Verified Voting Blog: Election, Tech Experts to Obama: Yes, “We Need to Fix That,” But E-Voting Not the Answer

Groups Warn Against Hasty Action on Internet Voting in Response to Long Lines, Technical Glitches in November

In a letter delivered to President Obama and congressional leaders this week, a broad coalition of experts, including congressional representatives, elections officers and cyber-security experts, is urging the president and Congress to reject any calls for Internet voting. They are warning officials that Internet voting remains a highly insecure option that leaves our systems vulnerable to cyber-attacks and technical failures. After voters across the country waited as long as seven hours to cast their ballots and Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on East Coast election systems last November, lawmakers in Congress are introducing legislation to facilitate the voting process in federal elections, and some parties have expressed Interest in online voting. The text of the letter can be found here.

“Internet voting seems like a great solution. But relying on the Internet to transmit a vote means not only opening the election up to hackers and malicious forces, but also giving up the right to vote anonymously,” said Barbara Simons, former president of the Association for Computing Machinery and chair of the board of the nonpartisan Verified Voting.

Instead, Simons and dozens of other leaders in their fields are urging Congress to use scanned-in paper ballots in federal elections.

“The lack of accountability in our election processes has put our democracy at risk,” said Peter Neumann, Principal Scientist of the SRI International Computer Science Lab and Moderator of the ACM Risks Forum. “That’s why we urge Congress to adopt scanned paper ballots. They are inexpensive, they can eliminate long lines because many voters can vote simultaneously, and most importantly, they provide a paper trail that can be verified, especially in the event that an election result is called into question.”

The letter to the President notes that, had elections been too close to call in the November contest, many jurisdictions that rely on electronic voting machines would have had no way to verify whether their results were correct.

Signatories include:


Andrew W. Appel, Eugene Higgins Professor of Computer Science, Princeton Univ.

Matt Blaze, Assoc. Professor, Computer & Information Science, Univ. of Pennsylvania

Harvie Branscomb, Colorado Voter Group

Duncan A. Buell, Computer Science and Engineering Professor, Univ. of South Carolina

David Dill, Computer Science Professor, Stanford Univ.; Board of Directors, Verified Voting

Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, Overseas Vote Foundation

Jeremy Epstein, Senior Computer Scientist, SRI International

David J. Farber, Distinguished Professor of Computer Science & Public Policy, Carnegie Mellon Univ.

Lowell Finley, Member, EAC Standards Board

Irene Etkin Goldman, Voting Rights Advocate, Board Chair, Coalition for Peace Action, Princeton, N.J.

Mary Ann Gould, Co-Founder, Executive Director, Coalition for Voting Integrity

J. Alex Halderman, Assistant Professor of Computer Science & Engineering, Univ. of Michigan

Joseph Lorenzo Hall, Senior Staff Technologist, Center for Democracy & Technology

Mark Halvorson, Founder and Former Director, Citizens for Election Integrity Minnesota

Candice Hoke, Director, Public Monitor of Cuyahoga Election Reform; Law professor, Cleveland State Univ.

Representative Rush Holt, Member of Congress

Harri Hursti, Security Researcher, CTO SafelyLocked

Holly Jacobson, Co-Founder, Voter Action

David Jefferson, Computer Scientist, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; Board of Directors, California Voter Foundation; Board of Directors, Verified Voting

Douglas W. Jones, Associate Professor of Computer Science, Univ. of Iowa; Coauthor, Broken Ballots: Will Your Vote Count

Earl Katz, Public Interest Pictures

Douglas A. Kellner, Co-Chair, New York State Board of Elections

Marybeth Kuznik, Executive Director, VotePA; Judge of Elections, Penn Township, Westmoreland County, PA

Mark Lindeman, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Political Science, Columbia Univ.

Collin Lynch, Intelligent Systems Program, Univ. of Pittsburgh; Past President, VoteAllegheny; Member, VotePA; Past Co-Chair, Allegheny County Citizen’s Advisory Panel on Election Systems

Margaret MacAlpine, Advisory Comm. Member, California Post Election Risk-Limiting Audit Pilot Program

Neal McBurnett, ElectionAudits (the open source project)

John McCarthy, Lawrence Berkeley Nat’l Laboratory Computer Scientist (retired); Verified Voting volunteer

Dan McCrea, President and Co-Founder, Florida Voters Foundation

Walter Mebane, Professor of Political Science and Professor of Statistics, Univ. of Michigan

Justin Moore, Board of Advisors, Verified Voting Foundation

Michelle Mulder, Consultant, Verified Voting Foundation

Peter G. Neumann, Principal Scientist, SRI Internat’l Computer Science Lab; Moderator, ACM Risks Forum

Ronald L. Rivest, Viterbi Professor of Computer Science, MIT

Lida Rodriguez-Taseff, Miami-Dade Election Reform Coalition

Aviel D. Rubin, Professor of Computer Science and Technical Director of the Information Security Institute, Johns Hopkins Univ.

Noel Runyan, President of Personal Data Systems, Campbell, CA.

Ion Sancho, Leon County Supervisor of Elections

Bruce Schneier, Chief Security Technology Officer, BT; Security technologist and author

Kevin Shelley, Former California Secretary of State

Barbara Simons, IBM Research (retired); member, EAC Board of Advisors; Chair, Board of Directors, Verified Voting; Former President, ACM; Coauthor, Broken Ballots: Will Your Vote Count?

Stephanie Singer, Philadelphia City [Elections] Commissioner

Pamela Smith, President, Verified Voting

Howard Stanislevic, Founder, E-Voter Education Project, NY, NY

Philip B. Stark, Professor and Chair, Department of Statistics, Univ. of California, Berkeley

Paul Stokes, United Voters of New Mexico

Penny M. Venetis, Clinical Prof. of Law, Judge Dickinson R. Debevoise Scholar; Co-Director, Constitutional Litigation Clinic, Rutgers School of Law-Newark

David Wagner, Professor of Computer Science, Univ. of California, Berkeley

Luther Weeks, CTVotersCount

Rebecca Wilson, Co-Director, SAVE our Votes: Secure, Accessible, Verifiable Elections for MarylandDownload PDF Download this page in PDF format

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