By Brad Friedman

Can The Papal Election Be Hacked? Not Likely: They Use Publicly Hand-Counted Paper Ballots

February 25, 2013 2:39 pm Category: Memo Pad 5 Comments A+ / A-
Can The Papal Election Be Hacked? Not Likely: They Use Publicly Hand-Counted Paper Ballots

Originally posted at The Brad Blog

With another papal election coming up, one might wonder how the papal elections, since 1059 or so, have managed to remain secure and unchallenged.

As security technologist Bruce Schneier details at CNN, the trick is what we have long referred to here as “Democracy’s Gold Standard”: publicly hand-counted paper ballots.

Here at The BRAD BLOG we’ve been calling for the same thing for U.S. elections for some time. Granted, it hasn’t been 1,000 years, it’s only beginning to feel like it. We were even recently immortalized for that effort.

Schneier’s breakdown of the voting process at papal enclaves is absolutely fascinating, particularly as the process they’ve developed over centuries mirrors much of what the process would look like if our nation ditched its secret, oft-failed, easily manipulated, unoverseeable vote-tallying computers and modeled our tabulation process on the open, public, and very rarely challenged process used by the citizens in some 40 percent of New Hampshire towns. It’s almost identical, in many ways, to the one used to select new popes.

As Schneier notes, when a new pope is elected, “Every step of the election process is observed by everyone.”

“The ballot is entirely paper-based,” he explains, “and all ballot counting is done by hand. Votes are secret, but everything else is open”

Talk about your “Holy See“?! It’s hand-counted PAPAL ballots!

“Nine election officials are randomly selected from the cardinals: three ‘scrutineers,’ who count the votes; three ‘revisers,’ who verify the results of the scrutineers; and three ‘infirmarii,’ who collect the votes from those too sick to be in the chapel.”

If that sounds remarkably familiar, then you may be one of the few who understand how “Democracy’s Gold Standard,” — publicly-overseen precinct-based hand-counting — actually works. While there are different techniques for it, one that is often used includes counting teams of four, with two people both agreeing on which candidate has been selected by the voter on each ballot (“scrutineers,” as they are known at the Vatican) and two others who write down the running count, with both agreeing that it has been recorded correctly (the “revisers”).

For papal elections, the entire counting process is transparent and happens immediately after all votes are cast, with all of the assembled Cardinals observing and authenticating the tally in the very same place where votes were cast, inside the Sistine Chapel.

In precinct-based hand-counted elections in the U.S., it all happens just after the close of polls at the very same precinct where the votes were cast, with the public, video cameras and representatives from all political parties observing and authenticating the tally as accurate. The results are publicly posted at the precinct before ballots are moved anywhere. They can also be verified for accuracy again later if there are any questions.

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Can The Papal Election Be Hacked? Not Likely: They Use Publicly Hand-Counted Paper Ballots Reviewed by on . Originally posted at The Brad Blog With another papal election coming up, one might wonder how the papal elections, since 1059 or so, have managed to remain sec Originally posted at The Brad Blog With another papal election coming up, one might wonder how the papal elections, since 1059 or so, have managed to remain sec Rating:

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Comments

  • http://www.facebook.com/dominick.vila.1 Dominick Vila

    I am not a fan of Pope Benedict or organized religion, but as a former Catholic I understand why it is important to have a Pope in the Vatican during the upcoming “Holiest Week” in Christianity. A dispensation that allows Cardinals participating in the conclave to decide who the next Pope will be, would be well advised to start their deliberations as soon as possible, to avoid damaging the Church more than it already has.
    With the exception of the USA and the Islamic world, organized religion is in decline, the last thing they need is for the largest Christian denomination to not have a leader during its most important event.

    • whodatbob

      Per this morning’s paper the Pope changed the 15 day rule. The conclave can start as soon as all Cardinals are in Rome.

  • sleeprn01

    Mr. Friedman, I don’t think that your idea of selecting a president using the papal method would work very well; if we remember, it took Iowa several weeks to ultimately declare a winner in its’ caucus. However I find the papal method you describe very intriguing. Although I don’t think this method would work for national, or even state elections, I think it would be very useful in the congress. Having every vote be a secret vote, collecting a vote from every member, and the hand counting of paper ballots done openly would actually improve the productivity of the congress helping to decrease partisan gridlock. I think this method of voting would allow the members of congress to vote for the people who elected them and not the special interest groups who control them. Having every step of the voting process observed by everyone would verify the accuracy of the vote.

    If this can’t be done for some constitutional reason, then having our representatives wear NASCAR type of jackets with their corporate sponsors emblazoned on their jacket would at least let us know who they are representing when they vote!!

    • ralphkr

      I second your motion to have all politicians wear NASCAR type jackets bearing the insignia’s of their owners. At least at the next election we could knowledgeably vote for the Boeing or the Midland candidate.

  • tobewan

    Part of the intention of the TIME OF TROUBLE is to disclose and dismantle all the FALSE beliefs around this planet to the end that only the Truth will remain. The day will come, is approaching when the Creator’s Son will fully take charge and no Cardinal’s are needed to elect him, and pretenders will no longer have influence or attempt to substitute for him. And all who submit to his righteous government fully will gain eternal life.
    LOVE, and all that accompanies it, is the Law of the Universe, and will dwell in all those hearts, eternally. Death, Sin, Corruption, will be done away with, when all things are made new, by his spirit.
    PS: Like Dominick Vila, I am mot a fan of the Pope either.

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