Electronic Voting – Don’t Do It

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From our Swindon Correspondent:

From Sky News
A coding error in the app used by the Democratic Party in Iowa has been blamed for significant delays in reporting the results of the state’s caucus.
The benefit of software is in the repetition. First runs of software are frequently troublesome. Someone goofs and a whole load of transactions get rejected. You’re firefighting a problem into the night and then sort it out. The next few times, it gets better and in a short time, the whole thing is fairly stable. Developing software that you’re going to run once every 4 years is a waste of money. You get all the trouble of first runs, without the pay off of repeated running.
The new app was developed so caucus results – the votes of Democratic Party members for their preferred presidential candidate – could be reported more quickly following Monday’s vote.
This is always the argument for electronic voting, but what’s the benefit? I don’t see much benefit to a general election count being any faster than the next morning, but votes for democratic elections seem even less relevant.
And the UK does this all just fine with pencil, paper and an army of people.
Next time you hear of a military or rail project blowing out its budget, or Obamacare software failures, or a bridge to nowhere, remember that the the sort of people who can’t run their own elections with simple, proven technology go on to be the sort of people in charge of your taxes.

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Pat
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Pat

Another point is that anyone capable of keeping track of their own money ,which is to say the vast majority, is capable of understanding a paper system. Hence it is easy to check for both mistakes and fraud.
Only a software engineer can understand an electronic system, and even then only with access to the code used.
Hence a paper system is more trustworthy.
Justice must not only be done but be seen to be done!

Ben S
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Ben S

Another reason is that you can’t combine identity control with anonymity in the same system.

Spike
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Spike

That’s not a factor here; the app didn’t seek to automate voting, but only communication between known precinct captains and a known state Party organization.

It would have been nice (and glitzy) to have results appear on a big screen in record time. But the alternative, phoning comrades and making reports, is what party politicians do routinely. So at least you should have a fallback plan. The resulting argument hits home that these people are not competent to manage their proposed national health system.

Ben S
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Ben S

Yes, I was mostly responding to the title.

Spike
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Spike

There is no national election in America. The closest we come is choosing state delegates to the Electoral College to elect the President, and to Party conventions to make the nominations. The resulting system is robust enough to take in stride the failure of one party in one state.

The suspicion that the national Democratic Party would falsify votes to benefit preferred candidates is fed by this screw-up, but more so by changing the rules once the process is underway.

Quentin Vole
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Quentin Vole

I’m suspicious of all types of voting without the voter being physically present and in privacy. The secret ballot is there for two reasons: nobody can threaten you on the basis of how you voted; and nobody can bribe you to vote a certain way. Postal votes and (even worse) electronic votes remove both these protections and should be used as sparingly as possible.