How secret is Singapore's vote / Singaporeans should oppose e-voting
- From: Stephan Ortmann
Singapore's Vote: How Secret Is It?
30 Sep 2005
In a recent article in the American Political Science
Review, I have come across a very interesting article
on political machines titled: "Perverse
Accountability: A Formal Model of Machine Politics
with Evidence from Argentina" by Susan C. Stokes. It
specifically mentions the PAP as a political machine
with the certainty of reelection for the electorate.
It also refers to an article by Waikeung Tam called
"Clientelist Politics in Singapore: Selective
Provision of Housing Services as an
Electoral Mobilization Strategy". One very important
aspect for the reelection of the machine, so Stokes,
is the ability to know who voted for it and who
against. Otherwise it could not guarantee that the
voters who it tries to buy will also vote for the
party. In this regard there are two questions:
How secret is Singapore's vote? (especially since it
Do Singaporeans consider their vote to be secret?
if anyone knows if there has been any opinion survey
on this latter question it would be very interesting
to know! If not, I think it would be a very
interesting survey to conduct.
Stephan Ortmann, PhD student of University of
In Sg_Review@yahoogroups.com, Lee Demhart wrote:
Why Singaporeans should oppose e-voting
29 April 2003
The article below was written by Lee Demhart for the International
Herald Tribune (29 April 2003) concerning e-voting in Britain.
Singaporeans should pay heed because the PAP is going to introduce
this at the next elections. Good luck to us all...
MORE than 1.5 million Britons will have a chance to vote on Thursday
in 17 local elections using electronic-voting systems that computer
security experts on both sides of the Atlantic say are fraught with
danger and an invitation to fraud.
Britain's pilot projects in computer voting - which include voting
over the Internet - are the latest examples of the move to electronic
voting by several European countries in the interest of efficiency,
speed and increasing voter turnout by making it easier to vote.
Although Thursday is election day in Britain, the electronic polls
are already open in some of the pilot districts.
Elections by computer have previously been conducted in Sweden,
Switzerland and France, as well as in Britain. The Netherlands,
Italy, Germany, Estonia and the European Union have announced their
intention to try them.
Electronic voting has also been conducted in several American states,
spurred at least in part by the fiasco in Florida in the presidential
election in 2000.
In all electronic elections in Europe and most of the United States
so far, security experts say, the systems used were vulnerable to
attack and could have been manipulated in undetectable ways that
would have made it impossible to determine that the results of an
election had been changed, either by accident or design.
Specifically, the experts say, Internet voting could be crippled by
a 'denial of service' attack against the computer servers recording
the vote, for which there is no known defence, and could
disenfranchise large numbers of voters. In addition, they say, since
voters use their own computers, election officials have no control
over what software is installed on those machines or what viruses
might be lurking in it that are activated only during an election to
Voting over the Internet, is 'an election that a teenager could
circumvent', said Associate Professor Avi Rubin of Johns Hopkins
Assistant Professor Rebecca Mercuri of Bryn Mawr College near
Philadelphia, one of the world's leading specialists in electronic-
voting security, said of the voting systems now being used in
Britain: 'It's horrifically scary. This is an abomination, and I fear
for democracy as a result.'
Senior scientist David Jefferson at the Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory in California, who headed the technical committee of the
California Internet Voting Task Force three years ago, said: 'All
remote Internet voting from private PCs, no matter how you structure
it, is seriously dangerous.'
In London, director Ian Brown of the Foundation for Information
Policy Research, an independent organisation that studies the
interaction between information technology and society, said: 'We are
worried about the security of electronic-voting systems, especially
remote ones, where people can vote from home using their PC or a
mobile phone, which is the kind of technology the British government
has been keen on. No matter what the twists and turns of the scheme
that they use, we don't think that home PCs are a secure enough
platform for something as truly vital to democracy as the voting
Computer science professor David Dill of Stanford University agreed,
saying: 'These systems are open to wholesale vote fraud.'
The basic problem in current electronic-voting systems, the security
experts say, is the lack of an audit trail that would enable all
voters to verify for themselves in real time that their vote was
recorded as they intended and was counted as they intended.
In addition, they say, there needs to be a publicly available
electronic ballot box that can verify that the announced vote total
is an accurate tabulation of all the votes cast. This must all be
done in a way that maintains the secrecy of each individual's ballot.
About 500 computer technologists in the US have signed a resolution
put forward by Prof Dill warning that no electronic-voting system
should be adopted that does not have these protections.
But none of the voting systems that are being used in Britain or
elsewhere meet these requirements, Prof Dill said, though it is
technically possible to have a system that does by using advanced
Mr Jim Adler, president of Vote-Here, a company in Seattle that has
provided the software for six of the local elections now under way in
Britain, acknowledged that the security protections did not meet the
highest standards. 'Governments often make usability-security trade-
offs,' he said, 'and you can see that in Britain'.
In a separate e-mail, he elaborated: 'There is no requirement for
voters to be able to verify that their vote was 'cast as intended' or
for election observers to verify that all ballots were 'counted as
cast'. The technology exists, but Britain, so far, has not required
In London, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, which runs
British elections and oversees them, responded to questions by e-
mail. 'There is a range of measures in place to guard against abuse
in the e-voting pilots,' according to the statement by a spokesman
for the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.
The statement said the votes were encrypted and the security
requirements were 'devised in consultation with the government's
security experts'. 'When a voter casts a vote,' the statement
said, 'they will receive confirmation from the voting channel that
the vote has been recorded.' It added that the confirmation would
be 'along the lines of 'thank you, your vote has been accepted' '.
But computer security experts said this was no guarantee that the
vote had not been tampered with, either on the machine where it was
cast or in transmission to the counting place or in the tabulation
itself. 'You know your vote has been counted because you get an 'I
voted' sticker back,' Prof Dill said. 'But that doesn't say it was
going to be counted correctly. It doesn't say it's counted as cast or
counted as intended. How is it that the voter knows that the vote
that went into the electronic ballot box is the vote he intended?'
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister also said: 'All e-voting
pilots will be subject to pre-election independent security checks
and post-election surveys and evaluation, the results of which will
be made available to participating authorities and the public.'
But principal scientist Peter Neumann at the Computer Science
Laboratory of SRI International in California said: 'The pre- and
post-testing stuff doesn't prove anything at all. I can build a
system that will show you that your vote went in correctly and still
did not record it correctly.
'What you do is build a shadow system that lurks underneath and that
demonstrates that everything is perfect, except that the actual
results are coming from the other system. There are a lot of ways
that you can skin the cat without any evidence whatsoever.'
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister also pointed to e-voting
pilots conducted in Britain in 2000 and last year and said
analysis 'showed that the arrangements put in place did not enhance
the opportunity for fraud or undermine the secrecy and security of
To which Prof Rubin responds: 'Everything in security is predicated
on paranoia. The question is, 'Is there an existing vulnerability?'
Not, 'has it ever been exploited?' '
Several experts noted that if people intended to rig an electronic
election, they would not waste their time and effort on a minor local
election with little consequence, thereby tipping off the authorities
to the vulnerability of their election system. Such people would
ignore small, pilot-project elections, such as those currently under
way, in order to increase the authorities' confidence in the system.
They would wait until a big election, such as a national one, before
Prof Mercuri said: 'It's only a matter of time before somebody's
going to target one of these elections.'
She and others spent a week in London last autumn explaining all of
the dangers to Cabinet officials and the election authorities,
without persuading them to implement stricter controls, according to
her and Mr Brown, the London researcher, who was also at the meeting.
'These are basic underlying computer technology facts,' Prof Mercuri
said, 'but no one wants to listen to this. They want to operate
under, 'it's not going to happen to us', or, 'this is just gloom and
doom' or, 'you're a bunch of Luddites' '.
'But that's not the case. The virus problems and the auditability
problems strike at the underpinnings of major computer-science
concepts that we have not been able to solve. The people are just
shunning this and flying in the face of this,' she added.
Mr Brown recalled: 'They just said, 'We're convinced it's secure. All
we need is that it's at least as secure as the existing system, and
paper ballots aren't perfect'. My response to that is, yes, there are
opportunities for fraud, but it's on a much smaller scale. You can't
invisibly, quietly manipulate the vote across the entire country,
which would be possible with an electronic system.'
Prof Rubin said: 'You hear the famous line, 'Why are we using 18th
century technology to vote in the 21st century?' And the answer is
because it works, and 21st century technology is not well-suited to
Comments: Mellanie Hewlitt
Although below article relates to Egypt's elections, the article has special relevance to singapore's electorial scene espcially in view of the striking similiarities between the elections procedures and criteria in both countries.
Egypt's imitation election
The New York Times
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 11, 2005
Here are some simple ways to identify a real democratic election. The ruling party should not be allowed to shape the election arrangements and intimidate voters. The candidates should be able to compete on a reasonably level playing field. Impartial observers should be welcome and given time to deploy themselves at polling places nationwide.
Not one of these defining features was evident in last week's Egyptian presidential voting, whose main purpose was to usher President Hosni Mubarak into his fifth six-year term. On Friday he was officially declared the winner, collecting 88.5 percent of the votes.
A few limited gestures were made in the general direction of democracy, thanks to repeated nudging from Mubarak's most important international supporter, President George W. Bush. For the first time in Egyptian history, the names of opposition presidential candidates actually appeared on the ballot. And for the first time in decades limited expressions of political criticism and protest were allowed. Compared with past elections under the half-century-old Egyptian military dictatorship, this one plainly marked an advance.
But compared with the real democracy that Egypt's 76 million people need and deserve, the election was an elaborate and largely meaningless sham. The loosening of the reins may have gone further than first intended, but nobody is counting on any lasting political opening. And while some optimistically hope that last week's imitation election could prepare the way for a more genuinely competitive contest next time around, it could as easily turn out to be the ceremonial opening act of a planned dynastic succession, with the 77-year-old Mubarak's 41-year-old son being groomed to succeed him.
Egyptians need real democracy so that they can demand an end to the corruption and nepotism that stifle economic and educational opportunity and a halt to the social and political injustices that fuel sterile cycles of violent unrest and repression. Unfortunately, the next presidential elections are not due until 2011. That is an awfully long time to wait.
Date: Mon, 5 Sep 2005 11:16:12 +0800 (CST)
From: "Robert HO" <ic019@...>
To: Mellanie Hewlitt
Subject: How LKY wins elections in addition to straightforwardly
Everytime when there is talk of General Elections
around the corner, many Singaporeans continue to hope
that more opposition will be voted in. Since the early
80s, I have been hearing that the next elections "will
be different" and that the ground "will not be as
sweet for the PAP."
Almost 25 years have passed and the results have been
dismal. Opposition strength have dwindled to such an
extent that only 23 seats out of 84 were contested the
last time around.
That Singaporeans today face a scenario is not an
accidental one. It has been masterminded and executed
over the years by the hand of one Lee Kuan Yew.
1. In Feb of 1963, 111 people in Singapore were
arrested under the ISA in a pre-dawn swoop now known
as Operation Coldstore. The arrests were ordered after
a meeting in Malaysia between PAP leaders, the British
and Federation. Lee Kuan Yew, Goh Keng Swee and Ong
Pang Boon were in the meeting.
2. Amongst those arrested were Lim Chin Siong and
James Fu (who later became LKY's Press Secretary). Lim
was the leader of the opposition at the time. Ops
Coldstore destroyed all chances of Singapore having a
two-party democratic system.
3. In 1963, PAP won elections against major rival
Barisan Sosialist. They were able to do this beacuse
most of Barisan's leaders were in jail. Chia Thye Poh
was elected MP of Jurong.
4. Between 1965 to 1966, PAP refused to convene
Parliament for many months, leading Barisan to boycott
5. Chia Thye Poh was arrested on Oct 1966 at the
Barisan office. S'poreans were never to see Chia again
until he was marooned to Sentosa in 1989. He was
eventually freed in 1998. Til today, Chia Thye Poh's
detention acts as psychological deterrant against
anyone who wishes to sign up for the opposition. The
ISA is still in use.
6. In the 1968 GE, opposition decided to boycott the
elections. This election marked the start of PAP
walkovers. Only 7 seats were contested, mostly by
Independents against the PAP. PAP won all.
7. PAP again won clean sweeps in 72, 76 and 80 until
JBJ won a seat in the Anson by-election. During this
period, the ISA continue to be used against political
opponents. Dr Poh Soo Kai, who was detained in 1963
and released in 1972, was detained again in 1976.
8. When JBJ regained his seat in 1984, Lee Kuan Yew
stepped up his attacks. JBJ served jail time for
allegedly misdeclaring party funds and was eventually
disqualified in 1986 after a libel suit. He was not to
contest again until 1997 where he won a NCMP seat. He
was again booted out of Parliament in 2001 when he
9. In 1987, 22 young professional were arrested under
the ISA in a "marxist conspiracy." Truth is : many of
the detainees were non-member activists working with
the Workers Party. Some of them were re-arrested in
1988 after they alleged mistreatment by ISD. Vincent
Cheng and Teo Soh Lung served close to two years in
jail. Francis Seow was also detained and upon release,
stood for elections and almost won a seat, He was
subsequently charged with income tax evasion and a
arrest warrant has since been issued against him.
10. In 1997, Tang Liang Hong burst into the political
scene with fire and fury. He stood with JBJ in Cheng
San and lost narrowly. He was subsequently sued by 13
PAP ministers and declared a bankrupt. An arrest
warrant has also been issued against him.
11. After 1997, more restrictions were put in place to
castrate the opposition. Gerrymandering, Political
Donations Act, increased election deposits, clampdown
on internet campaigning etc.
Under such circumstances, even the most popular and
well-loved opposition politician would be crushed by
such a system. One need look no furher than JB
Jeyeratnam. The remaining opposition would be silly to
attempt anything that would upset Lee's hold on power.
At $10,000 a month salary, Chiam See Tong and Low Thia
Kiang knows which side of their bread is buttered.
Anyone who goes the way of Chee Soon Juan will be
Singaporeans need to realise that it is the elections
system that needs reforming, not the opposition. And
this can only be achieve through extra-parliamentary
measures like civil action, public protests and
Posted on 10/31/04 at 08:10:07