Schneier on self-enforcing protocols and voting

Bruce Schneier pens another great article on how certain protocols between people who do not trust one another can be set up to prevent cheating without third-party oversight. Of course, the gem of the article pertains to voting:

Modern voting systems are rife with the potential for cheating, but an open show of hands in a room — one that everyone in the room can count for himself — is self-enforcing. On the other hand, there’s no secret ballot, late voters are potentially subjected to coercion, and it doesn’t scale well to large elections. But there are mathematical election protocols that have self-enforcing properties, and some cryptographers have suggested their use in elections.

The emphasis is mine.

This is actually a key idea that I don’t think open-audit voting proponents, myself included, have said clearly enough: open-audit elections are self-enforcing, meaning you don’t need to trust any third party to do the right thing. Paper ballots, no matter how cool your post-election-audit protocol is, still require you to trust a subset of individuals (the auditors) to do the right thing.






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