Gene Spafford on Internet Voting

Good interview.

Posted on June 8, 2020 at 1:33 PM • 8 Comments

Comments

CuriousJune 9, 2020 3:33 AM

Slightly off topic perhaps:
I wonder, wouldn't it be normal for all people to distrust even the system, even with paper ballots? So, I would think that security issues, even if important, or critical even, ultimately isn't the most interesting aspect of voting, because I think one would want ones vote to be processed under one regime that can be checked for errors, or be re-checked to prove something was counted correct the first time around. Then ofc, I guess there would be gerrymandering issues, voter disenfranchisement and the like but that would be another type of problems again.

Point being with my comment, I suspect it would be wrong to use merely security as a 'goal' for achieving a good solution for voting, or, at least electronic voting or whatever. Hm, because then the theoretical idea of 'good security' will be there, but the practical implementation issues might be overlooked. As if, maybe having 'internet voting' somehow ends up being an idea made more important than voting in general, for having a system that people can trust to be something that is not unknowable because of things not working, things being random (random methods?), or being too obscure, or even couldn't possibly be verified securely.

myliitJune 9, 2020 5:20 AM

What’s wrong, or right, with mail in voting?

In the age of:

Defunding the post office

Age of pandemic

Age of our President

Questioning/Distrusting an election’s outcome,

Etc., or misc.?

myliitJune 9, 2020 6:24 AM

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/may/27/honest-elections-project-conservative-voting-restrictions

“The fight to vote US elections 2020

Revealed: conservative group fighting to restrict voting tied to powerful dark money network

Honest Elections Project, part of network that pushed supreme court pick Brett Kavanaugh, is now focusing on voting restrictions

7 May 2020 07.00 EDT Last modified

Backed by a dark money group funded by rightwing stalwarts, the Honest Elections Project is quickly becoming a juggernaut in the escalating fight over voting rights
.
A powerful new conservative organization fighting to restrict voting in the 2020 presidential election is really just a rebranded group that is part of a dark money network already helping Donald Trump’s unprecedented effort to remake the US federal judiciary, the Guardian and OpenSecrets reveal.

The organization, which calls itself the Honest Elections Project, seemed to emerge out of nowhere a few months ago and started stoking fears about voter fraud. Backed by a dark money group funded by rightwing stalwarts like the Koch brothers and Betsy DeVos’ family, the Honest Elections Project is part of the network that pushed the US supreme court picks Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, and is quickly becoming a juggernaut in the escalating fight over voting rights.

The project announced it was spending $250,000 in advertisements in April, warning against voting by mail and accusing Democrats of cheating. It facilitated letters to election officials in Colorado, Florida and Michigan, using misleading data to accuse jurisdictions of having bloated voter rolls and threatening legal action.

Calling voter suppression a “myth”, it has also been extremely active in the courts, filing briefs in favor of voting restrictions in Nevada, Virginia, Texas, Wisconsin and Minnesota, among other places, at times represented by lawyers from the same firm that represents Trump. By having a hand in both voting litigation and the judges on the federal bench, this network could create a system where conservative donors have an avenue to both oppose voting rights and appoint judges to back that effort.

Despite appearing to be a free-standing new operation, the Honest Elections Project is just a legal alias for the Judicial Education Project, a well-financed nonprofit connected to a powerful network of dark money conservative groups, according to business records reviewed by the Guardian and OpenSecrets. ...”

myliitJune 9, 2020 6:33 AM

ps. From the OP:

“... Q: Do you currently see a role for the Internet in voting at all? Do you support the idea of ballots being sent over the Net, for instance?

A: What you just mentioned is one of the really valid uses of the Internet. Some in our military and diplomats and workers overseas have used this method, and it works.

There are other important roles for the Internet. For instance, registering to vote, checking whether you're registered to vote, checking where you are allowed to vote, being able to look at candidate statements, or looking at ballot measures to understand what they're about. At polling places, the Internet is often used to provide electronic poll books that show who is allowed to vote. There are a number of things where it does not present a risk.”

Peter A.June 9, 2020 6:38 AM

It is really hard to do anonymous voting together with authorized voting and one vote per voter rule - online. In the real world it strongly depends on physical presence of the voters in pre-arranged places, physical voting cards that cannot be duplicated easily while in that places, physical barriers protecting voters from discerning what their vote is, multi-party physical oversight of the process, etc. These are not perfect, but good enough. In computer world, voter can be anywhere using any device or platfor (including various levels of emulation) which is hard to control with regard to what processes are going on it (and blazingly fast), bits are easily copied contrary to paper ballots requiring complicated measures to protect integrity and secrecy, spying is relatively easy and hard to detect, oversight is difficult and mostly one-sided etc.

Some clever people from crypto/math/statistics domains keep inventing various schemes for online voting but all are rather complex for an average person to execute/understand/verify/trust.

Some processes that are part of voting may be more robust electronically if implemented well (authentication), but some are more fragile and complex, so putting it all together is a daunting task.

Maybe just get rid of anonimity and stand behind your vote? It'll be much easier to authenticate, authorize, count, verify etc. -- heh, not going to happen, maybe in China.

Actually typical modern democratic system is based on many assumptions that are not entirely true... but it is a philosophical issue.

MikeAJune 9, 2020 2:20 PM

@Ha ha

The apparent correlation may in fact be driven by the two (or more) sides playing to their own strengths.

Vastly oversimplifying, attacks that require Labor ("ground troops") favor Democrats, while attacks that require Capital (small numbers of well-paid insiders) favor Republicans. Similarly, attacks on labor-driven voting (e.g. forbidding mail-in ballots and shutting down most polling stations) favor Republicans, while attacks on capital-driven voting (e.g. calling out mysterious side-trips by raw data from DRE voting machines) favor Democrats.

Of course there are more than two clusters of political adversaries, so, for example, technical types (who often lean libertarian, in name if not always practice) are skeptical of over-centralized rule on principle. Younger voters trust tech perhaps too much, but also like to flex their political muscles and often lean left.

A lot goes into a given person's biases. Even mine.

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