With the aim of overcoming the fact that results of electronic elections are not verifiable,
some people suggest a couple of (supposed) solutions:
- Voter Verified Balloting See
Electors' verification of their recorded vote. If each elector could (and would) verify the vote
recorded on his behalf is really the one he cast, then we would verify the correctness of the election's result.
I think such a result's verification is impossible to realize since:
- all the electors should verify their own vote simultaneously at the same
time in which a (proven error-and-fraud-free) tally is executed to produce the final result.
If the counting would not occur in the same moment while ALL the votes are being verified, we could not have the
prove votes being properly tallied up: it's a joke to program any computer to show to an elector
his true vote and then not taking it in account during the count.
Furthermore, we can't build any system allowing people to verify how their votes have been recorded
- votes would be no more anonymous since voters could be tracked
(otherwise we couldn't know who can verify them). We would
miss the anonymity requirement due to the possibility to link a vote with its
voter. It is not enough to say that the "key" to make such link might be only
available to the elector himself. In paper ballots such key doesn't exist
Anyway, even if we could find a safe way to allow voters to verify the vote stored in their behalf ...
- there is no way to know if a claim of error would be honest
We know electors can't be given (for their own sake!) any "receipt" stating how they voted,
and thus there is no way for them to prove, if it is the case,
the vote stored in their behalf is not the one they really cast.
Even if it would exist an algorithm allowing the verification
of the recorded votes without breaking their anonymity, it should be
used with great care. In fact it would in any case show the electors how their vote has been
recorded and thus it would be much like as they were given a receipt of the cast vote.
But vote "receipt" can't be used!
- we must have options in case such verification fails
Any verification process must have at least two options to be taken
upon its result: if the prototype of the new car is properly working we
start producing it on large scale, but if such verification is negative we
But what could we do if somebody claims his vote to be erroneously recorded? There
would be no prove pro or against such claim; should we change the result of elections because of it?
Electors might even change their mind, what should we do if half a million people request
to change their vote? Should we allow it? Will the pro tempore winner agree?
Electronic voting's verification is quite a strange process: regardless how
it goes, the election's results are in any case confirmed!
We didn't notice it but we entered a logical loop:
If anybody can honestly say elections results' don't need any verification, please go to e-vote
otherwise go back to point 1)
- due to the large interests moved by elections (we talk about ruling people
and nations), we want electoral results to be verifiable.
- we want to use electronic vote and find out the only way to verify the final
result is to verify each electors' vote.
- discrepancies between recorded votes and what electors claim they cast cannot be proved,
thus we can't modify the result nor cancel an election
simply because (few?) people claim vote have been falsely accounted for.
- not permitting any changes we act like if results were error-free and fraud-free
and thus we could blindly accept them. This is an obvious contrast to the starting point 1)
Electronic elections results' cannot be verified
As the vote must obviously be secret, then the method to scrutinize it, to count
the votes cast must be completely out in the open, otherwise the public will lose
the possibility of verifying the results.
The only way is to use anonymous ballot papers publicly scrutinized.
These are in fact the procedures adopted to date by all the liberal democracies; a written vote in
secret on an anonymous ballot-paper that is first mixed with hundreds of others
and then counted in public together with the others. In this way the ballot-papers are tangible,
legible to the naked eye, anonymous and durable in time.
They are also verifiable later.
The counting procedures, if public control is effectively carried out, guarantee that all the ballot-papers
of a polling station are correctly interpreted. In this way, the electors are certain that their
own vote has been correctly counted even though the anonymity of the ballot-papers does not
allow the identification of individual votes. The results of the count at every polling station
are numbers visible to the naked eye and, being public, also the counting procedures are
verifiable by everyone; even the sums at the various levels (local authority,
province, region/state and nation) can be verified.
The public and repeatable procedures and votes that are tangible objects, like the ballot-papers,
constitute the only system that can guarantee anonymity and assure the correct counting of the votes.