Re: NPR Show on e-voting, Raba report

From: Alan Dechert <alan_at_openvotingconsortium_dot_org>
Date: Wed Feb 11 2004 - 16:56:28 CST


> My answer has been no, primarily because of the security problems. But
> even if those can be solved, I have said that it would be unlikely - at
> least if it means remote unattended internet voting. ...
Quite right.

> The primary reason would be that this could make it possible for
> a voter to prove to someone else how the votes have been cast. ....
I believe there are several reasons remote unattended Internet voting will
never work (or never work very well) even if the software issues are

The possibility of proving the vote to someone else is certainly one of
them. However, absentee ballots have the same problem--and they're widely
used. One thing widely demonstrated here in the U.S. of A is that just
because some procedure in the voting system is incredibly bad, it doesn't
mean it won't be done that way. The more that scientific-minded people look
at the system, the more amazing the voting system appears--amazingly arcane,
idiosyncratic, quirky, goofy, and just plain bad. I was talking with Matt
Bishop today (UC Davis CS Prof and one of the authors of the Raba report).
He has delved deeply into the voting system in recent years and is amazed at
one thing he has NOT found: Namely, S-C-I-E-N-C-E. This is what we are
proposing to do. We are proposing a large-scale scientific investigation of
all these issues. Nothing like this has ever been done. A lot of people
got the impression that Caltech/MIT folks were going to do that but it
really didn't happen. They wrote a few reports--some more useful than

Back to remote unattended Internet voting ... there is another serious
problem I see: You will never be able to identify the voter. How do you
know the husband is not casting his wife's ballot too? This voting model
would be highly susceptible to coersion. That is, this model would
faciliate a dominant head of household--or even an employer--that wants to
control the votes of others.

Remote *ATTENDED* Internet Voting would not have all the advantages of
unattended voting, but it could at least solve the problem of knowing the
voter. I don't believe that unattended voting is worth studying, but
attended Internet voting might be worth studying in some detail--especially
a system that produces a paper ballot besides the electronic ballot image.

David Jefferson one of the main experts in this field, and maybe he could
give us a little summary. David, are you there?

--Alan D.

> Implications of this may be:
> * It can create a market for politically uninterested people to sell
> their votes.
> * It opens up for pressures and threats: "Vote for me as Dog Catcher,
> or you'll get your knee caps broken!"
> From what I have read about the problems with internet voting, it only
> concerns the usual security problems, and not the ones I mentioned above.
> It would be interesting to hear the view of Douglas Jones, or other voting
> experts, about this.
> /Jan
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Received on Sun Feb 29 23:17:01 2004

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