e-voting: transparency and secrecy

e-voting: transparency and secrecy

I have just had a another do-over on the subject of e-voting. It is my view that,

It is not possible to build a single system that offers both a transparency of result and secrecy of the ballot.

Some people argue that our current system fails these tests but this is not so. The UK’s current process involve three systems, one to check that the voter is entitled, one to record the vote, and one that records the intersection between the other two for the purposes of audit. The ballots and their intersections are not indexed. While the systems are designed to be tracked, doing so requires massive privilege and is very expensive. N.B. Expense is an IT security defence. …

There’s a reason that votes are secret

I didn’t win again, but in another part of the business a comrade asked for a motion to be voted on via secret ballot. This is what the rules say

C15.I.2.M.ii   Ballot votes shall be held at meetings to select candidates and where otherwise provided for in the Party constitution; and where requested by any member supported by at least two others.

The Chair was advised that the request for a secret ballot required the agreement of the meeting, I have looked and can’t find such a rule. The purpose of this rule is to avoid intimidation and coercion. I did ask where this was defined, but got no answer.

We have now set a precedent that secret ballots can only be agreed by the whole meeting. It’s a charter for bullies. …

Balancing interests

I have been thinking about secure election systems for a while. Two events have provoked me to consider this issue today. Firstly, I was looking at building a voting system in WordPress and came across YOP Poll which does not have a secret ballot hidden from the system administrators. Secondly, the Lewisham Momentum meeting tonight it seems is going to have Momentum staff or nominees on the door.

The point of principle is that when building trustworthy systems, they must have a segregation of duties and are best observed by competing interested parties who can call foul if something wrong is happening.

In the examples above, neither the software, nor its administrators should be trusted, and in the second example, since there is no audit of their decisions neither should the door keepers who are accountable to no-one. …

Fair Votes

Fair Votes

The Electoral Reform Society (ERS) has produced a report on the general election. It’s subtitled, “Volatile Voting, random results.”  First Past the Post (FPTP) claims to be designed to deliver Governmental stability, but in the last three elections, it has failed to do this twice. Furthermore it exaggerates local & regional differences, e.g. Scotland, Wales and the SE, where the leading parties margin of victory in terms of seats is higher than it’s vote warrants and the losers are under-represented. In this article, I have summarised what I see as the main themes and illustrated what ERS believe to be the impact of implementing a fairer voting system. I also make the point that different systems will cause different behaviour and I finish with a look at Germany’s PR system and a call for smaller constituencies in the belief that it will lead to a better relationship between MPs and their electors. …

Swing!

YouGov have looked at where the Party’s votes came from compared to 2015 and produced a Sankey Diagram, which I think is really cool.

I am not sure it shows the first time voters; there should be a black segment on the left with the label “Didn’t Vote”. The original has overlays showing the swing from Tories to Labour and the loss of votes by the small parties. Labour’s challenge was to win votes from everywhere including those that didn’t vote. It actually did this, although not enough to win the election; those who thought it was too much for one election were right. …

Voting by Mobile Phone

firefoxphone

Polly Toynbee in the Guardian today bemoans the low turn out and the perceived ‘rotten borough’ nature of Britain’s parliamentary democracy. Among her arguments she suggests voting should be made easier by allowing people to use their mobile phones.

I have commented; because identifying oneself to government, counting elections and guaranteeing the secrecy of the ballot are the last things we should hand over to proprietary, closed software. Digital activists have come to the conclusion that even counting election results by scanned paper ballots is undesirable and where it is done in this country, a sample based manual verification is undertaken. I presented the argument that the regulator’s code must be open to the @labourdigital Top of the Manifestos event. …

What do London’s MEP candidates think about digital?

ec-london

Yesterday the Open Rights Group held its final European Parliament hustings at Shoreditch Village Hall in Hoxton, London. It’s been a while since I visited and it’s certainly cleaned up well. It was great to be there. On the way in, I met Claude Moraes, Labour’s spokesman who told me that the Tories non-attendance was deliberate policy. I don’t know if it’s shame at their behaviour on the lobbying around the data protection directive or fear of a digitally educated audience. The meeting was moderated by Glyn Moody, who led the meeting through the issues of privacy, surveillance, whistle blowing, net neutrality, lobbying and copyright reform. The Tories absence meant that representatives from Labour, the LibDems, both represented by incumbents Claude Moraes and Sarah Ludford,the Greens (Danny Bates) and UKIP (Paul Oakley) who were not, were present. …