Re: Political participation for whom? [cr-95/9/10]


Sender: Arun Mehta <•••@••.•••>

I've followed the discussion on electronic voting carefully,, and have
more than a passing interest in the area. In the 1989 federal elections in
India, electronic voting machines were to be used in 150 "sensitive"
constituencies (where booth capturing was frequent -- we have an
interesting democracy). An opposition party was concerned at possibilities
of built-in fraud, so I wrote a few demos of smart ways in which this
could be done, which were shown to the press at a conference addressed by
VP Singh, who became the prime minister after the election. He called it
"a 21-st Century style hi-jacking of the elections", where you didn't need
to capture booths physically, and left no trace. The machines were not

So, if booths do not get captured in your country, stick with the system
you have for electing your leaders -- nothing against using it for
non-binding referenda, provided *everybody* has access to a networked
computer sufficiently often so as not to be intimidated by it, and
sufficient trust in the transparency of the system -- what is being
proposed is highly complex, where even people who've been using computers
for a while have difficulty understanding the solution. It is terribly
important that the system of election not only be fair, but also perceived
by everyone to be fair.

Another problem is training. With such complexity, can I trust my local
vote-BBS operator or whoever not to goof-up? What about viruses and
worms, and other security nightmares? Machine crashes at critical times?

 Posted by --  Andrew Oram  --  •••@••.••• --  Cambridge, Mass., USA
                 Moderator:  CYBER-RIGHTS (CPSR)

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