Blown To Bits

Internet Voting

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008 by Harry Lewis

The US Armed Forces are using the Internet for voting this year. I’m quite skeptical about machine voting in general. But by comparison with vote-at-home, both electronic voting and Internet voting are far superior ideas. The country seems to have forgotten that votes can be bought, if you can demonstrate to someone that you actually voted a particular way, by having them watch you or by walking away with a receipt showing how your vote was registered. You can also be pressured (OK, kids, let’s all sit down at the kitchen table and fill out our ballots family-style).

The obvious problems seem to have been covered here (for example, the vote travels from the foreign location to the US via a VPN connection, which should be secure). It’s not comforting that the system has had so little scrutiny (see Kerckhoffs’s principle in Blown to Bits — we’d feel much better if a bunch of our best hackers had been let loose on the system and it couldn’t be cracked). But given that soldiers are so disenfranchised generally, I regard this as a positive invention. Of course, I hope they’re not voting in the configuration shown in the picture, where they can easily look at their buddies’ screens!

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