[E-voting] Fwd: Article in today's"IrishExaminer" re complainttoCeann Comhairle

Colm MacCarthaigh colm at stdlib.net
Mon Apr 26 14:43:27 IST 2004

On Mon, Apr 26, 2004 at 02:01:57PM +0100, Michael McMahon wrote:
> >The numbers are deliberately long and unwieldly so as to protect against
> >their use as a verification token to a potential intimidator. Their
> >purpose is to facilitate the determination of problems at a ballot-box
> >level - for example if a presiding officer did not frank a suspiciously
> >large ammount of ballot papers.
> That's interesting. Are the numbers unique per ballot paper
> or do they come in batches with the same number?

The numbers are unique per ballot paper I believe :)

> >No voting system is every going to be perfect, and we are always
> >going to have to simply trust some people at a pragmatic and
> >practical level.  To my mind the goal here is not to establish a
> >system of complete and absolute trust - because this simply is not
> >doable, and no court will do anything on the basis that it should -
> >but that the introduction of a system to which the extent of the
> >effectiveness of trust is limited must be prevented.
> Couldn't agree more; which is why when push comes to shove, if the
> courts are presented with a viable and practical solution to the
> problem, then it will be much easier for them to reject the
> Governments approach.
> I'm not arguing that barcodes are better than optical scanning, just
> that a practical solution *can be* built using barcodes and off the
> shelf computer hardware. The more solutions that get documented, the
> better, as far as I am concerned.

Frankly I think both solutions are misplaced. To my mind the
trustworthiness of the old system was predicated on the mutual distrust
and suspicion of adverserial candidates and their agents and the long
experience created over generations of watching manual counts.

We have over 100 years experience of manual counts, everyone involved
knows the procedures and would be keen spotters of tampering, problems
or inaccuracy. Switching ballots at a count centre would be no mean
feat and ballot papers are traditionally opened in front of all present
for everyone to verify and create the 1st preferences tally.

The people involved don't trust each other and they watch each other
closely ... this process drives a situation which makes tampering at a
large level nigh impossible. 

Ballot scanning (barcode or OCR) on the contrary is something in which
we have no experience, election agents and third parties just don't know
a lot about it, and although they can get people in that do and run
their own ballot scans and so on I don't think this is fully practical
or desirable. For one thing it places the primary record - the votes
- in the hands of a party to an election, which is even worse.

A simple electronic voting machine, which produces a voter-verifed paper
copy of our vote that we can slip into a ballot machine would suffice in
my opinion.  This approach offers the advantage of no unintended spoils
and offers accessibility to some who never had the opportunity of a
secret ballot before. 

I don't believe there is any substantial evidence that our system of
Manual counting is any more erroneous than any electronic system and
it's certainly cheaper than the system that is being proposed for use.

Colm MacCárthaigh                        Public Key: colm+pgp at stdlib.net

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