Re: Electronic voting feasibility

Discussion in 'Python' started by Greg Steffensen, Sep 10, 2004.

  1. My goal is to write an easy-to-use, python based system to allow small
    organizations to conduct online elections using sound cryptography.
    There won't be anything substantial at stake in campus elections, of
    course; I'm using them just as a means to prototype. I'd really just
    like to release a working product that others can attack, so that the
    general quality of open-source voting code rises, increasing the
    chances that governments will, someday, have an open-source alternative
    to Diebold, which I think would be a fundamentally good thing.

    Glad to hear that python is less susceptible to buffer-overflows; if
    part of the system ended up touching the disk, would python's speed
    make it susceptible to race conditions?

    Greg Steffensen
    Greg Steffensen, Sep 10, 2004
    #1
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  2. Greg  Steffensen

    Peter Hansen Guest

    Greg Steffensen wrote:
    > Glad to hear that python is less susceptible to buffer-overflows; if
    > part of the system ended up touching the disk, would python's speed
    > make it susceptible to race conditions?


    Race conditions can occur with *anything*, and are generally
    a design issue, not a performance issue. Python's speed
    shouldn't be a concern here, with proper design (and the
    same thing needs to be said for C or assembly).

    I'm not sure why you tie that possibility to "touching the disk",
    though. What does that have to do with race conditions?

    Rather than answer detailed questions, I would simply say this
    to you. Python is very well suited to doing a prototype of
    an open source voting system. You might want to check the
    archives for this list before you start something from scratch,
    however:
    http://groups.google.ca/groups?q=open source voting system group:comp.lang.python.*

    (Now I'm curious what happened to that project... Anand? David?)

    (That might lead you here http://evm2003.sourceforge.net/index.html
    and http://www.openvotingconsortium.org/ and from those you will
    find many other links to reference material.)

    -Peter
    Peter Hansen, Sep 10, 2004
    #2
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  3. Greg  Steffensen

    Peter Hansen Guest

    Peter Hansen wrote:

    > (Now I'm curious what happened to that project... Anand? David?)


    Answered at http://www.openvotingconsortium.org/news.html

    (Summary: the prototype was demonstrated with success. Python
    and lots of hard work by volunteers got the job done.)

    -Peter
    Peter Hansen, Sep 10, 2004
    #3
  4. Greg  Steffensen

    Andrew Dalke Guest

    Greg Steffensen wrote:
    > My goal is to write an easy-to-use, python based system to allow small
    > organizations to conduct online elections using sound cryptography.


    What is "sound cryptography"? It seems too close to me to
    "sound science" which is a code phrase for "science subsumed
    by political decisions" (my interpretation). For details, see
    Chris Mooney's article at http://www.alternet.org/story/18696
    where he asks "if it isn't good science, then what exactly
    is it?"

    The term "sound cryptography", btw, only gets 27 hits on Google.

    We now return you to your regularly scheduled c.l.py, and
    my apologies for the knee-jerk reaction.

    Andrew
    Andrew Dalke, Sep 10, 2004
    #4
  5. Peter Hansen <> wrote in message news:<>...
    > > > (Now I'm curious what happened to that project... Anand? David?)

    > Answered at http://www.openvotingconsortium.org/news.html
    > (Summary: the prototype was demonstrated with success. Python
    > and lots of hard work by volunteers got the job done.)


    Peter's summary is basically right. Python worked great to make the
    demo system--and I still hope it will be used to make the production
    system. I think Python is exactly the right choice; it's too bad a
    lot of people have a wrongheaded idea about static typing magically
    improving the security of systems (but a vague sentiment that Java or
    C would be better for some ill-defined reason comes up sometimes).

    But since the successful demo, we've mostly been in a political
    lobbying and applying-for-grants mode. I won't go into all of it, but
    there's a lot going on on several legislative fronts, and in the
    lobbying of political decisions by voting officials at different
    levels. To move the system along, we probably need to obtain one of
    the several large-scale funding proposals we've put forward.
    Volunteers are great, but this is probably a thing that needs some
    more formal, funded development to get certified.

    Hopefully some more Python programming in the near future, on this
    front.

    Yours, David...
    David Mertz, Ph.D., Sep 18, 2004
    #5
  6. > What is "sound cryptography"? It seems too close to me to
    > "sound science".


    I'm not sure what the problem is here -- obviously, you'll need to
    know something about the physics of acoustics in order to use pressure
    waves for encryption, so I think "sound cryptography" _should_ be
    really close to "sound science." :)

    Pat
    Patrick Maupin, Sep 18, 2004
    #6
  7. On 18 Sep 2004 15:44:06 -0700, rumours say that
    (Patrick Maupin) might have written:

    [Andrew in reply to Greg Steffensen]
    >> What is "sound cryptography"? It seems too close to me to
    >> "sound science".


    [Patrick]
    >I'm not sure what the problem is here -- obviously, you'll need to
    >know something about the physics of acoustics in order to use pressure
    >waves for encryption, so I think "sound cryptography" _should_ be
    >really close to "sound science." :)


    ISTM that Andrew (and Greg, initially) used the word "sound" as an
    adjective (~ "firm", "secure") and not as a noun ("sound" as what we
    hear). So either you understood "sonic cryptography" or I missed the
    joke :)
    --
    TZOTZIOY, I speak England very best,
    "Tssss!" --Brad Pitt as Achilles in unprecedented Ancient Greek
    Christos TZOTZIOY Georgiou, Sep 20, 2004
    #7
  8. Christos "TZOTZIOY" Georgiou wrote:

    > ISTM that Andrew (and Greg, initially) used the word "sound" as an
    > adjective (~ "firm", "secure") and not as a noun ("sound" as what we
    > hear). So either you understood "sonic cryptography" or I missed the
    > joke :)


    Well, it _was_ a particularly lame joke, and there is no real defense
    for that.

    But I was confused why you thought I was using "sound" as a noun
    rather than as an adjective, until I looked it up online. I don't
    know what particular resource you use, but I was mystified to find
    that www.m-w.com does not have an entry for an adjective "sound"
    meaning "acoustic." I find this baffling -- not only is this an
    extremely common usage (IMO), but in the dictionary itself, one of the
    entries in the definition for "acoustic" refers to "sound waves"!

    I guess I should find a better resource. After all, their thesaurus
    doesn't even know what a "synonym" is:

    http://www.m-w.com/cgi-bin/thesaurus?book=Thesaurus&va=synonym&x=0&y=0

    Regards,
    Pat
    Patrick Maupin, Sep 21, 2004
    #8
  9. [Pat]
    > I was mystified to find
    > that www.m-w.com does not have an entry for an adjective "sound"
    > meaning "acoustic." I find this baffling -- not only is this an
    > extremely common usage (IMO), but in the dictionary itself, one of the
    > entries in the definition for "acoustic" refers to "sound waves"!


    I believe that's an "attributive use" of the noun "sound", as in "brick wall"
    or "town council". See "Adjective (1)" in The New Fowler's.

    --
    Richie Hindle
    Richie Hindle, Sep 21, 2004
    #9
  10. Richie Hindle wrote

    > I believe that's an "attributive use" of the noun "sound", as in "brick wall"
    > or "town council". See "Adjective (1)" in The New Fowler's.


    You're absolutely right -- in English just about any noun can be used
    as an adjective, and www.m-w.com does actually have the compound noun
    "sound wave", but I had _just_ been using the thesaurus, and found it
    quite humorous that I couldn't find either "synonymous" or "synonym"
    therein, so I was looking for an excuse to make yet another lame joke,
    but that obviously wasn't a "sound decision" :)

    Pat
    Patrick Maupin, Sep 22, 2004
    #10
  11. On 21 Sep 2004 19:47:42 -0700, Patrick Maupin <> wrote:

    if nitpicking['grammar']:

    > You're absolutely right -- in English just about any
    > noun can be used as an adjective


    No. Both nouns and adjectives can be used as
    attributive modifiers; what distinguishes them is that
    adjectives are limited to that context, whereas nouns
    can also be used as substantives.
    Andrew Durdin, Sep 22, 2004
    #11
  12. Greg  Steffensen

    Steve Holden Guest

    Andrew Durdin wrote:

    > On 21 Sep 2004 19:47:42 -0700, Patrick Maupin <> wrote:
    >
    > if nitpicking['grammar']:
    >
    > > You're absolutely right -- in English just about any
    > > noun can be used as an adjective

    >
    > No. Both nouns and adjectives can be used as
    > attributive modifiers; what distinguishes them is that
    > adjectives are limited to that context, whereas nouns
    > can also be used as substantives.


    In English [and, particularly, in "American English"] it is just as
    common to see people verbing nouns as it is to see them nouning verbs.

    I normally interpret a disregard for the basics of English as an
    indication of sloppy thinking, but on the Net I try to respect the
    possibility that English is often not the first language of correspondents.

    I am also much more tolerant of rule breakage when I see evidence that
    the correspondent knows that the rules *are* - rules are, after all,
    made to be broken.

    I thought that "sonic cryptography" was a good enough pun to elicit a
    small groan. But you have to remember I'm from the scholl that believes
    a pun is no good enough it doesn't make at least some people groan.

    regards
    Steve
    Steve Holden, Sep 26, 2004
    #12
  13. Steve Holden <> wrote:

    > I am also much more tolerant of rule breakage when I see evidence that
    > the correspondent knows that the rules *are* - rules are, after all,
    > made to be broken.


    The Code is more what you'd call guidelines than actual rules...


    Alex
    Alex Martelli, Sep 26, 2004
    #13
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