Re: code validation?

From: Edward Cherlin <cherlin_at_pacbell_dot_net>
Date: Thu Feb 24 2005 - 23:24:06 CST

On Wednesday 23 February 2005 13:33, Ron Crane wrote:
> On Feb 23, 2005, at 10:50 AM, David Mertz wrote:
> > Just one scenario:
> >
> > (1) Thug/Crime boss goes around to all the houses in the
> > neighborhood, and tells each resident that he would "really
> > appreciate" a vote for him as mayor (what a pretty family
> > they have too). He suggests they can further discuss their
> > votes later.
> >
> > (2a) Absentee system: Voter seals ballot in envelope at time
> > (election minus N). If no assistant thug is watching them,
> > they will perhaps vote for Ms. Honesty-Integrity instead.
> > In subsequent conversation, they can *tell* Mr. Crime-Boss
> > they voted for him (need good poker face, maybe).
> >
> > (2b) Vote receipt system: Voter votes at polls and takes
> > home magic code number. No assistant thug is watching. At
> > some (any) subsequent time, Mr. Crime-Boss visits voter and
> > says he would be very curious to see voters receipt.
> >
> > The latter system provides much greater scheduling
> > convenience for vote coercers (or buyers who want proof
> > too).
> Ah, point well taken. Now, is there any way to address it? An
> encryption-based approach [1] solves that problem, but
> re-introduces the very security hole we're trying to fix, plus
> it makes verification much more time-consuming. I've got to
> think more deeply about alternatives. What if we simply
> increased the penalties and enforcement for vote coercion?
> Would that be an effective use of law? My tendency would be to
> say, "mostly". Why? Because most people understand vote
> coercion, agree that it's possible, and agree that it's wrong.

Mostly not effective. Insanely hard to prosecute, and you only
get the little fish. In order to overturn a "bought" election,
you have to prove enough vote buying to change the result.

You might find it instructive to look up the early career of
"Landslide" Lyndon Johnson. He bought one set of voters, IIRC,
and his opponent bought a few more. A few days after the
election, another hundred or so votes for Johnson mysteriously
appeared, all apparently in the same handwriting. Johnson's
lawyer, Abe Fortas (later a Supreme Court Justice, famously
turned down as Chief Justice, supposedly over minor billing
irregularities) got the court case quashed.

The history of voting in New York, Louisiana, and most of all
Chicago is also quite instructive.

Anyway, we have had a Supreme Court Justice known to have
participated in election shenanigans, and appointed to the court
in part because of them, and probably forced to resign because
of them except that nobody could say that out loud, so they got
him on something else.

Edward Cherlin
Generalist & activist--Linux, languages, literacy and more
"A knot! Oh, do let me help to undo it!"
--Alice in Wonderland
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Received on Sun Feb 27 17:17:13 2005

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