With the U.S. knee-deep in what has been an unusual presidential primary season, to say the least, many eligible voters are highly engaged in the process, passionate about their preferred candidates. But when it comes to voting trends, a reality check is in order: Voter turnout in the U.S. during the last midterm election hit the lowest point since the 1940s. In fact, the number of Americans heading to the polls each election has been declining for the last 50 years, which helps explain a concerted push by election officials to deploy technology that simplifies the process of, and increases participation in, elections. Before delving into the current and future state of election technology, let’s summarize how we arrived at this point. Most jurisdictions today are using election technology developed in the 1990s, and the typical voting system is running an operating system that is no longer vendor-supported, no longer has security updates (which couldn’t be applied anyway because of certification requirements) and relies on technology that wasn’t considered “cutting edge” even when it was purchased. All of which begs the question: Why are these outdated systems still in use?
Unsurprisingly, the answer comes down to money and contracts. Jurisdictions entered long-term buy/lease contracts with technology vendors and, due to significant budget constraints that have persisted the past decade or more, have not been in a financial position to write off these investments or engage in protracted, expensive upgrade projects. And on the vendor side, massive consolidation has left just a handful of vendors controlling the entire market.
… Cyberattacks against computerized voting systems will inevitably increase, given the high stakes associated with elections. Awareness of this inevitability among election officials has grown; as a result, expect more attention paid to security and the need to view election technology as a “critical system” that demands high assurance (i.e. the ability to make certain provable guarantees about its function and reliability). Spacecraft, weapon guidance systems and passenger airplane control systems are among the technologies built using high-assurance methods, because they must be resilient to cyber threats and function correctly at all times.
In 2016, we will see more companies claiming they’ve figured out how to securely conduct elections over the Internet. In reality, we are far from that point. Last July, the U.S. Vote Foundation released a comprehensive report (of which we are co-authors) on the security of Internet voting systems, and challenges that remain to put in place end-to-end verifiable Internet voting systems that are transparent, secure, auditable and usable.
Full Article: The state of election technology is… improving | TechCrunch.