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[liberationtech] Egyptian government to introduce e-voting system

M. Fioretti mfioretti at nexaima.net
Wed Apr 6 22:50:41 PDT 2011


Greetings,

first a short introduction about myself, since I only subscribed a
couple weeks ago and this is my first post here: I'm a freelance
writer/trainer working on Free Software and impacts of digital
technologies on education, civil rights and other fields. You may read
more about my work at http://mfioretti.com

This discussion about e-voting is really interesting. Personally, I am
against e-voting, at leat for national political elections, for
several reasons I explained here:

http://stop.zona-m.net/2007/07/is-e-voting-a-solution-to-which-problem/

but especially for one: in my opinion e-voting is
antidemocratic, because:

- all citizens can control in real time if there is a fraud with
  counting paper ballots, as long as they can read and count

- only computer experts (a tiny, tiny, tiny minority, ie an
  aristocracy) can control if there is a fraud with electronic voting,
  and even this only in theory IMO.

I am aware that in some countries "people who can read and count", as
I am aware that even in "first world" countries functional
analphabetism significantly lowers the real numbers of those who can
read and count. Still, "read and count" is an immensely lower barrier
to verifying frauds than computer skills and time to really control
that there aren't bugs in the voting machines.

With respect to these specific objections to paper ballots:

On Thu, Apr 07, 2011 05:25:23 AM +0530, Pranesh Prakash
(pranesh at cis-india.org) wrote:

> 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

what about "officials saying the voting machines are broken, turning
back voters etc..."? The only difference is that only a real computer
expert can check if this second claim is bogus. Ditto for these cases:

> * capturing of voting booths by armed thugs, and stuffing ballot boxes
> * stuffing of ballot boxes after voting has ended
> * fraud occurring during counting

all of them are an electronic equivalent. The only difference I can
see between their "paper" and the "electronic" problem is that the
electronic version is immensely easier to carry out without average
citizens noticing it. With respect to "fraud occurring during manual
paper counting": here in Italy counting is manual and is done in EACH
booth by a commission made of members of ALL parties.

Just because they count signs on paper, they don't need special
skills, every citizen can do that. And just because they must all
count together, the probability that fraud happens on a scale large
enough to have an actual effect nationwide, ie to be worth doing, is
really small.

> * collusion in voters' lists

this happens or not regardless of how they actually vote, why is it
present?

> * confusing ballot designs

this depends on voting rules, so I pass on this

> * high cost of printing ballot paper (which can be sizeable in a
> country the size of India), cost of remuneration for counting staff
 
do you have an estimate of the cost difference for India?

> The point is not simply that fraud with paper ballots "are
> detectable", since fraud electronic voting with paper audit trail
> are just as detectable

By who? If they aren't "just as detectable", with the same skills and
the same degree of trust as looking at sheets of paper, I'd tend to
stick to the first objection I explained.

> I don't see why we need to have a "truth" that is universally valid

I agree. Personally, I am trying to understand which parts of the
discourse are always valid and which aren't.

	  Regards,
	  Marco Fioretti
-- 
Online Course for Digital Citizens, because your rights depend on
how software is used *around* you:  http://mfioretti.com/node/129



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