An Australian IT expert says New Zealand would be crazy to adopt online voting for local government elections and would be opening itself up to widespread electoral fraud. Nine councils including Auckland, Wellington, Hamilton and Tauranga want to use it at next year’s elections, despite there being few examples overseas of where it is being used successfully or safely. Online voting was first used at government elections in Estonia in 2005. Its take up by the rest of the world since then has been limited at best, in large part due to vulnerabilities in its systems that allowed hackers to cast fake votes and rig elections. Australian IT expert Vanessa Teague alerted authorities to faults in the 2015 New South Wales state elections, where a quarter of a million voted online. There were plenty of hackers worldwide happy to take money from a vested interest looking to manipulate an election in their favour, she said.
The campaign to register overseas Pakistanis for internet-voting in the upcoming by-polls evoked a lukewarm response, with only 7,419 expatriates out of the total 632,000 registering to avail the facility offered to them for the first time in the country’s electoral history. The process of registration of overseas Pakistanis from the 37 constituencies where by-elections are to be held on Oct 14 had started on Sept 1 and came to a close on Monday at 9am. According to a statement released by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP), the website for the overseas voters remained functional 24/7 throughout the registration process and did not face any technical problems.
A lack of interest of Pakistanis living aboard flagrantly evident as deadline for registration of Internet voting has been ended today. Out of above five hundred thousand Pakistanis residing overseas, only seven thousand and four hundred registered themselves for internet voting which is not an encouraging trend for the present PTI led government which worked hard to give the expats the right to vote. Five hundred and twenty thousand overseas Pakistanis showed an unexpected and strange attitude towards the lack of interest in the electoral and political system of Pakistan. Only seven thousand and four hundred Pakistanis living and settled in foreign countries – being registered to the internet voting for the by elections scheduled to be held in October 2018 – can take part in the voting process now. According to the election commission sources, two hundred thousand individuals have visited the internet voting website.
As the deadline extended by the Election Commission of Pakistan for overseas Pakistanis to register as voters for I-voting in the upcoming by-election scheduled for October 14 expires today (Monday), only 6,319 expatriates have registered as voters in 37 constituencies. A day earlier, the ECP extended the deadline for registration of overseas Pakistanis till 9 am on Monday to register as many voters as possible. The commission had asked the overseas Pakistanis to take advantage of the extended time and ensure their registration so that they could vote in the upcoming by-election.
Parliament has thrown out attempts to stall the permanent introduction of electronic voting – a decision welcomed by the Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA). Two proposals by representatives of right and leftwing parties cited data security concerns, including cyberattacks, and were aimed at effectively blocking plans by the government to conclude more than 15 years of trials and enshrine e-voting in law as a third option – besides going to the polls and the postal vote. The House of Representatives earlier this week rejected the proposals by parliamentarians of the Swiss People’s Party and the Greens, thereby refusing to draft a bill for discussion.
Blockchain technology is unsuitable for use in voting systems until they are verified as secure, a scientific report has warned. The study, from the US National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, concludes that internet-based voting systems are not ready for current use, although they “may seem promising” for use in the future. “Insecure internet voting is possible now, but the risks currently associated with internet voting are more significant than the benefits,” the report reads. “Secure internet voting will likely not be feasible in the near future.
The overseas Pakistanis have so far shown little interest in getting themselves registered for first-ever I-voting in the upcoming by-election in 37 constituencies and so far just 6,000 have got themselves registered for their voting right. Sources in the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) said there are estimated 0.520 million expats, who could exercise their voting right with regard to these constituencies. But hitherto, just 3,000 qualified for this and were ready to vote in by-election. “These qualified persons will be using their respective passwords to take part in voting,” they explained.
Chastened by Russian interference and hacking attempts in the 2016 election, academic experts on voting technology say electronic voting machines that don’t leave a paper trail should be phased out as soon as possible. “Every effort should be made to use human-readable paper ballots in the 2018 federal election,” the experts write in a report issued today by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. “All local, state and federal elections should be conducted using human-readable paper ballots by the 2020 presidential election.” That’s already the case for Washington, Oregon and Colorado, where mail-only voting has become the norm. (The report notes that “vote-by-mail” is something of a misnomer, since most ballots are still returned by hand. “Ballot delivery by mail” comes closer to the mark.)
Former Senate chairman Raza Rabbani has alleged that the internet-voting system is being introduced in the country to rig and manipulate elections. “The i-voting system being put into place is flawed from its inception and has the ingredients of becoming a tool in the hands of forces that may want to manipulate elections in Pakistan,” warned the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader. Talking to Dawn here on Wednesday, Mr Rabbani called for a thorough discussion on the issue in parliament before introducing the system. The former senator recalled that the task force set up by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) itself had already expressed reservations over the move to allow overseas Pakistanis to use their right of vote through internet.
A new online voting system based on the My Number identification system and blockchain technology has been introduced in Tsukuba, Ibaraki Prefecture. Tsukuba, well known as a center for scientific research, is the first in the country to start using such a voting system, according to the city. The system allows voters to cast ballots via a computer display after placing the My Number card on a card reader. Blockchain technology is used to prevent the voting data from being falsified or read.