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Anonymous Internet Voting with Recount and Distributed Authentication

Print unique IDs on paper and pour democracy on them
  (+3, -1)
(+3, -1)
  [vote for,

There have been many proposals for direct democracy via the Internet, and they always run into the same two issues: anonymity and fraud.

This scheme works as follows:

1) Distribute Unique "election keys" on paper at polling stations

On the day of "national election key distribution", you go to what used to be your "polling station". After checking in, you walk through a hallway with 12 (the number could change) tumblers containing little pieces of paper, each tumbler representing a month of the year. You reach in with your own hands and pick a single piece of paper from each tumbler (or are handed such a piece of paper pulled from the tumbler by a Vanna-White-look-alike election worker). The pieces of paper are sealed and can't be distinguished from each other.

2) Vote at home, make "election keys" and their votes public, optionally destroy your own key

Now you have in your possession 12 differently colored pieces of paper with long numbers (and an optional barcode) printed on them. You put these in the safest place you know in your house. Each of these numbers is YOUR unique authentication key for that month's election, but the number is NOT associated with you.

That night, the government publishes 12 large encrypted files for anyone to download. These files contain a list of all authentication keys by region, and the decryption key will not be published until after the election.

When it's time for that month's election, you log on to your government's elections web site using only that month's "election key." (using something like TOR, of course). You fill out a form with that month's election questions, candidates, etc. What is submitted to the "national election system" is a plaintext representation of the form containing your unique ID which you get to verify. It looks something like

1234 1 0 1 5

(Your unique ID, yes on issue 1, no on issue 2, yes on issue 3, candidate #5 for mayor). This will go into another publicly available file that anyone can download.

After voting, you have a choice to make: you can destroy your "election key" for that month and ensure your anonymity, or write down your selections on the back and hold on to it for your part in a distributed recount.

3) Distributed Validation and Challenge

Once the election is over, the government publishes two things:

a) The key to that month's encrypted file containing unique "election keys"

b) Plaintext results of all votes as given above (e.g,, 1234 1 0 1 5)

Validation can then be done by the government and repeated by anyone who is interested to do so. Individuals who chose to keep their pieces of paper with their votes written on it can challenge the election at the expense of their anonymity -- if enough individuals object the election can be declared invalid and the officials responsible punished.

cowtamer, Jan 02 2011

E-voting without fraud. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biorock
[2 fries shy of a happy meal, Jan 03 2011]


       [-] democracy.   

       (Although we quite like the bit about punishing officials. We are just puzzled that you would need to fabircate any sort of a justification for that activity.   

       Will tar, feathers and electric cattle prods be involved ? )
8th of 7, Jan 03 2011

       I'm not that brilliant with keys and authentication and such. Is there a way here that prevents people from picking random numbers to use as their key? Is it encrypted to some personally-identifiable data somehow?
RayfordSteele, Jan 03 2011

       Yes. The numbers printed would also exist in a database that is distributed in encrypted form, with the decryption key released after the election (so that everyone can verify that random numbers haven't just been made up). I think there's no harm in tying these numbers to the number distribution point (since we can identify who voted for whom by polling station right now). I think it would be easy to make sure that the voting web site reject any number that had not been given out.   

       As far as tying it to personally identifiable data: we don't want the numbers to be traceable to anything other than the distribution point unless the person choses to object that his/her vote was miscounted.   

       The idea is that you would not be able to even get any printed numbers until you show your ID and voter registration at the distribution point. But nobody would know _which_ numbers you picked.
cowtamer, Jan 03 2011

       There is a TED talk I'll find here for you in a minute about encryption keys to eliminate fraudulent voting, it sounded good anyway but whadoIknow?
The whole Ayn Rand/Philosopher's octagon threads have had me contemplating a form of minarchism that has binding referendums at municipal, provincial, and federal levels. Maybe a three strike ratification system with earned voting rights based on knowledge of not only the political system but the topic being voted on as well rather than an age dependant given right.


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