Electronic Voting: interesting new wrinkle

A lot has been written about electronic voting machines and their vulnerabilities.

There is indeed something very primitive about the way we vote today, with markers on sheets of cardboards. You've got to believe that we will not always be using physical means, and that sooner or later it will be computerized.

When we vote in 2050, we won't be manipulating pieces of paper. Or will we? (Will be still be voting?)

At any rate, computer security experts continue to demonstrate all the different flaws in the ATM-like machines that have been proposed (and sold, and used) to automate and modernize voting. There are lots of schemes which would allow major, undetected, vote tampering with those machines.

In today's New York Times, a very interesting article about a new scheme, quite low-tech, to achieve a very high degree of confidence in our voting technology:

"Their basic idea is to allow each voter to take home a photocopy of a randomly selected ballot cast by someone else.

The scheme is low-tech. Paper ballots would be tallied by optical scanners or even by hand. The results would be then posted on a Web site. Using a serial number assigned to each ballot, voters could check the site to make sure that their random ballots were posted and had not been altered or misread." (from The New York Times)

Read the article for a good primer and re-introduction to the problems of electronic voting plus a description of this new concept.

[Interesting sidenote: the invention comes from two men, one of them is Ronald L. Rivest, who among us geeks is very well known as the "R" in RSA, but for the New York Times is simply an "M.I.T. Computer Scientist".]