Senator not impressed by Science and Online Voting Symposium

On October 27th, the Secretary of the State held a Symposium on Online Voting with experts from around the country and the world. Not in attendance was the Senator who sponsored this year’s Online Voting bill, Senator Kane.  The Senator continues to dispute the arguments of the computer scientists. Today’s report from the Waterbury Republican-American: Online voting on minds of lawmakers – Secretary of the state scraps idea; cites security concerns<read>

We hope he at least took the time to review the videos of the symposium online.

Lawmakers came close to requiring that state election officials implement online voting this year, with an eye toward allowing military personnel overseas easier access to the ballot box.

A Watertown lawmaker plans to make a fresh attempt in the next regular session.

Computer scientists who took part in an Oct. 27 panel discussion organized by Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said, unanimously, such a system cannot possibly be secured…

Sen. Robert J. Kane, R-Watertown, said in a telephone interview Friday he remains a proponent to online voting, and plans to introduce new legislation that would require the state to open an electronic ballot box accessible over the Internet.

Kane was unable to attend the Oct. 27 panel discussion, but dismissed the warnings from computer scientists.

“We, as you know, transfer millions of dollars every day via the Internet, via the computer,” Kane said, referring to the use of online systems by banks and financial markets. “Just think about all the commerce that gets done. If we can do that, why can’t we allow our military personnel who are fighting for our country, serving oversees, the ability to vote online for the elections they are defending when they defend our country?”

Shvartsman said banks generally accept a 2 percent loss to online fraud, and there are other key differences between banking and voting systems.

Rivest said the most important difference is the fraud can be identified in a banking system, because there are statements and other records that can be used to verify transactions after the fact, and identify errors or malicious intrusions. That is not possible in a voting system designed to protect the secrecy of each individual’s vote.

As I said in the first comment on the article:

Sad that in the name of serving soldiers we risk the very democracy they serve to preserve.

Also overlooked in [Senator] Kane’s approach are many non-military overseas voters including: State Department staff, Volunteers serving in places such as Haiti or Darfur, Peace Corps volunteers, business people, oil rig employees, missionaries, and military contractors.

There is a much better, more cost effective solution with much lower risk. Provide military and overseas voters with ballots and absentee applications online that can be printed and mailed in a single envelope. The military even provides free express mail, and a special $25 rate is available in most countries for all overseas voters. This system has proven to be effective.

Hopefully, the legislators who attended the Symposium or view it online will understand science or trust the scientists.

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