Wednesday, February 02, 2005

UK view on voter-verifiable audit trails

An article in the Guardian views with alarm the prospect of using DRE equipment in UK elections, citing many problems in the UK and in the US.

"For the first time, vote-rigging may become a serious issue at a general election - perhaps in just three months' time. With several cases of alleged vote-rigging and fraud already under investigation - in Reading, Birmingham, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Lancashire, Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire - the Electoral Commission is pressing guidelines on detecting voting fraud on senior police and election officers. Meanwhile, the government remains keen on electronic voting and is aiming at 'an e-enabled election some time after 2006'. Will this raise turnout or simply increase the risk of fraud?"

"Several pilots have been held. In 2003, six local authorities electronically counted ballot papers where votes had also been cast electronically. Surprisingly, there has been no manual checking of the e-counting results. However, a full-blown test run of e-voting has been carried out elsewhere, with very instructive results. It shows that e-voting is neither secure nor tamper-proof, and allegations are surfacing that it may have affected the result. This dry run was the recent US presidential election..."

"We must be extremely cautious of the surge towards electronic voting. Before importing US voting systems into Britain, any software secrets in the machine technology must be made transparent. Software must be properly certified, and there must be paper trails. If these conditions cannot be met, electronic voting should not be introduced. There are better ways of increasing turnout than simply changing the voting technology."



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