Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Canada To Adopt On-Line Voting?

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the click-on-democracy dept.

Canada 405

belmolis writes "Here in Canada we have an old-fashioned paper ballot voting system that by all accounts works very well. We get results quickly and without fraud. Nonetheless, Elections Canada wants to test on-line voting. From the article: 'The head of the agency in charge of federal elections says it's time to modernize Canada's elections, including testing online voting and ending a ban on publishing early election results.' Is it worth trying to fix a system that isn't broken?"

cancel ×

405 comments

Ack! (1, Interesting)

Tsingi (870990) | more than 2 years ago | (#37127974)

I want to check the code. Diebold elected Bush, we don't need that here.

Re:Ack! (4, Informative)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128026)

Malicious code is the least of the problems with online voting.

It becomes almost trivial to buy/extort votes.

Re:Ack! (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128048)

And there's a whole new area for malware creators. Ever wanted to reach a 110% voter turnout? Even Albania could only dream of this in its heydays.

Re:Ack! (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128212)

I recall hearing of one election where the winner recieved over 1000% of the vote (his competition also got an impossible amount). Don't remember which country, though. Think it was a South American "democracy" in the 70s, but I'm probably wrong.

Re:Ack! (4, Insightful)

pD-brane (302604) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128146)

Malicious code is the least of the problems with online voting.

Even though there are more obvious problems, I believe that the freedom to study and test the system is essential to any democratic voting system.

Re:Ack! (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128182)

Malicious code is the least of the problems with online voting.

It becomes almost trivial to buy/extort votes.

Or, one of these ISP's that manipulate content can screw around with the ballot that's delivered to the voter.

Re:Ack! (1)

piripiri (1476949) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128220)

Encryption, anyone ?

Re:Ack! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37128372)

Encryption, anyone ?

Using ISP DNS. Request voting site. ISP intervenes. Fake certificate. Handled by ISP. Man in the middle. Your browser will never know. Neither will you.

Re:Ack! (1, Redundant)

publicworker (701313) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128190)

Absolutely right! (Mod parent up)

I've said this before in this thread, but I'll say it again ('cause I think it's important)

Voting at home is inherently insecure and not secret. The risk of simple shoulder-surfing or bribes/extortions as the parent suggests should be enough to dismiss such ideas out of hand.

Re:Ack! (3, Funny)

Tenebrarum (887979) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128042)

Surely you mean nack?

Re:Ack! (2)

BlackPignouf (1017012) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128068)

Even if you can check the code, how can you be sure it's the one that has been executed?
Why couldn't it just be the result of

print "The winner is : FooBar"

?

Re:Ack! (1)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128160)

Why couldn't it just be the result of

print "The winner is : FooBar"

?

I think that's already happened a few times with paper ballots.

Re:Ack! (1)

arielCo (995647) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128324)

_You_ can't, just as you can't be 100% sure that the electoral commitee/agency isn't counting paper ballots with rigged software or downright lying. You have to trust _someone_ ultimately or you wouldn't vote at all.

Re:Ack! (1)

sourcerror (1718066) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128370)

However with paper based voting you need more people to take part in the conspiracy.
These online voting systems however can be useful to ask citizens' opinion between the normal elections.

Re:Ack! (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128466)

_You_ can't...

Sure you can. We're designing a whole new voting system so you just build in that ability.

counting paper ballots with rigged software or downright lying

Or swapping ballot boxes on the way to the counting office, or...

A digital system has the potential to be far more secure than a paper-based one.

Re:Ack! (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128426)

Even if you can check the code, how can you be sure it's the one that has been executed?
Why couldn't it just be the result of

print "The winner is : FooBar"

?

Simple: You use your brain and design the software in a way where that's impossible.

eg. Set up a website where all votes are listed on a big HTML page and voters can verify their vote by looking for their voter number (encrypted with a password they chose) and the vote they cast. You can see all the votes and add them up for yourself.

(Or some variation of that: I only spent ten seconds thinking about it, I'm sure you can do better...)

Re:Ack! (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128502)

Secure voting is relatively easy. Secure voting that preserves the secret ballot is more challenging.

I'd Vote For That (0)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 2 years ago | (#37127976)

Progress ... slow but sure. The US Congress, Senate & White House will get around to this after I'm dead & buried. Of course, if I'm buried in Chicago I still might get a chance to use it once or twice ;-)

Re:I'd Vote For That (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128060)

So would I. I always wanted to decide who gets to rule, and online voting should offer the perfect chance for that.

Re:I'd Vote For That (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128178)

Progress ... slow but sure.

Right. I mean, what can possibly go wrong? Every online voting I've ever seen has been 100% accurate with nobody ever voting more than once.

I saw an online vote for who people preferred as a Republican candidate and Ron Paul got like THREE TIMES more votes than anyone else, so I guess once we have online voting we will live in a libertarian paradise.

Personally, I can't wait. I'm sharpening my knives already.

Re:I'd Vote For That (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128512)

There's plenty of research papers been published on "secure online voting". Try google.

In theory it can be much more secure than paper.

(Though in practice it's likely they'll sub-contract it to a bunch of idiots who don't know how to google those research papers...)

Fairness Doctrine (3, Funny)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 2 years ago | (#37127978)

Online voting will be conducted through Warcraft's Arathi Basin battleground. Users must authenticate through battle.net and choose horde or alliance. Whichever team holds the Blacksmith point will be able to vote once per minute until 9 PM. Live results will be posted in Ironforge and Orgrimmar as voting happens.
Please note there is a limit of 3.78x10^19 voters allowed in each instance.

Re:Fairness Doctrine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37128140)

Surely, we must zerg the Stables in order to win.

Re:Fairness Doctrine (1)

Gideon Wells (1412675) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128206)

Off-topic to the original article above,

I don't zerg the stables. I ninja the stables while the Allies zerg the farm to even the score. It is just the Horde are so team minded they come to my aid and looks like a zerg.

No poll tax (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128234)

Online voting will be conducted through Warcraft's Arathi Basin battleground.

Assuming that by Warcraft you mean World of Warcraft: The price per seat of a proprietary commercial video game in which elections are held is effectively a poll tax, and I don't see a poll tax taking off at least in my home country.

PVE (1)

mfh (56) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128264)

I disagree. It should be a boss that two teams have to race to fight and the first group that gets the boss down wins the right to govern because they have proven they can work as a team, and overcome any future difficult challenge needed to run a government effectively.

Having worked on the software (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37127988)

I have worked on the software including in depth code reviews for 7 makers of the voting machine software. It stinks to the high heavens of means and methods to provide vote fraud. Canada should retain a paper ballot. It is OK to count them electronically but the count should be validated and it should be recounted by independent agency of the original count. It should be electronically transmitted to 3 different locations for totalling at the same time. It should be locally counted as well. Clearly the process must also be open source for the software whereby citizens and groups like "Black Hat" can take a crack at it making sure it is secure. Bluntly modern technology can easily become a modern means of theft and we need to make sure it isn't such. Considerable data indicates that in the USA such systems have produced fraud. These include the flipping of primary results from Hillary Clinto to Barak Obama in the last election there for president. They include questionable results in at least 2 US states. Wake up Canada, the time had come to trust but verify!

Daley, the Pope, and the President (1)

dltaylor (7510) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128012)

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, the Pope, and the President of the US are the survivors of a shipwreck in a life boat, but the supplies are limited: there's enough for one to last until rescue. After the Pope and the President lay out their opinions as to why they should be the one to remain with the boat while the others take their chances in the open ocean, Daley suggests a vote, to which the others agree.

Richard Daley is elected to remain with the life boat by 13,392 votes.

The politicians have learned how easy it is to "adjust" the electronic ballot boxes and are falling over themselves to have their crack at controlled elections.

Automate and Rubber Stamp Conservativism (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37128014)

Is it worth trying to fix a system that isn't broken?"

If it means less transparency for the system, then I say yes, lets fix the system. Because more transparency [thestar.com] generally means that corporations make less money, and the less money corporations make the less well off society is in general.

Re:Automate and Rubber Stamp Conservativism (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128142)

I hope that you forgot to put sarcasm tags. I really do.

Of course they want that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37128016)

Electronic voting is much easier to manipulate than more conventional methods. And it is impossible to check, thus avoiding all those inconvenient jail sentences for vote fraud.

What Is It Worth? (2)

Gallenod (84385) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128036)

"Is it worth trying to fix a system that isn't broken?"

It is to the people who sell electronic voting systems. And they apparently have better lobbyists than the average voter.

Re:What Is It Worth? (1)

da_foz (751028) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128224)

Depends on your definition of broken. The last couple of elections voter turnout has averaged in the low 60s. If such a system could boost voter participation by 10+% then I'd say it is definitely worth investigating. Part of the analysis should be which groups in society are underrepresented at the polls (who turns out the least) and ensure that it is these groups who are more likely to make use of online voting.

Re:What Is It Worth? (2)

N1AK (864906) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128314)

It's actually quite a complex issue. Firstly there are valid points saying that high participation is not, in itself, proof of a good system. A system in which 40% of people vote and those 40% (magically somehow) are unbiased and informed will probably produce better results than 80% where the majority are voting based on widely inaccurate stereotypes and how photogenic candidates are.

In general I have a very big issue with the 'not broke' argument. Nothing is perfect. Landlines weren't 'broke' but mobiles and voip are great. Encyclopedias aren't 'broke' but wikipedia is still handy. Steam engines, candles and horses weren't 'broke' either, but I don't regret that mankind has moved on.

Re:What Is It Worth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37128404)

And if polling suddenly becomes very *cheap* then maybe we can have *more* of it.

Re:What Is It Worth? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37128530)

How can you have a democracy if corporations can't jury rig the vote tallies?

Can someone tell me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37128046)

What's wrong with publishing early results?

Re:Can someone tell me (2)

Tridus (79566) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128082)

Oh that's from the distant past where they were worried that those poor voters in BC would just fall all over themselves to support whoever people in Ontario voted for if they only they knew who that was. It's a law from before daily tracking polls or the Internet (or even timeshifted TV channels from other regions). Today it's archaic. Threatening jail time for talking about Election Results on Twitter (where there was an active group of people like me circumventing the law with the help of friendly foreigners) is so absurd that even trying to enforce it just brings the law into disrepute.

They try to justify it by saying that people in BC will still be influenced by knowing who Ontario voted for, while ignoring the fact that the gap in poll closing times is so short that very few people are even affected. That number is greater in the Atlantic provinces, but those are so small that nobody really cares who they voted for anyway.

Might help... (2)

Syberz (1170343) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128052)

The real problem with elections is voter turnout.

There are 2 reasons why people don't go vote:
1- The parties all suck and the voter doesn't feel that one winning over another would make any difference, and;
2- People are too lazy to drive down to the polls and wait in line to vote.

For problem 1, not much we can do except start a new party. For problem 2 however, a system where you can vote online might be able to help. For identification, perhaps combining your SIN number and passport number or last year's taxable income would be sufficient.

Re:Might help... (2)

Dr Fro (169927) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128084)

Re #2 - Do you want people to vote who can't bother to invest half an hour of their time in the process?

Re:Might help... (2)

Syberz (1170343) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128156)

If they have an opinion, yes. With today's busy schedules (work, kids, etc), 30 minutes is a lot of time for some families.

Re:Might help... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37128270)

Oh give me a break. Families used to have more than one or two kids, yet people could find time to vote. If the issue is your two-hour commute, then I don't see why we should screw up the voting system to accommodate the stupidity of out-of-control urban sprawl.

Me! Me! Me! society...

Re:Might help... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37128454)

Actually, 30 minutes is the same now as it was 100 years ago. Seriously, though, people who complain that there isn't enough time actually mean they don't want to give up something for something else (opportunity cost). If the vote means that much to you, you'll make the time.

Re:Might help... (2)

LordNacho (1909280) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128552)

That's right. So people who do something important with their time, like working, are less incentivised to vote than people who are retired. Result: retired people get a bigger say in what happens, because the working voters are throwing out their votes. Not really an ideal situation.

I'm all for a vote-at-home, online system.

Re:Might help... (2)

Bobakitoo (1814374) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128558)

There is advance polls. Vote by mail. If working schedule don't have 3 consecutive hours to vote, your employer is forced by law to allocated time. Also, he may not deduct that time off your pay or impose any penalty.

If you can't find time to vote, you are just uninterested and rightly deserve to remain silent.

Re:Might help... (1)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128166)

In 2008 I waited 6 hours in line to vote...

D'Oh! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37128352)

In 2008 I waited 6 hours in line to vote...

That was one hell of a election that was politicized more than I think ever in our history - a black man that had a chance to be President?!? A LOT of people had a problem with that. And with the nuttiness on the other side; the turnout was HUGE.

Secondly, I don't know about you, but because of all the media hype about delays and crowds at the early voting polls, many people decided to go early and wait in line for hours (like I stupidly did) because we thought the election day would be a nightmare.

Everyone I know who actually voted on Election Day, were in and out in less than 15 minutes.

D'Oh!

Re:Might help... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37128380)

Let me guess. You went a few hours before the poll ended on the day of the election? Or in the middle of rush hour (many people try to vote on the way home from work)? It took me all of 20 minutes on the morning of election day in a major city. And if you say "But I have work", employers are legally required to give you up to 3 consecutive hours to vote on election day [elections.ca] , with only a few exceptions (basically if you work in the transportation sector).

Alternatively, that was one screwed-up polling station and you should write to Elections Canada to complain.

Re:Might help... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37128088)

2- People are too lazy to drive down to the polls and wait in line to vote.

Can't speak for Canadia, obviously, but I remain completely disgusted that the US government doesn't make election day a Christmas-class holiday at the least.

'course, given the options we have of voting for Dumb or Dumber, I suppose it wouldn't make a difference; most people would probably sit home looking at porn on the Internet, and I suspect they're smarter than I am for it.

Re:Might help... (2)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128290)

Can't speak for Canadia, obviously,

Obviously.

Direct democracy... (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128108)

might solve problem 1 by cutting out the middlemen.

Re:Might help... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37128144)

People are too lazy to drive down to the polls and wait in line to vote

Give them cookies after they vote. Or $50. It will be cheaper than fraud in elections.

Re:Might help... (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128232)

For problem #2, you are also talking about people who are too lazy to actually know what any of the people running are actually like. I'm sorry, but low voter turnout for elections is a manufactured problem. People who talk about increasing voter turnout generally mean increasing the number of easily manipulated voters so that politicians are less answerable to the voters for their actions because a larger percentage of the voters are only paying attention for, at most, a week or two before the elections. By increasing voter turnout without actually increasing the number of people who pay attention, politicians can get away with doing unpopular things by doing them early in their term.

Re:Might help... (1)

kraut (2788) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128268)

> 2- People are too lazy to drive down to the polls and wait in line to vote.
There will also be people who are too lazy to vote electronically, or too busy because they're voting for something "important" like x-factor...

If you don't care enough to vote, that's your choice.

I think the problem is more with 1

Re:#1 (1)

Telecommando (513768) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128284)

Starting a new party doesn't necessarily solve problem #1. You just end up with one more party that sucks.

Re:#1 (1)

Syberz (1170343) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128504)

Lol, well it you just copy an existing one or flip flop your position to try and be more popular (ADQ, I'm looking at you) then yeah it's pretty useless.

The big problem, is that if a new party shows up saying that they will do exactly what is needed to make this country better, they will never get elected. Why? Because they would tax the rich and large corporations more, they would gradually cut government jobs by at least 1/3 (while optimizing of course) and eliminate pension plans for new government employees (why should working for the government entitle you to a free retirement? The rest work just as hard, if not harder, and have to finance their own retirement).

Isn't testing it a sane thing to do? (2)

Tridus (79566) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128054)

Yes, our election system here in Canada works pretty well. No, it's not perfect. In particular the ban on publishing results is a running joke that was easily circumvented by a ton of people on election night. It's so easy to get around it these days (particularly thanks to helpful foreigners willing to lend a hand by reposting results) that even trying to enforce it just wastes time and makes the government look stupid.

As for online voting... I'm against it. There's a number of reasons why, including that the paper ballots work really well (and are much harder to hack then a website). But I don't see a lot of harm in doing a test. That's the best way to get some real data on how it's going to work. Elections Canada is pretty good at this stuff, so I'm not surprised they want to try it out and gather some first hand data on how it works. There certainly are some cases where it would be helpful, such as far north rural areas where ridings are HUGE and it's a real burden to get to vote. We saw that turnout up north was the lowest in the country and 20% below PEI/New Brunswick (small areas with high turnout). That's worth trying to fix. It's also an option for special ballots instead of mailing out paper forms.

Re:Isn't testing it a sane thing to do? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37128120)

Testing is what you do when you have a potentially working theory you want to prove.

Nobody has a theory on how to run a secure, secret ballot online.

So what are we testing?
We're testing to see if anyone realizes the new voting system isn't secure? Maybe we don't want anyone to realize that it isn't a secret ballot.

I'm writing my MP.

Re:Isn't testing it a sane thing to do? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128350)

Nobody has a theory on how to run a secure, secret ballot online.

Define "secure" and "secret" and I might be able to sketch one up.

Re:Isn't testing it a sane thing to do? (1)

SquirrelDeth (1972694) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128562)

How many people in the Yukon actually have internet access??? Other than the ones that live in town? Cell phones are a problem up there, never mind getting internet access.

Sometimes luddites are right (1)

Jazari (2006634) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128096)

Ending the ban on publishing early election results is a great idea: why shouldn't people in BC be able to vote with as much information as possible?

But online voting is a terrible idea. The only certain way to get an incorruptible paper trail is to use Canada's current paper ballot system. Electronic voting is open to all kinds of abuse, and you're stuck trusting some tech vendor that his code secure.

If a bank transaction is found to be corrupted, you can reverse it even months later. What do you do if you find out an election result was corrupted two years later?

Re:Sometimes luddites are right (5, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128230)

Why should people in BC have more information to vote with than those in the Atlantic provinces? No. No ballot box should be opened until all the polling locations have closed.

Voter Fraud ... skyrockets in Canada! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37128098)

My main concern with any voting is how do you prevent voting fraud?

Internet voting means
* dead people can vote
* husbands can vote for their wives
* people in other countries can tamper with the election servers
* no paper trail

Sure, the convenience would would be nice, but how do you ensure that 1 vote for one person without any fraud? You can't.

I actually think we need to stain fingers in our voting too like they do in other countries to ensure only 1 vote happens per live body.

If you can bank online (2)

DDiabolical (902284) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128100)

You can vote online. Direct democracy!

Check Estonia (1)

wouter (103085) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128102)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_voting_in_Estonia [wikipedia.org]

Seems it works out for them. I wouldn't mind.

I have done counting on paper ballots, and don't assume that this is in any way more correct. In the end you are working with people, and over a day of managing voters and counting votes you develop leaders and followers, and most of the time the leaders are affiliated with candidates anyway.

So, personally, I'd prefer Estonian style voting.

Re:Check Estonia (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37128204)

It does not work for us, it was challenged in the Supreme Court, but the Justices did not rise to the height of the problem. They ruled that since to their knowledge there had been no actual election fraud, "theoretical" problems like software to modify the actual vote sent (which was created as a proof-of-concept) and spoof the one reported to you did not warrant new elections nor any updates to the system. There was also a discrepancy in vote allocation between votes cast by paper and cast over the Internet. That, however, might be explained with more tech-savvy people in the winners' camp. I am not saying it cannot be done, but Estonia should not be used as an example on how to do it.

Re:Check Estonia (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128292)

Let's see, Estonia is around 45,000 square kilometers with a population of less than 1.5 million, while Canada is around 10 million square kilometers with a population of over 33 million. Yeah, I don't see any reason why a solution that works great in Estonia can't just be ported over to Canada. The two countries are so similar in size, population and culture.

Online voting cannot be secured (4, Interesting)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128114)

Hell, didn't anyone learn anything from online banking? It can NOT be made secure. Why? Inherently. Because you would have to trust a machine that is not under your control, as the voting agency: The user's computer. And there is no way to verify that his vote is actually his decision. And I'm not even talking about the guy with the gun pointing at his head telling him how to vote.

Here's a scenario that happened in reality a while ago with online banking. Anyone with half a brain should be easily able to tell how to apply it to online voting. We might have to get someone to explain it to a politician, though.

A piece of malware existed (and still exists), that was developed as a reply to the one time pad banks handed out. Since intercepting and using the user's credentials was useless in such an environment, what they did was to manipulate the user's browser to make the user do the malicious transaction himself. What happened was, essentially, this: The malware manipulated (through a BHO) the input and the reply from the bank. The user entered, e.g. that he wanted to transmit 100 bucks to pay his electricity bill. The malware sent that he wants to send 1000 bucks to a mule. The bank replied that those 1000 bucks will be sent to the mule, which the browser displayed as 100 bucks to electronic provider, asking for the OTP-key. The user, thinking he's paying his bill (and everything he saw reflected this) entered the key.

There is NO way the bank (or, in turn, the election committee) could somehow see that the input was manipulated. And in this case, at least it could be seen on the bank statement. How do you expect to at least NOTICE that your vote was altered in a secret ballot?

Re:Online voting cannot be secured (1)

Gideon Wells (1412675) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128310)

Haven't the last few elections in the U.S. have boxes of votes turn up?

Voting is effectively like currency. Online voting would be paper currency based solely on trust. Paper voting is paper money based on a gold standard that is based solely on trust that the government isn't lying about what they have in their reserves. Paper voting just provides the illusion of being more valid. We saw already in 2000 that in a heated enough recount that anything and everything will be used to disqualify votes if it will get one side an advantage.

Re:Online voting cannot be secured (2)

publicworker (701313) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128360)

... And I'm not even talking about the guy with the gun pointing at his head telling him how to vote.

Just this point should be enough to stop people speculating about on-line voting. The rest of your post is absolutely right, but it takes some technical understanding to see the problem and how difficult it is to solve. The guy with a gun ... everyone can understand that. What I don't understand is why this is even being discussed in the first place!

Re:Online voting cannot be secured (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37128424)

Banking can be made quite secure. At my bank, all transaction have to be signed with a disconnected device (DIGIPASS 810). It means you have to manually type the amount of to be transferred and the target account into the digipass and then send the signature to the bank. Even if your computer is insecure, the system remains secure.

Of course, for voting, it would mean that a strong cryptographic identity has to be issued to each citizen,...

Good in consept (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128122)

The idea is great and is the way forward, allowing us to hold many more votes without it really costing anyone time or money (we could actually put ads on the voting site and make the country money if we needed to).

But with the huge concerns raised over electronic voting in the US where it appears moderately possible that that it has been used for fraud over there and at the very least that it would be easy to use for fraud if someone so desired i do not feel comfortable with this development.

Re:Good in consept (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37128302)

The idea is great and is the way forward, allowing us to hold many more votes without it really costing anyone time or money (we could actually put ads on the voting site and make the country money if we needed to).

What a great idea buddy! Canada could really use some of that internet money!

On-line voting is not secret (4, Insightful)

publicworker (701313) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128134)

I cannot see how on-line voting can possibly stand up against the demand for a secret ballot.

If everyone is allowed to vote in their own home then there is no way to guaranty that the ballot is secret. How can you make sure that no one is shoulder-surfing? Or worse, shoulder-surfing with a big stick? With home (on-line) voting bribing and/or threatening voters becomes trivial and we don't want that!

On-line voting sounds like fun, but it doesn't work.

Re:On-line voting is not secret (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37128496)

A lot of elections are already done by post, which is equally vulnerable to shoulder-surfing.

The "secret ballot" was designed for a time when people didn't have small portable cameras, which could easily be used to prove to somebody who was bribing or threatening you that you'd done what they wanted.

A secret ballot online is in fact possible, but it's a bit exotic. The trick is to move the secret from the piece of paper or screen (which is hard to protect) to the inside of your head. You'd register once in a secured location, and get a secret that was shared between you and the computer that was counting your vote. The secret then affects the _meaning_ of your vote - for example, whether an "X" by the name of a candidate represents a vote for them or a vote against them. More here ('Scuse the self-link):
http://edmundintokyo.wordpress.com/2009/12/30/heads-or-tails-voting-a-secret-ballot-in-plain-sight/ [wordpress.com]

Hmmmmmmm (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37128138)

Funny how the Canadian Conservative government is trying to eliminate our deficite in 4 years by fixing problems that don't exist: E-voting, renaming each part of our military, (anything else I am forgetting?)

Re:Hmmmmmmm (1)

Gorshkov (932507) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128322)

Funny how the Canadian Conservative government is trying to eliminate our deficite in 4 years by fixing problems that don't exist: E-voting, renaming each part of our military, (anything else I am forgetting?)

The report in TFA is from the Elections Commissioner, who is NOT a member of the conservative government. Given the frequency with which he pisses off *all* parties, it's pretty safe to say that he's in nobody's pocket.

Voting in Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37128200)

The Canadian voting system is known as "First past the post".
It is horribly Horribly broken. So broken in fact that we now have a "Majority" government elected by %40 of the vote. That's right, %60 of the eligible voters who voted, did not vote for the "Majority" that got total power.
If you have any doubts, go to http://fairvote.ca
If any changes should be made to the Canadian voting system, proportional representation should be implemented first.
 

Problems with online voting. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37128214)

One problem with online voting is that it isn't in a controlled environment. That means that people can be forced to vote something they don't want to vote. The government isn't able to guarantee anonymous voting either, when they can't control the environment in which the vote is cast. Just something to consider....

Fixing the wrong problem (2, Interesting)

choongiri (840652) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128216)

For those who don't know, we just had a federal election up here in May. The conservatives, led by a radical right winger, took absolute power (a majority of seats in the house of commons) with only 39% of the vote. 61% of Canadians voted for more centrist or progressive parties that - for the most part - have a fair amount in common, but because the vote was split between the other parties, the conservatives cleaned up.

The system is utterly broken, but the decline in voting rates over recent decades (mostly in younger voters who recognise how appallingly unjust the system is and are disenfranchised by it) won't improve much with online voting techno-fixes. If you want people to engage in their democracy, we need a proportional representation (or at a minimum a ranked-ballot) voting system that makes people feel like their vote won't be wasted because depending on which party you vote for, or chance of where you live.

This shouldn't be this difficult (1)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128218)

If we transact billions of dollars a second across bank networks and never lose a cent, with audit trails and incredibly high security...we should be able to have electronic elections, across the internet. Why does this have to be so complicated?

Re:This shouldn't be this difficult (1)

Telecommando (513768) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128346)

Where did you get the idea that they never lose a cent?

I have a friend in the banking industry and she once told me that if the public knew how much money the banks lost ervery day due to electronic fraud, we'd all be hiding our money under our matresses and the whole industry would collapse. Billions slip away every day world-wide, usually as small, difficult to verify transactions of under $100. The banks just consider it part of the cost of doing business and pass the added expense along to the consumer.

Re:This shouldn't be this difficult (1)

AvderTheTerrible (1960234) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128362)

The difference is that banks have a huge amount of safeguards built in, as well as the fact that if your system doesn't work right and ends up siphoning money off to who knows where, people will find out about it and shut it down. Banks have a tremendous amount of incentive to make sure their systems work correctly and don't defraud anyone of their savings and holdings when transferred electronically. If the system doesn't work people will take their money to a bank where it does.

Votes are different. The public has a huge interest in making sure the system works as intended, but they really don't have any power to ensure that the system works as intended. The source code is closed, the contracts were negotiated in secret, and who knows what kind of worms and loopholes are in the code to create some kind of fraud. Voting machine companies as well as politicians and political parties could easily work out deals so that certain elections get swung certain ways and certain candidates never get elected. There is no foundation of trust to build on.

And if the public smells something fishy, what option do they have? It's not like they can vote with their citizenship and move to another country the same way they can vote with their wallet and move to another bank.

Electronic voting just has too many dark possibilities entangled with it for me to have any faith in it, and that is why I will never engage in any kind of voting where there is not some kind of physical manifestation of my ballot.

Doesn't hurt to try. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37128228)

Sounds like people are shooting this down before giving it a chance by comparing it to the republican voting machines they have used at voting stations in the US.
I think its something that should be explored. The implications of this being successful would be great. Even though yes the current system does work without a doubt. Voter turnout is terrible in Canada. If you have the ability to vote online, the voter turnout I think would sky rocket. High voter turn out means politician's have to start to work to appease the mass and not just the people who consistently vote for there own party like in the US. I don't think that's as prevalent in Canada though, based on what we saw up here with the NDP. I hope it works, even though a lot of hurdles around fraud to overcome but I think it can be done.

Online Banking (1)

mfh (56) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128240)

Nearly every bank has online banking and you don't read stories about banks getting hacked and money being stolen very often... at least not as often as some who are opposed to electronic or browser-based elections would have you believe.

Just handle it like a bank. The government awards the bank enough votes for each citizen. The government provides emails addresses for each citizen.

Tie the email address to each Social Insurance Number with a random hash and an open key the individual provides, and a password, and a few other password pairs that randomly prompt.

When a person turns the appropriate age, they are allowed to login to the election part of the system, otherwise they get access to all the info they would need about their history as a citizen.

During each election, a person gets one vote they can "spend" per type of candidate they may elect. This vote is closely associated with their registered riding so they can't vote for a candidate outside their registered place of residence.

Now if this was a transparent results-based system, it would be better than the paper system for a number of reasons, namely because it would keep the power to corrupt results out of the local people who are prone to that kind of thing, stealing votes, switching votes, stuffing boxes... etc.

Make the live source code open source. Guard against phishing.

There are reasons this would work. There are things that could make this difficult. But until I hear all the banks screaming that we need to go see them in their brick and mortar buildings, I think online transactions of a secure nature are fine. Put your tinfoil hats away people.

This could be good.

of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37128340)

I think that the elections all over the world chould be on line , this way we will save money , save the trees and saveour time...
End of Tenancy [endoftenancycleaning.com]

We need to learn from the US mistakes (1)

ilsaloving (1534307) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128358)

It could work, but only if there were multiple checks and balances, ways to verify things each step of the way, and have a completely audit trail at the end. That's the best way to prevent fraud, however it would also threaten the right to anonymous voting.

At a minimum, it should be possible to print out a voting reciept with a 2d barcode that has all the relevant voting data. That way if there are questions about voting, you can bring the receipt in and officials can scan it for verification.

There must be a happy medium in there somewhere.

Re:We need to learn from the US mistakes (1)

iisan7 (914423) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128448)

think about what a logistical nightmare the auditing thing would be. do you really think that receipts could be aggregated in any meaningful way? now, if the machines printed a receipt immediately after voting, and deposited it into a box that was held the same way as paper ballots currently are, that might be useful... but what is the substantive difference from doing that versus using machine-readable paper ballots to begin with?

It's Good Enough For Collecting Taxes... (1)

heckler95 (1140369) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128366)

Yes, online voting is a challenge to get right, but definitely not an impossibility and should not be written-off right away. If you showed up a the polls to find that somebody had already signed the little book and voted in your place, you'd do something about it. Wouldn't you do the same with online voting?

There is essentially no verification that the voter is who they claim to be at physical polls - just show up and sign the little book (right next to the easily copied sample signature). I still don't understand how this is considered enough to validate a vote.

Billions of dollars in tax revenue/refunds are processed online each year. One fairly straightforward (and arguably much more robust) way to verify voters is to use tax information. When e-filing taxes, one or two numbers from the previous year's return is required as a form of verification. Centralizing the voting computer(s) into a secure data center like the IRS's consolidates the risk of getting hacked. Yes, it's a single point of failure as opposed to hundreds of thousands of individual electronic or paper voting machines, but it can be better controlled and intrusions can be more easily detected. In the case of trojans on voters' computers stealing individual votes - if your computer is infected, you've probably got bigger things to worry about (like your bank accounts and identity).

All of the usual avenues of buying votes and intimidating voters can and will still happen. I don't think that moving voting to the privacy of one's home (as opposed to the privacy of the voting booth) will have an appreciable effect.

Online voting would also potentially save a significant amount of money in the form of polling location costs, transportation costs, ballot counting costs, lost time/wages for voters, lost productivity for employers who provide time off to vote, etc.

I fully acknowledge that there are inherent challenges, but the potential benefits are also quite significant. If implemented by a group of smart people (academics, motivated by pride in democracy, not corporations motivated by political and fiscal gains) and overseen by anybody who cares to look (Open Source the whole thing) I think there is a great chance of success.

Not the problem (1)

Dragon_Eater (829389) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128382)

Before we get an online voting system we need a political party worth voting for!

I would love to see a preference based voting system and mandatory voting.

  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preferential_voting [wikipedia.org]

So when there are no viable options we can say so instead of not showing up.

"We get results quickly and without fraud." (1)

Xacid (560407) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128400)

"We get results quickly and without fraud."

Without fraud? That's one hell of a lofty claim if I've ever seen one.

Would enable direct democracy? (1)

iisan7 (914423) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128422)

I've been thinking about what systems would be required for direct democracy... if we could make all decisions by some system of popular voting, we could remove the entire legislative branch of government. if the people could spend from a pool of points to pass or veto parts of a budget, I wonder what the result would look like. I agree on all the security and other concerns about such a scheme at this point in history, but if it could be done successfully, an interactive, rapid voting system would remove one of the most significant remaining barriers to a functioning direct democracy.

Re:Would enable direct democracy? (1)

Archtech (159117) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128576)

Here's a clue from history. About the only time an important, active state was ever run by direct democracy was... ancient Athens. As a result of the people voting directly for what they wanted (under the influence of silver-tongued demagogues, of course) the city sent two huge expeditions, with almost every single able-bodied soldier and sailor it could muster, to conquer Syracuse. The invasion was an utter disaster, the army and fleet were wiped out with virtually no survivors, and shortly after Athens itself was conquered by Sparta - which, ironically, led to the end of the experiment in democracy.

Considering that national affairs are now immensely more complex and difficult to understand than they were in those bygone days, and that the average citizen has a much greater range of concerns and interests to distract him from thinking about politics, direct democracy looks like a recipe for chaos. I say this advisedly: it would be even worse than the leadership of the politicians we have doing the job today. And that's not easy to imagine.

Not broke? (1)

jlebrech (810586) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128428)

If only a minority of people vote for a system called democracy then that system is broken as everyone should have their say in some aspects of society even if choosing the leader is of no interest to them. Online voting will give people a more targeted say in what they want to choose.

Dammit People! (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128488)

We don't need to follow the Americans in everything! Isn't it bad enough that we elected Harper again?

Fixing voter turn out (1)

Nuitari The Wiz (1123889) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128490)

Instead of spending so much money on the hopeless white elephant of online voting, they should just give out 50 to 100$ cash at the polling station to everyone who actually votes.

Even an online voting system where the whole software stack is open source, hardware is standard commodity hardware, with feeds of the votes cast provided live to all political parties, and with the software stack and hardware specs provided to the parties and independent observers, it would still be impossible to protect against the gazillions of issues on the voter's computers that could still affect the results.

Not broken? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37128520)

> Is it worth trying to fix a system that isn't broken?"

Well, I admit it would make me vote, which I don't do if I have to go somewhere in a waiting line. I would love to see online votes and I'm not alone.

Why? Who gains, and what? (1)

Archtech (159117) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128524)

'The head of the agency in charge of federal elections says it's time to modernize Canada's elections, including testing online voting and ending a ban on publishing early election results.'

Why?

Although it was no doubt intended as such, "modernizing" is not a reason. Quite the contrary: "if it ain't broke, don't fix it".

As far as I can see, the only people who stand to gain are the manufacturers of electronic voting machines and the companies who sell, support, maintain, and otherwise profit from them.

What could possibly go wrong? (1)

UnresolvedExternal (665288) | more than 2 years ago | (#37128556)

What could possibly go wrong?

....Ireland [wikipedia.org] .....

We screw things up so the rest of the world doesn't have to (cheers for the bail-out, we owe you a pint or two)

Braziliam E-Vote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37128570)

see the example of Brazil, who does electronic voting for some years

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elections_in_Brazil

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...