In the digital age, it seems strange that people all around the world still use paper to vote. Of course, given bitcoin’s promise to remove paper from the financial system, many in the industry are beginning to ask if the same block chain technology can be applied to help modernize the democratic process. … Forget it, says Barbara Simons. “At this point we cannot do Internet voting securely,” warns the former IBM computer scientist who has conducted extensive research into Internet voting. Readers will point out that Internet voting is already happening, but she’s saying that we cannot guarantee its integrity. Simons, a former president of the Association for Computing Machinery, participated in a National Workshop on Internet Voting commissioned by former US President Bill Clinton, and authored a book, ‘Broken Ballots‘. She is a long-standing critic of online voting, and her research caused the US Department of Defense to nix an Internet voting system it was considering. “A lot of people think ‘I can bank online, so why can’t I vote online?’,” says Simons. “But, millions disappear from online bank accounts each year.”
There are several challenges facing Internet voting systems. One of the biggest is auditability. How can you prove that a vote was cast the proper way? Sending your vote from a kiosk, mobile phone or home computer to a server – or even selecting options using an automated phone-based voting system – doesn’t guarantee that it gets registered properly at the other end, or even registered at all. The voter doesn’t have access to that server, or to the network along which their vote travels. And when it comes to a recount, there is no paper trail. “The beauty of paper ballots is that you can do recounts,” says Simons.
… The big problem with Internet-based voting software, experts say, is that it’s difficult to prove that the voting machines themselves have not been compromised.
“If we’re doing remote internet voting on the voters own machines, then we need some assurance that those machines aren’t owned,” says Christopher Camp, founder of Restart Democracy, a nonprofit organization focused on driving innovations in technology to help promote democracy.
Full Article: How Block Chain Technology Could Usher in Digital Democracy.