[E-voting] The best VVAT is good for

Aengus Lawlor aengusl at eircom.net
Wed Oct 26 11:30:50 IST 2005

On Wednesday, October 26, 2005 3:56 AM [EDT],
Craig Burton <caburt at alphalink.com.au> wrote:

>> The majority of people can't know their votes made it.  A
>> representative sample probably can't know their votes made it.
>> An individual would have to pursue the ballot box all the way to the
>> counting room, stand close to a counter, then be sure the counter
>> read your vote options correctly for each redistribution.   Or be
>> happy with the ERO's decision on your ambiguous markings.
>> It doesn't scale, it's not a practical VVAT solution which is
>> available to any and all.
>> The vast majority have to trust others.
>> I can't see how this majority trust is definitely acceptable above
>> and yet relying on (several independent) technical people to make
>> professional assessments of systems and code is definitely not
>> acceptable.

The point is that practically every one of those millions of voters is
capable of doing that verification if they so wish. They have a choice of
whether to do that, or to trust the bi-partisan scrutiny provided by those
who are rather more interested in the process.

The same can't be true of any electronic process. The average voter doesn't
get a choice in the matter. They have neither the training nor the equipment
necessary to properly test the electronic process, and even if they did,
they wouldt be allowed the necessary access "because it would endanger the
process". They have no choice in the matter - they are forced to trust
someone elses judgement on this issue.

The principle of the secret ballot precludes the sort of audit trail that we
expect for financial transactions, so once a voters ballot is placed in the
ballot box, there is no way for any individual voter to prove that any
particular ballot is his or hers, and therefore, there is no way, in
principle, for the voter to prove that his or her specific ballot was
counted. But they can verify (and, in Irish elections at least), they do
verify that every ballot was taken from the ballot box, and counted. That
can't be said of most electronic voting systems.


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