A committee of politicians and computer experts is launching a people’s initiative aimed at banning online voting for at least five years, putting an end on ongoing trials with e-voting in Switzerland. Representatives from right and leftwing parties on Friday said they were hoping to win pledges from 10,000 people to collect the necessary signatures for a nationwide vote on the issue. In total, the committee needs to gather at least 100,000 signatures over 18 months. They argued that the current e-voting systems were not secure, too expensive and easy to manipulate. Hacked systems could undermine trust in Switzerland’s system of direct democracy, Green Party parliamentarian Balthasar Glättli warned. People’s Party parliamentarian and Franz Grüter added the e-voting system in use could not guarantee the secure online transmission of a ballot. The move comes after parliament last September rejected attempts to block plans for the permanent introduction of electronic voting.Full Article: Opposition against e-voting project gathers pace - SWI swissinfo.ch.
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.Full Article: Online voting 'no silver bullet' for low turnout, study finds | Stuff.co.nz.
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.Full Article: Online voting trial for 2019 local body elections halted because of rising costs | 1 NEWS NOW | TVNZ.
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.Full Article: Pencil manufacturers rejoice: Oz government doesn't like e-voting • The Register.
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.Full Article: President formally green lights election, advises level-headed voting | News | ERR.
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”.Full Article: NSW government finally released 'net vote system review, says everything's just fine • The Register.
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.Full Article: South Korea to develop blockchain voting system | ZDNet.
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.Full Article: Here's Why Blockchain Voting Isn't the Solution Voters Are Looking for.
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.Full Article: Swiss e-voting system to undergo ‘hacker test’ - SWI swissinfo.ch.
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.”Full Article: Some voters cast ballots by fax or email in Bay County | Miami Herald.
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.Full Article: West Virginia Not Planning to Expand Use of Blockchain Voting.
Experts this week warned against entertaining the idea that blockchain could fix the voting system despite growing frustration with the long lines and malfunctioning machines that caused problems during the midterm election. “If you’re trying to convince Walmart it needs blockchains to track avocados or whatever, be our guest,” Arvind Narayanan, an associate professor of computer science at Princeton, tweeted. “But if you’re messing with critical infrastructure, you’ve crossed a line.” Blockchain is technology that uses computers to build a shared, secure and decentralized digital ledger. Blockchain is best known as the basis for the cryptocurrency Bitcoin but in recent years has attracted interest from a variety of industries that see a benefit in using the ideas behind blockchain.Full Article: After a stressful election, experts warn blockchain is not the answer.
A hacker claims to have discovered an important weakness in canton Geneva’s e-voting system to attacks that could redirect online voters to malicious websites. The canton says it is aware of the issue and introduced countermeasures years ago. Last week, Volker Birk of the Chaos Computer Club Switzerland said he had discovered that the Geneva online voting system – the biggest in Switzerland – uses an insecure procedure to protect its web address. Birk told Swiss public television, SRF, that it took only a few minutes to discover the system’s weakness to so-called DNS cache poisoning – an attack that exploits vulnerabilities in the domain name to divert internet traffic away from legitimate servers and towards fake ones. He added that the problem had been known for decades. In a public statement on Saturdayexternal link, canton Geneva said it had been informed by SRF about the fake site, which it admitted “did not allow people to vote electronically”.Full Article: Flaw reported in Switzerland’s biggest e-voting system - SWI swissinfo.ch.
Former chief election commissioner S Y Qureshi on Sunday ruled out the possibility of online voting in India in near future. Online voting is not feasible here because of reasons related to security and integrity. “People can be put at gunpoint to vote for anyone or can be bribed,” Qureshi said, while speaking at a programme, “Mission 2019 — No Voter Left Behind”. The programme was organised by the Centre for Research and Debates in Development Policy. The former CEC asked all voters to check their names on the voters’ list. He said a voter card doesn’t ensure one’s voting right. “Because names can be deleted for wrong reasons or due to computer errors.” He said that while he was the CEC, he had faced an uncomfortable situation becasue Arvind Kejriwal’s name was not on the voters’ list. However, it was found out that his name was listed in a different constituency where he used to stay earlier and finally he was able to cast his vote.Full Article: Online voting not feasible: Ex-CEC S Y Qureshi | Kolkata News - Times of India.
The security of e-voting in Geneva is again in doubt. In march 2015, a journalist of the RTS had shown how he had been able to vote electronically on two occasions. This time, the alert is given by the swiss broadcasting corporation SRF. The latter has proven that a hacker could very easily access the votes of the citizens. The “Chaos computer club”, an organization of hackers, which brings together about 8000 members in Europe, has indeed shown how a simple manipulation diverts the user to the official website and directed to a similar site. This fake site allows you to see the vote of the user. According to the hacker Volkler Birk, quoted by the RTS, this fault shows that “the canton of Geneva has forgotten to protect against a computer attack that dates back more than twenty years.”Full Article: The security of e-voting in Geneva questioned | The Sivertelegram.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was warned yesterday that the credibility of its elections in 2019 may be threatened by electronic manipulation. It was further told that the manipulation was being planned by some persons within its ranks. The alarm was raised by the convener of Concerned Nigerians, Deji Adeyanju, at a press briefing in Abuja. Reliable sources in INEC revealed that the commission’s e-collation portal has been tampered with, Adeyanju said, warning that this could lead to the creation of virtual polling units. According to him, while e-collation remains the most potent way to end vote rigging, a faulty system means anyone could enter results from any location at anytime or date because the portal allegedly no longer shows location, time and date of collation.Full Article: Nigeria: 'How Virtual Polling Units May Mar 2019 Elections' - allAfrica.com.
Online voting has been used in Canada for about 15 years, but you’d never know it judging by the most recent municipal election. That looked like our first swing at cyber voting, as if we were still trying to iron out the wrinkles. But those were no mere wrinkles. Those weren’t glitches, or hiccups. That was an absolute meltdown, an unmitigated disaster for which inexperience is not an excuse. Though the meltdown affected more municipalities than our own, nowhere was the impact greater or more embarrassing than in Waterloo Region, where an entire community was left in limbo for almost 48 hours as it waited for the winner of the top political job to be announced. Yes, it’s easy to second guess in the aftermath of such a massive malfunction and the enormity of the disaster leaves plenty to criticize. But with the credibility of an election at stake, the scrutiny is warranted and analysis is necessary.Full Article: Opinion | End online voting — it's not worth the risk | KitchenerPost.ca.
A police report has been lodged by a Kuala Selangor PKR candidate after a jammer device was found allegedly used to sabotage the party polls. According to the report sighted by The Star, Kuala Selangor PKR Youth chief candidate R Sabahbathi said the device was found by district council workers at about 2pm on Sunday while they were cleaning up the Kuala Selangor Indoor Stadium where the election was supposed to take place. He said the device was allegedly placed on the floor at the spectators’ seats since 10.30am when polling just started. It had a metal casing with six antennas, and labels that read “4G” and “WiFi”. “All the Internet data cannot be used forcing eligible voters not to be able to cast their votes,” he said in the report, which was lodged at the Kuala Selangor police headquarters.Full Article: Jammer device allegedly used to sabotage PKR e-voting - Nation | The Star Online.
Canada: Election night glitch points to the ‘wild west’ of online voting, says cybersecurity expert | Ottawa Citizen
Online voters in 51 Ontario municipalities had either a few more hours or an extra day to vote after a 90-minute computer portal slowdown on election night. Affected municipalities in Eastern Ontario included Renfrew, Laurentian Valley, Pembroke, Petawawa, Whitewater, Belleville and Kingston — all clients of Colorado-based Dominion Voting. Dominion is one of four companies that supplied Ontario municipalities with services in this municipal election. On Monday night, Dominion posted a statement saying the glitch was the result of a Toronto co-location provider that placed an unauthorized limit on incoming voting traffic of about one-tenth of the system’s designated bandwidth. The company was unaware of the glitch until it was alerted by the municipalities that are its customers. In those 90 minutes, voters experienced slow response time and system timeouts. This points to problems with the “wild west” of online voting in Canada, said a cybersecurity expert.Full Article: Election night glitch points to the ‘wild west’ of online voting, says cybersecurity expert | Ottawa Citizen.
Glitches with a private online voting company impacted local elections in 51 cities and towns across the province on election day, causing at least six to extend voting hours until Tuesday in an example one expert says highlights the wild west of internet voting. Dominion Voting blamed the “slow traffic” that voters experienced just after 6 p.m. Monday on a third-party Toronto-based data centre placing an “unauthorized limit on incoming voting traffic,” in a press release sent to affected municipalities. … Aleksander Essex, an assistant professor of software engineering at Western University, in London, Ont., said Dominion Voting is essentially “blaming it on their subcontractor,” adding it’s not clear why the entire website appeared to shut down temporarily. But the incident highlights bigger concerns with online voting, the use of which has been steadily growing in Ontario. “Wild west is exactly the term I’ve been using,” he said. “It absolutely is dangerous for democracy.”Full Article: Online voting causes headaches in 51 Ontario cities and towns | The Star.