Tuesday, July 20, 2010



Check your Progressive Score Card. How have we Progressives been doing on your most urgent issue? Environment, Economy, Education, War and Peace, Health Care, Criminal Justice System, Immigration, Racism, Sexism, Homophobia, Marijuana …

What is the hold up on progress for each of these? While every issue has unique features, the obstacle common to them all is the money-dependent two-party system of elections.

Why have our political efforts produced so little results in what we all thought would be a favorable administration under Obama's lead. Our campaign of "health care, not warfare," for instance, was one big flop. Single payer never received a serious hearing in Congress or the White House. Our troops are still in Iraq and Afghanistan, with no end in sight. Our hopes to nominate Progressive candidates in this year's Democratic primaries have also been dashed.

That Obama was slow to act on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill catastrophe is a direct result of our corrupt campaign financing laws. He and his aides firmly believe that wealthy corporations can be relied upon for advice in their areas of business. When BP lied, and told the president's advisers that they had it all under control, the advisers believed everything, and so the president delayed remedial action. This religious faith in corporate expertise is a defining factor throughout US policy. The need for corporate campaign contributions turns almost every US office-holder into a gullible sycophant of the super rich.

The murder rate in Mexico continues to sky-rocket as gangs fight for control over the illegal drug trade. Were these drugs to be de-criminalized, taxed, and regulated, business competition would replace murder, and the shameful number of non-violent folks in US prisons would dissipate. Tax revenues would increase, as they have in places where pot is legally sold for medical purposes, as in Los Angeles and other cities.

Rather than an immigration policy that treats hard working men and women with dignity, ICE raids have increased under Obama, Tea Partiers are on the verge of having laws allowing lynching passed.

Progressives are impotent in the policy making process precisely because we cannot out-contribute corporations in campaign financing. The Supreme Court has given them, not us, Citizens United.

Our candidate election power is weak because the money-dependent structure of the US election system favors the superrich, not the people. Election power is the key to success on all Progressive issues, like health care, peace, environment, education, employment, immigration, prisons, and others. But until the election system is re-structured, we will be doomed to frustration.

The US election system is a master of deception. It creates the illusion of democracy where none exists. The 2000 election is clear evidence of that. Gore received the popular majority vote, yet Bush took the presidency.

Further evidence of the lack of democracy in our presidential elections is the fact that hundreds of millions of dollars is needed to compete. Tens of millions are necessary to run in primaries. In 2008, Obama rejected money from public matching funds, because that includes limits on what candidates can spend. So, without those limits he could spend over $740,000,000 to win his election. Small donors are disregarded by his administration, while contributors of massive amounts determine policy in all branches of government.

For these, and other, reasons, the US election process is Public Enemy Number One from the Progressive point of view.

Fortunately, electronic technology, particularly the Internet, can give our side new leverage.

Internet voting presents a Fantastic Opportunity for Progressives to have a fair chance at gaining significant political power. I discuss that issue fully at, http://internetvotingforall.blogspot.com/2012/10/three-reasons-to-support-internet.html

The security technology refined by superrich banks and wealthy corporations can be transferred to online voting systems. Ironically, we can use their technology to neutralize the power of Big Money in US elections. Also see, http://internetvotingforall.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-political-argument-for-internet.html

How would the elections work? Imagine yourself watching a series of debates between presidential candidates online, or on TV. Two debaters, in a real debate, have one hour to show their merit. Then you watch a second one hour debate between two more candidates.

At the end of that debate, the voters turn to their PC or cell phone and log on to their county's secure election server. After checking the registration, a ballot appears. The voter can then rate each debater from 0-9, not just cast one vote for one winner. Winning would depend on the ranking total.

In three evenings, the American people can sort through a dozen different candidates. Hearing all the ideas and arguments of those candidates would be far more of an education to the electorate than they now get from one Repub and one Dem.

Special interest advertising would have very little time or opportunity to interfere with the voter's decision making process. The voter will focus on the performance of the debaters, and base his or her ranking on that, rather than on some tricky ad that runs for a week on TV. The voter will decide long before advertising could work its manipulative schemes. Let the corporations spend all of their shareholder's money. Internet voting, rightly organized, can neutralize every one of their pernicious efforts.

TV and online time for the debates can be free for the candidates. The people license the use of public air ways, and can require the time needed for debates from the broadcasting licensees. With that, the need for campaign contributions drops to nil.

Only 100 years ago the horse and carriage were the primary means of transportation in the US. The horseless carriage was an object of scorn and skepticism. Eventually, however, that new technology proved irresistible.

The same will happen with Internet voting. Hence, we can be sure that Internet voting is coming to the US!

The challenge for Progressives, then, is not how to stop the inevitable, but how to plan now to turn the emerging technology to our democratic advantage.

Remember what Einstein supposedly said about people who keep doing the same thing while expecting different results? So why do we keep trying to work within the money-dependent two-party system?

Let's break out of the crusty and corrupt old mold, and cast a new system from electronic technology.

Progressives have historically been the proponents of new ideas, aimed at enhancing the democratic quality of our political system. This is what we should keep trying to do!

Let us focus our energy and organizing skills on wiping out Public Enemy Number One: the election process of the two party duopoly, controlled by a few superrich corporations and individuals.

See, in paper or on Kindle, Internet Voting Now!

William J. Kelleher, Ph.D.
Political Scientist, author, speaker, CEO for
The Internet Voting Research and Education Fund
A CA Nonprofit Foundation
Email: InternetVoting@gmail.com

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Unlike business transactions, the name of the voter cannot be linked to the vote, if voting is to be secret. So, auditing votes cannot be done in the same way that business auditing can be done. The voter can never be asked "is this your vote?" But there are ways to provide assurances that the vote count was done right. For example, if the number of ballots equals the number of voters, then one aspect of accuracy is shown.

No one can know for sure if votes have been changed within the number cast, but there are ways to monitor that. For example, each module in the secure Internet voting server can be tested to be sure its operating code is exactly as specified for the work the module is to do. This can be done both before and after an election. In addition, computer scientist Ed Gerck has shown that "electronic witnesses" can be put on each module in the process to monitor the operation of the module. If the module does something off course, the witness can record the event, or set off an alarm to get the attention of a human operator. This can be done for every step, from authenticating the voter to counting the votes.

Political parties can install their own electronic witnesses on the government’s secure server. If those witnesses do not report any missteps, then the integrity of the election would seem to be fully verified.

There are some informal ways of auditing an election based on Internet voting. One informal audit procedure would be that if people who follow elections closely are satisfied that the results are within the realm of reasonableness, then the process was very likely done right.

Of course, there would be no exit polls for Internet voting. But scientific samples of voters could be taken by phone. This could be another informal test of an election’s integrity. But there are problems with polling voters that makes it only a suggestive tool, and not definitive. When people are asked how they voted, there is a higher likelihood of misreporting than with ordinary opinion surveys.

Ultimately, any vote that is too large for a hand count will require some trust in the people who count the vote. The term “verified” contains a large element of psychology. There are folks so possessed by fear that unless they can see all the hands raised in a room, they will not trust the results of an election. For them, even paper ballots are no security blanket. At the worst extreme would be people who disbelieved the report from the hand count in the next room, but only accepted the hand count he or she could make.

Larger scale democracies must have some element of trust in the integrity of people one does not know personally, if they are to succeed.


Hall and Alvarez have been involved in the study of Internet voting since the early 1990s. They are consulted by the US government, and other governments around the world. Here are a few notes and quotes from their book, Electronic Elections (2008).


These two political scientists are committed to the rational study of all sorts of electronic voting systems, and they warn against the folly of letting fear overcome reason in the Internet voting policy debate.

“Passions can overcome rational debate …” 154 “We should move to a level of scientific study …” 130 “This debate needs to become more rational …” 11


Internet voting trials have been conducted in Alaska and Arizona in 2000, Michigan in 2004, from 2000 on: France, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Estonia, Netherlands, and several parts of Canada.

“The United Kingdom provides a model of [pilot testing of Internet voting].” 72 Every step in the process has been carefully monitored and studies made of public opinion, and improvements made where needed.

“As of late 2006, a total of eight [European] nations have conducted real remote Internet voting pilots.” 76

“In these trials, there had not been any documented security problems, …the experiences were problem free.” 71

In fact, “none of the threats that security experts claim will occur with Internet voting has occurred in the many elections that have tested such systems.” 89


The Democratic Party offered an Internet voting option, along with vote by mail and at polling places, in its 2004 primary.

Again, with the Internet voting, “there were no successful attacks from pranksters and hackers.” 97

The Internet voting technology did not favor any particular candidate or age group.(97) Computers were provided in public places, and lap tops brought to home-bound voters.(97) More voters used the Internet than voted by mail.(97)

No voters were disenfranchised by Internet voting, but paper based polling place problems did cause some people to not vote.(97) E.g., long lines, registration verification snags, lack of supplies (like proper ballots).

67% said they used Internet voting for convenience, and 90% of these said they voted from home, and 8% from work.

Contrary to expectations, Internet voting had very little extra draw on young voters (95)


This year at least 33 states are going to try some form of voting over the Internet for their overseas voters. Despite all the testimony from the critics and alarmists, Congress has allocated funds for these trials. The testimony of experts who assured Congress that techniques of mitigation exist for all the risks listed by those opposed to any voting technology but paper was more convincing than the unreason of alarmists like "Jefferson et al." Some states, like California and Arizona, have been using fax returned ballots for overseas military voters for several years. Studies of these practices show that

“There have not been any allegations of widespread fraud or irregularities associated with faxed UOCAVA ballots …” 87

Also, when asked if they are willing to take the alleged risks of Internet voting systems, military people overwhelmingly agree to it, so they can vote.


In Chapter Two, and throughout the book, H/A discuss all the faults of paper based voting systems. The US has about 200 years of experience with paper ballots. Most of the criticisms of Internet voting are also proven problems of paper, such as denial of service, fraud, spoofing, buying/selling, invasions of privacy, vote changing, intimidation, etc. (cf 87)


Don't let scary stories and fear drive your opinions. Look at the facts.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Anti-Internet Voting Scams

Here's a quick tip on how to spot anti-Internet voting scams.

They always involve telling a series of scary stories to make people feel doubtful and nervous about Internet voting. Like "any kid can hack the system," or "a hacker from Iran could control a US election." Scary stuff that nobody would want to risk.

Notice that they never mention how these terrible events can be protected against, or how likely to occur such events really are. They never present any science in favor of their wild claims.

But once they have everyone nervous and doubtful about all forms of e-voting, including Internet voting, they helpfully provide us with a security blanket. They assure their listeners that a piece of paper will provide all the security and integrity every voter longs for.

To sound technologically sophisticated they use the term Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail.

What's the truth? In fact, adding a piece of paper to e-voting brings up all the insecurities and follies of paper ballots in the past. It adds time to the voting process, and can double that time at peak hours in the polling places, causing long lines and delay. Printers can jam or break down, the paper can be hard to read under the glass that keeps the voter from touching it, and there is still no guarantee that the vote on the piece of paper will be counted as cast!

Independent thinking folks will apply a little of the scientific method, and look to the facts of experience so as to check the claims of fear-mongering propagandists.

Internet voting doesn't need paper, just as e-commerce doesn't need paper. Plus, Internet voting, properly organized, can free the US election process from the grip of Big Money.

Lets talk about how...