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Debate: Electronic voting

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Revision as of 05:56, 26 February 2011 (edit)
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[[Category:Voting]] [[Category:Voting]]
[[Category:Technology]] [[Category:Technology]]
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Is electronic voting a good idea?

Background and context

Electronic voting has become prominent in many countries around the world. The benefits include a significantly reduced use of paper, and greater environmental-friendliness as well as the ability to electronically organize, count, and re-count ballots. But, with many errors occurring with electronic voting machines, many question whether the benefits are worth it.

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Debate:

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Pro

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Con

Electronic voting can include several forms, such as digital registration equipment (DRE) used in person, marked ballots that are handed in or mailed in for optical scanning and digital processing, emailed or web-based ballots processed by Internet or closed network servers, encrypted or otherwise secured against fraud, etc. What all these systems have in common in present day implementations in the US is that they are produced, both hardware and coded software, by private commercial firms under conventional protections, i.e. patented hardware and licensed software that is proprietary. This introduces an element of secrecy that is incompatible with a voting system that must be scrupulously examined, verified, evaluated as to reliability and immunity to a wide range of vulnerabilities, including fraud, coding errors, and external or internal code-cracking attacks.

NO commercial system so far produced for use in elections has come near such necessary trustworthiness -- in fact all seem to have been designed to be particularly vulnerable, whether intentionally or not, and especially in that all depend on Microsoft operating systems with many thousands of reliably estimated security flaws which will never be corrected within the lifetime of the operating systems.

It seems conceivable that an electronic voting system could be developed under sufficiently regulated and supervised conditions that trustworthy elections would be within feasible reality. Australia is reported to be developing open-source code and hardware that is scrutinized by an array of competent and neutral authorities to minimize vulnerabilities to a high degree. Since such protocols could certainly not be possible under the commercial proprietary conditions presently conventional in the US, electronic voting is a bad idea.


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