The City of Edmonton will embark on a online election pilot later this month and Strathcona County will no doubt be watching. Despite my generation’s apparent love affair with everything technology, online voting is one of those things that should forever remain a pie-in-the-sky lust. Sort of like flying cars. Sure, flying cars sound nice — unless you realize the safest place to live is in the basement of your home because a car flown by some inebriated driver can come crashing through your roof without warning. Likewise, an online poll can be mucked with without warning. Government rules for rewarding contracts being what they are, the best security the lowest bid can buy will most likely be protecting any online vote. While I believe any bid-winning firm has what it takes to stop most hackers from having fun with the results, not every hacker can be so easily derailed.
Ever hear of Anonymous? If you haven’t, this is a group of… well… anonymous people who like to flex their cybernetic muscle by taking down government websites, hacking e-mail accounts of corporate executives they don’t like and doing other such stuff — like taking the FBI website down after the bureau took out the once-popular Megaupload website where people could post copyrighted material (and other legally-owned items) for others to download for free.
Essentially, the collective tries to present itself as a political movement — probably not unlike the Occupy camps, but with more intelligence and tangible impacts that go beyond taking up space. Do you think members of that group won’t try to rise to the challenge when a government finally does attempt online voting in a real election? I’d be shocked if it didn’t.