Worse than Hurricane Sandy? As bad as climate denial?

A new ZD-Net Editorial: Internet voting: A really bad idea whose time has come <read>

Summary: Believe it or not, most states have some provisions for allowing people to vote over the Internet. The pressure is on to expand it, even though a secure online voting system is impossible using today’s technology.

We have been saying it over and over. In Connecticut, only the Secretary of the State, Denise Merrill gets it. The Senate and House  have passed Internet voting twice, unanimously. Governor Malloy vetoed it the first time because it is risky and unconstitutional, nothing changed, yet he signed it the next time.

Its similar to ‘climate denial’, in that both ignore the risks, ignore the science. In Connecticut its thus proven that science denial is not just for Republicans – here its bipartisan and almost unanimous. We do not want to compare the two exactly. Climate denial might end human life or at least life as we know it.  Internet voting denial can only wipe out our democracy.

The area on the Jersey shore where I grew up was hit very hard by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. It was many weeks before some of the people could even go home. Life was a mess. And then, a little over a week later, was the 2012 election day.

The state made it clear that they would make whatever accommodations it could to help people vote if they were displaced by the storm. So far, so good, but my ears perked up when I heard about “email voting.”

Yes, the state announced that voters could email in a vote. This was part of an effort to make all non-traditional forms of voting, including mail-in and fax, easier. In fact, voters were instructed to ignore the part of the relevant web page where it says “The County Clerk cannot accept faxed or emailed copies of a Application for Vote by Mail Ballot, unless you are a Military or Overseas Voter, since an original signature is required.”

But certainly such circumstances were sui generis, and no sane state authority would contemplate Internet voting in the normal course of things, right? Wrong…

Speaking of around the world, Estonia is the current poster child for electronic voting. Estonians at home and around the world can vote online using a national ID card, a smart card. Clearly a system of digital national IDs has no chance of being adopted in the US, but for all its sophistication, the Estonian system is still vulnerable to tampering according to recent research…

In fact, it’s easy to find research by people who understand computer security pointing out the considerable risks from internet voting. There are other people who would like to increase turnout no matter what and who are happy to declare that all technical problems can be worked out by the experts. Well, the experts have spoken: Internet voting is not and cannot be made secure with current technology.


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