[Fsfe-ie] perspective on e-voting

Niall Douglas s_fsfeurope2 at nedprod.com
Thu Mar 4 01:41:38 CET 2004

Hash: SHA1

On 3 Mar 2004 at 10:01, Ian Clarke wrote:

> | Voting is not like a bank vault where if you break it you win
> | outright - at best, you get four years or so of power.
> Dangerously optimistic.  If someone has the capability to rig an
> election before they get into office, then they will definitely be
> able to rig it again once they are in office, and each time they do,
> it will be exponentially more difficult to undo.

Only if the population is not being vigilant. You like most people 
view well written laws and well designed systems as central to a 
healthy democracy.

The reality is anything but. Zimbabwe has as modern a constitution, 
legal system and voting process as anyone yet we have seen it 
spectacularly subverted in recent years. The US is still widely 
considered the leader of the free world yet in recent years secret 
police have vanished over 1500 people (that we know of) in the middle 
of the night and its constitution has been blatently ignored with 
much of the recent legislation.

A democracy lives through its people - it is very hard to force a 
population who want to be democratic to not be so as we saw in 
Eastern Europe. No special laws were required for this - it 
spontaneously emerged.

Well written laws, a questioning media and an independent judicial 
system are all important planks for maintaining *stability* in a 
democracy. But to even for a moment assume that they can protect or 
enforce democracy is to invite what we are witnessing in the US right 

> Rigging an election is the political equivalent of someone getting
> root on your server.  You must assume that your democracy/server will
> remain compromised until you do a ground-up reinstall / have a
> revolution.  It is extremely difficult to unpick such a compromise
> piece by piece.

If you had installed an OS like KeyKOS or EROS compromises are 
inherently limited. Lesson: Unix is inherently insecure.

> This is why it is so essential to ensure that it does not happen in
> the first place.

Do you know that statistically the safer a car is, the more people 
die in car accidents?


Version: idw's PGP-Frontend / 9-2003 + PGP 8.0.2


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