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MCP for prez! (07 Nov 2006 at 16:45)
Today I voted for Master Control Program in the election show.

I do not support currently available electronic voting machines. There are lots of places to read about how screwed up and pathetically misdesigned current electronic voting machines are. I do, however, believe in electronic voting in principle. Electronic voting improves the accessibility of democracy; some day I hope we will be able to vote from our home computers or cell phones. It can improve the accuracy of vote counting, for computers are much better at counting than people. More importantly, it can reduce voter fraud in both directions: With a well-designed system, it can make it much more difficult to cast fraudulent votes, and it can make it possible for voters to verify that their votes are counted.

Most of these properties depend on properly deploying cryptographic protocols, some of which may not have been developed yet. I am not an expert. Depending on what you demand of an election system, some argue that a system with all the desirable properties is impossible. Particularly at odds are the following desires: That voters be able to verify that their votes are counted, but to not give a receipt that can be verified by a third party. People argue that votes should not be third-party verifiable so that voters can not be forced to vote a certain way under duress from their employer or government. Even if these two are mutually exclusive, I personally think that first-party verifiability is more important and does not get the attention it deserves; I think it is much more likely that the government or election officials or other parties with access will tamper with the election results than I think it is that someone will be able to get away with large scale individual voter intimidation. (I am interested in your thoughts on this, however.)

Check out voter verified paper audit trail on Wikipedia for more discussion. Rivest's ThreeBallot system is quite elegant—I'd gladly switch to this even if it still meant waiting in lines at the polling place.

In general, I think that we should have a large-scale open project to develop the mathematical techniques, cryptographic protocols, and implementation of electronic voting systems. (Similar perhaps to what NIST did for AES.) I believe such a project is well within the grasp of our technology and that there are more than enough willing and able scientists to work on it.
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Anonymous (c-71-235-60-138.hsd1.ct.comcast.net) – 11.07.06 23:01:49
maybe science can save us, after all...
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mike (robot.me.cmu.edu) – 11.08.06 15:07:21
Random voting
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Kirima (97.124.76.83.cust.bluewin.ch) – 11.08.06 20:33:15
I think the best way to think is the best way to be.

And the best way to be is the best way to think.

It's not at all a random voting, things will work out, you'll see. Mr. President has lost his random feeling.
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Nels (c-24-131-70-223.hsd1.pa.comcast.net) – 11.12.06 02:02:48
The stuff about voter intimidation is quite interesting. As you may know, CMU's own Michael Shamos is the guy who certifies voting machines for the state of PA. Spring semester he gave a talk about voting machines with paper trails, and mentioned exactly this. This gist of the talk was that none of the electionic voting machines currently on the market (that created paper trails) were constitutional wrt the PA state constitution.

At this point in time, these concerns seem like somewhat of an anachronism, but perhaps that is only because of the laws we currently have in place...
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Anonymous (ip68-100-130-21.dc.dc.cox.net) – 11.18.06 23:22:27
Voting is for fuckheads. Just decide the winner of every election using rand(). Make sure its statistical properties are terrible.
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jdonson@urbanspectra.com (pool-71-247-124-243.nycmny.east.verizon.net) – 12.05.06 08:01:38
Hi Tom.

Cool fonts and blog.
Love the voting issue you are laying out.

I like the electronic voting thing in theory, but in practice it seems to have architectural issues that both I and the public at large need to understand better.

Would you offer any criteria for valid voting technology?

Perhaps I should phrase this in terms of
voting technology validation schemes... ?

How can we be sure all votes are counted and
how can we be sure all counted votes are valid?

With presidential elections coming, this is a very large and complex issue for the public to understand, let alone speak to.

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Tom 7 (gs82.sp.cs.cmu.edu) – 12.06.06 11:03:25
That's what the post was about; being able to verify after the fact that a vote was counted. If you want to see an example of how it might work in practice, check out the ThreeBallot paper that I linked to.
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Kirima (12-82.2-85.cust.bluewin.ch) – 12.08.06 21:16:44
One vote one man one blog once a month?
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Sophia (c-24-218-59-245.hsd1.ma.comcast.net) – 12.09.06 15:48:15
Hey I think there's a bug with your radar causing the 2nd-to-most-recent posting to show the same latest-comments-time as the most recent posting (which currently is "18 hours ago" for both, despite the fact that the 2nd one hasn't had a comment in 12 days). Ummm, that wasn't super clearly stated, but hopefully you followed it...
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Tom 7 (h-68-166-207-10.phlapafg.dynamic.covad.net) – 12.10.06 11:39:00
Actually, I think it's just that I have been getting radar spam (usually on several entries all at the same time) and so the last updated time looks low, but I've deleted the entries so you don't see 'em...
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Kirima (30.182.76.83.cust.bluewin.ch) – 12.10.06 20:21:15
one message
one blog

per month?

Tom, how are you?
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Tom 7 (h-68-166-207-10.phlapafg.dynamic.covad.net) – 12.11.06 00:03:08
I know, I'm slow... end of the semester business!
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