Winter July 1, 2022 11:05 AM


It doesn’t matter who votes, only who counts the votes.

In a democracy, all parties participate in the counting, and the counting is visible and transparent.

The problems in the USA are not from the counting process itself, but from parties that do not want everyone to vote and do not want all votes counted.

tim July 1, 2022 1:04 PM

It doesn’t matter who votes, only who counts the votes.

Fan of Stalin, eh? That explains a lot.

Clive Robinson July 1, 2022 1:19 PM

@ ALL,

Those part 1, questions,

“Why did you adopt an e-voting system just on the say-so of the system vendor?

Where is your independent scientific study by world-class experts?

Where is your million-dollar budget item to assess the system before imposing its insecurities on the public, on the candidates, upon democracy itself?”

I think it would be to easy to say,

“They wanted to do it on the cheap”

But although that is part of it, there are the

“The fetish for speed”

And the somewhat dumb assumption,

“Technology gives the best”

But we also need to consider a very real but unspoken truth in many places these days,

“Voting is inconvenient”

That is many citizens do not want to vote, they think,

“What is the point?”

Or similar, but worse far worse is the attitude we see in quite a few “two party system” states and federations, where in effect the voting citizens are considered irrelevant by those who appear to be in power and more importantly those who pay for them.

Capitalism is about consumerism, and those that pay for politicians expext not just to get what they pay for but for it to work the way they want, not how others want.

Thus the view by the money men that the voting citizen is not just an impediment to their aims, but the voting citizen has no right to interfere in “their free market” as they are somehow “not entitled”.

That is psychopathic patetnalism at best through to a level of darkness few can imagine let alone understand even from studying history.

Let your thoughts follow the behaviours of Joe Stallin, or Pol Pot, and those who were worse from earlier history. Now add in the benifit of “absolute control” via not just low-cost but no-cost to the “self entitled” of panoptican surveillance systems that see not just your every physical action, but predicts what your thoughts will be and have you do.

That is what the “self entitled” think they should have and you should not.

Why would they want a voting system that does not give them that?

Ted July 1, 2022 1:32 PM

Sorry, I know this is about the Swiss online voting system, but I’m really drawn by the second article in this 5-part series.

You’ve got to love when people jump into projects with optimism, but even the things that went sideways for New South Wales’ e-voting system in 2021 weren’t deeply obscured issues. Just the system downtime was enough to disenfranchise voters.

The culminating problems were remarkable enough that the Supreme Court of New South Wales voided the results in three local councils. So relieved to hear that iVote is being shelved for now.

The costs of doing good and ongoing e-voting studies, plus any costs associated with litigating the results, would have me walking back to less vulnerable voting systems.

EvilKiru July 1, 2022 1:48 PM

@tim: Stating a truism doesn’t imply that the writer is a fan of whoever the truism is ascribed to.

In this case it means that it’s not enough to secure the voting. The vote counting must also be secure.

lurker July 1, 2022 1:51 PM

If the Swiss Post e-voting system might possibly be secure, it’s only because of the out-of-band communication channel that is completely out of reach of the voter’s computer. That is: a sheet of paper sent through the mail, to the voter.

My reference to the NZ Census was HFM. See media reports for details of 2018 NZ census. Wikipedia is sanitised. The verification number is also on paper. Method of delivery is important. Theft, loss, or falsification of Census returns might not seem as serious as for an election.

Swiss Post being the vendor for the Voting Software might give them more of an incentive to ensure that the papers are properly delivered.

Winter July 1, 2022 2:04 PM


“They wanted to do it on the cheap”
“The fetish for speed”

Wrong. The Swiss have to cast their votes around 4 times a year. Efficiency is imperative if you want to make this possible


The vote counting must also be secure

In general, all parties observe and participate in the counting. Real democracies make an effort to get as many people to vote as possible and keep the counting transparant.

How the Swiss count will surprise you:



Clive Robinson July 1, 2022 4:23 PM

@ Winter,

Wrong. The Swiss have to cast their votes around 4 times a year.

Read part 1 again…

The questions were at the bottom of it and if you read it, they were to be asked of others not the Swiss…

So my comments in turn were in that same context.

David Leppik July 1, 2022 5:30 PM

@Clive: “Voting is inconvenient”

Remarkably, that is not a problem. It is a problem that inconvenience is often used to reduce voter participation. The ideal system would encourage near-universal voting and election volunteering, but not necessarily make it convenient.

Convenience makes things seem cheap, and encourages them to be done lightly. Effort increases a sense of engagement and community. If participation is too easy, it’s more likely to be taken for granted.

That’s one reason why free online classes (MMOL) aren’t as successful as for-fee identical classes. When you pay for the privilege, you are less likely to drop out. Boot camp, religious rituals (e.g. fasting or pilgrimage), and even recycling promote a sense of identity by requiring effort. I know for a fact that I don’t feel as righteous when I pay for clean energy as when I recycle plastic—even though the latter doesn’t actually do much for the environment.

Ideally, all election days should be paid holidays, with penalties for employers who make it hard to vote. There should be plenty of options for people who must work, as well as perks for volunteers that money can’t buy—such as a special line at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Election day should feel like an event. “I Voted” stickers are a good start—and they actually do increase voter participation.

Making it possible for everyone to vote, but requiring effort that feels righteous rather than inconvenient, would make people think harder about how they vote. Making it possible for anyone to volunteer would mean more people know how the process works—including how the votes are counted—and make disinformation more difficult.

Clive Robinson July 1, 2022 6:29 PM

@ David Leppik,

You cover the “citizen” side fairly well.

But as I noted there are others who see the general populous “voting” as “inconvenient” for their plans.

In the US Corporates can in effect channel money into a political candidate as though the company were an individual.

If you think about that, in a way it is like nullifying peoples votes. A politician seeks funding for various campaign expenses etc. An individual citizen just gets “one vote” and upto a few dollars of “buying power” for a policy. A Corp howrver does not get a vote, but it can have one heck of a lot of policy “buying power”.

Even though the individual citizen “votet” has little or no control on policy, the self entitled owners of Corps do however see them as an impediment. Thus to the self entitled, citizens “Voting is inconvenient” for the self entitleds plans.

A look back over this century and the “three families” viying to “Buy the GOP” and the setting up of Cambridge Analytica and it funneling money through Russia to unfairly / illegaly fund political activities and dirty tricks around the world, should tell people quite a bit…

JonKnowsNothing July 1, 2022 7:07 PM


re: “The fetish for speed”

In the USA there was an increasing issue of “news organizations” jumping the gun on reporting election outcomes. It happened more than once.

In the cases were the MSM posted their Election Predictions before the polls closed, it was claimed that the outcome didn’t matter as the margin of win was large.

That didn’t cut the mustard very much, because it was shown that people stopping going to the polls to vote once the predictions started rolling out.

There wasn’t as much access to the internet then and people here still got most of their news from Cable TV and OverTheAir Channels. Those outlets reporting on East Coast results started skewing Mid-West results. West Coast is always skewed regardless.

So add “jumping the shark” to the list.


1) We didn’t need the internet to wrongly predict winners and losers. It was a common problem in print media days, when the hard deadline to get the papers printed and distributed hit. The print journals often went with whatever the trend was on the East Coast. Some notable oopsies happened.

SpaceLifeForm July 1, 2022 8:53 PM

@ David Leppik, Clive

You are both saying the same thing. Do not argue over semantics.

Inconvenient is in the eye of the Voter and the Observer (those counting).

The voting should occur over 4 days, handmarked paper ballots only. Hand counted.

Preliminary counts should not be released.

MarkH July 1, 2022 9:00 PM

I smile each time I think of the Swiss system (as I learned from this thread) of counting ballots by weighing.

I wonder if a Swiss political campaign might encourage its partisans to eat greasy food on the way to the voting location?

SpaceLifeForm July 1, 2022 9:49 PM

Impeccable timing


JonKnowsNothing July 1, 2022 10:17 PM

@SpaceLifeForm, @All

re: Preliminary counts should not be released

The USA “Jump The Shark” problem became severe once there were other methods of guesstimating the outcomes. Networks and print media either pooled resources or had enough clout to buy their own statistics & modeling systems, and mustered enough survey takers for both pre and post voting, to make a statistical guess at the likely outcome.

It caused a big stink at the time.

The Media et al, promised to withhold the information until after the polls closed on the west coast. That promise didn’t hold water that long, but they refrained from officially stating On The Air what their statistics showed for a while.

Current Historical Events reported, that circa ~Dec37, a clean up crew was called in to collect broken crockery when one of the media outlets posted their projected election winner.

The point is:

The News media (and other groups) don’t need “official or preliminary or interim counts”, they are well able to use Statistical Programs and Modeling to get similar outputs.


Search Terms

Franchise (short story)
Isaac Asimov

… the future, the United States has converted to an “electronic democracy” where the computer Multivac selects a single person … to determine what the results of an election would be, avoiding the need for an actual election to be held.

Nick Levinson July 1, 2022 11:48 PM

Multiple observations:

The Swiss voter authentication paper voting key may be technically good as keys go (someone else can question it) but is bad except for the relatively-well-educated and better-educated voters. Others will misspell. The system could tolerate that; but by how much? The higher the tolerance, the longer the code must be, the greater the misspelling risk, the greater the tolerance needed. And very long codes discourage voting (I presume voting in Switzerland is not mandatory, as it is in Australia, where the problem might not be discouragement of voting, depending on the penalty, but sharing of the key with someone who’s helpful, which is risky).

The Australian NSW discussion points to failure to take Internet security seriously. It doesn’t say why the failure, but I’ll guess that those in charge of deciding not to take Internet security seriously don’t use the Internet much. This can lead to one of two conditions: considering a 4-digit PIN to be security a-plenty since people can keep a million dollars behind a PIN and not knowing about the irrelevance of that; or being so unsure of security no computer system is deployed, like when Russia/Soviet Union refused (once) to install a computer to launch ICBMs after all of their top leadership is dead (the top leadership is almost always older and probably less comfortable with computers and would rather use their voices and fingers and have lower-level people do likewise). In this case, refusal may not have been an option for the decision-makers, so they may have relied on the PIN irrelevance.

For some U.S. jurisdictions that create a paper receipt for a voter where the receipt shows which candidates were voted for, I assume those can be sold by voters to whomever likes certain candidates. I heard of one poll site in a mainly-one-party city where someone from that party listened to votes being cast on an old mechanical lever machine; party loyalists should vote with dull thuds all the way down the party column, so if a sharp click could be heard the listener wanted his $5 back. So, if someone solved that problem and still has a good verification system, that’s good.

The NSW threatening jail time for sharing the source code reminds me of a couple of closed-source high-end math programs: only the vendor can check the complex math. All the user knows is they put in 2 plus 2 and got back 4; they don’t know how (high-end math programs generally don’t use computer hardware like registers for calculations, using software and RAM instead). The pro-closed-source argument is that sales revenues motivate keeping the program accurate; the open-source model may not attract enough volunteer programmers and regressions may be a more common problem.

I read all 5 parts, at least the last of which is dated as of yesterday.

Nick Levinson July 2, 2022 12:03 AM

Correction to my last post (error being due to time zone difference of an hour near midnight): Last paragraph: “yesterday” should have been ‘today’ (July 1).

SpaceLifeForm July 2, 2022 1:10 AM

Maybe I mis-parsed the 5 parts, but I do not see any discussion of the obvious attack.


You can not DoS hand marked paper ballots.

Attackers could DoS the servers and the phone system.

Voter: I’m not getting any response. The app just sits there.

Voter tries to call the phone number.

“We’re sorry, all circuits are busy. Please hang up and try again”

Lines are long at polls, polls close soon.

Sorry, but this poll is now closed.

Voter is disenfranchised.

Clive Robinson July 2, 2022 2:01 AM

@ SpaceLifeForm, David Leppik, ALL,

Re : You are both saying the same thing.

In parts…

What I said originally was in short form and was ment to imply both sides, without getting to much into the “whys and ways” of it (a long disenfranchisment discussion for another day).

@David Leppik went partially into the “citizen” side of it which I indicated, and so I balanced up by going into the “self entitled” and their Corporate/buyer approach of gaining political control as “overlord kingmakers”.

I find few American’s are as shocked as Europeans are by the way the “American Dream” thugish political system works.

In essence it is trying to re-establish the old “Irish System” where a land owner (emoloyer of the time) used to get an additional vote for each and everyone they had working for them. As Oliver Cromwell amongst others had split Ireland into “Protestant” land owners and “Catholic” workers, it takes little imagination to see what the result would be.

Where I come from “One Man One Vote” was a bitter bitter cause of intense bloodshed. You can blaim “Politics” and you can blaim “religion” or the “Popish plots” behind most of it going back to the fall of the Roman empire and the establishment of the “Holy Roman Empire” and subsequent schisms, but more than a thousand years of recorded struggle, civil unrest, and worse… all soaked with the blood of both sides is still very much raw and brewing up again in the UK with similar happening not just in the US, but Canada, and soon I expect in Australia.

Some talk of moving into a “rent seeking society” but fail to take the blinkers off. Others including our host has realised that there is a very real possability we are heading into a new feudalism where technology and the inescapable surveillance it brings will be used to enforce neo-class / caste systems that will be near unbreakable.

As I’ve said before, poverty enforced by the few from above, gives rise to humanity being highly susceptable to pathogens, that care not a jot for money, status, privilege, power or brut control. History shows that the general lot of humanty happens after either,

1, Major infections.
2, Major conflicts.

Or both as they tend to strip out “guard labour” that keep the self entitled in control faster than it does the worker castes/classes, thus opening up opportunity to depose.

Unfortunately it takes only a few scant generations for the self entitled to re-establish themselves via “cult” behaviour and “oppression”, backed by misapropriated wealth. Which is what we are currently seeing come to the fore again… Which does not bod well as technology reduces the need for the higher ranks of “Guard Labour” that would normally cause the instability that would bring the top of the heirarchical power structures down.

John July 2, 2022 2:27 AM


I think citizens growing their own and sharing it with their nearby neighbors would go a long way towards creating a peaceful society and bring the top of the power structures down to a more reasonable level.

Especially when grown without chemicals and other external non-natural inputs.


SpaceLifeForm July 2, 2022 2:32 AM

@ JonKnowsNothing, ALL

re: Preliminary counts should not be released

Funny how I was able to predict the Electoral College count very accurately within 30 minutes of the first poll opening in New Hampshire.

The only state I called incorrectly was North Carolina. I thought it had a chance of going Blue. I still wonder about the mail-in ballots there. Remember, Postmaster General Louis DeJoy controls North Carolina. He lives there, in a modest mansion. He was able to get state investigators to stop investigating him.


I did not need any Statistical Programs and Modeling. I was just paying attention and reading the tea leaves.

Then again, I am not on TV, so my prediction had no influence on voters.

But, basically, I read the tea leaves correctly, and while I think they got the fix in, in North Carolina, I read the other swing states very accurately, and concluded they could not get the fix in. That the voter turnout would override any machinations. My favorite pick was Georgia.

One of the big problems with releasing preliminary counts is that it may result in reduced voter turnout, which then results in people not voting on downstream races or state or local initiatives.

Recall in 2016, the polls said HRC was doing great. Well, there were more voters that failed to vote than those that voted for Trump. They just failed to show up. And, as they say, the rest is history.

Denton Scratch July 2, 2022 3:55 AM

reliance on a trusted and fully-centralized printing authority

(From article 4 of 5)

I’m not sure I can see how that admitted vulnerability can be exploited.

Suppose Mallory secretly takes over the print-shop. He prints out sheets of paper with phony codes on, and has them sent to voters.

But if a voter’s sign-on code is phony, it won’t match the private key held by the server, and the voter won’t be allowed to vote, right? It seems to me that control of the print-shop could be used to deny voters their vote, but control of the postal service would be equally effective; just don’t send out the sheets of paper with the voting codes.

If you can control the print-shop AND inject corresponding private keys into the server-nexus, THEN voters will be able to get their app to validate them and allow them to vote. The server responds with result-codes, generated using the key held by the server, and the voter checks them against the result-codes printed on the paper. Ta-da, they match.

But that means the voter has successfully cast a valid vote, no? To successfully manipulate the ballot, it seems to me that Mallory also has to have control of the counting software, and if he’s got that, then it’s game-over anyway.

I must say: I’m surprised that it’s so difficult to make a secure e-voting system. I mean, I don’t imagine it’s easy; but surely we don’t need to invent anything; we have sound understandings of network security and crptographic primitives, I would have thought it was just a matter of thinking things through super-carefully. But what do I know; I’ve never tried.

I suspect that the manifest flaws in most e-voting systems are the result of not thinking things though, not caring, or deliberate malice.

I enjoyed this series of articles – thanks, @Bruce.

Denton Scratch July 2, 2022 4:09 AM

That is, suppose a voter comes to realize, while participating in an e-voting system (or at a physical polling-place) that the election system is not properly tallying their vote. Can the voter prove this to the election officials in a way that appropriate action will be taken, and their vote will be tallied correctly?

(Article 5 of 5)

That is a real challenge. But hold on – suppose I walk into my local polling station, complete with photo-ID, and a polling card that can be matched to my ID. Suppose I hear the grinding sound of a shredder from inside the ballot-box as I deliver my ballot. Can the election officials dismatle the ballot-box before my eyes, to prove there’s no shredding going on? I think any election official who opened a ballot box in the polling station would be exposed to charges of vote tampering.

That is: I don’t see how the UK’s current paper ballot system assures voters that they can have their suspicions about the operation of the system allayed by election officials.

I mean, such an assurance would be a very desireable property of a voting system; but I’m not aware of any IRL voting system that provides that assurance.

Ted July 2, 2022 7:24 AM


Maybe I mis-parsed the 5 parts, but I do not see any discussion of the obvious attack.


Yes, of course. DDoS attacks, a prime vulnerability. I have not looked exhaustively, but I believe you can find more analysis on that in the Network security study. This was one of the four commissioned studies listed in post 1 of the series.

Apparently this particular study was done pro-bono by members of the Network Security Group at ETH Zurich. They didn’t actually do live pen testing since other important services are hosted on the same network (Postfinance, Post E-Health…).

They do list the following as main issues:

• Various forms of (selective) denial-of-service attacks
• DNS spoofing attacks
• BGP hijacking attacks
• Attacks on vote secrecy

Other network issues include the secure transmission of voter registers.

Past research [10] revealed that this channel is not secure however – often the register is transmitted by email, which is neither authenticated nor encrypted, and also stored in plaintext.

Nick Levinson July 2, 2022 10:46 AM

@Denton Scratch & @SpaceLifeForm:

“[C]ontrol of the postal service would be equally effective; just don’t send out the sheets of paper with the voting codes.” (From Denton Scratch.)

That’s an issue. In the U.S., I was in two campaigns wherein I heard two rumors to like effect, although not about official documents. In one, it was alleged by an insider that 40,000 pieces of campaign literature for 3 Zip codes were not delivered, or not until election day was past. In the other, the candidate alleged that a letter carrier (a postal employee) had told her not to mail her campaign lit because it wouldn’t get delivered but to give it to him instead and he’d deliver it for free; and, according to the candidate, he did. Although the Postal Service is a national agency, almost all workers and managers live locally to where they work and thus are likely to share local political interests, and apparently do. Back then, campaign mailings went third class, without delivery date commitments but cheaper for postage (today the terminology and terms may be different), and it apparently wasn’t hard for a local manager to have the sacks of someone’s mail pieces put to one side until after election day (excuse me, until the workload can be evened out to a normal average when many campaigns are mailing at the same time). A related news story was that in one jurisdiction absentee ballots mailed from homes were mailed using official return envelopes on which return postage was preprinted using official indicia. The voters were instructed that these return envelopes had to be postmarked on time to be countable. The board of elections checked their procedure with the Postal Service but didn’t check well enough. Since the envelopes had postage indicia, the Postal Service did not postmark most of them and wasn’t supposed to for any of them, and most of the voters wouldn’t have known that. To get a postmark, they would have had to pay their own postage on a free mailing, and almost none would have thought of that.

Winter July 2, 2022 12:23 PM


That’s an issue. In the U.S., I was in two campaigns wherein I heard two rumors to like effect, although not about official documents.

Your stories fit in a large pattern.

There are only two parties (that matter). Elections are organized locally under the “rule” of one party that only cares about their own voters. Everybody has a Them against Us attitude, trying to disadvantage Them to help Our candidate.

And it seems no one really cares about democracy.

JonKnowsNothing July 2, 2022 12:56 PM

@ Nick Levinson , @Denton Scratch, @SpaceLifeForm, @Winter, @All

RL anecdote tl;dr

In a recent USA election, the mail-in ballot from one state was so complicated and instructions so contradictory and the penalties for making an error extreme, that the persons who received them and who had voted in every election since WW2, could not vote.

I was shown the instructions and the ballot envelope directives and I wouldn’t have mailed it either.

After reading the first few sentences I dropped the envelope on the table and used a pencil end to move it around ’cause even touching it was “a serious crime”, although you wouldn’t know that until you were reading the instructions.

Additionally, the cautions of “criminal interference” in helping someone with their vote, included “reading information to them”.

Nick Levinson July 2, 2022 1:17 PM


I wouldn’t say that no one cares about democracy; they care a lot.

But voters, especially swing voters, most numerous in Presidential general elections, choose between whom they believe to be two relatively qualified candidates on whatever criteria they like. So, whenever presidential candidate George H. W. Bush criticized opponent Bill Clinton for being a draft dodger, Clinton’s popularity went up and Clinton’s campaign manager wished Bush would criticize him more often (this is from his coauthored book All’s Fair).

However, insiders see high stakes, such as patronage jobs and contracts, often coordinating with policy agendas they support, and have fewer limits on what they’ll do to win. Far fewer people donate than vote. I once had an argument about the quality of various voter lists and the other person kept buttressing her argument by pointing out that she had gotten a government job, not a job where she worked with voter lists but as a result of campaigning.

Jetpack Jim July 3, 2022 3:11 AM

“In democracy it’s your vote that counts; In feudalism it’s your Count that votes.”

— Mogens Jallberg

Winter July 3, 2022 3:34 AM


Additionally, the cautions of “criminal interference” in helping someone with their vote, included “reading information to them”.

Can I conclude that the people behind the ballot did not want the recipients to vote?

I was always wondering why elected politicians in the USA are so old (average age of senators is 64). Then I remembered that elections in the USA are on working days, voting is not an excuse for being late, polling stations are sparse and waiting lines can be 6+ hours long. And you need to register far before the elections, every time.

So, if you are not retired, voting can be a real scheduling problem. And old people tend to favor other old people.

JonKnowsNothing July 3, 2022 11:09 AM


re: Can I conclude that the people behind the ballot did not want the recipients to vote?

Pretty much so.

As you noted:

For working people scheduling time off from work to vote or standing in line after work hoping to vote b4 the polls close is designed to reduce “total in queue count”. This presumes you are working a day job 8-5. If you work swing (3p – 11p) or night-graveyard (11p-7a), you might be able to stand in line long enough at the expense of needed sleep. Of interest, in some places it is illegal for people to hand out water or food and there maybe restrictions on chairs-seating options while queuing.

Which is why mail-in ballots started being promoted as an alternative to standing in line for hours.

For older people the print is too small to read even with a magnifying lens. The directions are obscure and inconsistent, such as the “sign here” box with 3 different boxes. Or the 2 boxes option that requires a social security ID OR a state drivers license. What is failed to be noted is that BOTH are required due to database conversion failures.

For the 2 box IDs: the program is supposed to “find you” in the database based on either number (OR). The system does not always propagate the identifiers correctly so if the system coughs an error and you omitted the second ID, then the ballot gets tossed.

Yep Nil Voting is:

  • less counting, less costly, less bothersome, less printing,
  • less mailing, fewer logistics and less staffing.

So, what’s not to like about Nil Voting?

Kent Brockman July 4, 2022 3:09 PM

@Nick Levinson

“But voters, especially swing voters, most numerous in Presidential general elections, choose between whom they believe to be two relatively qualified candidates on whatever criteria they like.”

A generally shared belief there are two qualified candidates? Quite the assumption there. How many voters(outside of his supporters) believed Trump to be qualified? More often the used metric would be “lesser evil”, which a significant percentage of unaffiliated voters fall back on.

Nick Levinson July 4, 2022 7:54 PM

@Kent Brockman:

While the press interviews undecideds, the committed are the loudest and most noticed. Meanwhile, most voters have the right to write in a candidate of their choice or to vote for a minor-party candidate, but few do and still they vote for the office and so they vote for one of only the leading two, and many have not yet decided which one. In a presidential general election, that’s a lot of voters. “Lesser evil” is not how most of those voters think of either one; if they did, we wouldn’t have the 100-day honeymoon for the winner to get an agenda started, during which even voters on the other side mute their reactions, being hopeful. Voters whose minds were made up months ahead of time are not enough on which someone can win, Trump included. Campaigners can try to switch committed voters’ votes but it’s easier to persuade undecideds and weak supporters and, for presidential general elections, there are many. An incumbent finds that many last-minute undecideds vote for the challenger, but surveys show most of them as still undecided just a week before. Election-season debates matter and leading candidates participate, even for the vice-presidency; if almost all minds were already made up by a debate date, candidates would send surrogates instead and hosts would let them or cancel the debates. Two candidates physically exhaust themselves in the couple of months before election day because that’s what it takes for one of them to win. The day after one election, a White House phone operator told a foreign leader who had asked for the two candidates’ phone numbers (I think for Obama and McCain), presumably to congratulate or condole, that either one might be asleep at any time, i.e., forget about their sleeping on schedule for that day.

In my unsystematic observation, no foreign nation of any political persuasion has a better record at predicting the outcome of a U.S. presidential general election than domestic pollsters do. If you could just count up the committeds a month ahead of time and have the answer, we’d be relying on that. We don’t.

fib July 5, 2022 7:51 AM

@ Clive Robinson

Re the fetish of speed

Celerity and transparency: speed in the dissemination of results is, in a purist view, the extract of the popular will, eliminating or at least drastically reducing doubts – rooted in the old process – regarding the manipulation of the voter’s will.

Elections in my country of 100M voters are resolved in 5 hours [100% electronic]. It is always a relief.

Just my 2 cents of Real.

TM July 5, 2022 9:53 AM

It should be mentioned that there is no “Swiss online voting system” in operation.

“Despite a long trial phase, involving over 300 trials in 15 cantons, e-voting has not been available in Switzerland since July 2019.

Certain cantons are planning to resume trials with the Swiss Post system. With this in mind, the Federal Chancellery commissioned an independent examination of this particular system and its operation and has published initial findings. Work on relaunching trials with this system is underway but has not yet been concluded. The results of the independent examination will be among the factors that the Federal Council takes into account when deciding whether to issue a canton with a basic e-voting licence.”

TM July 5, 2022 10:02 AM

It should be mentioned that there is no “Swiss online voting system” in operation.

“Despite a long trial phase, involving over 300 trials in 15 cantons, e-voting has not been available in Switzerland since July 2019.

Certain cantons are planning to resume trials with the Swiss Post system. With this in mind, the Federal Chancellery commissioned an independent examination of this particular system and its operation and has published initial findings. Work on relaunching trials with this system is underway but has not yet been concluded. The results of the independent examination will be among the factors that the Federal Council takes into account when deciding whether to issue a canton with a basic e-voting licence.”

And yes, the Swiss vote four times a year, often more, mostly by mail, and the results are almost always accurately known by Sunday evening. Like in the US, voter participation rates are often low, often around 40%. Even without deliberate attempts to suppress participation, it is sadly true that at least half of the citizenry don’t cherish their political rights all that much. But counting the votes is not and has never been the problem.

Givon Zirkind July 6, 2022 9:08 AM

Well, there’s a novel idea. Have an independent audit! Separation of duties! Why didn’t I think of that?! Or, all the bureaucrats in all the election committees?!

Now that we know the Swiss did it right & the USA did it wrong, are we ready to concede the last national election and possibly others, were vulnerable? Even, Heaven Forfend! Attacked?

If they can get into a casino through a fish tank, they can certainly get into voting stations through an electric meter.

Testing the folds and circle fill-ins is a technology I am familiar with. Those are good forensic tests and should have been done.

And, as we all know, the math didn’t add up.

From another security perspective, one that I personally researched, why were all the identifiers removed from the proposals for the voting systems in Colorado? Why did the voting companies try to suppress the proposals? Every proposal writer makes a big deal about the team and; who doesn’t use pics in this day & age? Talk about something to hide!

As the movie “2000 Mules”, shows, there was ballot stuffing. Trust me and I trust my experience. My spidey sense tells me these were the low men and women on the totem poll. Who organized it for them? Who paid the gas? Who printed the ballots? Who filled out the ballots, got the names & addresses & social security numbers? And, why has no one higher up been arrested? Why haven’t the small fry been flipped to name names? Why have no serious investigations been opened since the movie?

Clive Robinson July 6, 2022 2:51 PM

@ Givon Zirkind,

If they can get into a casino through a fish tank, they can certainly get into voting stations through an electric meter.

Whilst there is evidence of the former –fish tank– I’m unaware of any presented evidence yet for voting machines being attacked through an electricity meter.

I’ve indicated in the past how very compromising information can leak via “Smart Meters” but I’ve yet to see documented evidence that it has been…

If you have some I would be interested in getting copies of it. Because what would work this way against voting machines would certainly work on any PC, laptop, Smart Device, or IoT device connected to a corporate or SoHo network.

TM July 7, 2022 3:01 AM

@Givon Are you aware that you are promoting fascist conspiracy theories, or are you really that dumb?

Peter July 8, 2022 1:57 PM

Somehow the psychological aspect is missing in this discussion. I believe the question that should be asked first, before considering e-voting, is if people will trust it. There isn’t much that’s more important than trust when it comes to elections, voting and democracy. Today, it’s easy (comparatively) to trust voting results. Counting is distributed and it easy to imagine how much effort would be needed to significantly alter the results. I would not have a hard time to explain to someone what would be needed to manipulate votes at a large scale with today’s offline voting. Concepts like: mailing ballots, groups of people counting, and reporting counts to the federal government are easy to understand. For e-voting, I wouldn’t have a clue how to explain anything without explaining information security and cryptography first, topics I understand barely myself. The one alternative is to say there are (a few) experts that trust it, trust them, and hope they’ll be trusted more than Corona experts.

One could also argue that e-voting could be made more secure than offline voting given enough resources. I don’t see a reason why this couldn’t be the case. Yet, I doubt it is reasonable to expect that it would be easier, in Switzerland, to significantly alter the outcome of a offline vote through manipulation than through (misleading) propaganda. So, why even try?

Of course, there are good reasons for pushing e-voting. Accessibility and ease of voting come to mind. I’m not sure ease of voting is an issue in Switzerland though. Opening an envelope, checking the right boxes, signing and mailing the envelope back is easy. Very easy or even negligibly easy compared to the effort needed for the research required for an informed vote. By allowing people to vote that don’t even want to do this bit of work, I’d not be surprised if more people voted counter their real opinion. By this I mean that while they vote for one option, they’d have voted for another after some minimal research. As for accessibility, I see how, for instance, visually impaired people might prefer e-voting. I’m just not sure this warrants introducing e-voting (for everyone).

Billy Jack July 9, 2022 5:15 PM

I’ve said on numerous occasions in the last two years that if we want to secure the voting systems for the 2028 election, the time to start is now. Or a couple of years ago, anyway. And it was a very optimistic estimate then.

Winter July 10, 2022 2:29 AM

@Billy Jack

if we want to secure the voting systems for the 2028 election, the time to start is now.

Dish computer voting and your ready. US voting is pretty secure. GOP politicians have spend years and millions of $ to find voter fraud, but always ended up empty handed.

Even with the scrutiny of MAGA, no evidence was produced that indicated something was wrong during the 2020 elections.


Givon Zirkind July 10, 2022 7:14 AM

@EvilKiru If the movie was debunked, why was one of the mules arrested in Arizona & charged with 26 counts of voting fraud? For this movie, all of a sudden Barr rejects location data. But, the cops use location data all the time.

@CliveRobinson Yes there is no evidence that they did get in but, there has also been weak in no investigations at all, of the possible instance where it could have occurred.

@TM I know it is currently considered a conspiracy theory. But, there is a lot of merit to the claims and math. The probabilities are just off. Yes, some allegations are definitely not true. However, I have seen conspiracy theories or, more accurately, wild allegations, unbelievable allegations, be proven–in courts of law and by conventional, legitimate, mainstream, investigate authorities–decades after the fact and decades after complaints were raised. There are those who have the power & money to cover up their criminal behavior. In this instance, I firmly believe that is what happened.

Winter July 10, 2022 9:04 AM


The probabilities are just off.

I have yet to see an example of this phrase uttered by someone who actually knew how to evaluate probabilities.

If you claim the “probabilities are off”, you have to supply evidence. Probabilities are not “hunches” or “feelings”. Probabilities are part of evidence and require the same rigor.

MarkH July 10, 2022 10:38 AM


If you’re just trolling, or want to echo any lies Trump tells, then by all means keep it up! In the U.S. we have freedom of religion, protecting your right to believe any myths you choose.

If you’re interested in truth, then read on …

• The producer and co-director of the lying movie you reference is a convicted felon. His felony? Committing fraud in violation of federal election laws.

• The movie’s supposedly scientific use of location data is not valid. It could not distinguish the “crimes” it claims to have found, from ordinary legal activities.

• When I looked up “26 counts of voter fraud” I found a case in Texas, NOT Arizona. Very significantly, this case concerned a local election … and the offender got caught.

If you want to understand the truth of the matter, create a comprehensive plan to alter or fraudulently cast at least 10,000 votes in one U.S. state. Present it here, and we’ll explain to you why it wouldn’t work.


MarkH July 10, 2022 10:46 AM

part 2:

Excepting a successful crack of the very small proportion of U.S. election precincts with electronic-only voting machines (which is not as easy to do without detection as some might imagine), changing a large number of votes in a U.S. election by either fraudulent voting or tampering is Just Not Practical.

For this reason, the great majority of U.S. cases involving more than 2 illegal votes are in local elections, in which a relatively small number of votes (perhaps a dozen or so) might determine the outcome.

The seeming ease of tampering a few votes sometimes tempts dumb crooks to try it. They tend to get caught, and locked up in prison.


SpaceLifeForm July 13, 2022 4:40 AM

@ Winter, MarkH

Sometimes, when probabilities are allegedly off, due to floating point precision error, the resultant value is either zero or one. It is quantum of course. It is always Grey, until ones thinks they have found Enlightenment, having Observed the True Meaning of the Bits, and then it locks in, and probability becomes fact.

For I have been to the Holy Land of Silicon, and have been Enlightened by the Electrons! There is only one Saviour, and that is the Firmware!
FPGAs are Blasphemy! The Gods of Microcode must be Obeyed! It is the only way to escape the Matrix!

It is possible, that the floating point unit may need some calibration.


Clive Robinson July 13, 2022 9:07 AM

@ SpaceLifeForm,


For I have been to the Holy Land of Silicon…

Have you gone out in the sun without a hat on?

We’ve a few people in London “behaving odd” some even have “Sandwich boards” that say things like “Repent now all your sins to the holly wreath…” or similar. Mind you I can find a less painfull way to look to my Laurels 😉

Tis the season to be jolly,
to kick up sand and lick a lolly.
Tis summer when the days are long,
And sun beats down awfully strong.
But in this place called Britain, remember hand on brolly,
Lest you get suddenly frost bitten.

SpaceLifeForm July 13, 2022 6:56 PM

@ Clive, Winter, MarkH

re: Holy Land of Silicon

It was snark and sarcasm.

Except my point about the HydroCarbon based Floating Point Unit needing recalibration.

Re-read it understanding this was snark and sarcasm.

Insane people can not see Grey Scale. Their Floating Point Unit (brain) only has one bit.

Clive Robinson July 14, 2022 12:27 AM

@ SpaceLifeForm,

Re : It was snark and sarcasm.

Yup, but you have to remember, that in the British,

“A little madness is part of the job description”

Someone once said it was to do with the “humours” –what ever they might be– not draining propperly… So leading to a build up of bile, and thus prescribed the two “best” treatments doctors could charge “Five Guineas” each for,

1, A damn good purging
2, A darn good bleeding

Which might account for the “looking a little disipated” in those who could afford it (see photos of 1920’s “young aristocracy” who have an emaciated “to posh to push” look).

The rest of us not having that sort of coin back in the 30’s and later prior to the NHS, the bile obviously has to egress via other routes… So we call it “eccentricity” to be polite, and the bile would normally drip out as sarcasm like the acid blood in Alien.

But… in the very occasional “annual heat wave” something dangerously insidious happens, it starts to distill into a “strange brew” and becomes humour of a different form,

And because of our “famous British weather” we know for certain,

Some might have noticed yesterday the “mercury was a little high in the glass” in London… When I was younger we used to know this because the evening news would report that aircraft had melted into the runway at Heathrow Airport and that the sky was turning brown with nitrous oxides from trapped vehicle exhausts…

Saddly nolonger having such fascinating diversions to entertain us, I had to do something else… Hence my little limerick.

Oh just to prove summer madness eccentricity endures this is from the 70’s,

And yes that is a “cider jar” fermenter or “jug” he is blowing across, hence the expression “jug band”…

Leave a comment


Allowed HTML <a href="URL"> • <em> <cite> <i> • <strong> <b> • <sub> <sup> • <ul> <ol> <li> • <blockquote> <pre> Markdown Extra syntax via

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.