[E-voting] reply to Thomas Greene

Margaret McGaley mmcgaley at cs.nuim.ie
Wed Oct 25 10:08:11 IST 2006

Michael McMahon wrote:
> I sent them a response as well.

Me too :)


Dear Mr Greene,

I was disappointed by your article "Irish e-voting emerges from the 
crypt" in the Register today. For one thing, you seem to misunderstand 
what we "activists" want when we call for a paper record. As far as I am 
aware, everyone who is calling for mandatory paper records intends that 
they be _the_ official record of votes cast. Any discrepancy between 
electronic and paper ballots is easily resolved - paper takes precedence.

You also agree with an Taoiseach's statement that "the anti-electronic 
voting campaign group in the Netherlands physically hacked into a 
machine to demonstrate security flaws. If one hacked into a ballot box 
one could do that too". Please explain to me how a ballot box can be 
undetectably altered so that a ballot cast into it would be changed by 
the time it hit the bottom of the box.

I agree that no voting system can be better than the security 
arrangments that are integral to it. A badly designed e-voting system 
which incorporated paper ballots could be worse than anything we've seen 
yet. However, the best security arrangments in the world will not make 
paperless e-voting safe. As with any other computer system you could 
name, you can only consider it safe and reliable if you can audit it 
(independently of the system's own claims about itself), and currently 
the only way you can audit a secret-ballot election is with paper 
ballots verified by individual voters.

Margaret McGaley


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