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Ear to the Ground

Electronic Voting That Might Actually Work

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Posted on Jul 26, 2010
bismark.se

The digital age hasn’t been very good for elections, at least when it comes to the actual recording and counting of votes. But some big brains are out to change all that. Here is a system that would let you vote anonymously and allow you to verify that your vote was recorded accurately.

Or maybe it’s just too good to be true.

The idea is that you would vote on a piece of paper that is perforated down the center. Candidates and other ballot options are listed on the left in random order and you record your vote in boxes on the right. Through the magic of bar codes, your choices are passed on through “many cryptographic steps, spread out on many different parties” to ultimately produce a plain text tally. The “many different parties” is supposed to make it hard to rig. Later, using an Internet Web browser device and a copy of your bar-coded ballot, you could check to make sure your vote was tallied as intended.

And once you work out the kinks in your time machine, you can go back and undo Florida, 2000. —PZS

David Bismark via Gizmodo:

After the close of the election the votes are decrypted in such a way as to hide all the voters’ identities and (after many cryptographic steps, spread out on many different parties) verifiably producing the plaintext, countable votes. This procedure is very complicated and require computers to do all the cryptography but this can be done by experts. Because of the way that the system is constructed, it is not possible for any single person or any single organisation to change the outcome of the election or to find out how you voted. Instead, we spread out the trust in the system on many different parties who are unlikely all to work together to break the election, for example the current government, the opposition, each political party, the United Nations, several governments of other countries etc. Unless all of these come together and decide to change the outcome of the election then no-one can do so. Unless they all come together and decide to find out how you, or any other voter, voted then no-one can do so. This is a much better way of trusting elections than having to trust that an enormous apparatus, involving thousands of people, millions of voters and millions of votes works without a problem.

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rico, suave's avatar

By rico, suave, July 27, 2010 at 8:38 pm Link to this comment

Vote anonymously?

What a bunch of crap. I thought card check was all about eliminating the secret ballot. Why on earth would any self-respecting progressive be in favor of secret ballots?

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, July 27, 2010 at 4:09 pm Link to this comment

I want a read reciept for exit polling in nothing else. 

Recounts happen more than you think.

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By John, July 27, 2010 at 3:27 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Very bad idea,

No transparency,  still requires a computer to do all these calculations and doesn’t eliminate manipulation of the computer that makes all these calculations.

It’s real simple,  you use paper ballots and you count them as you get them and you count them at the polling place,  not at a central location.  You have people doing this every day that the polling place is open and you make the results of each polling place public as you get votes.  You have poll workers sign the back of each ballot and put their fingerprint next to their signature and if someone screws up their ballot,  they have to sign it as spoiled.  The room where ballots are counted has a camera over each work station where people can watch in real time as each vote is counted.  The key is to keep it local at each polling place because it is much harder to rig elections if you have to go to each polling place.  Right now with electronic machines using central tabulators with proprietary software,  elections can be manipulated on a wholesale scale with little chance of being caught.
By having poll workers sign and finger print ballots as they hand them out,  this prevents box stuffing as you would have to convince individual poll workers to stuff the ballot boxes.  You would also have a tally of how many people voted each day,  what the results were, etc. etc. 
Free, fair, accurate, transparent elections with the confidence of the electorate.  Those are the criteria,  and this system lacks transparency.  Too much going on inside the machine,  no way to do a meaningful recount as far as I can see.

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By CaptRon, July 27, 2010 at 9:18 am Link to this comment

My problem with electronic voting is the gathering of info other than my vote. Information WILL be gathered, WILL be bought & sold. This is what the electronic age has become. Electronic voting would be no different, forget the promises. It isn’t like you have any control over what you want recorded or offered. You don’t even receive income from the sale of it, in fact it ends up costing you in some other way including the personal time in the policing of your information. The paper vote can do the same thing, but it would cost more to have this information gathered. That additional cost is more of a protection for my unprotected info. I’m tired of making life easier, more profitable, and more politically advantageous for those who make my lifestyle more unbearably complicated. I don’t like having my voting record being misinterpreted from policy related to persona criteria. I’m tired of manufactured candidates. I can’t stop them but I can try to make it harder to happen by making it more expensive to do. Just the way I see it.

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By GW=MCHammered, July 27, 2010 at 6:48 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Since government would rather behave like business and
because special interest turned our demo-cracy and
capital-izm into extortion, choose to VOTE WITH YOUR
DOLLAR$:

Keep your all your tax money. Show your support for
candidates, local, county, state, and federal
government by paying what you think they’re worth. Same
for all ballot measures and wars. You know, operate
just like our trusty free market system. Like Skinny
Dog said, at least they’ll count your dollars wink

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By anonymous, July 27, 2010 at 5:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

There are many simple ways to make the system
transparent.  They don’t help the people who now
own the system so they are not going to be
adopted.

Only a violent upheaval can fix this government
and that won’t happen until everybody’s television
breaks.

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By Skinny Dog, July 27, 2010 at 1:53 am Link to this comment

They can make ATMs that read a stack of fifty handwritten bank checks and spit out accurate cash withdrawls and give you an accurate receipt, and do it day in and day out without making a single mistake…

But somehow, they just can’t seem to manufacture an accurate voting machine. Yeah, right.

Screw them, and screw their voting machines! We should go back to good old ink and paper. It’s worked just dandy for over 500 years.

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By ofersince72, July 27, 2010 at 12:46 am Link to this comment

“many cryptographic steps”  I am intriqued.

But Suppose I vote for Sara,  oh shit,  somebody might
break the “crytographic steps”  and I might get
embarassed that this time my vote went to the sexiest
candidate, with the boobs.
  Obama has no boobs,  that is how I am going to start
voting,  the boob factor,  I will call it.

Wait, Obama just might win that one too!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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