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.
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams agrees that the risks are both real and unacceptable “for elections as a general rule.” But he also is preparing rules for Internet voting that critics worry, with some justice, could result in thousands of additional e-mail ballots cast in the near future.
Colorado — along with 23 other states — allows electronic voting under special circumstances. Members of the military who reside out of state or abroad as well as other Coloradans who reside overseas may vote electronically provided standard mail is not “available or feasible.” That’s been true since 2006, Williams told me, but now that he has set out to define “available or feasible” in official rules, it has sparked a bit of blowback.
No one doubts that some people have no alternative to electronic voting — which involves downloading a ballot, marking it, signing it and then, say, scanning and returning it by e-mail. “If I’m on a missile submarine under the polar ice cap, I have no mail service,” Williams explains. Forward-deployed soldiers might be in the same predicament, he adds, as well as researchers or missionaries in remote outposts.
Full Article: Carroll: The high risk of e-voting – The Denver Post.