What is voter anonymity?

From: David Mertz <voting-project_at_gnosis_dot_cx>
Date: Wed May 05 2004 - 14:31:10 CDT

I've been thinking some more about voter anonymity. This seems to be
my own bette noir, but I think it's good someone is paranoid about it.

There's an issue that was raised recently by John Payson, and had come
up in slightly different forms before. His idea was to assign separate
IDs to different contests within an election, then disclose per-contest
EBIs.

Here's the related question:

   Does revealing voting patterns between contests inherently compromise
anonymity?

Even absent identifying specific named voters, it might be reasonable
to argue that a voting preference is "private" even if not associated
with a person. Similar issues, FWIW, come up with disclosure of
redacted medical information (a recent case concerned late-term
abortion medical records subpoenaed by the Justice Department; and
wisely kept confidential by appellate courts).

For example (to put it so Californians understand it :-)): Does the
public have a right to know how strong the correlation was between
votes for Prop 187 and votes for Gov. Pete Wilson? How about the number
of voters who voted for both of those, and also for Sen. Barbara Boxer?
Does this let us draw conclusions about Wilson voters that ought to be
confidential?

Or put otherwise, do/should CLASSES of voters, defined by one
collection of votes, have anonymity rights in relation to their other
votes?
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Received on Mon May 31 23:17:17 2004

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