Elections in the United States aren’t perfect. Between rare instances of voter fraud, attempts to make it harder for people to vote, voter intimidation, egregious manipulation of voting districts by major parties, and regularly low voter turnout, there’s plenty of room for improvement — leading governments at all levels in the US federal system to examine alternative voting mechanisms that could alleviate these issues. In the age of the internet, an obvious solution for many is remote internet voting — an option that seems more palatable every year given the adoption of PCs, mobile devices, and broadband internet. And in 2012, more citizens than ever will have access to online voting assistance: more than 30 states and the District of Columbia will offer registration or provide absentee ballots for overseas voters using email or an internet portal. But can internet voting really solve problems in US elections? New voting technologies face a mountain of scrutiny.
… A leading expert on internet voting, Professor David Dill from Stanford University, says that it’s still far on the horizon — and that it may never happen. Dill, a computer security expert and founder of Verified Voting, an organization that pushes for integrity in elections, says that he hasn’t seen any encouraging developments in recent years. “My position is that internet voting will be trustworthy at some point, but we don’t know how to do it now,” Dill says. “There are some problems where a single challenge has to be solved, and those are more feasible to solve. But internet voting has multiple challenges.”
The biggest technical challenge, Dill says, is the “trusted platform problem.” Since remote internet voting would occur on the home computers or mobile devices of voters, those machines would need to be secure enough to reliably transmit a vote that couldn’t be tampered with. “Most schemes want to be convenient so they have people voting on uncontrolled personal computers,” Dill says. “Those are subject to the usual problems of viruses, or other malware.” He notes that many PCs are part of botnets, and that “malware could conceivably be used to steal votes.” And even if the transmission of the vote is protected with cryptography en route to its destination, Dill says that personal devices are still vulnerable: “if you intercept the vote at the voter’s keyboard there’s not a lot the voter can do about it,” he says. “I’m not just worried about external hackers here: when you’re talking about the stakes of US elections — control of the government — the incentive for people to steal an election are really large.” Dill says malware could be installed by someone with access to a voting machine, like a programmer who writes apps for smartphones.
Full Article: Why can’t you vote online? | The Verge.