Online Voting: What do we need to have happen in “identity” before online voting happens?

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Session Topic: Online Voting

Thursday 5D

Convener: Andrew Jennings

Notes-taker: Andrew Jennings

Tags for the session - technology discussed/ideas considered:

Voting, Democrazy, Security

Discussion notes, key understandings, outstanding questions, observations, and, if appropriate to this discussion: action items, next steps:


Reference Brad Templeton’s writings on electronic voting.


Described California’s existing system. Works pretty well, despite the flaws.


Reference the Coursera course on electronic voting.


Preserve the secret ballot.

  • How do you do mail-in ballot and still have secret ballot?


Estonia has online voting.


Secret ballot:

  • Employer might require you to vote in a certain way.
  • Oregon requires mail-in ballot.


But these attacks don’t work that well on paper because they don’t scale.


What do we need from identity to have better voting?

  • Better authentication with the voting authorities


Even with cryptography.

  • Can make voting anonymous
  • Can make voting verifiable
  • The coercion problem still remains


Can vote on one compromised machine and verify with another compromised machine.


Steve says you’ll always need to deliver the anonymous token physically because it can’t be received on a compromised computer.


Morten talks about hand-count audit of ballots. Just need to hand count a random sample. Have to number the ballots and record how they voted as you count the ballots. (They should be identical when they go in the ballot box.) Then you choose some random numbers and make sure those ballots are counted correctly.


Andrew thinks we’ll be voting online within 20 years. It will be forced upon us even if it’s not secure. Steve thinks we won’t be voting online in 20 years.


Bill says there is a significant problem in some cultural segments with coercion. I will take all the mail-in ballots and everyone will sign them, then I will fill them out and send them in.


Morten says in Denmark the ballot counting is all by hand.


Bill thinks the whole US will not have online voting in 20 years. But there will be a county somewhere that tries it.


Mark says psychologically, people won’t accept elections without paper trail.


Morten recommends the book “Broken Ballots: Will Your Vote Count” by Douglas W. Jones and Barbara Simons.


You need to identify your goals. If those are met by the paper ballot, then make everything around it electronic, but keep the paper ballot.