Making E-Voting Systems With Paper Receipts Even Better

from the and-even-less-likely-to-be-used dept

With all the talk lately about e-voting, one thing that continually gets mixed up is exactly what the fight is over. Those who are fighting to keep the existing machines like to claim that those who want a verifiable paper trail are fighting against progress – trying to go backwards away from electronic voting to a paper world. Of course, nothing can be further from the truth. Those who want the verifiable paper receipt aren’t against electronic voting at all. They just understand the technology enough to realize that the current system isn’t particularly secure or reliable and they want to make it better. Once you start going down that trail, however, you need to come up with a system that really is more secure and reliable, and that’s where some researchers are putting a lot of attention these days. They’re trying to go beyond just adding a verifiable paper ballot, to using systems to make sure that you can check after-the-fact, to guarantee that your vote really was properly counted. Most of the article focuses on David Chaum’s system, which tends to bring out very strong opinions in people (too often focused on Chaum, himself, rather than the system). The argument against such systems is that they’re either too complex or too expensive (or both), but no one ever said democracy was supposed to be cheap.

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Comments on “Making E-Voting Systems With Paper Receipts Even Better”

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Rob Henderson says:

Who/What do you trust?

I’m particularly fond of the comparison with electronic gambling machines. You never hear of people complaining that they don’t trust their favorite one-armed-bandit. Why? There are legions of inspectors examining and auditing the machines, from source code development through machine assembly and installation on to daily use. The inspections and audits are on the public record, as are all the contracts and business arrangements.

One point that is often lost in the Paper Ballot initiative is that there are costs and time delays associated with implementing voter verified paper ballots. Even if we commit to the switch, it will take years to implement completely. The existing systems do not (generally) produce a paper ballot, but there are MANY ways to introduce audit points into the system to greatly increase the overall system security.
I work with elections in Georgia, and my county does a pretty good job of creating system security via copious recordkeeping and auditing. I am constantly surprised at the way some other states fail to use the security options available to them, even with the existing paper-ballot-less machines.

smz (user link) says:

problem with chronological order

You know, a printer’s output or an audit trail will be in chronological order, which will make it easy to relate a voter to a vote. This my friend is absolutely wrong in a secret voting process.

Let me explain, when you are identified in a polling station, and assigned a machine, the records note your number. i.e. John Doe was the 306th guy to use this machine. Your printed record, or audit trial may not show your name, but you can easily scroll to the 306th record, and find the candidate voted for.

In the Indian scenario, the voters trust their candidates, and their political agents, who verify the machine’s integrity just before the start of an election process.

In case you haven’t followed the slashdot story linking my article comparing diebold to Indian EVM I humbly invite you to read it here

kmusser (user link) says:

Re: problem with chronological order

Let me explain, when you are identified in a polling station, and assigned a machine, the records note your number. i.e. John Doe was the 306th guy to use this machine. Your printed record, or audit trial may not show your name, but you can easily scroll to the 306th record, and find the candidate voted for.

The Diebold system has a lot of security holes, but this isn’t one of them. The voter cards don’t contain the users name, just what ballot to use. Voters also aren’t assigned a machine – they can use any machine in the polling place – there’s no record of which voter used which machine.

thecaptain says:

No Subject Given

another problem with electronic voting systems is that unless you implement widespread auditting (ie: Not just a small committee, but auditting of machines by many people from many parties, making it impossible to buy off everyone involved) you leave yourself open to vote manipulation.

All it takes is some subtlety and no one would ever ask for a recount.

And if they decide to use the machine counts, but check EVERY vote against the paper receipts, why use electronic voting at all?

Md. Imam Hossain says:

e-voting System in Bangladesh.

Subject: e-voting System in Bangladesh.

Dear Sir,
Our Election Commission (EC) is going to introduce e-voting System in Bangladesh. We are working on this system to support EC. Would you be pleased to let us know about your progress/ introduction & implementation of e-voting system, so that we can associate with your company for introduction of the same in our country for our mutual benefit. We are in a position to create this business.

With best regards
Md. Imam Hossain

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