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UK Voters Want To Vote Online

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the vote-early-vote-often dept.

The Internet 288

InternetVoting writes "A recent UK research survey by NTL:Telewest Business found that nearly half of the younger respondents would be more likely to vote online. This year the UK government has authorized 13 local election pilots including Internet voting. ntl:Telewest Business estimates 10 million UK households have broadband and 4,789 local libraries offer public access. In the US political parties are beginning to test the Internet voting waters with the Michigan Democratic Party to offer Internet voting in their 2008 Presidential Caucus. There were some notable differences in generational interest: 'The YouGov poll of almost 2,300 people, carried out on behalf of NTL:Telewest's business unit, found that younger voters were even more positive about the idea of alternatives to the trusty ballot box. 57 per cent of 18-34 year olds liked the idea of evoting, but only a third of the over 55s were as keen.' Given security and privacy concerns in the states, how likely is this to appeal to US voters? "

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288 comments

Internet voting is all fun and games (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18920173)

till Prime Minister goatse man has to salute the queen!

bah (3, Insightful)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920175)

I've never had to walk more than 200m to get to vote - maybe if you can't be bothered to make that effort then your vote shouldn't count...

Re:bah (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18920255)

Exactly. Most of the people who responded probably couldn't even name one local candidate, let alone tell you who they're going to vote for on May 3rd. Now we're supposed to make it easier for uninformed people to make an uninformed choice, purely because it's supposed to be "more democratic"? I'm fairly certain democracy requires an informed populace; not someone picking the funniest name on a web page while they wait for the film to download from BitTorrent.

I won't even bother to mention the potential for abuse or security problems. That stuff is just garuanteed with this sort of scheme.

Re:bah (3, Insightful)

dvice_null (981029) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920475)

So you think that everyone lives 200 m from a voting point? Or do you think that everyone who doesn't live that near should be able to vote online?

Re:bah (2, Informative)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920535)

Everyone already does live near a polling station here in the UK; the system is set up that way to make it convenient to vote. If you can't be bothered to get up and walk a few hundred metres to vote, you're better off staying at home anyway. If you have a disability, or are going to be away, then that's what absentee ballot papers are for.

Re:bah (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920697)

How about people living on remote farms? Do they have a polling place within 200 meters?

Re:bah (1)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920741)

If they won't pass a polling station on the day, they have absentee ballot papers.

Re:bah (1)

ewanm89 (1052822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920851)

You can always use postal vote! How are you going to stop people from cracking the systm to vote twice if it was online?

Re:bah (1)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 7 years ago | (#18921015)

eVoting would still be far easier.

Re:bah (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920871)

Do you realise how small the UK is? There's no such thing as a remote farm unless you're living on a small island in the outer Hebrides, and IIRC those people get absentee ballots for constituencies on the mainland. We might not all be literally within 200m from a polling station, but we're all certainly within walking distance (by which I mean it'd take no longer than 5-10 minutes to walk to a polling station at the absolute maximum) of one.

Re:bah (1)

timmyf2371 (586051) | more than 7 years ago | (#18921011)

I don't know about where you live, but in Scotland, there are certainly many farms in remote parts of the country. I know of several farms and houses near me which are over 5-10 minutes drive from the nearest house, let alone the nearest town or polling station.

Re:bah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18920491)

Since recent legislation has already set the stage in the UK, all you need to do now is unleash your evoting and your journey to the dark side will be complete.

Re:bah (3, Insightful)

ookabooka (731013) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920549)

...then your vote shouldn't count...

I'd be very careful making statements like this, even if it is jest. I don't think anyone's vote should be discounted for any reason. Slippery slope indeed...

Re:bah (3, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920559)

What if they're under 18?

This is mildly humorous, but every other class of disenfranchised voter has been until they weren't.

Re:bah (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920685)

Who knew teenagers had mod points.

Re:bah (1)

ewanm89 (1052822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920881)

Me under 18 until tommorow. I've already posted postal vote. I wouldn't want online as well even more security flaws. And yes I do have modpoints!

Re:bah (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920895)

Me speak english good.

Re:bah (1)

ookabooka (731013) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920701)

There are some groups that can't vote, like minors, or felons. I think the reason minors aren't allowed to vote is due to the fact that they don't much have the capacity to understand the ramifications of who they vote for. Consequently this makes them prime targets for exploitations by dirty (most) politicians. As for felons I could see it the same way (you'll get parole if you vote for candidate X) and also as a punishment for the crime they have commited. The right to vote being revoked from felons is a complicated issue.

Perhaps my response was too hasty. I certainly don't think that a reason as minor as this should be good enough to discount a vote. Imagine if having the voting centers at least 200m away was required as a "pruning process" to weed out those that didn't want to vote "badly enough". . .scary stuff IMO.

Re:bah (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920799)

'don't much have the capacity to understand' doesn't magically go away at 18. I kind of figure that people would be angry that parents would be able to influence their children's votes(or even have a bunch of kids just to make them vote), but people are average enough that it wouldn't effect anything. The standard for whether a child can vote or not could probably be the submission of a valid ballot(with some very lax restrictions on how many tries, 20 or something like that(most five year olds would give up after ~2).

I don't really find the right to vote for felons all that complicated; if they are being let out of prison, there should be some sort of notion of rehabilitation(because they actually don't know right from wrong at least as often(and probably much more often) as they are 'bad'). If rehabilitation is the goal, then there needs to be a carrot, and the best that carrot can be is to make them a whole citizen again(without becoming ridiculous, "Free Lexus after 5 years on the straight and narrow!"). This doesn't mean that you start enforcing fair hiring rules or anything, but they shouldn't get less in their interactions with the government. If the goal is to punish them for being bad, then we should probably just build incinerators and raise the felony bar way up high.

Re:bah (1)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920927)

I think the reason minors aren't allowed to vote is due to the fact that they don't much have the capacity to understand the ramifications of who they vote for.
And the point the OP was making is that there are adults to whom this could equally apply to.
People don't magically gain intelligence at 18; drawing an arbitrary line is just the best of all other possible options, although I'd personally draw it at 16 (here in the UK you can join the army at 16; if you can die for your country, you should be able to choose those would send you to do so).

Re:bah (1)

SetupWeasel (54062) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920999)

I think the reason minors aren't allowed to vote is due to the fact that they don't much have the capacity to understand the ramifications of who they vote for.

Then they shouldn't be forced to pay taxes, or in some cases be fully responsible for their actions in a court of law.

Re:bah (1, Insightful)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920613)

Actually, quite the opposite. We know the politicians and system so well that we know we'll be throwing our votes away. Speaking from an American point of view, if it were easier to throw our votes away, maybe a third party would have a chance!

And vice-versa... (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920689)

maybe if you can't be bothered to make that effort then your vote shouldn't count...


OTOH, maybe if you can't be bothered to learn how to use the internet then your vote shouldn't count?


There are many tasks that I could do in a 200m radius, but I still do online if I can. And it's not just a question of effort, it can be a question of time, security, convenience, maybe it's raining, etc.

Consider this before you *bah* (3, Interesting)

ushering05401 (1086795) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920703)

One of my biggest gripes about elections is how simplified the issues have become, and how difficult it is to understand what each candidate *really* stands for.

IF they instituted online voting they could have drop down boxes for each candidate with summaries of opinions and hyperlinks to voting records, speeches... Hell, they could even link in the publically disclosed lists of contributors. I believe most voters don't have the time or inclination to do this sort of research on their own, but might be more inclined if the info was more easily accesible.

A voter could spend all the time they like reading about each candidate and issue on the ballot *while* casting their vote.

All it would take is some legislation and a bit of funding to amass the linked materials.

Political spin would have a reduced effect on anyone with enough motivation to click a couple of links.

Regards.

Re:Consider this before you *bah* (4, Informative)

VJ42 (860241) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920961)

summaries of opinions and hyperlinks to voting records, speeches...
If you are in the UK, then I think that this is what you're looking for: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/ [theyworkforyou.com]

Re:bah (3, Funny)

normuser (1079315) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920845)

I've never had to walk more than 200m to get to vote - maybe if you can't be bothered to make that effort then your vote shouldn't count...


You WALKED 200 miles? wouldnt driving be a litle easier?

Re:bah (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920887)

I've never had to walk more than 200m to get to vote - maybe if you can't be bothered to make that effort then your vote shouldn't count...

Its not the walk that bothers most people, but rather the 3 hour line in some places due to underfunding of local elections.

I know some states have laws that say employers must allow time off to vote, but most states don't.

In Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18920911)

In Canada we have an internet system called E-Pass you register off of based on your social insurance number and registered government address, they mail you a confirmation number and then you finish your registration in a few days. Once thats all settled you can file, adjust and view your tax returns, apply for all the various forms you can think of (birth certificates, passports) online and save all your information. It feels very secure, requires you to enter your password twice and use one that is 8-12 characters long including 1 capital and 2 numbers. I'd assume this would be easily scalable for online voting and that's something I'd really like to see put forward.

How likely? (4, Interesting)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920187)

Very likely if they can find a company (NOT Diebold) who can manage to make it a secure process. I certainly appreciate all the things that are government related that I can do online now. Voting would be useful. Those that don't want to, or cannot vote online can continue to do so at voting stations. The combination should cover everyone.... IF they can make it secure and keep the graft out of the process.

Re:How likely? (1)

cs02rm0 (654673) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920275)

They can't make it secure though. Never have, never will. And politicians like holes in systems they can exploit to win elections, I'd rather not add more opportunities for them to take.

I keep hearing about how everyone in the UK wants online voting - no one ever asked me and I fear these stories will influence the politically and technically ignorant masses who lack such healthy cynicism!

Re:How likely? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18920463)

Click here to vote for "Candidate X!!!" (which actually votes for Candidate Y) would be fun.

No way to make it secure (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920529)

Yes, they can make it secure on the receiving end. But they cannot secure the machine of the user. Banks have that problem already and they're losing money because of it (i.e. it's something that they care about), and they can't fix it either.

Why should politicians (you know, the guys with the tubes) have more success in securing something that doesn't really bother them too much?

Re:How likely? (1)

Aqua OS X (458522) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920561)

I posted this a week ago, and it may very well be nothing, but the folks at Alternet were raising concerns about the reporting of vote tallies in Ohio during the 04 election.

http://www.alternet.org/story/50941/ [alternet.org]

More specifically, they were concerned that the Ohio Secretary of State was hosting, tallying, and reporting election results with hardware / software architectures developed by companies with partisan connections.

Re:How likely? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18920667)

"if they can find a company (NOT Diebold) who can manage to make it a secure process"

No government run, large scale computer system has ever worked properly here. The UK civil service simply cannot build a working computer system of any kind either on it's own or by out-sourcing ("get the yellow pages").

It'll never happen - common sense says the cross-on-a-piece-of-paper system works fine, and for such a critical operation (who knows what might happen differently if we were run by tories instead of Tony. Serious question.) don't fix what ain't broke. We'll leave that nonsense to some of the sillier countries.

Re:How likely? (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920755)

who said the paper ballot system isn't broken? In the U.S. there are plenty of dead people that vote every year. There are plenty of counting issues, and more to the point, polling station shenanigans to prohibit or inhibit whole groups of people from being able to vote easily. This has been the way since very early on in U.S. history, if not before that.

Re:How likely? (1)

ewanm89 (1052822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920939)

Patch the holes you americans have first then add online voting! I certainly do not want online voting in the UK.

Re:How likely? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18920751)

Voting in the UK is anonymous i.e. they know you voted but not who you voted for. You cannot make online voting both secure and anonymous.

Not that voting is secure in so far as they don't check you are who you say you are, but on the other hand the people at the polling stations will probably notice if someone tries to vote multiple times.

I don't want online voting because I doubt it will be done securely leaving it open to abuse and election fraud, this doubt comes from a general lack of faith in government projects to do anything right. If they do manage to do it securely anyway, I believe that could only be done by removing the anonymity, which is fine as people would initially have a choice of how to vote. However, it would only be a short step away from making voting completely electronic by putting computers in the polling stations thus removing the choice on how to vote and losing anonymity in the process.

Maybe I'm just being paranoid here, but I certainly wouldn't put it past our current government to try something like this.

Scariest shit i have heard in ages (4, Insightful)

Timesprout (579035) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920211)

Should be like you driving test. If you want it , turn up and fucking do it. The world is not there for your wishful may or may not convenience.

Computer voting = StupidByDesign (2, Insightful)

Burz (138833) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920365)

Its bad enough with the online banking exploits out there, and those are kept in-check because there's no anonymity and both the bankers and the customers can check their statements and trace all activities back to their account numbers.

I'll say it again: Computer voting is Stupid By Design.

Re:Computer voting = StupidByDesign (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18920905)

Completely agree.
It's one area where the current system works well and is the best, there is no reason to "improve" it with computer crap.

Re:Scariest shit i have heard in ages (2, Interesting)

jez9999 (618189) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920471)

I've never understood all this 'encouraging people to vote' bullshit. The answer to me seems simple. Make it fucking MANDATORY, and put a 'none of the above box' on the ballot. Problem solved. I would be just fine with the few hundred lazy morons who couldn't be bothered to vote being in jail. Australia shows that it's quite feasible.

They'll never do that (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920547)

It would show in the statistics that the majority doesn't think any of the candidates are fit for the office.

Presidental elections are mandatory here, and by custom the first thing the new president does is declare a general amnesty for all those who didn't come to vote. It would be a farce anyway.

Re:They'll never do that (1)

Werkhaus (549466) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920713)

>It would show in the statistics that the majority doesn't think any of the candidates are fit for the office.

They'll need to include an option to spoil the ballot paper somehow. I'm an ex-pat, still vote via post in UK general elections. Since I think that none of the current are suitable for office, I exercise my democratic right to participate in the system, but I protest by spoiling the ballot.
Unless a None Of The Above option is included, how will I be able to have the same options with an internet ballot system?

Re:They'll never do that (1)

ewanm89 (1052822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920973)

I think it's called a DoS attack.

Re:Scariest shit i have heard in ages (1)

dan dan the dna man (461768) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920609)

Amen to that.

I don't think you need to jail them. A fine should do, deducted from whatever your PAYE equivalent is. Or removed directly from your benefits.

I used to not vote due to apathy. A lot of people had a go at me with the 'if you don't vote you can't complain' line. I still have no truck with that, I will complain when I like ;)

I vote now, even though my vote is always against the mainstream, even though my vote means nothing and does nothing to change my local or national democracy. But I vote to make sure that when the returns come in, there's another person registered and voted to show they are desperately unhappy with how things are run.

Re:Scariest shit i have heard in ages (1)

slysithesuperspy (919764) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920793)

Wow, authoritarian democracy, great.

Re:Scariest shit i have heard in ages (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 7 years ago | (#18921013)

The world is not there for your wishful may or may not convenience.

But I thought that was the point of politics to provide to the citzens in the first place. ;)

Should be like you driving test. If you want it , turn up and fucking do it.

I hate to break it to you, but I showed up to a test once about 15 years ago and now I just renew my license online (my state supports online registration)

All I have to do is show up at a valid photo booth with the information the State DOT mails me and they take a photo of me at an approved photo location. (Your state may differ)

Also... You forget that some people are handicapped, don't own a car, or generally unavailable (over seas) would benefit from this. (Some states do provide absentee ballots for the military or handicapped. Not all of them do this the same though)

Lastly, this would also alleviate local voting issues when there aren't enough polls around to allow people to vote in a timely manner. Remember in 2004 when people had 3-9 hour waits in places where the booths were understaffed and under equipped.

Personally, I think they should making voting a national holiday and encourages business to close much like Christmas or New Year's and let people know that this is something that should be celebrated and encouraged in all forms.

If it were more open... (3, Interesting)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920215)

I think e-voting can work. As long as the votes are kept totally public then I see it as being viable. It's the only way you can be sure everyone's vote was really counted how it should've been. The moment you start hiding votes and secreting them away you introduce the possibility for corruption from the organizers.

So, my question is: what's wrong with everyone knowing what everyone else voted? Does it create bias in the workplace? Do Liberal bosses see their Conservative employees votes and thus not give them raises, or worse, in an at-will state such as mine, just fire them outright?

Is this the kind of person you want to be your boss anyway? Wouldn't the system naturally cleanse itself from people like that? Sure, at first it'd be a bumpy road and a lot of chaos would ensue, but it seems to be the final state of things would be a lot smoother than the state of not even knowing if your vote was counted right, or if the people counting the votes stacked them somehow. It just seems like hiding votes has always been a crutch.

But please, correct me if I'm wrong...

TLF

Re:If it were more open... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18920373)

I apoligize, but you are wrong.

The core justification for 'hiding' or having a 'secret' ballot cast, is not to prevent accurate tallying, but to prevent coercion in voting; that is, someone threatening or paying you to vote a certain way, this has been prevented by having a secret ballot. This seems to me to be a major hurdle in e-voting and open elections, along with the obvious potential for fraud and manipulation.

Re:If it were more open... (4, Insightful)

DarkEntity (1089729) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920399)

The reason you don't want everyone else to know how other people voted is that knowing for sure how someone voted can lead to intimidation, bribery, and the like. Having an open ballot discourages sincere voting by subjecting people to even more peer pressure. As cliché as it might seem, peer pressure really would have a large effect in a thing such as this. Past peer pressure, there is always intimidation. Vote the wrong way and you'll pay. Ya dig?

Re:If it were more open... (1)

dvice_null (981029) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920497)

> knowing for sure how someone voted can lead to intimidation, bribery, and the like.

Do you anyone who has a digital camera in his or hers mobile phone? I don't see how hard it could be to bribe someone and ask him/her to take a photo as a proof.

Re:If it were more open... (2, Insightful)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920421)

It's the only way you can be sure everyone's vote was really counted how it should've been. The moment you start hiding votes and secreting them away you introduce the possibility for corruption from the organizers.
Some of what I studied in my computer science degree course was just how people could find out their vote had been counted correctly; can't remember how it was done, but it certainly wasn't "just show everyone's votes".

So, my question is: what's wrong with everyone knowing what everyone else voted?
It creates the potential for intimidation on the basis of voting, and the ability to skew the vote that way. Jesus, in some countries simply *voting* is enough to make you the target of violence. (Please don't use that as justification for saying "well, it won't make any difference if they know who you voted for then").

Does it create bias in the workplace? Do Liberal bosses see their Conservative employees votes and thus not give them raises, or worse, in an at-will state such as mine, just fire them outright?
Who knows; it certainly creates the potential for intimidation and manipulation of the vote.

Is this the kind of person you want to be your boss anyway?
There's something about your perspective on this reminiscent of Marge Simpson (and similar mothers everywhere) saying "Well, anyone who beats you up for wearing a shirt isn't your friend."

Wouldn't the system naturally cleanse itself from people like that?
Possibly. Or it might cleanse the troublemakers.

Sure, at first it'd be a bumpy road and a lot of chaos would ensue, but it seems to be the final state of things would be a lot smoother than the state of not even knowing if your vote was counted right,
You'd be absolutely sure if your vote had been counted, even if you were unwilling to vote for the person you actually wanted to vote for because you'd been threatened with X, Y and Z.

or if the people counting the votes stacked them somehow. It just seems like hiding votes has always been a crutch.
And the people who didn't like you and want to kill you on the basis of your vote aren't your friends anyway! Seriously, I think you're living in some fantasy libertarian lala land.

Re:If it were more open... (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920527)

How do you deal with a large, well-funded organization that says simply "Send us your vote receipt and if you voted for our candidate, we'll send you $10" Or $20. Or $50. The amount isn't really relevent.

How many people will vote "their principals" rather than with their wallet?

It would be almost impossible to prevent this sort of thing once you make voting verifiable in any way after voting. Sure, there might have to be a bit more subtlty with the offer, but it would be impossible to stop completely. This means that anyone with enough money could simply buy the required votes. Easily.

Of course, most people on the Left believe this is already commonplace with Republicans, so maybe they don't see it as anything new.

Paid for votes? (1)

cyberianpan (975767) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920541)

A strong argument often raised against open voting is that disinterested people would have their votes purchased. Given that in most jurisdictions turnout rarely goes over 60% there's a lot of scope for purchase. This would then lead to the richest 1% having say 80% influence (which may not be a bad thing).

Re:Paid for votes? (1, Insightful)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920605)

I thought about this whole purchasing votes idea. I tried to imagine that I was one of the people who sold their vote. Let's say I sold it to Bush in '04. For example sake let's say now in '07 I really regret selling my vote to him because I think he's screwed up really badly. Maybe this next election I won't sell my vote, and in fact will go vote for who I think is the best. This is probably better than the original situation, in which I never would've voted at all.

TLF

Re:Paid for votes? (2)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18921017)

I thought about this whole purchasing votes idea. I tried to imagine that I was one of the people who sold their vote. Let's say I sold it to Bush in '04. For example sake let's say now in '07 I really regret selling my vote to him because I think he's screwed up really badly. Maybe this next election I won't sell my vote, and in fact will go vote for who I think is the best. This is probably better than the original situation, in which I never would've voted at all.


So your argument for openly encouraging vote bribery is: "It gets the vote out, and maybe someday they won't vote the way they're bribed to." Wow. Just...wow.

Chris Mattern

Re:If it were more open... (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920553)

So, my question is: what's wrong with everyone knowing what everyone else voted? Does it create bias in the workplace? Do Liberal bosses see their Conservative employees votes and thus not give them raises, or worse, in an at-will state such as mine, just fire them outright?

Is this the kind of person you want to be your boss anyway? Wouldn't the system naturally cleanse itself from people like that? Sure, at first it'd be a bumpy road and a lot of chaos would ensue, but it seems to be the final state of things would be a lot smoother than the state of not even knowing if your vote was counted right, or if the people counting the votes stacked them somehow. It just seems like hiding votes has always been a crutch.

But please, correct me if I'm wrong...


You're wrong, so I'm correcting you. I think you put aside the question of intimidation far too easily. But on top of that, there can also be carrots as well as sticks. How would you like it if your representative was elected because everyone who voted for him got $10? Oh, they can't prove anything; nobody figured out where the money came from. But it sure was a nice bonus for the people who voted the right way.

Chris Mattern

Re:If it were more open... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18920571)

Not keeping the votes secret opens the door to vote-buying. Even though blatant vote-buying(money or other benefits in exchange for votes) may seem very unlikely in wealthy countries, scenarios such as abusive spouses or parents punishing their family for voting "wrongly" are not at all far-fetched.

Even without abuse proper, having votes public would encourage many people to vote in accordance with the beliefs of their family or their community in order to please them, rather than with their own beliefs.

People who vote for unpopular "extreme" parties may be harassed in their local community - i.e. right wing groups harassing extreme-left voters, left wing groups harassing extreme-right voters, etc. Similarly, people who vote for third-parties in systems such as the American one(where votes for, say, the Green Party, might influence the race in a direction other than that intended by the voter) might be targeted.

Furthermore, as you note, employers could screen potential or current employees by voting record. (This is not a hypothetical situation; remember e.g. McCarthyism.) Being denied work is a pretty fundamental form of persecution; if your opinion is so abhorrent to the majority that your chances of finding a job are significantly reduced, your quality of life is being decreased solely because of your political affiliations. (Remember that, in your scenario, you have no choice in the matter of whether or not you disclose this opinion publicly, assuming that you want to do your "civic duty" by voting.) Most people would say that this is unacceptable in a democracy.

This method also makes democratic elections completely useless as a weapon against dictatorship. If you imagine a country in a (literal) state of near-dictatorship where candidates were able and willing to use violence to coerce voters, a voting method such as this would obviously be completely useless for the same reasons: voting "wrongly" could have negative repercussions for any voter, so everyone would either vote "correctly" or just stay at home.

In the event of a democratic country turning into a dictatorship, having actual lists of the political sympathies of the entire voting population available might quickly turn very nasty indeed.

I can't really see any reason why such a system would necessarily work itself out and end up in a desirable final state.

Re:If it were more open... (1)

jejones (115979) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920573)

You are wrong. The system won't "cleanse itself." If others can determine how you voted, then you won't vote your true preference, at least not in some cases. It lends itself to abuse... as does voting online, because someone, e.g. an abusive spouse, could look over your shoulder.

Or how about this: the local union holds an "online voting party" and invites all its members. Of course, they'll be able to see how you vote, and if you decline the invitation, well, you must be trying to hide something, right?

Re:If it were more open... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18920811)

It lends itself to abuse... as does voting online, because someone, e.g. an abusive spouse, could look over your shoulder.

Do you want to tell us something, Jonesy? It's ok. You're safe here.

Re:If it were more open... (1)

Hennell (1005107) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920627)

Other then the reason someone mentioned above, of 'buying votes' there is also case for bias. I'm not sure how much it would effect general workplaces, the rate of apathy in this country means I don't think that many people would care, but certain career paths, and voters for certain strong view parties might have problems.
I don't recall all the details, but there was a case a while back of parents complaining about a teacher because he was fund-raising for the BNP. Similarly police officers would face scrutiny, and there would be loads of problems if they were found to have a strong BNP side. Whist open voting does allow for less chance to fake voting, it also takes away a key part of democracy; that of allowing to vote for who you want with no repercussions.
---
This signiture is remarkably specious
---

Re:If it were more open... (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920957)

It's the only way you can be sure everyone's vote was really counted how it should've been.
That's not true. There are plenty of ways to cryptographically verify a vote without exposing it publically using techniques like hashing and digital signatures. IF you look through prior Slashdot discussions there are a number of novel paper-based approaches as well.

What difference does it make (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18920233)

No career politician is suitable for office and we don't need an online system to have a "non of the above" option. There's a choice between candidates from 2 right-wing partys and the (guaranteed 3rd place) liberals, at least the vote rigging scandal will be amusing.

Re:What difference does it make (3)

Sj0 (472011) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920427)

If you reduce all parties to a single binary choice (Left or right), you'll fail no matter how you vote, and no matter how many choices you have.

Re:What difference does it make (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920563)

What WOULD be absolutely stunning would be to release a trojan that changes any vote cast on an infected machine to become a, say, green party vote or some other that "nobody" votes for.

I predict a landslide.

Consititionally busted voting (2, Interesting)

Original Replica (908688) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920253)

"Given security and privacy concerns in the states, how likely is this to appeal to US voters? "

For anyone to trust online voting, we would need some sort of paper trail or other form of accountibility. Can I print out a vote receipt? Not in the US.
Heck the only reason that we kinda trust the voting system we have is tradition and a lack of other choice. No the two party political system here is actually reliant on the electoral college and the untrackable vote to hold their two faceted monopoly on US Government. For further reading: http://gning.org/electoral.html [gning.org]

Re:Consititionally busted voting (1)

Sj0 (472011) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920569)

I was thinking about this, and the designers are morons. We don't need a fancy electronic interface. That's just pork. What would work best would be having a system where you simply feed your paper voting card into an "electronic box" which would use the same technology used to grade multiple choice quizes for ages to determine who you voted for before sending the voting slip to a big bag of votes in case they need to be recounted. Giving every voting booth a big fancy CRT in an extremely breakable box is just begging to be gamed.

Anonymity requires a physical ballot. (3, Insightful)

Burz (138833) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920265)

There is no satisfactory way around this basic fact.

Conduct elections online, and you open the process up to massive abuse where anonymity effectively become nullified.

For audits and recounts, computer forensics aren't nearly up to the abilities of traditional forensics. Physical ballots are why the Florida 2000 problems were so readily apparent.

Having computers print out physical (human-readable) ballots is fine. But trying to make an electronic "ballot" work anonymously is sheer stupidity.

Re:Anonymity requires a physical ballot. (1)

null-loop (111543) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920695)

Voting in the UK is only anonymous whilst the ballot is cast. Every ballot is numbered and the number is written against your name on the electoral roll. Weird UK law that most people don't know about, but it's been very effective in detering personation.

ntl (1)

Ramble (940291) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920313)

ntl:telewest is now called Virgin Media after they bought the mobile phone division from Virgin.

Bad idea (1)

Orig_Club_Soda (983823) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920317)

All you have to do is look at any kind of digital security and you can see that we will never be able to trust online results.

Not to mention (1)

Orig_Club_Soda (983823) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920351)

Voting is supposed to be anonymous. Voting online can pinpoint you pretty easily. We cant have both anonymity and validation at the same time.

It's Just Asking For ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18920441)

Boss: Ok, everybody line up and earn your raises at this computer terminal!
Workers: Who are we voting for today?
Boss: Tony Blair!
Workers: We're telling!
Boss: In that case, you're fired!

An online survey? (1)

kippers (809056) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920325)

I expect a higher than normal proportion of those who are online and taking an ntl survey would like online voting. I hardly see this as a fair sample.

There is a good reason to retain the voting booth. (4, Insightful)

geoff lane (93738) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920331)

One of the major reasons for a confidential voting process taking place in the voting booth is that it is difficult to intimidate the voter or make vote buying effective. As soon as the vote takes place elsewhere all kinds of influences become possible and almost impossible to detect or prevent.

Re:There is a good reason to retain the voting boo (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920451)

One of the major reasons for a confidential voting process taking place in the voting booth is that it is difficult to intimidate the voter or make vote buying effective. As soon as the vote takes place elsewhere all kinds of influences become possible and almost impossible to detect or prevent.
There are already problems with the postal voting system; intimidation, coercion and fraud. Throw in the issues of traceability and massively insecure and trojan-ridden computers half the country have and online voting is a damned stupid idea.

Re:There is a good reason to retain the voting boo (1)

null-loop (111543) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920717)

The insecurity of the client is possibly the biggest problem, but is solvable. The use of a pre-encrypted ballot (where each candidate / option in a contest is assigned a 4 digit code unique to the voter), ensures that a man-in-the-middle or trojan can't inspect the vote (it's a 4 digit number) or alter it (can't tell what to change it to). We're very keen to trial the system over here, which is what the pilots are all about, figuring out what people can and can't do / will and won't accept.

Re:There is a good reason to retain the voting boo (5, Interesting)

Zarhan (415465) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920521)

Already solved in Estonia. You can vote as many times as you want online, only your latest vote count. So if someone peers over your shoulder making sure you vote right, you can just change your vote as soon as he's gone. Also, by going to the actual physical voting booth you can also override any online votes if all else fails.

Re:There is a good reason to retain the voting boo (1)

caitriona81 (1032126) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920761)

I don't know if that completely solves it, but it comes close.

My only big concern is about people that are controlled more tightly than simple coercion - those in cults, under control of possessive spouses (some of whom are known to keep their partners essentially under lock and key without any unsupervised access to any communication devices), and the like.

As an additional safeguard, I think it's necessary that the voting system be structured in such a way that either only the voter knows the meaning of their ballot, or that only the voter knows whether or not they have recorded their ballot successfully.

A challenge/response step with a PIN might partially perform such a function - the PIN would constitute both the challenge, and the "signature" on the ballot, and the response you would receive back would be a sequence of numbers based on that PIN, such that some quick mental arithmetic could validate the response, but only if a certain secret were known.

In this way, so long as the PIN and secret were not compromised, the person could pretend to vote, and it would look like a successful vote each time. Certain values of the PIN and secret could also convey additional meanings, such as to covertly shut down the online voting account until the user appears in person before election officials to reset their PIN and secret.

I'm not sure how much additional security this gives against more sophisticated attacks - keyloggers and the like could still expose the PIN being used unless the PIN had to also be permuted. While I think the problem of maintaining a secret ballot can at least be partially solved in online elections, I'm not sure if the degree of assurance required can ever truly be met.

Re:There is a good reason to retain the voting boo (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920643)

Yep, like a Republican guy's Democratic girlfriend watching him vote and promising him he'll get extra-sweaty sex later if he votes for this or that candidate. That same guy might stand up to intimidation or bribery, but how many guys can refuse that kinda offer?

Intimidating the voter (1)

mangu (126918) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920951)

in the voting booth it is difficult to intimidate the voter or make vote buying effective


One thing that must be noted is that voter intimidation must be a scalable process to be effective. Even if one or other particular voter could be intimidated by neighbors or relatives at home, it's much easier to do it wholesale when everybody has to go to a certain place to vote.


Let's say the local drug lord has spread the word that "for every vote for candidate X a random house will be burned down in the neighborhood". When voters get near the voting station they see young thuds flicking cigarette lighters. That would be a pretty effective way to get the message through, much less work than going from home to home, ringing the door, and asking "do you have a light?"

Hay...NEone remeber this song: (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18920357)

"your mommy's butt is big, 'cause she eats a lot of peaches"

who sang it??? (besides me)

Insecure by design? (1)

quantaman (517394) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920489)

The biggest problem with the diebold machines is the lack of an auditable and voter-verified paper trail. How is it possible to have one with voting online? Either the voters have no way of making sure their vote was counted, or they are given a receipt which opens the door to vote buying and intimidation.

The only thing I can think of was a story here sometime ago which mentioned a design of a ballot which provided a voter verifiable receipt without revealing their vote, but I recall it being quite complicated and I don't know if it would work online.

Is there any way to implement online voting without making it unverifiable or allowing voter intimidation?

Polling place virtues (1)

badc0ffee (969714) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920507)

I am over 60, retired, and living in Florida. Been using networks from before the internet and have voted since I was 21. When you go to a polling place and vote, you get this neat little sticker that says "I voted, have you".

I am all for electronic voting as long as it is NOT networked, paper trail for audit, open source, on a machine that is a one trick pony. A voting machine does not have to cost thousands of dollars.

Still the biggest problem is people that are not qualified, uninformed, clueless to vote actually voting.

Remember to vote early and vote often.

I deem that highly dangerous (2, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920509)

I see every day trojans that are able to manipulate your online banking, altering the amount transfered and the target account, all the while making it impossible for the user to even notice it if he doesn't know where to look (i.e. in the inner workings of his system).

How much more interesting would it be to change his vote cast to a party you deem more desirable than the one that he actually wanted to pick?

Democracy is too valuable a thing to hand it to a machine. Money, fine. Business, ok. But not politics.

Brilliant (4, Insightful)

kbox (980541) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920511)

Now we will be able to shop, gamble and decide the fate of our own countries education and healthcare systems from the comfort of our fat sweaty arses.. Let me know when i can download fresh air and i'll never have to leave my house ever again.

ha, i'm a cynic (1)

digitalsushi (137809) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920513)

There's no way the current US administration would want younger people voting in greater percentages than they have to put up with now. It's too bad the slack jawed yokels can't figure out how to vote online too -- it'd at least even the two groups out!

Really bad intference here (4, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920531)

Just because somebody says they're more likely to vote online doesn't mean they want online voting.

It just means they admit there are times they might vote online when they wouldn't bother to go to the polls. It doesn't mean they think that online voting is better, or as good.

I've missed a couple elections over the last two decades. They were local elections for offices where I didn't think there was much difference between the candidates, and I was scheduled for business travel. It wasn't worth it to reschedule my trip or get an abstentee ballot. If we voted on line, I'd have voted remotely and I suppose I wouldn't have missed any elections.

So technically, this article would count me as ready to "embrace" online voting, even though I'd fight the idea tooth an nail if it ever came up. If it was the only way to vote, I'd vote that way. I might, over the course of my life, vote in a half dozen elections that I would otherwise have skipped because they weren't important for me. However, I'd never trust any election result again, including the ones that are important to me.

Why not use Lottery Machines? (1)

hoffbrau (1094949) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920583)

With all the interest in secure voting online, why not use all the lottery machines? All you'd have to do is reprint the paper sheets to match the election. Plus everyone that votes would be entered into a lottery to win a million $$$. Chris

How did they choose the 2300 sample? Online? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18920617)

How did they choose the sample? This is Telewest, let me guess it was done online, or via email?

Was the age group prechosen? Or did they select an age group that gave good results after taking the poll?

Are they f**kin nuts!!! (1, Insightful)

lewkor (111443) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920625)

With what has happened in the USA, are they absolutely nuts?!!! There is no way to verify the vote if that is on line. I am canadian and I read that Ontario is floating a trial balloon about having an online vote. Electronicly assisted elections are just a way to yell, "STEAL ME!".

No we don't (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18920645)

May I say, as an Englishman who's opinions are pretty middle of the road and representative, we want no such thing.

This report is a concoction. Based on the evidence of what I've seen in the United States I have no faith in
electronic voting systems whatsoever.

I will absent myself from the country and use my legally ensured right to vote by post if necessary.

dr who (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18920651)

does anyone remember the Dr Who episode with the Slug thing, mandatory e-voting, and presidential elections with
execution of the president when he became unpopular, the companion was Peri I think ?

Why is security important? (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920687)

OK, so you have a web page that allows anyone to vote. Maybe you restrict it by IP address to a geographical location, as much as that is possible. No restriction in multiple voting.

If you are motivated enough, you can vote 100 times for the same candidate. So what? If you are really motivated or have enough funding, you can get 1000 people to enter votes for you. How is this different from the current situation where party hacks drive around picking up people to take them to the polling place today?

If the election is a complete bore and nobody is really interested, they get maybe 10 votes. Better than the 3 they get today.

If there is a lot of interest, people stay glued to their computers voting over and over again. The interest of those that are motived substitutes for the utter apathy of the majority that don't care. Vote totals go up and maybe next time some more people are interested.

Fraud? What is vote fraud in such an environment? Given there are maybe a million people that are really interested in the US out of 300 million people you would have votes counted in the low billions, assuming some sweatshop places chain people to computers instead of sewing machines. Any attempted fraud would be quickly overwhelmed by real votes coming in.

Popular candidates get lots of votes. Britney Spears (in the US) might end up as a Senator. It would be completely driven by popularity, net exposure and the motivation of people. How many votes does American Idol get vs. the number of people that voted in the last presidential election?

Combine this with a 3 month presidential term so there are lots of elections and we wouldn't have a voter apathy problem in the US. We might have David Duke as president for three months, but what could he do in three months? We might have President Natalie Portman, but again for only three months. The advantages of this would be incredible - a 24 hour cable channel dedicated to candidates, newsletters, stage performances, massive contests and the like all centered around the now-omnipresent election.

Sound silly? How about a country where 20-30% of the people vote and most of them aren't informed past making the "Republican" or "Democrat" mark on the ballot? How about a country where most of the actual people getting elected are unopposed? What would be so wrong with having the candidates sing and dance to get elected if it got 1/10th the interest there is in American Idol?

What, all 3 of them want to vote online? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18920743)

It won't last, we'll be down to 2 by the next election.

NO NO NO (2, Insightful)

CranberryKing (776846) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920767)

E-voting is the worst idea that ever had an e- in front of it. Just don't do it. If it were up to me, I would make voting even more manual and paper based. Do all the totaling manually with a pencil and let me check your work. Absolutely THE WRONG application of technology.

Now I know that there will be lots of geeks immediately thinking of technical feasibility and a system architecture seems to want to start drawing itself in my head too. But this is just one thing you never want to make "more efficient".

Why? Because YOU CANNOT TRUST GOVERNMENT. You simply cannot. The framers of the US constitution understood that concept very well (really the anti-federalists more so but whatever). We have documentation that is quite explicit on this point. It's not being patriotic to hand your power over to a faceless system that will naturally want to preserve itself; that's being idiotic. Liberty is something that needs to be guarded and protected very diligently because there will always be someone willing to take away if you let them and once that happens you may never get it back. The right and the left in the US never address the fact the the 2nd Amendment to the US Consistution (well regulated militia, bear arms) was not put there so citizens could protect themselves from break-ins, thieves or highwaymen. It is so they can protect themselves from the government.

Just leave this one alone. We can have all the conveniences in the world thanks to technology, but people will just have to deal with the tremendous inconvenience of getting off their asses and going out and manually voting sometimes.

Neutral Third Party (2, Insightful)

sirkha (1015441) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920909)

Online voting would be great! But only if it was administered by a neutral third party. Like Switzerland. Or better yet, a Swiss bank.

Well... (1)

axia777 (1060818) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920913)

Then certain British voters a fools. Big fat stinking fools. Sorry to put it that way, but it true. This has security train wreck written all over it. But if they REALLY want to want to expose themselves to this, it is their call. Their call to have their vote stolen and manipulated that is.

Misleading presentation (1)

Syberghost (10557) | more than 7 years ago | (#18920959)

Here's what the survey actually says:

"Half of the kids who rarely vote say they'd probably vote if they could do so without getting off their fat asses, but two thirds of the people who actually vote say it's crap. Oh, and a trial run shows the lazy kids are full of crap anyway; when they can vote this way, they still don't."

Let people use email to request their absentee ballots; evoting, done. Next problem.
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