a group of representative for each side whenever there is a dispute. It's simple and crystal clear to the vast majority of voters. The only disadvantage is that it's slow, but so what? Voting is important, we can afford to slow down a little and do it carefully.

Re:how much does it cost? (1)

literaldeluxe (1527087) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112488)

Where I went to vote, anyone who wished had the option of bringing an assistant. I recall doing this for my grandmother when her health was failing. She couldn't see well enough to read the ballot much less fill in a circle. So, I would read the ballot to her, and she would tell me what to mark.

I'm all for throwing money at math and CS (it keeps me employed), but I still think that E-voting is unnecessary. Just use paper. With paper, the ballots can be recounted in front of a group of representative for each side whenever there is a dispute. It's simple and crystal clear to the vast majority of voters. The only disadvantage is that it's slow, but so what? Voting is important, we can afford to slow down a little and do it carefully.

So people with disabilities do not have the right to an anonymous vote, but you do? What about people who don't have a friend or relative to bring with them? Should they just trust whoever volunteers to help them, even though they have no way to verify whether or not they're voting correctly on their behalf?

Re:how much does it cost? (2, Informative)

beamin (23709) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112768)

I worked yesterday at the polls in New York. We had ImageCast paper-ballot optical-scan machines from Sequoia with ballot-marking devices attached for disabled voters. These gave all voters the ability to mark ballots privately.

http://www.vote-ny.com/english/machine-sequoia.php [vote-ny.com]

Re:how much does it cost? (2, Informative)

Jeremy Erwin (2054) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112540)

The only disadvantage is that it's slow, but so what? Voting is important, we can afford to slow down a little and do it carefully.

Somehow, Al Franken managed to be 7 or 8 months late on his first day of work, all because of delays in paperwork.

Re:how much does it cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34112950)

The only disadvantage is that it's slow, but so what? Voting is important, we can afford to slow down a little and do it carefully.

Somehow, Al Franken managed to be 7 or 8 months late on his first day of work, all because of delays in paperwork.

And with an electronic system, it would have taken even longer so that everyone had time to do code reviews on the software running on the voting machines. An election is only valid when the losing side is willing to believe the result.

Re:how much does it cost? (1)

darkpixel2k (623900) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112702)

Voting is important, we can afford to slow down a little and do it carefully.

It'd be awesome--like Futurama. "The robot polls are opening.....aaaand the votes are in. Mom wins."

Forget cost - what is the POINT? (1)

beh (4759) | more than 3 years ago | (#34111982)

Please tell me - do we get ANYTHING out of e-voting apart from a time saving between closing the polling stations and declaring the result?

For elections regarding terms of more than 4 years - forget it. The potential lack of trust in e-voting (as opposed to regular paper voting), because conspiracy theorists will immediately claim any election was stolen, which is a lot harder to do if there are actual people counting the votes publicly...

Just think about how much time is still being wasted discussing whether Obama is a muslim, or whether he is a naturally born US citizen -- think about how much time will be wasted afterwards in endless discussions brought by conspiracy theorists of the 'losing side' in ANY poll....

It's not worth it.

Re:Forget cost - what is the POINT? (2, Interesting)

Quantus347 (1220456) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112148)

Do the words "Hanging Chad" mean anything to you? Paper voting has as many problems as E-voting, and as much potential for massive screw-ups. If there were a system that was actually secure, e-voting would be great. Unfortunately, the systems out there are all closed system "black box" deals where the manufacturer refuses to reveal any of the internal workings. Because of that the only people who actually know are the hackers using them to fix elections. If they were open, and thus subjected to rigorous enough testing to consider secure and reliable, we'd be golden.

Besides, you shouldn't really assume that the machine that electronically reads your paper ballad and transmits the results are any more secure/reliable as the purely electronic solution.

Re:Forget cost - what is the POINT? (1)

Albanach (527650) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112314)

Do the words "Hanging Chad" mean anything to you? Paper voting has as many problems as E-voting, and as much potential for massive screw-ups.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but were the hanging chads not created by machines?

Re:Forget cost - what is the POINT? (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112318)

Do the words "Hanging Chad" mean anything to you? Paper voting has as many problems as E-voting, and as much potential for massive screw-ups. If there were a system that was actually secure, e-voting would be great. Unfortunately, the systems out there are all closed system "black box" deals where the manufacturer refuses to reveal any of the internal workings. Because of that the only people who actually know are the hackers using them to fix elections. If they were open, and thus subjected to rigorous enough testing to consider secure and reliable, we'd be golden.

Besides, you shouldn't really assume that the machine that electronically reads your paper ballad and transmits the results are any more secure/reliable as the purely electronic solution.

Why not have both. You place your vote electronically (electronic voting), it prints a receipt clearly listing your choices with a barcode linking that receipt to your voting session. After reviewing your vote receipt, you place your receipt in a box (paper voting). If you have a problem with your vote (receipt doesn't match your choices), the poll worker can scan the barcode to remove your vote, allowing you to vote again. All voided votes should be kept in a separate box for verification.

Results would be instant as they would kept electronically. If there is an issue, you can use the paper ballots (receipts) for a recount. Ballot stuffing would be kept to a minimum as the number of votes could be electronically verified. Any electronic tinkering could be nullified by the paper ballots. Anonymity would be kept as there is nothing on the receipt or the electronic ballot that would tie your vote to you. As an added bonus, the voter can actually confirm their vote by reading the printed receipt.

What's wrong with this system?

Re:Forget cost - what is the POINT? (3, Insightful)

MadCow42 (243108) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112810)

Vote buying. That's what's wrong with it.

ANYTHING that gives the voter the opportunity to walk out with confirmation of HOW they voted is a huge problem. In the system you describe, the voter could decide to not put their paper slip into the box, or to drop in a fake substitute (and no, you couldn't verify it was a real slip without making their vote non-anonymous in the process).

So, they walk out the door, show their slip to "Guido", and poof - their vote has been bought.

The only time their vote gets screwed up is if a manual recount is done at that station, which in terms of % is low (by design - with an electronic system).

You need a solution where the original vote is cast on paper, and is scanned in (and retained) by the system... and the voter verifies their vote electronically on screen before walking off empty-handed.

MadCow.

Re:Forget cost - what is the POINT? (1)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 3 years ago | (#34113006)

ANYTHING that gives the voter the opportunity to walk out with confirmation of HOW they voted is a huge problem. In the system you describe, the voter could decide to not put their paper slip into the box, or to drop in a fake substitute (and no, you couldn't verify it was a real slip without making their vote non-anonymous in the process).

The paper "receipt" is the paper ballot. The voter does not take it with them. It goes into the ballot box after the voter verifies that it is correct.

If you are concerned that a voter might place a fake ballot in the box, you could put a system in place that scans the barcode as or before the ballot is dropped in to verify its authenticity. You could even set it up so that the vote is not officially counted until it's scanned and placed into the box.

You bring up a good issue, but not one that isn't easily resolved.

The problem I see with it is a corrupt poll worker could open the ballot box and void several "receipts" to change the votes. This would probably be detected, however, as the number of voided ballots would be quite high. Also, there could be a time limit set on how long a vote can be voided. You could even set it up so that if a vote is not scanned and placed in the box within a certain amount of time, it is voided.

Still, if a polling place is so corrupt that a poll worker can unlock and access ballot box to change votes, no amount of security measures could ensure a fair election.

Re:Forget cost - what is the POINT? (1)

patjhal (1423249) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112362)

I would like to add that elections are very expensive endeavours. E-voting does have some cost cutting potential if we can find something that is reliable, standard, open source, tamperproof, etc. I actually do not understand why primaries are paid for with public funds (outside of the occasional non party picking thing added to it like amendments or filling a vacancy).

Re:Forget cost - what is the POINT? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34112336)

Please tell me - do we get ANYTHING out of e-voting apart from a time saving between closing the polling stations and declaring the result?

  1. Saved paper.
  2. Less cost of shipping paper ballots across counties which might allow resources to be used for more polling places.
  3. Less cost of warehousing equipment and space for paper ballots.
  4. Savings on the cost of counting paper ballots.
  5. Depending on implementation, the potential for MORE security than paper ballots.

That's all I can think of off the top of my head.

Re:Forget cost - what is the POINT? (1)

literaldeluxe (1527087) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112594)

Please tell me - do we get ANYTHING out of e-voting apart from a time saving between closing the polling stations and declaring the result?

People with disabilities can vote privately and securely, like everyone else.

Re:Forget cost - what is the POINT? (2, Insightful)

gumbi west (610122) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112898)

There are important benefits. One that I would think the slashdot would like is the possibility of instant runoff balloting.

In this scheme

  1. every person ranks all of the candidates;
  2. everyone's vote is counted as a vote for their top ranked candidate (their favorite person for the spot);
  3. the lowest vote candidate is removed;
  4. for people for whom this was their top ranked candidate, their top ranked candidate is changed no their next highest ranked candidate

This possibility has huge upside for third party candidates who can now get a vote that is not, "thrown away".

But in the end, this is at odds with how I think DRE should work, in an object oriented fashion. one machine marks the ballot for you, another counts the ballot. So long as the marked ballot can be verified by eye, this is just another way (other than a pencil) of marking a paper ballot, so it has no more downside but can help blind people vote in private. It also reduces the possibility of hacking the voting machine since it can be constantly validated on election day.

Re:how much does it cost? (1)

IB4Student (1885914) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112584)

I never received my mail-in ballot because they sent it to the wrong address. I didn't get to vote.

Re:how much does it cost? (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34111576)

and how much better is it than marking a circle with a pen and having someone scan the ballot into a machine?

That is an insightful comment. Could anyone explain the following quote

many of us feel it is not yet time for this technology.

That would imply some sort of roadmap or goal is in mind. What is it and why can it not be discussed?

There seems to be little point in it, other than making money by selling something new.

Re:how much does it cost? (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34111718)

What many e-voting proponents overlook is:

0) A main requirement for voting systems is convincing the losing sides that they _lost_.

If not enough of the losers believe they lost, you may have riots or civil war.

Something simple like a decent paper ballot system where the votes are counted in front of observers (from the various parties, and 3rd party observers) can be quite convincing to the losers.

So even if this e-voting system is that good, it may be still too opaque/fancy for the losers and their supporters.

The main weakness I see with paper ballots (assuming they are done correctly) is postal votes, but e-voting stuff may still be just as vulnerable to rigging via postal votes.

Re:how much does it cost? (2, Insightful)

Confuse Ed (59383) | more than 3 years ago | (#34111740)

and how much better is it than marking a circle with a pen and having someone scan the ballot into a machine?

In an ideal system, anybody should be able to independantly verify the following (which currently can't be done in a simple paper based ballot)

  • was _my_ vote counted correctly for the candidate I selected (or not counted if I chose not to participate)
  • Are all the votes that have been counted attributable to real voters
  • has each person voted either 0 or 1 times

Unfortunately I can't RTFA to see how many of these ideals the proposed system achieves, as it seems to be a video rather than a text based article.

another requirement (4, Insightful)

a2wflc (705508) | more than 3 years ago | (#34111906)

You must NOT be able to prove your vote was counted correctly for a specific candidate. That leads to bribes/threats (i.e. your boss can ask to see the proof. if you want to assume that's illegal, think of all the other people who may "ask" to see it or offer something if you volunteer)

There are ways to do this and meet your requirements, but there is more to it than the 3 you listed.

Re:another requirement (1)

fringd (120235) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112296)

the system in question allows me to verify that my vote was correctly cast, without being able to prove it. assuming the ballots are made right, you will get the information about who each checkbox refers to, this secret is encoded in the 2d bar code, but encrypted, so that strong-arming can't work. when you rip off the names and shred them, this makes it very hard to prove to someone else who you voted for. YOU might know that checkbox #3 had ron paul next to it, you remember that, but when the thugs look at the ballot, they have no way of knowing...

now that said, the thugs could force you to wear a little camera and video everything you do in the booth, or some other contrivance... but it's still a stiff improvement... and that is not a new risk introduced by this tech.

another possible attack against this system is bad ballots. you have SPECIAL ballots that switch the democratic and republican candidates, and you check to see if the person has dreadlocks or a crew cut before you decide to hand them the good ballots or the bad ones. ideally the cryptography is such that only a small group of people can make valid ballots, and so you can centralize the fraud detection. this attack would require a good amount of collusion though, and any system fails if the entire world is conspiring against you (THEY ARE!!!!)

Re:another requirement (1)

cacba (1831766) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112526)

The above post is correct. You can only prove that your ballot was correctly included in the counting process, not how that ballot voted. The counting process is complicated so that anonymity and verifiability occur. Read first, comment later.

Re:another requirement (1)

jemenake (595948) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112452)

You must NOT be able to prove your vote was counted correctly for a specific candidate.

Exactly! Although I figure that he has done this, he doesn't explain how. Now, you can tell, at the beginning of his talk that he's addressing a more "newbie" audience, so it doesn't surprise me that he doesn't go into this... but I'd still like to know.

Until then, I'll stick with punchscan/scantegrity, which is the only system I've seen which seems to be iron-clad. However, in order for it to work like it is designed, it requires that the voting public know what to do (like destructively verifying some sacrificial ballots before/during/after voting time) and that they know what anomalies are cause for raising the alarm.

Re:another requirement (1)

fringd (120235) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112504)

i understand your confuse. but i also understand the explanation.

alright watch the video... see after he tears the names off the ballot? now your ballot doesn't say who each checkbox means... not in plaintext anyways, the meanings are encoded in lotsa crypto gobeldygook on the right there... you take your ballot home with you, and verify it's in the database, exactly as you see it in your hand.

now... goon has to take your word that checkbox #1 is for the guy he wanted you to vote for, he has no way of knowing, and you don't have any way to prove it, even if you want to!

Re:another requirement (1)

AndyG314 (760442) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112646)

It would be cryptographically possible to ensure your vote was correctly counted without reviling who you voted for. With a one way function you could generate a hash of your vote, which would be compared with a second hash generated at counting time.

seems a lot like punchscan/scantegrity (1)

hopeless case (49791) | more than 3 years ago | (#34113036)

This sounds a lot like the punchscan voting system. I am at work and not able to see the video right now, but I googled bismark and found this article [wired.co.uk] , which has some details.

Punchscan and its variants do allow you to be able to prove to yourself (with a 50% probability) that your vote was counted as you intended. That might not sound like much comfort (only 50%?), but if the election authority tries to change 2 votes, their probability of getting away with it falls to 1/4, then to 1/8 with 3 votes, and so on. So stealing more than one or two votes becomes infesible pretty quickly.

However, I do believe that in all such schemes, the possibility of large scale vote buying becomes a real threat that has to be managed carefully, since the election authority has the keys that allows the all the ballots to be decoded. So if the Election Authority shares the keys with, say, the autoworkers union, or with GM, then those orgs would be in a position to decrypt the votes and thus coerce their voters. Of course, large scale intimidation of that type would be hard to hide from investigators. For this and other reasons, I think the threat of large scale vote buying is managable, and well worth the accuracy and accountability these systems provide.

The 2 key ideas that makes these schemes work are "cryptographic commitment" and the "cut and choose" protocol. If you are insterested, I've written up a detailed explanation of these concepts, and how punchscan like systems work, here. [blogspot.com]

Re:how much does it cost? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34111912)

and how much better is it than marking a circle with a pen and having someone scan the ballot into a machine?

Well, there have been issues with various paper voting systems before. The 2000 elections are a good example. And for scanning, what about write-ins? With an eVoting machine (well designed), it's fairly easy to tell immediately if you've not made a mistake. Also, eVoting can be helpful for people who have disabilities. That being said, without some verification system, it is probably more vulnerable to fraud too. That's why given current tech and some issues with a couple elections in my state, I stick to paper ballots. With something like this, I would use eVoting.

most of the issues with e-voting have been that people are too dumb to see what they are doing

Being a bit of a Nazi here, but vision is not a factor of intelligence... I suspect you meant 'know what they are doing'. Still, a person's ability to fill out a form correctly does not always correlate to their ability to understand the principles behind laws and politics, and people DO make mistakes. Last I checked, I've not met anyone perfect.

Re:how much does it cost? (2, Insightful)

Imagix (695350) | more than 3 years ago | (#34111976)

Have you ever been an election official? Marking a circle is a challenge to people as well.

Re:how much does it cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34113168)

It doesn't have to be a circle. Any sufficiently large and dark mark in the proper region will do. Some systems use lines/bars, instead.

And of course there will be alternatives provided for blind or motor-impaired users as well, just as there are today.

Re:how much does it cost? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34113194)

People doing the scanning can eat unliked ballots, make them invalid, add their own vote to empty ones etc etc.
That's why it has to be done by a multitude of people watching each other like hawks, in thousands of locations, it costs a fortune and needs forever to be completed.

Electronic votes have instant results.

You have voted for Mr. Goatse (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34111476)

I'm almost certain [goatse.fr] you did.

Root problem (2, Interesting)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 3 years ago | (#34111492)

Better voting systems still won't fix the root issue: the people who get elected into power are corrupted by that power.

Metagovernment [metagovernment.org] isn't perfect, and it will take a long time to get up and running, but... how does it compare to what we have now, where votes are sold to the highest bidder, idiots are in charge, and our participation is limited to 30 seconds in a booth every two years?

Re:Root problem (1)

jcrb (187104) | more than 3 years ago | (#34111658)

Even worse depending on your definition of "better" the voting systems may only server to make corruption worse.

With all the stories of machines starting pre-loaded with votes, or selecting different candidates that what the voter pressed, or machines that produce no hard copy of the results that will be subject to random sampling, is there any reason to believe that e-voting machines are anything but a mechanism that most politicians support because they hope to be able to use them to fraudulently record votes.?

Re:Root problem (4, Insightful)

hrvatska (790627) | more than 3 years ago | (#34111812)

The problem isn't the idiots in charge, it's the idiot voters who elect them in the first place. The government in the US is the result of the contradictory demands of a highly polarized and frequently badly misinformed electorate.

Re:Root problem (2, Interesting)

DJ Jones (997846) | more than 3 years ago | (#34111830)

The problem with this metagovernment system you reference is that the average person does not adequately understand our legal code well enough. This is the reason America is more of a republic. It was thought that electing "elite" officials who have our interests at heart but more direct knowledge of law would make better law makers.

If you live in state that allows referendums this concept becomes very apparent. I consider myself a well informed, educated individual. I've taken many business law classes and I write my own business contracts yet I still struggle to understand some of the legal code in the New Jersey referendums I've read. Even the dumbed-down translation they provide can be confusing to the average person.

Re:Root problem (2, Informative)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112014)

Your critique is entirely correct, and is very much taken into account by the Metagovernment project.

"The voter doesn't understand the legal code."
1. People don't have to participate in every decision, just the ones they care about and understand.
2. Since Metagovernment is a ground-up re-do of governance, it is a re-do of legal code as well. It is not intended to replace the US federal government just yet, but rather small communities' governance. Over time, people will get a better understanding of how to participate in large-scale governance as the system evolves.

"It was thought that electing "elite" officials who have our interests at heart but more direct knowledge of law would make better law makers."
1. This amounts to saying that we need to be protected from ourselves by a superior class of overlords. Do you really want to admit that is the best we can ever do?
2. These elites demonstrate again and again that they are just as idiotic as everyone else.
3. People don't get involved in issues because in the end their voice is ineffectual. If people can actually make a direct difference, they will have an entirely different incentive to learn and delve into issues.

"If you live in state that allows referendums this concept becomes very apparent."
1. Referendums are majority-rule decisions, while collaborative governance usually works on a consensus model.
2. Referendums are only on a few hot-button topics, meaning they lead to demagoguery. Having a "referendum" on every topic all the time would be completely different.
3. The authors of referendums are individual politicians or more frequently lobbyists. They are often written to be confusing or overly-simplified. Collaborative governance inherently means people write the laws together. Further, it pushes the process toward synthesis. Check out the amazing innovation in Vilfredo, for example.

All of this and more is on the Metagovernment site. It just takes some thinkin' to wrap your head around it.

Re:Root problem (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112216)

Better voting systems still won't fix the root issue: the people who get elected into power are corrupted by that power.

votes are sold to the highest bidder, idiots are in charge

The root issue is not what you claim. If you're talking about the USA, are votes really sold to the highest bidder? I am assuming the elections are not badly Diebolded.

What makes you so confident "metagovernment" will work? Makes no sense to me.

1) So far from what I see, in the 2008 US Presidential election, more than 98% of the voters who voted, voted for either a Democrat or a Republican. You get similar figures for the 2004 elections and so on.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_2008#Nationwide_results [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_2004#Grand_total [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_2000#National_results [wikipedia.org]

There is choice- the voters could have voted for someone else (e.g Nader) but less than 2% ever do so. So either the Two Parties are better choices than the rest, or the voters are idiots.

If the voters are idiots then metagovernment won't work, nor would a "small government + Big Corps" system work (how well are voters going to vote with their wallets if you think they're not getting "ballot box" right).

2) I don't tell a chef in detail how to cook my dinner. I'm not as good a cook as he is (if I was better, maybe I should be a chef instead). But I can taste the results for myself. If the results are satisfactory, I'll vote for him again. If they aren't to my taste, I'll vote for someone else.

Just because your party didn't win doesn't mean the system isn't working the way the majority of the voters want.

Then again you may be right, the idiots are in charge. But in nondiebolded elections, the voters are in charge :).

Re:Root problem (1)

Toe, The (545098) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112580)

Sorry if I was unclear. By votes, in this sense I meant the votes of legislators. Yes, the people vote for the legislators fairly well. Then those legislators sell their policy votes to the highest bidder.

Concerning your statement, "Just because your party didn't win doesn't mean the system isn't working the way the majority of the voters want."
1. I do not support any party, since political parties inherently coopt politicians away from the interests of the people.
2. The majority of voters did not get what they want. Congressional Confidence has been below 40% since at least the 1970s. No matter what party is in charge, they are letting the people down.
http://www.gallup.com/poll/141512/congress-ranks-last-confidence-institutions.aspx [gallup.com]

Re:Root problem (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 3 years ago | (#34113130)

Yes, the people vote for the legislators fairly well. Then those legislators sell their policy votes to the highest bidder

And the voters reelect those legislators after that? Seems to me many US legislators have been around for years or even decades.

2. The majority of voters did not get what they want. Congressional Confidence has been below 40% since at least the 1970s. No matter what party is in charge, they are letting the people down.

Really? Then the voters should vote differently right? The last I checked the voters have been voting for the same two parties. There are more than two parties. I don't see why the Two Parties should be doing things differently when they keep getting 98% of the votes.

So the Two Parties are clearly doing their jobs pretty well. Whether the voters are doing their jobs well as voters is a different matter.

If the people have been voting for stuff they don't want for so long, why should your metagovernment thing be better?

Don't they already have a system in California where voters can vote on all sorts of stuff? Is that working well for California?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/California_ballot_proposition [wikipedia.org]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_California_ballot_propositions_2000%E2%80%932009 [wikipedia.org]

Re:Root problem (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112924)

I don't tell a chef in detail how to cook my dinner. I'm not as good a cook as he is (if I was better, maybe I should be a chef instead). But I can taste the results for myself. If the results are satisfactory, I'll vote for him again. If they aren't to my taste, I'll vote for someone else.

So you go to an Italian restaurant and like the food. Next week you're going to go to the same cook and order sushi?

The exact same problem exists with the party system: the Republicans may have dragged our country into two wars, presided over a major recession, gave the banks a big fat bailout so they could pay their CEOs a big fat bonus... but at least they're (mostly) anti-abortion, and that's what really counts right?

Poor backwards Indiana (1)

CajunArson (465943) | more than 3 years ago | (#34111614)

Here in Indiana... also known as "flyover country" to you sophisticated Coasties, we are just so primitive and backwards. All we have here are paper ballots that are easy to fill in and are then automatically optically scanned to register the vote electronically while still having a full paper record of the ballots. I wish we could be more sophisticated and have exotic electronic systems that employ security experts to both verify them and crack into them at the same time.. think of all the taxpayer money we could spend!

Re:Poor backwards Indiana (1)

jcrb (187104) | more than 3 years ago | (#34111786)

Actually in the very coastie state I live in we have the same lovely optical scanners for our voting.

However we only scan ballots with machines we don't bother with anything as time wasting as say having the poll worker scan your ID with their eyes.

It wouldn't matter how great an e-voting system we installed if I can just go from polling site to polling site voting in the place of anyone I know is out of town, dead, planning to vote later in the day, etc

Re:Poor backwards Indiana (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112228)

It wouldn't matter how great an e-voting system we installed if I can just go from polling site to polling site voting in the place of anyone I know is out of town, dead, planning to vote later in the day, etc

Why go to all the trouble? Due to popular "motor-voter" registration laws anyone living in your district with a legal license and/or legal vehicle is probably registered. So all you need to do is crack last years phone book for name/address pairs and start voting. Most years there is a well under 50% chance you'd even be noticed as so few vote. If by some miracle you're "busted" simply walk away, its not like the 90+ year old poll worker will capture you for the feds.

Reason #324823 to not bother voting, anyone with the slightest knowledge of how the system works can break it, therefore someone probably has probably already done so.

Re:Poor backwards Indiana (2, Insightful)

fringd (120235) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112102)

that sounds pretty good, but i think this crypto-thing would be better. people are working hard on the crypt to solve real problems [blackboxvoting.org]

what you describe is pretty good, as it tries to fix problems with throwing the paper votes, but this improves on that a bit.

it's features include
* at the end i can check that my vote is in the published database of votes, which newspapers, etc can verify is added right.
* I cannot prove to anybody else who i voted for (so they can't strong-arm me)
* officials can not throw the votes in the trash, or a river, or bury them, or delete them... if the votes aren't in the published database people will see that their vote is missing.
* they can not scan the votes, keep them in the database, but add it up wrong and publish a wrong total, and then throw the records out [commondreams.org] . if they add it up wrong newspapers, universities, or any old slashdotter can do the adding themselves and call bullshit.

Re:Poor backwards Indiana (1)

Schadrach (1042952) | more than 3 years ago | (#34113070)

In WV we do something similar. They look you up in the register and tear off a stub with your number in the register on it, and write the ballot number on that, then hand you a paper scantron ballot in a plastic privacy folder. You go into a little booth that resembles a lectern with privacy screens to fill it out, then hand your stub and ballot (in the folder) to the scantron operator. He checks that the ballot you handed him matches the stub, places the folder against the input slot on the machine, and pushes the ballot in via a tab cut out of the other end of the folder for that purpose. If the ballot fails to scan, it is returned. If it scans successfully it is deposited by the machine in a locked storage box, and your stub is dropped in a separate locked box.

The net result is that we can do significant auditing, but we have a layer of indirection where you have to have the ballots, the register, and the stubs all three to know who voted for whom, and all three are simply not used together like that, since you can check for stuffed ballots, or illegitimate voters using only 2/3.

Re:Poor backwards Indiana (1)

Schadrach (1042952) | more than 3 years ago | (#34113128)

My biggest complaint with our ballots lies with the two things I feel shouldn't be on ballots whatsoever -- there shouldn't be a "fill in this bubble for a straight party ticket" option, and the parties of the candidates should not be mentioned on the ballot. It should be as difficult as possible for someone whose stance is "I have no real opinion, but I'm a , so I'll vote for their guy" to vote. You should at *least* have to know who "their guy" is.

Problems with Verifiable Voting (3, Interesting)

Rich0 (548339) | more than 3 years ago | (#34111726)

I read the article - all zero words of it - so perhaps the multimedia component of it addressed this concern, but I find it hard to imagine how:

If I can verify that my vote was counted, and can prove how I voted if there was a fraud to force a recount/etc, how does the system make it impossible for me to prove to my boss/spouse/friends/church/etc how I voted?

The problem with receipts is that if you can prove how you voted, then you can punish people for not voting the right way. All an abusive husband has to do is tell her wife to show up with a receipt showing the correct votes or they'll be beaten. You can make the receipt private, but an abusive husband/wife/parent/boss/etc will just tell people to turn them over or they'll be punished.

The effects of this kind of thing can be very subtle. People will change their voting patterns even if they think they MIGHT be asked to show that receipt. Maybe everybody in their union or church or whatever voluntarily posts their receipts as a show of solidarity, and who wants to then be the one person who doesn't join in?

If a voting system is well-designed it should not be possible for anybody to prove how they voted. Other controls should be used to ensure all votes are counted.

Re:Problems with Verifiable Voting (3, Interesting)

DeKO (671377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112136)

You do know that TED Talks consist of people going in front of other people and cameras, and talking, right? So perhaps the substance is indeed in the video.

The guy actually presents a very simple way to verify your vote was correctly registered, without ever revealing who you voted for. The secret is to remove the candidate names (by shredding that part of the ballot), scanning your vote into the system, and taking home the receipt, which contains no names. Only the system knows which is which. You can later use your receipt's code to see if it registered your vote properly (because it will match your receipt), but there is no way to know which candidate actually received that vote. It actually solves the problem of verification without compromising privacy.

Re:Problems with Verifiable Voting (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112410)

So you have a receipt showing that you vote for #3, you know who #3 is, but how can you check that the system counted your vote for #3 as a vote for the candidate you chose ?

Verifiability and anonymity are 2 things out of 3 necessary for a good voting system. The 3rd thing is independence from a third party. If you need to trust a third party to match information, to keep records anonymous or to correctly make a sum, this is not a good evoting machine.

All the current solutions require one of the three constraints to be dumped. That is why the only working occurrences of evoting happen in things like debian lists where anonymity can be dropped. It may not be impossible to cryptographically guarantee the 3 constraints, but this is an active research field of mathematics. Right now some solutions exist but they have really nasty constraints (all voters must participate, and their number must be known at key generation, or they must vote in a given order, etc...)

I believe a satisfying algorithm will finally come, but it is not here yet. So please, instead of funding companies that propose voting black boxes that have laughable security, just give funds to mathematicians and cryptography researchers.

Re:Problems with Verifiable Voting (1)

DeKO (671377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112654)

You always depend on a 3rd party to verify it. The entity responsible for the counting can be dishonest even with paper ballots.

Sure, they can count every vote for #3 as a vote for #2. But the system must then be designed to count the votes incorrectly. This is easy to verify later (take one of each ballot type, feed the votes into the system, see if it is counted properly).

Or they could just not give a shit, and ignore the counted votes, and using some arbitrary number instead. Because if you are not trusting the system to count the votes correctly, why would you trust a person to write down the totals to the proper candidate?

Re:Problems with Verifiable Voting (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112974)

You always depend on a 3rd party to verify it. The entity responsible for the counting can be dishonest even with paper ballots.

I don't know the US system but in France the counting session is public and fraud attempts have to be done under the public's eye. A few attempts have been uncovered that way.

Sure, they can count every vote for #3 as a vote for #2. But the system must then be designed to count the votes incorrectly. This is easy to verify later (take one of each ballot type, feed the votes into the system, see if it is counted properly).

No, that is not easy. The system you propose for instance does not detect votes switching and if it has a way to detect testing session, it can easily have a different behaviour then.

Because if you are not trusting the system to count the votes correctly, why would you trust a person to write down the totals to the proper candidate?

I surely wouldn't trust one people to count the votes correctly without public scrutiny. I mean, if I were in that person's shoes, I would be very tempted to cheat votes, no ? especially if no checks are made afterwards.

Re:Problems with Verifiable Voting (1)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112454)

But... If only the system knows which option is for which candidate, all you can verify is that your paper and the database have the same option; you can NOT verify that the option listed belongs to the candidate you intended to vote for.

Re:Problems with Verifiable Voting (1)

DeKO (671377) | more than 3 years ago | (#34113032)

Sure, they could switch candidates A and B. Then you can get some of the unused ballots and feed into the same system and check that every permutation is being counted properly.

Re:Problems with Verifiable Voting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34112212)

I don't know about this particular system, but I read a paper on a similar system that claimed to be coercion-proof.

The idea was that voting would be done over the internet, rather than a central location. This obviously makes your concern even more important, as somebody could force you to vote at any time. The claim though, is that a voter can submit as many fake ballots as they want, and the fact that it is fake would be undetectable to anybody but the voter and the system collecting the votes. If that part works effectively then the only possibility of coercion is if the attacker is present with the voter during the entire time the polls are open -- if that time period is a month long, then we should have very little to worry about.

Crypto-magic can do surprisingly counterintuitive things.

Re:Problems with Verifiable Voting (1)

TheMeld (13880) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112294)

The mechanism shown in the video actually does address this. The voting form layout is randomized, and the "key" portion (the bit matching checkboxes with candidates) is destroyed at the voting location. The receipt shows your marks, so you can verify that the marks counted match the marks you made, but it does not show what those marks mean. Even if someone forces you to give up your receipt, they have no way of knowing how you voted, only that the system recorded the vote correctly.

encode the results (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112302)

My license has one of those complex bar codes on the back. Why not produce a receipt encoded with this value, the allow the voter in votes that are contested by the candidates to be able to return to a polling place and swipe the results to see that their vote was accepted? If like my voting place, no one but the voter is allowed at the booth except under very special circumstances. This of course would require making sure that the poll watchers only permit the owner of the strip to use it.

Even with such a system you can engineer abuses. I find that many stamping their feet over e-voting are those who stand a better chance of manipulating results if a paper system is used. Regardless of system employed, we also need a simple means to ensure people are who they say they are and they only vote once per election.

Still its good to see many people concerned with the privacy of their vote. Just remember your friends in union shops as some in Congress want to take away the secret ballot in union votes just for the purpose of intimidation.

Re:Problems with Verifiable Voting (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112348)

If I can verify that my vote was counted, and can prove how I voted if there was a fraud to force a recount/etc, how does the system make it impossible for me to prove to my boss/spouse/friends/church/etc how I voted?

Easy, allow multiple votes with only the last one being counted. The only people whom know which receipt is the last, valid receipt, is you, and the govt voting machine.

This fixes the casual problem as I can now "prove" to management at work that I voted "R" but still maintain hipster street cred while showing I voted straight communist party ticket. However someone in the govt or an electioneering volunteer could obtain the list of valid last votes. So you'd need some manner of verified destruction on a fixed date.

Re:Problems with Verifiable Voting (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112822)

Easy, allow multiple votes with only the last one being counted.

I hate to post a followup to myself but another great idea I had comes from some statistical crypto work I looked into for anonymous cash.

My idea is give everyone ten ballots and you may only receive a receipt for one of your ballots. So, if you expect intimidation, submit one "R" and get a receipt, and nine "D" and you're safe. The system has no record of which receipts you keep and which you toss in a bonfire or shredder, but a human makes sure you only leave the building with precisely one or zero fully documented paper receipts.

A public list of serial numbers of all ballots cast for them is published for each candidate.

Voter intimidation seems pointless because any voter in the country can throw away 10% of their vote to fake any response. Furthermore the intimidators know it, so it seems pointless to either purchase receipts or beat.

Lets say fraud occurs. They have no idea which receipts were kept and which were burned so there is a 1 in 10 chance that they could be caught. Lets say only one in ten people bother to look up their published voting record to make sure it was not tampered with or deleted. Ballot #17 is listed under the R column on the website. I check to make sure my receipt appears on the site. Just my luck that I had a 1 in 10 chance of holding the paper receipt that says ballot #17 voted D. Big trouble ensues.

That would indicate you can only tamper with an election to the order of a hundred votes without getting caught.

As an aside... (1)

tygerstripes (832644) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112394)

Wouldn't it be nice if people WERE encouraged to post their vote-receipts to prove that they've voted? Not if it shows who their chosen candidate was, of course, but just a token to demonstrate that they've taken part in the electoral process and thus bucked the trend of political apathy.

Seems to me that harnessing that peer-pressure to encourage people to take an active interest would be very beneficial to the democratic process.

As long as we can trust it, of course...

Re:Problems with Verifiable Voting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34112444)

If a voting system is well-designed it should not be possible for anybody to prove how they voted. Other controls should be used to ensure all votes are counted.

Once a vote has been entered (or dropped in a box) it should be impossible to link that vote back to the voter. The voter should thus have no way of retrospectively confirming whether their vote was counted in the correct way.

The fundamental problem with electronic voting is that computers cannot be trusted. It simply isn't possible for a human to understand and verify that the machine they're using behaves as expected down to the gates on the silicon chips. With paper voting it is possible for every voter (no matter what level of intelligence) to follow their vote through the system and scrutinize the process to ensure votes are being tallied correctly. Obviously their vote needs to be mixed into a large pool prior to counting to ensure that they cannot find/verify their own vote. However they can keep their eyes and ears on the collective vote tallying process with little reason to distrust the process. With computer voting/tallying it is simply not possible to watch your vote move through the tallying process with even the smallest degree of confidence.

Electronic voting will never work. Ever. It's flawed by design. Even if there existed an approach to implementing a perfect electronic voting system, it's still completely flawed on the basis that voters won't understand how it works. Voting systems must allow all voters (*handicapped and impaired voters complicate this somewhat) to understand the process and see vote tallying be performed in the open at every step.

Re:Problems with Verifiable Voting (1)

Splab (574204) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112532)

And this is why you should go watch the movie...

There is one problem with the system, since the order has been shreded, I can only tell that my vote has been counted in the order I voted, but I can't verify that the count goes towards the people I chose since the order is always random.

Also, he talks about hand verification, I can't see how that can happen without the 256bit encryption key being supplied to those unscrambling the data (you need to know the sequence to hand count it)) - that means criminals can get hold of the key and that means criminals can check your vote and system has been broken.

Re:Problems with Verifiable Voting (1)

questionsaddict (1277150) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112602)

I think that there's no way to prove WHO you voted for, just that the vote registered isn't the same as yours.
For each image, there corresponds a unique ordering of the candidates, so the only way to cheat would be that the votes appear in a diferent order as in your ballot

But if the algorithm that counts the votes, which should be freely available, works individually on each ballot, then it would be possible to decipher your vote just by looking at the count before and after summing your ballot. I really don't know if there's a way to make the algorithm fail for a single ballot.

Re:Problems with Verifiable Voting (1)

David Jao (2759) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112882)

If I can verify that my vote was counted, and can prove how I voted if there was a fraud to force a recount/etc, how does the system make it impossible for me to prove to my boss/spouse/friends/church/etc how I voted?

It's the magic of mathematics. Modern cryptography is amazing in many ways, and one of the amazing things is that we know how to do seemingly impossible things like "allow voters to prove their vote counted, without allowing them to prove how they voted."

There are many ways to achieve what you ask, even if it seems impossible to you. One way is to use undeniable signatures [wikipedia.org] . The idea is that the verification process is interactive, and you (meaning the system designer, not necessarily the voter) can choose the set of people (e.g. election authorities) for which valid proofs of votes are possible. For anyone outside of the designated set, you can (undetectably) forge proofs that you voted for someone that you didn't actually vote for. The way it works is that the election authorities have special secret cryptographic keys that, in combination with the interactive proof, allow them to do more than the average voter.

Off-the-record messaging [wikipedia.org] is another similar example of a cryptography protocol achieving the "impossible". In this case, OTR messaging allows you to prove your identity to other parties in the conversation, but only to those other parties. For any third party not in the conversation, it is possible to (undetectably) forge the proof of identity for anyone (and the OTR software even includes a tool for producing such forgeries).

Re:Problems with Verifiable Voting (1)

Omnifarious (11933) | more than 3 years ago | (#34113142)

I saw something like this presented at a hacker conference. Basically, you can do math on encrypted values and decrypt the result without decrypting the original values. This, in combination with a couple of other techniques indeed gives you hard anonymity and verifiability at the same time. Aside from the fact that it doesn't handle write-in candidates very well, it's currently actually even better than paper voting.

Thoughts (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 3 years ago | (#34111822)

Given the recent corruption in all government levels, I don't feel I can entirely trust manual systems, let alone e-voting. I might warm up to the idea a little bit more if basic things, such as - gasp - an audit trail is added to the e-voting. I never understood how an electronic voting machine would not include auditing facilities.

The problems are the same as always (1)

dx40sh (1773338) | more than 3 years ago | (#34111838)

How do you get over the idiocracy, though ? There's always going to be someone who protests the system purely because they do not understand how it works. And as recent elections have proved, you need not be right to be heard by many, all you need to be is loud.

One of the reasons - fragile democracies (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 3 years ago | (#34111942)

A fragile democracy is one where, among other things,
  no-one trusts the current paper-ballot voting system,
because it is highly manipulated and corrupted.

Many countries fall into this category.
Iran is a notable recent case.

They could use a well-principled Internet voting system
administered by a UN agency.

You could run the election for a month to prevent
voter intimidation. You could have the computer,
rather than the dictator's cronies, count the votes.

There would be no more 10% to 20% discrepencies in
the claimed voting results.

Re:One of the reasons - fragile democracies (2, Insightful)

Amouth (879122) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112234)

what we need is a way of making the ones who don't vote - who don't give a shit - who have zero political affiliation - the ones that handle and count the votes..

Sorry but i do have issues when the people who count the votes have a political affiliation.

Re:One of the reasons - fragile democracies (1)

Albanach (527650) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112370)

Will it stop someone carrying an AK-47 forcing their way into a home and directing the occupants to vote in a particular way while watching them do so?

Re:One of the reasons - fragile democracies (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112588)

Are you willing to hand your voting over to a UN agency? Other than just handing over the country is there a way to lose more sovereignty than that?

More information (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34111996)

His idea seemed bad to me (2, Informative)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112022)

It was simply a variation of the paper receipt to prove that you vote. Or maybe he just explained it poorly. As far as I can tell from his description, you can prove tell that you voted, but you can't tell WHO your vote was for.

Besides, it's not that hard to create a paper ballot system that is secret and fair, but uses computers to speed the creation and counting.

Step 1. Have a printer kiosk that lets you select who you vote for electronically. It also shows 3 colors/icons/etc. You select a color/icon when you vote.

Step 2. The kiosk then prints out TWO identical bar coded paper receipts that does not have anything but numbers on it.

Step 3. Take bar coded paper receipt to second machine, called a reader.

Step 4. Feed one (either one) into the reader. That reader displays who you voted for, you can confirm or deny. Assuming you confirm, it keeps the one recepit and you keep your own. If you deny, it spits out the bad receipt, and you are legally required to shred both before you try again.

Step 5. To confirm your vote, you log on to a database, look for your recepit number and enter the color/icon you remembered. If you enter the wrong one, it displays a false vote without reveleaing that you entered the wrong color/icon.

Net result is that you and only you know who you voted for, and you can verify that your vote was counted.

Re:His idea seemed bad to me (2, Interesting)

lras (807944) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112360)

Net result is that you and only you know who you voted for, and you can verify that your vote was counted.

Sorry for being dense, but how does that verify that my vote is affecting the the announced result of the election? Couldn't they just announce "X got 60% of the votes" anyway? (By jamming in a lot of false ballots, or by just lying?)

Re:His idea seemed bad to me (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 3 years ago | (#34113080)

Some of what you are describing is already checked for by standard methods, plus the fact that the votes are all in an open database.

Specifically, when counting votes, you don't just do a full count, you also break it down into X votes from Y district, and even by voting machine, which is verified independently by the voter registration rolls. So each machine has a list of the people that voted using it, the total vote count for each candidate, and the ability to check if the vote was counted.

A bunch of false ballots would pump up the total votes done and the numbers would not match.

Each independent voting machine would list the totals for each candidate and you could verify their own votes there.

Note, there is no way totally prevent fraud, but the method I describe here would require fraudulent vote counters at each and every district machine, all of whom keep quiet.

In addition, the voting record itself is public, and the software is public. This would let people prevent the lying.

Re:His idea seemed bad to me (1)

Schadrach (1042952) | more than 3 years ago | (#34113172)

Prove to me that the false vote will be the one the guy intimidating/paying me wants to see, and not the "wrong" false vote.

How is this hard? (1)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112058)

I'm assuming that not everyone is as obsessed with the "paper trail" as some fanatics are (really, data is data whether it's on a paper or stored digitally, if your vote is anonymous it can still be tampered with).

Why not a basic e-ID system (we have several here in Sweden although the most popular is simply called BankID) which is used to login to the voting website/voting machine. When logged in you get to create a new username and password for the actual voting. Your real identity gets marked as "has an id" and the new account is completely disconnected from your regular identity, you can now use the new username+password to cast your vote. This system even opens up the possibility to change your vote before the end of the election period.

For all I know this could be the solution suggested in this video, I just couldn't be bothered watching a video right now, does anyone have a good transcript?

Good ideas but doesn't address ballot stuffing (1)

DomNF15 (1529309) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112064)

I like all of the ideas he mentioned, from the uniqueness of each ballot, to the tear off receipt, to the shredding of the plaintext ballot "key". These are great for maintaining anonymity, but what about ballot stuffing? How do you prevent someone that's been dead for a couple months from "voting"? My polling place didn't ask for ID, just my name, I imagine that probably happens quite a bit...

Not completely 'secret' (1)

pirodude (54707) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112066)

If you're removing the candidate list from the side you keep, that means that the barcode somehow has your specific ordering of candidates stored. While this may be encrypted, the computer has a way of knowing for that specific ballot, what each option is for, which means that someone, somewhere, has access to that key to be able to determine how to get the per ballot candidate ordering.

That key will be much easier to get access to than people think, and once you do, you've compromised the secrecy of the entire election. Walk into your local election clerk's office and see if they're the type of person who could safely store and maintain a vital electronic key.

Re:Not completely 'secret' (1)

roothog (635998) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112222)

That key will be much easier to get access to than people think, and once you do, you've compromised the secrecy of the entire election. Walk into your local election clerk's office and see if they're the type of person who could safely store and maintain a vital electronic key.

If its implemented anything like existing systems, the key will be hardcoded into the application as a static data value.

Does the system use (1)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112072)

md5 hashes [google.com] and cookies?

Just askin...

I don't trust it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34112110)

Fundemental flaw: you still have to trust the computer program is what it claims to be when it matches the ballots with the receipts.

Election fraud risk (in a mature democracy) is measured by the minimum number of people who are required to act in a corrupt way in order to get away with a mutation of the result. Paper ballots with scrutineers from opposing parties requires a massive degree of conspiracy in order to affect enough polling stations to swing the result. As soon as you trust a computer with the audit trail, you need only one corrupt person: a programmer who installs one program on the machines while providing a different version of the program to auditers. Even if you could trust the auditors get an untampered version of the machine to dismantle and are able to do so perfectly, you are still trusting that small audit team to be honest and never be replaced with a front group.

Implementations suck (1)

roothog (635998) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112172)

Does it run Windows and save its votes in an Access database? Ideas are great, but even the best ideas are defeated by typical commercial implementations. Nobody in government cares enough about voting processes to allocate the money needed for anything better than lowest-bid development.

We need more than 2 or 3 choices (0, Offtopic)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112188)

The problem isn't necessarily the voting machines, it is the choices of the candidates.
Why are we always forced to choose from the lesser of two evils under a broken electoral system in a broken government?
We need multiple candidates on a multiple choice ballot ranking your first, second and third choices using a secure system. This is needed due to recent voting scandals that arose at the very last minute.

Re:We need more than 2 or 3 choices (1)

theghost (156240) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112460)

The problem with that is that we would have to rely on our two-party system to revamp the election process so that it weakened the two-party system.

If there's one thing both Democrats and Republicans can agree on it's that they don't want to make it easier for people other than Ds and Rs to get elected.

Problem is voter intent (3, Insightful)

PotatoHead (12771) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112364)

When we use media, we capture the voter intent perfectly. There is a chain of trust between the voter intent, and the record of the vote, because that record only passes through the voter.

Making a mark on a piece of paper, voting by mail like we do in Oregon, is cost effective, and verifiable, and trustworthy. Recounts are possible too.

I know my intent was correctly recorded, and if there is a issue with the counting, we can all go into a room, and visibly verify every vote, getting a correct tally.

With a machine, it's a vote by proxy. We fail to record the voter intent, because the electronics only record what the machine thought the intent was, not the intent itself.

Because of this, no electronic system makes sense. I like counting them electronically, with scanners and such. We can audit that, verify, recount.

I don't like a touch screen, because we fail to actually capture the intent, only the machine record of what it thought the intent was.

Re:Problem is voter intent (1)

roothog (635998) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112640)

When we use media, we capture the voter intent perfectly. There is a chain of trust between the voter intent, and the record of the vote, because that record only passes through the voter.

Making a mark on a piece of paper, voting by mail like we do in Oregon, is cost effective, and verifiable, and trustworthy. Recounts are possible too.

So your chain of trust includes the United States Postal Service? That's quite a leap of faith.

You cannot sell your vote (1)

ElitistWhiner (79961) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112378)

Transparency ensures that a voter can prove his vote, thus sell it!

Erhhh....... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34112792)

So this brilliant system allows me to go online and verify that I voted for "option number 3" Which could be anything, since I cannot verify what my candidate list order was. So to manipulate the votes the counteres simply rearrange the candidate listings of all voters to make Sara Palin the president, and there is no way of proving it, since noone other then the counters have access to the candidate list orders.

There is no way to make it verifiable that you voted X, while making it impossible to prove you voted X. We simply can't have it both ways. I would sooner trust that the counting of the votes was done correctly then trust every single american didn't sell their vote to the highest bidder.

Shredding candidate list (1)

ewanm89 (1052822) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112806)

What is the point of detaching and shredding the list of candidates part of the form in his method? Surely the 2D barcode must have this information of what box is what candidate. Just means counting by hand would now be impossible as one would have to decode the 2D barcode. I guess it's so the ballot worker doing the scanning doesn't see it. But the scanner is a computer and can decode the barcode by definition.

No candidate list, no proof of vote (1)

alexwcovington (855979) | more than 3 years ago | (#34112880)

Removing the candidate list seems like an dangerous complication to the system. The system can verify that a ballot was collected, but there is no possibility to correct a ballot that was miscounted.

Once removed, voters cannot verify for themselves who they marked their ballot for. On the counting side, it allows for fraud simply by changing the correspondences.

Also, if someone cracks the servers, they could replace or delete every ballot in the country, causing detectable but widespread chaos as every ballot would have to be rescanned.

Interesting, but flawed (1)

Chelloveck (14643) | more than 3 years ago | (#34113124)

I think the method presented in the video is fundamentally flawed. The presenter claims that, given just your receipt, no one can determine how you voted. But that's obviously false -- SOMEONE, somewhere, must have the cryptographic key that can correlate an 'X' in the third box down on your individual ballot as a vote for John Smith. Otherwise there's no way for your vote to be counted.

The presenter goes on to claim that third-parties (news media, international observers, etc.) can take the scanned ballots and count them independently. To do so, they must have access to the crypto key, just like the official ballot-counters. Now you have potentially many people with access to the key. The key will undoubtedly be leaked. Once it's out there, anyone with physical access to my receipt can see how I voted.

Great, but will it ever be used? (1)

FridayBob (619244) | more than 3 years ago | (#34113144)

Over the years I've hear of various ways in which the democratic process can be improved. I saw this TED talk last night and it certainly looks interesting; if it can make the proceedings so much more transparent, let's set up a trial somewhere and see how it goes. Personally, I'd like to see it combined with instant-runoff voting [wikipedia.org] ; a system that has seen only limited implementation despite its advantages. Yet, I wonder if I will ever encounter these concepts in practice.

I find it disappointing that, all over the world, older democracies seem to be deeply conservative about their voting processes, resisting change even when the flaws in their systems are obvious and better solutions are available. We are quick to criticize the voting processes of emerging democracies, but resist doing anything when the problems are closer to home.

Poor voting practices at home also have a knock-on effect: why, for example, should the Afghans improve their voting system when we can't be bothered to improve ours? By saying one thing and doing another, we send the message that it's really not that important to be so respectful of the voting process. In such cases, we have no right to be so proud of our democracies.
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