[E-voting] UK govt circular mentions open-source e-voting

Aengus Lawlor aengusl at eircom.net
Thu Jul 21 17:34:06 IST 2005

On Thursday, July 21, 2005 12:17 PM [EDT],
Michael McMahon <michael at hexmedia.com> wrote:

>> ???? I've never been a member of a political party in my life, and
>> I've attended General Election counts, and helped with the tally 4
>> or 5 times in the last 20 years. I've tallied for different parties
>> at different elections.
>> Party workers don't count our election results.
> <just to be clear about this>
> Since the party workers (or whoever gets the chance to be there at the
> count) are the only
> people who observe the count, then the voters have to trust them to
> make sure it is done properly.

No, Michael. The voters DON'T have to trust them. The "party workers" aren't
counting the votes!!!!! They are observing the counters (usually civil
servants), and it is the presence of observers with mutually opposed
interests in the outcome that the voters can trust, and, if they don't trust
it, they can apply to attend themselves.

> In a crypto e-voting system, the place of the observers is taken
> partly by the
> programmers who write the verification software, and partly by the
> voters who choose to download that software and use it to verify an
> election.
> That's why I was making the comparison.

Right, so you want to replace a system that you've no direct experience
with, but that any member of the public who can be bothered can participate
in, and immediate understand, with a system that any member of the public
who can be bothered can particpate in, if they have a computer, even if they
can't understand it, and end up just taking someone else word for it anyway.

This is exactly what the term "a solution in search of a problem" was coined
to describe. Our "observation" system isn't broken, and it is precisely the
area that technology is least capable of adequately replacing.


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