Voting systems designed to be tamper-resistant may be missing lots of votes. New research shows that only 58 percent of ballots using new end-to-end technology were successfully cast. The systems are designed to give voters the option to both verify the system is working properly and to check that their votes have been recorded after leaving the polling place. Voting concerns such as accuracy, privacy, and bribery/coercion have prompted research and development of ways to make voting tamper-resistant and verifiable by voters. While the three systems evaluated solved many of the security problems surrounding voting with traditional methods—such as voters being able to independently confirm that a vote was counted correctly—the systems’ added complexity appeared to negatively impact their usability. “Overall, the tested systems were exceptionally difficult to use,” says Claudia Acemyan, a postdoctoral fellow at Rice University and lead author of the study that is published online in the Journal of Election Technology and Systems.
Some Victorians may get the chance to vote over the internet next year as the state electoral commission trials a new system it hopes will replace paper polling. The new system would be trialled in by-elections due to be held in 2013, before being made available to 10,000 eligible voters identified as remote or disadvantaged during wider station elections in 2014. It was expected online voting would provide an alternative to current paper systems for remote, overseas and postal voters which are deemed more at risk than those cast at the polling station, as they are handled by people outside the electoral commission. The system — and indeed all voting platforms — was not imprevious to hacking. Rather, it was designed to meet or improve on the current level of risk experienced by remote and disadvantaged voters. Victorian Electoral Commission (VEC) electronic voting manager, Craig Burton, said the system was designed to return an accuracy rating of 99.35 per cent or higher chance of detecting any fraudulent, missing or damaged votes. By comparison, he estimated online banking would have an accuracy of no more than 95 per cent. However, internet banking was markedly different to online voting as financial transactions could be validated and possibly contested after the fact, whereas votes could no longer be accessed by the voter once cast.