On Jan. 23, city council will decide whether Edmonton should begin using Internet voting next October in our municipal election. While city clerk Alayne Sinclair and others think Internet voting is secure, in reality it is not. Hackers have gained access to secure systems at the Pentagon, CIA and Canadian government organizations. If these groups with large budgets for network security can be penetrated, what makes a private firm think it can provide secure online voting? As a computer programmer and former network administrator, I embrace technology as much as I embrace democracy. While there are many technologies that benefit our lives, electronic voting is not one of them.
For example, how can we trust that:
The election system won’t be hacked by any individual or group on the Internet.
When the system is hacked, the private company will report it openly and honestly so another election can be held.
The software responsible for counting the votes doesn’t contain unintentional programming or mathematical errors that lead to erroneous results.
Every single computer used by all voters in the election is not infected with a virus, Trojan horse, root kit, or some other malware designed to alter your vote.
All the network devices, servers and computers that make up the Internet haven’t been compromised in some way to allow someone to capture and alter the ballot while it is being sent to the election server.
Similar to the “robocalls,” a third party hasn’t set up a phishing site to trick voters into casting ballots on a server other than the real election server.
The election server not only received your ballot but also got it exactly as you cast it.
Unlike the NDP leadership vote last March, a denial of service attack won’t happen on civic election day that will inhibit your democratic rights.
Anyone won’t be able to vote more than once.
Many computer security experts around the world agree electronic voting cannot be trusted. There are countless ways to manipulate the results, and security on the Internet can be compromised.
No system is perfect; there are risks involved when voting by paper ballot. But shouldn’t a new voting method reduce or at least maintain the number of security risks instead of introducing more?