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back to article Government rejects retreat on e-voting

The government has dismissed the Electoral Commission's call to pull back from e-voting. It has rejected the commission's view that no further e-voting pilots should take place until the government has a comprehensive electoral modernisation framework covering the role of e-voting. It has turned down a number of proposals made …

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Anonymous Coward

Doesn't affect me...

...I've never met a politician I trust enough to vote for.

If they add a "none of the above" box to the ballot I might take some interest.

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Pirate

By Hook or by Crook but the Game has been Sussed, Brother.

If you can't stay in power by ordinary means, stay in power through e-means? A little something unpleasant imported from you know who and his crowd of hangers-on?

An electorate which struggles to read and write and you present them with a hackers delight, an electronic box of tricks ...... what is wrong with y'all?

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Gates Horns

not listening

The government doesn't listen to the electorate. Its that simple. Falling levels of trust in government... no surprise.

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Bad pilots

So they're resorting to the "bad researcher who wants funding" approach of "keep doing the experiment until you get the results I want".

I wonder if they'll also just disregard the election results they don't like just as they do with the futile e-petitions. Hey! remember that you heard that here first. I'm off to the bookies to place a bet...

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If it ain't broke...

We have a very effective system of manual vote counting that has worked in this country for generations, why does the Government want to pi$$ away public money on systems that other countries have shown needs a *lot* more work?

Having said that, I could understand wanting to bring in a system like STV proportional representation which works well in countries like Ireland and Denmark, but so far they seem to be entirely unwilling to get rid of the nonsense of First Past The Post which effectively disenfranchises people in "stronghold" constituencies.

PS I understood a complete posting from amanfromMars. I think someone must have stolen his ID...!

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Alert

It is broke...

Good luck casting your vote if you're blind or have a severe physical disability. We're disenfrancishing millions of people by only have paper ballots, those with limited access are stuck with using a proxy which leaves them open to not having their vote cast correctly.

The pilots aren't costing much (compared to... pick your own governmental failure story), and the overall security of these systems at least matches what we've got at the moment (which the electoral commission described as the least secure system it is possible to design).

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Black Helicopters

electoral modernisation, why?

Electoral modernisation - a solution without a problem!

Since we had electoral changes weve had our first politicians jailed for electoral fraud in the North, a knackered Scottish Parliament Vote and wide scale confusion.

Why are we spending money on this what needs changing from the fool proof system of pen and paper and person to count said pen marks on paper?

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Boffin

How to make e-money from the public sector

1) Build a system and decide that is what the buyer will get (don't spend too long on this stage - half-a-day for architecture, a weeks coding and a night of error checking is about right)

2) Sell it to the buyer answering yes to every question -

if they get to asking too many questions have random excerpts from "Beyond stylesheets: Zen and the art of XML Modelling" or "A history of .net development for real geeks" prepared to read out until they sign on the proverbial dotted.

3) Handle the diff between 1&2 in something called an "automated error detection and correction tool using smart dither, .net clouding and AbracaDalgorithms" - the project manager will be afraid to admit they don't know what these latest terms refer to - make sure that there is a line in the contract that says that the basic version of this error reduction tool will be provided free of charge but for an extra fee you will allow the customer to develop their own specialised plug-ins and advise them on integration with the core modules aka ADODB.Connection

4) For an extra fee offer the buyer an extended help line service to assist users

5) Hire a bloke with a mobile to read random selections of DOS for dummies to anyone who calls the number

6) Every time the buyer says it doesn't do what you said it would do say "Yes it does" and refer him to 3) - explaining that unhandled errors are the responsibility of the client and that for a further fee you will develop a further plug-in that extends the coverage of the automated error detection clouding (i.e. you will set the maximum size of recycle bin to 90% for each drive instead of the 40% under the basic tool)

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This is piss easy...

It really is easy as pie to write a secure, reliable vote counting system based on computer tech.

E-voting isn't hard! The problem is, if you hire a company who doesn't have a clue where to start, then your end product will end up like "How to make e-money from the public sector", hire a lone hacker to write something that "JUST WORKS" and just does what you tell it to, and locks down anything else you may want to tell it to do, then you'll get a product of this type in about oh I dunno, I could probably write it in a week in python...

Things like un-tamperable flat log files rather than databases for logging votes, and DSA signatures of files on each specific machine to verify that they haven't come from some other source while accumulating the individual machine logs. So that's the security pretty much handled. Of course you need a UI with "The fat guy" and "The smarmy guy" buttons, but thats complete pish...

So after erm, 5 minutes to think about a basic method of achieving this while instituting some security (of course not covering all the bases), why is it so difficult?

Well, you have the company that wants to make e-money from an e-government initiative. You have a government who is hoping that the company you've contracted is dumb enough to leave a trail of security problems that can then be exploited to win an election.

It stinks of corruption, the whole damn thing!

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Why is it so difficult? Because secrecy makes it pretty hard to prove that you're not faking it!

"So after erm, 5 minutes to think about a basic method of achieving this while instituting some security, why is it so difficult?"

Writing a vote application isn't very difficult - if you're the only one who is going to use it. But why would I trust your voting application? I have no idea whose pocket you're in.

You'll publish the source code, you say. But even if I'm one of the small proportion of the public who can parse that code, how do I know that the source code you provided is the source code running on the machine I get to vote on?

The key difference between voting and just about any other transaction is secrecy - I can correct a error on my bank statement or on my phone bill "after the fact", but it's impossible for me to correct an error in a voting application after the fact, because nobody has any way of knowing whether the output matched the input, because the input is secret.

Unfortunately, US elections often have dozens of "contests" all on the same ballot paper (national, state, county, school district and township posts are often filled by election), which makes some sort of automation a good idea. But British and Irish politicians seem to have a fixation on "ooh, if they do it in America it must be good", and are increasingly insistent that "we need electronic voting", even though they haven't defined what the supposed benefits are (we'll be stuck with them for 5 years anyway, who cares if we get the results a few hours early?), or what the costs are.

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Happy

Re : A/C

It ain't secret. Not in the UK, if ordered by a judge it is possible to go from the cast ballots back to the person that cast the vote (take a look at your ballot paper next time you vote, see that number? That's been written against your name on the electoral roll). So it is possible to check the output against the input, and depending on how the input is captured you can prove that it hasn't been changed since it was captured.

As to why - convience, accessibility (see my point about the millions of disabled you have effectively lost their right to vote above), expectation (some people I work with expect to be able to vote online, they're used to similar processes for things such as Big Brother and view this as the norm for the expression of opinion).

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Anonymous Coward

Electing a Government shouldn't be "just live voting for Big Brother"

"convience, accessibility (see my point about the millions of disabled you have effectively lost their right to vote above), expectation"

An electronic ballot is no more convenient than a paper ballot. Polling stations with electronic voting machines aren't magically wheel chair accessible. The UK doesn't have "millions of disabled" who can't vote. Blind people are the only significant group who might benefit from electronic voting machines IF provision for reliable voice attachments is made, but that will cost far more than providing simple Braille templates, if all you wanted to do was improve the voting rights of the disabled.

If voting is too "inconvenient" is it really in society's best interest to make it easier for you to vote?

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Happy

Ummmmmm

The pilots are just about electronic voting machines in polling stations, they're also about remote voting over the Internet and telephone channels.

RNIB disagree with you regarding the number of people having difficulty reading, at least 3 million according to them : http://www.rnib.org.uk/xpedio/groups/public/documents/publicwebsite/public_r2rhome.hcsp

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