Thanks as always to The Other McCain, Whores and Ale, Pirate’s Cove and Bacon Time for the Rule Five links! Thanks also to our blogger pals at The Daley Gator for the link.
This seems like a good idea for voting reform, at least on the surface. I’ve written a few words here and there on the ideas of a modern, electronic voting system, and this looks like the kind of thing I was thinking of. Maybe. Here’s the description:
Your elections officials create millions of digital ballot records in several separate files before the election. They use a software tool provided by Redo Voting and the source code for this tool is publicly available for ANYONE to review. Our software security is based on peer review. If software is kept secret, it’s not secure. We don’t want you to trust us or anybody to create perfect software. We want you to trust the world’s experts to assure you that what we are doing is as secure as it is transparent.
Next, our ballots are printed on the very same secure printers used to create lottery tickets. The same ones used by state lotteries. Fun fact: these secure machines cost $50 MILLION!
The printer then prints a series of unique codes from the file under special scratch materials. These unique codes are revealed by YOU when you pick up a ballot and scratch it. YOU are the first person to ever see them.
The other files are encrypted by election officials and kept secure until after the election. The files are secured using the same cryptography used by the government to secure its most classified secrets. Ever heard of “crypto?” It’s just a short version of the word “cryptography.” We have built our infrastructure in the same way that many understand as Blockchain, or “crypto.”
You, the voter, pick up a secure ballot at your civic buildings OR at any participating retailer. When you pick up the secure ballot, the clerk scratches and scans one of the hidden codes and conducts the same digital ID check required to purchase cigarettes or alcohol. This allows us to track that Secure Ballot from the printer to the warehouses, to the store, to YOU, and to only you. You will be personally connected to your ballot and the chain of custody remains tied to you forever more, but no one can ever associate your personal identity with your ballot. You can verify that your vote counted and was correctly submitted at anytime in the future.
When the polls close, your election officials will decrypt the files created when the election started. Here’s the fun part: they can make the secrets PUBLIC now. In fact, every activation and every ballot cast can be made public DURING the election. THAT’S transparency and accountability.
On the surface this seems like a pretty good system – secure, simple, easy and accountable. And being able to know, instantly, who won – added bonus. No recounts, no fudging, no late night shenanigans, no sudden discoveries of boxes of ballots in the trunks of cars days after the election is over (and, let’s say this quietly, after one party has determined how many votes need to be manufactured to put their guy over the top.)
But here’s my concern: Anything that can exist, can be manipulated, one way or another. Could this system really be hack-proof? Color me skeptical, but I admit I’m not all that knowledgeable about this kind of tech.
Any of you True Believers who know more about IT systems than I do, see any holes in this? It appears to make a great deal of sense, at least on the surface – which is why I suspect pols of all stripes will be dead-set against it. In fact that should serve as a caution, if pols start saying this is a good idea, that’s when it’s time to get really suspicious.