Re: Critical analysis of VoteHere

From: charlie strauss <cems_at_earthlink_dot_net>
Date: Sat Dec 13 2003 - 09:29:22 CST

If you want to read the details of the vote here system you can find
their white papers here:

the best one I beleive is:

the weakness I perceive in validating the mapping is discussed on page
9 and in brief in earlier pages. its a tad confusing so i dont want to
say their method cant work just yet, hence my search for a previous
critical analysis

On Dec 13, 2003, at 8:05 AM, charlie strauss wrote:

> Dennis et al,
> I'm not advocating the Cotehere system but I do want to understand its
> flaws. I can I think answer your questions.
> Actually you have two questions, 1) how does the voter know his vote
> was correctly recored if all he gets is a number. 2) how is a recount
> done without a paper ballot.
> answering the second question first:
> The voteHere concept is that if any voter can be sure his ballot was
> counted correctly then these is never any need for a recount. In
> essence the recount is distributed to the voters themselves. If any
> voter finds a single mistake then you know there is a problem.
> --> and this I think demonstrates a weakness in the system. While it
> detects when the electronic vote has been corrupted it does not allow
> any way to correct a faulty vote by determining voter intent. The
> only recourse I can see is to have a new vote if enough voters
> complain--perhaps one should be enough. On the other hand paper
> ballots schema could conceivably have a related problem if ballots
> appeared to be missing, or if there were ballots in the ballot box
> that had no counterpart in the computer log.
> answering the second question:
> Why upon hearing the numbers match should a voter trust his vote was
> counted. The Votehere concept is that at each step where a switcheroo
> could occur there is a high likelihood of detection. For example, as
> long as the mapping of numbers to names is printed out on a separate
> receipt that is kept at the polls then the kiosk cant switch the
> mapping it displays without the the possibility the voter will notice.
> Second If the kiosk printed out a fake mapping then this could be
> spot checked later against the mapping that was published before the
> election.
> ---> there are two weaknesses here. first the votehere scheme does
> not actually call for printing out the mapping on separate receipt the
> poter leaves at the polls. they dont really explain that weak point
> well--they suggest on screen spot checks which dont work in my mind.
> That was just my suggestion to show its not an insurrmountable
> problem. Second, there is no good explanation of how to check the
> mapping against the published mapping. You cant just publish the
> mapping later (decrypted) because then someone who had your receipt
> could determine how you voted. Possibly some voting commission could
> be trusted to decrypt it but not make it public when checking is
> needed.
> On Dec 13, 2003, at 2:48 AM, Dennis wrote:
>> Hi Charlie et al,
>> I'm a bit confused. If I call up the 800 number and it spits out
>> the code for Joe, how do I know that my vote was recorded for Joe
>> and not Sam?
>> In other words, is there a voter-verified paper ballot that can be
>> used for a manual ballot recount as required in California? If not,
>> their scheme fails the reliability test.
>> In general, receipts are not required although if there was a way
>> for voters to validate their votes from the county, it would be nice
>> to be able to do that. However, the critical requirement is the
>> availability to do the manual recount and that means a recount that
>> is not dependent on a computer to interpret the voters' intent.
>> Your description didn't explain how that is being done here.
>> Dennis Paull
>> ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
>> At 11:56 PM 12/12/2003 -0700, you wrote:
>>> Has there been a critical analysis of the VoteHere technology on this
>>> forum or published elsewhere? If so please point me to it so I dont
>>> waste your time.
>>> Assuming there has not been I'd like to start a discussion on
>>> VoteHere.
>>> the question is what are the problems with the VoteHere Scheme? So
>>> far
>>> I see two flaws but perhaps they can be remedied. It does add a
>>> layer
>>> of complexity but it may not be too bad since it does not require
>>> that
>>> every voter actually check their receipt just some.
>>> Here is a nutshell summary of how VoteHere Works for those that dont
>>> know.
>>> THAT
>>> "receipts don't work or allow coercion".
>>> After selecting his votes on the touch screen the voter is presented
>>> with a final summary of his choices and a "cast ballot" button.
>>> But BEFORE the voter presses this button he is also given a paper
>>> receipt which shows his choices in an easy-to-read code. THe voter
>>> will take home the receipt, the vote is recorded electronically after
>>> being cast.
>>> When you were deciding who to vote for the ballot question looked
>>> like
>>> this:
>>> "who do you want for president?"
>>> Joe Blow (56)
>>> Sam Jones (63)
>>> Hilbert Holler (13)
>>> Your final summary on screen looks like this:
>>> Ballot ID: 5444321
>>> president: 56 joe blow
>>> senator: 32 jane doe
>>> ...
>>> The receipt does not show the names just the numbers
>>> Ballot ID: 5444321
>>> president: 56
>>> senator: 32
>>> Before pressing the "cast ballot" button, the voter can if he wants
>>> to
>>> verify the numbers on screen and receipt match.
>>> The clever part here is that the relationships between the numbers
>>> and
>>> the candidates names are different for every ballot. That for ballot
>>> 5444321, joe blow corresonded to the number 56, but on ballot 544321
>>> joe blow might correspond to, say 15.
>>> thus by not knowing how the mapping was randomly chosen, no one can
>>> know by looking at your receipt who you voted for.
>>> Now after the election is over, you decide you want to check your
>>> ballot. You call the 800 number and punch in your ballot Id and it
>>> gives you back the numbers and you can check them against your
>>> receipt.
>>> This way you know your ballot was counted as cast.
>>> the final ingredient is this. the actual mappings between candidate
>>> names and numbers for each ballot is known by the election officers
>>> is
>>> publicly published in an encrypted form before the election.
>>> --- that's mostly it---
>>> So lets work a scenarios:
>>> On the vote selection menu, the machine shows you that Joe Blow is
>>> 56
>>> and sam Jones is 63 before you have voted, so it might seem that
>>> there
>>> would be no incentive at this point to swap the numbers. (more on
>>> this
>>> momentarily).
>>> At the summary screen, but before you cast the vote you can verify
>>> the
>>> receipt matches the number. And the machine cant change your number
>>> after your vote since it could get caught by your phone call later.
>>> So are there flaws. I can think of two, but maybe there are more.
>>> 1) suppose its known with virtual certainty that joe blow wil win.
>>> Then if the machines simply swaps sam and joes numbers right from the
>>> start then even though it does no know how an individual voter will
>>> vote, it will reveres all the results giving Joes win to Sam.
>>> Solutions: the mapping is also printed out on a separate receipt
>>> for the voter to check but not take home. THe mapping could be
>>> dropped
>>> in a box for later spot checking by election officials.
>>> 2) How can you prove your receipt is a valid one. The votehere sytem
>>> has the machine print a digital signature on the receipt to allow you
>>> to prove the receiot is real. But suppose that when it wants to
>>> change
>>> your vote it simply munges the digital signature so that you cant
>>> later
>>> prove its a real receipt.
>>> Solutions: well if a lot of munged receipts turn up you know
>>> something is wrong. But you could also simply pre-print all the
>>> receipts with a watermark and skip the digital signature.
>>> 3) one might complain that this code stuff causes headaches for the
>>> voter. But to work not every voter has to check every vote. Just
>>> some
>>> spot checking by some voters is all that is required.
>>> their solutions to ballot stuffing is to publish the voter rolls.
>>> comments?
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Received on Wed Dec 31 23:17:09 2003

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