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Verifiable Elections Via Cryptography

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the but-suppose-they-don't-want-to-make-cheating-impossible? dept.

409

An anonymous reader writes, "Cryptographer David Chaum and his research team have invented a new voting protocol which allows voters to verify that their vote has been correctly cast and counted. This is enabled using a surprisingly low-tech technique of cryptographic secret sharing. The secret — your marked ballot — is split into two halves using a hole punch" You take half home and can verify later via a Web interface how your particular ballot was counted.

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409 comments

Start your biding... (0)

aprilsound (412645) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730383)

I'll sell my vote for $500, you can even verify it with this hole thingy.

Re:Start your biding... (1, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730391)

All employees are required to vote for the boss' favourite party, bring receipts on Monday or find a new job.

Re:Start your biding... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16730425)

Ill bring my lawyer instead, i think ill looking into expensive homes with beutyful senery.

Re:Start your biding... (2, Informative)

buswolley (591500) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730913)

Yeah... This is one reason why we have a SECRET BALLOT. Its hard to sell your vote if you haven't got a receipt.

Re:Start your biding... (1)

finkployd (12902) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730723)

You just KNOW Unions will be doing this.

Probably some churches too.

Finkployd

Re:Start your biding... (1)

Sparhawk2k (680674) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730811)

How is that any different from absentee voting? Bring the ballot the day before the election or find a new job. That way the boss can even verify it beforehand. Then take it from you and mail it so you can't change anything? I don't hear about it happening too much though...

This system prevents that problem (3, Informative)

billstewart (78916) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730883)

David Chaum [wikipedia.org] 's done a lot of work on the topic of secure voting, and this is a really cool simplification of some of his earlier work. It's nice and low-tech, and still does the job. If you go read the Punchscan.org FAQ [wikipedia.org] , the second item is about preventing coercion and verifiable-vote-buying.


Of course, this doesn't prevent traditional vote-tampering methods from working, like

  • TV commercials scaring voters about the other parties, or
  • politicians making bogus promises, or
  • dead people voting (as long as people with their names show up to vote), or
  • election departments not providing enough voting machines or ballots at heavily-one-party-dominated precincts, or
  • election officials invalidating registrations of people in the wrong party, or
  • police harassing motorists in black areas on the way to the polls, etc.
But at least it's better than Diebold.

Re:Start your biding... (1)

KillerCow (213458) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730417)

I'll sell my vote for $500, you can even verify it with this hole thingy.


$500? Sorry bud, if you want to keep your job, you will vote the way that the company tells you to.

Re:Start your biding... (1)

Planesdragon (210349) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730725)

$500? Sorry bud, if you want to keep your job, you will vote the way that the company tells you to.

Can you say "unlawful termination?" I knew you could.

All it takes is one employee willing to fork over the $250 to file a court case, and they get to own the small business they work for. Governments and publicly traded businesses already have pretty strong employment rules against that, leaving only the "small business" as a bastion of that kind of stupidity.

Re:Start your biding... (1)

Feyr (449684) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730769)

i don't think that's the major problem you would face. it would be more like an unwritten, never formulated "law" where you have to vote X or you could find yourself passed over for promotions, given the shit jobs and all that to make YOU quit, no unlawful termination business, and virtually impossible to prove

Re:Start your biding... (1)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730897)

How exactly do they know what you voted for then? They can't require that you show them the receipts.

Re:Start your biding... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730419)

Exactly. Voter-verifiable voting is not the issue. Ideally, you want to be able to verify your vote but not prove your verified result to a third party. This is a very difficult problem, and I don't know of any solutions.

Re:Start your biding... (1)

KillerCow (213458) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730459)

Voter-verifiable voting is not the issue. Ideally, you want to be able to verify your vote but not prove your verified result to a third party. This is a very difficult problem, and I don't know of any solutions.


The solution is to physically see your physical vote dropping into a one-way tamper-proof container.

Re:Start your biding... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16730779)

The solution is to physically see your physical vote dropping into a one-way tamper-proof container.

Diebold has already thought of this! [diebold.com]

Re:Start your biding... (1)

majutsu (1018766) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730473)

Actually, I'd like to be able to verify my vote. And if it's made into federal law that it's illegal to force anyone to show their vote, I think 99% of people would be safe. That margin of error is much better than what we have now. I don't get why people, when looking to upgrade from a severely flawed system, think that only an upgrade that is 100% perfect would suffice.

Re:Start your biding... (1)

ShadowBlasko (597519) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730639)

Says on my Social Security Card that the card is not to be used for ID purposes, yet I am forced to show it to register a car in Ohio.

(No, additional ID will not suffice according to the Batavia, Ohio BMV)

Just because something is illegal does not stop it from being abused on a large level.

Or are you not from the USA? That might explain you missing the last 6 years here.

Re:Start your biding... (1)

majutsu (1018766) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730727)

Says on my Social Security Card that the card is not to be used for ID purposes, yet I am forced to show it to register a car in Ohio.


Is that warning an actual federal law or is just toothless fingerwagging?

Oftentimes, we underestimate the power of a well-enforced law. Our postal service is so secure relative to other countries because the laws passed on postal fraud ensure anyone tampering with our mail gets a stiff penalty, and even postal carriers get pounded by it making it effective. And I have seen postal services in other first world countries (Germany, Italy, England, Spain) where the level of reliability doesn't even compare because the penalties/enforcement is laughable.

OTOH, if you are talking about creating a braindead law to enforce problems that inherently can't be solved by laws, like spam, I agree.

Re:Start your biding... (1)

pkvon (899533) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730895)

> And I have seen postal services in other first world countries (Germany, Italy, England, Spain) where the level of reliability doesn't even compare because the penalties/enforcement is laughable.

I'm living in germany, they are pretty stiff. Never heard of a lost letter or package.

If you open a letter not addressed to you, you will get up to 5 years prison time and/or cash penalty.

Heres the original law text.
(1) Wer unbefugt einer anderen Person eine Mitteilung über Tatsachen macht, die dem Post- oder Fernmeldegeheimnis unterliegen und die ihm als Inhaber oder Beschäftigtem eines Unternehmens bekanntgeworden sind, das geschäftsmäßig Post- oder Telekommunikationsdienste erbringt, wird mit Freiheitsstrafe bis zu fünf Jahren oder mit Geldstrafe bestraft.
from http://dejure.org/gesetze/StGB/206.html [dejure.org]

"Illegal" doesn't scare criminals... (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730677)

if it's made into federal law that it's illegal to force anyone to show their vote

That's retarded. If it can be done, someone will do it.

Trust me, you are far better off with a system where "they" can't know that you didn't vote against them. They may still break your legs anyhow, but they'll never know how you voted.

BTW, I think breaking your legs is against the law too. Lots of things are against the law.

Laws solve no problems. Laws only provide the means to legally punish offenders, if they are caught.

Re:Start your biding... (5, Informative)

aprilsound (412645) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730479)

Actualy if we all went and RTFA first, we would see that they have solved the problem. You can't prove how you voted to someone who didn't see the other half of the ballot you voted with.

Unless the ballot forms are random ... (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730553)

You can't prove how you voted to someone who didn't see the other half of the ballot you voted with.

Unless the voter is expected to write in the various options (that's stupid), or the ballot forms are randomly generated (that's expensive), it would be easy for anyone who voted to check whether your receipt matched his/her's.

Unfortunately, from the video, I cannot tell which approach they are advocating.

Re:Unless the ballot forms are random ... (1)

aprilsound (412645) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730615)

They don't need to be very random, just have as many variants as contenders. So there is a ballot version where each candidate gets to be 'A'.

That also takes care of biases towards the person at the top.

And numbered non-sequentially. (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730731)

Remember, the ballots are numbered. So the printing process has to run off X variations where X is the sum of every candidate running for every office listed on that ballot.

And the ballots cannot be numbered sequentially. Or it would just be a matter of checking what version of the ballot was in that sequence. This can be done with friends and family who are already going to vote the way you do. Just stagger their voting throughout the day.

This system also depends upon a computer to remember which windows were associated with which letters on which ballot number. Any failure in that and these ballots cannot be hand-counted or verified in any other fashion.

This is stupid. Rather than go through all of that, why not just focus on getting the basics done and done right? Leave "verified" voting until after we've managed to identify who can vote and that their votes are actually counted.

Re:Unless the ballot forms are random ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16730871)

Many counties require that a sample ballot be sent out before the election that looks just like the real ballot so a voter can get an idea of what to expect and ask questions before hand if necessary. Having randomized ballots would drive up costs quite a bit not to mention be confusing to some voters.

Re:Unless the ballot forms are random ... (1)

YU Nicks NE Way (129084) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730621)

It's not at all expensive to randomly produce two separate forms and shuffle them together. That's enough to take care of the most straightforward forms of ballot fraud. The system still seems defeatable to me, but it is not stupid, and does take care of the worst of the problems implicit in receipt-based voting.

Re:Start your biding... (1)

Asm-Coder (929671) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730603)

Wrong, your employer could visit the site. Don't say "you could have the page disappear after one visit," because then your boss will say you can't check the site.

Re:Start your biding... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16730753)

Huh? Did you read the article?

Re:Start your biding... (1)

JohnnyDanger (680986) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730671)

From the FAQ at the site:

2. Don't paper receipts and online checking facilitate vote selling or coercion of voters?

No. Whichever of the two sheets of a Punchscan ballot form--top or bottom-the voter keeps as a receipt, it does not reveal the votes: the top sheet does not reveal what letters were visible through the holes in it; and the bottom sheet does not reveal which letter was next to which candidate name on the top sheet. What is displayed online is just a copy of the receipt the voter keeps. Thus, short of illegally making a photograph in the booth, there is no way for voters to convince others of who they voted for.

http://punchscan.org/faq-general.php#1 [punchscan.org]

Re:Start your biding... (1)

Mydron (456525) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730857)

Okay, so you check whether your choice was correctly entered. You voted B and lo, the website shows you that you voted for B. You know that B corresponds to Coke -- vote verified. Phew.

But wait, what have you really verified? Only you know what B corresponded to... for all we know, thanks to a bug in the software (malicious or otherwise), the computed tally counted your vote B as a vote for Pepsi. We have to trust that the computer actually tallied the vote properly. We have to trust that the computer correctly recorded the ballot's mapping from letter-choice to candidate.

Electronic voting is an answer in search of a problem. Why not have regular paper ballots and let a scanner scan the ballot as it enters the ballot box -- use machine vision to count the ballot (or mark it as questionable). The computer can give us a preliminary count and if necessary (or to audit) we can always fall back to recounting each and every paper ballot. I guess the problem is that it's not as sexy as touch screens.

Re:Start your biding... (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730593)

How about a hash on the selections in combination with a passphrase.

Sorta PGP/GPG signed and encrypted.

Re:Start your biding... (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730873)

Vote verification can be performed only in your local library computer. Need to show ID to get to the terminal. And you can verify the vote of only the name mentioned in the ID. But would people go through the hazzle to verify? But some will do. And the threat of verification would remove the incentive to try to hack the elections.

Re:Start your biding... (1)

Vexorian (959249) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730917)

They could really easily fix this. The machine could give you 2 codes, one gives you your vote and the other one gives you the exact opposite vote.

Re:Start your biding... (1)

ben there... (946946) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730471)

What's worse:

Votes that may be bought, but if the buyer is successful enough to sway an election, it's completely obvious to all parties involved?

Or, votes that may be electronically flipped, without anyone even knowing it happened?

Re:Start your biding... (1)

biocute (936687) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730659)

No no, what is better:

Vote, and get stuck with a bad government for four years, or

Get paid to vote, and get stuck with a bad government for four years

Re:Start your biding... (1)

wwwrench (464274) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730491)

Yeah, I haven't RTFA but it sure sounds like snakeoil. You can't have a scheme which allows each individual to verify their vote and do so in a way which doesn't allow them to prove how they voted (and thus sell their vote).

But one could imagine more robust schemes which allow voters to verify the total tally of the vote without allowing any individual to prove how they voted. But I seem to remember that it has actually been proven that even this is impossible. Or perhaps it is just believed to be inpossilbe (to have a voting scheme which is both verifyable and secure from vote selling). Anyone have a reference or know more?

Re:Start your biding... (1)

aprilsound (412645) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730583)

Here's how it works:
Top sheet of paper says, "Do you want A. The Simpleton B. The Communist", but on the next ballot they are reversed, e.g. "Do you want B. The Simpleton A. The Communist"
The bottom sheet just has the options "A or B" you mark one and keep the bottom half that just shows you voted for 'B'. No one is going to pay you/beat you up for voting for an arbitrary letter.

You can then go home and lookup your ID number and it will show you the bottom half, again confirming that you voted for 'B'. But, only you (and the machine) know who 'B' was.

Re:Start your biding... (0)

wwwrench (464274) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730667)

> Here's how it works:
> Top sheet of paper says, "Do you want A. The Simpleton B. The Communist", but on the next ballot they are reversed, > e.g. "Do you want B. The Simpleton A. The Communist"
> The bottom sheet just has the options "A or B" you mark one and keep the bottom half that just shows you voted for
> 'B'. No one is going to pay you/beat you up for voting for an arbitrary letter.
>
> You can then go home and lookup your ID number and it will show you the bottom half, again confirming that you voted > for 'B'. But, only you (and the machine) know who 'B' was.

No, I disagree that that system works (again, I haven't RTFA except for a quick scan, but it is a long standing problem).

Basically, the method you describe only lets me verify that the ballot was thrown into some machine with the left side marked or the right side marked. It then counts the vote as being for Al Gore or George Bush based on some machine which matches my ballot (left or right side), with the machine's knowledge of whether left or right means Al Gore or George Bush. But how do I know that the cheating doesn't happen at this stage? It would be very easy for the machine to count all votes as being for George Bush regardless of what the bottom half of the ballot says (because the bottom half of the ballot has been destroyed).

This is just a more complicated voting system with the same problems (lack of verifyability)
Which gets back to my original post...

MOD PARENT UP! (0)

gorkmaster (1023283) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730741)

(S)he is right, this is complete snakeoil, and the discussion thus far is inane.

Re:Start your biding... (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730793)

And how can you ensure that cheating doesnt occur using current methods?

If its done by a machine its safer as there is less handling by humans and there is a paper (or source code) trail.

Re:Start your biding... (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730679)

But then you can't verify that your vote was counted for the correct candidate, making the entire idea pointless. You can't have a secret ballot with verification, its just not possible.

Re:Start your biding... (1)

Tharkban (877186) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730695)

...and the person that reverse engineers/has access to and leaks the random number generator/sequence.
I'm not sure whether that's an acceptable risk or not. I've been an election judge, I'm not sure I would trust the system not to have leaks...I certainly had enough access that I could have take such a sequence had it been used. Whomever has access to the ballots before the voters use them, can write down the mapping.

Re:Start your biding... (1)

Asm-Coder (929671) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730557)

Funny yes. But he has a good point. The point of not being able to verify your ballot after submission is to prevent vote-mongering. Besides which, what do I do if I discover I voted wrong? Nothing. What if mine was counted wrong? (don't know how that works, more privacy invasion I imagine) I suppose I could call and ask for a recount (2000 anyone?) but, they can't even verify that mine was the one counted wrong. Verify with extremely high assurance that all votes were counted properly Really pointless and dangerous if you ask me.

Yes, it could cause more problems than it solves (1)

wasted (94866) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730743)

I agree. If your vote was counted wrong, there isn't anything that can be done about it. If you believed your vote was counted wrong and it could be changed if in error, there would be the problem of folks claiming their vote was counted wrong to tie up the process of acting on the election results. For example, if vote verification was implemented today in California, and people had the ability to contest the election, Proposition 85 (which would require parental notification 48 hours prior to performing an abortion on a minor) would never be resolved. If the proposition didn't pass, extreme right-to-lifers would contend that their votes were miscounted just to tie up the system. If it passed, the extreme pro-choicers would contend that their vote was miscounted. To avoid this possible debaucle (sp?), challenging votes cannot be allowed, thus, what is the point of verifiable voting?

Of course, I could be missing something - please enlighten me if so.

Re:Start your biding... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16730567)

I'll sell my vote for $500, you can even verify it with this hole thingy.

Not if you want to keep your job, you won't...

Re:Start your biding... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16730573)

I'll sell my vote for $500, you can even verify it with this hole thingy.

I'll give you $1000 if you vote democratic. Just send me your address.

Thanks for your support.
Osama^H^H^H^H^H

Re:Start your biding... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16730887)

I knew Republicans were stupid, but stupid enough to use an OS that can't even backspace properly? Learn something every day, I guess.

you can't verify the vote with this system (1)

JimBobJoe (2758) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730613)

I'll sell my vote for $500, you can even verify it with this hole thingy.

The slideshow is a little opaque, but the concept is you can't. The only way you can tell how the voter voted is by having both pieces of paper. (Look closer at the paper being shredded. While there is a mark on it, it was the piece of paper the voter kept that indicated whether that mark was for A or B.)

Their website has a .pdf on it that explains how it works [punchscan.org] better than I can...particularly because I'm still trying to wrap my head around it.

Re:Start your biding... (1)

mattwarden (699984) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730647)

If you're talking about a vote in the US elections, you have severely overpriced it.

Re:Start your biding... (1)

victim (30647) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730669)

You can have a system where a person can verify their vote, but not prove to a third party that they voted a particular way. Consider... each ballot has a sequential number on it. The voter remembers (or writes down) this number when they vote. Later they can look up their ballot and see that it was tallied correctly.

Since the valid ballot numbers are known you could just sift through for a ballot and claim it is yours if you want to collect your voting selling payment, but then the vote buyers would know that and it would be no proof at all.

The problem is, that if your vote was not tallied correctly then you have no way of proving that either. You can claim ballot 3939 should have voted for candidate XYZ, but then anyone could do that. That limits its usefulness as fraud countermeasure.

A nice side effect, anyone can check the count by just checking all the ballots and adding them up for themselves.

The more I think about this, the better I like it. It allows "the people" to audit the election for accuracy. Anyone can get together a body of voters and check for problems.

On the other hand. People are dicks and I'm sure some of them would pick opposition ballots, claim them as their own and claim they were misread.

It is also so simple that anyone with a scantron type system could do it and there would not be room for massive profits so no one will lobby the local election offices and it would never be deployed.

I appear to have a case of election grumpiness already.

Re:Start your biding... (1)

linuxmop (37039) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730693)

I'll post without reading the article, reading the FAQ, or viewing the sample video; you can even verify it by my stupid comment.

RTFA.

Re:Start your biding... (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730699)

I'll sell my vote for $500, you can even verify it with this hole thingy

Maybe you should RTFA. The receipt can't be used to prove your vote to a third party.

Re:Start your biding... (1)

mochan_s (536939) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730757)

The hole thingy only says if your vote was counted or not as you voted.

So, just a yes or no answer.

You'd ask the webserver to send you a text and you do some computation with your portion of it. Then, your computer tells you yes or no.

Re:Start your biding... (1)

X-treme-LLama (178013) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730847)

I'm posting this all the way up here because it seems like most people have missed the entire point..

You can't verify what candidate you voted for, only which letters you picked. I'll say again, all you can verify is that when you voted, you chose: A, B, B, A, that the vote was recorded as: A, B, B, A.

As long as the letters are shuffled randomly (sounds like they are) then there is no way to prove which candidate you voted for, because since they are random no one can prove that A was bush or gore on your specific ballot.

Is everyone so logic-impaired around here?

Re:Start your biding... (1)

NuGeo (824600) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730861)

Yeah, like one person's vote is worth $500. Or like an employer could get away with demanding to see your receipt lest you be fired.

No system can ever be perfect. You have to weigh out the possible downsides with the advantages. I'd rather know that my vote counted rather than worry about the unlikeliness of a receipt system being abused by a few people who sell their votes.

Unacceptable. (0, Troll)

Pendersempai (625351) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730393)

One goal of the modern election regime is to prevent vote-buying and similar kinds of fraud. One of the best safeguards to prevent it is by making it impossible to prove to anyone which way you voted after you leave the poll; that way, if someone tries to buy your vote, you can take his money and, vote your conscience, and he'll never know the difference. With this method, the vote-buyer could collect cryptographic stubs for verification before disbursing payment. That's why so many states have restrictions on who can cast absentee ballots: so you can't prove to the vote-buyer which way your vote was cast.

Re:Unacceptable. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16730429)

Doesn't this mean the calls for 'verifiable electronic voting' are impossible to satisfy?

If provided a paper receipt, then you stand the possibility of someone you have sold your vote to demanding to see it.

Re:Unacceptable. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16730487)

Yes. Voting should be verifiable inside the poll booth (insofar as this is possible with before the count happens), but after that it is extremely important that it is not verifable.

Votes being verifiable with a web form is pointless anyway. What if the form works perfectly but votes are lost/stolen at the counting stage? Electronic vote counting is just a bad idea.

Re:Unacceptable. (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730445)

It would be interesting to come up with a receipt system that could be used to prove that you voted for whoever you wanted to prove you voted for. For instance, a square card, rotate it 90 degrees and you voted Democratic instead of Republican, or flip it upside down and rotate 180 for third party. As long as you remember which way was up, you'd be able to figure out who you voted for.

Of course, using such a system where the machine gives candidate A 100000 votes and candidate B -5000 votes doesn't help much, since they'll claim you've rotated your vote 90 degrees and cast an imaginary ballot.

Re:Unacceptable. (1)

dman123 (115218) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730455)

You are of course correct in principle, but not necessarily for this method. It seems to allow the ballots to be mixed so that picking the first choice on one is not the same as the first choice on another. The vote-buyer will never know how you voted. (Watch the flash movie at the link.) However, this presents a problem just as bad as you describe... the non-secret ballot. The vote counting people now know how you voted. Well, they would if they tracked the ID number that you keep. That's unacceptable.

Re:Unacceptable. (1)

aprilsound (412645) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730509)

The vote counting people now know how you voted. Well, they would if they tracked the ID number that you keep. That's unacceptable.
I think the point of the paper is that you can just have a box full of these things and let the voter pick one at random so they don't know what your ID number is. They could log access to the web site, but you could always go to the library.

Re:Unacceptable. (1)

Aim Here (765712) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730643)

I dunno about Leftpondia, but us UKians have had unsecret "secret" ballots for decades. Every ballot paper has a serial code written on it, and when you turn up to vote, they write that serial code beside your name in a ledger and hand you your ballot paper. There have been reports by vote counters, going back 60 years now, of Special Branch officers (our secret political police AND the people who look into electoral fraud) removing the boxes of left wing candidates for further examination. They then have 6 months to match the names with the ballot papers and hand the data to MI5 or whoever, before the ballots are destroyed.

Strangely enough, the Nazi party used to hold referenda with the same tactic. However, the Nazis were circumspect enough to put THEIR serial numbers in invisible ink (who'd have thought the Gestapo were more subtle than the British police force?), and the consequences of voting wrong were more severe (i.e. being hauled off to concentration camps instead of mysteriously "losing" your government job).

Re:Unacceptable. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16730863)

There have been reports by vote counters, going back 60 years now, of Special Branch officers (our secret political police AND the people who look into electoral fraud) removing the boxes of left wing candidates for further examination.

This seems implausible because the ballots and the ballot stubs (which match voters to ballots) are all delivered to the government [parliament.uk] after the election. They don't need to play silly games with secret police.

Re:Unacceptable. (2, Interesting)

mrcaseyj (902945) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730523)

I was thinking that it was an important goal that votes not be verifiable by vote buyers or extortionists like bosses and husbands, but then I realized that the current absentee system has no secrecy anyway. In my area I'm not even allowed to vote any other way but absentee. Absentee balots could ruin the election even for people who don't vote absentee.


By the way, why are so few posts getting modded up the last couple of days? In the article about melting arctic ice only 7 out of 250 posts got modded above the noise of the +2 posts and only 2 got modded to +4 or 5.

Re:Unacceptable. (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730879)

I should be due for some mod points but I havent gotten any for awhile.
Maybe mod points arent being handed out?

Re:Unacceptable. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16730537)

You obviously haven't read the article, you grassfucking idiot.

try watching the demo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16730555)

they explain that it's impossible to determine how somebody voted without the other half of the ballot.

http://punchscan.org/demos/election/ [punchscan.org]

Re:Unacceptable. (1)

kaiserdave (1023277) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730579)

It looks like the receipt cannot be used to prove which candidates were selected. The only thing that is verified is that the vote was not changed after the vote is submitted, sort of like a fingerprint of the ballot instead of a simple copy, but I haven't read the details yet. http://punchscan.org/faq-general.php#1 [punchscan.org]

Re:Unacceptable. (1)

JimBobJoe (2758) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730801)

Interestingly, paper voting trails on DRE machines can cause a similar issues.

Here in Ohio, when the voters credentials are verified, the voter is issued an authority to vote slip which has a number (first one of the day is 1001, next one is 1002, et cetera.) The number on the slip is written in the pollbook.

The pollworker would put the authority to vote slip in an envelope stuck to the side of a machine. That was ok, because even though we knew John Smith was issued slip #1055, and that he voted on machine #2, the older machines just printed up a receipt with total votes cast.

The new machines, in contrast, have a complete auditing paper trail. *Hopefully* pollworkers will not associate each authority to vote slip with the machine the ballot was cast on, because then you'd know exactly who voted when. (I'm told we just insert the authority to vote slip in one or two envelopes that are not associated with a machine.) However, I think the paper verification does print a time stamp at the beginning of the vote session, which would imply that if you examined the pollbooks and the machine rolls from the 3 or 4 machines in the precinct, you probably could figure out how someone voted. (If there is no time stamp, I guess it's more or less impossible to figure out how someone voted except within a range of voters.)

Now for the Tough part. (1)

jimbo3123 (320148) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730397)

This is exactly the kind of thing that is necessary for a verifiable and secure system, the toughest part will be winning-over the public though.

Re:Now for the Tough part. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16730435)

As other posters have mentioned, use of this system virtually guarantees that vote buying (or worse) would occur.

Re:Now for the Tough part. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16730497)

Except other posters haven't RTFA :)

from the FAQ :
  Don't paper receipts and online checking facilitate vote selling or coercion of voters?

        No. Whichever of the two sheets of a Punchscan ballot form--top or bottom#8212the voter keeps as a receipt, it does not reveal the votes: the top sheet does not reveal what letters were visible through the holes in it; and the bottom sheet does not reveal which letter was next to which candidate name on the top sheet. What is displayed online is just a copy of the receipt the voter keeps. Thus, short of illegally making a photograph in the booth, there is no way for voters to convince others of who they voted for. (See the "Voter Protection" section for related issues.)

Re:Now for the Tough part. (1)

Dr. Eggman (932300) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730519)

Bah, the public is a push over. How do you think we got into our electronic voting situation as it is? We've already broadcast all the fears of electronic voting. All we need is a couple "hanging chads" style incidents involving electronic voting systems then have some "experts" (marketers) present this solution to the public shortly after. They'll all be clamoring for it and it'll be installed in time for the 2008 election.

Violates usual democratic principle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16730403)

Usually it is desirable that the voter cannot prove what he voted for to prevent that voters could sell their votes. If a voter can verify that his vote was counted as a vote for one particular party, then he can prove to the buyer that the vote was successfully bought.

Re:Violates usual democratic principle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16730539)

Vote buying already happens and you know what vote buying is a federal offense. So if your boss or someone tells you to vote a certain way or else just fucking report them. Even better try to get witnesses or get it on tape.

Seriously every time someone comes up with a system for vote verifiability people always scream about vote buying. Look we currently have a system where aren't even sure our votes even count. That to me is a bigger threat than some idiot trying to hand out $20 bills for votes.

Connection between counts and databases? (1)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730407)

What I have to ask is how do you verify that the database and actual count tally? A receipt is nice and fine, and a database is nice (assuming you are not connected to your number in anyway other than the receipt, eg. it's just the nth number person you happen to be, polling at that time) but how can you really be certain that the official count has anything to do with the database contents? This always bugs me about electronic voting - there's no obvious pile disparity between votes for each candidate. You can't observe the numeracy of the thing. Also, this won't stop other dirty tricks like voter caging etc. Thoughts?

Re:Connection between counts and databases? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16730697)

Also, this won't stop other dirty tricks like voter caging etc. Thoughts?

Yes. What the fuck is "voter caging"???

What the ... ? (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730437)

Okay, I've watched the video and read the article.

I still don't understand it. Why does their video have two different types of hand writing on it? Is the voter supposed to write in all the options when s/he votes?

What's to stop someone from getting a copy of the form and threatening you unless you vote the way they want you to? Unless every form is different (is this the part why the hand writing is different?), any attempt to match the vote online can be used to verify that you voted the way you were told to.

They've completely missed the point... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16730469)

I always thought that a major point of a secret ballot was to ensure that no-one would ever be able to give proof that they (or anyone else) voted a certain way. The whole 'secret' part of the secret ballot was implemented for a reason - to make vote buying and selling impossible. Otherwise we're right on the way back to giving undue influence to employers, union leaders, whomever your bogeyman of choice may be, etc. Show me your voting card on the way in to work, or to get needed supplies from the food bank, or to receive your 'free' voucher for a happy meal...

Yet again we're introducing yet another fatal flaw into the voting process through this headlong rush into electronic voting. Paper, pencils, and marking an 'X' are an elegant and well tested solution. Reducing (unnecessary) complexity can rarely turn out ill...

-srw

comptetition (1)

ipooptoomuch (808091) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730483)

I will sell my vote for $100. Lets just me more direct with this political corruption :D

Re:comptetition (1)

Firehed (942385) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730661)

Well chances are at this point that your vote is just being tossed, ignored, destroyed, miscounted, or spoofed. Might as well make a few bucks since if it doesn't mean anything anyways.

Verifying a single vote was never a problem... (1)

Gunslinger47 (654093) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730485)

Verifying a single vote was never the problem. Verifying the vote is. In the US, at least.

Thank Goodness (-1, Troll)

edbarbar (234498) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730493)

Maybe the press and liberals will stop complaining when they lose elections, and start focusing on the real issue. Voter fraud brought about by liberals.

Re:Thank Goodness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16730531)

What is the proof of responsibility and how valid is it?

Re:Thank Goodness (1)

Watson Ladd (955755) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730701)

Like counting people barred from voting as part of the population in redistricting calculations isn't cheating? Or imposing burdensome ID requirements? Or barring people from voting on the basis of *similar* names to those of felons? Or changing the distribution of voting booths to make your supporters able to vote faster then your opponents supporters? Or how about confusing ballots? When it comes to elections, the appearance of impropriety is improper itself. Or what about approving voting machines which fail to meet basic security standards? Are any of these actions ever part of an ideal election?

Re:Thank Goodness (1)

edbarbar (234498) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730837)

I love it, the appearance of impropriety is improper itself.

How about the willful manipulation of the appearance of impropriety is a severe attack on our democracy, and should be viewed as seditious.

Really, all this stuff is in the noise, and is a complete distraction. Consider how much more variation there is due to the weather or the press incorrectly calling the election for Gore.

The real wackos think someone might actually rig the voting machines. As if a political party would have so much stake in one election/candidate they would be willing to risk destruction of the entire party. Jeez.

OBLIGATORY CHECKLIST FORM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16730507)

Hello,

Youre post advocates a change to the electronic voting system....

You suggest:

[ ] An open source system
[ ] Going back to paper ballots
[ ] A paper trail
[X] A receipt that a voter can take home
[ ] A poll test

This wont work because:

[ ] It will be hacked
[X] Someone with sufficient funding can buy votes
[X] Voters wont take the time to do this
[X] Costs too much
[ ] It benifits Republicans
[ ] No way to verify code on the disk is code that was open sourced

You are:

[X] an ivory tower elitist who doesnt understand the problem at hand
[ ] a criminal mastermind
[ ] Stupid

Re:OBLIGATORY CHECKLIST FORM (1)

marx (113442) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730597)

[X] Someone with sufficient funding can buy votes
RTFA FFS. Retard.

From the article. In the middle of the only fucking paragraph on the page:

This receipt does not allow voters to prove how they voted to others

Re:OBLIGATORY CHECKLIST FORM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16730651)

but they can if they keep both halves. it seems as if the shredding step is voluntary, so i guess there's a way to sell votes and to coerce people to vote a certain way. in both cases, you just hang on to both halves and show them to your buyer or coercer.

Re:OBLIGATORY CHECKLIST FORM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16730921)

but they can if they keep both halves. it seems as if the shredding step is voluntary, so i guess there's a way to sell votes and to coerce people to vote a certain way. in both cases, you just hang on to both halves and show them to your buyer or coercer.

Duh! If you keep both halves, you can prove that you didn't vote! as one half is need by the polling station to be counted.

HBO's "Hacking Democracy" available on Google Vide (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16730587)

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-723679120 7107726851&q=hacking+democracy

Government (1)

Lord_Dweomer (648696) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730631)

Doesn't this method require a government willing to hold itself up to scrutiny? I love the fact that people are coming up with excellent ways to ensure a secure vote, but the fact of the matter is, nothing has been done to fix the existing holes that have been found in the voting machines that are being used, even after widespread media coverage. New methods of voting aren't going to solve things, getting the existing government out of power so that we can actually implement these ideas will.

Very Pointless Technqiue (1)

xquark (649804) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730691)

Many people here have pointed out the uselessness of this method, not to add the
social pressures it may cause in communities or groups where things have a
to happen a certain way if you know what I mean...

To add to that I can see no place where cryptography is used other than possibly
trying to determine the probability that on any particular ballot card Party A
was on the right or the left, thats just simple probability theory nothing else.

which is precisely what we DON'T want (0, Redundant)

caudron (466327) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730703)

If you can show how you specifically voted outside the voting booth, then you can sell your vote or (arguably) worse can have your vote coerced away from you.

You want to see how you voted, then print a paper ballot from the machine that shows---IN PLAIN TEXT---what your vote was. Place that paper in the ballot box. The paper is anonymous. You don't carry home a receipt. If the vote needs to be recounted by hand any volunteer with an 85 or higher I.Q. can be employed to do a manual recount based on the plain text version to compare against to ballot box's count of bar codes. If they don't agree, something went awry.

This is simple stuff. We don't need encryption, web 2.0 interfaces, juggling monkeys, or moon rock sculptures! We need 3 things:

1) a way for the computer to count fast (barcode or some such)
2) a way for the voter to see what he's voted for (plain text on the same bar coded ballot)
3) a way to do a manual recount for verification (see "plain text" comment above

Tom Caudron
http://tom.digitalelite.com/ [digitalelite.com]

It is true... (0, Flamebait)

petrus4 (213815) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730709)

...that it is almost certain that American voting authorities would have no interest whatsoever in adopting measures to ensure the integrity of the electronic voting process.

Electronic voting has fairly demonstrably been adopted for the express purpose of more easily committing fraud.

Anyone who is interested in ensuring genuinely honest voting should, in my opinion, advocate a return to non-electronic paper voting, with the vote counting being performed in a completely open, monitored, and transparent manner.

Wow... this is too easy (1)

Rooked_One (591287) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730787)

I mean really... its too easy to be adopted... and you would able to have recounts... no go from the gitgo

Good solution, wrong problems (1)

finkployd (12902) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730797)

It looks like they addressed the sticky problem of having a husband/boss/union demanding you vote a certain way then verifying it. Check it out before freaking out over this scenario.

However they solved the wrong problem. The problem is not that a solution like this did not exist, the problem is that the government does not want it. We cannot even get Diebold to print out a paper trail or get their software certified legally (they sneak around and use uncertified patches at the last minute).

The real problem is this stupid obsession we have over knowing the results of the election NOW. We want to go to bed knowing who won (although that did not go so well in 2000), and damn everything else. If we could just wait a day or so and let paper ballots be counted we would not have these issues. Sure paper ballots could be miscounted but there are more eyeballs, and it would certainly be harder to pull off a massive fraud like what would be trivial with today's Diebold machines. But (1) we want results now, and we want computers involved because we KNOW those cannot be wrong and (2) the government seems to like this idea of unverifiable votes.

Finkployd

How is this secret? (1)

Secret Rabbit (914973) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730809)

So, we have a vote that is logged somewhere that is matched to a ballot. Then we have the server logs that will connect the ballot (with vote) to an IP address. That IP address will be attached to an account at the ISP.

Basically, if you check your vote, your vote can be determined... trivially. Or at least that vote from that house-hold. Which is "good enough" for profiling purposes.

One of the whole points of crypto has just been circumvented. Nice job guys.

Re:How is this secret? (1)

Slashcrunch (626325) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730905)

Ever heard of SSL and POST? They're both pretty amazing :) The ISP can't see a thing in the logs other than the URL. All data is encrypted via SSL.

good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16730903)

So they punch your card and after you vote 5 times you get a bonus vote? Sweet, I hope they make me a moderator.

Everyone has so far completely missed the point! (5, Informative)

X-treme-LLama (178013) | more than 7 years ago | (#16730907)

Good lord! How is it that 70% of people have completely missed the point?

This system DOES NOT allow ANYONE to see WHOM you voted for.

That's right. NO ONE short of the people in charge can see who you voted for. You boss can't make you prove it, nor can your spouse, or whoever else.

All the ballot half you keep records is that you voted A, B, B, A. All you can verify online is that your vote was recorded as A, B, B, A. Because the ballot choices are randomized, no one can tell who A was for your particular ballot. Ahh, but I already hear the tin-foil brigade saying: "But the people in charge can check!!" Really, how? The ID # of your ballot isn't recorded next to your name in the voter rolls, I suppose someone who had access to all the decryption keys could fingerprint each and every ballot, but anyone who can get ahold of any of the paper ballots can do that now. Is it no less secure than any traditional method of voting, and superior in a vast number of ways. As long as a few percent of people check that their votes match what they recorded, elections will be a lot closer to tamper-proof.

How did so many people fail to figure all that out?
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