The internet is the worst ballot box of all, according to three research and public-interest groups who are slamming states’ use of online voting and urging people to protect their privacy by physically mailing in their ballots instead. “Internet voting creates a second-class system for some voters—one in which their votes may not be private and their ballots may be altered without their knowledge,” write the authors of The Secret Ballot at Risk: Recommendations for Protecting Democracy. Caitriona Fitzgerald of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Pam Smith of the Verified Voting Foundation, and Susannah Goodman of the Voting Integrity Campaign of Common Cause, who were the authors of the report, point out that states either have constitutional provisions or state statues guaranteeing the right to secret ballots, but that “because of current technological limitations…it is impossible to maintain separation of voters’ identities from their votes when Internet voting is used.”
The report comes at a time when hacking—especially from foreign interests seeking to influence US elections—has become a major theme of the presidential race. This summer, data from the Democratic National Committee, other Democratic organizations, and perhaps more than 100 high-ranking Democrats were released by hackers the US government says were working with or on behalf of the Russian government. The authors of the report told reporters on a conference call Thursday that they’re glad these recent episodes have raised consciousness about information security, but that their report focuses on the less-discussed but critically important area of ballot secrecy.
“A lot of the vulnerabilities of online voting are discussed pretty frequently,” said Pam Smith of the Verified Voting Foundation. “The reason that we wanted to do this report is because the secrecy issue, the privacy issue, is something that doesn’t get as much attention.”
The researchers argue that maintaining ballot secrecy is key to preventing vote coercion, vote buying, and tampering. That’s why 44 states have a constitutional provision guaranteeing voting secrecy, while six states and Washington, DC, have statutes that provide for secret voting. In some states, like Delaware, for example, it is a crime for election officials to reveal a voter’s vote, according to the report.
Full Article: Voting Should Be Easier—But Not Like This | Mother Jones.