Sunday, July 06, 2008

I just watched the Hacking Democracy. I'm amazed at how fragile we have let our democracy become. I know that there are reforms underway to remove these insecurities, but I have two radical ideas for change:
  1. Perpetrate a massive hack involving botnets, memory cards, corrupt elections officials and anyone else to give the victory in a major election to a write-in candidate: Mr. Election Fraud.
  2. Or, marginally more positive, change the entire system so that all votes are inherently public and published for any to see. This would allow John Q. Public of Philadelphia to verify that his vote was recorded properly. It also allows any number of independent organization to count all the published votes themselves.
I think option two has some real weight behind it. What are the concerns that make private voting a necessity? Wikipedia says,
The key aim is to ensure the voter records a sincere choice by forestalling attempts to influence the voter by intimidation or bribery.
Secret ballot. (2008, July 5). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 15:48, July 6, 2008, from

I have never been asked to vote for anyone and I'm curious to see if this has happened at all in America in the last few decades. There is so much press and exposure that such cases would instantly be brought out into the open. I can see that in places like Zimbabwe people need secret ballots to avoid severe intimidation, but at the same time, they have such a big problem with poll fraud. Is it the reward of an industrialized nation to forgo secret ballots in favor of full disclosure? Here's my imagined public election:
Each voter is registered and votes at a polling place. This is to ensure one vote per voter like to does now. Then the vote is cast in a Internet connected machine. This can be done out in the open, or in private if there actually is the threat of intimidation at the polling place. That vote will then be counted four ways. The machine will record an encrypted vote. Two paper records will be given with unique numbers for each vote; one stays with the machine, the other with the voter. lastly, the vote is instantly published in the Internet with that person's name and vote number. That way the voter can go home and double check that his vote counted. There could even be machines set up by independent authorities outside a polling place to double check a vote.
I can also imagine a system where everyone has a GPG key that they use to encrypt their vote and only the election board can decrypt it. They could get a copy of their encrypted vote to check later. Only the voter or the election board could decrypt the vote, so the voter's indentity is sealed. This is still a secret ballot, but it would require everyone make a private GPG key. (PS. My public key is here.)
Well anyway, watch Hacking Democracy and get a little fired up.

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