Electoral fraud has been pervasive in Nigeria since it returned to civilian rule in 1999. This year, to prevent tampering with ballots on the way to the capital, poll workers nationwide used technology from a Spanish software maker called Scytl to scan the tallies and transmit them electronically. Despite predictions of violence, voters elected an opposition candidate—removing an incumbent from office for the first time—in a process Human Rights Watch described as “mostly peaceful.” Governments in 42 countries are using software from Scytl (rhymes with “title”) to bring elements of their elections online, from registering voters to consolidating results. “If you look at the way elections are being run in most countries, it’s still the same way they used to be run 50 years ago,” says Chief Executive Officer Pere Vallès. Using Scytl’s technology, he says, a country can more easily stop fraud and announce winners “in a few hours instead of a few days.” … Many election watchdogs say software isn’t yet secure enough to be trusted, and they’re concerned that Scytl and its competitors haven’t developed a way for third parties to independently verify results. “Murphy’s Law says something is going to go wrong in pretty much every election,” says Pamela Smith, the president of election watchdog Verified Voting in Carlsbad, Calif. “Transmitting actual votes is too high-risk for using online technology.” No current online system has “the level of security and transparency needed for mainstream elections,” according to a July report prepared for the U.S. Vote Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for expanded absentee voting.
In August this year, the Election Commission of Pakistan had announced its intentions to allow overseas expats to vote in the country’s general elections in 2018, as long as they held their citizenship. Keeping with the plan, a mock exercise was conducted to evaluate security, among other things. The Pakistani embassy in Riyadh, the High Commission in London and its consulates in New York, Dubai, Manchester, Bradford and Glasgow carried out the test. Employees at the foreign missions were asked to participate in the exercise, by voting for fictitious candidates, via two means — postal and online ballots.
Bulgaria: President slams parties over referendum, calls on Parliament to approve electronic voting | The Sofia Globe
Bulgarian head of state Rossen Plevneliev has described the October 25 national referendum on electronic voting as an indisputable success and proof that citizens want to participate actively in decision-making in the state, while slamming political parties for their inertia towards the issue. He also disclosed that he had asked the State Agency for National Security to investigate the hacker attack that confounded the working of the Central Election Commission website on election day, and said that he saw the attack as an attempt to discredit the idea of online voting. Plevneliev was speaking on October 30 at a briefing broadcast live on radio and television, two days after the Central Election Commission said that 69.5 per cent of those who voted were in favour of introducing electronic voting in future elections and referendums, and 26 per cent voted against, with the remaining 4.5 per cent of ballots declared invalid.
Government-owned Swiss Post has become the latest player to enter the electronic voting market, announcing that it will work with Neuchâtel to offer an e-voting system next year. But its partnership with Spanish firm Scytl has some questioning whether the use of foreign voting systems could leave the Swiss exposed to security concerns. The move by Swiss Post follows the government’s decision, on security grounds, to reject the use by a consortium of nine cantons of a voting system developed by American company Unisys during the October 18 parliamentary elections. Since the first trials at electronic voting in 2003, Swiss cantons have been wrestling with the development of secure e-voting systems. To date, canton Geneva has been the most successful in rolling out an approved system, due in large part to the platform being 100% publicly funded and locally developed. The model has so far been adopted by three other cantons: Lucerne, Basel City and Bern. Aside from the failed attempt by the consortium of nine cantons to introduce the use of an American e-voting system, Neuchâtel has been the only other canton to enter the fray. In partnership with Syctl, a global leader in the field, it has developed a unique online voting platform that offers the possibility of voting directly from a computer keyboard. Having eyed the market for some time, it is this system Swiss Post is banking on to provide its entry into the world of e-voting.
We are the pioneers of the secret ballot electoral system, but when it comes to electronic voting, Australia has long been behind the pack. Kazakhstan, India, Brazil and Estonia are among the countries who long ago swapped pencil-and-paper ballots for e-voting at polling stations or over the internet. Meanwhile, in Australia, most of us continue to bemoan the chore of queuing for hours at the polling booth. … During the NSW state election in March, residents who were vision impaired, disabled or out of town on election day were able to cast their vote with the remote voting system, iVote, in what was the biggest-ever test of e-voting in the country. … But the success of iVote was marred by reports two security experts had exposed a major security hole that could potentially affect huge numbers of ballots and maybe even change the election outcome. University of Melbourne research fellow Vanessa Teague said she and Prof Alex Halderman from the University of Michigan found iVote had a vulnerability to what’s called a man-in-the-middle attack when they tested the system with a practice server in the lead-up to the election. “We could expose how the person intended to vote, we could manipulate that vote, and we could interfere with the return of the receipt number and thus prevent the person from logging into the verification server afterwards,” she told news.com.au.
“Do you support that remote electronic voting is enabled when elections and referendums are held?” Bulgarians were asked this question – and those who voted overwhelmingly said “yes”. The nearly three-quarters majority (72.5 percent) who voted in favour did not make the result binding because it was combined with low voter turnout. However, with last information about voter activity suggesting at least 31.50% of eligible voters took part, the referendum exceeds the threshold of 20% needed to submit the question to Parliament. Lawmakers will now have three months to discuss online voting, but different opinions have emerged about how the proposal should be added to MPs’ agenda. (Add to this the number of people who suspect lawmakers are bent on voting it down). In case e-voting is approved as a legitimate means to take part in elections, it is not clear whether it might be applied to the forthcoming presidential vote next year. A quick look at vote statistics also debunks the myth of “huge interest” in the referendum that eligible voters among the 2 million Bulgarians abroad would show: the Foreign Ministry said only 27 000 had cast a ballot. That expats are eager to help usher in e-voting is not self-evident anymore – a blow to activists who maintained the online method would boost participation, bring back to politics those discouraged people who voted with their feet, and make democracy more legitimate.
As voting day unfolded, there were various controversies in Bulgaria’s October 25 2015 municipal elections and national referendum on whether to introduce online voting. After many complaints, the Central Election Commission said that it had instrructed polling stations to issue voters with ballots for the referendum as well as for the local elections. Posts on social networks and media reports said that there were cases where voters were either not given ballot papers for the referendum or were asked whether or not they wanted one. Another major concern was a delay in announcing up-to-date figures on voter turnout, which according to the Central Election Commission was because of its website being brought down by the weight of traffic as municipal election commissions reported these figures.
Last month, the New South Wales Electoral Commission’s ongoing battle to defend the integrity of its online voting system took chief information officer Ian Brightwell all the way to Switzerland — the last bastion of modern direct democracy. After requests from commissioner Colin Barry were knocked back by two other academic conferences, Brightwell finally got his chance to explain the NSW experience of implementing iVote in direct response to a pair of crusading academics who have doggedly attacked the online voting platform both in Australia and abroad. The organisers of the VoteID 2015 conference, held last month in Bern, Switzerland, deemed the claims and counter-claims interesting enough to design a special session around them. By now, most people who’ve heard about online voting in NSW would have also heard the persistent warnings of Vanessa Teague, a research fellow at the University of Melbourne, and J. Alex Halderman, an associate professor of computer science and engineering from the University of Michigan.
Lithuania’s Ministry of Justice submitted a bill on Tuesday that, if passed, would allow creating a system for online voting in elections and referenda. According to BNS, the proposed legislation outlines basic principles of online voting, procedures for voters to verify or retract their votes, measures to ensure secret ballot, voter identification as well as requirements for the would-be online voting software.
B.C.’s municipal politicians were so hotly divided about whether to allow Internet voting for the 2018 local elections that they had to hold an electronic vote to tally the results. In the end, it was a squeaker, with 51.1 per cent of delegates at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention voting in favour of the resolution and 48.9 per cent against. The resolution calls on the UBCM to request the B.C. government to “initiate analysis and legislative changes” to encourage more voters — especially the elderly, disabled, snowbirds and those working in camp — to participate in the democratic process.
Dunedin City Council has withdrawn from an online voting trial. Councillors made the decision late this afternoon after a three-and-a-half hour debate. The decision makes Dunedin the fifth and last council to pull out of the internet-based voting trial – being organised for a set of councils – because security risks and the cost. Eight councils including Wellington, Porirua and Palmerston North have agreed to pursue the trial at next year’s local body elections.
New Zealand: Wellington opts into online election despite Ashley Madison-style hack warnings | The Dominion Post
Wellington has been warned it faces an Ashley Madison-style election hack as it opts for online voting for 2016. In a split vote, councillors have agreed to join a trial of online voting for next year’s election – despite warnings from IT experts about potential security risks with e-voting. At Wednesday’s extraordinary full council meeting, software developer Nigel McNie said online voting opened up the process to “massive risk”. “Hacking is a risk. Consider the Ashley Madison hack, which I’m sure most of you have heard of.” He said “one small hole” in the adultery hookup site led to its hack, and eventual destruction. In July, it was revealed about 36 million members globally had their details leaked in the 9.7-gigabyte data dump on the dark web.
Estonians can vote over the internet in their national elections. Brazilians vote using electronic terminals that have Braille on the keypads and that have cut the tabulation time from a month to six hours. Some local British elections have let people vote by text message. It’s the year 2015, after all. So why do Canadian elections still happen the centuries-old way — by marking paper ballots and depositing them in a box? Especially when advocates say higher-tech voting methods could make the process more accessible? “There’s a number of reasons,” said Nicole Goodman, research director at the Centre for E-Democracy and an assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s global-affairs school. Goodman has extensively researched internet voting at other levels of government in Canada, particularly municipal elections in Ontario, where in last year’s contests 97 local governments out of 414 offered online voting. At the municipal level, Canada is a world leader in voting via the internet, Goodman says. But so far, no province or federal electoral authority has attempted it even in a small trial. One reason? “Lack of political will,” Goodman said. Elections Canada, by law, has to takes its cues on how to run elections from Parliament, and no recent government has made it a priority to introduce potentially radical new voting methods — especially one such as internet balloting that might get whole new demographics, including traditionally non-voting youth, to suddenly take part. Another concern that has held back any internet voting system is security. “People want 100 per cent assurance that this cannot be tampered with,” said Jean-Pierre Kingsley, Canada’s former chief electoral officer. “I’m absolutely sure that we’ll be able to find something, but at this stage we’re not there yet.”
Fears of voter fraud and security breaches have led the Christchurch City Council to ditch plans to participate in an online voting trial. The council had provisionally registered its interest in being part of an online voting trial the Government is proposing to run at next year’s local body elections, but councillors on Thursday decided they wanted no part of it. Their decision followed a deputation from a group of IT experts who told them the security risks with online voting were too high and could open the election up to fraud. … Group spokesman Jonathan Hunt, who has more than 25 years experience in the IT field, said online voting brought inherent risks compared with postal voting, such as hacking and phishing, and the risks to democracy were too great to attempt it. Overseas experiences with online voting had generally been disastrous and many of the countries that had trialled it had subsequently abandoned it. “Secure online voting is a tantalising mirage,” said Hunt.
Online voting at next year’s local government elections is in jeopardy after the Christchurch City Council today rejected it. The company hired to conduct the online trial said without Christchurch it might not be viable – and it was rushing to try to reassure councillors and others that such voting is secure from hackers. On Monday, Checkpoint reported IT experts held grave fears about online voting, which has already been agreed to by councils in Palmerston North, Porirua, Whanganui, Rotorua and Matamata Piako. Today at a full meeting of the Christchurch City Council, IT experts pleaded with councillors to reject it based on security fears. One of them, Jonathan Hunt, reeled off a list of overseas examples where online voting has failed.
A proposal for 10 local authorities to move to online voting at next year’s elections is seriously flawed, an IT expert says. Five councils have already signed up to the trial, with a further five, including Christchurch, Wellington and Hamilton, yet to decide. Local body elections are currently carried out via postal voting. Local Government New Zealand, which proposed the trial, said online voting would future-proof elections from the eventual demise of postal services. President Lawrence Yule said an increasing number of activities were carried out safely online and there was no reason why voting should not be as well. “If we took the worry about fraud or hacking to its logical extreme, then nobody would use online banking for instance, and people do by their millions. So I think it’s a matter of balancing up the risks and the benefits of this.” An IT expert, who has previously advised the Government on security problems with online voting, said the trial carried a lot of risk in return for very few benefits. Dave Lane said there was currently no way to guarantee an online voting system would be safe from a hacking attack. “It is possible, for a trivial amount of money … to engage sufficient computing resources internationally to completely knock over any online or electronic voting system we have, just for fun.”
An election lawyer urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec), on Sunday, to scrap plans of employing Internet voting technology for overseas absentee voting (OAV) in the May 2016 balloting in the absence of clear-cut rules on such a scheme. Laywer Romulo Macalintal said for the May 9 elections in next year, the Comelec should just stick to the existing mode of voting for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) since some provisions of the Overseas Voting Act of 2013 were vague. “Definitely, the election body should wait for clearer provisions of the law allowing Internet voting and its mechanisms,” Macalintal told reporters, citing that under the law, the Comelec has been merely allowed “to explore” Internet-based technology for OAV.
Aucklanders won’t be able to choose their next council at the click of a mouse. Local Government Associate Minister Louise Upston confirmed that the country’s biggest city wouldn’t feature in a trial of online voting for next year’s local body elections. Officials from the Super City are some of the biggest supporters of a digital voting revolution, but Auckland Council’s catchment has been deemed too big. “A trial that includes all of Auckland and its approximately 1 million electors is simply too large to adequately mitigate these risks,” she said. Stung by a dismal 36 per cent voter turnout in the 2013 elections, Auckland Council has lobbied hard to introduce internet voting. But its campaign has failed. Applications are now only being sought from smaller councils to provide a range of voting systems.
The Mayor of Haaspalu constituency here, Mr Umas Sukles, has appealed to Tanzanians to ensure the October 25 general election is held in a democratic manner for the good of the nation. He made the call here when addressing Tanzanian journalists touring the country. “There is also need for Tanzanian politicians to accept election results once they are defeated,” he said, adding that the majority of politicians have tendencies of not wanting to be out of government leadership even once they have been defeated in elections.
The Swiss cabinet has given the green light for the cantons of Geneva, Neuchâtel, Basel City and Lucerne to offer electronic voting to registered citizens abroad. But proposals by nine other cantons were rejected due to security concerns. Around 34,000 Swiss citizens living abroad who are registered with the four cantons will be able to vote electronically in the federal elections scheduled for October 18. The voting systems in place will allow individual verification of votes and a personalised code provided to voters will help them verify if their vote has been recorded correctly or not.
If we can bank and shop online, why can’t we also vote online? This once-common refrain — I certainly used to ask the question — has been answered in recent years by revelations that hackers have penetrated some of our largest financial institutions, retailers, entertainment studios and, of course, the federal government. We can do our banking and shopping online because, as Lawrence Livermore computer scientist David Jefferson said earlier this year, “Financial losses in e-commerce can be insured or absorbed, but no such amelioration is possible in an election. And, of course, the stakes are generally much higher in a public election than in an e-commerce system.” Jefferson’s view that online voting — and especially e-mail — is extremely vulnerable to being hacked, intercepted or manipulated is shared by many experts, including those at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission.
“Internet voting” means different things to different people. To many folks, it might mean “click a button, submit, done.” To some—and for our purposes—it means anytime a voted ballot is transmitted in any way, shape or form via the Internet. Whatever the definition, computer scientists tell us that secure online voting is still many years, or even decades, away. For now, they say, using the Internet to return voted ballots can’t be done with confidence. Like it or not, Internet voting is on the minds of legislators and other policymakers. We say that, based on the 13 states that have had legislation in 2015 that deals in some way with permitting Internet voting. Only one has been enacted, Maine SB 552. So voters’ needs and technical expectations may push policymakers toward Internet voting—and at the same time security concerns are holding it back.
“Your vote counts” is a snappy slogan just short enough to fit on a lapel button, but snappy is not the same as “secure.” As the 2016 campaign unfolds, there’s renewed interest in enabling voters to vote over the Internet. The notion that choosing a president could be as easy as using a smartphone to order a pizza is tempting to some, but until cybersecurity wizards prove that a vote cast is a vote counted, Internet balloting is unreliably risky. Internet voting has its passionate advocates. One California pundit argues that since his bills, banking, shopping, even the data on his children’s homework is on the Internet, why shouldn’t his voting be there, too. It’s not safe to vote where he shops? Exactly, says David Jefferson, a computer scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory who was the chairman of the technology committee of the California Internet Task Force.
Those who believe that “voting online is the future” or that it is “possible given current technology” to create a secure online voting system are dangerously mistaken. According to computer experts, Internet voting is vulnerable to cyber-attack and fraud—vulnerabilities inherent in current hardware and software, as well as the basic manner in which the Internet is organized. It is unlikely that these vulnerabilities will be eliminated at any time in the near future. State legislators and secretaries of state who are considering implementing Internet voting, or even the delivery by e-mail of voted ballots from registered voters, should reconsider such measures. These programs would be vulnerable to a variety of well-known cyber-attacks, any of which could be catastrophic. Such attacks could be “launched by anyone from a disaffected lone individual to a well-financed enemy agency outside the reach of U.S. law.” They also “could result in large-scale, selective voter disenfranchisement,” privacy violations, vote buying and selling, and vote switching “even to the extent of reversing the outcome of many elections at once….” The biggest danger, however, is that such attacks “could succeed and yet go completely undetected.”
Voting from a phone, tablet or desktop computer is probably still years away, according to a report on online voting released Friday. While some voting technology is already in use — such as electronic voting machines, apps to register to vote and online information to find polling places — voting itself requires developing a system that can’t be hacked. “Every day, we are dealing with thousands of security breaches in this country,” said Susan Dzieduszycka-Suinat, president and chief executive of the U.S. Vote Foundation, which compiled the report. “To think that voting could be better or more secure is a little bit pie in the sky.”
A push to allow Internet voting in elections is growing stronger along with advances in the underlying technology, but systems are not yet secure enough to use with relative certainty that the vote counts will be accurate, according to a new report. Still, while “no existing system guarantees voter privacy or the correct election outcomes,” election officials could take several steps to significantly improve the security and transparency of Internet voting systems, said the report, commissioned by the U.S. Vote Foundation, an organization that helps U.S. residents vote. Election officials considering Internet voting must embrace an end-to-end verifiable Internet voting system, or E2E-VIV, said the report, released Friday. An E2E-VIV would be difficult to build, but it would allow voters to check that the system recorded their votes correctly, to check that it included their votes in the final tally and to double-check the announced outcome of the election, the report said. An Internet voting system must be transparent, useable and secure, said the report, echoing some recommendations security groups have made about other electronic voting systems. “An Internet voting system must guarantee the integrity of election data and keep voters’ personal information safe,” the report said. “The system must resist large-scale coordinated attacks, both on its own infrastructure and on individual voters’ computers. It must also guarantee vote privacy and allow only eligible voters to vote.”
Editorials: Bruce Schneier movie-plot threat contest: Winning entry imagines online voting gone wrong. | Slate
Imagine this: It’s the morning of Election Day, 2020. Americans across the country cast secure, encrypted votes from their smartphones and laptops, electronically choosing their president for the first time in history. Turnout reaches record highs. Live results online show that it’s a close race between the two leading candidates. But by early afternoon, an independent candidate—a sketchy figure with ties to multiple terrorist organizations and no public support whatsoever—mysteriously takes the lead. At 4 p.m., he officially wins the election. The American people rise up in protest: Clearly, hacking, bribery, or other nefarious activity has taken place. However, because the voting software is designed with end-to-end encryption to ensure anonymity, no audit or recount is possible. America’s next president is a terrorist. This is the hypothetical scenario that won Bruce Schneier’s annual online “movie-plot threat” contest by popular vote this past weekend.
Justin Trudeau wants this fall’s national vote to be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post electoral system. And, if the Liberal leader becomes prime minister, it may also be the last election in which Canadians can choose not to vote and the last in which they can only vote by marking an X on a paper ballot. Changing the way Canadians vote is just one element of a sweeping, 32-point plan to “restore democracy in Canada” that Trudeau is poised to announce today.
Editorials: You can transfer your paycheck, fill out your taxes and control airplanes online. Why can’t you vote? | Bangor Daily News
You can transfer your life’s earnings between bank accounts online. You can apply for a credit card and file your tax returns online. If you’re an air traffic controller, you probably use a Web-based system to direct the planes — and people’s lives — above you. So what’s the deal with voting? Why can’t you use your phone or computer to cast your ballot remotely? Experts don’t have faith in the ability of the Internet to maintain what’s needed in a voting system: keeping your vote secret, preventing coercion, verifying your identity, allowing you to vote only once, and recording your vote correctly. If not now, though, will the option to vote online be available in the future? … Skeptics of online voting are of course concerned about security breaches. Could a third party hack into the system and interfere with an election’s results? What about the potential for violations of voter privacy?
Technology isn’t yet ready to allow voting on your smartphone, Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams said Tuesday during a visit to Durango. “Right now, the technology isn’t sufficiently secure for that,” he said during an interview with The Durango Herald’s editorial board. In commercial applications, Williams said, “There are security breaches occasionally. We’re just not there yet.”