[E-voting] Re: Thomas Greene just doesn't get it!

Colm MacCarthaigh colm at stdlib.net
Mon Jul 12 00:02:24 IST 2004

On Sun, Jul 11, 2004 at 11:44:21PM +0200, David GLAUDE wrote:
> Paper+pen is not VVAT it is traditionnal voting. 

Paper + pen is a Voter-verified audit trail. It is certainly
voter-verified, and it certainly satisfies all of the criteria
neccessary for audit.  To argue otherwise is absurd.

> At the time it was 
> obvious the vote had to be VV since it was "Voter Made" but it was not 
> an AT... it was THE VOTE.

Exactly as we propose in any acceptable computer-assisted voting system;
the vvat is the primary record of voter intent.

> So when you talk about VVAT I must assume it is a property that some 
> electronic voting system have (and some don't have that feature).

That is an incorrect assumption. Please stop making it.

> Belgium and Brazil are proof that when VVAT is implemented, it is 
> frequently only "for the show", to "demonstrate" the system work and 
> then to discard that costly feature (that was likely never plan to be 
> generalised).
> I have to keep repeating that "add a printer"-VVAT is potentially 
> dangerous. After a few decade, citizen might forget why in the first 
> place it was introduce.

I don't disagree. But you need to be a lot more clear about the nature
of the problem. The problem is not with the idea of a VVAT, that's just
the notion that our physical votes should be voter-verifed, auditable
and tamper-evident.

You're doing noone any favours by confusing the issues. 

> It is not fair if the act of voting is difficult to some due to the user 
> interface introduced by the computer.

It is also not fair if people who are blind (for example) are
unneccessarily not permitted secrecy of ballot. There are many competing
unfairnesses. You can't just ignore people with disabilities because
it is convienent - they really do exist, and they have as much right
to secrecy as anyone else.

> Advocating for VVAT where VVAT range from paper+pen, optical reading, 
> computer-assisted-ballot-printing to DRE+printer is a problem. 

Advocating for a VVAT is most certainly not a problem. All voting
systems need a VVAT. Being niaive enough to think that this is the sole
requirement of any workable system is a problem.

> No one knows what you want when you ask for VVAT... so everytime
> someone advocate VVAT, I assume the worth case scenario...

Good for you, but that doesn't mean a VVAT is implicitly bad or
inherently flawed - it's not. Some systems are, make the distinction

> Fergal Daly email I was responding to was rather good in pointing that
> DRE+printer was not a good solution after all.

It's stupidly wasteful, personally I think printed ballots are the
future, but preferably without any DRE.

> Computer assisted voting (anytime you put every citizen in front of a
> computer user interface to do their duty of voting) is a problem.

That hasn't been the experience in Ireland. One of the key findings from
our trials here was that older people had no particular problem
operating the machines. I'm not really intrested in pretending that
isn't true because it might suit our cause.

> It took a long time to have "one man/women = one vote" but the
> percentage of citizen capable of reading/writing and understand the
> paper ballot was a bit low 100 years ago. So there was no real place
> for democracy or we had to use trick like pictures, graphism, ...

In Ireland, all of our printed ballots include colour photographs of
candidates aswell as a colour representaion of a party logo. This has
been a great help with voter illeteracy. And we have the highest
literacy rate in Europe.

> ICTE choosed the strategy to be pro-VVAT. Dispite your success, I
> still think it is a mistake. Futur will tell us if I was right to warn
> you so many time.

That's your perogative, but I don't think you'll make any progress
without being pragmatic and realistic. I'll try again to explain; VVAT
is a neccessity of any voting system, it is present in our standard
pencil + paper system and it must be present in any other system. It
must be possible to examine an actual record of the vote that the voter
has verified, and to be confident it has not been tampered with.

This isn't the sole requirement of a system, but it is one and it is
indespensible. So it perfectly proper to be pro-VVAT, to be anything
else is simply wrong. 

Now I've gone on record many times as saying that the mercuri method is
probably unrealistic, because after a few elections people will want to
get rid of the VVAT element, which may be seen as wasteful and
cumbersome. Personally I'm in favour of a simple ballot printer that
will print our ballots, and then they are secured and counted by people
in the ordinary way. This helps prevent mistaken spoilts and allows
accessibility to the blind. The notion of people not verifying their
ballots doesn't really worry me, because more than enough will to render
a deterrent to any tamperers.

> Everytime Belgium has a computer glitch during an electronic election
> (guess what we had for european election... more on that later), you
> can use it to promote VVAT... however it can be used to promote
> paper+pen as such.

paper+pen is a VVAT. *please* make this distinction.

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

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