Last month, the New South Wales Electoral Commission’s ongoing battle to defend the integrity of its online voting system took chief information officer Ian Brightwell all the way to Switzerland — the last bastion of modern direct democracy. After requests from commissioner Colin Barry were knocked back by two other academic conferences, Brightwell finally got his chance to explain the NSW experience of implementing iVote in direct response to a pair of crusading academics who have doggedly attacked the online voting platform both in Australia and abroad. The organisers of the VoteID 2015 conference, held last month in Bern, Switzerland, deemed the claims and counter-claims interesting enough to design a special session around them. By now, most people who’ve heard about online voting in NSW would have also heard the persistent warnings of Vanessa Teague, a research fellow at the University of Melbourne, and J. Alex Halderman, an associate professor of computer science and engineering from the University of Michigan.
Teague and Halderman have long argued the online voting platform is untrustworthy and were able to demonstrate a third-party vulnerability in the run-up to the state election in March. They have used this as an example of why online voting cannot be trusted in a string of published articles and presentations at overseas academic conferences since.
… The Electronic Frontier Foundation — which is also represented on the Verified Voting Foundation advisory board — and its Australian analogue, Electronic Frontiers Australia, have both taken Teague and Halderman’s side and effectively accused the NSWEC of shooting the messenger.
The Mandarin understands the commission raised a complaint about alleged academic misconduct on the part of Vanessa Teague with the University of Melbourne, which launched an internal review process. The university decided she had not contravened research standards. Brightwell says the commission was “surprised” by the finding and is now considering whether to appeal to the Australian Research Integrity Committee.