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Paper Trails Don't Ensure Accurate E-Voting Totals

CowboyNeal posted more than 6 years ago | from the keeping-them-honest dept.

363

An anonymous reader writes "In an new report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation they say that paper trails increase costs and can actually reduce the chances a voters' choices are accurately counted. Congress is considering a 'Voter Confidence and Increased Accountability Act of 2007,' which would mandate 'voter-verified' paper audit trails."

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363 comments

Grammar school (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20600759)

-A- new report, a -voter's- choices.

Um, duh? (0)

Atario (673917) | more than 6 years ago | (#20600761)

2000? Gore vs. Bush? Anyone?

Why the fuck do you guys need the machines? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20601063)

Why the fuck do you Americans need to use goddamn voting machines?

Canada gets away just fine with using paper ballots. When you vote, you use a pencil to put a check in a circle next to the name of the candidate you're voting for. The circle is large and the text is large, to allow those with poor eyesight to get a better view of what's on the ballot, thus reducing mistakes.

What's more, the results for Canadian elections are near-instantaneous. They actually have legislation in place to prevent the media from reporting about the final results in the eastern and central provinces while polling stations are still open in the west! Why the fuck can't the US manage that?

Yeah, the American population is 10 times larger than the Canadian population. But that's irrelevant! Use 10 times as many ballot counters, and the system will scale just as well.

It's a mixed situation here in Europe. Some of our nations use the sensible Canadian method. Others are stupid, and follow the American scheme with doodad voting machines and all that jibberjabber. But really, we should all just use the Canadian method. It's the best, and safest, there is.

Re:Why the fuck do you guys need the machines? (4, Informative)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601165)

The American ballots are also ten times as long because we don't use proportional representation and therefore get to vote for more than just a political party.

Re:Why the fuck do you guys need the machines? (3, Informative)

ReallyEvilCanine (991886) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601179)

You ever see an American ballot in a presidential election year? It's not just "Choose a president, a Representative and maybe a Senator". Along with the Federal level offices there's a multitude of State, County and Municipal positions to fill. Then there are the ballot initiatives; intentionally written as confusingly as possible, just getting through them can be a daunting task. One of the most credible reasons for poor American election turnout I've heard (after "It won't make a difference") is the fear of such an overwhelming task.

Re:Why the fuck do you guys need the machines? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20601211)

Well, why don't you just do things correctly then, and only vote for your MP, or whatever you call them.

What is it about American society that forces them to elect every state official? Is it that you don't have a proper Civil Service mentality, and are too easily bribed?

Signed - a well-wisher

Re:Why the fuck do you guys need the machines? (4, Insightful)

ReallyEvilCanine (991886) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601293)

What is it about your society that you aren't allowed to determine who should hold office, and instead allow some schmuck to appoint someone to do the job? Considering how many appointments already exist in the US and how massively that system has been abused this really shouldn't be a difficult idea for you to comprehend.

Re:Why the foolishness do you guys need the machin (4, Insightful)

Joseph_Daniel_Zukige (807773) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601329)

Just vote for the MP?

You think freedom can be reduced to a popularity contest?

Up until recently, America was about voting issues, not people.

Some people find it incomprehensible that an elected representative of the people would find himself trying to implement the will of the people, rather than simply assuming that the election gave him license to implement his/her own ideas. (You do hear me muttering under my breath here, yes.)

This is entirely the point of having the people vote on so much.

It has something to do with the DIY mindset that also used to be rather typical of people from the USA.

joudanzuki

Re:Why the foolishness do you guys need the machin (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601495)

Up until recently, America was about voting issues, not people.
No it wasn't. That is the entire point of representative democracy, and of the Electoral College. You vote for people to represent you. You are meant to select a small number of people you trust to make decisions regarding government, or choosing a president. The move towards voting on issues makes it closer to direct democracy, which your founding fathers had serious issues with, believing it to be nothing more than mob rule.

Re:Why the fuck do you guys need the machines? (2, Interesting)

I_Voter (987579) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601713)

well-wisher wrote:

"What is it about American society that forces them to elect every state official?"

---------------

One Reason

From the voters perspective the U.S. doesn't have political parties - only political labels.

Political parties in the U.S. used to be organizations that could field politicians that reflected the organizations interests, and would carry the organizations name on the ballot. By requiring political parties to nominate by publicly funded primaries, most U.S. states now require nomination by primary elections in each of our single member districts. The private member based political parties technically still exist, but now have no control over their own name! While I don't claim that real political party platforms are all that honest, we vote for many different individual politicians who are not all that honest either.. One elected politician can't pass a law! Heck: One elected politician can't get a bill out of committee!

A political party in a two-party system is a gigantic coalition of many different interests. Lacking an enforceable party platform, the other forces that decide which of these interests will get rewarded, after the votes are counted, are not very clear in either major party. Not clear to the voter anyway.

I_Voter

Much like Alice's cat - U.S. political parties have disappeared - leaving behind nothing but the many similar smiles of very individualistic politicians.

Re:Why the fuck do you guys need the machines? (4, Interesting)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601271)

What's ridiculous is that everything is done at once. If these terms are for the same length, have the State, County and Municipal positions done on a particular year, then two years later have the President, Representative, and Senator and then two years later have the State, etc. Also every election day should be made a public holiday that all but a very few have the day off for, and those that do work are given a special time (either before they work or afterwards) where they can vote outside of normal hours.

But of course the two major parties benefit from voter apathy as it helps ensure one of them will be voted. So the system is designed to maximize voter apathy.

Re:Why the fuck do you guys need the machines? (1)

zotz (3951) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601399)

as I posted recently here on /.

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=256957&cid=20023125 [slashdot.org]

Put the presidential and congressional races on one ballot, the rest on another if you like.

You could even have, national, state, local, and special ballots.

all the best,

drew

http://openphoto.net/gallery/index.html?user_id=178 [openphoto.net]
Underwater Musings

Re:Why the fuck do you guys need the machines? (1)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601681)

As I understand it the problem is that humans don't mark the papers correctly which makes it hard for them to be read and processed efficiently.

Wouldn't the simplest answer be to use whatever interface these voting machines have to make it easy for the voters to select their candidates and then just print out the voting slip from the back of the machine in a standard format which can be read electronically easily. The voter then takes the paper from the printer, reads it to check his choices have been correctly entered and then puts his vote in the ballot box to be transported to the counting centre where the papers are simply fed into the reading machine.

Re:Why the fuck do you guys need the machines? (1)

mh1997 (1065630) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601755)

One of the most credible reasons for poor American election turnout I've heard (after "It won't make a difference") is the fear of such an overwhelming task.
I call BS on the above statement.

Have you ever seen the choices for various lotteries and scratch-off games in most states? Talk about confusing, yet, poor uneducated people throw millions of dollars away every day on this "overwhelming task." They also do it very accurately, and there is a simple mechanism in place to return a ticket with the incorrect numbers and make it right

Then the real kick in the pants is that within 15 minutes of the lottery draw, the state knows exactly how many winners, where each ticket was sold, and the exact amount of the payout and profit to the state. Surely if our most disadvantaged citizens can figure out the lottery, and the state can manage all those scanned sales slips that the person fills out to pick the numbers using a pencil or pen (kind of sounds like a ballot), surely we can have a simple, secure, and accurate voting system.

If that is too much to ask for, maybe we should have a system where 50ish candidates run, and you are required to pick the 6 that you think will win. Rock/Paper/Scissors picks the winner out of the final 6.

Re:Um, duh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20601559)

Sure...the NYT (and other uber-left organizations) counted the votes and Bush still won Florida. So stop trying to push it was stolen.

What do you expect ? (4, Informative)

foobsr (693224) | more than 6 years ago | (#20600775)

The rest of the board is similar (link [innovationpolicy.org] ).

"Rhett Dawson is President and CEO of the Information Technology Industry Council (ITI). Immediately prior to being selected as President of ITI, Dawson was Senior Vice President of Law and Public Policy for the Potomac Electric Power Company. In the Reagan administration, Dawson was Assistant to the President for Operations. At the White House, he managed the staff and decision-making process for President Reagan and was responsible for three White House support units: the White House Office, the Office of Administration, and the White House Military Office. He also was Executive Director of two presidential commissions, the President's Special Review Board (the Tower Board) that investigated the Iran-Contra matter, and the President's Blue Ribbon Commission on Defense Management (the Packard Commission). During the 1980s Dawson was a partner in two Washington law firms. Earlier in his career, he was Staff Director and Chief Counsel for the Senate Committee on Armed Services, Minority Counsel for the Senate Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (the Church Committee), and Minority Counsel for the Joint Committee on Defense Production. He is a member of the statutory Commission on National Guard and Reserve, and he is Vice Chair of the State Department's advisory committee on International Communication and Information Policy. Dawson received his undergraduate degree from Illinois Wesleyan University, where he was recognized in 2001 as the Alumni of the Year. He was awarded his law degree from Washington University."

CC.

Re:What do you expect ? (4, Informative)

JoelKatz (46478) | more than 6 years ago | (#20600821)

I would have much more confidence in a cryptographic scheme that makes it effectively impossible for a voting machine to cheat. This is not all that difficult to accomplish and the necessary design criteria are widely available in the literature. A paper trail doesn't really help.

The basic idea (and I'm oversimplifying, I apologize) works like this:

1) You go to vote. You are shown a voter ID number on the screen. You are welcome to write it down if you wish.

2) You select your candidate of choice. If you wish, you are given a paper receipt providing cryptographic proof that the voter ID you were shown in step 1 voted for the candidate you chose.

3) If anything goes wrong in steps 1 or 2, complain loudly and immediately. This is equivalent to you not being allowed to enter the voting area or a machine displaying a candidate other than the one you pushed.

4) If you wish, you may opt to receive copies of paper receipts of other votes for other candidates too. (So that someone can't demand to see your receipt to prove you voted for a particular candidate, since you can get a receipt of someone else who voted for any candidate.)

5) When the results are publicized, the total number of votes is checked against the total number of voters. Any voter with a paper receipt not on the final tally knows their vote wasn't counted. (Though they can't prove it was their vote, of course, they can prove that *a* valid vote wasn't counted.)

6) The receipts can be scannable with barcode and groups may, if they wish, stay outside of voting areas and ask voters if they may scan their receipts. A church group, for example, could make sure all of its members votes are counted this way, though they could never be truly sure how each member voted.

Vote counting 101 (5, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 6 years ago | (#20600913)

"I would have much more confidence in a cryptographic scheme that makes it effectively impossible for a voting machine to cheat. This is not all that difficult to accomplish and the necessary design criteria are widely available in the literature. A paper trail doesn't really help."

There is just one simple, practical, logical rule for machine assisted voting that anyone need remeber:

A machine that prints your choice is at worst a waste of money, a machine that counts your choice is at best a waste of money.

Re:Vote counting 101 (2, Insightful)

JoelKatz (46478) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601155)

A printout at best proves that your vote was counted. At worst, it's ignored or lost. Cryptographic proof that your vote was counted is superior to a printout in every imaginable way.

How is your vote being printed on a piece of paper that might get lost, ignored, misread, or replaced with another better than a cryptographic receipt that must appear on the final tally or you can prove conclusivley that a validly cast vote was not counted?

Re:Vote counting 101 (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20601247)

Umm... because we're human?

That means we can understand paper ballot rigging, and allow for it. We can't do shit about technical shenanigans (unless we're a techie).

Imagine humans as having inbuilt self-correcting error protocols for things like fiddling paper counts, and you'll understand what I mean!

Re:Vote counting 101 (1)

Joseph_Daniel_Zukige (807773) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601465)

Umm... because we're human?

That means we can understand paper ballot rigging, and allow for it. We can't do shit about technical shenanigans (unless we're a techie).

Imagine humans as having inbuilt self-correcting error protocols for things like fiddling paper counts, and you'll understand what I mean!

Not to mention that receipts are a red herring.

Re:Vote counting 101 (5, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601581)

"How is your vote being printed on a piece of paper...."

The basic protocols of manual counting have been tried and tested for well over 100yrs. They are not perfect and are suscepible to "retail fraud" (eg: box stuffing, stand over tactics, ect), ANYTHING that can tie an individual to a particular vote opens the door to stand-over merchants. What is worse is that ANY counting machine is suceptible to "wholesale fraud" (eg: one person + one point of attack = flip an entire election any way you want).

The old fashion system is fast, efficient, auditable, well understood and extensively tested - most importantly the human counters MISTRUST each other by design. Before you reinvent the wheel try googling for "election observers" or "secret ballot".

Re:What do you expect ? (5, Insightful)

foobsr (693224) | more than 6 years ago | (#20600931)

My opinion is that there is no 'secure' e-voting system.

I also do not see any reason to abandon paper-based voting, which still is not 100% secure, but much more difficult to 'hack' due to transparency by distribution of control.

CC.

Re:What do you expect ? (2, Interesting)

JoelKatz (46478) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601223)

"My opinion is that there is no 'secure' e-voting system."

I think we can all agree that there is no secure paper voting system. The paper votes can either not lost can be replaced with other pieces of paper.

"I also do not see any reason to abandon paper-based voting, which still is not 100% secure, but much more difficult to 'hack' due to transparency by distribution of control."

How is paper based voting more difficult to hack than a cryptographically signed, publically available "receipt" for each vote? Pieces of paper can be lost. A cryptographic receipt cannot be lost, because you can then prove it's not in the final tally.

I agree that all current electronic voting systems are bad jokes. But this does not mean that a properly-designed electronic voting scheme cannot be significantly more secure than any paper based system could ever be.

proof (1)

Joseph_Daniel_Zukige (807773) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601503)

is dependent on the implementation.

And the final step of the implementation is, you guess it, making sure the voting machine gets to the polls and back to the county or parish offices with unmodified ROM and RAM.

Electronic and mathematical methods are not visible to the ordinary voter. That is the problem.

(They're not really visible to techie types, either, unless both you and I are allowed to check every ROM at every voting booth at every point in the day, and we still would have to be able to trust each other.

You do trust me, right?)

joudanzuki

Re:What do you expect ? (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601561)

A cryptographic receipt cannot be lost, because you can then prove it's not in the final tally.

I might be able to prove it's in the final tally. You, too, might be able to prove it's in the final tally. 99% of the voting population, however, have not studied cryptography and would have to rely on an expert to check their vote (and, of course, such a system would have to be designed to make it impossible for the voter to prove to someone else which way they voted).

An election is only democratic if the electorate is able to trust it. If I have a magic wand I wave and then pronounce the results, it doesn't matter if I am 100% accurate, because no one will trust it. And they shouldn't trust it, because there is nothing stopping me from simply making up the result.

In a paper election, anyone who doesn't trust the system can observe the entire procedure. They can watch the ballot box, from the point they enter their vote, watch the counting, and watch the reporting. Verification is not limited to the technorati, it is available to every single voter. This is why paper voting remains superior.

Re:What do you expect ? (1)

OgreChow (206018) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601709)

You don't need an expert to confirm that it is in the final tally if you can just log in to a web site, type in the alpha-numeric code on your receipt, and have it confirm the presense of your vote. You can then be given the option to look at all of the encrypted votes, so that if one wished, one could count them and see that their vote was among those for whom you voted. The only problem I see with this is the ability to stuff the ballot box -- but you would have to steal or break people's private keys first, which would greatly increase the cost of voter fraud.

mod parent up (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601083)

Yep, that sounds good.

However, I still wonder what advantage this brings over the old fashioned way...

Re:mod parent up (1)

JoelKatz (46478) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601261)

"However, I still wonder what advantage this brings over the old fashioned way..."

There are a few:

1) Individual voters can be assured that their vote was counted. Of course, they cannot prove to others that their vote was counted.

2) If a vote is not counted, the voter can prove that there exists a vote that was not counted. Of course, he cannot prove that it is his vote. He can anonymously submit this cryptographic proof and we'll all know that at least this one vote was "lost".

3) If a member of a group cooperates with that group, the group can make sure that the member's vote is counted. Of course, the group cannot know whether or not the member cooperated.

4) Tampering with the voting system at high level becomes much more difficult. You have to tamper right at the polling places because once a cryptographic proof of a vote is out, you can do nothing to stop it.

5) If extra votes are injected into the system by any means, it will be known where they were injected. It may not be possible to separate the bogus votes from the individual legitimate votes, but at least you'll know what subset of votes must include the bogus votes. For example, you may say "polling place X reported 13,000 votes but only had 11,500 voters, so these 13,000 votes must include 2,500 bogus ones".

And you are going to trust me to burn the ROMs, (1)

Joseph_Daniel_Zukige (807773) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601535)

right?

And trust me to carry the machines to the polling places, and generate the cryptographic keys (on my computer), right?

Yes?

Re:mod parent up (1)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601685)

So, how does one know that what shows up on the receipt and what is actually counted are the same thing?

You keep talking about knowing if a vote was lost or extra votes were injected, but that isn't the only issue, you also have to know that the votes that are casted are counted correctly and not flipped.

Is there protection against this in the finer details of the cryptography (sorry, I'm not very familiar with cryptography) and if so, how do you prevent the receipt generated from displaying a hash that doesn't match the human readable screen? After all, I can complain that my vote got flipped, but by design, I can't prove that it was my vote, so I can't prove that I know what the vote should be.

Why so complex, dude? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20601151)

Why do you propose such a complex system for something that should be really simple? There's no need for cryptography, or machines, or software, or printouts, or any cockamamie like that.

Voting is simple: you use a pencil to check a circle on a paper ballot. You put the paper ballot in a box with the ballots from other people. Once everyone has voted, the box is opened, and the ballots are tallied by hand.

Yes, it's that simple. That's just how it's done in many other Western nations, including Canada, the UK, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and even in a place like India, which has three times the population of the US.

Re:What do you expect ? (2, Insightful)

will_die (586523) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601287)

1) Good luck finding a write instrument, how many have you gone to post office, bank, etc where you need a pen to fill out a form and could actually find a pen? :) Besides you are giving them a printout why not print it on there.
3) How would that printout prove anything on how your vote is recorded, if you really wanted to mess up the machine you would display the correct results and record the wrong. If I wanted to add votes the old ways are still the best ways; get the dead to vote.
4) The giving of extra papers does nothing, except cause a whole bunch of extra receipts to be floating around. If I was forcing/bribing someone to vote my way I would just use early or mail voting and not worry about it; what states do not provide mail in absentee voting for any reason?
5) If you cannot verify what the vote was for what are you adding? Again if I am changing votes in the software I would print out everything as correct and record the vote the way I want it to be.

6) The problem here is you are giving outside people access to the list of voters, even though it is just a random ID assigned to that person. How would use keep that bar code reader up to date with the latest people who voted, wireless, rotating the readers in/out, have them connected to a network? That is a whole bunch of technology that someone would need to setup and manage. Also the main place you would want to check is after all the votes have been turned into the central location. You would be better off with systems like the blood banks use where you can call number enter a private key and get the results.
As for the encryption and giving that to the user, if I can mess up the software I can get your encryption key, and then make as many receipts as I want.
The whole point of this is that paper reciepts taken outside of the voting place are worthless except to make the voter feel good. They could not be used to verify votes, they cause a huge amount of waste and once it leaves the control of the distributing entity it is worthless for anything requiring accountability.

Re:What do you expect ? (2, Insightful)

JoelKatz (46478) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601391)

"1) Good luck finding a write instrument, how many have you gone to post office, bank, etc where you need a pen to fill out a form and could actually find a pen? :) Besides you are giving them a printout why not print it on there."

This is not really essential. It's just to protect against a tampered voting machine that basically doesn't record your vote at all. Even paper trails have this same limitation -- if a voter doesn't *look* at the paper, it does no good.

"3) How would that printout prove anything on how your vote is recorded, if you really wanted to mess up the machine you would display the correct results and record the wrong. If I wanted to add votes the old ways are still the best ways; get the dead to vote."

If the machine displays the correct results but records it wrong, it has to do one of two things:
1) Provide correct cryptographic proof, in which case the voting machine will have to turn in two votes for every one that goes in. A paper printer can do this too and it would be just as easy to detect.
2) Provide incorrect cryptographic proof, in which case the first poll monitor to get an invalid receipt would immediately know that this is happening.

There may be better ways to handle this. I don't recall in detail.

"4) The giving of extra papers does nothing, except cause a whole bunch of extra receipts to be floating around. If I was forcing/bribing someone to vote my way I would just use early or mail voting and not worry about it; what states do not provide mail in absentee voting for any reason?"

This doesn't affect the choice of in-person voting methods, so it's not an objection or advantage of either system. I do agree that mail in voting and internet voting present problems that are much harder to solve than these.

"5) If you cannot verify what the vote was for what are you adding? Again if I am changing votes in the software I would print out everything as correct and record the vote the way I want it to be."

Then there would be two votes going out for every one going in. The machine would have to do one of two things:
1) Not pass on the votes it printed receipts for. In which case the first poll monitor to see a receipt not in the pass on list would know this was going on.
2) Pass on both votes, in which case the first poll monitor to check the counts would see this.

"6) The problem here is you are giving outside people access to the list of voters, even though it is just a random ID assigned to that person."

How is giving outside people a list of random numbers harmful?

"How would use keep that bar code reader up to date with the latest people who voted, wireless, rotating the readers in/out, have them connected to a network? That is a whole bunch of technology that someone would need to setup and manage. Also the main place you would want to check is after all the votes have been turned into the central location. You would be better off with systems like the blood banks use where you can call number enter a private key and get the results."

You can certainly output the votes wireless or use other kinds of ways to make the voting information either publically available or available to monitors from various agencies. This is already done in most current voting systems. I agree that the type of voting system I'm discussing is not easy to implement.

Maybe you're missing the point. I'm not saying "here's the best voting system ever, let's use this". I'm saying: Here's a voting system that demonstrates a lot of things that people may not realize. For example, it shows that a cryptographic voting system can provide the same assurances a paper trail does. Here's a system that provides voter receipts so voters can be sure their votes are counted but doesn't make it possible to tell how any particular person voted.

So I am saying, your assumptions about voting are broken. If you want to be able to judge voting systems competently, the first thing you have to do is figure out what your requirements are and what's good and what's bad. And you are probably doing that wrong because you have a lot of mistaken assumptions about properties of voting systems. (Not you personally.)

"As for the encryption and giving that to the user, if I can mess up the software I can get your encryption key, and then make as many receipts as I want."

The encryption keys should definitely be sealed in secure signature units that prevent duplication and key extraction. Each polling place should have its own key, so that if there's a key compromise, you can limit the number of legitimate votes mixed in with the bogus ones.

But again, all I claimed was that this could detect tampering. Every voting system, pretty much, can detect extra votes slipped in.

"The whole point of this is that paper reciepts taken outside of the voting place are worthless except to make the voter feel good. They could not be used to verify votes, they cause a huge amount of waste and once it leaves the control of the distributing entity it is worthless for anything requiring accountability."

Huh? Why do you say that? The receipt can be checked against the final results. If the individual vote in the receipt is not in the final results, the cryptographic signature shows that it was validly cast, the lack of that ID on the final results shows it was not counted.

Re:What do you expect ? (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601349)

TherE's a lot of resistance to any idea that would allow a voter to prove who he voted for since that could be used to blackmail people into voting a certain way (e.g. "anyone who didn't vote for Bush gets fired!").

Re:What do you expect ? (2, Interesting)

JoelKatz (46478) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601555)

'There's a lot of resistance to any idea that would allow a voter to prove who he voted for since that could be used to blackmail people into voting a certain way (e.g. "anyone who didn't vote for Bush gets fired!").'

Right, that's why nobody's suggesting that. None of the proposed schemes make it possible to determine who a voter voted for without that voter's cooperation. With that voter's cooperation, he can simply tell you. None of them make it possible for a voter to *prove* that he voted a particular way.

A common mistake is to assume that "voting receipt" must make it possible to prove how any given voter voted. This is true if and only if the receipt contains two items of information:
1) Who voted.
2) How they voted.

Nobody is suggesting any kind of receipt that contains both of these pieces of information. The scheme I proposed above contains how the vote was cast but as for the "who voted" part, it contains only an identifier that is randomly chosen by the voting machine and that cannot be provably associated with any particular voter.

(And note that that proposed scheme above was not intended to be a practical scheme. It was just intended to prove specific points. For example, it proves that you can provide receipts that allow a voter to prove to themselves and those with whom they cooperate that their vote was counted but not be coerced into voting a particular way. It proves that a cryptographic scheme can provide certain types of assurances that many think such scheme cannot provide. And so on. It's not suggested as an actual practical scheme.)

The problem with math games (2, Insightful)

Joseph_Daniel_Zukige (807773) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601435)

is that only the mathematicians really understand what's going on.

We may know that (if and only if the algorithm is implemented correctly) the method works, but for the rest of the citizenry, this is asking them to put their trust in (yet another) technical priesthood.

The system has to be simple enough for anyone to see, and simple enough that anyone willing to comprehend freedom can comprehend it. It has to be visible.

Thus, the stubbed, anonymous paper ballot, the stub and the ballot going in separate, locked boxes, and each voting station accounting for every ballot received, and more than two voting judges, from different parties, present all during the setup, voting, takedown, and initial count.

It is not perfect, but it is visible, and it works.

Nothing in this world is perfect, and when you start playing cryptic cryptographic math games, it just makes part of the process invisible (opaque) to too many voters.

joudanzuki

Re:What do you expect ? (1)

zotz (3951) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601481)

Something in this all is not making sense to me... Perhaps it is just too early and I was up too late.

So, assuming what you say above is right for a minute, I would say, just print a paper ballot along with the paper receipt providing cryptographic proof that the voter ID you were shown in step 1 voted for the candidate you chose. And you optional receipts... no optional ballots...

Put the ballot in the box outside the booth and carry on with your plan from there on.

Problems?

all the best,

drew

http://pc.celtx.com/search?q=zotz&c=&o=rel [celtx.com]

Re:What do you expect ? (1)

phurley (65499) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601745)

My problem is with your step 5, if there is a tally of votes, my vote is not anonymous -- if the guy checking my "receipt" is given someone else's receipt, among other things it is possible he will get "duplicates" which will get me in trouble. If you consider this a non-issue, as duplicates will not be detected/found etc, then it is just as easy for the system to provide multiple votes the same receipt while casting votes for a different candidate.

There is one significant problem, if there is a tally somewhere with votes tied to voters, anonymity is lost. It is either possible to verify my vote to my voter id -- or -- it is possible for a malicious hack to the machine to count my vote to the wrong candidate and give me incorrect verification.

If you have a clever way to prevent this that is accountable, I am all ears. I still do not the problem with optically scanned ballots: simple, anonymous and verifiable. (I am not in anyway associated with any company that produces voting machines optical or otherwise) I just don't trust (bring on the cyrpto I am not afraid), of any system that has thus far been presented.

pth

Re:What do you expect ? (5, Insightful)

sslo (1143755) | more than 6 years ago | (#20600851)

Information Week has given itself a black eye by saying nothing at all of any interest or substance about this issue, while hyping a report that it can't even describe adequately. All this means is that a "Black is White, Up is Down" paper will be forthcoming soon from an industry shill. The only news here is that this a self-inflicted reminder not to read Information Week.

Re:What do you expect ? (1)

JoelKatz (46478) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601295)

In case my other replies suggested otherwise, I agree. This article is completely and utterly worthless. It's a report on a summary of a study that isn't out yet, and gives us no reason to believe that the study's summary accurately describes the study or that the study is in any sense rigorous.

I am a defender of cryptographic voting systems as potentially providing much better security properties than paper audit trails can. But I have no reason to think this study is legitimate, and frankly think that this type of premature publication suggests that it may not be.

Re:What do you expect ? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601575)

This is what Information Week always does; it's not new. There's a reason my user CSS file displays a read troll warning after any informationweek.com links.

Been there, done that. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20600781)

How about dropping marbles into jugs to vote in a private room as a way of voting?

Who are these people? (3, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 6 years ago | (#20600811)

Who are the "Information Technology and Whatsit Foundation"? Because it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if they're a lobby group representing Diebold.

Re:Who are these people? (2, Insightful)

foobsr (693224) | more than 6 years ago | (#20600823)

More like a lobby for corporate US.

CC.

Re:Who are these people? (1)

Tuoqui (1091447) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601519)

No clearly they're representing Delacroy err right I guess Diebold.

Worthless article (4, Insightful)

Confused (34234) | more than 6 years ago | (#20600825)

The article is totally worthless. It just states that some industry-sponsored organisation doesn't like paper trails. Let me guess, it's sponsored by the voting machine manufacturers or by Buy-An-Election Inc.

As to why paper trails are bad, they don't say, just that they will publish a paper really soon now. News at 11.

Re:Worthless article (5, Interesting)

VirusEqualsVeryYes (981719) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601027)

As to why paper trails are bad, they don't say
That's textbook FUD for ya. Make a claim, let the news sink in, then follow up later with easily debunked reasoning far after everyone's stopped paying attention.

I've been interested in the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project [caltech.edu] for awhile now, and they have quite a few papers on voting issues, including discrepancies, statistics, technologies, reliability. One paper in particular [caltech.edu] (PDF warning) speaks of a study done on different methods of verifying user voting. For the mock election, they randomly inserted incorrect vote records, and thus tested different methods of auditing, to see how often voters noticed the discrepancy. With the paper trail, only 8% acknowledged any problem (i.e., realized that the machine voted wrong). For an auditing system, that's not at all counterproductive as the topical article would have you believe, but it's still pathetically ineffective.

A different kind of auditing system is advocated in the paper: one using audio via headphones to play back the recorded votes to the voter. 77% of voters caught the errors. Of course with every added system, there is inherent risk -- listening devices, accessibility, etc. -- and, of course, audio auditing is relatively untested, but this seems promising. This, however, assumes that the problem is with voters or the machines making an honest mistake and not with the machines maliciously changing votes. Thus, the best course of action would be to have both paper and audio: one to help the voter, the other to verify recounts and prove unreliability.

Of course, no auditing system, no matter the sophistication or rate of helpfulness, will matter if the machines themselves are designed to be corrupted and the vote counts manipulated. Ultimately, it will be far more beneficial to the American people if, rather than trying to force accountability and regulations on corrupted producing companies bought and paid for by corrupt political crooks, the machines are written and produced, or at least heavily tested, by independent committees.... May I suggest academic committees, such as this Caltech/MIT VTP, or similar groups? Their ultimate goal is to certify reliability, and since academics is far less motivated by money, they're far less likely to be corrupted. Or so goes my theory, anyway.

Re:Worthless article (3, Insightful)

nahdude812 (88157) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601129)

Headphones would also be a substantial health hazard. There's no way I would put an object on my head which has been on the head of hundreds of other people just today.

The biggest concern is not with people making a mistake in recording their votes (though this is a concern, but one which is easily correctable with a good user interface), but with machines which may be tampered with to alter the outcome of the vote.

Even the marbles-in-a-jug thing is easily falsifiable since anyone with two marbles gets two votes, let alone with a hundred marbles.

The idea is that you have to make the "authority" on which vote is which an immutable record. That is to say something which can't be changed after the vote has been cast. There's nothing in the computer world where this is the case. Not even cryptography would suffice since the voting machine does all the cryptography, and it could easily show you one cryptographically signed vote and record a different cryptographically signed vote. If it has everything it needs to do the original signing, it has everything it needs to forge the signing of different data.

This immutable authority is most easily done as a paper trail. The paper can be shown to users through a piece of glass, and once confirmed, be fed into a locked audit box. Unfortunately even this is still vulnerable to a malicious machine continuing on to forge votes between users and feeding those votes into the box. At least the machine couldn't delete existing votes, it would only be able to add to them, and that would show up as more votes registered than votes cast.

So I think the current approach is that each voter would be issued an audit card as they enter the voting booth. The machine doesn't have these, and the user feeds the card into the machine for their vote to be recorded.

Re:Worthless article (2, Funny)

srussia (884021) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601259)


Even the marbles-in-a-jug thing is easily falsifiable since anyone with two marbles gets two votes, let alone with a hundred marbles.

Baloney! Anyone who bothers to vote has obviously lost all his marbles already.

Re:Worthless article (2, Informative)

Oktober Sunset (838224) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601455)

If voting made a difference, they wouldn't let you do it.

If I were being really suspicious about fud (2, Interesting)

Joseph_Daniel_Zukige (807773) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601613)

I would be guessing that this article is a red herring designed to make voting machines that _do_ print paper trails appear more respectable.

Anti-Privacy and Anti-Citizen (5, Informative)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 6 years ago | (#20600849)

Just a quick browse of their "ITIF in the news" [itif.org] page and it looks like they are big fans of Real-ID and RFID tagging in general. On network neutrality [itif.org] they appear to be in favor of just leaving it up to the FCC to determine on a case-by-case basis what telecomm companies are abusive and which aren't - no legislation required, and their justification seems to be that some of the proposed legislation has been over-the-top (typical FUD about preventing telecomms from 'innovating').

Who funds these people?

Yet again ... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20600867)

... the answer is very simple.

The voter marks the ballot paper with a pencil. The ballots are counted by hand by human beings.

Completely transparent, complete audit trail, safeguards against all the failure modes discovered over the decades, results within hours, recounts within hours if needed.

Oh, and I expect it's cheaper than all this inappropriate mucking around with computers too. Computers aren't the answer to everything. This is one application in which they have no place.

Re:Yet again ... (1)

uglyduckling (103926) | more than 6 years ago | (#20600963)

The problem is that a significant number of people have difficulty understanding how to correctly cast their vote using a pencil and a piece of paper. A racist political party in the UK has won a case to have a ballot recounted because of this: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/lancashire/6992574.stm [bbc.co.uk]

No freedom (1)

Joseph_Daniel_Zukige (807773) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601743)

for people unwilling to learn how to exercise their franchise.

If the voting process required sacrificing a thirteen minute dead chicken at exactly thirteen and a half minutes past midnight, and signifying one's voice by choice by the seasoning (eye of newt for candidate A, bat's whisker for candidate B, etc.) then, yeah, there is an issue with the process being too complicated.

That's kind of what the problem with the hanging chads was. (And, if you think about it, one way of describing the problem with cryptographic methods.)

But checking a box or column?

If a voter can't be bothered to understand how to find the correct box or column to make a mark in, he or she really lacks some moral standing when complaining about votes not being counted.

joudanzuki

Re:Yet again ... (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601103)

I am amazed at how technophobic people enjoy electronic voting without seeing the problems of it.

Hell, I am ready to get my brain wired to a computer through surgery but when discussing of the e-voting problems with people I am being told that I must not be afraid of progress...

Re:Yet again ... (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601177)

results within hours
No they aren't. It just looks that way because other nations have shorter ballots due to the proportional representation system.

Wait one minute here ok... (4, Insightful)

SerpentMage (13390) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601255)

American's are not the only ones with long ballots. Germany has long ballots as well because you get to vote twice (your first vote and second vote). Then add in all of the tom-dick-harry parties and ballots become 24 inches long. In Switzerland folks vote every three to four months since it is a direct democracy. My point is the long ballot is not an excuse.

What I think is problematic in the US is that there is this automatic tendency to automate tasks and thus making it difficult for the people to carry out the task. Case in point the ballots with hanging chads. Why on earth is there such a ballot? Oh yeah so that you can save a few bucks on counting the votes. But who cares that the voter has to take a Phd on casting votes.

To put this in context. India in 2004 put in electronic voting machines for 348 million people http://www.kablenet.com/kd.nsf/Frontpage/A109B59D2C4BCBA380256E9400373E62?OpenDocument [kablenet.com]

I am sure its not perfect, BUT you have to think twice about this. In a country that is mostly poverty stricken and where people can't really read they have a working democratic system and 348 million people can vote electronically. And what was the population of the US? 300 million...

No, the problem here is quite simple the American voting infrastructure. It's not the fault of the people, nor the political system, but the folks who run the voting infrastructure! They need a good "flogging."

Re:Yet again ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20601345)

Wrong. I have attended many manual counts in several countries without proportional representation. In all cases the results were announced within hours.

Re:Yet again ... (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601619)

The UK has a first-past-the-post electoral system, not any kind of proportional representation. Not that it makes a difference; whether you vote for a party or a candidate, the complexity is the same. Ireland, on the other hand, uses a Single Transferable Vote (STV) system. In this system each voter lists all candidates in order of preference. Votes are counted once, then if no candidate has more than 50%, the least popular candidate's votes are redistributed among the other candidates by looking at the second vote. This is repeated until one candidate has 50% of the vote. This has a much higher counting complexity than the US system, and yet they still managed to get results out by the next morning.

The only system I've seen where you don't have the result the next day is the French Presidential election. Here, if no candidate has more than 50% of the vote, the election is re-run a week later with just the two most popular candidates from the first round.

Paper trails have the proven track record (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20600871)

"ITIF wants to spark discussion of how new technology can solve the problems. The report outlines innovations in voting machines that offer "end-to-end verifiability." It explains the cryptography the systems use and says that Congress should pass legislation based on S. 730 and H.R. 2360, which require verifiable audit trails without specifying that paper be used."

1. Not end to end. I can't do cryptography decryption in my head, and the vote verifier at the other end, he can't also do decryptions in his head. So any solution that involved cryptography isn't end to end.

2. One doesn't preclude the other. You can encrypt the electronic vote AND STILL HAVE THE PAPER AUDIT TRAIL to check the machine's cryptographic vote matches the voters intentions.

3. Papertrails, or ballots as we use to call them, have a proven track record of uncovering fraud in voting. To date the fraud in electronic voting is suspect but unproven. It is unlikely that fraud is eliminated in electronic voting, because fraud is *easier* not *harder* to do when votes can be changed so easily and untraceably on mass in a computer. So the lack of uncovering fraud is likely to be a weakness in the auditability of these machines. i.e. we suspect voter fraud because of systematic irregularities in key districts, but nothing can be proved because the lack of paper trail to verify against.

Why does he want unauditable machines? I see from his history that he's a professional technology lobbyists, but I'm curious why the FUD to keep the voting machines unauditable?

Crikey (3, Insightful)

TechnoBunny (991156) | more than 6 years ago | (#20600873)

A technology company producing a report suggesting that plain old paper may be unreliable?

Im shocked. Really.

Up next - 'Republican Party publish report saying the the Republican Party is better than the Democrats'?

The Perfect is the enemy of the Good (4, Insightful)

karl.auerbach (157250) | more than 6 years ago | (#20600903)

There are those who want us to delay replacing the Diebold (and similar) voting machines, forever if necessary, until we have a perfect solution.

Of course, there is no perfect solution. We only have adequate solutions.

Condorcet voting is mathematically better than simple tallies or "instant runoff" voting. But does anyone except mathematicians comprehend it? Would switching to it increase our confidence in voting or would people be suspicious and trust voting even less?

Paper is adequate. And what's better, it is something that mere mortals understand. And the attack vectors for paper are reasonbly well understood after more than a century of use of the "Australian" ballot style that we all use today.

The proposal by this group opens the door to FUD and infinite delay, and thus infinite retention of flawed DRE voting machines. Diebold would win, democracy would lose.

It is easily solvable (2, Insightful)

Eukariote (881204) | more than 6 years ago | (#20600907)

It is not hard to make a voter-verifiable paper-trail voting system. Publish a database of election results that includes a unique ID generated by the voting machine for each vote. Also print that ID on a paper receipt that the voter can take home after voting. Then the voter can verify via the internet if the vote was tallied with the right party/candidate. And it will also be possible to verify the totals by downloading the full database and doing the sums yourself.

On the same paper receipt, the candidate/party that was voted on can be printed. But it is better to hash that information together with the unique ID and encrypt it using a private election key and then print the result on the receipt (e.g. as a hex string). This generates a voting receipt that, when decoded with the public key, is verifyably a receipt of a vote that should have been counted for that election.

Re:It is easily solvable (2, Insightful)

lpontiac (173839) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601137)

Votes can't be verifiable after you leave the venue, or you don't have a secret ballot.

Re:It is easily solvable (1)

ReallyEvilCanine (991886) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601253)

It IS easy to deal with. The voter-verifiable piece of paper isn't a receipt to take home, it's a paper which is cast into a ballot box, presumably after John Q. Public has scanned through it to check the accuracy. If there's any discrepancy it's immediately brought to the attention of the the election official at the location to be dealt with. If there are later any discrepancies in -- or questions about -- the machine counts, machine data are dumped and those paper slips are counted. Because they're clear print-outs, there's no question about "hanging chads", misplaced punches, overvotes, etc, all of which are prevented by the use of technology. You voted for 7 out of 9 possible councilmen when you're limited to 5? Can't complete transaction. You didn't vote on a particular office/initiative? Machine shows you clearly you didn't and if you confirm your refusal to choose there, the paper slip also indicates this.

Re:It is easily solvable (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601327)

Granted that this is probably the way to go, it produces an ballot that can be quickly read in, most importantly provides a user interface that prevents the vast majority of ballot problems.
However...br. The problems in Flordia came about because people did not take proper case of the machine, ie empting out the trash containers. With requiring them to enter ink and paper what kinds of problems are you causing and who are you going to get to do that?

Re:It is easily solvable (1)

Tim[m] (5411) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601395)

Of course, it's not that simple. I'll take a stab explaining this (although IANBS and I haven't thought much about this in a long time.)

Under the scheme described by the grand-parent, the secrecy of the ballot depends on the confidentiality of the unique ID number: if an attacker can correlate the unique ID to a particular person, then the secrecy is compromised. If no attacker can make those correlations, then the secrecy is protected.

It is feasible to assign a unique ID to each voter during the election process -- e.g. allow each person to make up their own 16 digit code. The user is the only person who types in or sees the code. For an attacker to correlate the code with the person, he must either:

a) surreptitiously monitor the person and computer as the person enters the code

b) obtain the unique ID directly from the user after the vote (e.g. by stealing the paper receipt or monitoring the voter when the voter attempts to verify the correctness of the vote)

Issue "a" doesn't seem like a regression to me. If the attacker has the ability to surreptitiously monitor the person and/or computer as the person votes, then the secrecy of the vote is broken, period, without any regard to unique ID's.

Issue "b" presents a new trade-off for voters: after voting, an individual may choose one of two strategies:

b.1) Keep the code and subsequently use it to validate the election results. This is appropriate if (1) the user trusts his own ability to safe-guard the ID and (2) the user does not trust the vote authority to accuratley tally the votes.

b.2) Immediately destroy the code and lose the record of the vote. This is appropriate if (1) the user does not trust himself to safe-guard the ID and (2) the user does trust the vote authority to accurately tally the votes.

The choice is not perfect, but it seems like an improvement to me: Under the current scheme, all voters must choose "b.2." An alternative scheme like the grandparent's can preserve approach b.2 while also enabling b.1. As long as some non-trivial percentage of voters choose "b.1", we will have a stronger ability to detect and deter fraud.

Re:It is easily solvable (1)

Eukariote (881204) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601593)

Votes can't be verifiable after you leave the venue, or you don't have a secret ballot.

Think again. That's where the unique ID per vote helps. Instead of attaching the identity of the voter to the vote, each voter gets a unique anonymous ID number. An easy way to get a unique ID is to use a true random number generator and spit out sufficient bits to make the chance of collisions negligible.

Or you can use something a little more advanced that is still anonymous, but removes any chance of collisions between voters and subsequent elections, e.g. have the machine generate a true random number, but check internally for collisions, and then append unique ID numbers issued per machine and election. That narrows the vote down to the machine, but not the voter.

Of course, care should be taken that whatever is stored per vote can never be used to reconstruct who submitted the vote. For example, a vote sequence number could be correlated to a voter by having a hidden camera at the polling station. But that is something that all kinds of voting mechanisms should avoid, which is yet another reason why it is unacceptable to have closed-source voting machines.

Re:It is easily solvable - not (1)

tucuxi (1146347) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601551)

Any system that allows a voter to prove to himself that his vote was correctly cast *after* it has been cast can be perverted into a vote-buying scheme. I could place an stall with an internet connection outside the voting office with a big sign that read "20$ to anybody proving he voted $Party". Or I could be a bit less obvious, and just whisper around the neighborhood that bad things could happen if your slip didn't say what it was supposed to. You get the idea...

Re:It is easily solvable (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601733)

That's an excellent proposal.

Since just one verifiable reciept that doesn't match the database (or that isn't in the database) or where the human readable portion shows a different vote than the encrypted hex would be enough to reveal fraud or failure.

The voting machines should also print a journal roll just like a cash register and those should be retained for a number of years. In at least one election so far, verification was impossible after suspected irregularities because the memory cards were already erased.

The only drawback can be handled by law. There is a (perhaps legitimate) fear that some employers might try to dictate employee votes and check reciepts. Simply make it a felony to demand someone's vote reciept or to offer any sort of coercion or incentive to show a vote reciept . Being under orders/instruction to do so with coercion is a mitigating circumstance but should not excuse the crime. It should likewise be a felony to instruct another to do so. Publicise that law well through PSAs before the election.

Trust in voting systems is very important (3, Insightful)

jesterzog (189797) | more than 6 years ago | (#20600925)

The likeliness that computers are capable of correctly counting 100,000 perfectly submitted votes more accurately than humans in an ideal world isn't exactly a surprise, but this isn't really the point because the world isn't ideal and it's not realistic.

Even if paper trails are slightly less accurate in the counting (something I'd dispute once factoring in less measurable quantities like corruption of officials and potential hacking), one of the most important advantages of paper trails is that they can be easily understood by virtually everyone who votes. A voter verifies their correct vote is recorded on a slip of paper, places it in a ballot box, and then the votes recorded on the papers in the ballot boxes are counted, with the process being vetted by people who have reasons to make sure it's being done properly. The entire process is completely visible and clear from start to finish.

This is quite different to voting through computer interfaces, where the ability for nearly everyone to understand ends at them pressing a touch-screen. The abstract concepts of what goes on inside the system are very difficult for most people to grasp, unless they have a relatively high education. Furthermore, very few people can verify and confirm that it's working correctly.

Trust of as much of the population as possible is of huge importance in elections, and systems with paper trails are the ones that are easiest for the majority of people to trust.

Paper Trails Ranked By Value (4, Funny)

Nymz (905908) | more than 6 years ago | (#20600929)

High - When I buy anything with a credit card - (requires ID, receive receipt)
Medium - When I get $20 out of an ATM - (requires ID, receive receipt)
Low - When I buy a hamburger & fries - (no ID, receive receipt)
Worthless - When I vote - (no ID, no receipt, no confidence)

Re:Paper Trails Ranked By Value (1)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601091)

Worthless - When I vote - (no ID, no receipt, no confidence)
Do you know why this is so? It is so that a vote remains absolutely anonymous. If I wanted to force you to vote for a candidate I like I only need to ask for your receipt. Voters should NEVER receive a receipt. Otherwise, people could be forced to vote for a certain candidate.

Re:Paper Trails Ranked By Value (1)

gigantu' (1156191) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601169)

"people could be forced to vote for a certain candidate."

Very good point.

I don't see why the old fashion "stamp your candidate" vote system should be replaced. Usually, if a system is simple, it keeps on working. Try something different and you spend more time arguing about the system not about the candidates.

Re:Paper Trails Ranked By Value (1)

WilliamSChips (793741) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601195)

Actually, audio playback is more reliable, and doesn't have the reciept problem.

Re:Paper Trails Ranked By Value (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20601281)

If only the playback is really what you've voted.

Please cast your vote:
[x] Gore
--> You have voted for Al Gore.
---> Machine does bush++;

How is that more secure?

Re:Paper Trails Ranked By Value (1)

Nymz (905908) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601285)

Voters should NEVER receive a receipt. Otherwise, people could be forced to vote for a certain candidate.
I'm making an analogy ranking the value of paper trails. In voting (paper ballot/paper punchcard/etc) there should be a paper trail otherwise how do you do a legal recount when required?

Re:Paper Trails Ranked By Value (1)

JoelKatz (46478) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601313)

"Voters should NEVER receive a receipt. Otherwise, people could be forced to vote for a certain candidate."

How do you use a receipt to force a person to vote for a certain candidate? You ask me to vote for X. I present you a receipt showing *someone* voted for X. How do you know that someone is me?

Voters should never receive a receipt that identifies the voter. Voters can most definitely receive receipts, in fact, they can receive as many receipts as they would like, including the one for their own vote. So long as they can't prove to anyone else which receipt is which.

Please see my other comment where I describe just such a system. A voter can prove to himself that his vote was counted, and if a vote wasn't counted, several people including that voter can prove that someone's vote wasn't counted.

Re:Paper Trails Ranked By Value (2, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601189)

High - When I buy anything with a credit card - (requires ID, receive receipt)
No, no id is required, unless you are confused and think that a credit card is some form of identification. Surely some cocksure dumbass will come along with an anecdote about how they were required to provide ID when they used a credit card, and if I really cared I would go cite the MC and Visa merchant rules that say a merchant can ask for but can not require id except when they have strong reason to believe there is fraud.

Worthless - When I vote - (no ID, no receipt, no confidence)
Let me guess, you have never voted? It's pretty common for voters in the USA to show id when they vote so that the poll staff can verify that you are registered to vote and registered to vote at that polling location.

Re:Paper Trails Ranked By Value (1)

Nymz (905908) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601321)

Let me guess, you have never voted? It's pretty common for voters in the USA to show id when they vote so that the poll staff can verify that you are registered to vote and registered to vote at that polling location.
Nope, worse than never voting, I live in California. If you pull out an ID, poll workers will tell you to put it away, refusing to look at it. Also, this last election I recieved my voter information in Spanish first, and had to wait two weeks for an English version to arrive, but that's another issue, maybe.

They're full of shit... (2, Insightful)

kcbrown (7426) | more than 6 years ago | (#20600951)

A proper voter-verified paper ballot system is as good as it gets when it comes to a combination of accuracy, verifiability, and accountability.

It's real simple: the voter makes his selection using, say, a voting machine. Voting machine spits out paper ballot and shows it to voter. Voter examines ballot to make sure ballot is good. If ballot is good, voter tells machine to accept the ballot and machine drops ballot into sealed box. If not, voter tells machine to reject the ballot and machine allows user to re-select candidates.

At the end of the election, the total number of paper ballots are counted and compared with the total number of people who actually came in to vote. They should match, of course. It's also compared with the total number of votes the machines recorded. That, too, should match.

You can have the machines tabulate the voting results. You can then statistically test the results of the machines by pulling a random (but sufficiently large) set of ballots from the box and manually tabulating them. But you also have the option of doing a full manual count, which is of course what you do if the statistical count shows that the machines were off. And the closer any given race is, the larger the sample has to be to get the statistical error below that of the percentage difference between the closest candidates in the race.

No purely machine-based voting system is sufficiently trustworthy to be suitable for an election. Any machine can be compromised, by the manufacturer if nobody else. That's a risk that isn't worth taking when the freedom of the country is potentially at stake.

Re:They're full of shit... (1)

kenh (9056) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601373)

At issue, as I see it, is that if you have an electronic total and a paper total for a given election, and they diverge - which do you trust? And if you decide to always trust, say, the paper total over the electronic total when they diverge, what is the real value of the electronic total?


Put another way, if there are two children in a room (Tim and Mary) and I hear a lamp break, when I investigate if I decide to ignore whatever Tim says (unless it agrees with what Mary says), why ask Tim what happened?


Paper ballots are superior to electronic ballots in almost nearly all instances, but we in America seem to think that we shouldn't have to use such "third-world" solutions...

Re:They're full of shit... (1)

JoelKatz (46478) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601467)

"And if you decide to always trust, say, the paper total over the electronic total when they diverge, what is the real value of the electronic total?"

The idea is that 90% of the time, you trust the electronic total. But if the election is really close or some results are suspicious, you can fall back on the paper total (which you don't bother to create otherwise).

If you ever do discover a discrepancy between the two totals, you investigate it carefully. You also audit some percentage of the electronic totals by computing paper totals. If you catch a discrepancy, you investigate.

Generally, you will know if results are suspicious. Generally, the vast majority of results will not be suspicious.

The point of the paper is so that if there's any question about any subset of the votes, they can be validated. The purpose of the machine total is to save money and provide quicker results that are almost always going to be correct. The harm of a bogus initial result is much less if it can be shown to be bogus soon after.

By the way, while I am a firm believer that cryptographic voting systems can eventually provide the same assurances paper trails can and then some, I do agree that of all the current proposed and available voting schemes, this one is probably the best.

It has no known flaws. It is cheap and simple to implement. It makes vote-tampering significantly harder than all other systems currently in use.

corepirate nazi fairytails fail to insure anything (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20600953)

meanwhile, back at the debacle we lovingly call man'kind', yOUR fearful 'leaders' continue to develop more&more cruel & unusual ways to create additional debt & disruption for most of US, while our fellow humans across the water continue to explode by yOUR $hand$.

infactdead corepirate nazis still WAY off track
(Score:-1, Offtopic)
by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 01, @09:35AM (#20433195)
it's only a matter of time/space/circumstance.

previous post:
mynuts won 'off t(r)opic'???
(Score:-1, Offtopic)
by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 30, @10:22AM (#20411119)
eye gas you could call this 'weather'?

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8004881114646406827 [google.com] [google.com]

be careful, the whack(off)job in the next compartment may be a high RANKing corepirate nazi official.

previous post:
whoreabull corepirate nazi felons planning trips
(Score: mynuts won, robbIE's 'secret' censorship score)
by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 01, @12:13PM (#20072457)
in orbit perhaps? we wouldn't want to be within 500 miles of the naykid furor at this power point.

better days ahead?

as in payper liesense hypenosys stock markup FraUD felons are on their way out? what a revolutionary concept.

from previous post: many demand corepirate execrable stop abusing US

we the peepoles?

how is it allowed? just like corn passing through a bird's butt eye gas.

all they (the nazis) want is... everything. at what cost to US?

for many of US, the only way out is up.

don't forget, for each of the creators' innocents harmed (in any way) there is a debt that must/will be repaid by you/US as the perpetrators/minions of unprecedented evile will not be available after the big flash occurs.

'vote' with (what's left in) yOUR wallet. help bring an end to unprecedented evile's manifestation through yOUR owned felonious life0cidal glowbull warmongering execrable.

some of US should consider ourselves very fortunate to be among those scheduled to survive after the big flash/implementation of the creators' wwwildly popular planet/population rescue initiative/mandate.

it's right in the manual, 'world without end', etc....

as we all ?know?, change is inevitable, & denying/ignoring gravity, logic, morality, etc..., is only possible, on a temporary basis.

concern about the course of events that will occur should the life0cidal execrable fail to be intervened upon is in order.

'do not be dismayed' (also from the manual). however, it's ok/recommended, to not attempt to live under/accept, fauxking greed/fear/ego based pr ?firm? scriptdead mindphuking hypenosys.

consult with/trust in yOUR creators. providing more than enough of everything for everyone (without any distracting/spiritdead personal gain motives), whilst badtolling unprecedented evile, using an unlimited supply of newclear power, since/until forever. see you there?

Paper trails increase costs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20601007)

Well, whoopy-do. Lets just toss a coin then. Much cheaper!

I tried to RTFA and couldn't find it. But the report on it suggests that the argument misses out some important points. An election has to be more than cheap, fast, and fair.

It has to be understood by the participants and accepted by them. I would have though it was quite obvious by now that black-box software can never meet that criterion. Pencil and paper, though, does.

Nothing to see here! (1)

feepcreature (623518) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601081)

Organisation says "Paper trails aren't enough to ensure accurate vote counts" (on their own, anyway?) - Next week we'll tell you why!

No news here. Not until next week, anyway.

Why not just use ATMs? (1)

Nomen Publicus (1150725) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601085)

We are pretty sure that the banking system can count so why not just use ATMs to vote? Transfer $1 to the party of your choice. If your party wins, you get your money back. The losing parties get to keep the money to improve their campaigns next time.

Re:Why not just use ATMs? (1)

ricegf (1059658) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601361)

The secret ballot requirement is one really good reason. Distrust of banks would be another. Laws against poll taxes would be a third. But it's certainly a creative idea, so don't stop brainstorming. :-)

Re:Why not just use ATMs? (1)

kenh (9056) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601405)

Let's see:
  • How to verify voter?
  • Votes would not be secret
  • Not everyone has an ATM card
  • How to handle absentee ballots
  • How to prevent multiple votes by individuals with multiple bank accounts, possibly in multiple jurisdictions?

I think you get the idea...

Paper vote results are "black and white" (1, Flamebait)

rinkjustice (24156) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601093)

According to the provocative and highly enlightening documentary Orwell Rolls in His Grave [orwellroll...sgrave.com] , there's a switch on voting machines that either accepts, then discounts an incorrectly filled-out ballot, or spits the spoiled ballot back out so you can vote again. Apparently, in some areas heavily populated with blacks, the wrong ballots were received and not returned. In predominantly white districts, the incorrect ballot was spit back out so they could vote again.

So yeah, paper votes can be and have been manipulated big time.

Re:Paper vote results are "black and white" (1)

ricegf (1059658) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601599)

Certainly wouldn't be the first time, but this just doesn't smell right.

Precinct captain is an elected post, at least where I live. (We tossed ours out a few years back, for giving last names ending in A-F to one short line, and G-Z to one excruciatingly long one. Needless to say, the G-Z folks carried the next precinct captain election in a landslide, and threw the bum out!)

Predominantly black precincts tend to vote Democratic rather than Republican.

So are you asserting that the Democratic party is rigging elections to help Republicans? Or am I missing something here?

in other news: (3, Funny)

e**(i pi)-1 (462311) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601269)

In other news: Backups Don't Ensure your data are safe.

"In an new report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation they say that backups can increase costs and can actually reduce the chances that users data have to be recreated."

Re:in other news: (0, Redundant)

will_die (586523) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601369)

If you have every had to use your backups then you know that "Backups don't ensure your data are safe."
Until you are willing to test them and ensure the data is there you are taking it on faith that they contain the data needed and your procedures will allow you to get back a working system.

E-paper (1)

damaki (997243) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601419)

Coming soon, e-vote and wifi e-paper trail. It's time for high tech chameleon votes.

Why paper? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20601649)

'voter-verified' paper audit trails."
I'm good with this, except that paper shouldn't be mandated. Other technologies/materials may be better suited to provide the same audit capability. Or perhaps 2 different machines from two different providers - 1 digital and 1 analog should be used. The analog feeds into the digital, but retains it's count as well.

We all like that e-votes are counted immediately, but accuracy and verifiable results to the populace are more important. There can be no doubt to the accuracy of the votes or our republic will be no better than a dictatorship with revolving dictators and with only 1 name on the ballet.

geoff mandrake harrison for president (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20601697)

I am betting that this group is a conservative vote. I think paper trails are necessary for now until a secure non-partisan solution is found. I am betting that if we had a paper trail in ohio. Kerry would have been president.

The paper trail is not used for the count... (1)

QuietLagoon (813062) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601703)

The paper trail is used for an accurate recount, as a way to double-check the original count should there be any concerns about tampering.

TFA is merely a means to divert the discussion away from the real problem here: without a paper trail, it is too easy to tamper with the voting machines and not be caught.

Where's the proof? (2, Interesting)

trianglman (1024223) | more than 6 years ago | (#20601749)

Are there any facts associated with this article? It appears that this is just one group's claim, backed up by nothing other than their opinion.

The facts of the matter are:

  • The current mixed method voting options are very prone to error. Most are in a non-human readable format (marked, or worse punched, dots on a piece of paper). And all are paper ballot trails.
  • Electronic voting, with closed source machines (and even to some extent with open source machines), is inherently insecure if the vote count that matters is only stored electronically.
  • Paper voting trails are reliably valid under three conditions: The people voting look at the papers and verify that it reflects their vote. The ballots are secured the same as any other paper ballot. The paper ballots are regularly and thoroughly audited after, during and in between each election.

with all this, a well mandated, accessible, audited electronic voting system is more secure than previous voting methods. There is no excuse for these companies to have created and sold the craptastic voting machines they did. There is no reason for Diebold, an ATM maker, to have only made voting machines that had no paper trail capabilities. If they tried to sell something like that toa bank, their contract would have been dropped in a heartbeat, but election boards across the country didn't blink an eye. It is time that there be a nationwide standard that works within a degree of certainty. Electronic voting machines with paper audit trails are accessible, human readable, and as secure as anything we currently use. You don't have questions of "Did this voter actually mark a circle?" or "Which of these half erased circles did the voter mean?" or "That chad isn't punched all the way through, so I will just do it for them because I know what they meant." It is very hard for an auditor to see "President: Al Gore" printed on a receipt in human readable form and say that the voter chose George Bush.

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