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The Internet Politics

Using the Internet To Subvert Democracy 202

Posted by kdawson
from the you-thought-diebold-was-bad dept.
david_adams writes "All the recent talk about various polls and elections being pranked or hijacked, serious and silly alike, prompted me to write an article about the technical realities behind online polling, and the political fallout of ever becoming subject to online voting for serious elections. Even if we were to be able to limit voting to legitimate, legal voters, the realities of social networking and the rise of Internet-based movements would dramatically alter the political landscape if online voting were to become commonplace."
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Using the Internet To Subvert Democracy

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  • Dumb article. (Score:5, Informative)

    by tpgp (48001) * on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @01:45AM (#27755823) Homepage

    Stupid article - a transparent attempt to get his friend a new bicycle. I strongly urge everyone to go to the Kona website [konaworld.com] and vote for the Tanuki (if you don't understand why, RTFA).

    Oh, and TFA states: That's why no country practices direct democracy. Wrong [geschichte-schweiz.ch]

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by NiteMair (309303)

      Doesn't your suggestion to vote the opposite essentially represent the exact same behavior?

      People should be encouraged to vote their minds, not vote how you think they should vote.

      • by tpgp (48001) *

        Doesn't your suggestion to vote the opposite essentially represent the exact same behavior?

        No - it shows how an attempt to subvert a vote like this can itself be subverted in an unexpected manner.

        • by Jurily (900488)

          No - it shows how an attempt to subvert a vote like this can itself be subverted in an unexpected manner.

          Which makes the outcome of the vote fair?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by tpgp (48001) *

            Which makes the outcome of the vote fair?

            No. What on earth made you think it did?

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Jurily (900488)

              Which makes the outcome of the vote fair?

              No. What on earth made you think it did?

              That was exactly my point.

    • Re:Dumb article. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DreamsAreOkToo (1414963) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @02:37AM (#27756085)

      I like how it says that internet based movements would alter the political landscape (translation: people would be heard again) but the article is "Using the Internet to Subvert Democracy."

      Since when was Democracy redefined to, "What the rich and powerful want?"

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by blitzkrieg3 (995849)

        (translation: Internet people would be heard for the first time)

        And considering the types of subcultures the Internet puts out (ahem: 4chan) I'm not sure that's a good thing.

        • Re:Dumb article. (Score:4, Insightful)

          by rtb61 (674572) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @05:55AM (#27757035) Homepage

          What is really odd about your statement, you use sub as in subculture but I think you don't really know what it means, in light of the way you used it. So the new internet democracy, people as individuals have the opportunity to have a voice, and collections of people ie. all of the various subcultures of the overall culture of that particular societal group will be able to share their thoughts within that subculture as well as within society as a whole.

          So 4chan, or the Republicans, or the Klu Klux Klan or Bankers or Corporate Executives or Religious Fundamentalists or any of the other subcultures which express views which substantially diverge from the average, more reasonable and moral view of the general populace, will have a voice, however they will not be able to inflate that voice through violence or by paying for a much louder voice and effectively silencing the majority as they have done for the last couple of hundred years.

          So the internet age is, the age of "a government of the people, by the people and for the people" and not as a platitude but as a developing reality.

          • by Jurily (900488)

            So 4chan, or the Republicans, or the Klu Klux Klan or Bankers or Corporate Executives or Religious Fundamentalists or any of the other subcultures which express views which substantially diverge from the average, more reasonable and moral view of the general populace, will have a voice, however they will not be able to inflate that voice through violence or by paying for a much louder voice and effectively silencing the majority as they have done for the last couple of hundred years.

            So, you think true democracy is "who's hacking the vote better"? Think it over before we elect Pedobear for president.

            Btw. The "more reasonable and moral view of the general populace" is not what you think it is. It's the lowest common denominator, not the majority.

      • Re:Dumb article. (Score:4, Informative)

        by foobsr (693224) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @03:43AM (#27756441) Homepage Journal
        Democracy redefined

        Quote [historyguide.org]: "The citizens of any given polis were an elite group of people — slaves, peasants, women and resident aliens were not part of the body of citizens."

        Any attempt of 'change' would indeed disturb the process of finding the roots again.

        CC.
      • when was Democracy redefined to, "What the rich and powerful want?"

        Early 60's, I believe.

      • Federalist #10 (Score:4, Insightful)

        by supercrisp (936036) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @07:32AM (#27757467)
        Federalist #10 explores how true democracy would be susceptible to faction: http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa10.htm [constitution.org]. The "founding fathers" were very concerned about how easily swayed the common people are; in fact "mob" comes from "mobile vulgaris," the movable herd. I think Nietzsche's considerations on class resentment apply here too. Think about the true but disturbing populist movements like the French Revolution, the Stalinist and Maoist revolutions and so on. They're nasty things. Populism can become ugly quickly.
        • by hedwards (940851)

          As opposed to the system we have. You can knock populism all you want, but under the system that's been in place in the US the benefits of productivity have almost entirely gone to the rich elite while those at the bottom suffer from lack of opportunity.

          You can say what you will about populism, but it's less dangerous than the alternatives.

          I think it's interesting how it's ok to be really angry when workers want to organize or get some benefit out of increased work, but when the elite's want more it's entir

      • Re:Dumb article. (Score:4, Interesting)

        by krou (1027572) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @07:38AM (#27757511)

        Actually, I would say that that has always been the real definition of democracy. The definition of democracy that most people describe is completely different out of necessity, because it's a piece of propaganda that the masses need to believe. The "bewildered herd" needs to be managed, because they're too dumb to know what's good for them. That's been a central theme of elite political theory for a very long time (see, for example, the writings of Edward Bernays, Walter Lippman, Reinhold Niebuhr). Even when the US was founded, James Madison was quite clear [yale.edu] about what the purpose of the senate should be:

        The man who is possessed of wealth, who lolls on his sofa, or rolls in his carriage, cannot judge of the wants or feelings of the day laborer. The government we mean to erect is intended to last for ages. The landed interest, at present, is prevalent; but in process of time, when we approximate to the states and kingdoms of Europe; when the number of landholders shall be comparatively small, through the various means of trade and manufactures, will not the landed interest be overbalanced in future elections, and unless wisely provided against, what will become of your government? In England, at this day, if elections were open to all classes of people, the property of the landed proprietors would be insecure. An agrarian law would soon take place. If these observations be jsut, our government ought to secure the permanent interests of the country against innovation. Landholders ought to have a share in the government, to support these invaluable interests, and to balance and check the other. They ought to be so constituted as to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority. The senate, therefore, ought to be this body; and to answer these purposes, they ought to have permanency and stability.

      • by sakti (16411)

        > Since when was Democracy redefined to, "What the rich and powerful want?"

        Since universal suffrage.

      • by vertinox (846076)

        Since when was Democracy redefined to, "What the rich and powerful want?"

        It was originally defined as such in Greek and Roman times. In that respect, some classes in Roman society actually got more freedom when Roman Emperors disbanded the republic and prevented the patricians (rich guys) from abusing the plebs (poor guys).

        And the US founding fathers new this because they knew a democracy by itself doesn't mean the people elected are going to respect everyone rights (like they had with the English parliamen

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by blitzkrieg3 (995849)
      Well, if the Kona ends up winning, you are totally proving his point. His point being, for those of you that didn't RTFA, that an online community (such as an "OMG FRIST POAST!!!1!" on slashdot) can easily throw the results of an online poll.

      Right now voting stands on 1587 total votes, 44% for the Tanuki and 45% for the Cadabra.
    • by jabithew (1340853)

      The United States has limited direct democracy in the form of ballot-paper propositions [wikipedia.org].

    • Maybe he wanted Tanuki to win. :)
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Yet another shitty website (micropoll) which requires javascript to initiate page loads. Who the fuck is teaching web developers to do this? They must be stopped.

    • Oh hey look now his friend is losing by over a thousand votes... I WONDER how that happened...

      *snickers*

    • by jDeepbeep (913892)

      TFA states: That's why no country practices direct democracy. Wrong [geschichte-schweiz.ch]

      And here are the Swiss [yahoo.com] raising their hands to ban nude hiking by germans.

  • by Tokerat (150341)

    CowboyNeal

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Ron Paul!

      (This is referring to how Ron Paul supporters would in the year leading up to the election, for lack of a better term, "flash mob" any online poll that had Ron Paul as a choice and spam votes for Ron Paul. It didn't really matter what the poll was, it could have been "Who would you like to see devoured by a pack of dingos?", as long as Ron Paul was an option they'd be there spamming for him.)

  • In one paragraph the article calls the Internet "meritocratic," but still wants to argue that it "subverts" democracy. Maybe, there is no "tyranny of the minority." Just maybe, people look at a lot of institutions as absurd and really would like to see Stephen Colbert in charge of them, and it's just taken the Internet increasing the flow of information for us to realize this.
    • Meritocracy is not Democracy.

      Do you really think that if the during the 2008 presidential election, Stephen Colbert was on the ballot, he would get something other than a minority of the vote?

      Or that 66% [msn.com] of a randomly selected cross section of msnbc viewers would pick Ron Paul as the "most convincing candidate"?

      it's just taken the Internet increasing the flow of information for us to realize this.

      That is exactly the problem. Online polls are only really representative of people who get news and information from the Internet, which is a minority of people.

      • by dzfoo (772245)

        Amen!

        People who use the Internet (and in particular, those in the media who think themselves part of the "in crowd") seem to think that they are the majority, and therefore, that trends appearing on the Internet reflect the population of the country--and sometimes of the world--at large. This has become ridiculuous to the point of comparing the rankings of, say, Google search results with the public opinion of a nation, or at times even fact.

        People

    • by vertinox (846076)

      In one paragraph the article calls the Internet "meritocratic," but still wants to argue that it "subverts" democracy.

      I think its main point (or at least the one I got) is that people who lead internet communities tend to be able to drown out opposition simply by their viewership base and also represses dissent on their own websites.

      In a sense, a large internet community can have many voices but the administers of the community (if not inclined to do so) can repress the voices they choose and even though th

  • by captnbmoore (911895) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @01:50AM (#27755851)
    Computers have no practical place in elections unless there is a paper trail to verify the count. They just cause more confusion than hanging chads.
    • by symbolset (646467) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @02:00AM (#27755925) Journal

      Until computers are granted suffrage they ought not be trusted to count votes.

      • by Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @02:26AM (#27756039)
        True story: When I was an undergrad I saw a table setup at the quad with a large sign that said "End Woman's Suffrage" I went up to talk to the guys and they literally had an entire clipboard of signatures, primarily from women thinking that "suffrage" was some bad thing akin to suffering. They were sponsored by the psychology department, I don't know what they were trying to prove, but I learned that day how stupid most people are.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Stormwatch (703920)

          I don't know what they were trying to prove, but I learned that day how stupid most people are.

          THAT is what they were trying to prove.

        • They were trying to prove that people want to be heard, that people want to make a lasting impact in the world. And that people more often than not don't even know what they're for, against or at all.

          Go out in the streets with a friend who lugs some large camera around and pose as some sort of "opinion asker" for a local TV station. Ask random strangers whether they have heterosexual friends, or whether they are heterosexual. And be surprised of the answers.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by rts008 (812749)

            They were trying to prove that people want to be heard, that people want to make a lasting impact in the world. And that people more often than not don't even know what they're for, against or at all.

            That's a contradictory set of goals, purposes, and expectations...and nothing new, in fact, desire, or concept....nothing new at all.

            Go out in the streets with a friend who lugs some large camera around and pose as some sort of "opinion asker" for a local TV station. Ask random strangers whether they have heterosexual friends, or whether they are heterosexual. And be surprised of the answers.

            Don't try this in Boston if your camera has LED's. It could get ugly for you as a "terrorist".(sarcastic joke implied here)

            Also, don't be surprised by how many times you get punched in the face and kicked in the 'nads in places like Oklahoma;-)...if you are lucky. (no sarcasm/troll/flamebait intended...too many times I have witnessed some 'crazy shit' here)

            On the other hand, y

        • Why exactly would people be expected to know what women's suffrage means in this day and age? At least in this country, the term hasn't been used in normal conversation for some time, it was part of a political battle that is 80 years gone, and left our vocabulary.

          Expecting people to know the meaning of an archaic word with a phonetic relationship to something completely different seems silly.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward
            So people don't know what Suffrage is, can't understand what "End womens suffrage!" means, yet signed the "petition" anyway. That's sort of the point...
          • by foobsr (693224)
            the term hasn't been used in normal conversation for some time, it was part of a political battle that is 80 years gone
            the meaning of an archaic word

            It is about time to write a SF-story about the consequences of a situation when the average memory span is determined by short term memory.

            CC.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Nursie (632944)

            Um, what?

            Suffrage is not an archaic word and everyone, I mean everyone, should have learned about the suffragettes and the struggle to get women the vote. It just proves people are idiots, sorry.

            • by Kagura (843695)
              If the petition were titled "End Women's Right to Vote", it would have gotten a lot fewer signatures. The meaning of "suffrage" is the issue.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Blakey Rat (99501)

            Whatever the justification for not knowing the meaning of the word "sufferage", the *point* is that people are signing a petition for something they know nothing about. Same thing as the pranks you see every so often when people ask to sign a petition banning the chemical di-hydrogen monoxide.

        • by McNihil (612243)

          I believe your sigma-field is not complete...

          How many of the undersigned truly did want to end women right to vote?

          How many of the participants read "End female suffering" ? (Many people do not read the entire word if they think what it is... and they see what they want to see and do things without double checking.)

          this just to name a few glaringly obvious cases.

          So the test albeit interesting does nothing... things like this should definitely be left to proper statisticians and not to psychology... wrong co

    • by subreality (157447) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @02:31AM (#27756053)

      Computers have no practical place in elections unless there is a paper trail to verify the count.

      To the point: Computers' place in elections should be solely to produce a clean, unambiguously marked, human readable, machine countable paper ballot, and the subsequent counting thereof.

  • Robustness (Score:5, Interesting)

    by noz (253073) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @01:53AM (#27755887)

    Changing democratic preferences is not a subversion of democracy. Many would argue it would make for a more robust democracy.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vandan (151516)

      Agreed. The original story makes it sound like a deviation from the current would be bad. I think pretty much anything would be better. In particular, more actual substance ... more discussion ... more grouping of people of similar interests. This isn't "subversion". It's just discussion. God forbid people actually have a fucking clue what they're voting on before the fact ...

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by taucross (1330311)
        It's not subversion, but one could still consider it forked.
      • I'm all for what you suggest - that people have a clue what they're voting on before the fact. In NL there's various 'vote guides' that ask you a bunch of questions and at the end you see what political party your view is most aligned with, then 2nd choice, etc. with links to their full agendas, ideals, etc. so you can do some more checking of your own. That's great!

        Go outside of that, though, and you have mob rule, groupthink, etc. What was that twitter thing again, #amazonfail?

        People -enjoy- assuming t

    • Agreed, but the tone of the article is that the change is "we're letting all the riff-raff in". Mostly that's hot air, because it's conflating elections where actual humans are allowed to vote only once with unauthenticated web polls.

      I think there are two important metrics at play here: #1, what percentage of eligible voters will vote; #2, how well informed they are on the issues, on average.

      #1 clearly goes up with internet voting, or any other method that makes it easy for the sick, elderly, remote, lazy,

  • Polls != Democracy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @02:06AM (#27755947) Homepage Journal

    Democracy is the force of the majority over the minority. It doesn't matter if you have elections or not.. that's just a formality.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @02:13AM (#27755989)

      "A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine."

      ~ Thomas Jefferson, 3rd President of the United States

      • by martin-boundary (547041) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @02:59AM (#27756223)

        "A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine."

        He's right, democracy stinks. That's why many people past and present prefer the alternative of ruling the mob, where one percent of the people take away the rights of the other ninety-nine.

      • by twostix (1277166)
        Unfortunately all advanced forms of government seem to devolve into to populist democracies, probably then onto dictatorship but we're not quite far enough along the timeline to see yet.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by VShael (62735)

        A quote that's often led to the comparison that democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what's for lunch.

        The more accurate comparison would be two poor men and a rich man, deciding who foots the bill.

        The 51% of Jefferson's quote, or the majority in its trite examples, are not the wolves. They are the sheep. In a country like America, it is the poor, (the not-wealthy) who will always be in the majority. That's the nature of capitalism.

        So it's not about 51% taking away the rights of 49%. It's about the 7

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by supercrisp (936036)
          As a native of the rural South, I'd also like to point out that this majority votes time and again for Republicans who decrease taxes on the wealthy along with services to the poor, like education funding. It's called the "Southern Strategy," brought to you by Lee Atwater. It works because that majority of "just folks" tends also to be bigoted and susceptible to race-baiting and gay-baiting, probably because of the crummy education they got, along with the crummy, reactionary religion they're taught. If yo
        • So it's not about 51% taking away the rights of 49%. It's about the 75% say, making sure that the 25% don't get mega rich at the expense of others. Or even that the 5% of the people can't own 50% of the wealth. That sort of thing.

          That sort of thing. Like the 75% deciding that they don't like what the 25% is doing?

          The problem with your arguement, is that the 75% vs the 25% isn't limited to wealth. It can be all things, race, religion, political views. Anything.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DNS-and-BIND (461968)
        "Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!"
        -- Benjamin Franklin
    • by damona (1182755) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @02:24AM (#27756035)
      <quote><p>Democracy is the force of the majority over the minority. It doesn't matter if you have elections or not.. that's just a formality.</p></quote>

      That's just a facet of first-past-the-post democracies.

      There are actually democracies where it's virtually impossible to get a majority.

      Americans...
    • by Maelwryth (982896) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @02:47AM (#27756139)
      MMP [wikipedia.org] and is currently in use by Bolivia, Germany, Italy, Lesotho, New Zealand, Romania, South Africa, United Kingdom, and Venezuela in one form or another.

      Can't really talk about the other countries, but in New Zealand the biggest downfall seems to happen when the major parties are closely matched and have to form coalitions with the minors for trade offs. This appears to be both a benefit and a disadvantage, depending on who you agree on at the time. :)
  • Stop pretending that online voting will not become the norm in the very near future. The fact that some previous implemented systems are inaccurate and insecure doesn't mean that ALL future systems are. I have yet to see a satisfactory e-voting system where they incorporating existing security technologies like encryption for eavesdropping, digital certificate/signature for identification, OTP like RSA for authentication. Combined all these security measure would be a good starting point, in the future p
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by maharb (1534501)

      Even if you could transport that vote 100% of the time securely and accurately you still have a huge problem. The problem with any system where you can vote in plain sight of other people will lead to all sorts of complications. Mainly the creation of a new market, the votes market. People will probably buy votes. Even if its not enough to change an election it is still going to be considered far more important to ensure this isn't happening than to let people vote from home.

      So maybe we can transport a v

      • by dbcad7 (771464)

        There isn't anything really stopping what your suggesting with the current system, other than verifying that the bought vote was cast the way the buyer wanted.

        The whole vote buying scenario is filled with problems.. both for seller and buyer.. so many problems that idea doesn't seem practical. First the buyer trying to find sellers (and vice versa) without getting caught.. Then you have the whole problem of establishing a price that the seller is willing to accept based upon the risk.. And then there is the

        • by dbcad7 (771464)

          One more thing to illustrate my point... If someone tries to sell me illegal drugs I can say no, and let them go on their merry way.. same thing if they are trying to sell me what I suspect is stolen property (within reason), or a variety of many other petty crimes that some lowlifes might try and get me involved in, I'd pretty much walk away.. However I can assure you that if someone tried to buy my vote, I'd turn their ass in in a heartbeat.. and I be disgusted with anyone who told me that they did such a

    • Re:Luddite alert (Score:5, Informative)

      by laughingcoyote (762272) <barghesthowl.excite@com> on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @02:45AM (#27756117) Journal

      So ultimately, it is all about how secure the process and implementation are, and not whether the medium is on a piece of paper or through the internet.

      I program computers for a living. They are an excellent tool for a lot of things. Totally electronic voting (whether at a polling place or over the Internet) is not a good use for that tool.

      Here is a user interface. Push some buttons on it. It is going to send some data somewhere. Did it send the data you thought it would? Did it send it at all? If so, was it properly received at the other end? How would you know? Even if the UI tells you so, it could be saying so incorrectly, by either accident or malice.

      Here is a piece of paper with readable language on it. Are the dots in the columns where you wanted your votes to be cast? You can answer that.

      Here is a data file with a million entries in it. 35% of those entries are for value A. Change that to 60% with little to no evidence anything was changed. A well-designed script can do that in a blink.

      Here are one million pieces of paper, 35% of which are (marked in ink or with punches) for value A. Change that to 60% with little to no evidence any changes were made. Now you've got a laborious and intensive process ahead of you, that aside from the fact that the papers are watched and you are very likely to leave evidence of tampering.

      Recognizing a technology's legitimate limitations does not a Luddite make. The Internet is great for informal polls. It is not a good tool for serious ones such as an election where the results must be accurate and verifiable.

      • The financial institutions seemed to have cracked it with regard to verifiable, traceable, tamper-proof data exchange - why aren't VISA or MasterCard getting in on the act?
        • by dzfoo (772245)

          Right. That's precisely why credit and debit cards are infallible and secure, and why we never hear about identity theft or fraud.

                    -dZ.

          • But do you ever hear about the clearing houses losing data etc? The issues you describe are not failures of the system, but failures outside of the system that use the system in the same way as normal events.

            If you ever look into fraud cases, its obvious that banks can track financial transactions throughout the system, they can't simply disappear until they are taken out of the system.
      • "I program computers for a living."

        CS degree, 20yrs commercial experience - IMHO the parent is one of the best posts I have read on electronic voting.
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        There are two simple responses which I feel invalidate your analysis. Point the first: I can log into my bank and transfer funds, nobody thinks I should be unable to do this because I might enter the wrong number. Why should I be held responsible for my own banking activity, but not my own voting activity? Point the second: Since we apparently can't recount the paper ballots anyway, who fucking cares? Voting is masturbation so long as the majority believes that there are only two parties and that voting for

        • by weicco (645927)

          There are two simple responses which I feel invalidate your analysis.

          No, they don't and they are totally incorrect. Let's see... And oh yes, I live in Finland so this goes probably differently whereever you live.

          Why should I be held responsible for my own banking activity, but not my own voting activity?

          We have laws which explicitly prevents that. A person or company cannot gain unearned richess from such a mistake. So you can call your bank and say "I accidentally transferred all my savings to wrong accoun

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            Why should I be held responsible for my own banking activity, but not my own voting activity?

            We have laws which explicitly prevents that. A person or company cannot gain unearned richess from such a mistake.

            Is your lack of imagination perpetual, or is it a temporary condition resulting from twisted knickers? HINT: People can transfer funds between their own accounts.

            In election there is no such possibility. Someone could come to your house, keep a shotgun pointed to your head and ask politely you to give your vote to candidate X. You cast your vote (or loose your head) and that's it. And this enables you to sell your vote, which is explicitly forbidden by the law. Selling is possible in normal paper-voting but there is no evidence you to proof that you actually cast your vote in the way the buyer wanted so I really doubt that you wont get any money either.

            Stupid example because: You need too many people to execute such a scheme.

            Even after that recount is possible by court order.

            That is an incredibly stupid thing to say given that the Supreme Court was used to prevent a completely legitimate recount. In practice, a recount is just not going to happen unless the election results have been gamed by some other means than affecting any actual count.

    • Re:Luddite alert (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Opportunist (166417) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @02:59AM (#27756225)

      Computer based voting can never be secured to the same point as paper based voting. For a very simple reason: Trust. You would have to trust someone.

      Paper has one key feature that a computer can never reach: Anyone literate can use it and verify it. You can read, or at least tell left from right and someone tells you left is Party A and right is Party B, you can recount. Also, should someone try to mess with the ballot, anyone with normal working senses can be a bystander to ensure this won't happen. You can see that someone opens the ballot, a simple (but very, very special) paper slip glued to the lock (aka a seal) can already show whether someone tampered with it.

      With computers, you first of all have to trust the maker of the election hardware and software, or at least you have to trust all the auditors, first that they did their job right and second that they're not "in" with the makers. You, Joe Average, cannot test the reliability of the setup. You're no computer expert. And if you are, and even if you're giving the chance to audit the software, you know that you simply cannot ensure to 100% that every single vote will be counted the way it is supposed to be. With paper, no problem. Take the votes and start counting. Anyone can do it.

      Tamper proof... is it? I can't tell if the ballot has been opened, I cannot tell whether someone will see who voted which way. Can you? Can Joe?

      No matter how you twist and turn it, computer elections cannot be made reliable to the same extent we have today with paper ballots.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Computer based voting can never be secured to the same point as paper based voting. For a very simple reason: Trust.

        The last time somebody tried to actually recount ballots in a presidential election, the recount was halted under completely bullshit premises. The only thing that I trust is that the election will be stolen no matter what means we use to tally votes. We might as well just work by a "Show of hands" system if we're not going to elect by the will of the people.

      • To be completely fair, even with existing election machines you need trust. Where I vote, we use the old Push Lever style voting machines. I need to trust that it won't discard my vote (either via malice or accident) if I vote for Candidate A versus Candidate B. Computers could be used for voting in a way that is more trust-worthy than the current voting machines that I use. The computer could print a filled out ballot that says in human and machine readable language that I voted for Candidate A. Anoth

    • by twostix (1277166)

      You think that any government sponsored vote tallying system will ever use such complex and costly things as quantum encryption?

      RSA has been around for how long again? Do any of them use it...No.

      *Hint* No government in the world is going to develop or pay hundred of millions of dollars for an ultra secure hollywood movie style electronic systems that will be used for one day every four years. Especially when there's a perfectly good, proven and cheap way of doing it that's worked over and over for the last

    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      I am a singularist, I am a far cry from being a luddite. I think electronic voting is the worse idea that democratic leaders accepted recently. Why ? Currently, it is a mathematical problem that *may* be solved one day but that currently isn't, to design a cryptographic system that allows :
      * Anonymousness of votes
      * Verifiability of votes
      * Verifiability of results/counting
      * Not to rely on a trusted third party

      Currently, paper ballots allow all of these and no cryptographic system works with all these
  • Isn't subverting democracy kind of like framing OJ Simpson? Sure, people do it, but does it really matter?
  • If we had a web-enabled voting and polling system that was workable and secure, these 'polls' would be as relevant as the Semaphore, Telegraph, and Pony Express is today competing with the internet. Oh, yeah, with smoke signals for a 'back-up system. Printing presses for extra points.

  • A few years of turmoil may be a good thing as it would hopefully teach the people the value of good leadership over what most "democracies" currently have which is wishy-washy in-it-for-themselves brain-dead corrupt morons running the place.

    What I think we really need is the next generation of rule beyond democracy. I don't know exactly what form it would take but just like democracy brought about a separation of the legislature and the judiciary we should probably now work towards a separation of the needs

  • by SystemicPlural (1405625) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @03:36AM (#27756415)
    Describing this for the UK but it can be adapted for anywhere.
    After the election which took place as normal. Every member of parliament gets a vote that is proportionate to the number of constituents that are eligible to vote.
    Everyone who is eligible to vote can change who represents them to any of the sitting MPs, once every 3 moths or so. This takes a vote away from their MP and gives it to the MP they want to have it. (Suggest that libraries are used for this purpose).

    This process has the following effects.
    1. It does not disenfranchise those who don't want to do more than they already do.
    2. It maintains an element of local representation.
    3. It makes MPs do what they say they will do, because if they don't people will stop supporting them a lot more quickly.
    4. It allows for a far greater degree of representation. Out of the several hundred sitting MPs it is likely that at least one will closely represent your views.
    • After the election which took place as normal. Every member of parliament gets a vote that is proportionate to the number of constituents that are eligible to vote. Everyone who is eligible to vote can change who represents them to any of the sitting MPs, once every 3 moths or so. This takes a vote away from their MP and gives it to the MP they want to have it. (Suggest that libraries are used for this purpose).

      Then you end up with two or three popular celebrity MPs having all the votes, and 600 backbench

  • ...the rise of movements would dramatically alter the political landscape if voting were to become commonplace.

    There, fixed that for you.

  • by rts008 (812749) on Wednesday April 29, 2009 @05:06AM (#27756781) Journal

    "All the recent talk about various polls and elections being pranked or hijacked, serious and silly alike, prompted me to write an article about the technical realities behind online polling, and the political fallout of ever becoming subject to online voting for serious elections. Even if we were to be able to limit voting to legitimate, legal voters, the realities of social networking and the rise of Internet-based movements would dramatically alter the political landscape if online voting were to become commonplace.

    "[all emphasis mine]

    Yes!1 Yes!1 Abso-fscking-lutely!1!
    Let's put EVERY-FSCKING-THING that determines/influences our political process online!...ASAP!
    The only realistic questions become then are:

    1. "Should we concentrate on learning Russian, Chinese, or both?" (least pessimistic scenario)
    2. Will 'Twitter' [wikipedia.org] take over Congress, and sentient life?(do not confuse the two to your detriment)
    3. ???
    4.Profit!!!**

    What could possibly go wrong???? (Hint: I am learning Russian)

    ** Can I still post on /. if I voted for CowboyNeal?

  • Everybody knows that democracy is 3 wolves and a sheep voting on what's for dinner, but I'm surprised at how inept the discussion has been so far. Here's a good example at how a democratic system can be subverted [boingboing.net], and there's not much you can do about dedicated opponents in similar cases. But it has little to do with the internet.
  • Internet, safeguard of free speech, tool of the common man against oppression.
    Democracy, safeguard of freedom in general, tool of the common man against oppression.

    Internet... subvert democracy? *head asplode*

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