In one of my earlier posts, I discussed problems that traditional voting schemes have. To put more perspective to that, the following article contains a small guide to committing election fraud in the Netherlands.

First of all, it is important to remind ourselves of the relevant security properties in elections. Following J. Alex Halderman, those are integrity, ballot secrecy, voter authentication, enfranchisement and availability. Here, integrity means that the outcome equals the voter intent. Ballot secrecy refers to the fact that nobody knows what you vote, even if you want to show it. Voter authentication means that only eligible citizens can vote and only once or less times. Enfranchisement assures that every eligible voter gets the chance to vote. Finally, availability means that the ability to vote is available to everyone, e.g. the system is open for service.

Ballot Secrecy Is Gone
The previous leader of the Dutch Green Party posted a Twitter status showing how she voted for her successor. Although it was not much of a surprise she voted this way, it shows that smartphones have broken the strong ballot secrecy. This means that it is reduced to the weak variant, where the citizen can prove his vote himself.

One may think that a lack of strong ballot secrecy is not much of a problem, as it boils down to the personal decision of a private citizen. However, it enables both coercion and selling your vote. Although both were already possible through the authorisation mechanism, this was limited to a rather small scale – there were voting passes found on a Dutch variant of eBay. The introduction of the smartphone enables coercion and selling votes on a larger scale.

It Is Not Yet in the Box
You may have noticed that photos of a ballot are made before it enters the box. This means that the persons who are taking photographs of their ballot to prove their vote could request a new ballot and the old ballot to be destroyed, stating they made an error. For this reason, we need to verify that the offending ballot enters the box.

Luckily, the voting process is completely transparent such that citizens can see and check the voting process as it proceeds. However, this allows us to see someone we have just coerced enter the voting booth and put the vote into the ballot box without requesting a new form. If we request him to put his passport on the photo too, we can even prevent the reuse of someone else’s photo – although it was unlikely to begin with. For scalability, we may use a spy camera instead of sending someone to every single voting office.

Coercion It Is
So, there you have it. If we wanted to, we could implement an extensive coercion scheme to direct votes to a party of our choice. This problem becomes most realistic when we consider a local election, where the number of voting offices is small and the turn-out disappointing. Rather crudely put, smartphones made elections less secure.

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2 Responses to A Small Guide to Committing Election Fraud in the Netherlands

  1. Jethro says:

    Interesting thought. We also have the vote by mail system which is not completely safe in this regard.

  2. […] Secrecy: Problematic In This Day and Age As I discussed in my short guide to committing election fraud in the Netherlands (14 September 2012), in the age of smartphones, guaranteeing strong ballot secrecy becomes a very […]

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