[EM] untraceable receipts

Ernest Prabhakar drernie at mac.com
Fri Nov 14 13:32:02 PST 2003

On Nov 14, 2003, at 12:24 PM, Ken Johnson wrote:
> Message: 7
> Date: Thu, 13 Nov 2003 09:43:18 -0500
> From: Rob Speer <rspeer at MIT.EDU>
> If you have the option of verifying your ballot, then someone has the
> option of paying you $20 for your verifiable vote receipt. Or
> threatening you if you don't get a receipt and give it to them.

Actually, there's a trivial way to avoid the problem of 'coerced 
ballots', even with plaintext receipts.  All you need is "easily forged 
receipts."   You could even have a "sample machine" set up in the same 
room, where users could 'test' their voting, and get a fake (but 
indistinguishable) receipt.  The electronic display (and booth signage) 
should clearly indicate that this is a sample, but the receipt should 
be indistinguishable from a legitimate one.    A coercer would have no 
way of telling the difference.

Of course, you could make it even easier and just have all receipts be 
done in a commonly-used font on standard letter sized paper, and anyone 
could trivially make (or sell) false receipts.

True, that wouldn't stop a gangster who was able to stand in the voting 
area and grab your receipt the moment you finished voting, but anyone 
with that level of access could just stand in the voting booth with 

There's also something to be said for not over-optimizing for the 
corner cases.  At least in the vast majority of precincts in the U.S., 
active coercion is quite rare. We should design to avoid the most 
common problems, as long as there was some way to address the edge 
cases with more effort.

  Of course, in other countries I imagine it would be quite different.  
But I think the more important question is whether we can reach 
consensus about -what- information should be available to -whom-.   If 
we can agree on that social question, the technical problems should be 
simple to resolve.

-- Ernie P.
RadicalCentrism.org is an anti-partisan think tank near Sacramento, 
California, dedicated to developing and promoting the ideals of 
Reality, Character, Community and Humility as expressed in our Radical 
Centrist Manifesto: Ground Rules of Civil Society 

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