[Cryptography] practical verifiable systems -- forensic and otherwise, cheap and otherwise

Jonathan Thornburg jthorn at astro.indiana.edu
Tue Mar 3 21:59:10 EST 2015

On Tue, Mar 03, 2015 at 03:18:53PM -0800, Bill Frantz wrote:
> My favorite attack on paper systems was a piece of pencil "lead" glued under
> a finger nail on one of the vote counters. If he encountered an ballot
> voting for the "wrong" candidate, he simply used the pencil lead to add a
> vote for another candidate, making the ballot a spoiled ballot and negating
> the vote for the wrong candidate.

Assuming that none of the scrutineers (who are probably standing behind
the vote counter looking over her/his shoulder) notice, that strategy
can successfully attack the count at *one* polling place.  Unless there's
a *very* close race, this probably won't change the outcome.

Doing this in N polling places requires N crooked vote counters, so it's
hard to scale this up enough to change a substantial percentage of the
votes cast in a large-scale race.  And if this is done on a large scale,
it's even harder to keep it secret.

In contrast, hacking an electronic system can attack the count across the
entire election.

-- "Jonathan Thornburg [remove -animal to reply]" <jthorn at astro.indiana-zebra.edu>
   Dept of Astronomy & IUCSS, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA
   "There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched
    at any given moment.  How often, or on what system, the Thought Police
    plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork.  It was even conceivable
    that they watched everybody all the time."  -- George Orwell, "1984"

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