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

Kim Holburn kim.holburn at gmail.com
Sat Mar 20 01:32:09 MDT 2010

On 2010/Mar/20, at 4:27 PM, steve jenkin wrote:

> 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.]

All this from people printing their own ballot paper?  I don't think  
so.  Election officials would have to check the ballot papers people  
brought to the polling station.  I can only see that taking longer.   
I'd rather have them printed by election officials on paper of their  
choosing not on random paper with a random printer with water-based  
ink or if someone was malicious on sheets of C4.  The possibilities  
are endless and unnecessary.

> The AEC employs fewer staff at large polling stations.
> The big payoff of electronic voting (done right) is:
> - speed and
> - accuracy

But not with self-printed ballots.  That's not really e-voting.  As  
for e-voting: so the votes could be counted a bit faster and this is  
important how?  Accuracy:  not if it's not tamper proof.

There's scope in e-voting for undetectable tampering with voting  
systems and with vote aggregation systems (which we already have BTW).

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

We seem to have gotten by somehow with the old system.

Elections is the only time in our system when we get to make a  
difference, such as it is.  Other than that we have an oligarchy.  We  
really don't want to have less trust in what we have.

"Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other  
forms that have been tried from time to time." Winston Churchill (from  
a House of Commons speech on Nov. 11, 1947)

> 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...

Yes but in that case it's not e-voting, just self-printed ballots.

>> 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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Kim Holburn
IT Network & Security Consultant
T: +61 2 61402408  M: +61 404072753
mailto:kim at holburn.net  aim://kimholburn
skype://kholburn - PGP Public Key on request

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