If we can bank by ATM, why not vote by the Internet?

The usual explanation of why its not a good idea to vote by Internet, even thought we bank by ATM is that they are different applications. It we got money from ATMs like we vote then:

  • We would not get a receipt
  • The bank would send us a monthly statement saying we had transactions, but no record of amounts or distinction between deposits and withdrawals (updated)
  • And the bank would only do single entry bookkeeping – showing only transactions to their accounts, without the customer name or account identified

We would probably call that faith based banking and quickly revert to cash and mattresses.

However, banking is not all that safe. Today in Connecticut we have a report of the vulnerabilities of credit cards and ATM transactions in the Hartford Courant <read>

Thieves installed “‘fake'” card readers at the cash registers, Det. Dane Semper of the West Hartford Police Department wrote in an e-mail. The devices allowed thieves to capture bank card data, authorization codes and PIN numbers…

Last week, a Romanian citizen, Ion Preda, 22, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bank fraud in U.S. District Court in Bridgeport. Preda admitted that he and others installed skimming devices and pinhole cameras at ATMs in several states, including a People’s United Bank ATM in Madison. With the account information and PIN numbers they obtained, those involved used the information to create counterfeit bank cards. The combined loss to all the banks victimized was more than $200,000, authorities said.

In a similar vein criminals could place phony voting kiosks or attack individual personal computers.  Worse still is the danger of insider fraud attacking Internet routers or servers.  In fact, the fraud in the Courant article could most easily be accomplished by credit card equipment or ATM service technicians or retail employees and managers.

Then again we could vote the way we gambol with slot machines.


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