[Fsfe-ie] E-Voting letter and IFSO logo

Cathal Mc Ginley cathalmcginley at eircom.net
Thu Apr 8 17:04:57 CEST 2004

Thanks for your feedback & suggestions, Éibhear; I've incorporated most 
of it into a new draft, which I've uploaded to the same page:

Éibhear wrote:

> I think it's worth emphasising that if this new system comes in, the 
> election process will be in the control of a pair of private companies 
> who are not even indigenous to Ireland.

A valid point, but hard to make without sounding Euro-phobic. I think we 
must remain focused on the software concern - if a foreign company had 
produced Free Software for this system, the problems I refer to would go 
away (although all the others would remain).

> Perhaps you might put after "...a backwards step in terms of 
> democracy, and it is natural that people are opposed to it." the 
> following:
> "Consider that with the current system every citizen...

Thanks, I've included a variation of this. A direct appeal works very 
well here.

> I'm concerned that the paragraph that covers anonymity of voters isn't 
> correct ... requires some social engineering as well as computing 
> know-how to pull off.

Quite right, it requires complicity on the part of the election 
officials as well as non-random vote recording. I hadn't made this 
clear. I've moved this point to the second paragraph and re-worded it. 
This is actually one concern that won't be solved by the Voter Verified 
Audit Trail, but only by being able to study the code and ensure that 
it's the same code running on the machines. (Perhaps I should mention 
this in the letter). I think this is a valid concern but I certainly 
don't want to undermine our case. If it can't be put plainly, we can 
take it out.

> I would add to the point about the audit the following: "The source 
> code for the computer programs used in June's forthcoming election 
> will not be handed over to the Department of the Environment until 
> after September....

I've put this in too. It leads me to think of putting: "Why is the 
Department of the Environment privileged over all other Irish citizens 
in being allowed to see this code?", but I think the general gist of 
that point has already been made elsewhere in the letter. Perhaps a line 
for the conclusion?

> "Elections are often won and lost by a handful of votes...

I've included this as part of the conclusion, it nicely emphasizes the 
flaws of the system in a way that should worry politicians. Excellent.

   -   Cathal.

When we speak of free
     software, we are referring
     to freedom, not price.

-- 'found haiku' from the GPL

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