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Why Electronic Voting is a BAD Idea - Computerphile

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Voting is centuries old, why can't we move with the times and use our phones, tablets and computers? Tom Scott lays out why e-voting is such a bad idea. More from Tom Scott: http://www.youtube.com/user/enyay and https://twitter.com/tomscott http://www.facebook.com/computerphile https://twitter.com/computer_phile This video was filmed and edited by Sean Riley. Computer Science at the University of Nottingham: http://bit.ly/nottscomputer Computerphile is a sister project to Brady Haran's Numberphile. See the full list of Brady's video projects at: http://bit.ly/bradychannels
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Text Comments (4878)
Christopher Krah (7 hours ago)
Could Blockchain help?
Damien Tonkin (1 day ago)
I wonder how much of this Tom knows from understanding computers and how much he learned from the time he ran for parliament on a dare?
Juan Casas (5 days ago)
Argentina here we go
Luke Brooker (7 days ago)
I always feel like this guy was busy doing something else, and he was pulled away from the task to make a video
frvo (7 days ago)
I wonder why we relay on ATM's and computers our money then... Isn't that sopposed to be even more important than a vote? I genuinely don't understand. Or heck, the stock trade market still uses paper? I only see them with computers in there... Hmmm... Why is this so different and insecure? Doesn't the paper casted votes end up being counted up by a computer with a spreadsheet or other method? The rockets we launch to the moon or space, don't we trust these machines to do the tasks we usually used to to with abacus back in the day? I sense some paranoia here...
rrafw (10 days ago)
no matter the medium if anonymous vote is required it is rigged
Dragonbreak (11 days ago)
I'm intrested what would happen if someone used an USB killed on such machine...
DiabloMinero (14 days ago)
The "World's Most Expensive Pencil" would be great to make voting accessible to people who can't handwrite, for whatever reason. Citizens with dysgraphia are still citizens and still deserve to have their votes counted, even if they would have difficulty writing their votes on a paper ballot.
Seagull Australis (2 days ago)
Yes. And it would also be absolutely unnecessary to those who are perfectly able to handwrite. Such equipment should be available to those who need them, but should not be the standard.
Gigi Gi (15 days ago)
Le vote électronique c'est comme les machines à sous, elles sont programmées pour rendre de l'argent toutes les tant de pièces introduites. Donc les votes électroniques peuvent être programmés pour que tous les tant de vote pour la personne à éliminer que le programmeur a désigné, se transforme en vote pour le Président que vous ne vouliez pas.
Dynamo 02 (15 days ago)
Yet I can bank online and banks still operate, surely if hacking a system like polling was as easy as you're saying no bank would have ever risked online banking as surely it's still safer to go into a bank and deal with a teller over the counter in person?
Dynamo 02 (2 days ago)
Yes of course, there's no point in knowing if a vote was cast by a Russian troll farm is there?....
Seagull Australis (2 days ago)
You don't do your banking anonymously. That's the difference. Voting needs to be anonymous.
omamuzo odeh (19 days ago)
We just finished voting in my country and there were a lot of fraud in the process especially during collation paper ballot has not worked well.
Murat Çeşmecioğlu (21 days ago)
0:33 - You said for physical voting "It takes so much effort, so many people and it only takes one person to leak your conspiracy and the whole things falls apart" It is wrong ;)
Aditya angara (24 days ago)
This is where blockchain could actually help tho.
Seagull Australis (2 days ago)
Having each voted identifiable would compromise the entire election. Did you even watch the video?
Aditya angara (2 days ago)
+Seagull Australis an immutable database would be useful to e-voting wouldn't it ? Once a vote is cast and sent onto a block it couldn't be edited if you tried along with an identifier for the person. (Safe within the timespan of the whole process)
Seagull Australis (2 days ago)
No. It actually couldn't. Do you not know what a blockchain is?
Maverick Hargrave (25 days ago)
What if it worked like this: the elector takes a card and punches a hole with a small standardized paper punch in the right place, to mark his candidate. Then, when it's time to count the votes, the people responsible for that job use a laser assistant to count the votes faster. If you use holes instead of pen or paper, it's harder to erase or use ink that disappears.
Tomasz Świrski (27 days ago)
Voting should NOT be anonymous. That would solve all the problems.
Howdy8x 629 (19 days ago)
why is it anonymous in the first place? i get it may cause some conflict but that is something that needs to be confronted and resolved instead of pretended to not exist which eventually turns to total out lash .
The LOL Minecrafter (27 days ago)
I'm glad to hear that at least one other person still remembers the Stuxnet breakout.
This guy is cute
meggi (1 month ago)
dudes, its pretty easy. - send peeps a voting code with letter - vote on home computer with that code, but you also get some kind of private UUID for your actual vote - when vote is done, votes where counted and evaluated you get a checksum for the overall of all votes. against this number you can check your UUID if its really counted and was counted with the original code. the last step ensures that there was no tempering and votes are legit. basically this is what we use for modern authentication.
Aresiel (1 month ago)
Just use strawpoll
Subaru Natsuki (1 month ago)
Security sec = new Security(); sec.SetLevel = Security.Level.UltraHigh; sec.Start(); problem solved. 😂
Epiccat27 (1 month ago)
I vote for Zaphod beeblebrox
Freedom Philosophy (1 month ago)
Think there is a way to use blockchain for elections?
Seagull Australis (2 days ago)
No. Not in a way which is completely anonymous.
Dmitry Blum (1 month ago)
you should pay attention to votes in Russia. Here the government has its own methods for people to be threatened. Like "make a photo with ballot"
scott king (1 month ago)
What happens when quantum cryptography is a big thing?
Seagull Australis (2 days ago)
Then we will have quantum cryptography. That changes absolutely nothing about elections.
Kevin Stauffer (1 month ago)
At a high level the reason crypto currencies work is because of two things: 1. The cryptography aspect confirms the identity of the user creating a transaction 2. There is no central location receiving all the information and telling everyone else the results Electronic voting of the future will have to work the same way. We use cryptography to confirm that you are in fact eligible to vote and that it’s you casting the vote rather than someone else impersonating you, and then that information is broadcasted publicly, not just to election officials, so that anyone in the country could gather all the votes and count them up. The end results will be determined by a consensus.
Kevin Stauffer (1 day ago)
Seagull Australis The government could act as a third party by publishing the list of eligible public keys. That would reintroduce anonymity without centralizing the counting process.
Seagull Australis (2 days ago)
No. The concept of you cryptographically signing your vote is a one which kills anonymity in voting. It is crucial that every vote is anonymous.
ESTEBAN DE LA FUENTE (1 month ago)
3:11 Just look at the USB
bobdosomting boi (1 month ago)
ZPM101 (1 month ago)
Richard Pryor FTW
Yalkın ÇIRAK (1 month ago)
So basically you are saying humans are more trustworthy than complex algorithms that has been made by multiple software engineers. Yes that makes sense. I definitely agree with you Just think about the time and effort and resources that can be saved by not voting physically!
Yalkın ÇIRAK (1 month ago)
"Attack on physical attacks tale so much effort and 1 person to ruin the conspiracy" Me: Laughs nervously in Turkey
Primthos (1 month ago)
Just make online voting with social security number.... Then require a random 10% of those voters to go to a voting center and be instructed to vote exactly how they did online. If an overwhelming majority of that 10% vote in person and online are the same, then the voting hasn't been rigged... Right? P.S. I'm talking about computer voting from home online.
Rokkiteer (1 month ago)
Why are you getting so worked up over this?
KandaPanda (1 month ago)
I imagine the US as Randy Marsh in South Park....rolling down the car window to yell "we....we didnt listen!"
Mark (1 month ago)
E-voting would only be as secure as a postal vote, assuming a sensible amount of thought has gone into the security aspects
Asfakul Laskar (1 month ago)
In India, we have electronic voting machines which regularly breaks down. People responsible for these machines term these machines as un hackable which is a laughable idea at least. One right wing party got benefited out of it in the last few elections
Oekanos (1 month ago)
You assume a very narrow possible set of online voting systems. I don't know if there is one that's great yet, but how could you know it's not just a matter of someone coming up with a great idea?
GeniusLad32 (1 month ago)
There's an xkcd for this. There's an xkcd for everything...
bennemann (1 month ago)
The Brazilian electronic voting system circumvents almost all the issues you presented, by having, just to name a few, USB ports that are not accessible without brute-force physical attack to the machine, no internet connection whatsoever, several people within view of the machine at all times during voting, randomly selected members of the public to serve as voting clerks, and many more. See Iuri Fiedoruk's comment for more safety mechanisms.
Dragomir Ronilac (1 month ago)
Back to school... So many old fashioned elections have been falsified on a state scale... "It has no matter how people vote, it matters who counts the votes."
Mateus Figueiredo (1 month ago)
The expensive pencil is very important if you don't trust the people who count the physical pieces of paper.
harshad mande (1 month ago)
Know this undemocratic people tell about democratic process
Erwin Hun (1 month ago)
I think all systems have their advantages and disadvantages. We have seen plenty of cheating using paper ballots as well, both from the party currently in power and from the opposition. Overall I think a digital system can be made safer than relying on ink and paper counted and checked by people, but it has a long way to go before it is safe and accepted/trusted enough.
brian reese (1 month ago)
ok, but does anyone have a way to do elections that would work? paper ballots in an box dont work because someone could just stuff the box or lose my vote, or the whole box. so i feel that an election should be verifiable, both personally, and total number of cast votes, it should be secure from directed attacks against, and it should be anonymous, and it should be trustable and understood by the public; is there anyway to do all of these?
Biky (1 month ago)
Voting? Ah, you mean giving someone power and privilege that nobody else has naturally, in order to abuse and succumb the minority of the population (or in some cases, the majority, when the votes are split among many small parties and the largest minority wins). If "John" told you that you had to obey him or he would violate you, that would be wrong. Even if John claims that because he and his friends are in the majority, you must obey or be punished, that would still be wrong. Even if John and his friends vote to have an institution or authority work on their behalf and that you must obey its dictates or be punished, that would still be wrong. If you understand this basic concept, then you understand that government neither has the legitimate or lawful right to violate you just because some people decided to vote for it.
GERÇEK DÜNYA (1 month ago)
potato psoas (1 month ago)
I think this problem can be easily fixed as long as we make voting information public.... blockchain
The Biggest yEET (2 months ago)
Thumbnail had Zaphod Beeblebrox as a ballot option
Scott Enders (2 months ago)
Cryptography and blockchain are solutions none the less. The real problem, as he explained is developing the platform in an unbiased way that is 100% accurate to the physical vote. Many people do not understand the way blockchain functions and have little trust in it. I was also highly skeptical but I now see that there is an active community of enthusiasts that is rapidly expanding and everyone in this community all utilize blockchain to manage their finances. If people are willing to put money on a blockchain and are able to walk away with confidence that the blockchain is going to ensure the money stays where you left it, that’s a big victory for blockchain and another step for furthering it’s utility.
S.M. L. (2 months ago)
AKA humans cant be trusted, otherwise that system would be so much more helpful by saving us so much time
ARJAV GARG (2 months ago)
Do you know what happens with ballots in India? Party workers or local goons capture a booth and fill up the ballot box. Whereas, in India, the voting machines are not connected to anything but a power supply.
Rohan Bhale (2 months ago)
Its still being used in India and newspapers publish articles where the election commission claims that these machines are 100% hack proof. What an irony for Indians.
A pena Zoom Humano (2 months ago)
completely desagree... bad idea is must generic... maybe this is a good idea for another points, you cant end a discussion like this in 8 minutes, obvsly in the future this will be real. After all, if im wrong because i dont like the alarmist way how you start you explanation, sorry.
George Oh well (2 months ago)
Don't trust government ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)
cherubin7th (2 months ago)
What I leaned today from the commend section is that in Brazil only an independent justice court actually elects. People voting is just for show.
nem tudom (2 months ago)
Tom is the best host ever.
Yashvardhan Rautela (2 months ago)
Indian EVMs don't have any wireless connections so can't be hacjed
Erik Stetina (2 months ago)
Have you heard about blockchain?
Erik Stetina (1 month ago)
Seagull Australis strong argument. Thank you
NOS (2 months ago)
@Tal Dru great work) What did he whisper here 5:59?
Justin Davis (2 months ago)
Please come talk to Congress about that, kthx
Joshua Ishihara (2 months ago)
3:14 I love the USB flip over haha
Samuel Nasta (2 months ago)
Didn't show why the paper vote is so much more secure than eletronic.
bla blabla (2 months ago)
Is voting more sensitive than banks and money? I find it interesting that it works fairly well to keep my money safe online. Is that because the banks having their own interest in keeping it safe and do not want to manipulate my money since then it would be of disadvantage for them. I know banks getting hacked from time to time but really not that often.
Suvajeet Datta (2 months ago)
The election commission of India would like to have a talk with you
Chad M (2 months ago)
give every person a unique voting ID Number, then have every vote publicly displayed along side these IDs. ez You can self verify your vote went through correctly. You can self verify that if you didn't vote your ID doesn't have a vote attached to it.
potato psoas (1 month ago)
This is how blockchain works - we mine and verify data as a collective, so way more transparency.
potato psoas (1 month ago)
Yeah all these problems can be fixed if we make voting information public.
Lennar Lehestik (2 months ago)
Been living abroad and voting with my ID-card and ID-card reader from home for a long time. Then again Estonia is a small country and the risk of serious attacks might be lower.
LJTwiggy (2 months ago)
1:06 I just watched Hitchiker’s on Netflix last night.
Heredth (2 months ago)
Or we could just not vote and let somebody just make the right decisions for us
Jonistan (2 months ago)
In Bangladesh, people still got attacked for voting for the opposition yesterday
Aaditya Phadnis (2 months ago)
4:53 India does it and we have world's largest elections.
Gainster (2 months ago)
Banking is done electronically, I don't see the problem.
potato psoas (1 month ago)
+Seagull Australis why are they compromised?
Gainster (2 months ago)
+Seagull Australis Yeah I realized that after I finished watching the video.
shivam tiwari (2 months ago)
in india we are using electronic voting system .. imagine that.. and voting machines have proprietary software..
S_Wildenberg (2 months ago)
7:50 "We're filming in front of a clock. There's gonna be someone who's going to run through this and work out how many takes we've done and what order they were in." Well, lets see then 😂 ------------------------------- 0:00 Video starts at 09.50AM 0:21 10.05AM 1:23 10.35AM (Before the animation it was 10.05, and now it's 30min later) 1:55 back to 10.05AM 5:00 Sentence starts at 10.10AM 5:10 Sentence ends at 10.25AM 5:16 Problem #3 is told at 10.25AM 5:20 Explanation of problem #3 is at 10.12AM 5:43 10.40AM 5:57 The previous sentence ended at 10.40AM. The current sentece "And those are just..." starts at around 10.14AM 😂 6:10 Back to the future at 10.40AM 6:17 Let's get back to 10.15AM 7:25 Aaand back to 10.40AM again 😂 7:51 "We're filming in front of a clock" is said at 10.43AM But the shot of the Big Ben is from 09:15AM
Pan Black Solutions (2 months ago)
It's only a bad idea if you want to keep your votes private. Oh and the fact that voting for rulers is a fools errand. But a public ledger would allow for evoting and you shouldn't be ashamed of who you voted for
6 Games (2 months ago)
Voting is a BAD Idea.
Luis Roberto Hernández (2 months ago)
Eso era antes, ahora la tecnología ha cambiado mucho
Bruno o Comentarista (2 months ago)
3:45 Brazil would use the most expensive pencil of the world in this election, but Electoral Justice changed its decision before the election.
GreenMonkeySam (2 months ago)
Couldn't block-chain and crypto-voting solve almost all of these issues?
宋岡哲 (1 month ago)
​+GreenMonkeySam With paper votes, it isn't easy to sell your votes unless you chose to vote by mail (which is a bad idea already). You receive the ballot paper only after you "authenticate" in the polling station, then, you'll be monitored so that you may not give the paper to others, bring it out of the station, or reveal the marking before you drop the ballot into the ballot box. An ideal polling station might also disallow any electronic from going in. This is how you get anonymity and security with paper voting. With e-voting you just can't get anonymity and security in this level, with or without blockchain (anonymity and security are almost mutually exclusive in the realm of digital data). What blockchain provides is non-repudiation and temper resistance of the votes *after they are cast* . The scheme would still be vulnerable on the part *before* votes are cast. E.g. corrupted/hacked voting hardware.
GreenMonkeySam (1 month ago)
​+宋岡哲 I did say solve almost all of the issues. It does solve the issues stated in the video. But even now someone could "sell" their vote to someone else i.e. pay me x to vote for so-and-so.
宋岡哲 (1 month ago)
Short answer: No. Blockchain is not the magic solution to all the problems that electronic voting could have. One of it is anonymity: Blockchain is not a completely anonymous scheme. You may still use some tokens for voter identity verification. And the tokens can be sold to others before they are cast.
Lan Mal JR (2 months ago)
But can't we develop a system thats like the banking system to store data more safely
Marcin Mikołaj (2 months ago)
Who you vote for NEVER matters... They are the same people
deadfishy666 (2 months ago)
In a hurricane my life would be of higher emergency than voting honestly.
yoppindia (2 months ago)
Now you know why paranoid guys don't get sleep. For those who don't understand how elections work, elections are fixed even before votes are cast, by fielding incompetent, power hungry, glamorous and corrupt people.
Angie Plays (3 months ago)
Here in Brazil the voting are all eletronic... it got hacked some time ago, don't remember
weirdwordcombo (3 months ago)
Surely it should be possible to design electronic, unhackable, transparent voting. Something along the lines of bitcoin, just for voting. I am sure you can get the advantages of paper voting electronically but NOT vice versa. Paper voting is slow, error prone and uses paper.
Cadu Moreira (3 months ago)
Brasil é nóis.
Bruno dos Reis (3 months ago)
The best con is the one you “believe” never happened.
Michael Winter (3 months ago)
Tom - print submitted votes live. Make video searchable by random ID number.
James Isaac (3 months ago)
3:37 in India, the voting machines have been caught compromised. No matter what button you push only only ones party was selected. Can't remember which one though the names they use are not that easy to pronounce.
Kandarp Gautam (3 months ago)
You told us what's the problem. But i am sure that electronic voting machines can be better than ballot boxes... As even an illitrate person can mess with it. So as you told us the problems i am sure we can find a solution. And solution might involve trusting at least one person with something big.. but it's better than trusting 100 people to do their job properly. Like 1 person you trust can be loyal or not loyal.. but most probably if you know him personally .. you can figure that out. So i think EVM actually reduces chances of errors and also protects from unskilled people being hired to mess with machine. I think there's a solution. Ps: BTW i am not saying EVM as in machine connected to internet. I am talking about machines that does nothing but count and take votes and anything can be tampered i agree.. but with proper security and less people being involved.. in which all can be trusted.. is a way to go.
Austin Capobianco (3 months ago)
Blockchain voting solves every problem mentioned in the video :^)
Martin Vaněk (3 months ago)
All the money in the world today are kept and constantly going through "the softwares" and yet nobody stole them all. While certainly there is and always will be all sorts of frauds, it is actually harder to do it comparing to physical money. And there are plenty of ways to do the checks and limit the impact, just Computerphile is lazy to think.
Gr7knaut (3 months ago)
OMG,I BEG you...PLEASE Send me the name or link to the USB Stick in 4:59,it looks AWESOME OwO
Saheryk (3 months ago)
You say about nations, corporations and masons, but you forget about 99,999% of population, who thinks, that there is a candidate, who they want to loose te elections.
Meir Botwinik (3 months ago)
Solution: Just use a twitter poll.
Максим Цыба (3 months ago)
You have to tell all this stuff Russia, where they just drop fake papers in the boxes while counting votes.
Bibin Mathew (3 months ago)
Bogdan It'sSoEasy (3 months ago)
As for me, i trust to machine rather more than people. And cryptography can resolve most problems that are described in this video
quenchize (3 months ago)
Why are you all going on about secret ballot? The ballot is not secret in the UK. Every ballot paper has a serial number and that number is recorded against your name. Now it may be that the data is only used if there is some concern of fraud. But the fact remains that if anyone who has access to the ballots and the register can determine exactly which ballot is yours.
Java Fan (3 months ago)
this guy embarasses me
Vishal Sharma (3 months ago)
only if it was election instead of selection disguised as an election.
Josh T (3 months ago)
Do you maintain this position with the rise of blockchain?

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