It’s Impossible to Know (how) Your Internet Vote Counted

As West Virginia plans, once again, to allow Internet voting for military voters, it is a good time to remind everyone that Internet voting (web page, web application, email, fax voting etc.) are all unsafe for democracy. And that block-chains cannot solve that.

West Virginia’s new scheme involves block-chains which entrepreneurs bent on profit claim will make Internet voting safe <read>, Several years ago Secretary of the State, Denise Merrill, held a Symposium on Internet Voting including three experts and the Secretary of State of West Virginia. The problem is that block-chains fail to solve the major unsolved problems remaining preventing trusted Internet voting.

One of those problems is that there is no guarantee that your laptop or smart phone has not been hacked in a way that  alters your vote, such that what you see is not what is presented and recorded by the actual voting system. A hack could fool you, the voting system, or both.

How easy is it to hack your laptop or smart phone? Check out this recent story by a computer expert, Micah Lee: It’s Impossible to Prove Your Laptop Hasn’t Been Hacked. I Spent Two Years Finding Out. <read> Do you understand the article?  Lee, an expert, could not guarantee his own laptop was not hacked.  Do you check your laptop  to the level that Lee did for an experiment?  Block-chains do not solve this.

Another challenge is the, so called, Secret Ballot – which requires that nobody can associate your vote with you. And that you cannot prove how you voted to anyone. There are Internet voting systems that let you check that your ballot was recorded properly, yet they cannot allow you to prove that to anyone else. Block-chains do not solve this.

Block-chains do provide assurance, that without a central authority, the vote sent to the voting system is not changed after it was recorded. Yet, that is unnecessary given that there is a central voting authority.

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