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Is Arizona's Internet Voting System Safe Enough? 171

Posted by timothy
from the bear-alternatives'-problems-in-mind dept.
JMcCloy writes "Kevin Poulsen, senior editor at Wired News, asks readers 'Is internet voting safe?' and has a poll at the end of the article. So far, 32% responding actually think that internet voting is worth it, risks and all. It is scary how easily people can be persuaded to trust a system that is so vulnerable." The system described, used in Arizona in last year's election process, isn't just checking a box and clicking a button, but Poulsen lays out some scenarios by which it could be subverted.
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Is Arizona's Internet Voting System Safe Enough?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 06, 2009 @03:41PM (#28235633)

    Yes 32%
    No 22%
    Ron Paul 46%

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      No, it's actually:
      Yes 32%
      No 22%
      Cowboy Neal 46%

      Just remember:
        - Don't complain about lack of options. You've got to pick a few when you do multiple choice. Those are the breaks.
        - This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane.

  • Irony is... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tinctorius (1529849) * on Saturday June 06, 2009 @03:46PM (#28235685)

    ... an Internet poll about the "safety" of Internet polls.

    Especially if you are "persuaded to trust" the results and derive some sort of observation from it.

  • Safe or not... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sys.stdout.write (1551563) on Saturday June 06, 2009 @03:46PM (#28235687)
    I still refuse to believe that eventually we couldn't make Internet voting more secure than paper ballots.

    I already consider online banking to be at least as secure as ATM transactions, and I see no reason why a properly designed online voting system couldn't be the same.

    That being said, the current state of the industry is pathetic. For instance, not too long ago a Diebold machine was exploited by its anti-virus software. If you have anti-virus software running on your electronic voting system you're doing it wrong.
    • Re:Safe or not... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 06, 2009 @03:59PM (#28235813)

      For me, the biggest problem with e-voting isn't the level of security you can achieve, it's the amount of damage someone can do once they're 'in'. Sure there's bits of fraud and error here and there with conventional ballots, but to guarantee a result requires a lot of suspicious activity. Right now even the military, DoD, etc... can't seem to keep hackers out all the time. Imagine what a back door to an election would be worth on the black market.

      • You have got to be kidding.

        Were you watching Minnesota in the last congressional election?

        How many ballots have to be 'found' a week after the election to be more then a 'bit of fraud'?

        Amazing how they 'found' just enough ballots for their chosen party to pull out the election.

        Nothing matters unless they also fix the registration fraud problem anyway.

        If you can 'vote early and often' it doesn't matter how you are voting.

        • by rtfa-troll (1340807) on Saturday June 06, 2009 @05:45PM (#28236713)

          Were you watching Minnesota in the last congressional election?

          which is the entire point. You could watch it because physical ballot papers had to be found. If you are right that it was fraudulent, and I have no idea, then the fraudsters put themselves at a much greater risk. The ballot papers they added could have their genetic material or chemical contamination or many other signs of tampering. With an e-voting system there will be nothing to tell you that there was fraud and they won't have to wait until afterwards to know whether they need to "just add a few more fraudulent ballots". They'll add just enough to be safe (e.g. avoid a recount; avoid a suspicious miscount etc.).

          Try not to think about what you could do to make a safe voting system. Instead think "how could I manipulate an e-voting system". When you think about it, you'll find lots of ways to do it for fun and profit. I recommend that everybody in the USA with the opportunity starts trying to fix ballots to go to third parties (even if you support the Republicrats or Democans). That will get e-voting off the agenda quicker than you can possibly imagine.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Repossessed (1117929)

          What you describe is pretty small time, most of the time. Yes when an election is close you can game the system right now, but for most elections, ones where a candidate is ahead by at least a percentage point, fraud on that scale would be too damned obvious.

          With internet voting, where a .01% change and a 1% change require the same amount of effort, swinging an election via fraud becomes much easier.

    • The source code would have to be open before I would trust it.

      Crypto behind e-voting has some similarities with e-cash. Its a really interesting topic.

      • by gd2shoe (747932)
        And how do you know that the code running on the server is the same as the code that was opened for public review? How can you ever be sure that an "administrator" (or hacker) hasn't updated values in the database? There are too many possible problems, even running open source. There would need to be a bullet proof algorithm in place, and nobody has proposed one yet (that I've read, and I've looked). I'm willing to admit the possibility, but I think it is impossible.
    • Re:Safe or not... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by patro (104336) on Saturday June 06, 2009 @04:35PM (#28236165) Journal

      I still refuse to believe that eventually we couldn't make Internet voting more secure than paper ballots.

      Your physical security is also an issue.

      If you go to a polling station then you can be sure no one will force you to cast your vote on his preferred candidate.

      But if you vote from your home via the internet then members of the local mafia can stand behind your back while you're voting and they can force you to vote on the politician who pays them.

      How could you fix this "security hole" in the internet voting scheme?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Your physical security is also an issue.

        If you go to a polling station then you can be sure no one will force you to cast your vote on his preferred candidate.

        But if you vote from your home via the internet then members of the local mafia can stand behind your back while you're voting and they can force you to vote on the politician who pays them.

        How could you fix this "security hole" in the internet voting scheme?

        Allow the user to change his vote until the poll closes. It may not be perfect but the mob has a set limited amount of resources and to make a large enough impact they must move on to other homes.

        Is that even a legit concern? That sounds like more of a social problem than a technical issue.

        • by Trepidity (597)

          It's a social problem, yes, but one that historically people who think about voting in a free society have been concerned with. One way to subvert a nominally democratic system is to add social (or physical, or monetary) pressure to vote for or against someone; one way to make that harder is to make the voter unable to prove who they voted for, so they can just say "yeah I voted for you" and nobody can verify whether that's the case or not.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by arth1 (260657)

          Allow the user to change his vote until the poll closes. It may not be perfect but the mob has a set limited amount of resources and to make a large enough impact they must move on to other homes.

          Is that even a legit concern? That sounds like more of a social problem than a technical issue.

          That's a reaction to a symptom, and not a solution. Much more likely is that many controlling spouses will force their partners to vote a certain way. Or would vote for their elderly relatives. And yes, even though thi

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        Simple. Have one of the questions be: "Is a member of the mafia standing behind you." Of course, since if a member of the mafia is standing behind them, they will be forced to reply "No", make sure that the answer is switched.
      • Last time I voted, I wasn't strip-searched for cameras.

        Here's how Tony the Mobster buys your vote: you'll deliver to him a small video of you in the booth, with the ballot clearly made out as a vote for what he wants, and you exiting the booth putting the vote in the urn. The he won't shoot your kneecaps.

        He'll probably even help you with a good enough covert camera if your cell phone will attract too much attention.

        Anybody got an idea for how to limit this? Tony is a resourceful man, he can send goons to

        • A bit too much overhead for just a single vote.

          OTOH, getting a few thousands/millions computer infected so they vote they way they "should" is fairly trivial.

          It's a bit like the copyright battle. It was no problem when physical media were involved. The overhead to copy a book is nontrivial, and usually it's cheaper to just buy the book. It's very different in the digital world.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by mysidia (191772)

            How about in order to cast your vote you actually have to go to a voting registrar, present your voter ID, pay a fee, and pick up a numbered bootable CD, eg a knoppix disk with a custom voting app on it.

            And in order to vote, you will have to boot your computer with the CD.

            The CD itself contains a pair of unique IDs and client-side SSL certificate that no other CD has. And the public key of that cert will be 'bound' to your voter registration. Until/unless you lose or damage the CD and request

            • by Tony Hoyle (11698)

              *whoa* there. What happened to privacy? Pay a fee? *pay* to vote? Are you on drugs?

              CDs with a unique ID? Linked to you? I'd rather not vote than a participate in a system like that.

              One of the fundamental parts of voting is it's anonymous. You turn up, they cross your name off the register and you're given a voting slip that's *exactly the same as every other voting slip*. There's no practical way of saying how you voted (and where I live, using a camera in a voting booth would likely get you arreste

      • by Phroggy (441)

        Here in Oregon, we vote by mail. Vote buying and coercion is theoretically possible, but it's such a cultural taboo that it hasn't been a problem - if anyone tried to buy votes, there would be enough of a public outcry that it would have to stop. In other states with a different culture, this may not be the case.

        Our vote by mail system is probably vastly more secure than Arizona's online voting system, but this theoretical vulnerability does exist in both systems. However, most states have a provision fo

        • by gd2shoe (747932)
          I think it's a cultural taboo throughout the US... now. There was a time when coercion was a major problem (I think it was New York, not sure). We want to avoid the ability for that kind of political climate to build again.
    • by MarkusQ (450076) on Saturday June 06, 2009 @04:36PM (#28236173) Journal

      I still refuse to believe that eventually we couldn't make Internet voting more secure than paper ballots.

      But security isn't the question. The problem is that with secure and anonymous electronic voting there is no outside way to verify that the results reported have anything to do with the votes cast. Whoever controls the system can make it report whatever results they want, and there's no way to tell if they are telling the truth or not. If your first thought is "well, make it open source," think again [bell-labs.com].

      I already consider online banking to be at least as secure as ATM transactions, and I see no reason why a properly designed online voting system couldn't be the same.

      The difference being that the banks (which run both ATMs and online banking sites) don't also control the money supply. If they did (e.g., if they could just create money the way the government does) we'd have a major problem. No matter how secure the process is, once it subsumes enough levels that you have know way of knowing if it's just reporting made-up numbers, you have a problem.

      --MarkusQ

      • by Strilanc (1077197)

        Lack of imagination.

        For example, consider a commit-or-verify scheme. After you cast a ballot you can either commit the ballot or verify that it was recorded correctly and repeat the process.

        Check out VoteBox:
        http://www.usenix.org/events/sec08/tech/full_papers/sandler/sandler_html/index.html [usenix.org]

        • Lack of paranoia (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MarkusQ (450076)

          Lack of imagination.

          For example, consider a commit-or-verify scheme. After you cast a ballot you can either commit the ballot or verify that it was recorded correctly and repeat the process.

          Phooey. For any such system you can devise, it would be possible to implement a "mock-up" system that appeared to use your clever safe, secure, and trustworthy system but in fact did not (to see this just consider the fact that any software solution could itself be simulated in software). This simulation could be pr

        • VoteBox (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MarkusQ (450076)

          Check out VoteBox:

          http://www.usenix.org/events/sec08/tech/full_papers/sandler/sandler_html/index.html

          The system you linked to has numerous obvious flaws for internet voting, even after skipping over the fact that it isn't intended for use in an unsupervised environment. For example, a compromised machine could simply delay transmission of a ballot it wished to tamper with until after the user had decided to challenge or cast it. Likewise, the central tabulator could still produce bogus results. And the

          • by Strilanc (1077197)

            I actually do agree that voting from home is a stupid idea. A PC is not a secure environment, with the obvious threat being botnets.

            (Reply to other post):
            You don't perform the verification with the same machine. That would be a pointless waste of time. Part of the definition of casting a ballot is publishing it (presumably accessible on the internet, obviously encrypted). You then use your PDA or whatever to check that the ballot has in fact been cast, THEN either verify or commit to it.

            So an attacker can n

      • But security isn't the question. The problem is that with secure and anonymous electronic voting there is no outside way to verify that the results reported have anything to do with the votes cast.

        Have a look at this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/End-to-end_auditable_voting_systems [wikipedia.org]

        What you might be saying (and what I'll claim) isn't that there is no secure way of implementing the currently implemented protocol. It's that it's the wrong protocol, since it's basically "1. Tell the vote-counter what your vote is; 2. trust the vote-counter to report the correct final tally."

        There are ways to remove the trust requirement.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by MarkusQ (450076)

          What you might be saying (and what I'll claim) isn't that there is no secure way of implementing the currently implemented protocol. It's that it's the wrong protocol, since it's basically "1. Tell the vote-counter what your vote is; 2. trust the vote-counter to report the correct final tally."

          Agreed. Specifically, the anonymity "requirement" means that you're left with nothing but trust, because ultimately you'll want to address problems of the form "These N people voted for X yet X only got N-1 votes" a

    • As others have already pointed out, it becomes impossible to verify that our elections officials are acting honestly. Some do; some don't; most have an unfounded trust in their employees/volunteers (to not assist in fraud). This is the big problem.

      There are myriad other problems too. What happens if the polls are closed early by to a DDoS attack? How can you guarantee the server won't be hacked? (It happens to banks sometimes.) What about the machines people are voting from? If they're voting from hom

      • Yeah, this is what I was thinking. People who are determined to cheat the system are going to do it no matter what that system is.
    • by billcopc (196330)

      The fundamental problem with voting is the requirement of anonymity. That blows away any hope of accountability. Your bank knows who you are, every time you swipe your card or key in your account number. The voting system does not.

      Either we do away with voter anonymity, or we quit bitching and get used to our current unfixable system. There is no middle-ground, because you either apply absolute trust, or no trust at all.

      Frankly, I think we should stop voting for a while, and let things be decided by coi

    • The caveat is that you would have to trust a machine that you cannot trust: The voter's computer.

      You would have to send the voter a sealed machine that he MUST NOT BE ABLE to manipulate in ANY way. Not because he could manipulate it, but because it could be manipulated by someone else without the voter's ... but even that wouldn't make it secure... allow me to start at the beginning.

      Internet voting suffers from the same problem that internet banking suffers: The (lack of) security on the side of the user. T

  • by LucidBeast (601749) on Saturday June 06, 2009 @03:48PM (#28235709)
    If I ever start a dictatorship, first thing I do, is get everybody voting electronically.
    • by commodoresloat (172735) * on Saturday June 06, 2009 @03:59PM (#28235811)

      Second thing - hookers and blackjack in the white house. On second thought, forget the dictatorship.

    • by e2d2 (115622)

      It's all about the candidates. If all of the options are all you then who cares if they use e-voting? It really doesn't matter. All the choices are for your team(s).

      That's how I see this debate over e-voting. Until the two party system behind it is fixed it's really not going to matter. Paper ballots can be rigged easily, there is hardly any security. Oh you got a phone bill and a state ID? well that seems legit, step into the ballot booth Mr. Popadopolis.

      • by gd2shoe (747932)

        paper vote fraud (usually) - O(n)

        electronic vote fraud - O(1)

        I agree that the two-party false-dichotomy is a bigger problem, but we can't deal with that in a vacuum. Electronic fraud is much easier to perpetrate (particularly when mixed with corruption). Paper fraud without corruption: much harder to do. (It does happen, and needs to be addressed, but it's not nearly as big a worry.)

    • by Daimanta (1140543)

      "If I ever start a dictatorship, first thing I do, is get everybody voting electronically."

      If I ever start a dictatorship, the first thing I do, is abolish voting alltogether and start a massive propaganda campaign. But that's just me.

      • But... but people like the idea that they have a choice. Even if it's just Pepsi or Coke, McDonalds or KFC, Reps or Dems, chair or injection. You have a CHOICE!

        Sure, either is crappy and you ponder why choosing anyway, but nobody can complain they couldn't choose.

        And if they still do, call them crybabies and professional malcontents.

  • Internet Voting (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 06, 2009 @03:57PM (#28235789)

    There is a negative correlation between a knowledge of computer security and the desire to introduce Internet voting. The more you have of the first the less you want the second. If crackers can get into the Pentagon computers and when we find the plans of Marine Helicopter One in a Tehran coffee shop, then we should realize that getting into a domestic voting system to alter the results is trivial.
    The voting machines are about the same security level as WEP.

    • by gd2shoe (747932)
      You had a really good point about the negative correlation, but you lost it. Hacking the pentagon is not trivial. It's telling that it is possible. Regular voting machines are more secure than WEP, but that's not saying much. (Home PCs used for Internet voting would have less security than WEP on average, but that's another topic.)
    • Slash tends to be inhabited by techies who 'get it' but I'm thinking the same thing....

      4chan
      4chan
      4chan
      4chan
      4chan ...

      Can't wait until the first letters of the winners spell MUDKIPS!!

    • That correlation is there, but personally I'd be wary of internet voting because of my experience with internet banking and how (easily) it is manipulated.

      The point is, if you have only one channel to communicate with your communication partner, and this channel is not under your or your partner's control, neither you nor him can verify whether the data you sent is actually from you or whether it was manipulated on the way.

      And example:

      About 2 years ago, I had a fairly interesting piece of malware on my tabl

      • by darthflo (1095225)

        There's a solution to the problem you described, called mTAN (Mobile Transaction Authorization Number):

        You register your mobile number with your bank. Whenver you're making a transaction, the bank texts you the confirmation key plus the target account number and/or amount you're transferring. If everything seems kosher, you type in the confirmation key (only valid for this specific transaction) and are good to go.

        There's three main attack vectors:

        • Attacker changes stored cell # to his; extends your MITM sch
        • That's basically the solution to this problem (safe that Nokia 1100 hack, do you know, does it work or was it a hoax? I couldn't find any info from any source but the first report), and that's what banks here do: Create a second verification channel.

          But I wouldn't want to see this applied to a voting process, simply because it would be kinda hard to really anonymize it. After all you'd have to send a text message pretty much saying "you voted for $bob". You can't just send a confirmation number because it w

          • by darthflo (1095225)

            The Nokia hack seems pretty legit from what I've heard. It's not quite the kind of deal that would be repeatedly mentioned in your average newspaper, so that might explain the lack of follow-up coverage.

            Considering the requirement of secrecy in voting, it's almost impossible to build a secure yet useable online solution for it. A member of the mob (or spouse) could always be standing behind you to make sure you're doing it right. What might work could be a platform you can define (and change) your vote at a

            • the problem I have with it is that nobody in the trade is talking about it. Either it's been hushed up quickly by the financial muscles or it's something nobody wants to touch to avoid looking like a fool if (or when) it turns out to be a hoax.

  • Starting one day after computers are granted the right to vote.

    Until then let's have people do it. If it's not important enough of an issue for some people to take the time to even count the votes, it's not important enough to put to a vote.

  • Scary? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    So far, 32% responding actually think that internet voting is worth it, risks and all. It is scary how easily people can be persuaded to trust a system that is so vulnerable."

    So you're saying that an internet poll (something that's guaranteed to have a bias towards everything internet) has a strong majority of people agreeing that internet voting is not worth it, and the conclusion you reach is that "[it's] scary how easily people can be persuaded to trust a system that is so vulnerable?" The numbers seem to suggest that it actually isn't all that easy to persuade people to trust such a system.

    • I'm about pro-internet as anyone may be. Freedom in the internet and all that.

      I'm about as anti-evoting as anyone may be as well. It's too important to rely on machines for that.

      Could be that my background in IT security plays a role. But I think anyone who ponders for a moment could see why it's a good idea to use a medium for voting that anyone with seeing eyes and a halfway decent IQ can verify and test for manipulation.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radical_transparency [wikipedia.org]

    With things like 'registered republican' or 'registered democrat' in place, I see no problem with this.. Majority of people that do vote also do not cover their political views anyway, so do we really need anonymous voting ? E-voting or not, this is the only way for voting to be accountable and truly verifiable.
    • by HornWumpus (783565) on Saturday June 06, 2009 @04:19PM (#28236013)

      You better have voted correctly or you're going to get your legs broken.

      Yes we need a secret ballot.

      If you are fool enough to trust unions substitute employer, same answer.

    • I don't know where you are from, but allow me a little story from my country.

      In my country, certain parties have certain influence. For example, if you want to work on the railroads, you better be a party member of the socialists. Why? Because. OF COURSE it is no requirement to be one to get a job there, but strangely, socialists are usually far, far more qualified for the jobs... odd, and of course a coincicence...

      For large industrial companies, at least if you want a job that doesn't break your back for 1

      • by moon3 (1530265)
        To not vote is an option too. Also the disclosure might be limited to certain level. Or the voters can have assigned IDs and not names directly, but everyone should be able to verify his vote, and see it counted at least at some local level. I am assuming e-voting of course.

        secret ballot = unaccountable game

        We never know whether the count is right, because the people who count the votes, the people who pass the information or the people who disclose the information could easily 'make mistake'.
        • It's easy to safeguard a ballot against manipulation. Just offer anyone, any person and any party, to serve as election observers. Seal ballots so they can't be tampered with, and only allow the seals to be cut when every observer is present. That way you can easily prevent stuffing or "losing" ballots.

          The only way to manipulate is then having everyone involved in the boat. But, seriously, if you believe that ALL parties cooperate in the manipulation, everything is lost already anyway.

          "Public" voting is far

          • by moon3 (1530265)
            You have very valid points sir, thanks.

            The problem seam to be how to retain the "secret ballot" in the e-voting while bring in means to verify such an election. Two seemingly conflicting options.
            • How do you wash a dog without getting it wet? The answer is: Not at all.

              You have to solve three problems before internet voting becomes an option:

              1. Keep the vote secret.
              2. Ensure the vote is cast the way the voter intended.
              3. Make it auditable for observers to ensure every vote is counted correctly (stress on "every" and "correctly").

              Until then, evoting is not an option. Period.

          • by Tony Hoyle (11698)

            This is how it's done in a lot of countries. Here, as a voter I have a right to request to be present in the counting room when the votes are counted (by other randomly selected voters). Few people do it.. but the right is there.

            Because all parties are represented, even if someone tried to get away with something in front of a 'friendly' observer, there's more than likely an 'unfriendly' one standing a couple of feet from him. Any allegation of impropriety and they'll start the whole count from scratch a

            • It goes beyond that.

              We (and I'm sure pretty much every country by now) have a populist party that gains its votes by being generally an obnoxious loudmouth claiming everyone's just corrupt. Until now, they refrained from crying foul on elections. Simply because they know they couldn't pull it off without looking like the obnoxious loudmouths without any pants they are.

              "You think the election was rigged? You had observers there, right? So you know the ballots weren't fixed. If you didn't, why the heck didn't

  • by Kurt Granroth (9052) on Saturday June 06, 2009 @04:16PM (#28235981)

    Whereas "true" Internet voting is a phenomenally bad idea (when implemented in a way that's acceptable to the majority of voters), the Arizona system isn't really Internet voting. It's more "absentee ballots" that use the Internet as the delivery mechanism rather than the normal postal system.

    Mail-in ballots are extremely common in Arizona ever since they changed the "absentee balloting" system into a more generic "everybody can use it" system. For instance, I have a ballot automatically mailed to be before every election, no matter how big or small, without me having to do anything but sign up a couple years ago. It's very slick.

    The ballot is a normal paper one exactly like those found in the polling place. I fill it out by completing arrows pointing to my choice (easy and not even remotely ambiguous) then put it in a specially coded envelope that I sign and mail in. On the other end, a poll worker opens the envelope, marks that I voted (to prevent multiple votes), saves off my signature, and puts the ballot through the normal recording devices to record my vote. The voter lists in my local polling place have me marked as "mail in" so if I were to drop by on election day, they would accept my ballot but it would only be counted after all other ballots are counted and they can verify that I hadn't already voted.

    It's extremely convenient and has made the difference between voting only in the major elections to voting in all of them (and learning a lot more about local candidates in the process). The drawback is that I have to trust that my vote isn't tied with my name. See, when you are at a polling station, then they record that you voted, but your actual ballot isn't in any way tied to you. With the mail-in process, it's possible that that is still the case (maybe the person/system opening the envelopes isn't the one recording the votes)... but you can't know for sure. For all I know, they may have a database mapping people with who they vote for. Honestly, that doesn't bother me at this point. I am pretty vocal about who I vote for and have even publicly posting my voting lists for the world to see before. I guess I would stop the mail-in only if I had reason to believe that my vote wasn't being counted.

    Anyway, that's the mail-in system. The "Internet voting" system is effectively that but for people overseas. That option was never available for me since I'm local. The only difference is that instead of putting their ballot into an envelope and signing that, they instead scan it in and upload it to a server. Everything else is identical.

    The article does make a few good points on some ways that that system could be subverted. Yeah, there are definitely a few more attack points... but they seem a little far fetched at this point. The level of effort required to implement any of the attack vectors would only be worth it if done at a bigger scale. That is, if this started being available to ALL AZ residents, then it starts to matter. For now... meh.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 06, 2009 @04:42PM (#28236223)

      The flaw of mail-in voting is it's not secret. Your spouse, priest, employer -- name-power-trip-here -- can make sure you are voting "right". Only the booth secures that it is your own private decision.

      • Seriously, you think this is a real problem? Get real.

        For one, mail in voting is totally, 100% optional. You do it if you want, if not you go to the polling place. Hell you can even change your mind and go to the polling place instead of mail in.

        As for coersion, ya because that's such a problem in your own home. I suppose your spouse could, in theory, coerce your voting however I'd argue that you shouldn't marry someone like that, and if you are willing to let yourself be pushed around like that, you'll pro

        • by Tony Hoyle (11698)

          The other problem is it's recordable. The same mechanism was tried here. Two problems:

          1. Fraud - vote buying (several people were jailed), coercion (coercion by spouses is a *huge* problem.. you know why they do surveys during the day rather than the evening? Because you get a significantly different result when the husband is out at work than when he's home).
          2. Your vote is now linked to your name/address. The two pieces of paper have common data (postal votes have serial numbers, which appear on both

  • The last few Federal elections in the USA have revealed significant voting machine flaws (both mechanical and electronic) anyway. Actually, I'm bewildered that the gov't doesn't hire professional designers to clearly lay out printed and electronic ballots. The ones I've seen look like they were designed by the sort of person who self-publishes a conspiracy theory newsletter.
  • The bad thing is work can force you to vote there way my makeing you vote at work while they see the why that you are voting.

    • by j-stroy (640921)
      Marble Cake Also The Game
  • If the US had "proper" laws controlling the press, this might not be a problem. If TV News had a shred of ethics, this might not be a problem. Neither is the case, so we are faced with a very difficult situation.

    The TV News is going to announce a winner before everyone goes to bed. In the case of national elections, this pretty much means midnight Eastern time. They have to do this or they lose relevence and people won't bother watching their election coverage. This then directly affects ratings and th

    • by Tony Hoyle (11698)

      The american system of the TV companies announcing the winner has always bothered me - we stay up until 4-5am watching the results.. and nothing is decided until it's decided (ie. there's no result until there's no way one of the parties can lose, even if every remaining vote goes against them). The TV companies compete for viewers by offering better analysis and (sadly) snazzier graphics (some of the ones we get now are vomit inducing).

      The very next day, the incumbent is out on his ear and the new one is

  • by CrosseyedPainless (27978) on Saturday June 06, 2009 @05:04PM (#28236415) Homepage

    Any change, technological or otherwise, that reduces the influence of the idiots in this state can only be a good thing. Sweet merciful Christ, just look at our senators, our representatives... Napolitano is the first governor in decades that didn't end her term in disgrace or prison, and she gets promoted out-of-state. McCain is our sane senator.

    • by Titoxd (1116095)
      Unfortunately, you're right... all you have to mention is gays, abortions and illegals in this state and you get people to vote for extreme far-right candidates... :(
  • Poulsen's avenue of attack is discussed as if it were an intractable problem of Internet voting. Really, Arizona could defeat this attack with a simple addition to the process: require an additional mailed copy of the ballot. Compare the physical copy with the electronic copy. If anyone's differs significantly, you know there's someone trying to rig the election. As an added bonus, you have a trail for the FBI to follow in determining who's going to spend some quality time in a small room.

  • Well, when moot is elected president in 2012 or something, I guess we'll know if it's safe or not.

    • You say that like it's a bad thing.

      I mean, be honest, wouldn't it be fun? It's not like it matters, anyway.

  • I've been answering this question since I did my master's work on the subject 10 years ago. I commented in particular on an Arizona e-primary trial at one point.

    As low-tech as it seems, there really are some useful properties of paper-based systems that seem hard to achieve when the physical tokens are removed.

    Here are some recent and not-so-recent posts:

    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=6507&cid=940549 [slashdot.org] Re:Hrmph. Voting unsafe? July 12th, 2000
    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=27682&cid=29752 [slashdot.org]

  • I live in California, and we have electronic voting provided by Diebold. I can tell you that it works perfectly here!

    Everyone votes, and a Republican or Democrat wins every time. I'm pretty sure that means democracy.

  • A hundred comments and no-one seems to have mentioned the problem we're seeing in the UK with postal votes: `heads of family' or even `community leaders' using it as an excuse for block voting. Postal voting was made available on demand, rather than requiring a reason, in the UK a few years ago, with the best of intentions. What's happened now is that oppressive fathers, oppressive husbands and in some cases soi-disant `community leaders' are able to force people to apply for a postal vote (or simply ap
  • after voting in this, and vote multiple times.

    Because dumb questions deserve it.

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