Is there a problem with this method of electronic ballot?

  1. Everyone casts their vote on a computer
  2. Everyone gets a slip of paper printed off from his voting machine saying “You voted ____(the specific details of his vote, involing all the local votes etc)”
    3)Once the “print off” has been inserted in to a secure “slot”, the digital vote is counted.
  3. 6:00:00pm polls close (or whatever time that local polls close)
  4. 6:00:01pm results calculated.

What’s to stop a union boss or overzealous pastor from demanding to see your receipt and threatening trouble if you can’t prove you voted right?

3.5 A second slip comes out of the machine for you to keep?

What’s to stop them from doing that now?

What stops them now is there is no such thing. You get a receipt you voted but says nothing of who you voted for. If you have a receipt that details who you voted for then you get into issues of vote buying, people leaning on other people to vote for X and so on since now you can prove who you voted for.

In the end your ballot needs to be secret. Period.

Oh…I think the OP is saying your printed vote is put into a secure machine to count. You just see the printed results before putting it into the machine.

That is fine. My mother described her electronic voting machine as providing some sort of printout which she reviewed and then it sucked it into the machine. Or something…I was not clear on exactly what she was telling me on how it worked. I live in the same city but my polling place had paper ballots. I live maybe 8 miles from my mom…things are different all over. Screwy…

I think this is what people mean by paper trail electronic voting, and I too am not sure what the problem with it is supposed to be in theory.


Ah. If you don’t get to keep the receipt, there’s no verification that your receipt was properly counted. Someone could replace the entire box of receipts and no one would be the wiser.

Coming up with a secure voting scheme is extremely difficult, especially when you factor in the need for blind people to be able to vote. These sorts of threads are often fun to think about, but this is an active area of research in cryptography, and it’s unlikely that we amateurs of the SDMB are going to top what they’ve come out with. So far the best I’ve seen is Scantegrity, which deserves to be more widely adopted.

To clarify, I thought I had seen a sentiment expressed here on the dope and elsewhere that somehow paper trail electronic is worse than old fashioned paper voting. The problem you mention is of course a problem–but it is one shared with old fashioned paper voting.


Stupidity. People forget to submit the paper receipt. People say their receipt is wrong, revote vote on the electronic machine, and submit the wrong receipt. Then the paper talley is different from the electronic tally, and which do you use?

As long as nobody compares the electronic tally to the paper tally, nobody will be the wiser. If you have an electronic copy and a paper copy, it is trivial to compare the two, even to compare individual votes, to make sure they are consistent. Replace a whole box of paper receipts and you have to replace the whole electronic copy to match it perfectly. If someone is going to be able to manage that, then we don’t have a voting problem, we have a supervillain problem.

Having the voter physically handle the paper receipt is simply inviting errors. At most, a voter should get a copy of the paper receipt. The official receipt should stay internal to the workings of the machine, and deposited directly into a secure box.

If the electronic and paper records don’t match up, all you know is that they don’t match up. You don’t know which one is wrong.

Sure, but at least then you’d know that there is something fundamentally wrong with the system when you audit it. For a purely electronic voting machine, there’s no way to verify that.

Not necessarily. If only some or most of the votes don’t match, I can pretty well guarantee that the electronic votes were screwed with. Why? Because there’s no way in Og’s Green Earth that a fraudster is going to know exactly the composition of a significant number of votes, and know the correct vote number for each one. Maybe if they had a few hours alone with the votes, they could insert a goodly number of correct votes along with their falsified votes. If someone is getting that much alone time with the ballot box, that is the primary problem.

If none of them match, take a look at the two different sources and see which one matches voting patterns found in other voting booths at that location and which one is wildly different. I’m going to suggest that the point of switching all the votes is to actually change the vote count, not to have the vote count be indistinguishable from the original.

I’d also like to point out that there is only so much security that can be implemented. You can’t stop someone from taking a sledgehammer to the machine, complaining that it’s not sledgehammer proof isn’t worthwhile.

Swapping out the paper ballots is a sledgehammer job, the “best” that can happen is for the ballots to be discarded.

Changing the electronic vote count may work, but if it’s checked against the paper, it will be discovered instantly.

Changing both together is a black ops Hollywood super-spy job. On top of it, you have to change the vote and paper ballots for hundreds of voting machines before you’re going to change enough votes to have a prayer of affecting the election. You have to do this in dozens of different locations all during election night, even then there’s no guarantee that your massive operation will change a single thing.

Yes, the missing component that I see is how do you change your electronic vote if you see that the receipt is wrong?

Ideally you’d read the printed version and if all was well you hit “ACCEPT” on the electronic machine. If you see an error you press the “GO BACK” button and modify your vote. Once you hit “ACCEPT” it’s a done deal.

As long as the printed version is automatically destroyed or voided when you go back and correct the electronic version, it sounds like a pretty good system to me!

The machine my mom described to me kept the paper inside. Again I did not really follow what she was describing but I assume she never got to actually hold the paper. The machine presumably would destroy a rejected ballot.

It sort of seems unneccesary, doesn’t it? If, under this system, you have both an electronic and a paper vote, wouldn’t it be easier to just skip the middleman and just use a paper vote to begin with? The whole point of electronic voting is that it gets rid of all the paper.

Under this hybrid system, under what circumstances are the paper receipts reviewed?

The voting machines I used did this today.

You vote on the electronic screen…when you are done marking who you want and how you voted on the issues, you press “print ballot”. There’s a little flap that you raise that enables you to see the paper the printer is printing on…and it prints, screen by screen, your entire electronic ballot onto the paper (you can’t touch or remove the paper…it’s protected by a clear cover). If everything matches and is OK, at the end, you press “Cast ballot” and your electronic vote is recorded, and the paper is cut off and deposited in the storage area of the machine. If your ballot is WRONG…you can reject your vote, and I’m assuming, the paper is brought back through the printer and marked “VOID” or some such (I didn’t have to reject). It was noted that you could reject your ballot twice before someone would need to intervene. In any case, your vote was not final until you marked both the electronic ballot, and it matched the paper…and you cast your ballot.

Very nice. :slight_smile: