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[liberationtech] E-Voting

Rich Kulawiec rsk at
Sun Dec 11 03:14:10 PST 2016

On Sat, Dec 10, 2016 at 12:39:39PM +0300, Zacharia Gichiriri wrote:
> I think the subject of the discussion should be: How can we make e-voting
> more secure and credible?

Answer: don't use it.  Period, full stop, end of discussion.
Any suggestion that e-voting can be made secure is delusional.

Simple paper-based systems can be manipulated as well (study the colorful
history of elections in Chicago) but (a) it's much harder to pull off
with the kind of precision required to avoid making it obvious
(b) it doesn't scale nearly as well (c) it requires a relatively
large conspiracy (d) which means many people (e) which means a high
probability someone will screw up and (f) and even if they don't,
someone will probably talk about it.  Also (g) these attacks are very
well-known and well-understood, which means (h) so are the defenses
against them and (i) these attacks/defenses are relatively symmetrical,
which means defenders have a good chance -- unlike in e-voting, where
attackers have a many-orders-of-magnitude advantage.

You can have something vaguely resembling democracy [1] or you can
have e-voting.  Choose one.


[1] I chose that phrase deliberately.  We're talking here about voting
systems, in the general sense of that term.  We're not talking about
the larger question of the overall electoral process, which of course
we all know is frequently manipulated from within (e.g., gerrymandering,
specious "voter ID" laws, polling locations, hours, equipment,
and staffing, etc.) and now we know is also manipulated from without
(e.g., Russian tampering with the recent US election).  These are not
technological problems per se, however, and neither are their solutions.

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