The future of voting is online, and moving Arizona’s elections to the Internet would save money, deter voter fraud and increase efficiency, a state lawmaker says. “We will vote online some day,” said Sen. Bob Worsley, R-Mesa. “So why not start to figure it out and get ahead of the curve and have Arizona lead the way on this?” Worsley introduced SB 1387 to create an online voting pilot program before the 2014 primary election. It would require at least one county and one city, town or other local jurisdiction to be involved and allow for votes to be cast via the Internet. … Bruce Schneier, the author of five books on cryptography, computer and network security and overall security, said he likes the idea of online voting but doesn’t think it can be done securely. “We have not, in the history of mankind, created a computer system without a security vulnerability,” he said. Worsley, founder of retail catalog giant SkyMall, insists the system he proposes can be reliable. “My business did over a million transactions a year,” he said. “I know that this can be done securely.” Worsley compared Internet voting to the millions of online banking or stock transactions that happen every day, but Schneier said there’s a fundamental difference. “The important difference is that voting, by definition, is anonymous,” he said. “If there’s electronic banking fraud, we look at what happens, we can roll it back and make everybody whole. We can’t do that with a voting system.”
Secretary of State Ken Bennett is “supportive of the idea but has concerns with security and the guarantee of the voter’s right to a secret ballot,” said Matt Roberts, Bennett’s spokesman. “Additionally he is concerned with implementing such a program in such a short period of time.”
Election administrators in Washington, D.C., tried Internet voting for military and overseas voters ahead of the 2010 midterm elections. The administrators launched the program a few days early and invited hackers to test the system. A group of University of Michigan Graduate students led by Professor J. Alex Halderman was able to hack the system within 48 hours, giving them the ability to change votes and gain control of the security cameras monitoring election workers.
… The landscape has only gotten more dangerous since then, he said, with the emergence of increasingly sophisticated state-sponsored cyber attackers regularly hacking the computer systems of government agencies and national newspapers like The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. “In light of threats like that becoming something we’re hearing about on a monthly or weekly basis, to even consider moving something as critical as voting online is ridiculous,” Halderman said.
Tammy Patrick, the Maricopa County Elections Department’s federal compliance officer, said the county isn’t taking an official position on Worsley’s bill. But she did echo some of Schneier’s concerns. “Banking has insurance for when things are hacked into and when there’s a loss of revenue,” Patrick said. “In elections we don’t really have that type of margin for error.”