TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Re: Diebold Source Code Leaked Once Again

Re: Diebold Source Code Leaked Once Again

Dave Garland (
Sat, 28 Oct 2006 21:58:54 -0500

It was a dark and stormy night when PAT wrote:

> Yet who else has offered [Diebold's] sort of software for
> the administration of voting? I do not know of anyone.

Standard (majority) voting should be fairly simple to write software
for, and there is no reason it could not be Open Source software. There
is in fact Open Source software for Single Transferrable Vote/Instant
Runoff elections, which are rather more complex to keep track of (IRV
and STV are systems used in a few jurisdictions where voters rank the
candidates, and the voting is processed as a series of runoffs with the
lowest candidate being dropped until winner(s) are determined.

> I also happen to think voting could be done from home computers if
> security precautions were taken, but that would require some effort to
> _carefully identify_ voters AND assure that voting remained anonymous
> like it is now.

As with absentee ballots, with online voting it is virtually
impossible to ensure voting remains private. Not only is there the
problem of the vote being submitted to the government together with
identifying information, how do you deal with the husband who watches
while his wife votes, or the vote buyer who insists on supervising the
vote to ensure he gets his money's worth?


[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: Well, what you need to do is require
that _all_ employees of the election (computer workers, clerks, etc)
be required to take the same oaths required of any professional who
deals with members of the public. They are required under most
circumstances to work on a 'client privilege' basis. How do you keep
what you tell your pychiatrist for example from becoming public
knowledge? Those people _presumably_ are ethically motivated to
maintain the trust. How do you deal with insurance company which is
paying for someone's mental treatment who insists on making sure
_they_ are getting their money's worth? You basically would have to
use two computer systems; the first system is intended to identify the
person's right to vote; his name, address, etc and to make sure his
identification is not presented two or more times. Upon validating the
voter, he is given an anonymous 'ticket' to use in voting. This part
is basically what the election judges do now; you announce your name,
the clerks find you in their books; then and only then are you
permitted to walk past them to the voting booth where no record is
maintained of how you voted, just that you _had_ used your entitled
vote. So the first computer satisfies itself that you are (a) entitled
to vote, and (b) have not done so previously in this election. Then
the second computer (or a different function of the same computer)
accepts your right to vote 'ticket' and accepts your vote. All it
knows (or could ever tell anyone) was that ticket number whatever
cast a vote. And all the first computer knows is that you presented
yourself and requested admission to the voting process and it found
you eligible or not.

Needless to say, neither computer volunteers any information to any
voter. If the first one is satisfied, it generates a 'ticket' in the
form of some extremely long, very elaborate encryoted number; your
'authorization' to vote. If it is not satisfied (a) driver's license
or other ID does not correctly match up or (b) it issued a 'ticket'
for this same person from an 'unlikely' location for this voter
elsewhere five minutes ago, then it does NOT deny you the right to
vote; it merely suggests manual voting will be required, first
call phone number xxx so an experienced election worker can shake
you down on required details, and possibly then unlock your computer
or suggest that you present yourself and all requisite identification
at the manual polling place. Its easy enough to do; what margin
of error in the results would be tolerated has to be decided.

Everyone would be required (if they wish to vote by computer) to use a
computer associated with either an IP address or phone number of
record to get their voting 'ticket'. Of course there will be some
cheating; I am not sure what level of cheating there would be or if
the cheating was any more or less than at present, but it could be
tried at first with a minor or mock election, and the process
fine-tuned as it was being done, trimming back on the fraud as it was
being honed. PAT]

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