[E-voting] The VVAT Debate - Technical or Not ?

Dr J Pelan J.Pelan at gatsby.ucl.ac.uk
Sun Mar 7 22:10:45 GMT 2004

Michael McGrath <mmcgrathbl at eircom.net>;

> My comments were made from the standpoint of a non-computer scientist
> who has to decide whether I trust a particular e-voting system or not:

We may be taking at cross-purposes here but I, and some on this list,
don't see the demands for a voter verified audit trail as a 'technical'
issue at least not in the Computer Science sense. It is vital that this
position can be understood by all concerned.

If I break it out (with some simplification and omission) perhaps the
difficulty in perception can be addressed;

(1) We have a voting system which must be trustworthy and verifiably so.

(1a) This implies that all elements of the voting system, including
     the recorded votes, must be trustworthy and verifiably so.

(2) The only way a voter can verify that their vote has been
    recorded accurately is by observing that recording themselves.

(2a) This implies that verification has not occurred if the voter 
     is only told what has been recorded, by another human or by device.

(3) The proposed voting system only permits the voter to verify 
    the recorded vote via a device.

I contend that by taking (1), (2) and (3) it naturally follows that the
proposed system is unsuitable for electoral purposes. QED.

It appears you are seeking an argument as to whether a particular device
should be exempt from (2a) on the basis of trust embodied by technical
assurances. However if you believe fundamentally in (1) and (2) then NO
intermediary is permitted, no matter how many assurances are given, so
the technical points are wholly superfluous(*).

John P.

(*) This doesn't mean that the system cannot be challenged on a
    technical basis but it is not necessary in the core VVAT debate.

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