back to article Finland's flawed e-voting scheme - blame the voters?

Finland is a small country separated from the rest of Europe by geography and a language of such linguistic intrigue that it is believed to have been used by J R R Tolkien as the basis for High Elvish. But it is also a place where the collision of government and IT has significance for the rest of the world. The Register last …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No transparency = no confidence

    "Chief Inspector Lars Henriksson from the National Bureau of Investigation swept the board with his speedy censorship of "bad stuff" on the internet with little or no regard for facts and the attitude of "never mind the innocents as long as we grab some guilty ones"."

    Boy does that sound familiar.

    It's the disease you know, it spreads. See how the attack on free speech is being spread across Europe. When one of them gets away with it, the more timid one's feel emboldened.

    Now the need to make elections transparent and verifiable is being eliminated by self serving or naive politicians.

    When the next election comes, I'm expecting to see a Jacqui Smith minuscule 2000 vote margin wiped out and her out of power. Good riddance to bad rubbish. If I don't see that, I'd want to see and check and be confident in the vote. If I don't see that I want to have confidence in the election process. If I don't have that, you are not an elected representative, she is a usurper of power, an enemy of democracy without legitimate power.

    Which is why the democracy requires the vote be verifiable, verified, and transparent. Without a voter verified paper trail, the voter cannot know that their vote in the machine matches the vote that they intended to make.

    Why is it even a discussion point? Why did any politician ever put in place a system that could not be verified? What were their motives in removing the verifiability of the vote?

  2. Sampler
    Black Helicopters

    Built in printer?

    Why not simply build in a printer to these machines so a vote is printed off and dropped into a secure box within the unit on every vote - that way you get the efficiency of e-voting where results can be totted up instantly but you also have a paper trail to audit.

    Keyboard and mouse failover aswell if the touch screen fails and ATM style we'll keep your card until the process has finished so users can't remove it before they've finished voting.

    If I can think of these simple solutions in 30 seconds then what other serious flaws must exist within the system?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ways of stopping this sort of problem

    If this is more than someone covering their asses; then the supposed problem of voters removing their cards too early could have been prevented by basing the machine on an ATM which only releases a card when the transaction is complete. And perhaps a machine that displays 'Thank-you' to show the interaction is over.

    Or a paper receipt containing a unique code and a phone number or URL that would let a voter check their vote at a later date.

    Or, they could have used (and stop me if this gets too nose-bleedingly technical), a piece of paper, a pencil on a string and a box.

  4. michael


    "tested, tested and tested again". ust like t5 what they forgot to do was test it with real pepol

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Tolkien, finnish and voting

    As I remember Tolkien was so impressed by Kaleva that he learned to read it in Finnish.

    Most Finns have never read the Kaleva as they where forced to read parts of it in school.

    Years ago the Americans (IBM?) tried to work out which language would be most suitable for computers. Well, Finnish came out as the winner.

    I am not surprised, as I am a Finn, my native language is Swedish, however, and as I am also a programmer, since -68 I am not surprised at all.

    This, of course makes no difference.

    I also worked as a programmer in TietoEnator for many years and I would trust no other company more (or less) as a provider of an e-voting system.

    The simple fact is that such systems can not be trusted at all.

    The day you feel 100 % sure an election run bye Mugabe, using e-voting is fair, then perhaps, and probably not.

    The temptation to tamper with the database will always be there, and it will always be to easy to do it.

    So why are some fools in the Finnish government so eager to move to e-voting.

    Well, if they are not in for all the possibilities to custom build the results then they are either trying to save money or trying to look modern.

    PS. Finland is a Scandinavian country and less separated from Europe than an island in the Atlantic (i like very much).

  6. Chris G

    Orwell Awards

    It is absolutely essential that El Reg Initiates it's own British Orwell Awards.

    Britain is after all a world leader at surveilling her subjects.

    What better way to thank our politicians, police and civil? servants for their unstinting efforts in control and liberty removal to provide us all with a philadelphian society.

    Perhaps someone could provide a model of a cowed and pathetic philadelphic individual on a little plinth, preferably painted grey, we could call it a Winston.

  7. Chris C

    Winston Smith Award?

    "He gazed up at the enormous face. Forty years it had taken him to learn what kind of smile was hidden beneath the dark mustache... But it was all right, everything was all right, the struggle was finished. He had won the victory over himself. He loved Big Brother."

    In the end, Winston Smith succumbed to Big Brother. Sure, he resisted at first, but eventually, he too was assimilated. So perhaps "Winston Smith Award" isn't the best name to use to describe something positive. That is, unless you're admitting that Big Brother is inevitable, and it's only a matter of time until all traces of resistance are eliminated (in which case, why bother resisting at all?). Either way, I seriously hope these awards do alert people to the issues before it's too late. Don't follow the footsteps of the US and UK (and Australia and Canada and Germany and...).

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    Whats the article about..

    Is it a voting system that a few dont like, or an award ceremony or two?

  9. Anonymous Coward

    Love the comic names...

    ...Oh I see.


  10. Steve Swann
    Thumb Up

    Big Brother Awards UK

    Having had a glance through the blog, I can see that the UK is not represented in the Big Brother Awards list.

    Surely our nomination for participation should go to the genius of Herr Obersturmfuhrer Jacqui (My parents couldn't spell) Smith?

    You never know the UK *might* actually win this one!

  11. night troll

    Big Brother Awards

    Defiantly Something we need in the UK. I nominate Jackboot Jacqui for all excessive surveillance award.

  12. Cucumber C Face
    Black Helicopters

    Gordo and Jacqui love this

    Impressive - can we have the system in place for the UK by 2010?

    Just one change request please: click OK to vote Nu-Labour Click Cancel to vote Nu-Labour

  13. Hugo

    A court case has been filed about it in Vihti:

    YLE, the Finnish BBC, also reports that:

    "A motion has been filed in the Helsinki Administrative Court by Social Democratic Party candidate Ilkka Tanner for the results of the election in Vihti to be invalidated and for the vote to be retaken. He received 8 votes in the elections. The SDP candidate with the lowest number of votes to get a council seat received 77. In Vihti, 122 of the votes cast electronically were not registered and disqualified."


    "Tanner is basing his case on media reports that Chief Election Officer Arto Jääskelainen was aware as early as last spring that the electronic voting system on trial in the three municipalities was unreliable."

  14. Winston Smith

    I see five ballots

    (I couldn't very well let this one pass, now could I?)

  15. BioTube

    How about

    Getting rid of the damn touchscreen? At least over here, ATMs have buttons on both sides of the screen for selecting options. If you must have the options on the buttons, then put screens on the buttons - still more reliable than a touch screen.

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