People are perpetually popping up in all my media streams insisting that online voting is the way forward. It seems so obvious. And yet, it's simultaneously completely wrong. If you think that online voting is a good idea, you must (seriously, you have to) watch this video.

Realise that just about every other democracy uses a system similar to the US' (in theory at least, and only for the actual vote).

@alcinnz mostly to do with various controversies surrounding the US election. Sadly, I think that, like it or not, Trump's assertions may well have more legs than most people think. The key lies in this: (and the fact that *most state* use electronic voting machines, not a hand-marked ballot).

@alcinnz and yes, I think the electoral commissions of any state (or any country, for that matter) using electronic voting machines or (ugh) online voting, are guilty of extreme negligence. They cannot verify the legitimacy of the vote & therefore cannot categorically rule out large scale fraud. That can only be achieved with hand-marked paper ballots as a backstop. We may see a few autocratic gov'ts come to power before people learn this simple fact. Which scares this shit out of me.

@lightweight I heard there was more use of paper ballots in this US election...

@alcinnz still plenty of states that are using electronic voting machines, including Georgia.

@lightweight Canada uses hand-marked and hand-counted paper ballots.

@meejah I'm pretty sure there's a lot of online voting going on in Canada... perhaps only at the local level... but that's a very slippery slope... will see if I can find a reference or two.

@meejah yeah. Ugh. Unfortunately, I've participated in an open source online messaging pilot ( which was very auspicious (and very well received by GC employees) but has been cancelled in favour of a US-hosted Microsoft Teams implementation. Sadly, GC are fucking idiots at the decision making level.

@lightweight Oh is it just rocket-chat? (guessing from the logo)

@meejah yup. I've been running a bunch of RocketChat instances for years - it's much better than MSFT Teams, Discord, and Slack (along with any/all other proprietary options).

@lightweight My city had a plebiscite that was electronic-counted paper ballots as "a test" but all the real local elections are also hand-counted hand-marked paper..

@meejah electronically counted hand marked ballots, amazingly, is a really really good use of technology... that's because it always has the backstop of a manual recount.

@lightweight It misses "auditable" though, and scrutineers don't get to do anything. I think it's just as bad as fully electronic -- and it's solving a non-problem anyway (we already count elections quickly).

@meejah yup. Germany (a country that knows a thing or two about autocracy and corruption of democracy) decided that electronic voting machines were unconstitutional (never mind full blow fuckwitted online voting).

@meejah their rationale: scrutineers for any election must be drawn from the general population - the process must be comprehensible to any/all laypeople. I think that's an excellent benchmark for democratic processes.

@lightweight Yes! That's exactly why I don't want to give up hand-counted, hand-marked paper ballots. Literally anyone can learn to audit the whole process in a few minutes. Can't buy trust like that.

@meejah a few of us managed to halt online voting trials (the full story, including videos and media commentary: ) but they keep rearing their ugly head and have to be shot down again and again, mostly because people running local and central government are tech illiterates who can't vet anyone to advise them because they are immediately bamboozled into working with corporate lobbyists. They don't understand the concept of "vested interests".

@meejah in NZ we have paper ballots marked by pen in local voting booths. Alternatively (and I'm not a fan of this on principle, due to easy abuse, i.e. stand over tactics and vote buying) we offer advanced postal voting. Sadly, the NZ postal service is, like the US equivalent, on its last legs.

@lightweight Mostly our advance voting is also at in-person polling places. I *think* it's only possible to mail-vote if you're out of the country (and you have to apply ahead of time).

@meejah actually, I'm mistaken: we have in-person advanced voting, but in fewer voting places... And yes, postal voting tends to be reserved for our very complex local gov't voting (we have lots of democratically elected institutions in NZ, e.g. our public health system + local gov't + community boards).

@meejah ultimately, as the video I linked to earlier makes clear, the voting process must be robust even in the face of *no* trustworthy parties.

@lightweight I dream of some awesome electronic voting platform that gives all the assurances of paper and pencil, but i don't know if it is possible.

@LovesTha @lightweight The only reason why electronic voting is even considered is because physical/mail voting was made to be difficult. In Germany complicated ballots (local elections) are mailed to every adult about a week before the election, so that everyone can take their time to make their decision. Then you either apply for a mail-in vote or you take your filled-in ballot to your local voting station (generally a school). The whole thing takes about an hour (during a public holiday).

@LovesTha @lightweight The rules for marking your ballot are also very lenient. You have to mark it in a way that you decision is clear (if it’s an x, filled in, or a doodle doesn’t really matter). They also don’t automatically discard your vote, if you made a mistake, as long as your intentions were clear. E.g you vote for multiple in a local election. If you used more votes than you were allowed, they count from the top and discard the rest. They don’t discard the whole ballot.

@LovesTha @lightweight Oh, and you don’t have to register to vote. All of the obstacles with normal or mail-in voting were implemented deliberately. There are ways to make mail-in ballots secure, without them being another form of voter suppression. The government just needs to implement them.

@LovesTha @lightweight PS: I’m not trying to say Germany is perfect. Perhaps a quote from a German talk show will sum it up quite nicely: (host to Republican guest) “Are you trying to tell me that the nation who is capable of running multiple drone wars across the world isn’t capable of running a post office?”

@GlowingLantern @lightweight I'm Australian, or voting is compulsory, but you do have to register. I think mostly because the electoral commission doesn't trust any other databases. Or local elections are 100% by mail, but state and federal are in person unless you have a reason. But all they ask us that you have a reason, they don't check what that reason is.

@GlowingLantern @lightweight but most importantly the in person elections have sausage sizzles, so everyone can buy a democracy sausage from a local group fundraising.

@GlowingLantern @lightweight having lots of time would help with filling out 120+ boxes

@GlowingLantern @lightweight oh, and I think I disagree with your reasoning. I don't see how electronic (and mechanical) voting were intended as a solution to voting being hard.

I think they were a solution to how to get rich off the government.

@LovesTha @lightweight I completely agree with you. From the perspective of the government it’s a way to save/make money, but from the perspective of the voter it’s the convenience.

@LovesTha @lightweight If you’re cynical, you could even suspect that introducing a system that’s easily rigged was their intention in the first place. (Depends what country/government is doing it)

@GlowingLantern @lightweight thinking on it more, I assume the selling pitch is "cheaper and faster" they might be the latter, but I won't believe cheaper in the long run

@LovesTha my considered opinion, shared by quite a few people with whom I've discussed this at length, is that it would require as-yet-unknown technical advances to make it possible. Meaning, no, it's not possible right now.

@lightweight as someone who works in tech could not agree more. Online voting is a no go. Lot of magazines have online voting for prizes and stuff which I’ve seen easily hacked as well.
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