What is the very best way to perform elections in a time of epidemic? The most basic and most obvious answer may appear initially glimpse to be voting online– by means of e-mail, fax, blockchain or smart device apps.
While this would definitely appear to fit with our internet-dependent lives as we socially distance, online ballot is not a practical or appropriate service and must not be on the table.
No technique of casting ballots over the internet is safe, secure or trustworthy. Period. Votes can be manipulated or changed, recorded and spied on, erased or cast fraudulently through hacking, infections, Trojan horses, and other kinds of malware. The even bigger threat is that these sorts of attacks could be successful and go completely undiscovered, threatening the integrity of the election process.
Computer security experts firmly insist that online voting is far too insecure to be used for public elections.
The report concluded that the considerable challenges to the personal privacy, and integrity of online ballot could not be conquered, consequently making safe and secure online ballot not yet feasible.
5 years later on, authorities at the Department of Homeland Security repeated this warning, saying that massive online voting would introduce “great danger into the election system by threatening citizens’ expectations of confidentiality, responsibility and security of their votes.” It would likewise offer “an opportunity for harmful actors to control the ballot results,” they warned.
2 more years later, the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine found no enhancement in the circumstance. “No known innovation can guarantee the secrecy, security, and verifiability of a significant tally sent online,” its report concluded.
Advocates of online ballot typically argue that since we routinely carry out banking and shopping online, we should vote online. However, the history of electronic banking and shopping just proves simply how risky online ballot would be. Every year billions of dollars are lost to online theft, cyberfraud, and destructive hacking, despite huge amounts bought trying to secure those systems. Financial institutions can (and do) aspect the anticipated level of fraud into the cost of working, but we can’t do that with elections. We can’t state we can accept election outcomes marred by a certain percentage of fraud.
Additionally, if fraudulent banking charges are made, customers have the opportunity to discover it through their banking and charge card declarations. You can tell if somebody has taken cash out of your account or if you’ve been charged for a product you never purchased or got.
However there is no trusted system offered for a voter to confirm that the secret ballot was cast and recorded correctly after it was sent over the web. This is why online voting is specifically vulnerable to undetectable hacking; if tallies are damaged in transit or through undetectable malware on the voter’s house computer, there’s no way to know.
Finally, it’s challenging, if not impossible, to provide a trusted method to validate citizens online to ensure lawbreakers or bots are not casting deceptive votes.
We will make it through this hard time, and it’s vital that our elections go forward supplying all citizens the chance to cast a trustworthy and secure tally. We may not agree on many other policies on ballot, however we can settle on this: online ballot is not the answer.
– Susan Greenhalgh is a senior consultant on election security at Free Speech For Individuals. Hans von Spakovsky is a senior legal fellow and manager of the Election Law Reform Effort at The Heritage Structure.