Talk for Article "Voting online in elections: Why isn’t everybody doing it?"

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  1. [ This comment is from a user you have muted ] (show)

    How could online voting prevent coerced (or paid) voting by vulnerable people? With paper voting in a public place in a private booth no one can know for sure how any individual votes. This makes threatening or paying someone to vote a certain way impossible.

    But if an abusive husband can stand over his wife’s shoulder at home while she votes…

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      Thanks. It’s a good point that several people have brought up in my interviews. In Estonian elections at least, I believe voters can cast their vote online in advance of the election, and then they still have the option to recast it on the day of the election, and thereby null their previous online vote. This would go someway in allowing those who have been forced to vote a certain way from home to change their vote.

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        A clarification — in Estonia, you can either

        a) vote online multiple times (only the last vote will be counted)


        b) after voting online go to a polling station and vote there (during the advance voting period). The “physical vote” will void the electronic vote.

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    How does digital voting keep the government from “juicing” the count?
    It can’t.
    Canada uses paper ballots and has no question about outcomes.
    We have machine voting–many questions are raised.
    Even more with digital (online)

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      I am Canadian, and have participated in the ballot process. A paper based system is very difficult to rig. Every ballot is accounted for. (serial numbered)
      Multiple witnesses are present for counting. After the election, there is an undisputed paper record. Any time a computer is used there is always a risk of being hacked.

      Elections are a legal process. It should be kept as a written and documented process. Do not let the hype and continence of the computer corrupt it.

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      The Estonian e-voting system is *not* a “black box” where computers “do their thing” without supervision. All the processes are documented and can be observed (by anyone). The system is set up so noone can secretly change the votes that are cast or counted.

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    Question ideas for the secured interviews:

    Platforms are already popping up claiming to offer voting via “the blockchain,” but to me this seems more like taking our trust away from the government and giving it to a private institution, a net negative. Is is truly possible to create a decentralized trustless and immutable option for voting online?

    Will voting online be a reality before we see critical mass adoption of bitcoin and decentralized DB systems?

    We are seeing rapid advancements in blockchain anonymity protocols (zk-snarks, bulletproofs) is there potential there to create the protocol for anonymous, immutable, trustless voting?

    There is so much technically that congresspeople, and the public in general, don’t understand about what would go into creating and securing an online voting system, is it dangerous for us to allow infantile technology to be the foundation of the basis of democracy?

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      Thanks Justin. Based on your recommendations I have asked about blockchain online voting and the ideas of trust it places, potentially giving the opportunity for the losers of an election to say it was hacked or didn’t work properly.

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    The digital vote problem is how to vote without having what you voted for connected to you/your profile.

    1. [ This comment is from a user you have muted ] (show)

      Thanks Lee. Yep I have asked about this – I think this particularly applies to voting by email and web portal which several US states allow you to do if you are covered by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.

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      (A deeply simplified summary based on Estonian e-voting) —

      Estonian e-voting uses a “double-envelope” system, similar to voting by mail — the actual vote is encrypted, and placed in a “digital envelope”. Only the outer envelope has the voters identity.

      When votes are counted, the vote is first verified based on the outer envelope (“Does this person have the right to vote?”), and then the envelope is opened, and only the encrpted votes (that do not contain information about who cast what vote) are counted.

      The encrypted votes are decypted on a computer that does not have access to the full envelope (voter identities), but only the votes themselves. There are (externally observable and auditable) processes and technical measures in place to make sure it is not possible to open the actual votes in a way that would allow a vote to be linked to the voter.

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    Idea to expand on the topic, include similar finding for other remote voting systems such as vote by mail. At least in the US many places still only do in person voting, or vote by mail is reserved for absentee voting.

    1. [ This comment is from a user you have muted ] (show)

      Thanks Jacob. Yep I am asking about whether remote e voting is less secure than voting by mail or in person. As a Brit I found it quite shocking that not every US state allows voting by mail, but then I discovered it was only in 2000, under the Representation of the People Act 2000, which made postal voting available to anyone who demanded it in the UK.

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    Adding on to this point, we now have decentralized, blockchain projects in the crypto realm which seek to create democratized, scalable voting systems.

    Some examples:

    1. [ This comment is from a user you have muted ] (show)

      Thanks Phillip. I have reached out to these companies. I will let you know if I get a response.

  7. [ This comment is from a user you have muted ] (show)

    Jacqueline Curzon contributed this to the article’s sources and references but I thought it would be easier for everyone to see and better placed in talk:

    “Switzerland introduced electronic voting at cantonal and federal level several years ago. Process is very simple and uncontentious I believe. Some people worry that family members can hoard the voting cards of other family members. But overall referenda or representative election results seem to be legitimate and uncontested. I guess if someone from your team does the research you will have plenty of statistics on voter turn out and security questions. I know some cantons have implemented this more or less radically and fast. So you might even have some interesting comparisons. Maybe some doctoral student has done this already?”

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