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Of Paper Trails and Voter Receipts


The Internet pervades virtually every aspect of our daily lives, and it seems there is no area that is immune from computing solutions. Computers can do things faster, with greater precision, more reliably, etc., etc., etc. Ironically, one area that most needs the mechanical rigor offered by computing solutions seems destined to abandon electronic solutions and return to paper as the operating medium of choice. As electronic voting falls from favor across America, we are concerned to hear talk of paper receipts provided to voters. Though the department store receipt model is appealing in its simplicity, we posit that when this model is applied to voting systems, it introduces a complex combination of dangerously conflicting properties. We describe these properties and offer an alternate framework to address paper receipt concerns. We then extend this notion into a discussion of paper records and their contribution to forensics for election systems.

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