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Old 23rd July 2018, 07:16 AM   #1
JoeMorgue
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Electronic voting

I wish we'd get over our fear of online voting. 99% of America has a web capable device near literally grafted to them every waking moment of their life and even for the small percentage that don't that just means nearly every home, office, library, and internet cafe becomes a voting booth.

Voting website opens a 8 a.m. Eastern Standard time on a Monday and closes at 8 p.m Eastern Standard time the following Saturday. You login to the website and it gives you breakdown all your eligible elections. You pick the candidates, hit a big "Vote" button. Sign out. That's over 5 full days where the only requirement is "Get to some kind of online capable device for maybe 5 minutes" Over night on Saturday all the votes can be tallied, on Sunday verified by some external auditing system to give people the warm and fuzzy, and the results announced Sunday night.
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Old 23rd July 2018, 07:30 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
I wish we'd get over our fear of online voting. 99% of America has a web capable device near literally grafted to them every waking moment of their life and even for the small percentage that don't that just means nearly every home, office, library, and internet cafe becomes a voting booth.

Voting website opens a 8 a.m. Eastern Standard time on a Monday and closes at 8 p.m Eastern Standard time the following Saturday. You login to the website and it gives you breakdown all your eligible elections. You pick the candidates, hit a big "Vote" button. Sign out. That's over 5 full days where the only requirement is "Get to some kind of online capable device for maybe 5 minutes" Over night on Saturday all the votes can be tallied, on Sunday verified by some external auditing system to give people the warm and fuzzy, and the results announced Sunday night.
My fear is mostly related to a lake of faith in our government ability to secure an online system. So far, they haven't demonstrated much ability to do so. Neither have many other organizations for that matter. Also, don't see it helping much. You make get more people with less interest in politics voting but I'm not sure how that helps anything.

I have hope that states experimenting with open primaries might help break the duopoly but I'd like to see some form of ranked choice voting or instant runoff voting.
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Old 23rd July 2018, 07:34 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by ahhell View Post
My fear is mostly related to a lake of faith in our government ability to secure an online system.
Other than just a general distrust of technology I don't see why we'd trust our government to count paper ballots (or some equivalent) but not trust them to do it electronically.

We file our taxes electronically. No reason we can't vote that way.
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Old 23rd July 2018, 07:51 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Other than just a general distrust of technology I don't see why we'd trust our government to count paper ballots (or some equivalent) but not trust them to do it electronically.

We file our taxes electronically. No reason we can't vote that way.
The decentralized system is harder to hack in a way that would actually effect elections. You'd have to do it piecemeal vs a centralized system that all on the same network and accessible via the internet. Sure, florida has its hanging chad but that was only in florida and even then only seemed to be a problem in Miami-Dade County.

In short, its physically easier to stuff ballots on the internet than in the actual ballot box.
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Old 23rd July 2018, 08:09 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by ahhell View Post
In short, its physically easier to stuff ballots on the internet than in the actual ballot box.
This is a bit older video, but still a very valid reason why electronic and online voting is a completely horrible idea:
YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.
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Old 23rd July 2018, 08:31 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Upchurch View Post
This is a bit older video, but still a very valid reason why electronic and online voting is a completely horrible idea:
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I was just about to post that video!

Paper votes are great, the system works and is more or less immune to hacking.

This is the FPTP video I frequently post in other threads.

I think this should be required viewing for all children of school leaving age.

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Old 23rd July 2018, 08:32 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Ambrosia View Post
YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.
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Extra ampersand. Fixed:
YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.
I AGREE
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Old 23rd July 2018, 08:35 AM   #8
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Could we have electronic voting but leave control to the states? Wouldn't that address the same concerns?
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Old 23rd July 2018, 08:37 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Could we have electronic voting but leave control to the states? Wouldn't that address the same concerns?
Not really. Why would it?
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Old 23rd July 2018, 09:03 AM   #10
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After 35 years as a software developer, I simply do not trust electronic voting and never will. I have no idea if any machines or tabulations have ever been hacked, and that's a big problem, but I know for sure that they can be.
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Old 23rd July 2018, 09:29 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by WilliamSeger View Post
After 35 years as a software developer, I simply do not trust electronic voting and never will. I have no idea if any machines or tabulations have ever been hacked, and that's a big problem, but I know for sure that they can be.
Which is weird because my own computer science background is leading me down the exact same path.

Sure a machine can be hacked but a human can be bribed, lazy, incompetent, make a mistake, biased, etc.

I'll take hackable anyday.
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Old 23rd July 2018, 09:45 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Which is weird because my own computer science background is leading me down the exact same path.

Sure a machine can be hacked but a human can be bribed, lazy, incompetent, make a mistake, biased, etc.

I'll take hackable anyday.
That's why you have redundant humans in charge of vote handling/counting. This is addressed in at least one of the videos presented.
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Old 23rd July 2018, 10:21 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Which is weird because my own computer science background is leading me down the exact same path.

Sure a machine can be hacked but a human can be bribed, lazy, incompetent, make a mistake, biased, etc.

I'll take hackable anyday.
I want a system where any bad actors run a high risk of ending up in prison, and one of the reasons there are so many hackers in the world is the very low risk of that happening. The other problems that you mentioned produce small, random effects that are important only when the vote is close and that can be settled by recounts. For both of those purposes -- physical evidence and reproducibility -- I want a system that preserves original votes.
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Old 23rd July 2018, 03:21 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Other than just a general distrust of technology I don't see why we'd trust our government to count paper ballots (or some equivalent) but not trust them to do it electronically.

We file our taxes electronically. No reason we can't vote that way.
Canada recently had an issue where hundreds of electronic tax filers had their information stolen by a hacker. So saying that we trust the government to handle taxes electronically doesn't mean that there aren't flaws.

Plus, there is a critical difference between taxes and voting... internet voting would (by its nature) be a rather short-period event. (You'd only have the polls open for one day. Or maybe a few days.) If something goes wrong (System crash, denial of service attack) there's no alternative. On the other hand, 'tax season' lasts several weeks/months. But if there is a problem, the deadline can easily be extended (as happened in Canada.)

https://nationalpost.com/news/canada...g-tax-deadline

From: https://www.technologyreview.com/s/5...t-vote-online/
...the U.S. Department of Defense canceled plans to allow Internet voting by military personnel overseas after a security team audited a $22 million system developed by Accenture and found it vulnerable to cyberattacks....the District of Columbia set up a system that let voters go online, enter an ID code they’d received in the mail, cast a vote, and get a record of the result. Election officials invited computer scientists to try to hack the system in a mock election. Alex Halderman, a computer scientist at the University of Michigan, and two grad students accepted that offer—and soon found an error in the source code that “allowed us to completely steal the election”
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Old 24th July 2018, 02:32 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Which is weird because my own computer science background is leading me down the exact same path.

Sure a machine can be hacked but a human can be bribed, lazy, incompetent, make a mistake, biased, etc.

I'll take hackable anyday.
Really? That's illogical.

Yes people might be bribed, lazy, incompetent, make a mistake, biased, but to actually change an election, you need a lot of them to be bribed, lazy, incompetent, make a mistake, or biased. At most a single person could modify the results of a single polling station, and they'd have to do that under the watch of multiple other people. On top if that, with paper ballots you can always recount then should there be a hint of an issue.

With a computerised system, if it's hackable, then depending where it is hackable, and how, a single person could modify the results of the entire election by enough to change the outcome. Further more, it's impossible to recount the votes because they simply exist as data, which if hacked, will always return the same hacked value with no independent way of checking the numbers.

An electronic voting system is at far more risk of being corrupted to create a fraudulent election than a pen and paper one.
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Old 24th July 2018, 04:11 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Upchurch View Post
This is a bit older video, but still a very valid reason why electronic and online voting is a completely horrible idea:
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It is not just an older video, it is out of date.

Blockchain technology has the potential to make electronic voting unhackable. It even has the ability to maintain voter privacy (Monero style).
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Old 24th July 2018, 04:41 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
It is not just an older video, it is out of date.

Blockchain technology has the potential to make electronic voting unhackable. It even has the ability to maintain voter privacy

If it's possible to do electronic voting and have the process as high security as paper ballots are today then I'm all for that.

While the video is old Tom Scott does make several points that would be pertinent to a blockchain based electronic voting system

i)The stakes are *very* high. If you can alter the outcome of an election then potentially Trillions (with a T) of dollars are at stake.

ii) We still need to trust the system makers that the system is as advertised. - see point i)

iii) the biggest vulnerability is at the point of voting. I'm imagining a tablet displaying the vote slip and then the voter taps for where they want to put the X, a confirmation screen pops up, user clicks "OK confirm".
How do we know that the voting machine has incremented the count for the actually voted for candidate and added that to the blockchain, rather than a n other candidate? - see point ii) then see point i)
for that matter how often will voters fat finger their vote for the wrong candidate then accidentally click confirm anyway?

iv) Blockchain is *not* unhackable, at least not in the future. It's incredibly difficult given todays technology, but see quantum computers, and then see point i)

Even if blockchain remains unhackable despite potential quantum computer advances, a system based upon it is still vulnerable to attack and the stakes are too damn high.
Electronic voting is great for reality tv shows, for general elections, notsomuch.
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Old 24th July 2018, 06:09 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
It is not just an older video, it is out of date.

Blockchain technology has the potential to make electronic voting unhackable. It even has the ability to maintain voter privacy (Monero style).
No, it can only assure that data wasn't altered after it was inserted in the blockchain.
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Old 24th July 2018, 08:19 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by WilliamSeger View Post
Quote:
Blockchain technology has the potential to make electronic voting unhackable. It even has the ability to maintain voter privacy
No, it can only assure that data wasn't altered after it was inserted in the blockchain.
Yup... votes would still be at risk from the user's side of things.

I had a friend who's computer had a virus that redirected all web traffic that would normally go to google or yahoo to their own search engine. It would have been relatively easy to modify the virus to redirect all internet traffic from a legitimate voting site to a fake one.

I'm not even sure what use blockchain would be here. Yes, blockchain is useful in decentralized applications (such as cryptocurrency) but in the case of voting, your electronic ballot would have a single destination, i.e. the government computer. And we already have other types of secure communications methods (SSL, SSH) for communicating from a peer to a server.
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Old 24th July 2018, 08:30 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Ambrosia View Post
ii) We still need to trust the system makers that the system is as advertised. - see point i)
This. Not only do we have to trust the maker, we have to trust that it has not been tampered with after it leaves the maker's control.
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Old 24th July 2018, 11:01 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Ambrosia View Post
If it's possible to do electronic voting and have the process as high security as paper ballots are today then I'm all for that.
. . . . . . .
@Ambrosia, I understand your skepticism. Up until a few years ago I also would have thought that this was not possible.

Yet it has been achieved in the banking industry. If you think that gaming elections is worth money then imagine if you could game banking. Yet thanks to encryption technology and other security measures, online banking is about as safe as writing a paper check or visiting the local branch of your bank. This has been achieved despite the hostile nature of the internet.

What makes blockchain different is that it is fully decentralized. There may be 1000s or even 100000s of nodes all working on verifying votes and adding them to the blockchain. One individual can not control that many nodes. A node can not add a block to the chain without doing a "proof of work" process (essentially guessing the correct number - known as a nonce). Once a block has been added, it can't be altered or at least, it can't be altered without recalculating the nonce of all future blocks that have been added and that difficulty increases exponentially high after a few blocks.

The software that does all of this is open source so that anybody can examine it. However, that is not as important as the fact that the entire blockchain is publically available for anybody who wishes to find any "flaws". Any voter would be able to examine the blockchain and verify that their votes were not tampered with.

I'm not saying that it is foolproof but "hanging chad" fisacos or ballot box tampering is much less likely to occur with this technology.

Originally Posted by WilliamSeger View Post
No, it can only assure that data wasn't altered after it was inserted in the blockchain.
That is not true either. It is virtually impossible for somebody to do a transaction against a wallet or alter a wallet transaction without possessing the user's private "key". The same goes for tampering with votes and digital voting cards.
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Old 24th July 2018, 11:08 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
@Ambrosia, I understand your skepticism. Up until a few years ago I also would have thought that this was not possible.

Yet it has been achieved in the banking industry. If you think that gaming elections is worth money then imagine if you could game banking. Yet thanks to encryption technology and other security measures, online banking is about as safe as writing a paper check or visiting the local branch of your bank. This has been achieved despite the hostile nature of the internet.

What makes blockchain different is that it is fully decentralized. There may be 1000s or even 100000s of nodes all working on verifying votes and adding them to the blockchain. One individual can not control that many nodes. A node can not add a block to the chain without doing a "proof of work" process (essentially guessing the correct number - known as a nonce). Once a block has been added, it can't be altered or at least, it can't be altered without recalculating the nonce of all future blocks that have been added and that difficulty increases exponentially high after a few blocks.

The software that does all of this is open source so that anybody can examine it. However, that is not as important as the fact that the entire blockchain is publically available for anybody who wishes to find any "flaws". Any voter would be able to examine the blockchain and verify that their votes were not tampered with.

I'm not saying that it is foolproof but "hanging chad" fisacos or ballot box tampering is much less likely to occur with this technology.


That is not true either. It is virtually impossible for somebody to do a transaction against a wallet or alter a wallet transaction without possessing the user's private "key". The same goes for tampering with votes and digital voting cards.
It takes software to get input from some device and build a blockchain entry. My online banking is not safe if my PC has been hacked with a key logger.
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Old 24th July 2018, 11:15 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
It is not just an older video, it is out of date.

Blockchain technology has the potential to make electronic voting unhackable. It even has the ability to maintain voter privacy (Monero style).
It could also hide meddling with voting results and make voter fraud untraceable.
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Old 24th July 2018, 11:21 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by WilliamSeger View Post
It takes software to get input from some device and build a blockchain entry. My online banking is not safe if my PC has been hacked with a key logger.
Malware infected computers can be a security hazard for an online bank user or voter but so can impersonating another voter at the ballot box.

You missed the point that a hostile computer can not overcome the "proof of work" that the blockchain requires.
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Old 24th July 2018, 11:22 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by lomiller View Post
It could also hide meddling with voting results and make voter fraud untraceable.
Why don't you learn about the blockchain then tell us how this works.
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Old 24th July 2018, 11:28 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by lomiller View Post
Bitcoin exchanges have been compromised on a fairly regular basis, with losses at todays prices that amount to tens of billions of dollars.

There have been more since this was written.
https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/...ks-and-frauds/
What has any of that got to do with a blockchain? You do know the difference between an exchange and a blockchain don't you?
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Old 24th July 2018, 11:33 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
What has any of that got to do with a blockchain?
Where do you think blockchain came from?
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Old 24th July 2018, 11:42 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
@Ambrosia, I understand your skepticism. Up until a few years ago I also would have thought that this was not possible.

Yet it has been achieved in the banking industry.
The main difference between an election and banking transactions is that usually banking transactions are not time-dependent. If the bank's computer is down, you may not be able to pay your bills today, but there is a chance things will be up and running tomorrow. On the other hand, an election is much more dependent on a calendar, with a huge number of transactions to be processed in a short (1 day) time frame. If something goes down, your election is in doubt.
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Yet thanks to encryption technology and other security measures, online banking is about as safe as writing a paper check or visiting the local branch of your bank.
Banking is relatively safe, but banking systems are breached on a fairly regular basis. (Sometimes the breaches are internal, sometimes they are the result of external hackers.)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_data_breaches (note: not all the listed entries are banks, but several are)

Now, because there are multiple banks (and no one person will have an account at all of them), a data breach won't affect everyone. On the other hand, in an election a security breach can involve the entire population.
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What makes blockchain different is that it is fully decentralized. There may be 1000s or even 100000s of nodes all working on verifying votes and adding them to the blockchain.
Not sure why that's all that useful/relevant. By its nature, a voting system doesn't necessarily need to be decentralized... just the opposite: it needs a central server to act as a vote counter/repository.

An SSL connection from the user's browser to the government server will probably provide the needed host-to-server security. The problem is, you still have other major points of attack: The user's computer (which is susceptible to viruses, key loggers), voter 'identification' (some sort of way to uniquely identify voters), and the government's servers (which could be manually hacked in to.) Yes, you can use blockchain or other technology for data transmission/storage, but it doesn't really solve any of the major problems (and may add substantially to the complexity).
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Old 24th July 2018, 11:44 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
Malware infected computers can be a security hazard for an online bank user or voter but so can impersonating another voter at the ballot box.

You missed the point that a hostile computer can not overcome the "proof of work" that the blockchain requires.
I didn't miss anything; I said the data is safe after it's in the blockchain. It's that process that's still hackable. You're right that money attracts bad guys, (Ninja'd: BTW: Over a billion dollars have been stolen from cryptocurrency wallets by hacking exchange servers and stealing passwords, and it's untraceable where it went.)

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Old 24th July 2018, 11:52 AM   #30
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
Malware infected computers can be a security hazard for an online bank user or voter but so can impersonating another voter at the ballot box.
The difference is I can write a virus/Trojan horse that has the ability to compromise hundreds (if not thousands) of voters, which each new infected system requiring no additional work. Granted, not everyone will be affected (some may use different operating systems, others may have really good virus scanners/firewalls). But even if you can infect 0.01% of computers, that could impact hundreds of thousands of voters.

On the other hand, attempting voter fraud by posing as another voter will have far less impact. (It means you have to physically go to the polling station, perhaps stand in line for a while, and hope that the person you are impersonating hasn't already voted.) And you could likely only do that a few times; after all, if you go to the same polling station multiple times, you may get identified.
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Old 24th July 2018, 11:58 AM   #31
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Originally Posted by lomiller View Post
Where do you think blockchain came from?
From bitcoin exchanges?
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Old 24th July 2018, 11:59 AM   #32
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Originally Posted by Segnosaur View Post
Not sure why that's all that useful/relevant. By its nature, a voting system doesn't necessarily need to be decentralized... just the opposite: it needs a central server to act as a vote counter/repository.
You have just listed all of the problems and potential problems with centralized electronic voting and can't see the relevance of a decentralized system?
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Old 24th July 2018, 12:18 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
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Where do you think blockchain came from?
From bitcoin exchanges?
I think his point was:

Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) uses blockchain. Bitcoin often gets hacked (with the loss of millions of dollars). So even if blockchain may provide a certain amount of security, it is no guarantee that the data will remain safe/secure.

If blockchain is used for voting, it may provide security against some types of cyberattacks, but there will be more than enough security vulnerabilities to make it too risky to use as the basis for a voting system.
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Old 24th July 2018, 12:22 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
From bitcoin exchanges?
The first functioning Blockchain was developed for and with bitcoin. Most current implementation of blockchain is adapted from the version used in bitcoin or other cryptocurrency’s.

It could be useful in an electronic voting system, as it allows you to verify the data and keep the source anonymous. It does not insure the entire system is secure, and because of the anonymity it affords it makes tracing any compromise difficult or impossible, just like it made tracing stolen cryptocurrency all but impossible after exchanges were compromised.
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Old 24th July 2018, 12:25 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
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Not sure why that's all that useful/relevant. By its nature, a voting system doesn't necessarily need to be decentralized... just the opposite: it needs a central server to act as a vote counter/repository.
You have just listed all of the problems and potential problems with centralized electronic voting and can't see the relevance of a decentralized system?
Uhhhh... no.

Most of the problems I highlighted (vulnerability of user computers to viruses affecting voting, problems with whatever means are used to identify voters) are ones that affect both centralized and decentralized voting systems.

And as I stated before, ultimately the votes WILL have to be tallied by the government.

Seriously, what problem do you think blockchain will overcome? How exactly will it prevent a keylogging virus on a user's machine from corrupting their vote? How will it make sure secure delivery of whatever voting identifier is used?
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Old 24th July 2018, 12:42 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by lomiller View Post
. . . . just like it made tracing stolen cryptocurrency all but impossible after exchanges were compromised.
Until you learn the difference between the blockchain and an exchange you are just posting utter rubbish.
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Old 24th July 2018, 12:43 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by Segnosaur View Post

Seriously, what problem do you think blockchain will overcome?
Per my post above, my immediate though was that it could be used to protect the data, while still providing anonymity for the source. The anonymity seems like an important requirement in a voting system, but it’s also going to be a source of problems when the system/process around the blcokchain is inevitably compromised.
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Old 24th July 2018, 12:47 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by Segnosaur View Post
Bitcoin (and other cryptocurrencies) uses blockchain. Bitcoin EXCHANGES often gets hacked (with the loss of millions of dollars).
ftfy. Get the difference yet? There are no voting exchanges.

Originally Posted by Segnosaur View Post
Seriously, what problem do you think blockchain will overcome? How exactly will it prevent a keylogging virus on a user's machine from corrupting their vote? How will it make sure secure delivery of whatever voting identifier is used?
Assuming that some malware exists that is able to change the keystrokes a user pushes when constructing a transaction or vote, the fact remains that without the user's private key, a node can not alter the contents of the message (vote) that it received.

The point of the blockchain is that it is not some super secret voting file stored on government computers. It is available to everyone. Anybody can go through the blockchain and verify that the election results are as announced. That is its protection. You don't have to trust anybody. You can see for yourself.
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Old 24th July 2018, 12:51 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
Until you learn the difference between the blockchain and an exchange you are just posting utter rubbish.
Woosh. Right over your head.

The point is/was that systems build on blockchain are still compromised on a regular basis, and by their nature it can be difficult and perhaps impossible to identify and remediate such compromises.
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Old 24th July 2018, 12:59 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by lomiller View Post
The point is/was that systems build on blockchain are still compromised on a regular basis . . ..
No it is not! That is just your ignorance talking.

Bitcoin exchanges are a weak point in the currency exchange system but the blockchain itself is the most secure, immutable thing invented in cyberspace. Start learning about these things.
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