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Ask Slashdot: Should I Fight Against Online Voting In Our Municipality?

Soulskill posted about 4 months ago | from the let's-have-an-online-vote-to-find-out dept.

Government 190

RobinH writes: Our small-ish municipality (between 10,000 to 15,000 in population) has recently decided to switch to online voting. I should note that they were previously doing voting-by-mail. I have significant reservations about online voting, particularly the possibility of vote-selling and the general lack of voter secrecy, not to mention the possible lack of computer security. However, it's only a municipal election, and apparently a lot of municipalities around here are already doing online voting. I'm not sure if the rank-and-file citizens care, or if they would listen to my concerns. Should I bother speaking up, or should I ignore it since municipal elections are not that important anyway?

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Yes (3, Insightful)

Sigvatr (1207234) | about 4 months ago | (#47584767)

Yes

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47584849)

Yes

whence slashdot polls? (2)

Thud457 (234763) | about 4 months ago | (#47585039)

This story is useless without a Cowboy Neal option.

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585163)

Keyboard goop?

Example (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585301)

Verified Voting New Mexoc was started in a Municipality of 17,000 people, and the first action was to persuade the town council that the vote they had taken months earlier to purchase electronic voting systems be rescinded. that's actually quite a difficult thing for a politician to do-- admit they made a poor decision. But it's easier to do if you are not a full time politician in a small municipality.

that decision let us take it state wide and persuade other County clerks to hesitate. It got us meetings with the secretary of state. Eventually the governor and in the end a state law to rescind electronic voting state wide.

so heck yes.

Re:Yes (3, Informative)

Mashiki (184564) | about 4 months ago | (#47585329)

Pretty much that. [bbc.com] Even Norway tossed it after trials, we looked at it here in Ontario gave it a go at 33 municipalities, garbage. Same with phone voting, garbage.

No (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47584773)

You should win the election and declare yourself Emperor. After that, the Imperial Senate will no longer be a concern for you.

Re:No (-1, Redundant)

l0n3s0m3phr34k (2613107) | about 4 months ago | (#47584977)

The Municipal Senate will no longer be of any concern to us. I have just received word that Emperor RobinH has dissolved the council permanently. The last remnants of the Old Paper Democracy have been swept away.

This has always been posible (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47584789)

its still hard just in a different way to exploit the system, and different people will do it.

i don't think the method used for the election will increase or decrease the likelihood of corruption. the corruption exists regardless

same as vote by mail (4, Insightful)

alen (225700) | about 4 months ago | (#47584805)

no secrecy? - check
i can sell my vote? - check

Re:same as vote by mail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585019)

Someone else can vote for you by mail if you're mentally incompetent and they fill out the form for you? - check

Re:same as vote by mail (4, Informative)

Todd Palin (1402501) | about 4 months ago | (#47585183)

Oregon has had vote-by-mail for about two decades. Opponents suggested vote selling and other vote frauds would occur. Every investigation into these things since then has shown only an incredibly tiny amount of abuse. Vote-by-mail works very very well in Oregon.

The problem with online voting lies in other issues, like the lack of a paper trail for recounts, fraudulent logins, and the potential for wholesale fraud with software/malware manipulations. These are real potential issues, but don't suck vote-by-mail into the argument. Mail voting works. Oregon gets a high turnout in even minor elections because it is so painless, and that is a very good thing. Democracy is alive and well in Oregon, largely due to vote-by-mail.

Re:same as vote by mail (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 4 months ago | (#47585289)

The problem with online voting lies in other issues, like the lack of a paper trail for recounts, fraudulent logins, and the potential for wholesale fraud with software/malware manipulations.

Or how about one we ready about daily in the news? I.e., what if the voting system is breached?

We can't keep financial information safe, what's to say we can keep voting information safe?

Let's forget about manipulations for now - that's going to be way too easy and obvious. Let's consider the fact that hackers break into the site and download all the usernames and passwords, and even voting results and logs that show how everyone voted. (And let's not say it was intentional recording of votes, say logs obtained from the webserver or something else not completely obvious).

Now what? Are you comfortable with the idea that everyone knows how you voted? Or that prior to closing of voting, you could find out what the intermediate results were?

Let's concentrate on the general insecurity of the whole thing. Because we can't even protect PII or financial information, so what's to say we can protect voting information?

In fact, wasn't there a European country that scrapped plans for online voting when it wasn't fraud, but someone breaking in and getting all the data stored on the servers as the biggest risk of the entire thing?

rubbish (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585311)

Saying something has not happened is not a rationale for creating the mechanism where it can. Moreover it has happened more often than it hasn't. IN the early days of voting, the voting stations were often hosted in bars with free alchohol for people coming to vote and taking a pre-filled ballot to deposite in a very pyears.ublic ballot box. this happened for years and years. the light weight example of oregon is contradicted heavily by this experience.

Re:same as vote by mail (1)

JDAustin (468180) | about 4 months ago | (#47585335)

Actually if you look at voter participation in Oregon, its not much different then other states.

All you achieve in any system of voting that is not in-person is a high chance of fraud.

Re:same as vote by mail (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585471)

Any evidence to support that assertion. I've never seen anybody actually provide evidence that voting by mail changes the fraud rate by any meaningful degree. Whereas the electronic poling booths were used to give President Bush the 2004 Presidency and I believe that Diebold gave the GOP the governor's mansion in GA once.

Re:same as vote by mail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585761)

Any evidence to support that assertion?

Re:same as vote by mail (0)

Immerman (2627577) | about 4 months ago | (#47586099)

I'm sure he has no concrete evidence, Diebold made sure that was impossible. But the UN typically starts making noise about voting fraud when other nations show discrepancies between exit polls and vote tallies as large as have been starting to show up in US elections. And I'm sure the US gov moved to block UN observers in the last election because us poor sensitive citizens would have felt intimidated by them, right?

Re:same as vote by mail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585449)

I've been voting by internet for a couple years now. WA allows you to register if overseas, but apparently it's not restricted to overseas voters. Anyways, you go through the website to fill out the ballot and download then. You then submit the vote via email, fax or mail with one copy mailed in any case. That copy only has to arrive by the day the vote is certified.

People keep freaking out about these sorts of things, but it's always been possible to buy votes and engage in these shenanigans, if anything a properly set up system would somewhat diminish some of the possibilities for voting fraud.

Re:same as vote by mail... NOT! (1)

slew (2918) | about 4 months ago | (#47585271)

One advantage of vote-by-mail is that any large-scale fraud (enough to tip an election) takes quite a bit resources and people
One advantage of on-line voting is that minimal resource and people (e.g., as small as one person) can likely perpetrate such an action.

Two people can keep a secret (if one of them is dead). This is the difference.

Re: same as vote by mail (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585743)

As long as vote-by-mail allows you to override your vote in person, you can't effectively sell your vote.

Not important? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47584813)

Treat them all as important. Why let corruption at any level grab hold?

It could be a cost-saving measure. I assume electronic voting is much cheaper than placing something on a ballot.

Maybe the thing to do is put e-voting to a vote. Let the voters of the city decide.

How about no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47584821)

I hate it when people try to vote against something that makes life easier, out of privacy concern and security...
If you have viruses on your machine, that's your own darn fault, why penalize everybody for your stupidity?

You want it to be "secure"? Have it be as an Opt-In program then, where they send you a CD, containing a Live version of a modified Linux distro, putting it in your PC will make it boot to it and thus your viruses no longer matter, from there you can just connect to the voting site and enter your information.

Re:How about no (3, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | about 4 months ago | (#47584941)

Have it be as an Opt-In program then, where they send you a CD, containing a Live version of a modified Linux distro, putting it in your PC will make it boot to it and thus your viruses no longer matter, from there you can just connect to the voting site and enter your information.

A bootable CD, what is this, 2004? The average person today is likely to want to person any network-based task from a device that doesn't have an optical media drive, such as a tablet or laptop.

Re:How about no (1)

CRCulver (715279) | about 4 months ago | (#47584975)

Sorry, that should have read "...likely to want to perform any network-based task..."

Re:How about no (5, Interesting)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 4 months ago | (#47585079)

I hate it when people try to vote against something that makes life easier, out of privacy concern and security...
If you have viruses on your machine, that's your own darn fault, why penalize everybody for your stupidity?

The second half has already been responded to, so I'll tackle this bit.

If you have malware on your machine, that's likely your own fault (most likely through ignorance). Unfortunately, everyone on your network, on your social network, and on the malware's distribution chain is penalized for your stupidity.

So let's back up one level...

Online voting makes life easier, agreed.

Unfortunately, abuse of online voting doesn't just affect the person not using it to vote, but also affects everyone in the municipality.

You can't have it both ways: either the upstream has to think of the privacy and security concerns, or the end operator (citizen) does.

As "online" implies global, it means that unlike mail-in, where abuse is likely limited to people who are actually a part of the municipality plus a few external interested parties, suddenly abuse is open to the entire world, where statistics indicate that a 0.001% of the 7 billion population = 70,000 actors likely to attempt to abuse the system for reason X instead of the 0.15 of a person who is likely to abuse the system for reason X locally.

The main way to ensure best security is to limit scope: only expose a function to the actors that need to access it. "On the Internet" does the inverse.

And that's just one reason it's a bad idea; there are plenty of others. All of them have solutions, but all the solutions are going to run afoul of statistics when you move a system that's been exposed to 15,000 people into an arena where it's exposed to 7 billion people.

Re:How about no (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 4 months ago | (#47585149)

Have it be as an Opt-In program then, where they send you a CD, containing a Live version of a modified Linux distro, putting it in your PC

Is it even possible to make one bootable distro that will allow internet access on every different kind of personal computer out there?

Re:How about no (1)

uncqual (836337) | about 4 months ago | (#47585347)

You want it to be "secure"? Have it be as an Opt-In program then, where they send you a CD, containing a Live version of a modified Linux distro, putting it in your PC will make it boot to it and thus your viruses no longer matter, from there you can just connect to the voting site and enter your information.

Don't forget the part where you have them figure out which BIOS they have and which key to hit and what to type/click to put the CD drive first in the boot sequence - perhaps because someone removed it to "keep grandpa's machine safe". No, that won't generate any support calls or anything like that.

It might not be so bad if the NSA would share the detailed information about voters' computer with the municipal government so each person gets "personalized" instructions ("If you run this on 'MomsOfficePC', press and type 3 at the first prompt; If you run this on 'DadsPornPC', press and type 2 at the first prompt; If you..."). However, I doubt the NSA will share the necessary data (although I don't doubt they might have it).

Re:How about no (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585511)

I hate it when people try to vote against something that makes life easier, out of privacy concern and security...

Privacy is pretty damn important. More so than making people's lives easier.

Speak up, or be silent forever. (5, Insightful)

Ardyvee (2447206) | about 4 months ago | (#47584823)

If you have any reservations, then speak up. Even if it gets implemented, you can give input an steer it towards some middle ground that cover some of your concerns.

the other way around (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47584825)

It's the other way around, municipal elections are the most important. This is where your vote actually matters and change begins.

Nothing changed (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47584831)

Vote selling was already possible since you used voting by mail. So that's not a valid reason to oppose it.

Re:Nothing changed (1)

mythosaz (572040) | about 4 months ago | (#47584863)

Pretty sure vote selling is possible with in-person voting too...

Re:Nothing changed (1)

jae471 (1102461) | about 4 months ago | (#47585171)

Yes, but there is generally no way for the buyer of the vote to verify their purchase with in-person voting. With online or mail-in ballots, the buyer can be assured that you are voting for who they tell you to.

Re:Nothing changed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585359)

yes there is. take a camera with you.

Re:Nothing changed (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585475)

Take Photo.
Go and get another ballot, sorry spoiled this one. Vote as you desire.
Unless the "purchaser" is with each voter ( very time consuming, and lots needed to produce any effect anyway) no way of knowing they bought a lemon.

yes. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47584837)

next question?

Use the Facebook page ... (1)

CaptainDork (3678879) | about 4 months ago | (#47584853)

... if y'all don't have one, then you need to make a page. If on line is how y'all are going to vote, then Facebook would be a great way to discuss the irrelevant issues that you have.

Plus y'all can all Friend-up for Farmville2 [coolchaser.com] .

I would add two concerns to yours:

- Does every eligible voter have an Internet connection

- What's the system cost vs current cost?

Yes. Municipal elections *are* important. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47584855)

For example: http://www.policebrutality.info/

These sorts of issues are resolved by voting in city council members and mayors who won't take a stand for police brutality. Besides, these victims sue and the cost of those lawsuits come out of city coffers, not the perpetrator's wallets.

You should encourage it (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 4 months ago | (#47584857)

You're right, the municipal elections aren't as important as the presidential election, but the more systems out there doing online voting, the more people will try and hack them.

I'd rather someone discovers a mayor was fraudulently elected than a president.

Municipal elections are *more* important (4, Insightful)

crow (16139) | about 4 months ago | (#47584995)

Municipal elections aren't less important than the Presidential election. On a per-vote basis, they're much more important. Your vote makes much more difference in a local election. The choice you make are much more likely to have a real impact on your community.

The problem with municipal elections is that it's much harder to learn who to vote for. You have to do real work to figure out who the candidates are and what they stand for.

Note: I'm an elected municipal official, so my opinion is a bit biased here.

Re:Municipal elections are *more* important (1)

akgooseman (632715) | about 4 months ago | (#47585333)

This! Most of our voices are lost in the noise of state-wide and federal elections. Local elected representatives are likely to listen to and act upon your input regarding fire, police, sewer, water, garbage collection, schools, zoning and platting, property assessing and taxation, sales tax, libraries, swimming pools, parks, street lamps, road maintenance and a host of other items that directly affect you and your daily life. Added bonus: they can amplify your message to elected/appointed/employed people in "higher" levels of government.

Re:You should encourage it (2)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 4 months ago | (#47585125)

I'd disagree to your first part: there's not much difference between one President and another when you come right down to it; they are heavily restricted in their actions by policy makers. Plus, your municipal vote for the president has almost no effect on the result, compared to municipal elections where one interest group can sway the entire outcome. Mayors and aldermen have huge amounts of leeway, and their decisions affect your life directly.

I'd rather someone discovers a president was fraudulently elected than a mayor. But I'd rather that they found out the mayor too, if there was fraud involved. This is much easier to do with offline voting than with online voting.

Yep (1)

ashpool7 (18172) | about 4 months ago | (#47584869)

Voter intimidation is easier when you don't have to get them to register for an absentee ballot ahead of time.

Get the concerns addresssed (3, Insightful)

jader3rd (2222716) | about 4 months ago | (#47584873)

Instead of fighting it, fix it.

Vote Selling? (1)

profplump (309017) | about 4 months ago | (#47584875)

I've never understood the problem with vote selling. I mean, I think it poorly serves the people selling their votes, but if the most important issue to them is who will give them $10, why isn't that a valid choice? All sorts of people make voting decisions based on their expected personal economic outcomes, and this doesn't seem any different to me.

It's also unclear to me how putting the election online makes vote selling easier. If anything I'd expect that would make it harder, as you have to try harder to distribute the payouts.

But maybe I'm not understanding the process and harms of vote selling. Anyone want to disabuse me?

Re:Vote Selling? (1)

sconeu (64226) | about 4 months ago | (#47584891)

Not so much vote selling as *coerced* vote selling. As in, "Vote for Joe Blow or you will not have a job the day after election day."

Re:Vote Selling? (1)

ADRA (37398) | about 4 months ago | (#47584997)

How precicely is this tracked? Are they forced to cast their votes on premesis? In which case I'd be sure to carry a tape recorder for discussions of this 'coercion' and sue their fucking asses into oblivion. Remember, technology works two ways.

Regardless of how much you've been indoctronated into thinking corporations are above the law and blah blah, sue them with good cause and see your justice system work. There are laws to protect you. Stop bitching and throwing your arms up in the air every time you think "well who cares? They'll just find some loophole to screw us over anyways". That Attitude just perpetuates the actual reality of a population detached from responsibility and hence authority.

Re:Vote Selling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585117)

You are assuming the person has an option for recourse.

Possibly the best system that limits voter coersion is the ThreeBallot system by Rivest. There are issues with it but it is still significantly better then any voting system I have ever seen implemented.

people.csail.mit.edu/rivest/Rivest-TheThreeBallotVotingSystem.pdf

Re:Vote Selling? (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 4 months ago | (#47585147)

Indeed -- and it's also the issue of short-term gain vs. long-term gain. People will hand over their Facebook passwords in exchange for chocolate. Just because an individual is short sighted shouldn't mean that their entire social community has to suffer in the long term because of it.

Re:Vote Selling? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585573)

If that were made illegal, the GOP wouldn't have anybody to run. Apart from that and xenophobia, they don't have much reason for people to vote for them.

Re:Vote Selling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47584967)

The #1 problem with vote selling (from the vote buyers viewpoint) is verifying that you got what you paid for. When a person votes at the ballot, they are out of view, and you have to take their word on how they voted. With online voting, you can watch over their shoulder while they login to a computer and vote.

Re:Vote Selling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585323)

The problem, in a nutshell:

Poor people are likely to be willing to sell their vote for a modest amount of money.
Rich people are likely to demand a much higher price - they don't need the money.

Poor people tend to vote as democrats, "Rich" people tend to be conservative republican voters.

Therefore, any scheme that would allow rich people to buy the votes of poor people is racist, anti-democratic, and completely awful.

Unless we see a scenario where rich Democrat voters are willing to buy the votes of poor Republicans, in which case that's super cool, yo.

Re:Vote Selling? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585837)

The problem, in a nutshell:

Poor people are likely to be willing to sell their vote for a modest amount of money.
Rich people are likely to demand a much higher price - they don't need the money.

Indeed. Just imagine if the Koch brothers were allowed to actually buy votes, rather than just try to buy an election through campaign "donations". Hmmm, now that I think about it, we are already in fact rather close to the point where the uber-wealthy are buying elections.

This, in a nutshell is the real reason that buying and selling of votes should be strictly banned.

Re:Vote Selling? (1)

Rashdot (845549) | about 4 months ago | (#47585817)

Vote selling leads to corruption.

Suppose a person is for example willing to spend $100,000 to obtain 10000 votes, in order to win an election. The only reason this person would do that is to 'earn' that money back, with a handsome profit. The only way that works is via corruption.

A chance to work for doing it right (4, Insightful)

Logic Bomb (122875) | about 4 months ago | (#47584877)

You have an opportunity to help make your town a case study for doing it rightâ"which might result in a decision to avoid online voting. You can advocate on security/vote integrity issues by raising awareness of the complexities. Make a strong push for requiring vendors that don't hide their products' inner workings from their customers. Talk about the importance of being able to audit the vote.

The big questions everyone should answer before making a decision are "what do we gain?" and "what do we lose?" I think people often forget the latter.

Re:A chance to work for doing it right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585419)

> for doing it rightâ"which

I wish you Microsoft fanbois would stop trying to destroy this site with your nonstop gibberish posts. Seeing these posts copied from Word gets old. I know I come here less because of your kind. We get it. You hate technology and hate us. Just please leave this site alone so it doesn't die as quickly.

Re:A chance to work for doing it right (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585939)

> for doing it rightâ"which

I wish you Microsoft fanbois would stop trying to destroy this site with your nonstop gibberish posts. Seeing these posts copied from Word gets old. I know I come here less because of your kind. We get it. You hate technology and hate us. Just please leave this site alone so it doesn't die as quickly.

I've noticed this too and, yes, it bugs me as well! Just yesterday I called out some guy on Soylent for this very same thing. So, they are composing these posts in Word? Why? Why are they using Word as a text editor? Why can't people just use the proper tools for the job? Now that I think of it, it reminds me of the time someone in management sent out a memo to the entire group at work. He sent it to us in an excel spreadsheet. No, I am not fucking kidding.

Yes. Defenitely. (2)

prefec2 (875483) | about 4 months ago | (#47584889)

Ann election must be free, equal, and secure. To ensure equality, the count must be repeatable for everyone. Online voting vor any voting machine does not provide that feature. The German supreme court ruled that voting machines do not allow real democratic elections.

And it is not a good argument that voting machines or online voting is faster. Fast and convenient is not the core concerns for democracy. The above criteria are.

Re:Yes. Defenitely. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585131)

Fast and convenient is not the core concerns for democracy.

i somewhat agree with your sentiment, but find it rather elitist. i would argue that "fast and convenient" promotes democracy, in that a less cumbersome democratic process will lead to more people to participating in it.

I would vote against it (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47584959)

Better yet, I'd write an app to vote against it 30,000 times.

Get involved (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47584961)

Paper ballets are not inherently more secure, they just have a different attack surface. Online voting can be done correctly; however it can also be done very very very wrong.

See if you can get involved to prevent them from choosing a closed source option. Ensure the the solution selected is verifiable (paper logging, use of hashing) and has adequate security (physical and network security; least functionality; separation of duties; backup).

They matter a lot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47584969)

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/10/09/realestate/09nati.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Look what a couple people did in Bolinas, California in the early 70's. By getting voted on to the water board they then raised the rates to buy a water meter in the town to a huge amount effectively cutting of any furthering development in the are.

What's changed? (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 4 months ago | (#47584999)

Your two primary worries are vote selling and voter secrecy, neither of which are guaranteed by mail in ballots. The real concern is wholesale fraud: no paper trail means a "miscount" is undetectable and untraceable. The fact that your municipality is almost certainly using COTS software is actually a plus in this case, even more so if the software is being operated by an outside third party; they're unlikely to have a horse in the race and be tempted to sway the results.

Re:What's changed? (2)

Animats (122034) | about 4 months ago | (#47585081)

The fact that your municipality is almost certainly using COTS software is actually a plus in this case, even more so if the software is being operated by an outside third party; they're unlikely to have a horse in the race and be tempted to sway the results.

Walden O'Dell, the head of Diebold Election Systems, was a top fund-raiser for George Bush in 2004. He wrote in a fund-raising memo that "he was committed "to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the President." He did. [amazon.com]

Re:What's changed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585527)

and then...he just for whatever reason decided NOT to in 2008? Got it.

Try again.

Re:What's changed? (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 4 months ago | (#47585169)

Online voting is better than paper, when online comes with crypto. There is no attack type possible with online voting that's impossible with paper. The difference is in the details and maybe the ease. But when anonymous voting is abolished, there is no room for "fraud", just intimidation, and intimidation is low in the US.

It'd be hard to make an online system any worse than our current paper system.

Only municipal? Well, what comes next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585001)

If a municipal election isn't important, then no other kind of election is important, either. Municipalities directly affect our infrastructure--including water, roads, and zoning--as well as our schools. Municipal representatives are guaranteed to touch your life, even if in a small way, like being able to flush your toilet.

If that argument isn't persuasive, then consider how you would feel about the same voting system being rolled out for national elections. Unsavory, yes? Inevitable, yes? Now, consider how electronic voting could ever be made trustworthy. It seems to me that the only way for a new idea to mature is through trial and error, or hypothesis testing with reflective repetition, which means that small voting districts should be experimenting with better ways to do this. Implement the best possible ideas, find the failures, and reimplement the system. That way, larger votes will be more securely conducted.

Or, at least, you'll be more experienced at voicing your opposition to electronic voting if you start practicing now.

Volunteer to be an Election Judge (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | about 4 months ago | (#47585003)

Most elections rely on citizens who run the election who aren't government employees. I say 'volunteer', but most municipaliies will pay you for your time (including any training time).

I was a 'Chief Judge' for 4 years of my town, and actually had a lot of say in how the election was run -- based on complaints about previous elections, I ended up designing the ballots, having them printed, considered if it was worth getting mechanical voting machines as hand-me-down from the county (would've done it, if we had the storage space ... those things are HUGE), and other stuff that I would've expected there to have been specific rules for.

There are laws about how the election must be run, but the chief judge may have some latitute around how they actually run the election. If you're an election judge, and you find something in the laws that doesn't mesh with electronic voting, you might be able to get the whole thing halted.

As another option, volunteer to be a poll sitter for a candidate; if your area allows them, they're someone who sits in the polling area to observe that the election is being run correctly by the election judges. (and it's important to look into what your rights are as one; if they give you the right to examine the cast ballots, you can likely complain that there's no way to examine the electronic ballots, and get the whole election thrown out).

Don't wait for an issue to become a national one (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 4 months ago | (#47585007)

The best way to fight these things is on the local level. It's tough to convince 10 million people why it is wrong. Much easier to convince 10,000 neighbors. By the time a state or country wants to implement this, it is too late.

No (1)

clovis (4684) | about 4 months ago | (#47585013)

As with many other forms of voting where there's no physical ballot, the biggest problem is that there is no actual recount if there's been any problem.
You'll just get the same exact result with each recount.

Many years ago we had huge mechanical voting machines. It wasn't commonly known, but poll workers knew that those machines could lock up and lose all their totals with no way of recovering the lost votes. Rumor had it that this was more likely to occur in black neighborhoods.

BTW, the only elections that matter are local.

Re:No (1)

iggymanz (596061) | about 4 months ago | (#47585045)

hand filled ballots are counted electronically anyways; give it up, it's whatever the 'puter says

Re:No (1)

mhotchin (791085) | about 4 months ago | (#47585571)

In the case of a *recount*, hand filled ballots can be (and usually are) hand counted.

Hand filled ballots can be *audited* against the machine totals.

Let's vote on it. (1)

FrodoOfTheShire (3459835) | about 4 months ago | (#47585029)

All in favour of him fighting online voting post Yea. All against post Nae.

Re:Let's vote on it. (1)

pspahn (1175617) | about 4 months ago | (#47585569)

The irony is what made me click the article.

Councillor checking in... (www.scottdavey.info) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585037)

"or should I ignore it since municipal elections are not that important anyway?"

First of all... ouch! But we'll save this separate discussion for another day.

We went through the same issue recently in our municipality (Kitchener, Ontario) for the reasons you outline, plus two more...

1. Stats going back 10 years haven't shown appreciable usage or increased voter turnout.
2. It's (still) dreadfully expensive. (Your municipality is likely better to spend these dollars on things like infrastructure.)

Link to our report:
http://lf.kitchener.ca/uniquesig0d1d2aa1a38f6e69dc1e79e99d780c34f537a34d9c901a0d7cbb1976cbfdd057/uniquesig0/WeblinkExt/DocView.aspx?id=1235356&searchid=759ae2c1-0ba3-442b-8810-04c20b07e71e&dbid=0

You want us to decide for you? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585055)

You want us to decide whether or not you should oppose on-line voting in an election where you don't feel the results matter? Seriously? How bored and easily swayed are you? If you don't think the local election matters, then why would you care how the vote is counted? Do everyone a favour and don't vote, you obviously can't think for yourself.

Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585069)

Everything automated except voting in my world please. I have to vote electronically in my country and i hate it cos i dont think people in charge are competent enough to secure it properly.

why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585075)

i wish my municipality had online voting.

not important? (1, Flamebait)

tverbeek (457094) | about 4 months ago | (#47585085)

Municipal elections are what most politicians use to launch their careers for state and federal offices. They're generally pretty cheap, so ambitious wannabes use them to build name recognition. Then when they run for those more powerful positions, the donors and voters say "oh yeah, that guy" and give them money/votes. It's how the moral-majority types took over the Republican Party in the 1980s, and it's how the libertea-baggers are trying to take it over from them today. So in that sense, local elections are very important. (To say nothing of the fact that the matters decided by local government have a greater impact on the day-to-day lives of people than those made at the state or federal level.)

not worth it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585113)

You should burn down your municipality.

of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585135)

Of course you should speak up. If you have concerns about your local government, then say something; otherwise, what the hell's the point of a democracy?

Think of it this way: the part of government that most affects you is your local government.

Get Involved (2)

tomhath (637240) | about 4 months ago | (#47585201)

Local politics can be a lot of fun. Get in touch with a couple of the elected officials and tell them you want to volunteer some time on this initiative. Present yourself as neutral but interested in the idea. If you didn't grow up in the community they won't trust you, but stay with it and get to know them.

Local very important. More working-age voters. (2)

raymorris (2726007) | about 4 months ago | (#47585309)

I'd agree with others who have said local elections are very important. My local fire, police, schools, roads, and job opportunities are more important to me than whatever Washington did today.

I think you've missed the largest difference that online voting might make. Retired people are over-represented in local elections because they take the time to vote, more often than working-age people do. Online voting might make that more balanced or even swing the other way. Retirement age people also have the majority of the money and therefore influence through political donations.

Along the same lines, traditional voting methods mean only people who care enough to take the time to vote do so. (Unless a politician has a pizza party on the voting bus and pays each voter $10 to get on board.) Online voting, if it takes just a few seconds, MIGHT increase the number of votes by people who can't be bothered to take a few minutes to get involved. That could be good or bad. Personally, I think that if you don't know the name of the incumbent, you probably aren't informed enough to make an informed vote and I'd prefer you choose not to vote that time around. I'd hope that everyone gets informed, but if someone isn't interested enough to know what's on the ballot ahead of time, I don't see a need to encourage them to vote anyway.

Way better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585391)

Still better than Diebold.

The point (1)

Livius (318358) | about 4 months ago | (#47585417)

"Should I bother speaking up...?"

If you are asking that question you have really misunderstood the point of elections.

Objective evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585453)

Now that we have some experience with on-line and other forms of computer voting we should look at the history of fraudulent elections and compare them with those of other systems, In other words to compare the security of election technologies we should look at actual election history and not just speculations and biased opinions. I believe stuffing the ballot box, that is entering (paper) votes for those that did not vote has historically been the most common and successful technique to control election results. Take at look a movie "The Great McGinty" for a Hollywood take on election fraud.

"Vote Selling" Misdirection (1)

BrianPRabbit (2020846) | about 4 months ago | (#47585469)

The concern over vote selling with online voting ignores the fact One can sell One's vote right now with show-up-at-the-polls voting.

Re:"Vote Selling" Misdirection (1)

mhotchin (791085) | about 4 months ago | (#47585593)

One can sell your vote, but there is no way for the *buyer* to validate his purchase with show-up-at-the-polls voting.
You can sell your vote and vote anyway you like. The whole *point* of anonymous, in person voting is to prevent coercion.

In contrast to online voting, where your boss says "Login and let me do the voting, or you're fired.".

No..don't you remember? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585519)

Remember, we used to have all sorts of "voter irregularities" and "disenfranchisement". Tons in 2000, and 2004. And then in the 2008 election run up there were still tons, and tons, and tons of articles and journalists talking about it. And there were tons of stories about how to verify your vote and tons of people posting on reddit, and on this very site about the all the vote fraud which was about to occur and ways to combat it...like video taping your vote and so forth. But THEN..don't you remember..on the eve of the election, the problems were all completely ironed out and we had almost no stories comparatively about the 2008 election because by and large there was no disenfranchisement, fraud, irregularities, or just plain cheating like there was in 2000, and 2004. I mean the complete drop off in discussion and investigation and articles on the subject since 2008 could only mean that it really didn't happen any more...so rest assured and vote away...because it all apparently was fixed at the 11th hour prior to the 2008 election. You won't hear much investigative journalism on the topic any more!!! ....so long as the right person wins.....

Yes (3, Interesting)

PopeRatzo (965947) | about 4 months ago | (#47585523)

Local elections are the only ones that are important. The national system is so rigged that nothing individuals can do will make a difference.

However, be aware that local elections are the next target of corporate types. In the past two years, the Koch brothers have spent millions on school board elections, and not in the areas in which they live.

If you do get involved locally, be prepared to make a real fuss, and make sure you don't get busted for pot or beat your wife. In fact, don't even allow yourself to get into a situation where you can be framed for a pot bust. People have tried to get involved in local politics and have had their lives destroyed for their trouble.

And if you try to fight what has been cynically referred to as "election reform", be prepared for death threats.

Yes, perhaps. But your arguments suck! (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | about 4 months ago | (#47585617)

So online votes can be bought?
Offline votes can't?

I trust machines more than old ladies.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585629)

I watched some old lady throw my ballot away before... not much I could do about it. She didn't like Harry Browne I guess.

NO (1)

mossy the mole (1325127) | about 4 months ago | (#47585653)

I'd say no, no voting method is perfect but imo online voting has the most chance of getting more people to vote. There me be a slight increase in fraud, but as long as it can be kept to a minor level I'd say that its worth it to increase turnout

Re:NO (1)

countach (534280) | about 4 months ago | (#47585787)

Slight increase? When the bad guys are in charge it can lead to rampant and uncontrolled fraud. Would that necessarily happen in this case? Maybe not this year. Maybe not next year. But can you guarantee what is going on in 10, 20 or 50 years? Democracy is too precious to fool around with. You should consider it as dangerous as the nuclear launch codes. There may not be many nuclear disasters, but boy oh boy does it screw up everything when there is.

Re:NO (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585877)

Maximizing participation is not a goal and should never be a goal. The vote of the mindless alzheimer patient is equal to the vote of the educated informed voter. Getting everyone to vote may make you feel better, but everyone would be better off if the only the informed, educated, and thus motivated voters voted. The uninformed voters do not randomly spread their votes across the spectrum. They vote for who their friends or family vote for. Yep. Group-think voting. We should not put obstacles in the way of voting, but making voting as trivial as checking your Facebook account is a bad idea.

If you still think Internet voting is a good idea, you should read UMich write up of the DC on-line voting test:
http://www.eecs.umich.edu/eecs/about/articles/2012/voting_hack_published.html

Summary is basically that on-line voting should never happen due to severe technical limitations that cannot be overcome with current Internet structure which is not going to change.

Get over it. On-line voting is a bad idea.

Centralized v. Decentralized (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585655)

Paper voting schemes are decentralized, making system wide fraud impossible.

Online voting schemes are centralized, making them vulnerable to DDOS (distributed denial of service) attacks, corruption on the part of the operators, network issues and attacks by hackers on the devices used to vote.

There are a litany of other reasons online voting is a bad idea, ranging from coercion (you are definitely alone when you vote in person) to the absence of an audit trail. But the risk that an entire election can be rigged is too great to take, even if the risk is wrongly thought to be low.

The risk is higher than most casual observers think. Several online elections have already been affected by large scale problems. The NDP nomination of Thomas Mulcair in Canada was the victim of a DDOS attack. The nomination of John Savage in Nova Scotia was delayed a week by network failure. We can't be sure how many elections have been impacted where officials were either unaware or unwilling to disclose the problems.

Paper ballots may not be perfect, but they are much more robust.

And to those who think they would vote if only it were more convenient, the data does not support this position. In places where online votes have been used the voter turnout has been unaffected.

The Robinson voting method (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#47585747)

http://paul-robinson.us/index.php?blog=5&title=the_robinson_method_a_really_simple_way_&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1

Which Google has seen fit to remove from the first page of results when you search for 'The Robinson method of voting'. I wonder why...

Absolutely (3, Interesting)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 4 months ago | (#47585859)

I am in Halifax, Nova Scotia and we have shockingly stupid online/phone voting. In our last election it didn't make or break any elections but my trust in it is exactly zero. The software used is not open to the public, in fact almost nothing is told to the public except for sanitized versions of how secure the software is and how thoroughly they have tested it. Even many of the discussions about it were secret.

I have read a few mumblings about the dangers online voting but nobody substantial has come out and said that online voting is a clear and present danger to democracy. In Canada we had someone (never conclusively identified) who robocalled a bunch of people who were probably going to vote for one of the parties and tell them that it was "Elections Canada calling and that their voting station had been moved to a location far far away." The result was that many voters either didn't bother to vote or went far far away only to find out that they were in the wrong place and had to go way back to vote, again presumably this reduced number of voters. This was a clear and presumably effective law breaking cheat. If the person(s) behind this could have hacked an online voting system I am 100% sure that they would have. As the robocall thing turned into an actual scandal whereas a harder to detect hack would not only reduce their risk but also increasetheir chances of success to basically 100%.

I can consider myself to be somewhat expert in computer security but my simple explanation is twofold. Facebook, Google, major banks, companies like target, etc have all been solidly hacked; so how can some proprietary publicly untested system be so magically secure? Secondly how would anyone know that an election had been "adjusted" unless someone's cat bob wins with 99% the election will have results that surprise some people; just like pretty much every election.

And most importantly, anyone who wins through some sort of hacking will pretty much have failed the good citizen test at that point.

In Halifax, Nova Scotia the two main reasons given for the online voting were: to increase voter participation, and to reduce costs. Participation was basically at the same anaemic levels of the past; and nobody in their right mind would sacrifice the security of our democracy to save a few bucks. On top of that the election results were unusually slow to come in anyway, and I don't understand the money saving as they have just as many traditional polling stations as ever. The electronic voting does cost a bundle, plus I really hope the city is spending money auditing it which should be some serious auditing thus costing even more. Plus the extensive education campaign couldn't have been free. So if it somehow magically cost less than it would just be accounting magic, not reality.

On a personal opinion level, the reason for the anaemic participation levels is that government doesn't listen to us. We throw one set of bums out and the next bunch act identically to the last. If they genuinely wanted participation we would have referendums to approve the council "decisions". The voting would be fast and furious on a fair number of issues.

Lastly from what I have read, ever single different electronic voting system that security researchers have ever gotten their hands on has easily and completely been hacked. Often in many many different ways. The voting technology companies almost always have a similar line. "That was a previous model and our present systems have been proven to be 100% secure." yet they said that the easily hacked system had been totally secure when it had been released.

So if you figure out a way to have a ground swell political movement that shuts down your local online voting please PM me and I will try that here.

Municipality the world over have a problem (1)

giorgist (1208992) | about 4 months ago | (#47585905)

Municipality the world over have a problem. People don't care. They don't see it as a local government but simply as a government department. This is an attempt to get people involved. So the fundamental question should not be "Online voting vs Ballot box" but "Online Votes Vs Ballot box votes".
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