Monday, February 04, 2008

Good Discussion of E-Voting

Over at slashdot. The head of the discussion is about using open-source software to get around some of the issues with proprietary voting systems.

I sort of like the commenter who says voting machines ought to meet the standards set up for gaming machines in Nevada, but ultimately, I fall on the side of the paper-and-pencil crowd:
You can't trust what you don't understand, so any voting system needs to be Universally Comprehensible. An electronic system based on Open Source principles -- where the blueprints for the hardware and the listings of the software are available for all to examine -- is still really only comprehensible to a minority of the population. It doesn't satisfy the goal. (In the worst case, you could conceal a deliberate design defect by a combination of hardware and software techniques: anybody examining the hardware and not the software, or vice versa, will miss it.)

Just forget the whole thing as a failed experiment, and go back to pencil and paper and manual counting. Everybody knows what all the possible failure modes are, and how to minimise their effects.
Tomorrow is "Super Tuesday," which means lots of voting around the U.S. (including here in my neighborhood). I hope it goes well.

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