Beware: The Gospel of Internet Voting

LA Times article features the entrepreneur behind Internet voting pilots vs. Science: The vote-by-phone tech trend is scaring the life out of security experts <read>

With their playbook for pushing government boundaries as a guide, some Silicon Valley investors are nudging election officials toward an innovation that prominent coders and cryptographers warn is downright dangerous for democracy…
As seasoned disruptors of the status quo, tech pioneers have proven persuasive in selling the idea, even as the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine specifically warn against any such experiment.
The fight over mobile voting pits technologists who warn about the risks of entrusting voting to apps and cellphones against others who see internet voting as the only hope for getting most Americans to consistently participate on election day…
Bradley Tusk is using the same tactics in this personal crusade that he used to advance tech startups. He has bet a significant share of the fortune he built off his equity stake in Uber that the gospel of mobile voting will spread so fast that most Americans will have the option of casting their ballots for president by phone as soon as 2028.
He has already persuaded the state of West Virginia and the City of Denver to start tinkering with voting by phone, and hopes to move quickly from there.
“What we learned at Uber is once the genie is out of the bottle, it can’t be put it back in,”
Tusk is certain participation in elections would surge if the technology were widely permitted, even though studies in some of the few places around the world that have tried the method revealed no big turnout boost

Crusade, Gospel, Genie seem appropriate to describe Tusk. It is a blind disregard for evidence, science, and the scientists, including yours truly, warning of Internet voting:

The entrepreneur frames the fight as one pitting reformers against special interests invested in a low turnout that makes lawmakers unaccountable and easy to corrupt. He talks of the security concerns as if they are a sideshow. Sure, the scholars raising them are earnest, he said, but their approach to the challenge bewilders him. He likens them to people whose only solution to making a swimming pool safer is to fill it with concrete.That prospect alarms some of the nation’s most prominent election-security thinkers, who see in Tusk a formidable adversary with an intimidating public relations tool kit. They say he and other promoters for the projects are misleading election officials about how secure the systems are.
“There is wide agreement among computer security experts that this is problematic,” said David Dill, a professor emeritus in computer science at Stanford. “It disturbs me that officials are getting enthusiastic about this voting technology without talking to the people who have the expertise to evaluate its security.”
The National Academies report warns that the risks of this and other forms of internet voting are “more significant than the benefits.”

Read the full article for more details behind Tusk’s quest and the warnings from scientists.

 

 

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