Jer sends this recommendation:
Who cares if you got a paper receipt for a vote that never got counted? VoteHere is a new e-voting program that would make e-voting more secure and auditable than existing paper-based systems. "Voters would get an encrypted code on a receipt that corresponds to their vote, and at the end of the election voters could check through the Internet to see that their vote was tallied correctly." Oh, and they published the source code, too.
Finally catching up today from last week, and I see you got this one first. It's really remarkable news; I am quite pleased to see that more and more people are becoming sane.
So how do they intend to prevent wholesale voter bribery/intimidation? If it is possible for a voter to verify how they voted after the fact it is also possible for someone else to do so.
I suppose it might be possible to make a case that in our society the benefits of anonymous voting no longer outway the potential costs of inaccurate voting. I think one would be hard-pressed though. Postal voting aside, current democratic political systems work on the exact opposite assumption.
Wholesale voter bribery/intimidation is an interesting point. It can be easily defeated by not keeping track of who comes in to vote at a certain time, but with security cameras everywhere, that system too can be beat.
So there's no winning that. But on the flip side, there's no winning any of this completely. There's always a hole, always a question. And as people in democracies, we get obsessed with voting when the real power is in discussion, in political platforms. Consider how much a political campaign costs a candidate in the United States, and look how much money is spent on actual voting equipment per year. I don't have the numbers, but I would bet that more money is spent on the campaign itself. Why? Because democracy is measured in votes, but practiced through discussion.
This is why the First Amendment to the United States Constitution is so important.
I'm not sure that I follow how you can design a system that simultaneously allows voters to verify that their vote went to a particular candidate, while not allowing 3rd parties to also do so. Especially if the voter is cooperating with the 3rd parties (as they would be if selling their vote or successfully being intimidated).
Having said that, I agree that there is too little attention paid to current problems with political engagement and discourse -- both in absolute terms and relative to that paid to the mechanics of voting.
The systems I'm familiar with that combine electronic voting with voter verification entail a paper printout of the vote which the voter sees but can't walk away with. The paper verification/ballot is taken and boxed, just as with a paper ballot today. The paper ballots are then used for recounts and spot vote count verifications, but once the paper gets put in the ballot box it is as anonymous as any current paper ballot.
Paper verification systems aren't any more secure than current paper ballots, but neither are they worse -- as the unverified electronic systems, as we've seen, clearly are.