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November 06, 2006

The future of secure electronic voting

My brother Loren just sent me a nifty link from Slashdot about a proposed technology for transparent, high integrity, open source elections--pick, scan, shred, keep, check. (15-second video)

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That is extremely clever.

The usual reason that voting systems don't give the user a permanent receipt is that they could be used in vote-buying schemes. This system produces receipts that can only be verifiably matched to the vote questions at voting time, so they provide no assurance to anyone but the voter. (I presume that number is a unique ID.)

Rivest proposed a method to achieve the same goals of anonymity, privacy, and auditability without complex crypto. Schneirer describes it here. Rivest's paper is here (pdf).

Canada hand-counts the vote.

We can do that in the US, too.

We don't need voting machines.

Keep it simple.

Voters should put their ballots into a transparent ballot box, and then be able to watch the ballots counted that evening by hand.

Not a bad idea, even if someone else had it first. They also have representatives from each political party present at the counting, from what I understand, to make sure that ballots aren't done away with.

1. Canadian elections are not like US elections because the Canadian govt is not like the US govt. As I understand it, Canadian elections usually have just one or two contests (e.g. elect your MP and the mayor of your town). Canadians delegate far more decisions to Parliament than we do to Congress. They have no Presidential elections (the MP's choose the prime minister). They don't vote on bond issues, ballot propositions, school boards, insurance commissioners, dogcatchers, etc. (that stuff is delegated to MP's). US elections have dozens of contests and can't easily be counted by hand.

2. Chaum's scheme is technically very cute but seriously way too complicated for use by actual voters. The straightforward scheme of hand-marked paper ballots cast in voting booths, counted by optical scan with random samples counted by hand, has worked quite well once some basic precautions are taken. There's no need to move away from it with Diebold-like crap.

They have no Presidential elections (the MP's choose the prime minister).

That would be fascinating, but actually the PM is the leader of the party with the plurality of votes, which then forms a government. Canadians who vote for an MP from a particular party are implicity voting for the leader of that party as PM.

T. Bailey - Yes, I thought the party leader was chosen like here, by the MP's from that party. The US equivalent would be like if they got rid of the executive branch, so the Speaker of the House performed the duties of the president. Anyway if not like that, then it's pretty close. And right now, yes, anyone voting for a Democratic congressmember is implicitly voting for Pelosi for Speaker.

>And right now, yes, anyone voting for a Democratic congressmember is implicitly voting for Pelosi for Speaker.

Righteous! That way, the dittoheads of America will be able to actually hear her say some words before they yell her down. Right now, you get the feeling that they're criticizing her up and down, without ever having heard a single word come out of her mouth.

Right now, you get the feeling that they're criticizing her up and down, without ever having heard a single word come out of her mouth.

Oh come now, 1984: she's from San Francisco. Know what I mean? San Francisco. You know, that big city in California that isn't LA, the one called SAN FRANCISCO? I mean, once you know that a politician has represented SAN FRANCISCO!!!!! for her entire political career, what more do you need to know about them?

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