Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Internet

Voting over the net? 238

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the future-is-coming dept.
Alistair Cunningham writes "The Sunday Telegraph is reporting that the British government is planning to allow voters to vote online at the next general election, in 2001. They hope to use this to overcome voter apathy. I wonder how secure this will be? " I can't wait for this to happen in the US. Voting is a pain- I want to click my way through the election and not have to wait in lines.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Voting over the net?

Comments Filter:
  • The reason why motor-voter law was opposed is because it opens the floodgates for voter fraud. Under the this law, there is hardly any form of checking to see that the person is elligible to vote. I've even read of people registering to vote in multiple districts in multiple states using this. Don't tell me that felons, illegal aliens, and anyone else who can't vote wouldn't think of trying to register when renewing their driver's license.

    The polls on election day are usually open from 7am to 7 or 8pm. If you can't find the time to vote during that block of time, get an absentee balot. In my city alone, there are several locations where one can go for early voting via absentee balots. Seems to me if you can't make the time to do either of these, then you are too lazy to vote. And yes, campaign finance laws should be changed to index the contribution limits to inflation.

  • Yeah.

    Y'know this is the portion of the electorate that the Gallup Poll failed to reach in 1948.
  • In the US:

    Saturdays are out because it would prevent Orthodox Jews from voting, (or would "ghettoize" them by forcing them to use absentee ballots or early voting),

    Sundays are out because many voting precincts are located in churches. Politicking is prohibited within X feet (varies with jurisdiction) of the voting booths... the pulpit is certainly within that distance. That means that the minister/priest/shaman can't give a sermon on the evils of pornography if there's an anti-pornography issue on the ballot (or it's an issue with a candidate), etc., and thus we have a nasty little Church/State separation mess.

    (And don't get me started on churches that don't realize that the Church/State separation issue goes both ways. If you want to be politically active, Christian Coalition, you must pay the entry fee. I don't mind a minister firing up the troops to vote God's way... as long as his church (and he personally) pays taxes like the rest of us!)

    Fridays are out, because it's the Muslim holy day. Since most Muslims work the usual Monday-Friday work week, you're forcing them to choose between church and voting.

    PS, in many states the bars are closed on election day, by law. In our wilder days candidates would offer voters a shot of whiskey as they came out of the ballot box.

  • I can see it now: "Quayle 12%, Gore 15%, Bush 8%, and Jar Jar Sucks 65%"
  • As a UK resident, I watch very little C-span. Government is not software, and your hackers-users/government-governed analogy isn't particularly useful. By referring to the users, you seem to miss my point entirely - people in a democracy are not the users of their government. Theoretically, they are the government, it's just that any power they have has been abstracted away to their representative. Now that there's the technology to do it, it's time to give that power back to the people.

    Re: the Federal Budget, nobody reads the thing in full. No individual ever could (see PJ O'Rourke's Parliament Of Whores for more on this).

    I don't think anyone would disagree with me that producing said budget in paper format is a very useful way to work with the information it contains.

    Does the phrase "With enough eyes, all bugs are shallow" ring any bells? 100 000 people could each read a page of the budget. By applying lessons which have been learnt from open-source movement (distributed effort), we can get around the current 'necessity' for centralised big government.

  • This year, norwegian tax payers could do their income tax return on the web ( www.skatteetaten.no [skatteetaten.no]). All the tax payers got a letter in the mail, with their own pin code. Worked great. As long as the info is submitted with encryption and the database is properly secured with firewalls and such, this should be possible to do in elections also.

    I, for one, prefer submitting info via the Net rather than by phone or by personal attendance. It takes a lot less effort, and is a lot quicker.

    By the way: Election day is in fact a public holiday in Norway.
  • It's pretty easy now. I just drive or walk to the polling place for my district and vote. If I can't do that, I go to one of the places where I can get an absentee balot beforehand, fill it out and send it in. I think low turnout is due to people being too lazy or not caring about their civic duty.

  • i don't know about Britain, but if allowed in the U.S. it would possibly be the worst idea ever.

    Think about the possibilities for voter fraud.

    Think about it. There is no good way of determining whether a person logging on over the internet is in fact who they claim. Social Security numbers and such are not kept terribly secret.

    And with the number of people who vote as low as it is in the U.S., if someone wanted to cast a bunch of votes in the names of non-voters.. well, who would notice?

    An even better idea would be for an individual candidate to sloppily cast a bunch of fake votes _against_ himself; but make it appear as if it was coming from the IP of the other campaigner. Then claim voter fraud.

    The only way you could prevent this kind of thing would be either breaking the whole "secret ballot" system, or requiring an individual voter to register in person somewhere with a photo ID, at which point they would be given a randomly generated password. And if someone can go register for a password, well, that's enough of a bother that they might as well just fill out an absentee ballot and vote that way.
  • Look here for information about a secure online voting project implented at MIT. It has been implemented the past 2 yrs in the undergrad. assoc. elections. Has a separate counter/admin and public/private key encryption - it's being overseen by Professor Rivest so it can't be too bad :)
  • This sort of coersion(sp) already happens. I had an uncle who belonged to his local UAW union and he always got fliers showing how the union wanted its members to vote and was told he should vote that way if he knew what was good for him. Other relatives who unfortunately have to belong to unions to work at their job have said they get the same sort of stuff also. My grandfather-in-law said he always took the union premarked ballot and voted the opposite way the union bosses wanted him to.

  • No, what I'm saying is that the idea that the 'have-nots' don't vote is bullshit. There are many 'poverty pimps' (as a certain CO radio personality would say) elected to office now as evidence of this. The current system makes it very easy to vote as it is.

  • The problem is discussed with some depth in Chapter 6.1 of the Second Edition. it deals with mostly (Partially) Blind Signatures I think.

    IIRC this does not solve the technical impossibility of being anonymous on the Internet however. As long as you can't find an IRC/proxy service that you can trust to protect you, they can find you...
  • The CC was trying to use a religious tax exempt status to hide behind while engaging in political activity full time. I believe I've read that such tax exempt organizations can only spend 5% of their income on political activity and the CC was devoting 100% of it.

  • If you aren't interested enough to vote to go find your local polling place and vote, don't vote. Uninformed voters who vote with their heart instead of their mind are the bane of the democratic process. The founders of this country believed in an educated electorate (I believe this was one of the major arguments behind the public school system) because without an informed populace to decide who rules, the decision is not going to be a good one.

    I'll admit that I don't much vote. Often, I don't know enough about what's going on to decide who should be elected to the office, or whether referendum X should be passed, so I don't. At the moment, I'm really too busy to keep up with politics, and I think its best that I be kept out of the voting booth. I'll most likely vote in the 2000 election, but I will have a clue.

    If you're not sure, don't go in there and vote the party line! I could imagine that the reason the political parties push for greater voter turnout is that those who fail to vote through laziness tend to be the ones with the most knee-jerk reaction, and will thus tend to vote for their party on a more consistent basis. Vote only if you know what you're doing, and vote only on the issues you know enough about to decide.


    Aside from these problems, there's also technical issues here. I assume that an https server isn't going to quite cut the mustard when it comes to something this important. Thus, I assume that custom software is going to be written.

    Will this software run on anything besides Windows? Can the people who make the voting software be bothered to make a MacOS or Linux or BSD or Solaris or OS/2 version? Will they make a version that'll run on my 5-year-old PowerBook 165? If this voting software is not created for every single OS that exists today and has the capability of connecting to the internet, then I have a very large problem with it, because you're selectively making things harder for certain people. I wouldn't be surprised if they only made a Windows version, and if they made anything past a Linux and MacOS version, it would astound me.
  • Traditional voting requires corrupt officials to be rigged.
  • One simple technical solution to prevent people from being able to "prove" that they voted a particular way would be to allow them to vote more than once, but where only their first vote counts. There would be no indication on their webpage that this is the first time they voted, thus there would be no way to prove, even if someone was standing over them watching everything they type, that this was their "real" vote. This is prolly not a perfect solution, but it might be the type of approach we need.

    --

  • ..and cut through the bullshit of pretending otherwise. And conversely pols and bill sponsors could auction their positions and bills. You could even have PAC portals that automatically give/take micropayments for each vote and corporate sponsors that offer to credit fractional votes for each website hit eg. "visit www.mega-corp.com and receive .01 vote credits for candidate 'X'". Think of the MLM possibilities - sign up your whole family and get 10,000 votes for 'X'. In fact in the future with digital TV we could do the same thing without getting out of the easychair - just surf some channels and automatically get paid to vote. God, I love this country !!!!!!!!!
  • I certainly don't see how this would make everyone suddenly pressure others to vote, at least not more than they do already.

    Simple. Today, no one is allowed in the voting booth with you. Voting over the web would make it impossible to enforce that kind of privacy.

  • There are developed algorithms for secure voting even though I don't remember enough of them to say if they are applicable in this case.

    If you want to check out more, please read (the bible) "Applied Cryptography" by Bruce Schneier.

    In any case I think that computer voting will be quite important in a decade or two.
  • Have you ever depended on public libraries for net access? It sucks. It's slow, and you have to sign up 2 hours in advance for a 30 min. slot. In addition, the typical (windaws) setup is completely non-secure (i.e., the subsequent user can read all your email). Talk about discouraging voting, this would effectively disenfranchise the poor.
  • Yep, some things are best done in person, even though the Internet is famous for supporting certain activities "remotely". ;-)
  • 1. The NSA and FBI would have built into any legislation allowing this a provision for tracking who votes for what party.

    If the voting software was open-source, people would be able to dike out any tracking 'features'. Any code used in the voting process would be available for inspection by the electorate on the 'net. A new copy of all required software, including a complete copy of the state's law would be burnt off onto a CD every day (or every hour, or whatever you chosen between-election-period was). People suspecting foul play could demand a complete recompile and re-install).

    2. FRAUD. If a person who is an invalid is able to vote, there is no provision that says that he/her caretaker would not do the voting him/herself.

    Retina scan? Maybe you should take better care of your invalids (or at least get decent caretakers). Maybe a button on the website:

    If your vote has been coerced, please click here. [eff.org]

    3. Uninformed people whould then be able to shape the future of the nation. People who don't care enough to take 15 minutes to vote now shouldn't be voting in the first place. Better the uninformed than the uniformed. This is the information age. Don't ban the uninformed from voting, fsking inform them.

  • With the studies about the gaps in internet use between the haves and the have-nots, I wonder if this would change the face of politics (at least in the US). It seems that by making voting ultra easy to do, the haves would have a greater voice in government. Anybody know where there are breakdowns in voter participation by income levels?

    The point is... there may be some resistance to this application of the web from those who represent the have-nots.
  • Yes, but he *COULD* vote the other way. And nobody had to know.
  • As a fellow non-voter, I disagree (eligable for 15 years, never voted). The plethora of voter initiatives certainly indicates that the marketing people are interested in tapping an unexplored niche. Also, apathy is a political stance, the only viable one in which the goals (none) are reached every time.
  • Coercion is not an all or nothing state. He was coerced. More stringent coercion is possible (as was mentioned above). And "Vote the way I tell you or I'll kill you!" is an even more stringent coercion (and still not maximal).
  • The government of the USA is committed to extending voter apathy into the 21st century, 22nd century....

    The Repulicans bitterly opposed the Motor-Voter law which let people register to vote when they renewed driver's licenses (too many poor / working class people would find it easy to register).

    They hold voting for one day on a Tuesday (not a holiday) to allow WORK to interfere with voting.
    They will never change this anymore than the campaign finance laws will ever be changed. They incumbant politicians will never radically change the subset of people who vote, ever.
  • Posted by Lord Kano-The Gangst:

    Yes, it can and probably does happen with absentee ballots.

    LK
  • To make it easier to vote is clearly more "democratic" than to make it harder. However, a side effect of having to go to some trouble to vote is that voters tend to be those most interested, and, possibly, most informed.

    Of course, this point ignores the possible negative aspects of a system that tends to favor the fanatical over the disinterested.

    It will be interesting to see how this experiment plays itself out... A well-publicized security problem could set the concept back a decade. I can imagine scenarios where the Internet itself comes away with a diminished image that could damage electronic commerce as well.

  • Irrespective of everything else (not least because I like putting my little cross with my little stub pencil, on my crappy piece of paper, it's tradition, I say) I'm a bit gutted by this suggestion of moving the election to Saturday.

    In Britain, General Elections (those used to populate the House of commons) are generally considered a good excuse to get pissed (drunk).

    Vote, got to pub, go home, watch the election program on the BBC, finally go to bed in a state of pure, drunken, bliss when Michael Portillo loses his seat.

    Won't be the same sat in front of your computer, lacks the feeling of importance.

    (Mind you, couldn't be bothered to vote in the last two, the Welsh Assembly and European Elections - so maybe that contradicts my point.)

    Mark.

  • Don't hold you breath for this in the US anytime soon. If you make it too easy to vote, people will! It still behooves too many candidates (and the Two Parties) to have low voter turn out. They know what the voting demographics are of an area and can target accordingly. This would screw up demographics entirely, especially if people could walk into any library with net access and vote. We should push harder for this here. I'm sure it would be feasible to have at least a test run (even if the results don't count) in 2000.
  • "Educate the voters" is such an obviously desireable choice, that one wonders why it hasn't been done before. My guess is that folk don't have an agreement on HOW to educate them.

    {rant}

    I mean, first you need to get their attention. Then you need to explain the issues in an unbiased manner... Any idea on how to do those two steps? Unbiased? Where money is involved? And power?

    {/rant}


    (sorry, the angle brackets kept disappearing! [anyone know how to show them?])
  • Hank the Angry, Drunken Dwarf.
  • you've obviously never voted, if you think there are "lines". that would actually imply some kind of turn-out. i've never had to wait in a line, literally, every time i've ever voted. although, i have to admit one or two times i came close! whew!

  • The reason why motor-voter law was opposed is because it opens the floodgates for voter fraud. Under the this law, there is hardly any form of checking to see that the person is elligible to vote. I've even read of people registering to vote in multiple districts in multiple states using this. Don't tell me that felons, illegal aliens, and anyone else who can't vote wouldn't think of trying to register when renewing their driver's license.

    It happens. A non-US citizen poster recently reported in misc.immigration.usa that the person who processed his drivers license application asked him "Do you want to register to vote?" with the clear expectation that he would say yes. She was surprised when he told her he was not a citizen; she apparently was prepared to simply push a button and register him as a voter.
  • Nope.

    Voting is not an obligation, it is a privelage. You don't have (or rather, you shouldn't have) the right to walk in and blindly stab the ballot card in hopes that something will change. You have the privelage of considering the candidates, selecting the one that you believe will best serve the country, voting for them.

    Random voting, and voting in your own personal interest, are two ways NOT to vote. I'd rather you stay home than just pick candidates at random. The reason Democrats try every year to "Get out the vote" is because historically, the uninformed and uninterested vote for Democrats, because they have a reputation for more bread and circuses for the masses.

  • That's quite a leap from total anonymity to total anarchy.

    Electronic ballots, I think, are much more likely to allow people to vote for the candidate they believe in. They can be set up to be more or less anonymous and secure (although you're right, definately not as secure as voting in person). The only issue would be making sure everyone only votes once-- perhaps everyone can go to a randomly assigned URL (vote.gov/x45623fgsd34523/, or something like that), which then expires the second someone has voted. The page could email the vote (as the httpd user, not from the voter's computer) to the vote counter, and voila. If done right, no one would ever know for whom you voted.

    I certainly don't see how this would make everyone suddenly pressure others to vote, at least not more than they do already. I don't know if you've been to a church lately (or ever, for that matter, since they've been doing this for the last four thousand years), but what you describe is more or less accurate... just better disguised ("Senator such-and-such supports gay rights... what ever happened to good old family values", blah blah blah fud fud fud).

    I think anything to get _more_ people to vote will certainly help, not hinder, the election process. Those that vote currently (for the most part) are those who are passionate about their politics and their party. Perhaps it would be a good idea to have more of "the average Joe" votes, to see what kind of government the average person wants.

    Although, I must admit, as a Canadian, I sometimes get a good chuckle at the over-complification of the US election process. We probably get double the voter turnout up here, if only because it's _easy_. Plus we only vote for provincial and federal representatives in Parliament, and city council members-- not for the local dog-catcher.
    Nor for bills to be passed in Provincial government, that's why we voted for the politicians to begin with. :)

    Make it easy on the public, and they will vote. Make it hard, and only a select few will vote, and often not in the public's best interests.
  • Let's have elections on Mondays, and declare it a national holiday.

    (Or rather than declaring it a holiday, allow people to be payed for time they spend voting. And make it a helluva lot more convenient that it is now.)

    -Imperator

  • "The War Inevitable"
    A speech by Patrick Henry
    March 1775
    http://wiretap.area.com/Gop her/Gov/US-Speech/liberty.ph [area.com]

    -Imperator
  • that reminds me of G.K. Chesterton's "Napoleon of Notting Hill" for some reason (set in 1984; Orwell's book was in part a reaction against it).
    As an aside, I think both he, Orwell, and Huxley were mostly right; their predictions aren't quite as exclusive as you might think.
    ---
  • If this gets to be a problem, then laws will be written to prevent this behaviour. Current law has never had to deal with this issue. Saying that we should not use the technology because the law hadn't anticipated a potential abuse is not very useful - most technologies in common use today had the same property at their time of introduction. Update the laws - don't ban innovation.

    The question is: What sort of laws are effective? Many of the gun control laws in the US are ineffective because they attempt to punish antisocial behavior after the fact (deterrance is notoriously unreliable). Making it difficult for antisocial individuals to get hold of guns by seriously restricting the supply is far more likely to be effective.

    By the same token, if you only make it illegal to have such voting parties, then the ability to enforce compliance is much higher than if you simply require everyone to vote at a single controlled location. Someone might rat on the group, but what if they don't? Would you turn in your loan shark? I doubt it!

    This is not to say that there are no technical bugaboos waitingin the wings. Some time in the next 50 years, it is quite concievable that church members could be bugged. Maybe we need to surround voting booths with Faraday cages and walk past an EMP generator...

  • Probably shouldn't be voting, either.
    Registering to vote for the first time should be A Big Deal. Going down to the county couthouse and swearing an oath that you are who you say you are and are a part of the community should be a somewht formal, coming of age, taking your place as a member of society, type ceremony. It should mean enough to you that inconvenience won't stop you. Voting should be the same, a stepping forward to say "I am a member of this community and here to share in the experience and challenge of governing it.".

  • The thing that's wrong with voting is that you can't vote "no".
    Sure you can vote Y/N on referenda but not on candidates for office. So you have no meaningful way to use your vote to say "I don't want any of these bozos in office".
    I propose that we be able to vote Y/N on each and all candidates, so that Candidate A only has as many Yes votes as are left after all the No votes against them are subtracted from the original total of Yes votes. With 175 people having voted, 75 No votes would reduce 100 Yes votes to 25 for one candidate, but the other candidate, having gotten only 75 Yes votes, winds up with a negative 25 Yes votes, and those voters who despised both candidates got to vote against both of them.
    What, you ask, if all of the candidates wound up with more people voting against them than for them and nobody won? Then you hold another election in which none of those candidates can run and see if better candidates who didn't run to begin with because they wouldn't sell their souls for campaign financing would finally step forward.

  • Fuck proper grammar
    _
    "Subtle mind control? Why do all these HTML buttons say 'Submit' ?"
  • Thats all we need. People who usually skip voting to watch TV sitcoms will now pointy clicky for scum like Klinton. If you are too lazy to get off your ass and vote then just shut up and watch more TV.
  • Someone mentioned the VoteHere [votehere.net] electronic voting experiment. Unfortunately, we see the growths that we wanted to prevent growing out of it. When one attempts to enter the voting area, it tells me, verbatim:

    To enter this area, you must be running Microsoft Internet Explorer 4.0 (or later) on a Windows computer. You can upgrade to Internet Explorer 4.0 for free by clicking the button below:

    Need I say more?

  • Well, actually if you read the appropriate chapter in APplied Cryptography you'll see what the right way to do it is.

    There is a number of ways to make a system that does _not_ allow the verification service an easy way to find out how a certain person has voted, while making sure that the votes are actually unique and valid.
  • Oooh Oooh, can I have the racing car?
  • Does your 12-year-old kid know your credit card number, passport info, driver's license info, mother's maiden name, or any other info they can draw upon for validation purposes?

    I've passed for my father over the phone many times (with his consent, of course) for things he just asked me to take care of, like ordering a new computer part with his CC or switching long distance plans. However, somehow I believe he wouldn't ask me to vote for him. ;)
  • allow [people] to vote more than once, but where only their first vote counts. There would be no indication that [this is the vote that actually counts.]

    Some protocols allow multiple votes, although it's usually the last vote that counts. A couple problems:

    1. If you have no indication that you've already voted, you can't tell if someone has somehow already voted in your place. Ballot stuffing becomes trivial. A similar problem occurs with "last vote counts" semantics. That's why the consensus, last time I checked the journals, seemed to be that "vote once" is the preferred approach.

    2. That voting party? It's actually an overnight prayer vigil, and everyone votes soon after the polls open. You don't have a chance to vote on your own first. (Likewise, a "last vote count" policy can be countered by having the voting party last until after the polls close.)


  • What are you talking about?

    all of the european's I know pay at least double (in percentage) the taxes that Americans with equal earnings do.

    I'd like it if America would increase taxes, as long as we go good healthcare and schools in return


  • well, I can't say *I* wouldn't vote for him
    _
    "Subtle mind control? Why do all these HTML buttons say 'Submit' ?"
  • I make it a point to vote in every possible election or referendum where I am directly affected. This even includes such "piddly" elections, such as when Denton (TX) County held the bond elections to get the roads around here fixed. I wanted 'em fixed, so I went out and voted to say so. If I hadn't voted, and it didn't pass, I couldn't gripe because I didn't get out.

    The problem with electronic voting is that anonymous voting is a basic tenet of our democratic system. I don't agree with the cynics who say that the parties depend on voter apathy. Perhaps they do, so we should show them and actually get out and vote! The Dallas Morning News ran a cartoon, showing four panels: Three of which had citizens in other countries demanding their right to vote. The one captioned America has a man at a voting booth saying, "Vote? I thought you were selling lottery tickets."

    If you don't have time to take a lunch break or something and go vote, then maybe you don't need to. As a matter of fact, I would prefer it, because then I stand a greater chance of getting my way! Your grocery shopping can wait a couple more minutes (Kroger is open 24 hours, people!), but the decisions made during elections can and probably will affect you for years to come.

    If you want electronic voting, then get out and vote for those who will institute it for you. I don't like it and will probably vote against it, but at least we've all had our say when that happens. To the cynics out there: No matter what you say, we do have a republican form of government, where the people can change it. This is how.

  • by Imperator (17614) <slashdot2@omershenker. n e t> on Sunday July 11, 1999 @08:30AM (#1808537)
    Any such system in the US would have to be extremely secure. That includes strong crypto of some sort. That's a munition. So, the government would be arming its citizens with the intent of them replacing the government.

    -Imperator
  • I think it would be worth a half a day of productivity around the U.S. to allow people to vote. This would destroy the most notorious of all election excuses, I didnt have the time or energy. Require the first Tuesday after the first Monday every two years to be a half day holiday. No work during the afternoon. Also since this in the middle of the week, nobody would skip out and go on vacation. Think about it if there was nothing open outside of essentials water, electric companies, grocery stores there would be nothing to do but go vote. I like the idea and it should be pushed in Congress.

    Hangtime
  • Bwahahahahah!

    Thanks, man, you made my day.
  • What if some "kids" or someone hacked the voting page (if its html based) and added another canidate (spelling?). And that canidate won?

    If they did do this, my bets are on that they would put "Kevin Mitnick" in the vote.

    Now that, would be hilarious.

  • In British elections it is already possible to discover who voted how. There is a number on the ballot paper which gets recorded on the electoral register when you vote.

    Of course, it would be very time consuming to go back and work out the matches - but it is possible.
  • I don't know where the hell you get your data, but it's *way* off (I'm assuming you just pulled it out of your ass to defend your America sux d00dz position).

    I don't know of *anyone* who doesn't know that they need to register before voting. Every election there is some program out there trying to get the poor to register to vote. it's not hard, and just about every one who drives is given the opportunity to register to vote. It's not hard to do. Voting is not difficult. (Just look at the dumbasses who get elected, or at least lots of votes, like Pat Buchanen, and tell me that uneducated don't vote)

    Yes, the education system in the US is not all that It could be, unfortunately, but It doesn't take much education to know how to vote.

    As for the poverty line, that's complete BS, I've grown up below the poverty line, and I haven't had a very hard time of it. In fact the amount of money made at the "poverty" line in the US in a year($1300) is what someone working at a government factory in china would make in 26 years($500/y).

    In other words, know what your talking about before you open your big mouth.

    btw, the unemployment levels in the US are about 3% just so you know
    _
    "Subtle mind control? Why do all these HTML buttons say 'Submit' ?"
  • I guess you can't tell the difference between a signature line and the main body of a post. The signature is a compressed version (to fit within the 120 char limit) of a quote from The C++ Programming Language by Bjarne Soustroup(sp?). It describes the actions and attitudes of a former employer of mine towards all of its employees.

    Voting is privelege and should be treated as such. Do you really want people who don't know anything about the issues/candidates (whether it because they are too lazy to investigate or unable to comprehend) making these decisions? While voting, I've actually seen the illiterate ask the people working at the polls to read their pre marked sample ballot given to them by candidate X and to show them which buttons to push. I agree that the public should be informed about the issues and that they are pretty much getting a biased opinion of those issues now.

  • not everyone has a bank account/bank card. some ppl are homeless, some like keeping cash (hence the western union cashcards) etc..etc,..
  • not everyone has a bank account/bank card. some ppl are homeless, some like keeping cash (hence the western union cashcards) etc..etc,..some have more than 1 account at more than 1 bank.
  • its also illegal. theres a jail sentence and/or fine if he said yes and was caught (unlikely..but you never know.,.,)
  • There are a few sites on the web where US citizens can file their Federal tax returns in addition to using PC based packages such as TurboTax. I like it because I get an email from the IRS notifying me that they have received and processed my return. I've always worried that the wonderful US Postal Service would lose my tax return and I would get audited because of it.

  • Yes, I vote in nearly every election, right here in America. And no, I don't pay a poll tax, but I do take time off work. Time is a finite quantity that can (in many cases) be directly and tangibly linked to money. If I couldn't afford to take time off work, I wouldn't vote.

    -Imperator
  • I agree, but it *is* our obligation to vote, it is just an obligation to vote informed. Those who aren't interested enough in their government to vote when they are eligible I don't consider real citizens.

    I couldn't agree with you more. I've only missed one election in the past 13 years. That was due a mistake I made when I moved once. The polling place was literally right across the street from where I lived. So I just assumed that I would vote where I always had before. Wrong! The street was the precinct dividing line and I had to go someplace else and they didn't have me registered there and because the phone lines were jammed, they couldn't get my info from the election commission office. My wife had said that I shouldn't have been so honest and just gave them our old address. Oh well, I'll make sure I have everything in proper order next time.

  • Unfortunately for you, it's the right to vote.

    Let's check in with our friend, the 15th amendment:

    Article XV.
    Section 1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

    I don't see anything about "privelege" in there.
  • In any case, what standing in line? In all the UK elections I've voted in there's been no problem just walking into the polling stating - not a queue in sight.

    I understand that the US has generally more complex ballot papers, but even so...
  • well, we have about 100,000 (?) votes for him for a start. we'd just have to hope they wouldn't use M$ servers for hosting it, ... "who is this blue screen guy and why has everyone voted for him?"
  • Posted by Lord Kano-The Gangst:

    This would be a very bad thing.

    1. The NSA and FBI would have built into any legislation allowing this a provision for tracking who votes for what party.

    2. FRAUD. If a person who is an invalid is able to vote, there is no provision that says that he/her caretaker would not do the voting him/herself.

    3. Uninformed people whould then be able to shape the future of the nation. People who don't care enoughto take 15 minutes to vote now shouldn't be voting in the first place.

    I would actively oppose any attempt to do this in the USA.

    LK
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Don't you have mail ballot ('absentee') access where you are? Here in CA, I've never voted at the polls. I've always either voted early at the Registrar of Voters office of gotten a mail ballot.

    Voting on-line has privacy implications. How do you verify you are who you claim to be on-line? Soc. Sec. number? Nope, that's used all over: tax id, student id #, etc.

    A persons voting is supposed to be anonymous, what evidence is there the identify confirmation and votes will not be tied together? None, imho, given past performance of gov't entities.

    As the 'Seattle Weekly' article about the privacy war (linked from \. a day or two ago) mentioned it used to be that it was too much effort to collect and cross-reference such information.

    Now, with databases and cheap hardware, it's virtually free (compared to even 10 years ago). It's easy too. Some fraud happens in the traditional system, it'd get that much easier (and more likely) in a digital one.

    No law will keep this from happening. At best, it'll just make the law breakers more careful or offer a way to slap them on the wrist if they're caught! I can hear it now: "It was a bureaucratic snafu!" "It was a misdirected pointer!"
  • However, in the years following, new registrants are more likely to register GOP than Democrat.

    matt
  • Belize too, unless it was changed during one of the American wars of aggression carried out under the guise of battling the Evil Empire.

    (For the cartographically-impaired, you can find Belize on the border of Mexico. If you can't find Mexico on your map, you probably shouldn't be posting on /..)

    -Imperator

  • "They" (the state, even if indoirectly) shouldn't be making any version of the software. They should be publishing an open protocol. Obviously an open protocol would be critical, since a security-through-obscurity approach would have no integrity.

    Once there's a standard protocol for voting, then if Microsoft wants to make a Windoze version, they can. (And if people want to use the MS version in spite of the obvious FUD (justified or not) that will occur (e.g. "It records your vote to hard disk and uploads it to MS later" or "It always votes pro-MS-agenda regardless of what you enter" or "It just happens to default to pro-MS-agenda choices") then they should be able to...)

  • The main reason that the GOP went 'Anti Motor-Voter' was due to the fact that it pushed off voter registration as a responsability to a state agency that is already notorious for having lousy service.
  • Photocopy your absentee ballot before sending it in.

    Fill in your absentee ballot at church.

    Same diff. Worse in that it's hardcopy.

    Anonymous voting is wide open to fraud. How can anyone prove stuffing the box when no individual can prove their vote was changed?

    Public voting is open to coercion.

    Choose your poison.

    You need to prevent anon voting fraud while eliminating coerced public voting.

    Would zero knowledge proofs allow individual voters to see their vote was counted correctly without actually disclosing said vote?


    --
  • Heh heh. That's what the founding fathers thought, too. That's why your vote doesn't really count in the presidential election. Ever heard of a little thing called the "Electoral College"? Same thing goes for our representative democracy. You can't be trusted with your vote.
  • On a personal level, one can always vote _before_ heading to the mandatory voting party. If your vote is already cast, any further attempt to cast a (socially coerced) vote will fail

    The social fallout from you voting in secret will be worse than if you had been open about voting a non-endorsed way. You would have been told of tehvoting party well in advance. You will be castigated as having something to hide. This is seriously bad joojoo.

    It comes down to people needing backbone. All the laws in the world can't get prop up the spineless.

    --
  • actually for most humans the world is set up for their convenience..otherwise there would be no supermarkets, hotels, shopping malls, cars etc..
    its a fact of life that if democracy works properly, people start getting apathetic about it. making it more convenient and accessible is a good thing..ive probably voted more on /. than IRL.
  • ugh..it requires IE 4.x
  • by delmoi (26744)
    well if you mean 'masses' to mean "people with massive asses, beacuse they never get off then to go vote"... then I would agree with you.
    _
    "Subtle mind control? Why do all these HTML buttons say 'Submit' ?"
    • I don't know where the hell you get your data, but it's *way* off (I'm assuming you just pulled it out of your ass to defend your America sux d00dz position).

      As for the poverty line, that's complete BS, I've grown up below the poverty line, and I haven't had a very hard time of it. In fact the amount of money made at the "poverty" line in the US in a year($1300) is what someone working at a government factory in china would make in 26 years($500/y).

      btw, the unemployment levels in the US are about 3% just so you know

    I don't know where the hell you get your data, but it's *way* off (I'm assuming you just pulled it out of your ass to defend your America ownz u position).

    I don't know about the China figure (although it seems to ignore purchasing power), but a single US resident under 65 earning $8480/y is right at the poverty threshold [census.gov].

    Oh, and the unemployment rate [bls.gov] for June was 4.3%.

    Moral of the story is: either admit you're just estimating, or don't pretend your information is accurate. And never, ever flame someone for something that you yourself do.

    -Imperator

  • I'm not a legal scholar by any means, so I'm not exactly sure what the legal difference between a right and a privelege is. But given that federal and state legislatures can limit ones ability to vote, _I_ would still consider it a privelege. Check out Things that are not in the US Constitution [usconstitution.net]:

    The Right to Vote

    The Constitution contains many phrases, clauses, and amendments detailing ways people cannot be denied the right to vote. You cannot deny the right to vote because of race or sex. Citizens of Washington DC can vote for President; 18-year-olds can vote; you can vote even if you fail to pay a poll tax. The Constitution also requires that anyone who can vote for the "most numerous branch" of their state legislature can vote for House members and Senate members. Note that in all of this, though, the Constitution never explicitly ensures the right to vote, as it does the right to speech, for example. This is precisely why so many amendments have been needed over time - the qualifications for voters are left to the states. And as long as the qualifications do not conflict with anything in the Constitution, that right can be withheld. For example, in Texas, persons declared mentally incompetent and felons currently in prison or on probation are denied the right to vote.

  • Posted by Lord Kano-The Gangst:

    I'm not blaming Motor Voter. It was a fraud from day 1. It was billed as a way to make it easier for people to vote. People who were not interested enough to register before motor voter would not be any more likely to vote if they were automatically registered. More people were registered because of motor voter. Few if any more people voted because of that registration. I stand by my earlier statement about motor voter.

    LK
  • What about the right NOT to vote? That's my small protest against government sometimes. If they don't suit me, I won't vote for them. And out of the few elections I've ever participated in, I've casted even fewer ballots.

    Another problem with mandatory voting is that even when everyone has to register/vote, it's not the law for everyone that's voting to be properly educated and informed.

    Blah.
  • Posted by Lord Kano-The Gangst:

    >If the voting software was open-source, people would be able to dike out any tracking 'features'. Any code used in the voting process would be available for inspection by the electorate on the 'net. A new copy of all required software, including a complete copy of the state's law would be burnt off onto a CD every day (or every hour, or whatever you chosen between-election-period was). People suspecting foul play could demand a complete recompile and re-install).

    Who is to say that it would or could be open sourced? How often are programs written by government contract open sourced?

    >Retina scan? Maybe you should take better care of your invalids (or at least get decent caretakers). Maybe a button on the website:

    Let's just say that someone's grand father is in a wheelchair and never leaves the house (a rather common occurance)or just plain senile. They could be forced to ramain still during a retinal scan (we're assuming that this is done at home) and the care taken still gets to vote for them.

    >Better the uninformed than the uniformed. This is the information age. Don't ban the uninformed from voting, fsking inform them.

    If you can't take 15 minutes to go and vote, maybe you shouldn;t be voting.

    LK
  • David Chaum's ideas can be used to prevent the state from proving a ballot is mine... but since I know my own "blinding" factor (at least for a while, even if the software immediately discards it) I can prove how I voted. I suspect all cryptographic protocols will have the same problem.

    I'm not a cryptographic expert, but I worked at DigiCash for a while (founded by David Chaum). One of the cryptographers there was Berry Schoenmakers. He either invented a new voting protocol or extended David's ideas - unfortunately I can't recall which. Check out DigiCash voting protocols [digicash.com] for further details. I don't think your assertion is correct, but we'd really need Berry to provide an authoritative answer.

    I also believe Berry's implementation was trialled in a recent Dutch election, but I don't have any corroboration.

    Outside of the question about cryptographic protocols, this also suggests that any off-site voting, with the possible exception of official "floating" precincts which visit the invalid, may be unconstitutional. With electronic ballots it is certainly within the realm of possibility that some organizations will have "election parties" with incredible social pressure for everyone to publicly vote in the "correct" manner.

    If this gets to be a problem, then laws will be written to prevent this behaviour. Current law has never had to deal with this issue. Saying that we should not use the technology because the law hadn't anticipated a potential abuse is not very useful - most technologies in common use today had the same property at their time of introduction. Update the laws - don't ban innovation.

    On a personal level, one can always vote _before_ heading to the mandatory voting party. If your vote is already cast, any further attempt to cast a (socially coerced) vote will fail.

  • Of course, the unwashed masses shouldn't be allowed to vote, because they might elect someone just as stupid and uneducated as they are. Of course, it's obviously much better to limit voting power to the rich (as is effectually done in America), because they are well-qualified to elect someone just as greedy and self-serving (not to mention stupid and uneducated -- but quite versed in dogma and able to regurgitate college) as they are.

    /rant

    Did I remember to mention in there that the idea of a republic is that a democracy need only to elect representatives to rule them, instead of ruling themselves directly? But if the republic is to ruule fairly over the people, it must be elected democratically by them. All of them. Even the idiots.

    -Imperator
    • And who has implied that they will require client side software?

    And how do you propose to implement a system that requires absolutely no client-side software? The best you could do is make it widely accessible from the web, and even that would require a browser, especially for security.

    -Imperator

  • I certainly don't see how this would make everyone suddenly pressure others how to vote...

    When you're talking about electoral systems, you need to look beyond the next year or two. These systems are expensive to implement and hard to change. Widespread abuse like this may be hard to fathom today, but what about in 20 years? 50 years?

    Here's an extremely humbling thought. In the 20's the KKK was the *dominate* political party in several states. All state funding for the University of Colorado was cut for several years after the school refused to comply with the law requiring that professors teach the inherent superiority of the white man. (It survived off of its endowment, and the KKK lost its governor and legislature majority soon afterwards.)

    It can happen here. Maybe not this year, but the political climate can change remarkly fast. Did any Eisenhower supporter in 1958 expect the summer of love... and riots at the Democratic convention, 10 years later? Did any faithful (Soviet) Communist Party member in 1980 expect the Berlin wall to come down and the reunification of Germany in the same interval?

    ... been to a church lately...

    I don't think anyone objects to a minister "clarifying" moral issues for his congregation. What many of us find objectionable... and what lead to the IRS recently revoking the tax exempt status of the Christian Coalition... is "voter guides" which explicitly endorse particular candidates.

    But even here, it's one thing for a church to allow voter guides to be passed out in the parking lot. It's another for them to hold a prayer meeting before voting, en masse, from the computer in the minister's study. And despite what someone else suggested, I don't think a "oops, I already voted" excuse will care much weight in this environment.
  • John Linnel, of They Might Be Giants fame, wrote an excellent piece on Internet voting as an editorial for the New York times. The piece can be read Here. [tmbg.org]
    It's well worth checking out.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 11, 1999 @09:42AM (#1808594)
    I did my Master's research on electronic voting. If you do web searches on electronic voting, you can eventually find a lot of good resources (however, I don't want to point out a particular site for everyone to crash :) ).

    The current state of the art isn't quite adequate to the task in a "true" sense. Voting over the web the way it is implemented now is probably trustworthy only for a year or two (if that). There are many problems, the most important of which is the absence of a public key infrastructure (PKI) that relates individuals to their public keys in an "official" sense.

    Without a PKI, I suspect that the voting systems being put on the web involve the voter registering a password in person at some center of authority. The voter must then trust that the people who tally votes are not correlating votes to passwords to individuals. Additionally, voters must trust that the people running the election do not create bogus votes, nor delete/ignore "undesired" votes, nor issue passwords to people who should not be allowed to vote, nor issue more than one password to anybody, nor allow more than one vote to be associated with any password.

    Even if one trusts the motivations of election officials, one might well not trust their abilities in a scheme with so many weaknesses. Conventional voting schemes were simply not designed to withstand the ease with which computers manipulate information. They are "adequately" trustworthy with voting machines or punchcards (and the like), but are not perfect even then. The Kennedy-Nixon election caused a lot of stir, especially in Chicago ("vote early, vote often").

    There are encryption tools that show some promise (e.g. do a web search on "blind signatures"). However, schemes that use them are still not perfect (not even my Master's work :) ), and again, the proper infrastructure is not in place (and is not likely to be in place anytime soon).

    Even after there is a PKI and an adequate electronic voting scheme, there are still potential problems. What if you vote from a machine that has been infected by a snooping program (e.g. Back Orifice)? What if the kneecappers insist upon looking over your shoulder while you vote? Letting people vote from anywhere on the web poses problems. Of course, voting booths will be little better (do you trust the manufacturers of the booths?).

    This is an important topic to understand, given the growing importance of the Internet in everyday life. Most slashdot readers will probably live to see electronic voting implemented, either well or poorly; it would be best for them to understand the difference between trust that is well distributed, and trust that is not.

    IMHO, the experiments that you see on the web now are as much an attempt by election administrators to come to terms with the logistics, benefits, and risks of e-voting as anything else. I wouldn't get too excited about them yet -- unless they start to be commonly and widely adopted, in which case I would get *very* excited about stopping them until the underlying security, privacy, and crypto issues are resolved.
  • I think that for the next year, all major elections should be hosted by slashdot, so we can see what happens when we get a good, clean, evenly distributed sample of voters ;)
  • There's are some *huge* differences between demonstration projects on technically selective college campuses and general elections in a population where most people can't figure out how to program their VCR.

    If this demonstration project failed, it would be newsworthy. If it succeeds, it only shows that this election protocol works with highly educated voters in trivial elections. (What's the worst that could happen with a bad group in the undergrad. assoc.?) What would happen if people were motivated to spend real money to crack the system? Or to compromise the staff? ("Change the vote tally and I'll let you spend the night with these two porn stars!") Or ....
  • The current system has a large number of delays built into it for a reason. Every direct democracy/demarchy proposal I have seen has removed those delays without acknowledging their role.

    As a concrete example of what happens when you remove delays, consider the aftermath of Pan Am 800. A jumbo jet blew up just after leaving New York City. The FBI investigated the possibility it was a terrorist act.

    The president, using an executive order, immediately required that all US airports increase their security level. Passengers are now required to provide a photo ID. Luggage is checked more invasively. Etc.

    We have now known, for at least a year, that the crash was almost certainly due to an electrical spark in a nearly empty fuel tank. Since the tank held a fuel/air mixture, it exploded. The professionals who actually investigate crashes felt this was the case since shortly after the investigation began, but the political agency (FBI) insisted on pursuing the terrorist angle.

    US airports are still at heightened security. I now show my US Passport, *not* my driver's license, and make pointed comments about the internal passports required for travel in the Soviet Union. If Congress debates the issue and decides that such measures are appropriate, fine. But I do not like having these measures shoved down my throat because one person misinterpreted a single event!

    If you want to know what direct democracy would be like, multiply that by a thousand fold. There was a shooting at a high school? Quick, outlaw black trenchcoats for teenagers nationwide! They played video games? Quick, outlaw video games! We can't delay a day, some kid's life hangs in the balance!!!

    Or, if you're more cynical, remember that most intelligent people have lives and aren't willing to spend 8 hours a day keeping track of the latest political controversy. (Hell, I'm not willing to spend 8 hours/day keeping up on technical debates!) So who will be busy voting in a direct democracy? The people who are sitting at home, unemployed (and unemployable), and enjoying Jerry Springer.
  • I've also expanded on David Chaum's ideas to design a cryptographically secure voting system. (In an ironic twist, I even borrowed a key idea from the government's "key escrow" ideas. My design requires "trusted third parties" hold certain critical information until the balloting closes, to prevent the government from "peeking" at the ballots early.)

    But my design still used David's blinded key as a voting token. I don't see how you ensure each person votes at most once without tokens, and a token must always be identifiable to someone. Either the state, the voter, or a middleman. If you use a chain of middlemen you can blind that information, but at the cost of making ballot box stuffing trivial.

    Finally, I think that off-site electronic ballots are useful in numerous non-governmental elections. (Corporate elections, anonymous performance reviews, etc.) I also think that on-site electronic ballots are workable, and several nations have experimented with such elections. The really nasty problems only come up when you have off-site balloting, something which has not been done in the past.
  • Electronic voting isn't going to make the poor or uneducated or unintelligent vote. It's going to increase the number of votes from two categories:
    1. Youth
    2. The rich

    The politicians will figure out which would be drawn in greater numbers, and poll further to find out how those specific demographic groups are likely to vote.

    For example, if there are (hypothetically) 25 extra Democratic votes, and 20 extra Republican votes, this would become a "huge federal waste that inefficiently spends money on homeless shelters, which is the job of religious organizations". If there are 25 extra Republican votes, and 20 extra Democratic votes, this would become a "needless waste of government spending that should be spent on Social Security first".

    Either way, voters are told they only have a choice of two evils. Bleah, silly American sheep.

    -Imperator

  • Say...go figure! I'm busy reading that very book (got it as a graduation gift from a friend).

    What I don't get is why people need to vote on line. In Canada we consistently have >80% voter turnout for federal elections, and in the 1995 Quebec referendum we had 92% voter turnout (which resulted in 49.4% Yes 50.6% No to separation - a difference of some 40,000 votes). All that is done there is prior to the election, every voting citizen in the country is sent a piece of paper that has the names of all the candidates in the persons' riding, what party they are from and where the voting booth that they are to present themselves to is found. Also, all employers are _required_ to give half a day off to each of their voting age employees so that they can vote.

    Seems to make more sense then trying to do it over the internet - as the only way I can see them verifying people is by Social Security Numbers or in quasi-socialist countries MediCare numbers, as a large proportion of the population may not have a driver's lisence.
  • To the extent we facilitate anonymous use of tokens that permit me to vote, whether in terms of crypto keys, smart cards or other information not uniquely associated with my body, we facilitate the ready transfer of that token to others. And with that we facilitate the sale of those tokens.

    What is to keep the Green party from simply collecting Floppy disks bearing the voters key informtion, paying $5 to $50 per vote for the data?

    Requiring physical attendance at the polls protects more than the individual who is voting -- it protects the integrity of the system from outside manipulation. We need to deprive voters from being able to prove how they voted, not for the benefit of that voter, but so to protect the SYSTEM from abuse by unworthy voters and vote-buyers.

    I do not see how that can be avoided with existing encryption protocols of which I am aware.
  • by coyote-san (38515) on Sunday July 11, 1999 @07:11AM (#1808679)
    A local "expert" (who makes his living walking a slackrope on the mall!) proposed a "vote-by-phone" experiment in Boulder, Colorado a few years back.

    Besides the technical issues, someone identified a Constitutional issue with the entire idea of electronic ballots.

    In Colorado, and probably other states, the state constitution requires that ballots be anonymous. It is required that ballots be impossible to tie to any particular voter.

    This is not simply a requirement that the state (or anyone else) can't determine how a person voted. The voter himself can't prove how he voted! The reason for this is simple: it prevents vote-selling and coerced votes. That's also the reason why it's a criminal offense for anyone other than the voter to be in the voting booth.

    David Chaum's ideas can be used to prevent the state from proving a ballot is mine... but since I know my own "blinding" factor (at least for a while, even if the software immediately discards it) I can prove how I voted. I suspect all cryptographic protocols will have the same problem.

    Outside of the question about cryptographic protocols, this also suggests that any off-site voting, with the possible exception of official "floating" precincts which visit the invalid, may be unconstitutional. With electronic ballots it is certainly within the realm of possibility that some organizations will have "election parties" with incredible social pressure for everyone to publicly vote in the "correct" manner.

    Imagine voting parties at churches. Vote for Smith or go to Hell!

    Or voting parties at your office. Vote for Jones or clean out your desk!

    Even if this doesn't happen, the possibility could cripple the electoral system. You voted for Smith but Jones won? Claim that you were coerced to vote for Jones at such an election party! Contested elections today are decided by the legislature (at the state level) or the House (at the national level), but what happens when over half of the elections are contested?

    Obviously, this is a dystopic perspective. But the way we handle elections is critical, since it is the only way (short of armed rebellion) to get rid of a corrupt government. We must tread very carefully when changing it.

    I'm reminded of Robert Heinlein's "Revolt in 2100." I don't have the book handy at the moment, but it opened with something like


    By 2012 80% of the American population couldn't be bothered to vote. Rev. Shuller won the Presidential election with the support of only 12% of the people.

    There was no election of 2016.

MATH AND ALCOHOL DON'T MIX! Please, don't drink and derive. Mathematicians Against Drunk Deriving

Working...