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Report on Belgium’s Magic 4096 Votes

E-Voting: Very interesting page reproducing a translation of part of an expert report detailing an incident that occurred during an ‘electronic election’ in Belgium on May 18th 2003.

The latest EDRI-gram notes:

The total number of preferential votes cast on a specific candidate was higher than the total number of votes for his list. A series of tests was conducted on the computer of the president of the voting committee, but the error could not be reproduced. The difference in votes was exactly 4096, leading the research-team to the conclusion that the error was probably due to a spontaneous inversion of a binary position in the read-write memory of the PC.

This serves as a pretty good pointer to how, even if the software is audited to death and pronounced reliable, the hardware can still trip you up. Computers are fundamentally unreliable.

The solution? Why, a Voter-Verifiable Audit Trail of course. ;)