This letter to the Editor was published in the Sacramento Bee on December 15, 2014.
California’s record low turnout for November’s elections is indeed worrisome, and incoming Secretary of State Alex Padilla’s promises to increase the voter rolls are laudable. However, the editorial board’s desire to see online voting as the natural evolution of our voting systems is misplaced. Yes, we do bank, shop and communicate online, but a quick review of the latest headlines proves these transactions aren’t secure. Cybercrime is estimated to cost businesses billions every year. Elections are unlike financial transactions because they’re extremely vulnerable to undetectable hacking. Because we vote by secret ballot, there is no way to reconcile the votes recorded and the marks the voter actually makes with technology currently available.
Unlike with retail transactions, we can’t call up county election offices and ask if our votes for a particular candidate were accurately recorded under our name. For this reason, the Department of Defense canceled an online voting trial project, and a top official from the Department of Homeland Security has warned against online voting.
Our democracy is founded in the confidence of our elections to correctly represent the will of the people. Let’s not allow good intentions to take us down an insecure path.