Netherlands bans e-voting

Glyn sez, "The Netherlands government has banned the use of electronic voting machines in future elections. This is an impressive victory by the Dutch campaigning group 'We don't trust voting computers.' [Ed: now that's an activist group name that does exactly what it says on the tin!= The Ministry of Internal Affairs said "Research indicates that a secure voting machine that is immune to the risks of eavesdropping can't be guaranteed. Developing new equipment furthermore requires a large investment, both financially and in terms of organization. The administration judges that this offers insufficient added value over voting by paper and pencil," Link (Thanks, Glyn!)


  1. Luddites!

    It’s not like there isn’t a LONG history of elections being stolen using paper ballots.

    But then, I live in Chicago, I probably am more acquainted with this kind of stuff than most people.

  2. Hey, Luddites are an ancient and proud people, not an epithet to be thrown around, like stupid-head or fart-breath. All hail King Ludd!

  3. Wow, this straightforward naming of groups is catching on: A neocon group here in the US of A has just been established, called “We Want Unauditable E-Voting Machines so We Can Manipulate Whatever Presidential Election We Want in the Name of Family Values and Jesus Christ.”

  4. There is at least one robust way to vote that can be done electronically. We did it in FidoNet. I don’t know who came up with it, it wasn’t me, and it’s not complicated.

    It was done via email in the 80’s, but you could do it in many media even paper.

    * You cast your vote (ITEM X: YES or NO) and a made-up password, serial number, etc. (emailed in; a program concatenated the vote data and password)

    * All of the votes are collated and put into a public place (download file)

    ANYONE can tally all votes at ANY time. ANYONE can see that there vote was recorded correctly.
    YOu can ask in a public place “Hey Mary, is your vote recorded correctly?” and Mary can say yes — without revealing what her vote was.

    Simple, huh?

    The only glitch in that implementation was if two people used the same password (“snoopy1”) with two different votes, but that’s an implementation detail.

  5. A friend of mine helped monitor the Palestinian elections as part of Jimmy Carter’s team. Pencils & paper through-and-through, of course. Each precinct had representatives from all the parties laboriously counting and re-counting all the ballots, and dealing with any indescrepancies by committee. A Palestinian volunteer lamented to my friend the lack of “quick & easy” electronic voting methods, like we have in the U.S. …yet in the end, the consensus among the community of international election monitors was that this was the fairest, cleanest, best-run electoral process they had ever encountered. As my friend told me, “it was REALLY boring”…as well it should be. The Palestinians knew how much international scrutiny these elections would be subject to, so it was practically a point of pride to keep them demonstrably peaceful, fair and honest. Good ol’ no-nonsense paper ballots, effective organization and independent oversight…if only we had these in the U.S….

  6. @noen: Well, why aren’t they? The main reason the dutch e-voting machines were disqualified in the first place was that the manufacturers of the machines adhered to the “obscurity = security” model.
    I’m sure e-voting will have a shining future in the Netherlands. But to call the argument that dutch voting machines are technically unsound a Luddite argument is a little overstated, don’t you think? As a matter of fact the movement is headed by the founder of the first dutch internet provider XS4all. Look him up and you’ll find he is quite a technophile idealist.

  7. Tomic — Actually, there’s another potential hole in that plan: A voter can be forced to reveal his vote by someone with power over him. Your boss can say “Prove to me that you voted for Sam Smith or you’re fired.” Your local mobster can threaten to break your kneecaps if you don’t show that you voted how he wants.

    I was looking through voting regs for NY state a few years back, and I noticed that the law allows you to take a person into the booth with you to help you vote, as long as that person isn’t your employer or your union rep. Those exceptions are probably due to some past history of massive vote coercion (most likely in the Tammany Hall era).

  8. @ #2 “Luddites!”

    Not really, read the facts you would be surprised. The hacker/activists involved with this proved that the votes were readable outside the voting machines using off the shelf equipment, among other things.

  9. electronic voting is off the agenda in Ireland too.
    it may be slightly more time consuming and laborious but nothing beats the transparency of pen and paper and open count…

  10. the law allows you to take a person into the booth with you to help you vote

    The army in Zimbabwe has been assisting voters in the last election.

  11. @11 – Hal – Correct! The Irish government spend 10s of MILLIONS on research into e-voting and shelved the possibility of using it because of the unauditable nature of the system.

  12. I’m glad that our Dutch gov. finally made this decision. But they are doing it for the wrong reasons. They reason it because you could eavesdrop on the votes being made, by using special sensors, and not because the process was as transparent as mud.

    While yes, we have a vote-secrecy, I don’t think that should be the major reason for banning any e-voting machines. It should be because recounts were technically impossible. (Well you could press the same button again, but you would have no idea whether that tally was correct, since there was no way to check it through a second source)

    With paper ballots you have a stack of papers you can have someone else count again, in case you don’t trust the numbers.

  13. With paper ballots you have a stack of papers you can have someone else count again, in case you don’t trust the numbers.

    Paper is also slow and expensive to recount, and requires a strict evidence chain which voting commissions haven’t been willing to provide. Instead if we used cryptography, then multiple independent agencies with computers could verify election results in less than a day: End-to-end audit system

  14. #5 tomic mentions voting via email in FidoNet. The part I don’t get is what stops me from stuffing the ballot box with millions of votes?

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