Thursday, September 10, 2015

Just say no to electronic voting

The government is currently trying to push online voting on us in an effort to save money, using local authorities (and more importantly, their voters) as guinea pigs. Fortunately, Christchurch isn't buying it:

Fears of voter fraud and security breaches have led the Christchurch City Council to ditch plans to participate in an online voting trial.

The council had provisionally registered its interest in being part of an online voting trial the Government is proposing to run at next year's local body elections, but councillors on Thursday decided they wanted no part of it.

Their decision followed a deputation from a group of IT experts who told them the security risks with online voting were too high and could open the election up to fraud.

Those IT experts are right. The risks with online and electronic voting are well-known and have been frequently demonstrated. And quite apart from problems around the integrity and secrecy of the ballot, they also introduce a host of new problems. Those IT experts suggested DDOS attacks on the election servers, but they also expose voters to phishing and other online scams, whether in an effort to capture personal information, capture voting credentials for electoral fraud, or simply to get them to cast their ballots to dev/null (the latter being an obvious extension of existing US voter suppression tactics). And the mere possibility of these scams may lead to real online voting information being treated as spam (in the way that sane people treat any email purporting to be from a bank, phone company, electricity company, or pretty much anything as a phising fraud to be deleted). This isn't good for our voting system, and its not good for our democracy.

Now, if only we could get Palmerston North to reverse its decision to be part of the trial. OTOH, voters can always vote with their feet, and if its legal, I'll be encouraging them to do so and vote on paper rather than risking their democracy on the internet.