Re: Ballot tear-off

From: David Mertz <voting-project_at_gnosis_dot_cx>
Date: Fri May 20 2005 - 11:47:54 CDT

On May 20, 2005, at 11:51 AM, Marty Schrader wrote:
> That cuts both ways. As long as we are coming up with bizarre
> hypotheticals,

I certainly hope you're not calling the guys with the brass knuckles a
"bizarre hypothetical". This scenario is, unfortunately, something
that has (and continues to) happened with great regularity across many
geographic regions (both parts of the USA and outside it).

Other than the specifics of brass knuckles vs some other instrument of
harm, and maybe minus my somewhat wooden dialog, I am describing a very
real-life, practical threat. Actually, even more than the picture I
paint of a crime boss seeking political office, controlling
neighborhoods, and so on (though that happens), is smaller scale vote
coercion: A husband demands a wife votes in a certain way; a boss
demands his employees vote a certain way; etc.

> suppose my precinct votes unanimously for Candidate A, despite the
> fact that I
> know I voted for Candidate B? How do I complain about that? After all,
> I have no
> way to prove to you how I voted, even if I want to do so.

Joseph Hall of OVC did an excellent paper with several co-authors that
analyzed information leakage in a statistical and quantitative way.
Stuff like not necessarily knowing Jim James voted for exactly X, but
revelation of information that, e.g. lets you know that the (small)
class Jim James belongs to voted X with 90% likelihood. For example,
blind voters voted a certain way as a group, or spanish-speaking
voters, or voters whose initials are JJ, or Green party registered
voters, etc. Compromises to anonymity that are not precise and
individual are still undesirable (even if not at the 100% level). You
can imagine how the above types of information could leak under certain
voting designs.

I say a draft of the Joe, et alia paper... I wonder if he's reading
this and could make a (finished) copy available to the list. It has
some fancy math, so it's not for everyone, but it's a good paper.

You're right, Marty, about the unanimous thing. If you fully protect
anonymity, proving votes is (by definition) not possible. Actual 100%
votes are rare, so that's a corner case. But we've certainly seen real
life examples where a vote is claimed 90%, but there sure *seem* to be
more than 10% of the voting populous who insist they voted otherwise.
That's a bad situation (and often, indeed, fraud is going on)... the
solution is having the right set of complete procedures in place, NOT
compromising individual anonymous ballots.

Yours, David...

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Received on Tue May 31 23:17:44 2005

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