Internet voting, a technology often cited as a solution to the United States’ problematic voting machines, received failing security and accessibility grades in the latest in-depth audit conducted by the City of Toronto. Two of the three vendors audited by the city currently have contracts with over a dozen U.S. jurisdictions for similar technologies. The accessibility report, prepared by researchers at the Inclusive Design Research Centre at OCAD University, and the security report, prepared by researchers at Concordia and Western universities, were obtained by Al Jazeera America through a Freedom of Information Act request. … The reports highlight the difficulty in creating a voting system that isn’t more susceptible to corruption than existing voting technology and that is easy enough to use for voters with a variety of personal computer setups, including those with disabilities who often use alternatives to traditional mice, keyboards and screens. … “It’s clear from the report for Toronto that the systems being considered don’t meet the minimum accessibility standards required,” said Barbara Simons, a board member of Verified Voting, and co-author of the book “Broken Ballots: Will your Vote Count?” who also obtained the reports through a Freedom of Information request.
“Even if these systems were fully accessible, that would still be providing voters with disabilities a system that is blatantly insecure according to the security tests. Is that really doing people a favor to provide them with a system on which their votes may not be counted or may even be wrongly counted when there are far safer alternatives? I don’t think the city council properly investigated other options.”
The reports found a number of flaws that question both whether a ballot submitted online would be properly counted and whether a disabled voter would be able to navigate the ballot interface.
… “All kinds of experimental systems have been designed in the last 15 years,” said Joseph Kiniry, the principal investigator at the technology firm Galois who is researching the possibility of end-to-end verifiable online voting with the Overseas Vote Foundation. “But in general researchers are quite conservative about proposing that their system is ready for primetime. And most researchers don’t actually build the systems they design — they just design them on paper.”
“You can see the only place that we advocate its use is in elections that have low value and low risk.” Kiniry said. “The real fundamental problem though is that as soon as you witness success electing your sheriff, why not elect your mayor? And if you can elect your mayor why not elect your governor? And I have serious concerns as an activist from that point of view. It’s a slippery slope — the deployment of new technologies.”