It’s widely believed that Russian hackers were behind the recent attack on the Democratic National Committee’s e-mail servers. While the consequences of the attack for this year’s presidential election remain to be seen, it’s not hard to imagine how hackers could influence or disrupt our elections—and that could undermine our national stability and security. That’s why the government should take the advice of security experts who say it must intervene to protect the voting system from cyberthreats. As Bruce Schneier, a technologist and lecturer at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, argued recently in the Washington Post, the government should act quickly in the wake of the DNC hack. “If foreign governments learn they can influence our elections with impunity,” he wrote, “this opens the door to future manipulations, both document thefts and dumps like this one that we see and more subtle manipulations that we don’t see.”
… Adding the voting system to the list would not be straightforward. There is not one system but 9,000 jurisdictions that collect votes, tally them, and report the results. They do this in a wide variety of ways, some using electronic voting machines and others using paper ballots. The good news is that none use Internet-based voting.
Some states that electronically deliver blank absentee ballots have, however, been using the Internet “for the return of voted ballots via e-mail attachments, by digital fax, or through a Web portal,” according to Verified Voting, a group dedicated to safeguarding elections against digital threats.
Schneier notes that in recent years more and more states have adopted electronic voting machines and some “have been flirting” with Internet-based voting, despite repeated warnings against it from him and other security experts. Voting machine manufacturers have “thrown up enough obfuscating babble that election officials are largely mollified,” he writes. Internet voting must not be allowed, he argues, and we must go back to more secure methods, including electronic machines that produce a voter-verified paper trail (not all of them currently do).