[E-voting] Open source voting system

michael at hexmedia.com michael at hexmedia.com
Mon Apr 8 17:07:03 IST 2013


On 2013-04-08 14:38, Kommer Kleijn wrote:
[...]
> I actually distinguish three levels of trust in a voting system:
> 1)not-verifiable, 2)verifiable, 3)verified. Only the third is
> acceptable for democratic elections. "It can eventually be verified"
> is not good enough. The count needs to be actually verified by human
> citizens. Up to today only forms of manual counting provide that 
> feature.
> 

I think the distinction between 1), 2) and 3) is important particularly 
in
the US context, where they started out with not-verifiable voting 
systems,
and in some cases at least, have ended up with "verifiable" systems,
but the effort of verification is a significant burden. So, it's 
questionable whether,
even with the best of intentions, it will be carried out in all cases.
So, it's not a very satisfactory situation in the US.

I haven't been following this subject for a few years, and it may well 
have moved on
in directions unknown to me, but a while back I was
interested in cryptographic voting and counting systems. I (still) 
believe that
these have the potential to meet the requirements for "verified" 
election systems,
where voters are not required to trust the election system provided by 
the
election authorities. Since verification is done by independent
software, and independent individuals, it is much more likely to happen 
in every election.

I did a small bit of research myself, on a crypto system for 
voting/counting PR-STV
and I know others have done similar (and better) work than mine.
But, what it showed (to me) is that despite the apparent complexity in 
systems like STV,
it is possible to record and count votes by software and prove 
afterwards that it was
all done correctly and without having to reveal any information that 
isn't revealed
in today's manual election systems.

One problem with these systems though is how complicated they are to 
understand,
and nobody is going to trust a system they don't understand. Having 
said that,
I think that problem may be surmountable. Understanding of technology 
tends to
be at different levels anyway. In any case, there are other issues, not 
least
the scepticism that the previous generation of voting systems has 
created.
So, I don't see anything like this happening any time soon.

As regards this project, my 2 cents would be that it should be done in 
the context
of a complete election system. It's not really worth solving one piece 
of the puzzle
(a scanning system) without knowing how (or if) it fits into an overall 
solution for
some election system.

Michael.



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