[clug] e-Voting: What would you want in a smartphone App?

steve jenkin sjenkin at canb.auug.org.au
Fri Mar 19 23:27:23 MDT 2010

Kim Holburn wrote on 20/03/10 3:19 PM:
> Why do you want e-voting?  Who benefits?

Voters may be able to get through more quickly.
[Seen the lines at the large polling places? Town Hall in Sydney CBD
gets packed.]

The AEC employs fewer staff at large polling stations.

The big payoff of electronic voting (done right) is:
 - speed and
 - accuracy

For the first time, complex Senate votes could actually be fully
counted, not just approximated.

But any automation has to be verifiable and trustworthy/tamper-proof (or
tamper evident).

If the AEC could process all ballots cast within 30 minutes of the polls
closing and be able to be verified and scrutinised as well, then at 31
minutes, the election could be provisionally declared.

The votes and verification slips could then be shipped to the District
Electoral Office and reprocessed/reverified multiple times - matching
the polling place electronic batches to the real ballots when they
arrive (up to a week later).

The election could be declared very quickly and 'recounts' made redundant.

One of the non-obvious benefits of automating the back-end is detecting
vote-rigging, duplicate votes and other 'little problems'.
[But once detected, what do you do???]

Who benefits?
- The AEC: cheaper, faster, more accurate
- the pollies and small parties: perfect Senate counting, no 'recounts'.
- for elections where there can be 'count backs' when someone has to be
replaced (resigns/dies/imprisoned/...) - like ACT 'Hare/Clark' - it
becomes a trivial matter to select the next person elected.

Who loses?
- All those political pundits and TV programs that blather on endlessly...

> The only real practical reason I can think of is for disabled people who
> want to be able to vote without help.

Yes, a real benefit.

At the first trials, IIRC, it was the very first time that blind people
were able to cast a real secret ballot (the units did audio too?)

> I remember that evoting machines were outlawed in Holland only a year or
> two ago because people could detect electronically from a distance what
> was on the LCD screens (à la TEMPEST) and work out what people had
> voted.  There are a lot of potential catches.

Yes. thanks for the suggestion.

> Who owns the phone, who has the phone in their possession? 
> Can you prove it?

I can't see how or why that matters if the smartphone is only a vehicle
to print a ballot paper, not the means of lodging a ballot...

>  Then there is the issue of all the different phones and
> OSes. 

> Perhaps only iPhone users should vote?  I don't think so.

Ummm. Not what I'm suggesting...

>  If it were all electronic, can anyone work out what you voted?

Again, *not* suggesting 'magic invisible internet' solution.
But a faster way to get an anonymous printed ballot paper in the hands
of voters,
and as a by-product, allow for back-end automation which would produce
significant benefits in any voting system.

> TL;DR: why would you possibly want to vote in your phone?

Because it's there...
I can fill in my vote while standing in-line or in the car beforehand.
In and out in two minutes, anywhere. :-)

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