A system which allows voters to audit his vote in the final result via a unique ID has been suggested. The arguments against seem centered around the secrecy issue and coercion.

For example, a boss wanting his employees to vote for his candidate, and coercing them to provide their unique id so he can verify.

The system would also enable vote buyers demand the unique id in exchange for money.

I don't doubt these could happen, but either would be a serious crime. How would that be different from someone demanding the login for my bank account?

These crimes would be difficult to pull off today with whistlblower methods available.

I think we really need a more reliable means to audit the voting system, especially since more folks will be demanding mail in ballots.

The current methods allow us no means to verify that our vote has been properly tallied in the final result. The ability to locate one's private id and audit one's selections in the final database would close that gap.

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    HI David. Could you add what country/jurisdiction you're talking about? Mail in / postal ballots differ from place to place. – owjburnham Jul 5 at 13:49
  • I am in the U.S., Louisiana. I realize systems vary among states, but the means available for audit are attractive enough that wholesale adoption might occur. – David Wright Jul 5 at 13:52
  • Consider focusing on maintaining the secrecy of the vote rather than coercion. Attempts to influence a person’s voting choice will not change regardless of voting system. – BobE Jul 5 at 13:53
  • I'm a newbie here, so sorry I'm not sure how to directly respond to a question. – David Wright Jul 5 at 13:56
  • Bob, I agree. There is another thread which discusses the mechanics of such a system, but I lack the points required to participate. – David Wright Jul 5 at 13:58

Three different questions here, really:

  • Is an electronic system with some sort of personal password more or less secure than a paper absentee ballot?
    Depending on how it is implemented, it could be more or less secure. skeptics.stackexchange.com: Does United States have no technology to allow Internet voting in a secure way?

    • An electronic system could be organized so that different parts of the key are delivered by different means. This might be better than a traditional paper absentee ballot, which could be intercepted by a third party with access to the physical mailbox of the recipient. (Scenario: A neighbour knows that a potential voter will not vote and never checks the mailbox before lunch, and requests an absentee ballot in his or her name.)
    • An electronic system might be attacked by malware on the computer where the vote is entered. A paper-based system is less vulnerable to these automated mass attacks. (Scenario: Some clever exploit installs a background process. Once the voter tries to vote, a fake site is displayed and the input of the key is captured.)
    • A paper-based absentee ballot request has a field for the signature of the voter. In theory, this signature could be compared to any other signatures of the voter the parish has on file. (How much trust do you have in the actual comparison of handwritten signatures?)
  • If any part of the voting process is out of plain sight of election officials, how can they be sure there is no coercion?
    Just about anybody has a phone with a camera these days. How do you stop them from filming their own voting process, either in their home or even in a polling station? Voters could be coerced/bribed to show the video of the process. Nobody suggests to strip-search all voters. (Scenario: "If you don't want to be fired, take a video from the time you enter the polling booth to the time you leave.")

  • Is there a need for absentee voting reform?
    Attempts to prevent fraud through surveillance also make it harder for legitimate voters to cast their absentee ballot. From most credible news reports, disenfranchisement through bureaucratic hurdles is much more common than voter fraud.
    skeptics.stackexchange.com: Is voter fraud practically non-existent in the United States?

A last point regarding audits, that's a really good reason to keep paper ballots, ideally with ink marks rather than hanging chads. Election officials and later judges can look at the shape of the mark as often as they want without fear that chads will move. And counting might be organized so that members of the public are able to witness the whole count.

The obvious drawback is the manual effort, with risks of manual mistakes, and the need to store ballots securely for any recount.

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  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation about the technicalities of electronic voting has been moved to chat. – Philipp Jul 7 at 8:41

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