Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Singaporeans can kiss elections goodbye

“Please do not assume that you can change governments. Young people don’t understand this”
- Lee Kuan Yew on the results of the 2006 election

Singapore Democrats


The SDP has been hoping that it will not come to pass. But it has. Singapore is set to purchase electronic voting machines from India. (See here). We might as well kiss elections goodbye. This is no melodrama and it is certainly no exaggeration. Here's why:

Years ago, the PAP Government was already toying with the idea using Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) machines. In a nutshell, these are machines that require voters to cast their ballots through touch-screen or push-button technology. The vote is then electronically recorded and tallied.

We don't have to spell it out for you how such a process is open to electronic tampering and rigging.

A New York Times editorial in October 2008 noted: "In the early days of electronic voting, critics who warned that it was unreliable were dismissed as alarmist. Now it seems that hardly an election goes by without reports of serious vulnerabilities or malfunctions."

CIA electronics expert Mr Steven Stigall warned that "wherever the vote becomes an electron and touches a computer, that's an opportunity for a malicious actor potentially to...make bad things happen."

World renowned computer security and voting specialist, Dr Rebecca Mercuri, writes: "It is my strong recommendation that all election officials REFRAIN from procuring ANY system that does not provide an indisputable, voter verified paper ballot." (emphasis hers)

And all these are warnings in, and to, a democratic system like the US. Imagine the situation in Singapore.

In the days and weeks ahead, this website will publish more analysis of DRE systems and how vulnerable they are to manipulation. Only an idiot will believe that such systems can be made tamper-proof. And yes, we are talking about stand-alone machines, not Internet systems susceptible to hackers.

We will also analyse more about the PAP's proposed system for Singapore and draw attention to ways that the election system is further endangered.

The Singapore Democrats will make this prediction: When the machines are first introduced, the opposition will make electoral gains. A couple of constituencies may fall to the opposition. The electorate will be encouraged that the electronic voting system is trustworthy. The media will make sure of this. (What better to convince the people than by letting the opposition win a couple more seats?)

When the people have been sufficiently disarmed and the sugar-coated poison has been completely swallowed, the PAP will never have to worry about elections again. Ever.

Already, questions about the present system abound. Even without electronic voting, the system is already stacked against the opposition: No independent election commission, no free media, initimidating voters through HDB upgrading, buying votes through shares, introducing the GRC system, and so on.

With the advent of the computer voting machines, we can forget about debates over issues like gerrymandering or the GRC system or the granting of citizenship to immigrants as tactics the PAP uses to win elections.

None of these will matter anymore.

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