As the country readies itself to trek down to the polling stations on May 7, some voters are questioning why they can’t simply cast their vote online. After all, many of us handle our banking, tax returns and bill paying online, so why shouldn’t we be able to cast a vote over the internet as well? Parts of the process have already made the transition to a digital environment. In preparation for next month’s election, the Electoral Commission launched an online registration scheme allowing all of us to quickly and efficiently register to vote. And putting the service online meant that many more people used it. According to the Electoral Commission’s statistics, over one million applications were made on the site over the first three-and-a-half weeks. But registering to vote and actually putting the mark next to your party of choice are two different things.
… The key issue holding back the introduction of electronic voting is making sure that hackers and other cybercriminals can’t wreck the system. Voting needs to be completely anonymous, which creates a conflict with automatic verification that would need to happen online to make sure the vote was a true vote and not one hijacked by a hacker or a bot program.
“There’s the issue of somebody being tricked into a site that isn’t the legitimate online voting site – which is ‘phishing’ pure and simple,” said Kaspersky’s David Emm. “Looped in to that is that if someone’s credentials are compromised then another person can vote on their behalf through a man-in-the-middle attack. “Both those methods are used now to steal money from peoples’ back account,” Emm said.
And while money stolen online can be reimbursed by a bank or insurance agency, the anonymity of voting fundamentally prevents that. “If you take a key marginal seat and something like this happened it could potentially change the whole complexion of the government,” said Emm.