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.”
… For those who point to the use of the Internet in the financial industry as proof that Internet voting would be secure, University of Maryland President C.D. Mote, Jr., who chaired the National Science Foundation committee on Internet voting, offers a compelling retort. Mote notes that voting “requires a much greater level of security then e-commerce—it’s not like buying a book over the Internet.” Moreover, “remote Internet voting technology will not be able to meet this standard for years to come.”
David Jefferson of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory says that people ask quite naturally, “If it is safe to do my banking and shopping online, why can’t I vote online?” The answer is that it is not actually safe “to conduct e-commerce transactions online.” In fact, it is very risky, and online ecommerce fraud is a growing problem: The financial industry, including banks, credit card companies, and retailers, “lose[s] billions of dollars a year in online transaction fraud despite huge investments in fraud prevention and recovery.”
… While there is no doubt that being able to cast a ballot from your home computer, like being able to order and buy products and services through online Internet transactions, might make voting more convenient, the extraordinary security problems of such a remote Internet voting system present an extraordinary, unacceptable risk to election integrity. The overwhelming conclusion of computer experts is that those security vulnerabilities are inherent in the architecture and organization of the Internet and the software and hardware in common use today. Without major technological changes, there is almost no possibility that a secure Internet voting system can be designed for the foreseeable future. When combined with other less technical questions like equal access by voters to the Internet, Internet voting is definitely a technology whose time has not come—and may never come.
Full Article: The Dangers of Internet Voting.