Re: My proposal for Minimal E-Voting Standards

From: Joseph Lorenzo Hall <joehall_at_gmail_dot_com>
Date: Mon Apr 25 2005 - 11:19:13 CDT

On 4/25/05, David Mertz <> wrote:
> One more chiming in: I would not for one microsecond support any voting
> system that helped further erode personal privacy in any way. Things
> are awful enough already in this regard that I'm horrified at a
> suggestion to give up a little liberty for some minor convenience in
> voting (even if there were such convenience, which there isn't).

It's important to note that it's not just Ed making these kinds of
suggestions. In fact, one of the most prominent Election Law
scholars, Richard Hasen, said essentially the same thing in his
testimony in front of the Carter / Baker Commission:


> [...] I advocate registration reform, in particular universal voter registration conducted by the government coupled with a voter identification program. Registration issues appear to be the single largest subject for election-related litigation. For example, 32 of 52 cases on Electionline's 2004 litigation survey involved registration issues.

> There has been a wide partisan divide in the election administration debate between Democrats who have expressed concern about voter suppression and Republicans who have expressed concern about voter fraud. The registration reform I advocate can alleviate both of those concerns, minimize the potential for and political rhetoric regarding voter fraud, and eliminate a great majority of potential litigation surrounding presidential election administration

> Under my proposal, the federal government would take on the task of voter registration, much like it does in conducting the census, in reaching out to register all eligible voters. It would then issue voter registration cards with biometric information such as fingerprints, as is done today in Mexico. The nationwide database will eliminate double registrations, assist in quickly identifying voters for purposes of provisional ballots, and help restore faith in the election process. Because the cards would contain biometric information, voters could show up without i.d. at the polls and still have their votes counted. The cards certainly raise privacy concerns. But as I argue in my paper, the incremental privacy costs of the card are small compared to the potential gain in voter confidence they likely would achieve.

His paper is available here:
<> and I
certainly don't find his estimation of the trade-off between privacy
loss and increased voter confidence to be anywhere near persuasive.


Joseph Lorenzo Hall
UC Berkeley, SIMS PhD Student
blog: <>
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Received on Sat Apr 30 23:17:13 2005

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