Imagine the convenience of being able to cast a vote from the comfort of a couch, coffee shop, library or a toilet if you’re truly trying to capture the spirit of the 2016 election cycle. Online voting may seem like a no-brainer given myriad of ways one can connect to the internet. However, according to David Dill, a computer scientist from Stanford, it would be a ‘complete disaster.’ It’s not just him that isn’t fond of the idea of putting the future of our country into computer, but security experts as well. “Computers are very complicated things and there’s no way with any reasonable amount of resources that you can guarantee that the software and hardware are bug-free and that they haven’t been maliciously attacked,” Dill said in an interview. “The problems are growing in complexity faster than the methods to keep up with them. From that perspective, looking at a system that relies on the perfectibility of computers is a really bad idea.”
Dill went onto explain how a single person could play a major role in disrupting and influencing the results of an election. Through the use of simple phishing methods or bots, millions of unsuspecting people can have their votes altered without ever knowing. Factor in the billions of dollars in business interests that rely on certain individuals being elected in or out of office and you have a volatile environment ripe for exploitation.
“Without being paranoid, there are reasons to believe that people would want to affect the outcome of elections. Right now, they spend billions of dollars trying to do it through campaign contributions and advertising and political consultants and all of that…there are people who would be very motivated to get something so valuable. Those people could include political zealots or campaigns, but they might also include organized crime or even other countries with huge resources.”