Fear And Voting -- Online - InformationWeek

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IoT
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Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
2/5/2008
04:01 PM
Cora Nucci
Cora Nucci
Commentary
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Fear And Voting -- Online

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Let me knock down two tired reasons why just about none of us will be able to vote online today, Super Tuesday, or at any time during the 2008 presidential primaries or general election.An e-voting system offers a number of benefits, not least of which is a softer environmental impact, but fear is holding us hostage to the status quo. So most of us are left with no option but to get in our cars and drive to our polling places to cast printed paper ballots that will end up as landfill. Let's take a look at the two main reasons:

1. Online voting is not secure

First of all, it should be said that some U.S. voters who are living or traveling overseas will be able to cast their votes online.

Everyone Counts is the company that is handling online voting for some U.S. citizens living abroad. The company says its secure open-source software can store votes electronically and protect voters' identities. Results can be audited and voters may cast ballots by phone as well as by online. The company's encryption scheme:

... protects the voter's vote from observation and modification all the way from within the voter's browser to the Electoral Administrator's computer. This covers the voting process on the voter's computer, the vote's passage across the Internet, its storage and backup in our databases and its transport from Everyone Counts' system to the Election Administrator's release of results.

What part of that security configuration does not sound secure? And is Internet voting more secure for U.S. citizens living abroad, than for resident U.S. citizens? Just wondering.

My colleague, George Hulme, believes security is a very real issue; see what he has to say.

2. Internet voting systems make tempting cybertargets

So do Internet banks, financial trading firms, and investment houses. Yet trades are executed every minute of every day. Is there ever tampering or fraud? Of course there is. Think back to last week. Remember Jerome "Ker-Weasel" Kerviel, he of the $7 billion French banking scandal? No system is 100% foolproof. But we don't stop building banks because someone has figured out how to rob them. We keep finding ways to make them more secure. And that's how we should be addressing online voting.

There's something wrong with a system that lets its citizens pay income (and other) taxes, fines, and fees electronically, but does not uniformly trust the same technology to process votes.

Today a cold rain has been falling on my precinct. All day. While I'd rather be home in front of my warm iMac this evening, I'll head down to the middle school gym and stand in line with everyone else who couldn't get to the polls on the way to work. While I'm waiting, maybe I'll do some mobile banking. What could happen?0000000000000

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