Tuesday, November 07, 2006

comparing voting methods

DailyKos has a story Vote by mail is the answer.

Here's my opinion.

* Internet voting - so many things wrong with this I can't even begin.
* Electronic touchscreen - the absolute worst in-person voting. You have no idea what was recorded for your vote, and neither does anyone else.
* Scanned paper ballot - this is the least-worst electronic option, only because in the event of complaint, the paper could be counted. It still suffers from the other electronic flaws - malicious or accidental error could alter the vote counts. Also if the ballots are stacked one-by-one as they're scanned, you could in theory figure out who voted for whom.

* Vote by mail and Internet voting actually share common flaws:
1) No more secret ballot. Anyone can watch you vote. If they like, they can threaten you until you vote how they want.
2) Weak authentication. Someone got a voting code or ballot and voted. Maybe it was you. Maybe it wasn't.
3) Less connection with the vote gathering, chain-of-custody and counting process. Your votes go somewhere, and are counted by someone. Are they organized? Supervised? You don't get to see, unless you specifically make the effort, and probably you don't get to watch the chain-of-custody, only the final count. Any time chain-of-custody is interrupted, there is potential for fraud - in fact, that's how they tried to steal the paper-ballot, hand-counted Presidential election on Battlestar Galactica.

* Vote using paper secret ballot in public, with hand-count afterwards.
The public secret ballot is actually a remarkably well-tuned voting system.
I can't think of any that is better. No one knows how you vote. Chain of custody is usually right in front of your eyes. Anyone can see the votes counted. A child can understand how the system works.

I have written lots more on this topic previously in this blog.
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