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Tuesday, August 24, 2004

One advantage of a good electronic voting system

Voting is such an old system that it is difficult to believe new features could be added, yet there is one very important feature which an electronic system, a well designed one anyway, can provide.

In a standard, paper type, anonymous voting system, once you drop in your vote, once this piece of paper which carries your selection enters the ballot box, it becomes anonymous. If you've made a mistake, that's just too bad, you cannot correct it.

It is taken for granted but it is important to understand the reason why it is so. It is because, apart from yourself, no one can tell whose ballot is whose. You can't go to the official and say "Sir, I've made a mistake, could you open the box a second and let me retrieve my little piece of paper and correct it!". He can't let you do that, not because correcting one's mistake is wrong but simply because he can't be sure that the piece of paper you will retrieve is truly yours. You could be cheating and modifying someone else's piece of paper.

But what would happen if the ballot box, the vote keeper, were smart and remembered exactly whose ballot belongs to whom. In this case what is suggested above would become perfectly feasible, just identify yourself to the box, it would return the ballot from the person corresponding to this identification, and let you modify it so long as the poll hasn't closed.

In the imperfect paper voting system, you would have to wait till the last second to vote to have the same opportunity, allowing you to change your mind as many times as you wish before the ballot closes, but then you would risk being delayed and not having your vote counted because you arrived too late at the polling booth. Not so with electronic voting, you could vote from the moment voting is allowed, (heck! to avoid undue traffic on the Internet, voting could start a month early), so to avoid missing out you could vote a month early safe in the knowledge that should new information arrive about the candidate you voted for, causing you to change your mind, you could.

To me the ideal ballot box would be one that can do that, return my ballot so I may modify it. It also needs another quality, it must be totally silent about the "other" ballots so I can't see who else voted for (or against) whom; and of course, no one can see whom I voted for either. This magic ballot box must be smart and mute!.

There are many advantages to such a system, and many new voting systems would then become possible.

For instance, we could have a continuous vote, one without a closing date, but one where the tally is visible. we could for instance vote on the heating of the building. Each tenant voting on the temperature, and the building temperature being selected as the current median (or the mean, but I prefer the median in this instance) temperature. When it gets too hot for your liking, change your vote. No one except you and the votekeeper (the magic electronic ballot box) will know.

Hey, maybe the same system could be used for presidential elections, why wait 4 years when it's obvious after 2 weeks that an idiot has been elected. Quick, change your vote and help get rid of him or her.

So, that's my wish, a ballot box that lets me change my vote anytime before the closing of the poll, that to me would be the greatest advantage over the present voting systems.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Celebrate on August 28, 2004

Celebrate Software Freedom Day

eVote welcomes other contributors


I'm just getting this going.

More to come.... Then I'll delete this post.