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British E-Voting Pilots Announced

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 7 years ago | from the progressive-thinking dept.

Politics 166

rimberg writes "The Department for Constitutional Affairs has announced it is going to trial Electronic voting using the internet and/or telephone. Bridget Prentice, Elections Minister at the department said 'We need to make sure that people can vote in more convenient ways consistent with a modern lifestyle. [...] More and more people, and particularly young people, are using the internet everyday. We need to see if we can use this to encourage people even more to participate in the democratic process.' The Open Rights Group (Think British EFF) have responded by saying 'E-voting threatens the integrity of our elections and we oppose its use in our democracy.'"

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Increased turnout (4, Funny)

Kelz (611260) | more than 7 years ago | (#17804554)

I do definitely plan to vote against Labor in the next election.

... now if only I didn't live in the US!

Re:Increased turnout (3, Interesting)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 7 years ago | (#17804772)

I live in a Tory\Liberal marginal seat, so a vote for NuLabour[sic] is as much use as a vote for The Monster raving loony party [omrlp.com] Fortunately my political views are no where near those of the Labour party, but the joys of the first past the post system are not lost on me. Instead of this pointless move, why aren't they doing something useful, like introducing the single transferable vote system. That would re-engage more people than this gimmick.

Re:Increased turnout (2, Funny)

Stephen Williams (23750) | more than 7 years ago | (#17804810)

I'm in the UK. Fancy doing a vote swap? I'll vote against Labour, and you can vote against the Republicans at your next election :-)

-Stephen

Thats a deal mate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17805016)

...except while I tell you I am voting for the democrats, I will really vote republican like I always do.

Re:Thats a deal mate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17806128)

So you're voting for Hillary?

Re:Increased turnout (2, Insightful)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805070)

It's interesting that both you and the OP are talking about who to vote against. Is the political situation both here in the UK, and over in the States so bad that a vote is no longer a positive statement for a political party? I know I'm having a hard time deciding who to vote for.

Re:Increased turnout (1)

Stephen Williams (23750) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805264)

Good point. Yes, I think it has pretty much got that bad.

In my younger days, I was a firm Labour supporter; was even a party member for a while, did some leafleting and stuff. I'm not quite sure exactly when the rot set in; it was sometime during their second term, I think. The change was gradual; but at some point after the 2001 elections, I realized that they'd become so authoritarian and so hawklike that they didn't represent my views any more.

Politically, I'm closest to the LibDems, I think. I don't find them particularly inspiring, though. Lembit Opik's recent antics are an embarrassment.

The Conservatives' attempt to reinvent themselves is a blatant sham. It looks so much like the pre-1997 "New Labour" project that it isn't funny. David Cameron is Tony Blair all over again.

-Stephen

Re:Increased turnout (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805532)

Politically, I'm closest to the LibDems, I think. I don't find them particularly inspiring, though. Lembit Opik's recent antics are an embarrassment.
I can't let you get away with that, he's a single man, and she's a single woman; the whole thing is a storm in a tabloid tea-cup. However, I digress from my main point I agree with largely you here, the Lib-Dems aren't inspiring, but at least they've been consistent. Unfortunately, although I agree with them socially I cannot bring myself to vote for them due to their insistence on higher taxes, and I'm an economic liberal, so believe in smaller government etc.

The Conservatives' attempt to reinvent themselves is a blatant sham. It looks so much like the pre-1997 "New Labour" project that it isn't funny. David Cameron is Tony Blair all over again.

-Stephen
Again, I partly agree, but I think it's too early to judge as they haven't really put out any policies (and IMO rightly so as Labour would just take all the popular ones). But I like the direction of travel that "Dave" is taking them in. On the surface, at least, they are becoming less authoritarian, and if they stand on this platform at the next general election, I might be able to place a vote for them at the next election. Perhaps I'm just idealistic and naive, but I know that there is no party that will represent all my political beliefs, but if one can hit more than half I think that a vote for them isn't a vote for the least worst party, but a positive vote.

Re:Increased turnout (1)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 7 years ago | (#17804830)

So what happens when someone runs DDS attacks against servers in an election?

DDS Attacks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17805326)

Wait, DDS attacks? Why on earth would dentists attack the elections? Aren't they getting paid enough by the public healthcare services? And what are they doing to do, use wind-up false teeth like the Joker? :-)

Now, they might have to worry about DoS/DDoS attacks, but you could always just vote normally if you had to.

Re:DDS Attacks? (2, Funny)

Walt Dismal (534799) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805538)

Hahhaahha. Ouch, thank you for correcting. My typo bad. I did mean distributed denial of service. Er, my Engleesh she not so good, here in Nigeria the schools suck. Please send money to me by Western Union, I guarantee terrific election results.

Kevin Mitnick for Prime Minister! (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805976)

And I'm sure that with a little web surfing we could come up with enough other black hats to fill all the MP slots.

Not that we need to, of course - and they'd be the wrong names, anyhow. Think what an opportunity this is for the trillionaire-"businessmen" who deploy the malware and run the phising scams and spam botnets.

Their own country...

really? (2, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#17804558)

British E-Voting Pilots Announced

I was wondering when they'd let Otto [bgu.ac.il] do something more than just fly the plane.

Open, Receipts (3, Insightful)

mfh (56) | more than 7 years ago | (#17804566)

I hope they open up the code so people can see how it works (or fails to work). A paper or electronic receipt system would be crucial, as stated time and time again.

Over the Internet (1)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805034)

Having a paper-trail only works when the voting takes place in polling stations. Voting by SMS or over the Web cannot be secured - but this government is keener on improved turnout than accurate results, as witness the recent expansion in postal voting and the resulting Council of Europe investigation [timesonline.co.uk] .

Re:Over the Internet (1)

mfh (56) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805078)

You'd think that after all the positive praise awarded Blair's government and their ties to international policy, they would be more concerned with accurate results than with a turnout of false results, considering Blair's high international esteem in his upholding of the principles of the Labour Party, and all the glory of the left wing debacle, I mean -- debate.

Re:Over the Internet (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805306)

You'd think that after all the positive praise awarded Blair's government and their ties to international policy,
Awarded by whom? IIRC They are behind to the Tories in the polls by 6 to 8 points. Personally I think that they are on a downward spiral, they look headed for defeat to the Scottish Nationalists in the upcoming Scottish Parliament elections, and when (the Scottish) Gordon Brown takes over from Tony Blair, the people of England will resent them even more (last election they lost the popular vote in England, but ended up with more seats due to our first past the post system; combined with their Scottish and Welsh seats, it gave the a healthy majority at Westminster).

Re:Over the Internet (1)

mfh (56) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805360)

Awarded by whom?
Ah you caught me in sarcasm! They were criticized by many for their ties to the Iraq war and how they handled the pressures of international policy, and I was making a jibe at it with my use of the word "debacle", and sadly you did not catch on! :-)

Re:Over the Internet (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805704)

Sorry, my mistake, but IIRC last time he was in the states, the US congress gave him something like 20 standing ovations, so I didn't catch the sarcasm as I thought you might have actually thought that was also reflected here in domestic opinion (I obviously don't know if you are American or British). :-)

Re:Over the Internet (1)

Znork (31774) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805234)

"but this government is keener on improved turnout"

Dubious really. Low voter turnout is endemic to winner takes all systems (and who can blame the voters, in a whole lot of cases there isnt even any point for some voters to vote). If they really wanted improved turnout they'd reform towards proportional representation so people would actually get a chance to vote for someone they wanted.

Then again, maybe the whole point is to make it easier to manipulate elections. It's not like that would be far out of character from the current crop of UK politicians.

Re:Open, Receipts (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805058)

A paper or electronic receipt system would be crucial, as stated time and time again.

A paper or electronic receipt system would open it up to voter intimidation as all of a sudden your vote is no longer anonymous and some guy can say "Show me you voted for X or something bad happens to little Sussie."

Re:Open, Receipts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17805834)

No way! The receipt goes in the ballot box. In case of a manual recount it's the paper copy that's official and any discrepancy is blamed on informal voting.

E-voting is the future and it should stay there (1)

wsherman (154283) | more than 7 years ago | (#17804596)

Internet voting is like nuclear power. There are huge advantages but unless you're really careful there is also the potential for major disasters.

Eventually, through the use of Internet voting, it will be possible for people to vote on proposed legislation directly. If there's some issue you care deeply about, e.g. a declaration of war, then you can vote directly. If it's not an issue you care deeply about, you can let your elected representative cast a vote on your behalf. Under the current system your elected representative always gets to cast your vote even when you disagree.

Until the security issues are worked out, governments need to be very very cautious. It wouldn't hurt to start testing and developing Internet voting through things like non-binding opinion polls and possibly certain local elections. It will most likely be decades before Internet voting can be made secure enough to be used in United States federal elections.

Re:E-voting is the future and it should stay there (5, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 7 years ago | (#17804692)

Eventually, through the use of Internet voting, it will be possible for people to vote on proposed legislation directly. If there's some issue you care deeply about, e.g. a declaration of war, then you can vote directly. If it's not an issue you care deeply about, you can let your elected representative cast a vote on your behalf.

The founders of the United States intentionally avoided letting people vote directly on legislation in order to avoid mob justice and ensure that the law was formed by those with at least some training in principles of governance. You'd let people vote directly on a war? Remember that the U.S. initiative against Iraq was helped by the confusion in the popular mind that the 9/11 hijackers had significant ties to Iraq. If the public is emotionally stirred up and ignorant enough, all kinds of bad things can happen if you give them the change to go wild. Furthermore, the people would instantly vote away their liberties if they thought it would gain them some security, and they would then turn on that portion of the population which rejected calls for tighter restrictions on whatever matters.

Or another way to put it (2, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805006)

Most people are really dumb.

 

Re:E-voting is the future and it should stay there (1)

Evil Pete (73279) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805142)

Yeah ... let 'em have their online vote for everything. Just so long as I control the newspapers, radio and TV. The people, my pawns. That is what an online voting future would look like I fear. Creepy.

Re:E-voting is the future and it should stay there (1)

wsherman (154283) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805202)

blockquote>The founders of the United States intentionally avoided letting people vote directly on legislation...

The founders also avoided letting people vote directly for president which, in retrospect, has created more problems than it solved. As a practical matter, letting people vote directly on legislation was simply not possible when the USA was founded.

...in order to avoid mob justice...

Theoretically, that's what the supreme court is for. In practice, mob justice gets through anyway. It wasn't that long ago that the government had a system of laws that helped people in the USA kidnap people from Africa and force them to work for free.

...and ensure that the law was formed by those with at least some training in principles of governance.

Huh? I'm not aware of any requirement for training -experience, maybe, but not training. The more fundamental question is: if ordinary people are incapable of evaluating legislation then how are they supposed to evaluate candidates for the legislature? Appearance? Ability to act "sincere"?

Remember that the U.S. initiative against Iraq...

I'm not remembering that the elected members of the legislature were a voice of restraint.

...they would then turn on that portion of the population which rejected calls for tighter restrictions on whatever matters.

Theoretically, the supreme court requires laws to be applied fairly and equally. Theoretically, they wouldn't be able to hurt one portion of the population without hurting themselves equally. In practice, the supreme court allows things as bizarre as letting the US government ignore the bill of rights in its treatment of non-citizens.

Re:E-voting is the future and it should stay there (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805474)

The founders also avoided letting people vote directly for president which, in retrospect, has created more problems than it solved.

How so? You may not agree philosophically with the concept of popular vote not being directly tied to who wins the Presidency, but I'm unaware of any actual problems caused by the electoral vote system that would be eliminated with its removal.

Re:E-voting is the future and it should stay there (1)

wsherman (154283) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805650)

...I'm unaware of any actual problems caused by the electoral vote system that would be eliminated with its removal.

How about situations where the winner of the popular vote doesn't win the election? While it may be difficult to argue that one politician is better than another in an absolute sense, different presidents do lead the USA in different directions. It would be a very different world if Al Gore had been elected president in 2000.

The more fundamental problem with the electoral vote system is that, since the winner of even a slim majority in a state gets all the electoral votes of that state, voters in certain states have much more impact on the outcome of the election than voters in other states. Imagine a system where residents of certain states got multiple votes. It just wouldn't be a fair system but the electoral college is like that.

Voting is pointless as it is, so let's just do it. (2, Interesting)

Peter Cooper (660482) | more than 7 years ago | (#17804744)

We don't really get a voice anyway in our two-party (of any power) state. No proportional representation, no referenda on issues (despite being promised them, for, say, the Euro), and a political system that's gamed to work in one way whoever gets into power.

Let's face it.. we've reached a reasonably happy status quo with the current system and nothing too shocking happens under it. The problems we're having now are little different to those of ten or twenty years ago, and the average Brit has just as little say on matters as they ever have. This has led to a disillusioned populace that isn't really THAT interested in voting. I don't vote either, because it a) would have no effect, and b) all the parties look the same and are likely to lie and change their policies once they get in anyway (like Labour did).

Perhaps the dangers of electronic voting are worth it because our current system is so ineffectual. The room for abuse of electronic voting is no worse than the abuse of the entire system of government going on now.

You deserve everything you get. (0, Troll)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805100)

I don't vote either, because it a) would have no effect, and b) all the parties look the same and are likely to lie and change their policies once they get in anyway (like Labour did).
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Burke

 

Re:You deserve everything you get. (1)

Peter Cooper (660482) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805594)

I would strongly agree with you if the electoral system and the society that uses it actually provided a mechanism for change. They do not. Voting is not a way to 'do something' anymore. Evil already made it with people doing something with the current system, so it's time for a different system.

Re:Voting is pointless as it is, so let's just do (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805860)

W I don't vote either, because it a) would have no effect, and b) all the parties look the same and are likely to lie and change their policies once they get in anyway (like Labour did).
Do you do it affirmatively by spoiling your ballot paper, or do you stay home, and get counted among the apathetic or as the Labour spin puts it, those people who are happy with the way things are? IMO voting is a duty, even if you spoil your ballot paper, but people should at least make the effort to go down to the polling station. Imagine the message that would be sent by thousands of spoiled ballots. It would be a lot stronger than the message being sent know, where the parties just write it off as people who can't be bothered.

Re:Voting is pointless as it is, so let's just do (1)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 7 years ago | (#17806520)

Voting should be compulsory, but it should include a definite 'none of the above' option. Alternatively, give everybody a 'for' vote and an 'against' vote (Of which you are not obliged to use either). That should really hammer down parties like the BNP, where instead of just having a lot of people who haven't voted *for* them there will be a lot of people who *have* voted against them.

Re:E-voting is the future and it should stay there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17804874)

Internet voting, just like mail ballot, has the major flaw that other people can watch you vote.

Back in the days, anonymous voting was seen as the keystone of democracy because it is the only way to ensure that citizens are not intimidated or bribed. It should still be!

Now we throw that away because of of convenience?!?
Here's a hint to politicians: if you want people to participate more, you need to give them the opportunity to vote for candidates they want to be elected without throwing their votes away. That means ditching "first past the post" and such like voting systems that tend to concentrate powers in two big partys.

mod parent up please... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17805084)

Given how much vote tampering already seems to exists, I don't think this can be done securely, and like the parent, I look with extreme suspicion an anything that undermines the secret ballot. Even if it's not done at first, it will happen.

Re:E-voting is the future and it should stay there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17805612)

Eventually, through the use of Internet voting, it will be possible for people to vote on proposed legislation directly.

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money from the Public Treasury." - Alexander Fraser Tyler, The Decline and Fall of the Athenian Republic

"Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time." - E. B. White

"Democracy is the theory that the People know what they want, and that they deserve to get it good and hard."

"Democracy: Two wolves and a sheep deciding what to eat for dinner."

Re:E-voting is the future and it should stay there (1)

Loco Moped (996883) | more than 7 years ago | (#17806754)

Voting by internet, phone, and in person.

That way, either everybody gets three votes, or the gov't. gets to keep track of who voted (and how, in 2 out of 3 cases).

Clarity in Headlines (1)

hypnotik (11190) | more than 7 years ago | (#17804602)


"British announce pilots for E-Voting" -- makes more sense then voting machines in cockpits.

Re:Clarity in Headlines (1)

Apocalypse111 (597674) | more than 7 years ago | (#17804628)

Yes, that would then read "British announce E-Voting for Pilots."

I bet my EVote goes to /dev/null (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17804610)

Ironically that's also the only candidate worth voting for.

Has anyone ever... (3, Insightful)

popo (107611) | more than 7 years ago | (#17804612)


Has anyone ever come up with one really good reason why a paper record of all votes is a bad idea?

Re:Has anyone ever... (5, Insightful)

Virak (897071) | more than 7 years ago | (#17804704)

It makes it way too difficult to slowly take over the world, one government at a time. We should welcome our new overlords, not try to make it harder for them.

Re:Has anyone ever... (1)

i shout loudly (1057246) | more than 7 years ago | (#17804796)

Oh, yes. o you remember Florida in the 2000 election? But truly, E-voting is a bad idea. For example, when Mr. Mouse gets bored, he wanders around the house, looking for cheese. And when Mr. Mouse finally finds the cheese he is looking for then he will eat the cheese. Bad people will change the votes, and no I don't mean the Republicans, but something will go very very wrong with electronic voting. And it will happen in the next election. You know what I mean?

Re:Has anyone ever... (2, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805032)

Has anyone ever come up with one really good reason why a paper record of all votes is a bad idea?

It leaves a record on paper.

KFG

Re:Has anyone ever... (1)

Wooster_UK (963894) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805558)

I believe various dictatorsips have frequently posted such reasons outside their own polling booths. Armed to the teeth, usually.

Good God, they mean for Parliament elections? (3, Insightful)

saskboy (600063) | more than 7 years ago | (#17804638)

e-voting is unsuitable for anything more serious than who people think will supplant Britney Spears as the next queen of teen pop.

Diebold voting is a fraud, and it happens right in front of the user, on a dedicated machine. The voter can't even see their marked ballot go into a container for verification in the event of computer fraud! It's a sham.

Re:Good God, they mean for Parliament elections? (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#17804726)

e-voting is unsuitable for anything more serious than who people think will supplant Britney Spears as the next queen of teen pop.

Sounds like it would be a good match for the British Parliment then, which recently spent quite a bit of time debating racism on the BBC's version of Big Brother.

Re:Good God, they mean for Parliament elections? (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 7 years ago | (#17804846)

If by "quite a bit of time" you mean one question, (IIRC by Keith Vas) and around 30 seconds, at Prime Ministers Question time, then yes they did. There was also an early day motion, but that's outside parliamentary time, and just consists of MPs signing their names, no debate involved. Oh, and Big Brother is on Channel 4, not the BBC.

Re:Good God, they mean for Parliament elections? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17806056)

And about time too! I have lived in the US for years and never had any right to vote properly implemented in the UK. As far as I know leaving the country doesn't lose me the right to vote - just makes it bloody impossible to actually do so....

The problem for me would be which constituency? I would suggest that a new Internet-only member be created who is voted for ONLY by Internet. That way, if your home constituency has a bunch of losers selected by the selection committees, you can switch to Internet voting and make your vote actually count - and my vote will count too, wherever I live.

Sounds Great (4, Insightful)

Radon360 (951529) | more than 7 years ago | (#17804642)

Now when someone tries to cast a vote from home on their spyware-riddled PC, later to find out it wasn't counted or cast incorrectly, then what? Or worse a whole bunch of voters are disenfranchised and don't even know it because of their clunky equipment.


Sorry fellas, you have to leave the internet out of this idea for now. Get the bugs worked out of the stand-alone electronic voting machines first.

Re:Sounds Great (1)

Deadplant (212273) | more than 7 years ago | (#17806626)

That could not happen.
I'll cite a 2003 electoral commission report on their first internet voting trial:
"No evidence of fraud was found."
When fraud leaves no evidence you can't find out that your vote was mis-cast and you can't become dienfranchised.
Problem solved.

Secure voting will be a tough undertaking (5, Funny)

MonGuSE (798397) | more than 7 years ago | (#17804652)

All I have to say is my 2 million zombie controlled pc's will be voting for myself in the next election.

Re:Secure voting will be a tough undertaking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17806350)

You'll have to beat the 5 million votes for "Buddy Wanker."

mail? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17804682)

Vote By Mail has been a huge success here in Oregon.

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

Re:mail? (5, Informative)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805178)

When we tried it here in the UK, a judge said it would be"worthy of a banana republic" [bbc.co.uk] . So what works for Oregon may not work for us.

Perl Script for PM! (3, Funny)

malevolentjelly (1057140) | more than 7 years ago | (#17804702)

I can't wait until Perl Script wins a seat in Parliament, or perhaps even position as Prime Minister!

Re:Perl Script for PM! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17804824)

Downing street is now scrambling to contribute CPAN modules that launch illegal wars and hand out peerages for cash.

paper-trail (1)

emotionus (657937) | more than 7 years ago | (#17804736)

Why not cast the vote electronically and also print a paper-form to be mailed in (absentee ballot, essentially). By phone, have a paper ballot mailed to the voter, approved, and returned.

I can just imagine parliment now (3, Funny)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 7 years ago | (#17804760)

"The hounourable Prime Minister Goatse man of the GNAUK Party wishes to have the floor"

Re:I can just imagine parliment now (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805188)

"The hounourable Prime Minister Howard Stern's Penis wishes rebuttal..."

-Eric

Why must it be stupidly convenient? (5, Insightful)

cliffski (65094) | more than 7 years ago | (#17804762)

"We need to make sure that people can vote in more convenient ways consistent with a modern lifestyle."

We are trying to make voting as convenient as buying a bag of crisps. why?

If someone can't be bothered to walk or drive half a mile to a polling station and put a cross in a box, do they really *care* who they are voting for? Far too many people treat voting flippantly (I don't like the look of him, I never vote for a woman, He has horrible hair etc) as it is. Would we be any worse of if voters had to take a simple test before voting? If you can't name the leaders of the main 3 parties, and pick their faces out of a lineup, are you really informed enough about the issues to vote sensibly?

Politicians in the UK panic about low turnout and think its because voting is hard. Its not, its just that a
First-Past-The Post [wikipedia.org] system means that most of us have wasted votes, even if the main 2 parties were different, which they aren't.
Proportional representation [wikipedia.org] FTW.

Just a thought.

Don't knock it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17804878)

This sounds like a great way to sell your vote to the highest bidder.

Re:Why must it be stupidly convenient? (1)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 7 years ago | (#17804940)

I generally agree... although the "picking the faces out of a line up" might not be a great way of giving disabled people (in this case the blind) greater citizenship rights (they already suffer enough hastle from the built environment). I'm not sure that First Past The Post is the problem here thoguh - most people don't care what they system is, those who do will probably never be happy ("YES! we got PR... but they are using the droop quota" *shakes fist* type thing).

Maybe any test would be hard to administer in real life in a way which wouldn't prevent people who care from taking part... though as someone who has spent the last 5 years studying academic politics I say we shouldn't give the vote to anyone who can't write for at least 3 hours on British politics in an exam!

Re:Why must it be stupidly convenient? (1)

foniksonik (573572) | more than 7 years ago | (#17804958)

What if you were able to take your time with voting instead of being rushed through a line/queue with 20 people waiting for you to finish when you finally get to the polling station? Maybe an online version could be done at home, at your leisure and in your own time and it could even provide enough reading material to inform a person who had not previously taken the time to research each candidate or issue.

Re:Why must it be stupidly convenient? (3, Informative)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 7 years ago | (#17806082)

What if you were able to take your time with voting instead of being rushed through a line/queue with 20 people waiting for you to finish when you finally get to the polling station?
Whereabouts do you live*, and how long do the people near you take to put a cross in a box? I have never ever had to wait more than 10 seconds to vote, and have weeks running up to election day to make up my mind (admittedly last general election I changed my mind at the last minute and spoiled my ballot paper). Usually there is absolutely no one else at the polling station except the clerk and returning officer.

*If you're not in the UK, we have quite small constituencies and lots of polling stations in each, combined with a low voter turnout. That means no waiting and quick results.

Re:Why must it be stupidly convenient? (2, Funny)

The One and Only (691315) | more than 7 years ago | (#17804992)

Would we be any worse of if voters had to take a simple test before voting?

We had this in the United States, but it ended up that black people always failed the tests, so we made it illegal because it was racist.

Re:Why must it be stupidly convenient? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17805462)

It did not just "end up that black people always failed the tests". The tests were designed to be nigh impossible to pass and were only given to black people.

Re:Why must it be stupidly convenient? (1)

Dixie_Flatline (5077) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805010)

I already get out and vote; a more convenient way to vote wouldn't be objectionable to me. I think we can do it.

In fact, I have a problem with this: 'E-voting threatens the integrity of our elections and we oppose its use in our democracy.'

E-voting threatens nothing in and of itself. The lack of voting threatens democracies just as much, I think. The problem is that e-voting has been a complete fiasco up until now because it lacks transparency to the people it's meant to serve. Voters should be able to know what's going on in the machine if they want to. There should be independent agencies devoted to inspecting the machines and certifying them. I should be able to read the code that the machine is running if I want to, and I would require a receipt of some kind to verify my vote.

None of this is beyond our abilities; I bank online and use ATMs frequently and my money is still where I expect it.

We should not, however, be allowed to vote on every bit of legislation. Constitutional Republics suit me just fine. I don't want my voice drowned out by a biased majority.

Re:Why must it be stupidly convenient? (1)

megaditto (982598) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805120)

Well, isn't the telescreen-based E-voting what they had in 1984 to re-elect the Big Brother? (or was it the telescreen surveilance, I forget)

Am I the only one seeing the similarity with that and the proposed:

"The Department for Constitutional Affairs has announced it is going to trial Electronic voting using the internet and/or telephone.

Re:Why must it be stupidly convenient? (1)

pjt33 (739471) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805160)

There should be independent agencies devoted to inspecting the machines and certifying them.
Judging by the minimalist description which the DCA gives for the system it will be piloting in Rushmoor, Sheffield, Shrewsbury & Atcham, South Bucks and Swindon, the machines involved will be people's home PCs. Fancy certifying them?

Re:Why must it be stupidly convenient? (1)

superfast-scooter (693095) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805068)

But it's not as easy as just going down to the polling booth and putting a cross, is it?

People have to wait hours on end in long queues, some might be physically handicapped, some are based abroad, some just don't want to go through with the motions. If you can get the young people who don't vote to just get online and vote, that'd be a good thing. This isn't about addressing the lazy folks.
If people can do their taxes online, buy goods, and meet their partners online, then there is absolutely no reason why voting should'nt be done online.

Around the time the elections were held in November, I'd tried to do an 'Ask Slashdot' why voting can't be done this way - it never got approved. :|

Re:Why must it be stupidly convenient? (2, Informative)

cliffski (65094) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805500)

you must be American :D. there are never queues in the UK that I'm aware of. I've never queued more than 4 seconds to cast a vote my entire life.

Re:Why must it be stupidly convenient? (1)

PhysicsPhil (880677) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805604)

If someone can't be bothered to walk or drive half a mile to a polling station and put a cross in a box, do they really *care* who they are voting for? Far too many people treat voting flippantly (I don't like the look of him, I never vote for a woman, He has horrible hair etc) as it is. Would we be any worse of if voters had to take a simple test before voting? If you can't name the leaders of the main 3 parties, and pick their faces out of a lineup, are you really informed enough about the issues to vote sensibly?

The second someone gets it in their head that the right to vote must be "earned" or can stripped in some way it sets a dangerous precedent. Once a test of some sort is involved, it becomes all too easy to tweak the requirements to disenfranchise entire population demographics. Don't like immigrants? Require a reading test. Don't like the poor? Poll taxes. Don't like geeks? Demand they bring a date to the polling station (*ducks for cover*).

Voting must be an absolute right of citizenship, not subject to the prevailing whims of the day.

How about coercion and privacy (1)

line-bundle (235965) | more than 7 years ago | (#17804852)

If you vote from home there is a risk that you might be voting at gunpoint. How do they take care of that?

Re:How about coercion and privacy (1)

The Mysterious X (903554) | more than 7 years ago | (#17804898)

That's not something that's specific to e-voting.
A guy could just as easily break into your house, put a gun to your child's head and tell you to go down to the polling station and vote for $foo.

I'm as apprehensive about electronic voting systems as the next guy, but could we stick to real, valid concerns that are specific to e-voting?

Re:How about coercion and privacy (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#17804982)

Except that in your scenario, once you get to the polling station you can vote for whomever you please since the voting is anonymous. In the internet scenario, you are damn sure clicking where the gunman tells you to click.

Re:How about coercion and privacy (1)

The Mysterious X (903554) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805054)

Don't value your children much do you?

Re:How about coercion and privacy (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805228)

Huh? How is the gunman going to figure out who you actually voted for? Voting at polling stations is safe and anonymous.

Re:How about coercion and privacy (1)

The Mysterious X (903554) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805820)

Are you telling me you would actually risk the life of your child (no matter how small the risk) over something as trivial as a vote?

Re:How about coercion and privacy (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#17806108)

What risk? Is there a problem in the UK that I wasn't aware of? I've never heard of a camera in a voting booth or anything of the sort, but I suppose it's possible. It's a lot harder to secure millions of computers in someone's den than it is to secure a central voting location.

By the way, if you live somewhere that your scenario is plausible, then there is nothing trivial about your vote. If you want the harassment to end, you'd better figure out a way to vote for the other guy.

Re:How about coercion and privacy (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805022)

Only rich people with proper home security systems in nice neighborhoods will be allowed to vote.

Re:How about coercion and privacy (1)

Nasarius (593729) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805090)

I assume you're also against absentee ballots, then?

Re:How about coercion and privacy (1)

MightyYar (622222) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805732)

Absentee ballots are not anonymous and are not counted on election day. If an entire block votes via absentee ballot, it is probably worth investigating. Also, if you are coerced, there is plenty of time to act before they unseal your ballot. Since they count them after the polling has ended, fraud is mitigated somewhat by them checking to make sure that you haven't already voted in person before they count the absentee ballot. I don't have a problem with submitting the request for an absentee ballot electronically.

As long as it doen't..... (1)

8127972 (73495) | more than 7 years ago | (#17804858)

...... Involve Diebold [wikipedia.org] then I'm all for it.

Yeah cos we all know... (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 7 years ago | (#17804970)

That the poor turnout is because voting is too hard...

Nothing to do with the fact that the government received only 34% of the votes but obtained 60% of the seats in parliament. No it wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that the electoral system throws away two thirds of all votes.

 

Re:Yeah cos we all know... (1)

Anne Thwacks (531696) | more than 7 years ago | (#17806366)

No it wouldn't have anything to do with the fact that the electoral system throws away two thirds of all votes.

Or perhaps the fact that many of the candidates have convictions for fraud, corruption, or dishonesty?

How to vote is not the problem (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17805030)

The falling turnout at elections has nothing to do with the technology of how we vote. The problem is the type of people who are foisted on us as our politicians. We have come to expect that politicians never answer a question directly, give misleading answers, resort to ad hominems, and generally give the impression of being thoroughly dishonest and untrustworthy, with the "bonus" of superficial, irritating charm. In the UK there are several shining examples in the upper echelons of political power. They are intrinsically unable to command respect and trust. And before any politician brings up the complaint that if you don't vote, you don't get to change the politicians, one has to say politicians are all of the same distasteful character, so there is no choice. The policies may differ, but the fundamentally slimy character behind the mask remains the same.

--Cynic Central

Re:How to vote is not the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17805718)

That's a little unfair, they're not all like that [wikipedia.org]

Easy for the voter, easy to subvert (1)

Kestrelflier (1057248) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805098)

The introduction of the option to vote by post has already caused enough trouble. I won't bother to post all the links, just google "postal vote fraud uk". Now consider how much easier it is for these guys to hire a hacker. We Brits used to consider ourselves superior to nations like the US (hanging chads anyone?) because we had a well tried voting system that worked perfectly (ie: a piece of paper and a blunt soft pencil). Unfortunately we now have a government which believes that democracy requires that equal weight should be given to the views of those who are too apathetic to travel a few hundred yards to a polling station.

Old News. (1)

vbwilliams (968304) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805134)

E-voting pilots have been going on in the UK every year since 2002.

why not vote directly (1)

Xaer0cool (700219) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805226)

If they develope a way to vote securely and legitimately online, why bother with representatives at all? At that point, let direct democracy rule, and let every person vote on every bill, law etc.

olo, old news (1)

aristolochene (997556) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805292)

i voted in 2003 in local elections in Sheffield (england) online. This has been tried before, so is hardly new to the UK.

Online you entered a PIN (sent to you along with your normal election literature) and were forced to scroll through a pdf of the actual ballot paper, to endure you viewed all candidates, then clicked the appropriate box and that was it

presumably there was some sort of tallying system to prevent me from going to the polling booth round the corner

IIRC there were even e-voting booths in supermarkets for the trial. It worked just fine, I believe

I'm just waiting for myspace to launch the career of a politician

personally I don't care about vote count integrity (1)

wardk (3037) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805382)

it's just gotta be easier to vote. right now it's simply too hard.

Open Rights Group.org (1)

OriginalArlen (726444) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805726)

...and as a founder member (well, OK, one of the first thousand :) could I point out to UK readers that this would be a great time to join us [openrightsgroup.org] . Very cheap! Recursive acronym! Promotional T-shirts coming soon! ;)

Crafty! (1)

Fear the Clam (230933) | more than 7 years ago | (#17805980)

A paper trail won't be necessary with the British NannyCams recording everyone casting their votes.

Can't work... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17806242)

I'm pretty sure you can't make online/telephone e-voting both anonymous (that is, provably impervious to attempts to track who anyone voted for) and at the same time ensure that one person has one vote.

The problem is that you have to be able to get a one-per-legal-voter token from someplace that can't attach the token number to the vote.

If that's from a server-generated email, the same web server hosting the voting app or the voice retrieval system on the VoteLine, the voter has good reason to believe that (s)he's being tied back to the vote being cast - or at least able to be.

Especially in the current climate, the last thing the world needs is an automated way to generate a national Enemies List.

Don't you mean... (1)

d_54321 (446966) | more than 7 years ago | (#17806548)

The Open Rights Group (Think British EFF) have responded by saying 'E-voting threatens the integrity of our elections...'
Don't you mean "e-lections"?

this is the second pilot (1)

Deadplant (212273) | more than 7 years ago | (#17806588)

Several of these municipal councils have tried Internet voting before.
Here is the Electoral Commission report for the Rushmoor district from 2003.
Relevant info starts at page 5
http://www.rushmoor.gov.uk/media/adobepdf/internet -voting-report.pdf [rushmoor.gov.uk]

Interesting points from the report:
  • the system was built by ES&S, a US company subject to the patriot act. ES&S staff had user accounts on the system which were temporarily disabled on election day. (at least they were asked to do so...)
  • Ballots can be traced back to voters.
    An "encryption key" allowing the matching of a ballot to a registered voter is split, half given to Unisys(the supplier) and half to the Municipal Council.
  • Usernames and passwords are sent by snail-mail
  • approx. 5% of registered internet voters were unable to vote online because they only had 40-bit ssl support in their browsers!?!?!?!?!??! (sweet jebus, there are people using 40-bit ssl in this day and age?!?!?!)
  • There were no controls on the "counting" of the Internet ballots. None.
    Basically a Unisys employee dialed-into their servers from a laptop, grabbed the results, formatted them into reports by hand using Word and Access then printed them. It was entirely a 'trust unisys' setup, there weren't even any prescribed controls/procedures for ensuing the laptop was clean.
    The report does at least note that they realized this was a problem.
  • The cost of the election was 685,000 pounds. That compares with 47,000 pounds for the previous year when they did not have to pay for Internet voting systems.
  • Absolutely NO mention of security on the voters PC. None. It is as if they didn't even realize that compromising the home PCs might be a significant attack vector.
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