12 Aug 2003 chalst   » (Master)

Electronic voting systems
Steve at Begging to Differ argues against the security concerns voiced regarding electronic voting systems, thinking that on average the new machines will be better than the old. IMO, he's completely missed the point. I think that while electronic voting systems reduces the overall chance of error in elections, and gives a possibility of completely correct votes, they do so at the cost of making massive deliberate distortions of election results much more likely. Tampering with punched cards is a time consuming process, that must be done on a one-by-one basis, and carries a risk of detection something like proportional to the size of the fraud. Finding a backdoor in an election machine may allow tampering with as much of the vote as the fraudster thinks is credible, and can be replicated on every similar machine the fraudster has access to (conceivably remote access, in the worst designs).

A good side effect of the debate is that perhaps the wider public will start to be suspicious of the security by obscurity argument.

raph: How do you know there were voting machine representatives in that meeting? It wasn't in the Denver Post article or Dan Gilmour's blog. Also, Gilmour misstates the Denver Post article, which says she was ejected because she was not a public official, rather different than she wasn't credentialled.

Postscript: They don't call it that over there either
Eugene Volokh has has a nice puzzle: for how many countries are the native names for the countrry unrelated to the name in english? The answer is five, and an interesting question is how does that figure change for other European languages? By my reckoning there are four for german. We have fluent French and Spanish speakers (at least) here: what are the figures for these languages? Are there interesting differences to cases for english (there aren't in the case of german). This resource may be useful.

Postscript #2: At last...
At last, the definitive, credible exposure of the civilisation-hating Maoists at the BBC:

The BBC is pathologically hostile to the Government and official opposition, most British institutions, well-polished shoes, American policy in almost every field, stamp-collectors, Israel, moderation in Ireland, lightly boiled new potatoes, the colour mauve, freedom of speech in the Isle of Wight, all Western religions, most odd numbers between 32 and 57, sun-roofs on Ford Escorts, Crunchy Nut Cornflakes, most manifestations of the free market economy and household gadgets of every kind.

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