Election Day can sometimes feel like more of a headache than a patriotic celebration. Long lines and scheduling conflicts may leave voters wondering why there isn’t an easier way to cast their ballots. Some say there already is: online voting. Why head to the polls if you can vote from anywhere using your laptop or smartphone? But even as online voting is on the rise in the United States and elsewhere, experts warn its convenience isn’t worth its costs. Casting your vote online could mean sacrificing the right to a secret ballot and leaving elections more vulnerable to fraud, according to a report released Thursday by the Electronic Privacy Information Center, the Verified Voting Foundation and the Common Cause Education Fund. Security researchers also warn that online voting could be vulnerable to hackers who could digitally hijack elections. “The Internet is already as messed up as we can imagine, and adding critical electoral systems is just a bad idea,” said Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist at the Center for Democracy and Technology.
Internet voting — either via email, electronic fax or online portals — is allowed in 32 states and the District, according to Verified Voting. Most often, the option is limited to military and overseas voters.
… Some experts have warned that Estonia’s online voting system is vulnerable to hacking. Researchers from the University of Michigan and the Open Rights Group who evaluated Estonia’s 2013 election found so many issues with the system that they recommended shutting it down. Estonia, however, pushed back against the report. “In the past decade, our online balloting has stood up to numerous reviews and security tests,” the country’s National Electoral Committee said.
But the academics have stuck by their findings. And even if parts of the online voting system controlled by the government were safe, citizens’ personal devices might be infected with malware that could hijack their votes, said J. Alex Halderman, a University of Michigan professor who worked on the study.