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Newsgroups: comp.risks
X-issue: 10.64
Date: Sun, 18 Nov 90 3:19:13 EST
From: (Brad Templeton)
Subject: Becoming over-sensitive to risks (vote by phone)

While I appreciate people's concern over the sanctity of the vote,
consider what is used now.

I don't know about the U.S., but in Canada there's almost no security on
voting.  They come round to your house every election, and ask for the names of
every elector.  No ID is asked for.  You could name your children or pets and
they would get on the voters list.  (It's no doubt a crime of some sort to do
this, of course.)

Likewise all you have to do is go to the poll, and give the name of any person
who hasn't voted yet (normally yourself.)  As long as it isn't a small poll,
you could easily use any other name.  (The lists are posted on telephone polls
so people can check they're on.)  If you have good eyes and can read upside
down, you can even look at the RO's name sheet when you walk in.

Sounds ripe for fraud, but it just never happens.  When a seat is hotly
contested or close, the party scrutineers watch things closely, in addition
to the elections officials.  I have never heard of any accusations of abuse.

While using SSNs or other publicly available info isn't a good idea, I would
have no opposition to well designed phone voting -- particularly in an area
with ANI.  There are RISKS, but as long as we watch for them, they are no
greater than those of the current system.  The greatest RISK is not watching
for RISKS because we trust the computer too much.

On the other hand, there are other problems with phone voting -- the
largest being the elimination of the secret ballot.  The voting computer
will know who voted for whom.  We must trust the programmers and their
auditors to assure us the information is erased and never stored.
(On the other hand, doing this disallows one great method of verifying
phone voting, namely a mailed ACK.)

Brad Templeton, ClariNet Communications Corp. -- Waterloo, Ontario 519/884-7473

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