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kster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 02:27 AM
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Electronic Voting and Democracy
It's not the voting that's democracy; it's the counting. Tom Stoppard
Those who cast the votes decide nothing, those who count the votes decide everything. Stalin

In more than two centuries no western democracy had any serious trouble arising from using ballot papers (by the way, what's wrong with them?) and to date most democracies of the world use ballot papers to elect their Parliaments and Governments.

However, hardware and software vendors are pressing for the use of electronic voting and Governments often endorse it.

Most people see electronic voting as a mere technical evolution of ballot paper voting and therefore they are confidently waiting for hardware and software that will make electronic elections as secure as remote banking, for example. They probably think voting is a simple transaction by which we add 1 to the electoral "balance" of our candidate, just the way we add money to someone's bank balance when we use our credit card. Unfortunately voting is not like banking because votes and financial data differ in the level of the secrecy they require and such intrinsic difference is the very reason why electronic voting is unfit for political elections in democracy and no technology can change this.

To see why electronic voting is not compatible with Democracy we need to go through a few basic concepts:

In Democracy the governmental power is transferred by counting secret votes during elections. To accept such transfer people and parties must be 100% sure that electoral results are fair and square: doubts about the legitimacy of the winner can damage the political life of the country and even bring riots and revolutions.

Votes must be forever secret from everybody because otherwise voters could undergo illicit pressure to vote according to somebody else's will. Criminals (and/or governments and/or politicians) have enough power to compell people to vote in a certain way.

Electoral procedures are obvioulsy setup and managed by large organizations which span all over the country and give contracts to private and public companies.

Many people and/or organizations are interested in falsifying electoral results to maintain or to get the governmental power. They can be highly motivated, well financed, sophisticated, and could be outsiders as well as insiders with full knowledge of the election system. These attackers could be political operatives, voters, vendor personnel, polling place workers, election administrators, foreign countries, international terrorist organizations, or just pranksters.

Sitting governments are in charge of guaranteeing the accuracy of electoral results and the secrecy of votes, but the social groups & the economical powers which are the base of any government have the obvious interest in falsifying electoral results and violating the secrecy of votes to preserve the power. They could also succeed thanks to the complete control they have over the electoral process. /
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HowHasItComeToThis Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 02:38 AM
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kster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 02:53 AM
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2. To accept electronic electoral result ordinary people need to
have an absolute faith in the accuracy, honesty and security of the whole electoral apparatus (people, software, hardware and networks). This is not possible (see point d and point e), thus

electronic voting is not compatible with Democracy.

It is worthy of attention that the above statement is true whichever technical implementation it's used for voting. In other words.

Vote is unfit to democracy whichever hardware and software it's used!.

In fact let's imagine to have a perfect electronic voting system with all the security, auditing, accountability, meaningful public standards and public evaluations we like. Even in such a very optimistic case in the end all the votes would be stored in anonymous records and this unverifiable data, processed by unverifiable electronic procedures, would decide the (unverifiable) winner of the election.


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Stevepol Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 04:56 AM
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3. Highly rec'd!
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kster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Feb-17-09 11:25 AM
Response to Reply #3
4. When ballot paper elections are held under
under proper democratic control, the people tally up real votes (ballot papers are hand written by electors and readable by anyone). When ballot papers are publicly counted in the same place as they were voted and when scrutineers are randomly selected citizens (as done in Italy, for example), then who actually counts votes and declares the result of each ballot station is the public, and the central electoral service has the mere role of tallying such results. Thousands of ordinary people across the whole nation guarantee and certify the electoral result.

In e-voting computers tally up info about the way electors voted (which button they pressed or which part of the screen they touched). Such info is collected and stored in the form of anonymous intangible human-unreadable string of bytes. Votes are "counted" and results declared solely by the "electoral service" which is under the control of the Government whose term of office is about to expire. No democratic control is possible over electronic elections

In other words, for electoral results to be verifiable and votes absolutely secret, votes must be anonymous, tangible, human-readable objects!


Thanks for the "R"
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a777pilot Donating Member (31 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-20-09 06:28 PM
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5. voting
It's real simple...there is no fair election with electronic voting. Period. end of discussion.

Anyone that advocates electronic voting is anti-democracy. You might want to ask them "Why they want a system in which the results can not be verified?"

Or am I all screwed up?
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a777pilot Donating Member (31 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-21-09 10:42 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. Protect Our Voting Rights
"I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue!"

Barry Goldwater
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