Online voting sounds like a dream: the 64 percent of citizens who own smartphones and the 84 percent of American adults with access to the internet would simply have to pull out their devices to cast a ballot. And Estonia—a northern European country bordering the Baltic Sea and the Gulf of Finland—has been voting online since 2005. But ask cybersecurity experts and they’ll tell you it’s really a nightmare. We are nowhere close to having an online voting system that is as secure as it needs to be. Ron Rivest, a professor at MIT with a background in computer security and a board member of Verified Voting, said it is a “naive expectation” to even think online voting is on the horizon. One of the most compelling arguments made in favor for online voting is that it could potentially increase voter turnout. Which is a problem in the US: In 2012, 61.6 percent of those eligible to vote turned out to cast a ballot as opposed to the 58.2 percent that came out in 2008—a 3.4 percentage point decrease. According to the Pew Research Center, the American voter turnout in 2012 was low in comparison to elections in other nations, too. But Rivest said there’s no “hard evidence” to prove that making the process more accessible via the Internet will result in increased voter turnout. And even if one were to accept the unverified assumption that online voting would boost the number of people who vote, a larger dilemma still exists.
“Everyday you read about new break-ins and disclosures of information and the vulnerability of our information infrastructure,” Rivest said. “It makes it clear that it’s just a place we shouldn’t want to go to. Voting is too important to put online—we don’t have the tools to make it secure yet. Someday we may, but it’s not in the near term.”
… While the notion of being hacked makes online voting fragile, voter awareness (or lack thereof) regarding technological vulnerabilities is an added liability. Sometimes sophisticated malware is undetectable but sometimes it has telltale signs. According to Vyas Sekar, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab, “part of the problem is creating the awareness and usability around [online voting].” Until users know how to spot compromised interface, the system is vulnerable to outside intervention.
“There have been a lot of studies showing that users are not very good at using these indicators of when a site is secure and when a site is not sure. It’s very easy to fool somebody,” Sekar said. “We need to figure out what is the best way to educate and create awareness for users—and what are the right kind indicators that lets people know when things are secure and not secure.”
Full Article: This Is Why We Still Can’t Vote Online | Motherboard.