It sounds logical enough. If we can buy stock, see medical records and book flights online, we should be able to cast ballots online as well. And at least one politicians thinks California should move in that direction. When State Sen. Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) announced on Monday that he is running for secretary of state in 2014, he said online voting is one of the primary planks in his platform. … That made me wonder exactly why I am still showing up at the basement of a church in my neighborhood to fill in bubbles with a pen. The answer, according to Johns Hopkins University computer security expert Avi Rubin, is that there is no way to guarantee an accurate vote count online. “I’m pretty disgusted to hear that someone is running for secretary of state with this platform,” he said.
… Rubin served on a task force that evaluated a system the U.S. Defense Department was considering to allow overseas military personnel to cast their ballots online. The department ended up rejecting the system based on the task force’s recommendations. It’s not that computers can’t count votes. They obviously can, since machines are used all over the country to scan paper ballots and tally the results. The problem, says Rubin, is that no one has come up with a backup system to check the validity of votes, other than paper ballots.
… So how can banking online be safe if voting online isn’t? Online banking works because the customer and the bank are watching over each other. If the bank makes a mistake and suddenly subtracts $100,000 from your checking account, you’ll notice pretty quickly. Together, you and the bank will get to the bottom of the problem.
“Banks do lose money by banking on the internet,” said Rubin. “They write that down as the cost of doing business.”
Voters, on the other hand, must be able to cast their votes in secret so they can be free of coercion. But that means voters have no way to prove how they voted, so there is no backup system to verify the official results.