Apologies and Corrections Over E-Voting Proposal

Tuesday June 22, 2004


Editors, Daily Planet: 

I was somewhat surprised to see your report in the Daily Planet that Daniel Silverstein “came up with the idea” of using digital cryptography to sign paper ballots that could be used to check against electronic vote totals. This is certainly NOT at all a new idea, in fact I reported on it back in 2002 in 

my article (linked at www.notablesoftware.com/evote.html) for IEEE Spectrum “A Better Ballot Box.” There I said, “Cryptography can, though, be effectively used along with a voter-verifiable ballot to prevent ballot-box stuffing, and to make certain that the paper tallies match the electronic results. David Chaum, a Palo Alto, Calif., cryptologist who, 20 years ago, invented electronic cash, has a technique that provides the best of all possible worlds: a computer-generated, voter-verified physical ballot that also gives the voter a receipt that can be used to determine that his or her vote was tabulated correctly, without revealing its contents.” 

You did also report, though, that Silverstein sent links to his papers to me for review, but he knows that I have not yet had time to look at them. It is most inappropriate that he (and you) use my name in his publicity until I have vetted his work. I would appreciate it if he and you would refrain from doing so in the future, unless you check with me (and receive a response in the affirmative) first. 

Rebecca Mercuri. 


Editors, Daily Planet: 

Please accept my apologies for my role in this debacle. As Dr. Mercuri states, using digital cryptography to sign paper ballots that could later be checked against electronic totals is not a new idea. My paper proposes a possible implementation for such a system, but I do not claim to have originated the idea. If I left Mr. Schiller, the article's author, with the wrong impression, I must apologize as this had not been my intent. 

Furthermore, I owe Dr. Mercuri a personal apology for the use of her name in connection with my work. Mr. Schiller asked me if he could state that Mercuri was reviewing my work and I told him that he could.  

I exercised poor judgment in this matter, and gave permission that was not mine to give. For this, I offer my most humble apologies. 

Daniel C. Silverstein›