Glitches with a private online voting company impacted local elections in 51 cities and towns across the province on election day, causing at least six to extend voting hours until Tuesday in an example one expert says highlights the wild west of internet voting. Dominion Voting blamed the “slow traffic” that voters experienced just after 6 p.m. Monday on a third-party Toronto-based data centre placing an “unauthorized limit on incoming voting traffic,” in a press release sent to affected municipalities. … Aleksander Essex, an assistant professor of software engineering at Western University, in London, Ont., said Dominion Voting is essentially “blaming it on their subcontractor,” adding it’s not clear why the entire website appeared to shut down temporarily. But the incident highlights bigger concerns with online voting, the use of which has been steadily growing in Ontario. “Wild west is exactly the term I’ve been using,” he said. “It absolutely is dangerous for democracy.”
He said it’s difficult to get information out of private companies such as Dominion Voting, a Canadian-based firm that has expanded into the U.S. According to Essex, Dominion is the number two online voting provider in the province.
“They’ve got a business to run,” said Essex. “They don’t want the secret sauce recipe going up on the internet.”
That, coupled with a lack of clear procedures and standards on online voting, leaves the system open to hacks.
“Even if none of that happens, the greatest, long-term creeping risk is that we will lose confidence in the system because we can’t actually tell what the heck is going on,” Essex said.
“It’s the lack of transparency that’s the real creeping threat.”