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Comment Urgh...I hated that book. (Score 1) 227

I don't know how Heinlen gets so much credit for this book...it's was a rambling, shambolic pulp thing with sex and politics wedged into it at every opportunity in a vain attempt to perk it up a bit. It's not a book that has "stood the test of time" at all. If there's money for classic SciFi, we need someone to get off their butts and make "RingWorld". It's time.

Comment Re:Paper... (Score 2) 209

The "dye a finger" thing has some concerns. In some elections, you really want a certain class of person to just not vote. The dyed finger is proof that you voted - and it's hard to wash off (intentionally, obviously). So the bad guy can threaten to beat the crap out of people who voted and still gain an edge. This isn't a theoretical problem.

Of course, you can achieve a similar effect by simply hanging out outside the voting location and noting which people went inside.

But the easier you make it, the more chance of abuse.

Comment Universal Hack (Score 1) 209

So to pull this off you need (a) a voting machine to play with to learn the techniques and (b) physical access to every voting machine you need to influence.

My approach is to make a completely fake voting machine, with the same interfaces as the real thing - and just swap the whole machine out when I have physical access to it.

This thought-experiment shows that with those two things (a machine to play with and physical access) there is no conceivable security measure that'll be 100% effective. So control access to the physical machines and your problem is solved.

Comment Put a picture of Mickey Mouse on the ballot paper. (Score 1) 248

So, this is easy. We just have to turn this over to the public sector. We pay Disney a small fee to put a picture of Mickey Mouse on every ballot paper. If people photograph it and post the pictures then Disney can sue the pants off them for copyright violation.

Problem solved - and as a plus we can subtly reinforce the idea that voting for Mickey Mouse as a write-in candidate might be a better idea than any of the other choices!

Comment Re:Take photo: yes - Post photo:no (Score 1) 248

You have it backwards. You can't ban the posting of the photo without infringing the constitutional right to free speech. You CAN ban the talking of the photo in the first place by the simple expedient of banning the use of cameras in the polling station. We already ban photography in courts and on military bases and in some other government facilities. The polling station is no different in principle to those other places. It's ridiculously easy (and constitutional) to ban the use of cameras in polling stations - it would be wildly unconstitutional to ban the sharing of those photos.

Comment Re:Right problem, wrong solution (Score 1) 248

The law should prevent TAKING the photograph - not SHARING a photograph that you already took. A law preventing people from sharing the photo would (arguably) be a violation of free speech...and would be blown away as unconstitutional. A law preventing people from taking photographs inside the polling station would be no different than the laws preventing you from taking photos during a trial or on a military base - no different than the copyright laws - no different than the child pornography laws. All of those limit your right to take a photograph - and the constitution says nothing about any special rights in that regard.

If someone were to take a photo of their ballot (illegally) and share it on Facebook - the crime would be of having taken the photo - not of sharing it. Sharing it would be evidence that you broke the law by taking the selfie in the first place...so making it illegal to take the photo would be a strong disincentive to share it if you did.

We don't have to make this any harder than it already is. "No Photography within the bounds of a polling station" is a perfectly good law with ZERO downsides.

Comment Re:Why this law exists (Score 1) 248

You're getting confused over the "right to free speech" here. Nobody is trying to prevent people from displaying a legally taken photograph - posting it on facebook or whatever...banning *THAT* would be a violation of the freedom of speech. What they seek here is to make it illegal to take the photo in the first place. There is no constitutional right to take a photograph or to copy a document - and preventing people from doing that happens all the time (eg with copyright law, child pornography laws, state secrecy laws, DMCA, etc).

So - we can certainly make it illegal to take a photograph or otherwise scan your ballot paper or the screen of any voting machine - we can ban the taking of photographs inside the polling station - period. Nobody's constitutional rights are impinged in any way whatever by the passage of such a law.

Hence, there is no flip-flop here. This is NOT a constitutional matter. The secrecy of the ballot is a far, far bigger concern.

Comment Re:Why this law exists (Score 1) 248

Yeah - mail-in ballots are a tremendous concern. This is concern is reflected in the crazy-quilt set of laws across the USA. Some US states allow postal voting to anyone who requests it without even asking for a reason. Oregon, Washington and Colorado *only* have postal voting (although you can drop your vote off at the post office on the day of the election...so it's not exactly "posted"). Some states only allow it for specific cases such as disability. Others say that those are the criteria but don't actually enforce them (for example, in Texas, there is no requirement to *prove* that you'd be unable to stand in line for an hour to vote - and no mechanism to check whether you lied or not). Some states also allow "drive-thru" voting, where you fill out the ballot paper in advance and just drop it off at the polling station on the day.

Comment Re:Why this law exists (Score 1) 248

I agree - the concept of a secret ballot is critical to fair and independent elections.

The right to free speech gives you the right to say "I voted for candidate A" without impediment. Banning cameras inside the voting booth doesn't impede that right in any way. The "right to free speech" isn't "the right to take photographs" - although it arguably is "the right to display photographs that you've taken". We could however, make the voting form, or the display on the voting machine be a copyrighted work - making it illegal to photograph it. The "right to free speech" isn't the "right to disseminate copies of copyrighted works"...so this could be fixed quite easily by paying Disney to put a copy of Mickey Mouse next to each check box (and given the number of "Mickey Mouse" candidates, we get...that's not an entirely stupid idea!) :-)

If you can't prove the way you voted, then nobody can bribe you to vote against your preference or threaten you if you don't do what they want. Sure, they can give you money to vote a particular way - but if there is no way to prove that you did. With a true secret ballot you can always vote your true preference and then tell people whatever they want to hear afterwards.

It is *much* easier to prevent someone from using a camera in the controlled space of a voting booth than it is to try to catch people who are bribing, or otherwise coercing voters.

Voting by mail is a similarly risky proposition, and when that's widely available, you again risk coercion. For the relatively small numbers of people who literally cannot vote in person, we should consider having mobile "polling booths" that can be taken to the person's home such that they can still vote in secrecy.

Early voting is also problematic for me. While it's very convenient and helps to reduce the long lines on the day - there is the risk that people will make up their minds before they have all of the facts at their fingertips.

Comment Preaching to the choir. (Score 1, Insightful) 693

The problem we have in our modern world is that people believe what they want to believe. For the first time in history, nearly every person has the whole of human knowledge at their fingertips - you can find the answer to any question with 30 seconds of googling/wikipedia-ing.

This video tells "believers" what they already know - and will be completely ignored by those who don't.

"An Inconvenient Truth" set the stage - it may have swayed a few minds - but essentially, everyone who already knew and understood had their deepest fears confirmed - and the people who didn't want to believe simply dismissed it out of hand...possibly never even watched it.

This is everywhere these days. Donald Trump can say any lies he wants - people who support him will believe absolutely anything he says, no matter the evidence to the contrary. The people who were convinced to vote for "Brexit" in the UK were similarly immune to fact when the facts didn't fit their world view.

So what we need as a civilization is NOT more videos like this. What we need is to somehow awaken people's minds to the idea of seeking TRUTH. To think for themselves. To look up the fact - and if they doubt the fact, to follow the little blue numbers on the Wikipedia pages. To think for themselves. To believe what is actually true, and not what they want to be true.

For me - global climate change is very real. What's wrong is that we're trying to fix it by switching to LED lamps, recycling coke cans and driving hybrid SUV's. We need to look for changes that'll work...stop farming cows, for example. We can all, quite easily, give up beef and cow-milk. That alone would have more impact than replacing every incandescent bulb, replacing every car with a Nissan Leaf, and recycling every scrap of recyclable material to perfection. The second thing we need to do is to cut our population to maybe a quarter of what it currently is. This is REALLY hard to do. But that's the thing that'll ultimately do.

So even the promoters of fixing things need to step back from their current recommendations and check the facts. It's actually not that hard to figure out what's required.

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