There are no two words that get elections officials, scholars, vendors and geeks more riled up than Internet voting. The emotions on both sides often run so high that at times it can seem almost impossible to even have a conversation about the concept of casting a ballot online. But with concerns about long lines on Election Day, with the U.S. Postal Service cutting services, and elections officials concerned about getting ballots to voters overseas or in times of emergency, is it possible to discuss the possibilities? “Is there anything not controversial related to voting? If voting machines had to go through acceptance that Internet voting is facing, they wouldn’t have been rolled out,” said Brian Newby, Johnson County, Kan. election commissioner. “The movement has pretty successfully been slowed by emotion and in particular, emotion masquerading as fact.” According to Newby, beyond the technological issues, there are some who are very impassioned because it takes away the spirit of community that comes with voting. “I respect that opposition because at least they are saying they don’t like Internet voting because of the way they feel. That’s an emotional argument that’s fair because it’s called out from the beginning as being emotional. Newby acknowledged that it is a difficult conversation, in part, because the country is no closer to Internet voting in the United States, really, than it was five or 10 years ago. “Discussion has been successfully stonewalled, so why fight with success?” Newby said. ”The best argument that could be made would be that there is a growing use of Internet voting options for military and overseas voters, but even those options have been much more evolutionary than revolutionary.”
Those who have expressed concerns about the idea of Internet voting say that until the system is changed, conversations are always going to be difficult. For many of them, the conversation right now is putting the cart before the horse. “We need a different Internet for Internet voting to be a reality. We would also likely to need to give up the secret ballot,” said Kim Alexander president of the California Voter Foundation. “And we’d probably need some kind of biometric identifier to make an Internet system work securely. I don’t feel these are appealing or likely options, so it seems a waste of time to focus on Internet voting, but I know people will continue to do so.”
Pam Smith, with Verified Voting said that the security issues surrounding Internet voting are a larger problem than those surrounding DREs, but that it’s hard for people to grasp because we spend so much of our daily lives online. Smith said she’s not sure the conversation has to be as difficult and emotional as it has been for some factions. “There can be — and is — some very rational discussion about the nature of the issues to be solved. If there is tension, it is between two perspectives, I think — the desire that it be viable for use already, today, vs. certain unsolved problems have to be addressed before it actually is viable,” Smith said. “I think we all agree that Internet voting if it could be made secure would be desirable; unfortunately the technology just doesn’t exist to satisfy this desire at this time. “ Smith added that the good news is there is a preponderance of evidence –and agreement– that more research is needed.
Full Article: electionlineWeekly.