Elections Ontario’s “Alternative Voting Technologies Report” released today tries to put an optimistic face on things — e.g. expressing hope that a unique, enforced, province-wide government-issued ID card could help solve some of the problems — but generally they admit that online voting is too risky. A few quotes from their rundown of other jurisdictions:
“In an April 2013 report on compliance with the voting process, Elections Canada indicated that “current Internet voting systems carry with them serious, valid concerns about system security, user authentication, adequate procedural transparency, and preserving the secrecy of the vote.””
“In 2010, Washington D.C.’s internet voting pilot project was compromised by a group of four University of Michigan professors and students who, within 48 hours of the system going live, gained near complete control of the election server. The students and professors were able to successfully change every vote and reveal almost every secret ballot. Election officials did not detect the breach for nearly two business days.”
“In 2000, the U.S. Military implemented a pilot project to evaluate an internet voting implementation. A total of 84 votes were cast, and the cost was approximately $62 million dollars. It was considered to have failed to address numerous key security issues. The program was intended to continue in 2004, but a report analyzing the security of the system indicated that there remained a significant number of vulnerabilities. As a result, the project was cancelled with unresolved security issues cited as the primary cause.”
“Under the Help America Vote Act, the U.S. Department of Defense had been researching and analyzing plans for potential internet voting possibilities. In 2012, plans for internet voting by overseas military personnel were cancelled after a security team audited their $22 million system and found it to be vulnerable to cyber?attacks.”
The report also reviews the 2012 online voting in the elections in Halifax Regional Municipality, and it is evident that even Elections Ontario was not informed by the Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre or HRM that there had been significant security concerns flagged during the election period. It’s this frequent lack of honesty surrounding online voting which is most concerning — they become elections whose fairness is based entirely too much on blind trust.
These encompass the promise for advanced electoral participation, particularly among young electors; increased accessibility, especially for those who have difficulty with paper ballot schemes; enhanced security, such as advancing the integrity of ballot casting and tabulation methods; correctness; effectiveness; and cost.
Are these comments deliberately meant to be non sequiters, unrelated to anything factual that’s actually been said? Because they seem to be.