Edmonton city council would be wise to exercise real caution before introducing Internet voting into the municipal election system. As tempting as it might be to blaze an electronic trail into the local democratic process, the notion of a vote that’s only a click away triggers some genuine concerns. City staff have recommended council approve online ballots in advance polls for next fall’s municipal election, following what was regarded as a successful mock vote last September that tested such a system with no discernible security breaches. That all-systems-go enthusiasm took a hit Monday when a local computer programmer informed council’s executive committee that he was able to cast two ballots in the mock election without being detected. Coun. Linda Sloan spoke for many citizens, and not just technophobes, when she expressed severe reservations about the integrity of a cyber-vote. “I’m not 100-per-cent confident in the security of the Internet and never have been, whether it’s my credit card information or my personal address or how I choose to vote,” Sloan said.
… Internet voting in Canada has already demonstrated vulnerabilities. The last national New Democratic Party leadership convention was thrown into disarray when hackers caused thousands of virus-infected computers to flood the NDP’s election server with phoney traffic. Internationally, authorities in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and Australia have abandoned online voting, citing concerns about security and transparency. A German court has ruled that electronic voting is unconstitutional because people without detailed technical knowledge are unable to scrutinize the process.
Our democracy rests on the assurance of a secret ballot and the principle of one person, one vote. Does anyone truly believe that a transaction online, any transaction — even the banking that’s conducted there — is truly secret? Does anyone seriously doubt that an Internet vote would be prone to compromise, whether by a hacker or a virus or mere faulty software?
The potential for abuse is obvious and serious. Until there’s a compelling reason to adopt such a system, and until its security integrity is demonstrated to be irreproachable, paper-and-pencil voting should remain the norm.
Full Article: Editorial: A vote cast against online voting.