You can transfer your life’s earnings between bank accounts online. You can apply for a credit card and file your tax returns online. If you’re an air traffic controller, you probably use a Web-based system to direct the planes — and people’s lives — above you. So what’s the deal with voting? Why can’t you use your phone or computer to cast your ballot remotely? Experts don’t have faith in the ability of the Internet to maintain what’s needed in a voting system: keeping your vote secret, preventing coercion, verifying your identity, allowing you to vote only once, and recording your vote correctly. If not now, though, will the option to vote online be available in the future? … Skeptics of online voting are of course concerned about security breaches. Could a third party hack into the system and interfere with an election’s results? What about the potential for violations of voter privacy?
David Jefferson, a computer scientist with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory wrote in 2011 that “computer and network security experts are virtually unanimous in pointing out that online voting is an exceedingly dangerous threat to the integrity of U.S. elections. … Anyone from a disaffected misfit individual to a national intelligence agency can remotely attack an online election, modifying or filtering ballots in ways that are undetectable and uncorrectable, or just disrupting the election and creating havoc.”
What’s the difference between banking online and voting online, then? As Jefferson pointed out, e-commerce transactions are not, in fact, safe. Banks, credit card companies and other online sellers lose billions of dollars each year to fraudulent transactions online. People think e-commerce is safe because they, as victims, aren’t held financially responsible for the fraud.
“Instead the businesses absorb and redistribute the losses silently, passing them on in the invisible forms of higher prices, fees, and interest rates. Businesses know that if consumers had to accept those losses personally most online commerce would collapse,” Jefferson wrote. With e-commerce, people can detect errors and fraud. With voting, it wouldn’t be so easy. There are no receipts, double-entry bookkeeping or audit records following your voting trail.