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Frequently Asked Questions - Reliability

18. Couldn’t fake receipts be used to discredit the integrity of an election?
This would require counterfeiting of receipts at some level and probably would not be the easiest way to disrupt an election. In paper-based elections, used around the world, the appearance of ballots outside polling places casts doubt on election integrity. But anti-counterfeiting techniques developed to protect currency can be very effective, such as by hidden taggants in paper and ink. So other forms of disruption, such as deliberate but deniable errors in setting up elections, malicious software later revealed, discoverable tampering with data, can be less costly and longer lasting (but see question 20 for why these don’t apply to Punchscan). Moreover, current systems are essentially defenseless against the growing claims that they offer little actual protection and they lose all credibility if the multiple records they maintain ever become inconsistent.
19. What if some of those running an election were to try and block publication of the outcome?
With punchscan, even destroying all the electronic and centralized physical records, at least in principle, does not prevent the outcome from being re-constructed using receipts held by voters. The keys needed to complete the election and audit are shared according to rules, which can be set up to ensure that there are combinations of authorities sufficiently likely to allow the election to complete.
20. If cheating by the system were actually to be detected, would the whole voting process have to be repeated?
If inconsistencies of a scale that could change the outcome are detected during audit, then something needs to be re-run—with Punchscan as with any election system. Because data in conventional election systems is at best alleged to be what voters saw and is maintained only in the custody of a third party, it can always be disputed by impugning the third party. The data posted in a Punchscan system, however, is subject to direct verification by voters as matching that on the receipts that have been in voter custody. This considerably higher standard of evidence allows a punchscan system to avoid voters having to re-vote. The pre election phase can be re-run well ahead of election day until it yields a successful audit. To avoid the need to re-do ballot forms, monitoring of printing and distribution based on document authenticity features is prudent in any paper-based system. In case cheating by authorities is detected in the post-election results/audit, this post-voting phase can be re-run by one or more pre-arranged sets of backup authorities, possibly even re-scanning voter receipts.