[E-voting] Re: terrorism and electronic elections

Marian Beddill beddill at nas.com
Fri Jul 15 02:29:00 IST 2005

Our state resolves the privacy and no-duplicate ballots with a two-step 
method - the details vary since each state and county runs their own 
elections under varying laws and procedures.

In many jurisdictions (but I can't be sure it is all) every ballot has:
* a code which identifies the voting jurisdiction (Precinct and in some 
cases a "split" of a precinct, for special districts), and...
* an individual serial number.

With poll voting, ballots are returned bare into a ballot-box at the 
polling place.

With postal voting, a weak point might be at mailing, where insider 
collusion and manipulation might have the ability to associate the unique 
ballot number to the mailing label.  I believe this is avoided by first 
sealing the numbered ballots into the security envelopes, then shuffling 
those and randomly inserting them into the mailing envelope with individual 

Postal ballots are returned by post to the central office (or into 
official, staffed, drop-box sites), enclosed in TWO envelopes. The outer 
one carries the signature of the voter, which - still sealed - is checked 
against the signature on file - and at that point the voter gains "credit" 
for having cast a ballot.  Only then is the outer envelope opened, and the 
also-sealed inner envelope containing the ballot is sent to the counting 
process, sans any way to identify it's voter.  This maintains privacy / 
anonymity at the front and the tail end.

The jurisdiction code may be read by machine (scanner, etc) or by a person, 
to allocate the vote to the proper jurisdiction for the races/issues for 
which the voter may vote, based on geographic residence.

The individual ballot number would only be used to seek forged ballots, by 
finding duplicates or a number out-of-range.

This maintains secrecy of the ballot, and deters that kind of fraud.

Marian Beddill
Washington State, US

At 7/13/2005  06:51 PM, you wrote:

>I am totally against "pre-printed serial numbers on the back".
>Obvious all paper ballot must be identical with no way to distinguish one 
>from another for secrecy reason... this is obvious to me but seems to be 
>non obvious in UK(?) where such number are stamped on the paper ballot and 
>next to the name of the voter.
>Michael McMahon wrote:
>>paul.holden at icsmember.ie wrote:
>>The real printed ballots would have to
>>have some authenticating information like printer marks
>>equivalent to the old stamp, and pre-printed serial numbers on
>>the back. In that situation, fake ballots would just be removed
>>without affecting the audit. However, if a ballot paper turns
>>up that looks authentic, but has the wrong data on it, then
>>that is evidence of a serious problem.
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