Re: securing electronic ballots

From: David Mertz <voting-project_at_gnosis_dot_cx>
Date: Tue Nov 25 2003 - 23:35:14 CST

Lori Flynn <> wrote:
|I am curious why voters need to physically touch the ballot at all. What
|I've heard about voting in Brazil (where 100% of the population is
|required by law to vote at national elections, and where 100% of the last
|presidential vote was electronic) is that a paper ballot is printed which
|is visible behind glass to the voter. The voter verifies that indeed it
|shows the correct choices made. Then the paper ballot drops (in front
|of the voters' eyes and behind glass) into a locked box.

Brazil indeed does a lot of things right. Overall, their system of
democracy is more advanced than ours in the USA.

In fact, Rebecca Mercuri mostly likes the paper-behind-glass system
also. So there is some USA support for the idea. For that matter, I
myself am not really -opposed- to the idea (except, NOT as a change in
demo plans; potentially a change for the future only).

Perhaps Alan will decide to further elucidate his reasons for preferring
the physically handled ballot. One of those I myself put less weight
in: the thing with the glass is custom hardware, not as easy to do with
off-the-shelf commodity printers.

However, one thing that EVM2003's approach handles quite well is blind
accessibility. A blind voter can carry the printed ballot (with only
the obfuscated barcode showing out of the envelope) over to a
non-connected reading-station. The cast votes can be verified using
only headphones. It's hard to see how to achieve quite the same effect
with a paper-behind-glass system.

Sure, the original voting booth could itself have earphones, and just
read the intended votes. But that doesn't let the blind voter
-anonymously- assure herself that the paper really says the right thing.

In my mind, both systems have advantages and disadvantages relative to
each other. It's not clear to me how to weigh the comparative
significance of blind-voter anonymous verification and
missing-paper-ballots. Of course, I'm not adverse to hearing a scheme
that addresses both concerns (again, not for the demo; but that's just
our start).

Yours, David...

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Received on Sun Nov 30 23:17:08 2003

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