International concerns with Internet voting

We note two articles this week, from Canada <read> and Switzerland <read> with citizen/scientists’ concerns with Internet voting.

From our neighbors to the north:

In a letter to the chief electoral officer of Canada, Hallman laid out his concerns with online voting. Many are the same concerns he had with Huntsville’s voting method. The concerns include the loss of ballot verifiability and the ability to recount the ballots, the possibility of electronic tampering, loss of privacy when voting, lack of oversight by scrutineers and returning officers, loss of transparency, vote tracking through the use of personal identification numbers, vote buying, multiple votes, and software system bugs. Hallman argued that while commercial software suppliers who run electronic voting systems go to great lengths to guarantee the security of their systems, they cannot know if their systems have been compromised. And such a method intrinsically requires the use of unsecured computers by the voter, he said.

And from Switzerland, where they know something about keeping identities secret:

Swiss e-voting systems lack transparency and are vulnerable to attack by malevolent software, a study has found. The authorities are looking for solutions but officials point out that there is no such thing as absolute security, even with the traditional ballot paper vote. With the systems used so far in electronic voting trials “citizens cannot verify if their vote has been registered and counted correctly. They are obliged to trust the administration and authorities completely,” Eric Dubuis, information technology professor at the Bern University of Applied Sciences, told swissinfo.ch. Under the mandate of the Federal Chancellery, Dubuis co-authored a study on verifiable e-voting systems – systems that allow the voter to trace all the steps of his or her vote and to check that there has been no manipulation and that the vote has been duly counted.

The Bern researchers came up with a project system that allows each individual to verify the process from A to Z, without compromising voting secrecy. Thanks to a special autonomous “electoral machine” with an integrated camera as well as a personal voting card with a chip, the system set up by the researchers also eliminates the risk connected to malevolent software – or malware.

They are correct that all systems are vulnerable, yet paper ballot systems voted in person are less vulnerable than unverifiable electronic systems without paper records. We have seen schemes before for voter verifiable electronic systems, but are skeptical of systems close to impossible for the average voter to understand, requiring skill, and time to verify individual votes.

For all our posts on Internet voting <CTVotersCount Index>

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