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US469 - Internet Voting

Set up an R&D program on internet voting with every expectation that it'll be implemented once it's ready to go. It's probably provably more accurate than other forms of voting and it would reach many more voters.

databob says

Internet voting's problem is auditability because there isn't any 'paper ballot' to rely on for re-counts.

To see how important this factor is, take a look at what likely happened in Ohio in 2004, where there were no paper ballots, only electronic records. Obviously, nothing has been proven, but the anecdotal evidence - coupled with the high level of motivation on the part of Republicans - is strongly suggestive of electronic manipulation of the voting totals in many counties in Ohio.

Here in Los Angeles County, we use a numbered paper ballot marked with ink. As a former election inspector, I am aware that there are ways to possibly tamper with the vote totals, but since the counting at the precinct is done publicly, it would take a rather large conspiracy (amongst most likely total strangers) to effect a very minor (and readily challengable) swing in a precinct's vote total.

And those paper ballots, once their number is reconciled with the number of voters, are auditable and re-countable ad infinitum. The margin of error is really very small, as is the opportunity for manipulation.

I think that any internet-based voting system would still require a 'machine' in a central location that would print out a paper ballot. Otherwise, your vote exists only as a small pattern of bits stored in a database somewhere.

And as a database developer and data analyst, I can state authoritatively that you do NOT want people like me (no, not me specifically, but people with my capabilities, less my ethics) anywhere NEAR your pattern of bits in a database.

Having said all that, it could be done, and would be VERY cost-effective: a system like this would scale up quite nicely, and with voting occurring over a long period of time - say a month - the system wouldn't have to be awfully powerful or consume much bandwidth, either.

Of course, this is WAY to logical a solution to our rather creaky - and error-prone - system.

Suffice it to say that any election decided by less than 2% is well within the margin of error, and beyond any possibility of conclusively determining a winner.

What do you think?

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Should we set up an R&D program on internet voting?

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| 7 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  I would be more interested (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    In a computerized database fully enumerating all electors, preferably including their photos, and using it so that someone can vote at any polling place and not just the one they are assigned to, even voting out-of-state.

  •  Well, if it could finally bring security to the (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    internet that might be worth it. This thing is as porous as an actual net. Did you know it's possible for a "secure" SSL transaction to be processed by a foreign government? Or anyone with $250,000 who wants to set up and register as a "secure" proxy handler? That's all you need, a pile of money and you too can have access to millions of potential credit card numbers. So unless we can actually design a secure internet then no, I don't want voting on the web.

    If we got Mitt to be slightly less dishonest and gave him some personality he could pass as a used car salesman.

    by ontheleftcoast on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 04:20:40 PM PDT

  •  A very Republican helpful idea (1+ / 0-)
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    at least for now. Major parts of the Dem base have no access to the net. This idea for the forseeable future would increase Repub share of the vote.

  •  You don't need R&D for it. Plenty of organizations (0+ / 0-)

    use online voting. However, protecting it from hacking may be difficult.

    Also, a few countries already use online voting.

  •  Oregon does it (2+ / 0-)
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    icemilkcoffee, GregOrr

    It has been quite while since I reviewed it - but it apparently has not had problems and there are multiple safeguards.

    It is impossible to defeat an ignorant man in argument.

    by GrinningLibber on Wed Sep 05, 2012 at 04:42:50 PM PDT

  •  While I am all for expanding voter access (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The lack of a paper trail and the ease with which people have their online banking and social networking accounts hacked leads me to believe this idea is a bit ahead of the technology.

  •  Would this really expand voter access? (1+ / 0-)
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    Many poor people don't have a computer or access to the Internet.

    I'm also concerned about the hackability of the process.

    •  Could be available in addition to paper voting (1+ / 0-)
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      So that it would just be additive to access/turnout.

      Hacking is only really a problem if someone could change the records AND be undetected in doing so. If an electiion is tampered with but we know, it's annoying but we can always redo.

      •  I do computer security as my business (0+ / 0-)

        The advantages are small at best. The number of things that could go wrong easily is horrifying.

        GregOrr's point about audit trails is insightful.

        The only way to do it with even a dim chance of safety would be to have a custom-built voting terminal. Attempting this on a general-purpose computer would be a blunder on the scale of starting a land war in Asia.

  •  Absolutely NOT. I am a computer security expert. (1+ / 0-)
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    Not unless you want to guarantee that all elections are stolen hence forth.  And don't say "other countries do it".  They aren't the prize that control over U.S. political elections would be.  The prize is so valuable it would literally be priceless.  No amount of money would be too much to not be worth it.  

    Computer Security is a function of money.  The more you spend on it, the more money it takes to break it.  There is no such thing as "secure".

  •  The problem is that the system would provide (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    an opportunity for someone, or some group, to illegally gain entrance and alter the election results.  And I'm far less concerned about database developers like databob, as they don't usually have the programming or networking knowledge to hack a sophisticated system, but there are plenty of people that do.

    Also, I'm a little skeptical of the benefit of making an already easy task, even easier.  With the exception of the disabled, who physically can't get to the polls (and for them we already have absentee voting), if a person doesn't care enough to do what many people around the world would kill for the opportunity to do, chances are that person isn't too informed on the issues, and I don't want them diluting my vote.  I'd rather have a 50% turnout of informed voters, than a 90% turnout with 40% of the people not informed.  

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