If online voting is good enough for the Oscars, why isn’t it good enough for public elections? A panel of experts assembled on Feb. 14 to consider whether the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ decision to capture votes online for this year’s Oscars means that technology has matured to the point where public elections can be held online. According to an article in The Hollywood Reporter, voting to determine who would receive a nomination for an Academy Award began Dec. 17 and ended Jan. 3. While a majority of Academy members registered to take advantage of the online voting option, the process was not without its snags. Many confessed to password trouble, while others worried about hackers jeopardizing voter intent. … David Jefferson, a computer scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and chairman of the board for the nonprofit Verified Voting, outlined several major differences between private elections, like those conducted for the Academy Awards, and public elections. Public elections, Jefferson said, inherently have much higher standards for security, privacy and transparency. “Just because this works for private elections or is useful for private elections, we don’t want people thinking … it is appropriate for public elections.”
Experts warned of three distinct types of attacks that threaten the integrity of public elections:
- Client side attacks – malicious software on the voter’s computer or smartphone
- Server side attacks – cyberattacks waged on the servers that collect and count votes
- Denial of service attacks – disruption attacks that keep people from voting in the first place
“These problems are fundamental.” Jefferson added. “They have been inherent in Internet services since the beginning of the Internet, and we aren’t expecting any fundamental solution to these problems in the foreseeable future.” According to panelists, many vendors claim to have created secure voting systems that have successfully tabulated private elections. But for a public election, they argue, the threshold is much higher.
Major global companies, news outlets and government agencies, all with significant resources invested in cybersecurity, have had their networks compromised by attacks waged via the Internet. “Until we resolve these unsolved problems in the technology,” said Pamela Smith, president of Verified Voting, “attempting to use the Internet for transmitting a vote is a little bit like putting your valuables into an armored truck and sending it on a road made of quicksand.”
Full Article: Could Online Oscar Voting Lead to Online Public Elections?.