Home / Gadgets / Online voting has worked so far. That doesn’t mean it’s safe

Online voting has worked so far. That doesn’t mean it’s safe



“If the software hardware industry is so bad across the board, it’s not a good sign that new offerings are magically highly secure, secure, and robust,” said security researcher Peiter Zatko, better known as Mudge, for that The company has worked for the US government and the private sector. “Think of the small organizations that try to trivially solve these foundations that the whole field still cannot understand properly. And also of the subtleties of regional and national voting while keeping secret electoral aspects and without discrimination. Yikes.”

As helpful as Democracy Live’s AWS Secure Cloud and tamper-proof PDF protection may be, they are not a panacea for security. When voters submit their ballot papers via the cloud, they cannot confirm that the subsequent printout by an election official correctly reflects their vote. And if post-election audits are based on this paper path, they will not be able to identify any tampering that occurred before the printouts were made.

“It is nothing more than printing out a ballot picture from a paperless electronic direct-voting voting machine,”

; said Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Brennan Center’s Democracy Program at the New York University School of Law. “It doesn’t matter if the electronic record has already been hacked.”

Democracy Live was launched in 2008 and has been testing the cloud portal for returning ballots since 2010. The company claims that its secure portal has been used in over 1,000 elections in 96 countries. Security experts, however, emphasize that an organization’s history of taking part in uneventful elections is not itself evidence that a particular system is secure.

Nevertheless, Finney argues that a specially developed cloud voting portal is more secure than the ad hoc digital voting that already exists in the United States. Other advocates of online voting also emphasize this point. Nineteen states and the District of Columbia allow a relatively small number of overseas voters to return ballot papers by fax or email. Seven other countries allow returns by fax alone. The patchwork is based on efforts to comply with federal laws to give military personnel and citizens abroad sufficient time and opportunity to vote.

“The ballot papers themselves are still paper votes that need to be printed, filled in, and scanned if they are to be emailed,” said Debra O’Malley, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office who oversees the ballot papers State elections. “In general, cities and towns only get one or two such ballots per district, if any. Of course, there are more and more in presidential and in communities with more military or overseas voters.”

Verified Voting, an organization that promotes the integrity of the voting system and best practices, does not recommend any internet-enabled method of returning ballots. Even more than in relatively niche cases, the group is concerned about the widening of Internet voting to millions of people with disabilities or all US voters.

West Virginia delegate Porterfield believes Democracy Live’s digital remote voting system is secure, especially given the limited number of people who will use it.

Security experts “have done an excellent job protecting us for the limited number of votes that should affect people with disabilities,” he says. “Because we are honest, a very small part of our population has a sufficiently significant disability to be able to vote digitally.”

However, the organization that funds the Democracy Live pilot in West Virginia, Tusk Philanthropies, has much more ambitious long-term goals. The group, the nonprofit of Tusk Holdings owned by venture capitalist Bradley Tusk, has a stated mission to “give people the ability to vote on their cell phones in elections.” To this end, it works with state and local election officials across the country to fund mobile voting pilots using providers and platforms that are screened and selected by officials. Tusk Philanthropies President Sheila Nix says she realistically knows that the whole country won’t accept online voting this year. However, she hopes to make progress towards the organisation’s goal of conducting a comprehensive mobile voting by 2024.


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