[EM] Re: touch screen voting machines

Eron Lloyd elloyd at lancaster.lib.pa.us
Tue Nov 11 16:14:02 PST 2003

Hi David,

On Tuesday November 11 2003 6:44 pm, David GLAUDE wrote:
> Eron Lloyd wrote:
> > An interesting idea for sure. I think computer ballots would be a great
> > way to produce an error-free paper tally,
> Why do you want error-free paper tally?
> In Belgium when paper voting, I have the right to draw a little house or
> a mickey mouse (without beeing affraid of Disney corporation for
> copyright violation since my vote is anonymous). Of course my vote is
> not valid... but I expressed my fealing. This is important in a country
> where voting is mandatory.
> In Belgium when e-voting (magnetic card), it is not possible to draw
> anything or vote in an invalid way. Actually you can only vote blanc
> (wich is technicaly the same but not from a psychological point of view).

Error-free simply meaning it should accurately reflect the voter's intent. 
There should still be mechanisms to voice dissent, which can come in the form 
of write-ins (also easy using a computer interface) or what should be 
required on every ballot line, the "None of the Above" option. This also 
would be recorded on the resulting paper reciept. If you have other ideas, 
like walking up to an official and putting a lighter to your ballot, that's 
fine by me.

You mentioned that voting is mandatory. This is very interesting. What 
penalties apply if you don't vote, and what is the resulting turnout 

> > I think the biggest difference that "E-voting" has that makes it more
> > challenging than on-line banking or ATMs is that it has to remain fully
> > anonomous yet just as accountable and auditable as financial
> > transactions. While we don't want registered voters being associated with
> > their votes, we still need to make sure that indeed registered voters
> > were the only ones voting. Very challenging.
> So challenging that I believe it is impossible.
> I believe that when you vote and there is something (a computer) between
> my vote (in my mind) and the expression of my vote (the "recording" of
> my vote), then the secrecy of my vote is lost. I am forced to share my
> secret with the computer, the author of the program, ...
> Even if they don't have my name and other information about me (that
> should be keeped completely separated with no way to correlate the data
> [not even by timestamping]) it is not my vote anymore... but our vote
> (shared with the author of the program) and not secret anymore.

Yes, along with banking, grocery shopping and automated telephone systems, 
things are getting more impersonal. There are still issues that need to be 
addressed, regardless of the system being used.

> > Interesting perspective. I'll take this in and process it for a while,
> > and see if I can draw out a workflow. The Internet verification would be
> > *very* tricky, however.
> In some country, "dead can vote". This is hard to do since you need them
> to come to the pooling station to register and vote. But it exist.
> With internet voting, it is a lot easyer to make our dead vote since
> they don't have to show up durring the election day and they can vote
> from where they are (in heaven I hope).
> So think twice, when I go voting (physicaly) my ID is checked, my face
> is compare to the picture on my id card.

There are a variety of software and hardware solutions that can aid in this 

> > As I mentioned above, there is *always* a problem using "black-box"
> > proprietary software, and hardware too.
> And also using open source software writen in proprietary language with
> no reference open source implementation. The whole thing running on a
> proprietary operating system.

Not in my system. Python (and C) is the language, Linux is the operating 
system, Qt is the GUI toolkit, MySQL is the database backend. All are 
available in GPL or looser licenses, and could be built against reference 
sources. Short of consumer PC hardware used, the entire system would be 
completely transparent.

> > Relying on voters to audit their votes is unacceptable,
> Who else can audit their vote???
> Expert? Whitness? Big Brother?

The machine would keep an electronic tally as well.

> > That might just mean pen and paper for a long time.

Unfortunately, we don't use paper now. We use lever machines with a mechanical 
counter. The county is looking at DRE machines for 2005, and we really can't 
turn back. We have to only hope for as open a DRE system as possible. One 
last though, a computer interface would be able to assist voters in casting 
STVs, like Approval, IRV, or Condorcet. People don't properly read paper 
ballots. You should see how many mistakes happen on voter registration cards! 
I'd be very interested in any studies looking at the usability issues of 
purality-majority vs. STV or other types of paper ballots. For advanced 
voting methods I'm not sure paper would succeed well.

> David GLAUDE
> http://www.poureva.be/

In democracy,


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Eron Lloyd
Technology Coordinator
Lancaster County Library
elloyd at lancaster.lib.pa.us
Phone: 717-239-2116
Fax: 717-394-3083

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