Internet voting could make it more convenient to cast a ballot in an election, but it is also riskier than the current in-person voting system, according to a new report from the province’s elections agency. While there may be increasing public pressure to modernize B.C.’s voting process with online voting, it’s up to provincial politicians to balance the security risks that keep ballots safe and confidential, Elections B.C. said in a discussion paper released this week.
“With the current state of technology, Internet voting is considered to be less effective than traditional, in-person and postal voting methods at protecting ballots against large-scale fraud, ensuring the secrecy of the vote, and providing a fully transparent and observable process that can be effectively audited,” the independent elections agency wrote in its paper.
“Because specialized computer skills are required to observe an Internet voting process, voters would have to delegate their trust to ‘experts’ to confirm that the election is conducted properly.”
… The most obvious concern is whether hackers could somehow compromise an Internet vote, whether by sabotaging computer systems, changing ballots, revealing how people voted or otherwise influencing an election result.
The discussion paper compares online voting to online banking, saying online financial transactions are not fraud proof but run on the idea the fraud is off-set by reduced operating costs. The electoral process, a cornerstone of the democratic system because it is trusted to legitimize public representatives, does not work the same way.
Internet voting is often promoted as a solution to low turnout, particularly among the young and technologically savvy. But research suggests it does not accomplish that, and it is mainly older demographics — which may have voted anyway — that switch to Internet ballots, said Boegman.
Where the technology does succeed is in providing better accessibility to people who can’t physically get to a voting booth, either due to a disability or absence from the province, he said.
Ultimately, it will be up to B.C. politicians to mull the issue over and perhaps one day devise a way to introduce Internet voting. “It’s all going to be a balance of what level of risk is acceptable,” said Boegman. “And that’s something the legislators need to determine.”
Full Article: Concern over security of online voting.