Online Voting Isn't Ready, Says Panel

Speakers at a recent Princeton University symposium said there are too many security risks to allow Internet voting.

by / November 6, 2012

Lots of things are done online, so why not voting? The technology isn't there yet for secure, online voting, computer security experts said at a Princeton symposium last week, according to a report in the MIT Technology Review. Between intercepted communications, the difficulty in verifying identity, and danger from hackers bent on disrupting the whole process, there are simply too many problems for online voting to be considered a viable option, the speakers said.
“Vendors may come and they may say they’ve solved the Internet voting problem for you, but I think that, by and large, they are misleading you, and misleading themselves as well,” said Ron Rivest, MIT computer scientist and cryptography pioneer. “If they’ve really solved the Internet security and cybersecurity problem, what are they doing implementing voting systems? They should be working with the Department of Defense or financial industry.”

Online voting is the norm in Estonia, and other locations in Europe are also pursuing online voting pilot projects. But experts suggest that adoption doesn't mean online voting is fraud-proof. "I contend that nobody knows whether there is fraud in those nations, because there is no way to detect it," said David Dill, a computer scientist from Stanford.

Online voting tests have also been run stateside. In a 2010 online voting trial in Washington D.C., a team from the University of Michigan gained access through the source code and manipulated candidate choices and results. Earlier this year, the Department of Defense reversed plans to implement Internet voting for overseas military personnel when weaknesses were found in a multi-million dollar system.  
For the full story about why online voting isn't ready for the big time, visit MIT Technology Review.


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