Monday, January 31, 2005

Voting on the net

Why can't we use the internet to vote:When I saw all the security around polling stations in Iraq on TV recently, I finally got myself to think seriously about a question that has been on the peripherry if my thougts fr a long time: Why dont we use the internet to cast votes?

Well.. at the risk of trivializing this issue, here's my first point>
We will need a unique identity for each voter. OK.. so Iraq is out. Well, what about the US, then? We have a social security number in the US. And we DO carry out financial transactions over secure/encrypted connections. There are also several ways to prevent automated screen scraping scripts (by having the user enter random bit images). So, on the basis of identity, we should be able to vote using the net.

Maybe it is geographical location. On the net one can never say where you are accessing the net from. There is a way to tell via the browser setting but that is easily compromisable. But does it really matter? I dont think so.. (What am I missing?)

Registration: There is an obvious need to authenticate the user. Several websites already have a self registration process. Hotmail or yahoo for instance. So does this mean that folks will generate spurious accounts. Since your account has an ID (namely the social security number) I am going to say, no.. that would not be possible. So what if someone blocks out a section of Social Security numbers and decides to falsly self register for all of them. Well.. here is where we will need to rely on the 4 year gap we have between elections. Can this process not start in the first year following an election, and then the citizens has upto 4 years to ensure that they can successfully register into their own social security enabled account. (Actually, I would say that even a year is ok for this)

Lastly there could be an argument made that not all persons have access to the internet. To that I will say that we should approach this pretty much like we file our tax returns. Those that have access can use the internet.. and those that don't will have to truge to the polling station.
What about servers being down? There could be chances that servers are taken over out or commission by miscreants. For this the simple solution would be to allow polling over an extended period of time. (Given that double voting can be systematically prevented).

There are some arguments given here of why someone could not vote in the past. Not sure if they hold water tho, going forward.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Virginia in a snow storm

Last night we drove down from Pittsbugh to Viginia. Amazing how expectations shape behaviour. One inch of snow here and it's called a snow storm! Everyone's home watching the weather channel.

Old friends:
I almost swerved off the road when S told me that we hadn't been to the Virginia DC area for 3 years! It is Deepa's bday. The kids are excited. Niki is super excited! New toys (mostly new video games, mainly) and old memories make a good combination.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Im in!

I'm giving in to the pressure.. everyone seems to have a blog these days.

So here's the Flying Wedge joing the club.

Why the.. Flying Wedge? you may ask.. We'll see.. stick with me... I will reveal!

Rest later..