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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Does Punchscan really remove the need for the public to trust any hardware or software as far as election results, while lowering costs and improving reliability compared to other voting systems?
  2. Yes! Briefly: Punchscan provides full transparency of the whole election process, from mandatory pre-election public audit, through to voters who wish checking the printing of the paper receipt they keep and the recording of the votes coded on it, all the way to the mandatory public post-election audit. Although each voter can verify online definitively that his or her vote is counted as cast, voters cannot show how they voted to anyone else. Lower cost results from commodity hardware and open source software, but backdoors are not an issue because anyone who wishes can choose to run and even write full audit software. If significant cheating were to be present, it would be detected with near certainty. But deliberate cheating or errors can be kept from necessitating a re-vote, considerably more effectively than with other system. (See the “sections” below for elaboration and the “learn more” page for complete system details.)
    GENERAL
  3. Don’t paper receipts and online checking facilitate vote selling or coercion of voters?
  4. Couldn’t a clever hacker or a corrupt software insider, perhaps by gaining control of the election computers, change the election outcome undetectably?
  5. Does each voter have to make an extra effort in order to protect his or her vote or to check the election outcome?
  6. Isn’t the cryptography too hard for most people to understand?
  7. If someone, maybe a code breaking agency or clever hacker, were to break the cryptography, couldn’t they then choose the winner?
  8. Isn’t the larger issue in elections, rather than integrity of the outcome, really confidence in the overall election process including registration and participation?
  9. Wouldn’t all this high security cost too much?
  10. Could this type of system work for general elections in large US counties?

  11. VOTER PROTECTIONS
  12. What about the “Florida problem,” where voters thought they were voting for one candidate but ended up voting for another?
  13. Isn’t it difficult or time consuming for those marking a ballot to find the letter through the hole that matches the letter next to the desired candidate?
  14. What if voters are paid or coerced to mark their receipts in particular ways?
  15. What if those operating a polling place were corrupt and could locally learn how people vote and thereby help enforce vote buying or coercion schemes?
  16. Can’t the secret keys of those running the election be used centrally to spy on how people voted?
  17. Can’t voters sell votes by allowing their votes to be identified through voting for a pre-arranged pattern of down-ballot candidates or issues?
  18. What if a ballot were to be smuggled out of the polling place and then used in a chain scheme, where each voter casts a pre-marked ballot provided to them before they go inside the polling place and then brings out the unmarked fresh one they were given inside so that it can be used as the next link in the chain?
  19. What if the same ballot serial number is given to more than one voter?

  20. RELIABILITY
  21. Couldn’t fake receipts be used to discredit the integrity of an election?
  22. What if some of those running an election were to try and block publication of the outcome?
  23. If cheating by the system were actually to be detected, would the whole voting process have to be repeated?

  24. ALTERNATIVE SYSTEMS
  25. Wouldn’t good old-fashioned paper ballots counted by hand in each polling place provide a higher level of integrity for election outcomes?
  26. Aren’t systems that keep an electronic record as well as a voter-viewed paper record, and that include mandatory hand recount of a sampling of the paper, more practical and just as capable of engendering as much voter confidence?