Tuesday, October 07, 2008

more thoughts on electronic voting

I'm trying to gather my rather rambling thoughts on this topic.
This is what I just said in an email to a newspaper interviewer:

Ultimately it comes down to a choice between a very simple system in the physical world where we use a combination of privacy, being in public, and the competing interests of strangers (the scrutineers and election workers) to provide results based on physical evidence that everyone can agree upon,

or an incredibly complex system involving your computer, many computer networks, and computer servers, all running software created by strangers, with all the possibilities this raises for either malicious attacks on the election, or normal computer errors, a situation where there simply is no evidence to rely upon other than what the computer says, and the computer can lie.

In other words, electronic voting is no different than telling a stranger how you want to vote ("I want to vote for the blue party"), and then having to trust that they actually voted the way you asked, despite the fact you know that they can lie.

Can you imagine if we had used Internet voting for the last Quebec referendum? We would still be arguing about the results.

In short, although I love technology, I know the difference between appropriate technology and unnecessary technology.

Paper and pen is the appropriate technology for voting.

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