nav search
Data Center Software Security Transformation DevOps Business Personal Tech Science Emergent Tech Bootnotes BOFH

back to article
Australia Post says use blockchain for voting. Expert: you're kidding

Silver badge
FAIL

Loophole?

Permission to vote would be secured through the use of secure digital access keys sent securely to each voter.

I would like to know just how they hope to achieve this? How is my mother going to get her key? She doesn't have e-mail, has a mobile phone that is a phone only (and uses it reluctantly) and doesn't want to know about computers.

7
0

Re: Loophole?

Well my mother is encased inside a transparent crystal, frozen in time for all eternity. How is *she* going to vote?

Clearly we need to have a voting system that works for absolutely everybody, or no voting at all.

0
1

Re: Loophole?

Read up on Diffie Hellman Key exchange. Its possible, and it doesn't necessarily need your Grandmother to enter anything.

You don't need to do anything when a HSM rotates your key. Good logical engineering, and a really clever User method could work. We see it everyday with NFC chips on things like the London Underground using the Contactless or Oyster Card.

Could be a voting Card or other physical element, with some kind of verification biometric etc.

0
0

Australia Post's search for relevance ...

In a world that has largely left it behind.

There have been a few stumbles along the way ... it's recent postage fee increases and service decreases combined to make physically posting stuff less attractive than it already was, and therefore made its post office less relevant and economic, which is the primary selling point of it less-efficient-and-effective-than-any-number-of-other-parcel-delivery-services, and hence a search for relevance in other spheres. (Yeah, that wasn't a particularly smart move, AusPost)

So, they propose a digital e-mail box (and what's wrong with the SMTP/POP/IMAP Internet mail service, I'd like to know), digital signatures (in an already overloaded market), and block-chain based transaction management (see article for critique) as the Next Big Things ... principally, I suspect, because their hoard of overpaid suits isn't too creative or bright, and doesn't really have a handle on what's happening in the digital world running rings around them.

C'mon AusPost ... you can do better than this!

3
0
Silver badge

Re: Australia Post's search for relevance ...

> (and what's wrong with the SMTP/POP/IMAP Internet mail service, I'd like to know)

Plenty, but nothing that I believe auspost has the answers to.

On a side note, lots of e-commerce relies on physical package handling to some degree. Why they can't leverage their natural monopoly to turn a pretty penny there shows a real lack of imagination.

1
0
FAIL

Re: Australia Post's search for relevance ...

"C'mon AusPost ... you can do better than this!"

No they can't.

4
0

Re: Australia Post's search for relevance ...

"On a side note, lots of e-commerce relies on physical package handling to some degree. Why they can't leverage their natural monopoly to turn a pretty penny there"

They do. Enough to more than cover the losses on old fashioned post. That was the deal when they were "corporatised". Their recent losses are due to accounting "adjustments" and spending on vanity projects, white elephants and acquiring other carriers (yeah, yeah, I know - what's a government monopoly doing buying it competitors, etc).

I suspect Aussie Post's problems caused management that hasn't come to terms with the fact that what they manage is never going to be exciting or glamorous. That and processes that suggest a sort of cottage industry mentality. At least that's the impression I get from talking to my parcel pixie.

0
0
Silver badge
Facepalm

Blockchain! It's blockchain! Blockchain!!! Use blockchain!...

...to cure cancer, solve global hunger, bring peace to the world and save ALL the children.

What can't the latest new technology do?

4
0

Re: Blockchain! It's blockchain! Blockchain!!! Use blockchain!...

I've spotted it turning up recently in buzzword bingo type presentations. It's become the latest special sauce to apply to the rotting carcass of your product to cover the stench of fail. If I'm feeling malicious I ask the presenter to explain it.

1
0

Why is a trusted central authority required?

The way voting works today relies on a central authority to control the process. It is the weak point. The purpose of e-voting is to eliminate the vulnerability of the centre without losing its role in administration can coordination. Maybe Australia Post's vision is not good enough - it's hard to tell from the limited information in the article - but the idea seems promising.

The blockchain technology allows an event to be recorded in a manner that is difficult for any one actor subvert. But there is no need for there to be just one blockchain. Why not have a blockchain per ward, each updated by more than 2 independently controlled miners? For the blockchain to be compromised, those seeking to compromise it have to be able to mine more than half the coins. This risk can be greatly reduced by, for example, giving political party representatives plus an independent observer control over the mining of coins. As there will be little incentive to collude, there will be little risk the blockchain will be compromised.

The events (vote tallies) added to ward blockchains can be aggregated as events first into constituency, then region, state and national blockchains where coins for each blockchain is, again, mined by machines controlled by political parties and an independent observer who have no incentive to collude.

The outcome is a continually updated aggregate tally that can be audited back to the original vote event.

Now, I'm not saying there are no flaws in this scenario, but the article definitely is flawed. It makes the assertion that a central authority is required without justifying that assertion. If then uses that flawed reasoning to assert that a specific technical approach is invalid.

The bitcoin blockchain does not work for voting

2
0
Silver badge

Re: Why is a trusted central authority required?

"and an independent observer who have no incentive to collude."

There's ALWAYS an incentive to collude: bribery or blackmail are always available, so how can you be sure the "independent" observer really IS independent and not subverted behind your back?

1
0
Silver badge

Re: Why is a trusted central authority required?

The problem with your 'hard to subvert' blockchain theory is that it is hard but not 'near impossible' which is the end of the spectrum you'd desire for an election. Especially when you consider that the likely subverters of any election would generally be nation states with large resources.I believe that is likely why you'd posit the use of a central authority (something you think you control) rather than what kind of amounts to a majority vote on the vote.

2
0
Anonymous Coward

I'm still mystified as to how they intend to de-link my identity from my actual vote.

"... with each vote linked to the voter through their preference choice stored within

the blockchain in a way that anonymises and protects that information from being publically

accessible"

1
0
Silver badge

In other words, anonymity and attestation are directly at odds. Attestation is required to ensure people don't vote twice, yet this in and of itself is also proof you voted. In order to avoid vote tampering, you MUST have a means to verify your vote, and THAT provides a means for a third party to pressure you because they can construe a means to shoulder-surf your vote.

In other words, how can you be sure your vote counts without opening up the possibility of outside pressure on the votes?

2
0
Holmes

Was listening to many talkback radio listeners last night complaining about parcels that were never delivered when Australia Post said they had been. Would the system apply with our votes?

1
0
Silver badge

Come to our CENSUS

After the census debacle, we don't need another pretender in this space.

Gimme a piece of paper and a pencil any day.

5
0

It has to be good, its trending up

The federal government downunder seems to have a thing for block chains which they don't properly understand. It is almost like they see it as the next "cloud" and want to be in front of the game. Their also might be a bit of "invented here" syndrome even if they want to throw the supposed inventor under the bus for tax evasion.

1
0
Silver badge
Facepalm

*Insert Buzzword here*

I have no idea how any of this works but if we use *buzzword of the day* it's better right?

3
0

Reminds of a famous quote

Stalin would have been proud, after all, it's not who votes that matters, it's who counts the votes. Ultimately all of this is discussion about how to build flawed systems to replace pencil and paper, which as fair as I can tell has stood the test of time better than anything ever invented in our industry.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Reminds of a famous quote

Oh? What happened to ballot-stuffing by well-resourced actors who can fool, distract, or corrupt the watchers?

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Reminds of a famous quote

Ballot stuffing is relatively difficult these days, because there are so many voters.

Each box doesn't contain very many ballots relative to the margin of votes, which means a lot of boxes have to be compromised.

Stuffing is only really feasible in the rare cases where the margin is in the hundreds of votes.

Unless you can swap out an entire vanload, which would need the collusion of a large number of people.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Reminds of a famous quote

"Each box doesn't contain very many ballots relative to the margin of votes, which means a lot of boxes have to be compromised."

A lot of votes are closer than you think. You probably wouldn't need to stuff or switch more than a few boxes to tip the scales.

0
0

Voting About People

The whole idea is insane and stinks or purposeful intent to corrupt democracy. Voting is about people so why are they desperate to take people out of the process?

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Voting About People

Because people are corruptible. If voting is about people, then voting is corruptible, and that goes against the democratic principle because without honest votes, people don't get their say: compromising the essence of democracy.

0
0
FAIL

Idiots

They're everywhere

0
0

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

The Register - Independent news and views for the tech community. Part of Situation Publishing