[Fsfe-ie] perspective on e-voting

Niall Douglas s_fsfeurope2 at nedprod.com
Fri Mar 5 01:20:47 CET 2004

Hash: SHA1

On 4 Mar 2004 at 10:54, Fergal Daly wrote:

> > I'd like to see anyone design a CPU which can recognise when the
> > software running on it is tallying votes and adjust them
> > appropriately.
> It's much easier than that, a very simple RF signal would do the trick
> or perhaps a timer or a specific sequence of instructions or a
> sequence of data values some register (corresponding to a specific set
> of voting preferences).

Defensively written software easily flags up such corruption. Really, 
I think you're placing undue emphasis on a method of vote rigging 
when easier, less costly ways are available.

> > Really? And you honestly believe elections aren't already bought?
> Depnds on what you mean by bought. If you mean bribed and tampered
> then, I don't believe that. If you mean the biggest advertiser wins
> then there is some truth to that but there are issues that no amount
> of spending will buy a vote for.

That would depend on how you spend the money. Do you think Berlusconi 
could have got elected without his media empire? Why is it that more 
viewers of FOX in the US voted for Bush, support the Iraq war and 
believe crime is higher than it is than viewers of any other news 

> If a government is found to have been illegally elected then any laws
> it passed would well be invalid. I wasn't suggesting that the incoming
> government would choose to unconvict criminals and unmake laws. They
> may have no choice. If I'm convicted under a law enacted by an
> illegally elected goverment then I have a very good case for being
> freed.

Hmm, a peculiar artifact of our system.

> I didn't mean the interface, I'm talking about the fact that no one
> will actually understand what's going on behind the scenes. The
> current paper system is absolutely transparent. Anyone can watch any
> part of it, that is why people trust it. A system which seems to
> magically produce the result, no matter how fair it actually is, is a
> big step backwards in my view,

The thing is, most things in life appear to work magically to most 
people. So long as they work consistent with what they expect ie; are 
fair, trust builds irrespective of transparency - for example, most 
people have never seen the inside of a court but do trust the 
judicial system. For those who are more interested in the detail, if 
they investigate the mathematical properties of such a system and 
review the software themselves, they'll find it works as expected. 
Needless to say, anyone should be able to crack open the copy of the 
evoting software on their mobile and see if it's what they expect it 
to be.

What I'm trying really to say is that trust is more often delegated 
than built - if various key people endorse a system, most people will 
believe them without ever investigating the system for themselves. 
This is why after all people sell stuff through getting sports heroes 
to endorse products.


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