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University Developing Technology To Vote On Your Tablet, Smartphone 259

smitty_one_each writes in with this story about a professor developing a new electronic voting system. "A Clemson University professor is developing a new electronic voting system that will allow voters to cast their ballots from home computers, tablets and smartphones. As Clemson's chair of human-centered computing, Juan Gilbert has lead teams of students over the last 10 years to create an online voting system accessible at home or on the go that will be more accurate, have increased verification and make voting more accessible to people with disabilities by offering mobile and voice-command options."
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University Developing Technology To Vote On Your Tablet, Smartphone

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  • So now... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MouseTheLuckyDog ( 2752443 ) on Sunday January 05, 2014 @07:48PM (#45874085)

    hackers will not only steal my identity, they will steal my vote.

    • by Cryacin ( 657549 )
      Don't worry, as it stands politicians have been doing it for years anyway.
      • by MouseTheLuckyDog ( 2752443 ) on Sunday January 05, 2014 @07:53PM (#45874123)

        I'm from Chicago. Democrats have been doing it for decades.

      • Re:So now... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by mi ( 197448 ) <> on Sunday January 05, 2014 @10:19PM (#45875141) Homepage Journal

        Don't worry, as it stands politicians have been doing it for years anyway.

        Indeed. And thieves have been stealing for even longer time. But only fairly recently has it become possible to steal vast sums of money without physically going to were it is stored [] — without even traveling into the country, where the storage is located.

        Once we create some sort of e-vote, the politicians — the incumbents, especially — will be in a position to rig not just a few precincts here and there, but an entire polity (city, state, nation). "If it's not close, they can't cheat," [] — was the saying about elections. With an electronic vote, much as I'd like the convenience, cheating will become easier and will no longer need a close vote...

        • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
          You can't rig an open vote. There are two reasons the votes in Congress are open. One, so that the constituents can see how their Congressman voted, and two, to eliminate vote fraud. You can't cheat a vote that's 1:1 tied to a human. The only way to do so is buy the human. The USA was founded on open voting, and that worked fine, up until a little Civil War. If we adopted it again, it'd eliminate 9.9% of today's fraud, and not introduce any new types of fraud not possible today.

          The "fix" is simpler,
          • Re:So now... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by mi ( 197448 ) <> on Sunday January 05, 2014 @11:41PM (#45875511) Homepage Journal

            The only way to do so is buy the human.

            You can also bully or otherwise coerce the same human, which is what the anonymity was meant to prevent.

            The "fix" is simpler, easier, and cheaper than today's voting system, and would fix most of what's wrong with it.

            So, your proposal is to abolish the voting anonymity... Interesting, but I'm not sure, I like that.

          • Depending on what state you live in (and few have protections that mean much), you can be fired for who you supported or voted for, if management finds out. So open voting certainly would cause a problem until that's taken care of.

          • You can't rig an open vote.

            Sure you can. You just don't do it by subverting the vote count. You do it by intimidating and bribing the voters, which is even easier.

          • You can't coerce an open vote? The hell you can't. Go read the Dictator's handbook ( []) if you haven't already. There's a forty page chapter on ways to trick-out Elections alone (URL:>). The last election in Venezuela was a fiasco. Yes, it was a legitimate election and even electoral monitors found it hadn't been falsified in any way. But the Chavez government went to great lengths to make people suspect their votes were being

    • hackers will not only steal my identity, they will steal my vote.

      That is what I was thinking the first time I heard about voting via remote terminal. It was back in the early 1980s, before very many had personal computers. The idea was to have terminals in public places where people could walk by just any old time, log in and vote on all manner of issues. ATMs were newly popular (not exactly new, but finally showing up all over) and I suppose they were the metaphor. Anyway, accounts were being "cracked" by various means at ATMs already, and making the news. At the s

    • Online voting has many security vulnerabilities including the need to trust your ISP, your router, your computer and every telecom that is an intermediary in the middle.

      Requires the trust of numerous parties. Probably requires the trust of your email provider too. And this doesn't even address the ability to verify the user.

      Credit card fraud is common online. Identity theft is common online.
      • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
        When has an ISP or router ever cracked SSL? Never, but a DNS attack, along with user error has resulted in near equivalence? I don't need to trust anyone in the middle. I don't when doing banking, no loss yet. So why is it an issue with voting?
      • Re:So now... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Monday January 06, 2014 @12:12AM (#45875675)

        Trust is actually the big issue with electronic voting, no matter the form it takes. Not that it was untrustworthy (it is, but that's not even the point). The point is that you HAVE to trust it unless you're one of the few that can actually audit it (even if you were allowed to).

        With pen&paper voting, all it takes to verify and audit an election is the ability to see where that voter made his X and to count the paper slips. That's an ability one can sensibly expect from any human being of average intelligence. Hell, even the average US voter should be able to accomplish that. Same for being part of the supervision collective to ensure that everything is in order. You can see that ballot and how it is glued shut, you can see how people deposit one slip of paper in it, that's plenty to ensure that everything is going according to plan and order.

        No such luck with any kind of electronic voting. Not with the currently in place e-voting booths, and most certainly not with online voting where you have exactly ZERO chance to audit anything. What's left is that you can trust the powers that are that everything is in order. You, Mr. Joe Average, cannot verify it. You cannot verify that the machine works as planned (even if you were allowed to examine its code, you could not understand it), so at the very least you'd have to trust those computer nerds.

        The big threat is here that it is no longer trivial to debunk voting fraud conspiracies. Today you can just dump the slips on whoever dares to call you a fraudster and have him count. What do you plan to do when someone calls your voting machines and online voting procedure into doubt? Then all that keeps your system afloat is that people trust you. If they don't, wave good bye to your system's stability because a system where people do not believe in its legitimation is waiting for a revolution.

        • Re:So now... (Score:4, Informative)

          by plover ( 150551 ) on Monday January 06, 2014 @01:28AM (#45875965) Homepage Journal

          The biggest threat is with the potential for voter coercion. A voting booth is private: you are isolated from everyone else, and therefore you can't prove you voted one way or another to someone else. But if he's standing behind you while you vote, you can sell your vote, or even be coerced into voting against your will.

    • If it really mattered for what candidate of The Party you voted, I'd be worried.

    • So now...hackers will not only steal my identity, they will steal my vote.

      Nah, the votes will belong to the NSA.

      If this type of "voting" becomes widely implemented, the pro-NSA politicians won't even have to pay lip-service to their electorates' wishes any longer in order to be elected/re-elected. Campaign ads might start looking more like a "Tarrlytons" billboard from "Idiocracy". []

      Encryption won't help, as the hardware and the algorithms have already been back-doored by the NSA. Never mind the issues with carriers.

      The government exceeding the powers it'

  • by GoodNewsJimDotCom ( 2244874 ) on Sunday January 05, 2014 @07:55PM (#45874149)
    Back when Digg was big and Reddit was new, I wanted to make a factional voting site. Basically it works like this: Everyone votes and downvotes stuff like Reddit. But everyone also has sub categories for their affiliation. An example might be: Democrat/Republican. They'd have a long check list and radio buttons of different affiliations. This way something opposing groups disagree on would be voted up for their own personal faction.

    We were going to have petitions where you could negative sign the petition to disagree. So politicians don't see a list of 10,000 signatures when 100,000 people hate it.

    The problem we had was determining who is a registered voter. It is hard to verify people as having a real identifier especially if you have no start up capital to send out stamps for snail mail verification methods. And another problem is once you have registered voters, how do you watch out for hackers? We decided we couldn't solve these problems and gave up.

    Someone really could make a hyper democracy site though. there's a market for it. Educate the voters on their desires for politics, and tell them which of their elected officials voted for or against certain topics they're interested in! It is real simple in concept. It'd start out as a voter education site, but if it seriously got powerful, politics could be different with an educated voter base.
  • Even if it could be secure (which I doubt), this would take away the ability for political parties to bully voters as they come to the polling places. It would be voted down by all existing politicians, since it would change the voting demographic too much.

    Same story as Gerrymandering. Everyone is against it... except enfranchised politicians that are being protected by it... which also happen to be the only people that can do something about it.

    • this would take away the ability for political parties to bully voters as they come to the polling places

      Have you ever been actually bullied as you come to a polling place? Bear in mind that this does not in any way qualify as "bullying":
      "Hi, I'm with Smith for dogcatcher. Have you made your decision about who you want as the local dogcatcher? If not, let me tell you why Smith would make an excellent dogcatcher ..."

      I agree that it can be annoying to listen to pitches that you don't want to hear, but that's the deal you make when you create the concept of free speech - you will hear things you disagree with, at

  • Nope (Score:5, Informative)

    by dugancent ( 2616577 ) on Sunday January 05, 2014 @07:59PM (#45874173)

    As long as there is the ability for someone to stand behind you and make sure vote a certain way, I won't support it. No one knows how I vote when I step into a voting booth.

    • I came to say exactly this, thanks. The reason there is no remote voting isn't security of the transmission or authentication, there is already technology for that. The problem is how to avoid coercion - not viable with our current technology.

      • Re:Nope (Score:4, Interesting)

        by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Sunday January 05, 2014 @08:39PM (#45874441) Homepage

        The reason there is no remote voting

        Well, actually, there is, throughout the US: absentee ballots. And absentee ballots are significantly more prone to fraud than in-person votes, including quite a few criminal prosecutions for fraud schemes across the country. Oh, and there have been cases of election officials conveniently locating a bunch of absentee ballots after election day that had been "lost".

        Back when I was living in New Hampshire during a hotly contested presidential primary, a "completely independent" group of volunteers showed up at my grandmother's nursing home to help the residents cast their votes, helpfully filling out the ballots so that all the voters needed to do was sign their name at the bottom. Clearly nothing funny going on there.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

        Don't you have postal voting in the US? What about people living overseas, like people in the military? What about the disabled who can't get to the polling station easily, or at all?

        • by gd2shoe ( 747932 )

          We do have absentee, to varying degrees based on state. Coercion is not (currently) a major problem with absentee voting because it is much easier to use it for ballot stuffing, or selective shredding. It's just not worth the effort that coercion requires.

          Now places in the US used to have coercion problems. That's why we've got secret ballots to begin with. If it was the easiest way to influence politics, we'd re-develop that particular problem in some places (big cities, small swing states, etc).

    • by MacDork ( 560499 )
      I presume you support the current system since you admit to participating in it. Absentee ballots already provide an avenue for forced voting and over a third of the eligible votes [] were cast this way in the last presidential election. I think it is safe to say electronic voting, done properly, could be just as effective as absentee ballots.
    • As long as there is the ability for someone to stand behind you and make sure vote a certain way, I won't support it. No one knows how I vote when I step into a voting booth.

      Unfortunately we seem to have already gained momentum on that particular slippery slope. The stats for absentee ballots of late... I'm almost too dejected to research myself, but I wonder if those used to be highly restricted (e.g. people who legitimately would otherwise have no way to get to the polls.)

      • Yes, at least in the state I grew up in you could only get an absentee ballot if you had no other way to make it to the poll on election day. They also didn't count the absentee ballots unless there was a close race. Now you can get "early voting" for no more than just asking and it's counted. They now open up polling locations weeks early to vote in person if you like. All of this is a terrible idea in my opinion.
    • I'm with you on this. I'll also add that I want people to put some effort into voting. It shouldn't be so easy that it's just as casual as loading up Farmville or whatever. I also do not like fully electronic touch screen type voting that has no paper trail. I've been in IT my whole life and I know better than to trust these devices and my data to both intentional and incidental corruption. This electronic and early voting stuff is a slippery slope of corruption...
    • Having someone stand behind you and make you vote a certain way could be a problem - especially if employers started coercing employees to vote a particular way in the office (which no employer may ever do, who knows, but there is a power difference and proximity).

      The bigger problem is vote buying. If you can prove to someone that you've voted one way rather than another then suddenly vote-buying becomes possible.
      (In contrast, there is currently no way to prove which way you voted to someone else. As such,

      • by gnoshi ( 314933 )

        Note: as pointed out by others, the same could be acheived using postal voting. Maybe postal voting is simply a bad idea, too...

    • The same fix as absentee. You still have voting boths, you invalidate the e-vote of anyone voting in a both. Other than someone locking you up for vote day ( is currently illegal ) problem is solved.

    • by djbckr ( 673156 )
      Washington State does by-mail voting. No voting booths. Wouldn't that be essentially the same? I haven't heard of people complaining about it.
    • No one knows how I vote when I step into a voting booth.

      A consequence is that you don't know whether your vote was actually counted for the candidate you believe you chose, so long as the election results show that candidate receiving at least 1 vote.

  • by should_be_linear ( 779431 ) on Sunday January 05, 2014 @07:59PM (#45874175)
    All hail the ruling party of AT&T
  • The only way this would ever be even remotely secure is if users of the system had to get a unique key in person or have a key mailed to them that can only be used once. Even then, it obviously could be guessed what the key is or snail mail could be intercepted. Then you'd have the issue of people claiming someone stole their vote when their party member didn't win. Why are we taking this seriously? Because someone in a University is doing it instead of a for profit company?
    • Lots of important documents travel by snail mail, which is why tampering with someone else's mail is a pretty serious offense. And unlike Internet crimes you'll actually need to be physically in US jurisdiction to screw with US mail, so your risk of ending up in jail is pretty high. It happens, but someone doing enough to actually matter to an election results would be taking a massive risk, it may be easier to stuff the ballot box or get the dead people to vote for you.
    • by Eskarel ( 565631 )

      Security isn't the problem, security combined with anonymity is the problem.

      Writing an electronic voting system is piss easy, there's some process issues with validating identification, but nothing that couldn't be resolved through the existing voter registration processes. The issue is that the only way it works without massive amounts of fraud is if enough data is stored to allow a person with access to said data to determine exactly who every single person voted for. It wouldn't be public knowledge so a

  • Pass on this story until someone more reputable reports with relevant details.

  • as i've mentioned before, i owned a software company in the 80's that developed real-time interactive modules for Galacticomm's MajorBBS...pre-www and http stuff. it was actually really cool and cutting-edge stuff.

    Tim Stryker, the creator of the MajorBBS (who sadly committed suicide in the 90's), preached that he built the MajorBBS to promote the idea of "Superdemocracy", the idea that citizens all vote on the issues that our relatively-corrupt politicians currently do.

    Here is a fascinating newspaper artic []

  • so you boss can force you to vote at work there way.

    No we need the system where you can vote in that box where others can't see you are voteing for.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      That already happens in some states in the US. When I was an admin at Microsoft, our boss's boss told us to bring in our ballots one day. Yes, in this state, we are not allowed to vote securely like in much of the country. Instead, ballots are mailed to us then are returned by mail. Several women's groups claim a large portion of husbands votes with ballots intended for their wives or children over 18. I know that working for a huge tech company means that you will have to vote the way you're told. A

  • Voting on your computer at home, or on your cellphone, or anything like it, means the elimination of the secret ballot.

    The point of the secret ballot is not only to allow you to vote without any person knowing how you voted, but to compel you to vote secretly, and thus prevent bribery, coercion, and other evils.

    That's not just me talking, that's The American and English encyclopædia of law, Volume 10, from 1899, page 585. []

    But voting on your own device on your own time opens up for possibility all manner

  • Not much bleeding point in having the most secure voting software in the universe if the client's OS or GUI is compromised. This is what TOR users found out when the NSA broke not the TOR network, but simply hacked the user's browsers and got them to betray themselves.

  • by Casandro ( 751346 ) on Monday January 06, 2014 @03:02AM (#45876223)

    it would not be democratic, at least not by German standards, since the layperson cannot check it. Even if it's secure, which it cannot be, you need at least a degree in mathematics and several days of work to understand and check it yourself. Since a voting system must be resistant to large scale attacks, i.e. the government conspiring against the voters, it is vital that everybody can check it for themselves.

    With pen and paper everything is easy to check. You look into the ballot before it is sealed, you check if everyone just throws in one ballot, and on the end you can count the ballots easily. This is something which can be checked trivially.

Federal grants are offered for... research into the recreation potential of interplanetary space travel for the culturally disadvantaged.