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[liberationtech] Egyptian government to introduce e-voting system

Pranesh Prakash pranesh at
Wed Apr 6 16:55:23 PDT 2011

On Thursday 07 April 2011 04:35 AM, Sheila Parks wrote:
> I observed the counting of several hand-counted paper ballots elections
> in real time and it is very doable

Please have a look at the vote-counting scene in Gulaal (Anurag Kashyap, 
2009) for a simple example of how electoral fraud can take place in 
hand-counting systems.

My main problem with the Indian EVM paper is that all of the exploits 
mentioned therein can be conducted, with greater ease, with paper ballot 
systems.  All those exploits need help from insiders, but paper ballot 
frauds can be committed easily even without insider help.

I would love to see analysis of _allegations_ of electoral fraud under 
the paper ballot system and under the electronic voting system. 
Anecdotally, I can tell you that they have decreased.  Calls for switch 
to paper ballots (rather than actual allegations of fraud) have come 
from politicians who benefited under the paper ballot system, often 
thanks to their goon friends.

How would keeping paper ballots help against things like:
* officials saying they are out of ballot paper, turning back voters, 
and then stuffing ballot boxes themselves
* collusion in voters' lists
* capturing of voting booths by armed thugs, and stuffing ballot boxes
* stuffing of ballot boxes after voting has ended
* fraud occurring during counting
* confusing ballot designs
* high cost of printing ballot paper (which can be sizeable in a country 
the size of India), cost of remuneration for counting staff

The point is not simply that fraud with paper ballots "are detectable", 
since fraud electronic voting with paper audit trail are just as 
detectable and even tougher to carry out.  If with EVMs (according to 
that paper) post-voting fraud can happen, then the same can happen 
without needing modification chips with paper ballots.  What's the 
difference then?  Lastly, what difference has their detectability made 
in places like Egypt or even the strongly democratic India?

Hand-counted paper ballots might indeed be better for America and many 
other countries. But not for India.  I don't see why we need to have a 
"truth" that is universally valid like "electronic voting bad, paper 
ballot good".


Pranesh Prakash
Programme Manager
Centre for Internet and Society
W: | T: +91 80 40926283

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