[EM] Is Helios online voting secure?

robert bristow-johnson rbj at audioimagination.com
Thu Feb 23 06:04:35 PST 2012

On 2/23/12 6:36 AM, Jameson Quinn wrote:
> 2012/2/23 Jameson Quinn <jameson.quinn at gmail.com 
> <mailto:jameson.quinn at gmail.com>>
>     2. You could use secure machines, booted from CD with no hard
>     drive, at polling stations.
> Of course, if you're using polling stations anyway, you should be 
> printing hand-marked or at least voter-verified paper ballots and 
> giving cryptographically-verifiable receipts.

in my opinion, there is nothing that replaces hand marking ballots where 
the candidates' names are printed directly on the ballot, so there is no 
chance of an alignment (or "registration") problem that was apparent for 
the punch-card ballots and ballot "machines" (the are really just a jig, 
not much of a machine there).  this intrinsically takes care of the 
"paper backup" problem in the best manner.  the paper record is the 
original document.

then, of course, the paper ballot is optically scanned.  and the 
scanning machine (that "empties" into the ballot box) lives at the 
precinct polling location.  it's the only truly secure manner to collect 
the votes (so that there is no wholesale effort to proxy vote for a 
large class of people) and to shepherd the paper ballot records to where 
they need to be for any recount.

perhaps there could be a machine in some places for blind people to vote 
with no human help (preserving their secret vote).  i do not know if 
every precinct would need it, but perhaps the electronic voting machine 
to aid the blind (but it will continue to carry the risks of electronic 
voting) could live at a central polling place (like in city hall or 
something) to serve the needs of voters who are already identified as 
legally blind.

for some reason, i don't see why this method is ever challenged in favor 
of a better method.  except for the blind voter who wants to vote by 
secret ballot, there is no better method than the optical-scanned paper 


r b-j                  rbj at audioimagination.com

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."

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