The area on the Jersey shore where I grew up was hit very hard by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. It was many weeks before some of the people could even go home. Life was a mess. And then, a little over a week later, was the 2012 election day. The state made it clear that they would make whatever accommodations it could to help people vote if they were displaced by the storm. So far, so good, but my ears perked up when I heard about “email voting.” Yes, the state announced that voters could email in a vote. This was part of an effort to make all non-traditional forms of voting, including mail-in and fax, easier. In fact, voters were instructed to ignore the part of the relevant web page where it says “The County Clerk cannot accept faxed or emailed copies of a Application for Vote by Mail Ballot, unless you are a Military or Overseas Voter, since an original signature is required.” But certainly such circumstances were sui generis, and no sane state authority would contemplate Internet voting in the normal course of things, right? Wrong.
As Bruce McConnell and Pamela Smith wrote in a recent Wall Street Journal (paywall): “[O]ver 30 states and territories allow some form of internet voting (such as by email or through a direct portal) for some classes of voters, including members of the military or absentees.”
… The best thing you can say about most current online voting provisions is that the numbers of voters are probably small enough that any significant fraud would stand out. Maybe.
But if the goal is to increase participation by making voting easier and easier, then moving it online is just asking for trouble. I doubt there’s a way to do it that would provide sufficient confidence. A 2011 study by NIST pretty much said the same.
In fact, it’s easy to find research by people who understand computer security pointing out the considerable risks from internet voting. There are other people who would like to increase turnout no matter what and who are happy to declare that all technical problems can be worked out by the experts. Well, the experts have spoken: Internet voting is not and cannot be made secure with current technology.