Top computer researchers gave a startling presentation recently about how to intercept and switch votes on emailed ballots, but officials in the 30 or so states said the ease with which votes could be changed wouldn’t alter their plans to continue offering electronic voting in some fashion. Two states — Washington and Alaska — have ended their statewide online voting systems. The developments, amid mounting fears that Russians or others will try to hack the 2018 midterm elections, could heighten pressure on officials on other U.S. states to reconsider their commitment to online voting despite repeated admonitions from cybersecurity experts. But a McClatchy survey of election officials in a number of states that permit military and overseas voters to send in ballots by email or fax — including Alabama, Kansas, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas — produced no immediate signs that any will budge on the issue. Some chief election officers are handcuffed from making changes, even in the name of security, by state laws permitting email and fax voting. … Researchers at the DefCon convention were sharply critical of any sort of electronic voting, including voting by smartphone, which will occur for the first time in November. West Virginia announced last week that it will allow military personnel posted overseas and registered to vote in West Virginia to vote via smartphone in the Nov. 6 election, using an app created by Voatz, a Boston-based startup.
“In my opinion, email voting is the most dangerous form of voting,” said David Jefferson, a computer scientist at California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and former board chairman of both the California Voter Foundation and Verified Voting, nonpartisan groups that promote secure and transparent election technology.
“Anyone who controls a router can change a ballot,” Jefferson said. “It’s just insane. It’s like attaching a $100 bill to a postcard and mailing it and expecting it to get there.”