[nSLUG] Evoting - besides the point

Daniel AJ Sokolov daniel at falco.ca
Tue Oct 23 14:55:47 ADT 2012


A lot of the technical issues around e-voting are a massive problem, as
there is no transparency and hardly any reliable way for an audit. We
can discuss this ad libem. But it is besides the point.

With online voting, you never know who is actually voting, and if
someone is standing behind them, watching. That is a the death kknell
for a democratic public election.

Furthermore, it is impossible for a voter or a candidate's
representative to stand an watch if and how votes are counted.

The encryption will eventually be broken - it might be years or decades,
but even in a hundred years it is no-ones business how you voted. (And
the people who have the key can see it now. If the Scytl system used in
the HRM is akin to the one use for an election in Austria (that was
eventually declared invalid), only three people need to put their keys

As for the technical side, I don't think it can ever be safe as you woll
never know what kind of system is used by the voter. For all we know,
most systems are compromised.

US-politics tried a middle approach with electronic voting machines in
polling stations. Horrible results, and they are being phased out:


Albeit too late for this election, as the voting machines in the swing
state of Ohio are owned and controlled by one candidate and his supporters.

There is one more, deeply troubling issue with online voting: The
psychological effect.

The act of getting dressed, assembling your ID, and walking to a polling
station where you act out democracy is a ritual of high importance. It
adds significance to voting, it is memorable and I would believe a lot
of voters use the time for a last, somewhat sober thought about their

Most important events in our life are underscored by rituals. Why don't
we get married, have convocations, and funerals online? Technically, it
could all and has been done. But we value the established rituals for a
good reason.

Online voting, on the other hand, is akin to login in to Facebook and
"liking" some alien entity, in order to receive a discount on some
purchase. Or your property taxes, in that matter.

Daniel AJ

Follow me on twitter @newscot http://twitter.com/newscot

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