Electronic voting is widely regarded as insecure and might not do much to help improve voter turnout, a new study suggests. The study published by Auckland University of Technology said online voting was “superficially attractive” but international evidence suggested it was not a silver bullet for reversing declining voter turnout. A trial of electronic voting planned for next year’s local council elections was scrapped by Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) on Wednesday. But it is “never say die” for the trial’s backers who hope to have another crack in 2022 despite strong criticism of the idea from many technology experts. LGNZ shelved its trial planned for nine council elections on cost grounds, rather than because of security concerns. It said it had found an unnamed vendor that satisfied all of its security and delivery requirements, but could not justify the $4.2 million cost of the trial. … The Auckland University of Technology study twists the knife, however.
New Zealand: Online voting trial for 2019 local body elections halted because of rising costs | TVNZ
A trial of online voting in next year’s local body will not take place after a working party of nine councils decided to halt the trial because of rising costs. A provider who satisfied the security and delivery requirements had recently been selected but ballooning costs forced the decision to not proceed with the trial in 2019. The working party will continue to work collaboratively with central government and the wider local government sector to deliver online voting for the 2022 local body elections.
Australia: Pencil manufacturers rejoice: Oz government doesn’t like e-voting – Paper’s safer, says parliamentary committee | The Register
An Australian parliamentary committee has nixed the idea of internet voting for federal elections Down Under, for now. The Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters has delivered its report into the 2013 federal election, and in it, the body decided that there are plenty of ways technology can help elections – but ditching the country’s pencil-and-paper ballots isn’t one of them. The committee said technology “is not sufficiently mature for an election to be conducted through a full scale electronic voting process.” “Despite public enthusiasm for electronic voting, there are a number of serious problems with regard to electronic voting – particularly in relation to cost, security and verification of results”, the committee reported.
President Kersti Kaljulaid signed into action the go ahead for the general election in Estonia, due on 3 March 2019. Whilst the date of 3 March has long been talked about, according to § 78 (3) of the Estonian constitution, the president ”calls regular elections of the Riigikogu..” (official English translation), so the move was necessary to make the date official. The deadline for so doing was Sunday, 2 December. Ms Kaljulaid also made a speech at an event in the eastern Estonian town of Jõhvi, giving practical advice and setting out her views on the importance of democratic behaviour.
Australia: NSW government finally released ‘net vote system review, says everything’s just fine Including, wait for it, ‘security through obscurity’. No, really | The Register
Australia’s New South Wales Electoral Commission has given its electronic voting system a clean bill of health, dismissing hacking fears as “theoretical,” and accepting a PWC report saying the system to date was protected by “security through obscurity”. Reviews of election processes are routine, and in 2016, the NSW Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters kicked off the Wilkins report. It was completed in May of this year, but was only recently made public (PDF). NSW’s “iVote” system was used by nearly 300,000 citizens in the 2015 election, a week after Melbourne University crypto-boffins Dr Vanessa Teague and Dr Chris Culnane demonstrated a FREAK-bug-like “theoretical attack”.
South Korea plans to develop a blockchain voting system, with trials starting next month in the private sector. The Ministry of Science and ICT, and the National Election Commission (NEC) said they will develop a blockchain-based online voting system by December. The NEC ran an online voting system, dubbed K-voting, back in 2013, which has since been used by 5.64 million people but trust in the voting system remains low due to hacking and fraud concerns. The latest system to be developed will apply blockchain in voter authentication and result saving, which will increase transparency and security, the government said.
National: Here’s Why Blockchain Voting Isn’t the Solution Voters Are Looking For | Strategic Tech Investor
Now that we’re past Election Day, a certain sort of “silly season” has begun. I’m talking about folks coming up with big ideas on how to fix our outdated voting system. And one of the big ideas out there is using blockchain for voting. Let’s stop that conversation – now. The other day, the Twitter cryptoverse blew up after Alex Tapscott, co-founder of the Blockchain Research Institute, had his op-ed on the matter published in The New York Times. In it, Tapscott presents his case for using a blockchain to carry out online voting. He apparently believes such a process would be much more decentralized and safe from hacking. The only downside, he claims, is a potential delay in the voting process. Let me just tell you straight up: This is a terribly ill-considered idea, for a variety of reasons.
Next year, Swiss authorities will put one of the country’s two e-voting systems up for attack by hackers – with a prize on offer for those who break it. The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA), a strong backer of online voting, has welcomed the confidence test. The test, organised jointly by federal and regional authorities, will take place over four weeks sometime in spring 2019, the NZZ am Sonntag reports. According to the newspaper, the Federal Chancellery has a budget of some CHF250,000 ($247,500) to implement the contest and pay the hackers; a figure not confirmed by the authorities themselves. Contacted by swissinfo.ch, OSA Director Ariane Rustichelli said that it was “a good sign that the Federal Chancellery, which is leading the project, is reacting to and taking seriously the fears [around e-voting]. Because, for about a year and a half now, more and more critical voices are arising, including in parliament”. The OSA, which represents the interests of the 750,000 Swiss living abroad, is a heavily involved in debates around voting rights and the rolling out of online ballots. “If we manage to show that e-voting is safe, this could boost confidence in the system,” Rustichelli said.
Florida: Bay County allowed some hurricane victims to vote by fax or email. That’s not allowed. | Miami Herald
As counties recount ballots in three statewide races and lawyers battle over the complex vote tallying in court, the top elections official in Bay County said he allowed some displaced voters to cast ballots by email or fax after Hurricane Michael hit the Panhandle, even though there is no provision for it in state law. Bay County Supervisor of Elections Mark Andersen said Monday that 11 ballots were accepted by email and 147 ballots were domestically faxed in, though state statute does not allow emailed ballots and faxing in ballots is only permitted for military and voters overseas. But Andersen defended his decision to accept those ballots by email and fax vigorously, noting the mass devastation that rocked the coastal county one month ago. “You did not go through what we went through,” he said, describing areas that were shut off by law enforcement and people barred from returning to their homes. “If some are unhappy we did so well up here, I don’t know what to tell them. We sure had an opportunity to not do well, I can tell you that much.”
This week West Virginia became the first state in the nation to use Internet voting with blockchain technology in a federal general election, piloting the program for military and other voters living overseas. Despite what officials are calling a successful trial for the app, from Boston-based startup Voatz, Secretary of State Mac Warner has no plans to extend the program to domestic civilians, according to The Washington Post. West Virginia used the Voatz app in a similar limited capacity for the primary election in May. The app works by recording votes on a blockchain, a cryptographic concept popularized with cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.