Who counts the votes?

Posted on Thu 30 October 2003 in general

The last set of elections we had in the UK we started experimenting with
alternative forms of voting from the traditional visit the polling
station and put a cross on the paper ballot. One experiment they ran
where I live is postal voting. And it worked, turnout in my ward was
increased which I think is a good thing. The more people who make
their voice heard the healthier our democracy is. However in all this
talk of reforming our election system has brought up the topic of
e-voting. And if you've followed any of the ` <%3Cbr>`__ http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,60563,00.html?tw=wn_polihead_10>Diebold
Election Systems story over the last few months you can see why
I'm concerned.Electronic voting is already a fact in the States and it and from what
I know so far I have little confidence in it.
The reason I worry is because you are trusting the democracy of your
nation to a black box that decides who has voted for who. And you have
no idea how it worked that out, if the software had any bugs or in
fact if its just lying because its been subverted.
The Diebold case also has some other interesting facets to it,
especially in the way that the company has used the US DMCA law to
silence it critics. They recently had a copy of their internal mailing
lists liberated from their servers. The lists have come up with some
interesting quotes such as:

` <%3Cbr>`__ http://www.bennee.com/~alex/diebold/support.w3archive/200201/msg00097.html>

Strictly adhering to our release policies, the California change should also require a major version number bump to GEMS (because of the protocol change). We can't reasonably expect all of California to upgrade to 1.18 this late in the game though, so we'll slip the change into GEMS 1.17.21 and declare this a bug rather than a new feature. What good are rules unless you can bend them now and again.

and:


They would like to log into the Audit Log an entry for Previewing any Election Total Reports. They need this, to prove to the media, as well as, any candidates & lawyers, that they did not view or print any Election Results before the Polls closed.
However, if there is a way that we can disable the reporting functionality, that would be even better.

You can see why this company has been going around issuing href=http://www.chillingeffects.org/linking/notice.cgi?NoticeID=911>Cease
and Desist letters left right and center. Of course the DVD people
tried this when href=http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/DeCSS/Gallery/>DeCSS was
released and it didn't stop it spreading like wildfire. As always its
a case of href=http://www.bennee.com/~alex/diebold/index.html>mirror often
:-)
Of course at the moment the state of democracy in other countries is
not really my problem, but if it href=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/sci/tech/2135911.stm>ever happens
here I'll be paying a lot more attention.