Privacy advocates, worried that the Defense Department is sinking millions of dollars into unproven online voting systems, are suing the Pentagon for the release of long-promised test results on whether Internet-based voting is safe. The subtext of the lawsuit is that after spending millions on online voting experiments — in 2010 alone, the Defense Department’s Federal Voting Assistance Program received $9 million from Congress to design and test Internet-based voting — privacy advocates worry that online voting could spread in the United States without proper vetting. The Electronic Privacy Information Center, a D.C.-based advocacy group, filed a lawsuit last month against the Pentagon, under the Freedom of Information Act, to compel the release of the results of the department’s test of its online voting system. Ginger McCall is the director of EPIC’s open government project. “Voting is an integral part of our democratic system,” she said, “and it is imperative that the public have information about whether or not e-voting systems are really secure and reliable before they are used or more money is spent on their acquisition.”
… A group of computer scientists and other technologists, including Princeton’s Ed Felten, Stanford’s David Dill, and Johns Hopkins’s Avi Rubin have issued a statement urging caution on the spread of online voting until those worries can be addressed.
“Election results must be verifiably accurate — that is, auditable with a permanent, voter-verified record that is independent of hardware or software,” reads the statement.
“Internet voting should only be adopted after these technical challenges have been overcome,” it continues, “and after extensive and fully informed public discussion of the technical and non-technical issues has established that the people of the U.S. are comfortable embracing this radically new form of voting.”