Online elections could be a reality in the United States if the security world can figure out how to ensure both voter anonymity and vote verifiability — two essential but “largely incompatible” goals, according to a new report from the Atlantic Council and Intel Security. The report, “Online Voting: Rewards and Risks,” discusses what challenges must be solved if online voting is ever to take off in the US. “It’s not a matter of if, but of when,” says Gary Davis, Chief Consumer Security Evangelist for Intel Security. “I’ll go out on a limb and say within 10 years” the US will allow online voting for national elections. Why so confident? Davis points at the progress made in banking. Trust between customer and bank is essential to financial transactions, just like trust between citizen and government when casting ballots. Breaches notwithstanding, cryptography, identity management, and other security measures have made secure online banking a reality. Couldn’t the same technology be applied to online voting? Yes, but there is a key difference between banking and voting: anonymity.
As the report explains, banks must tie a customer’s identity to the details of the transaction. Conversely, the government must not tie a citizen’s identity to the details of their vote. Officials do check IDs at polling places — to make sure that the person is a registered voter at the appropriate polling location, and that nobody gets to vote more than once — but an individual’s identity is never linked to their vote. The ballots cast are only viewed in aggregate.
The need for voter anonymity gets particularly tricky when coupled with the need for vote verifiability — making sure that votes can be accurately tabulated again during a recount or a routine audit. For years, the question of “meaningful audits” has been at the root of the e-voting security debate, even when the conversation is only about electronic voting machines at polling places, not online voting from mobile devices all over the place.
Full Article: 2 Tech Challenges Preventing Online Voting In US.