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

Hal hal at ashburner.info
Sat Mar 20 00:11:52 MDT 2010

On 03/20/2010 04:27 PM, steve jenkin wrote:
> 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...
All of this is trumped by the lack of transparency of electronic voting, 
for mine. Elections are important. Right now everybody can understand 
how they work and will notice someone doing something that interferes 
with the result. As soon as you get a machine involved the majority of 
people casting their votes will be suspicious of the count because they 
don't understand how it works. They can't spot someone tampering with 
the count as they don't know what to look for, evidence of tampering is 
unclear to the majority of people where as now it would be very, very 
clear if you were caught with a bunch of ballots, or examining and 
altering the contents of ballet boxes. With e-voting most AEC officials 
would have no idea if they were looking right at someone tampering with 
the results. All of us here who've done sysadmin work have seen smart 
people doing utterly idiotic things with respect to security that they 
just wouldn't dream of if there was no computer involved. It's the norm 
not the exception.

The point is enhanced by the fact that even if you have a technical 
solution for /all/ of the security issues, the voting public still won't 
believe it and it will cast extra suspicion over a result. Especially so 
for the passionate supporters of the losing side. We hear dark 
mutterings of nefarious election conduct enough as it is, mercifully, no 
matter how disappointed we are with a result, such things have zero 

The money cost is a non-starter as an argument. An election is crucially 
important. Pay for the best one you can have.

Recounts are good. They're clear. They're obvious. Idiocy like Florida 
does not happen here. They enhance the reputation of the election being 
a fair reflection of the will of the people. I can't overstate how 
important I think that is.

Don't watch the tv if you find it dull. This works for the overwhelming 
majority of us given how small those tv ratings are, the fact it rates 
enough for pundits to be employed suggest some people actually enjoy it. 
Good luck to them.

Now I love getting computers involved to make things more efficient, 
accurate and pleasant for those involved with the process. I make money 
doing this. I'm passionate about it, in fact. (Mantra: make the machines 
work for your team and not the other way round). But this is just not 
the right thing to be doing in the case of elections. And I would give 
this advice if it cost me the consulting contract to implement e-voting 
and a lot of money in the process and indeed still if it meant my 
business went broke. So there you have it, you don't need to be a 
/total/ luddite to hate e-voting with something like a passion.

Possibly the greatest thing about living in this country is every few 
years we have what "Roy and HG" call the "Festival of Freedom" and its 
most notable feature is how dull it all is. We need this to continue for 
as long as it can.


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