Internet Voting Izzy Brodsky, Jocelyn Hinman, Emily de la Reguera, Molly Strenk
What is it? • It is attached to a wide-area network and commonly referred to as E-voting and WAN.
Types • Kiosk Internet Voting • Polling Place Internet Voting • Precinct Internet Voting (touch screen machines) • Remote Internet Voting • Text Messaging Systems • Interactive Digital Television Services
Requirements • Only people eligible to vote should be able to vote • It should be possible to use one’s vote only once • Ballots should be absolutely secret • It should not be possible for a vote cast to be changed by anyone else • The system should ensure correct tallying of votes at all levels
History • In the 2000 general election, the Department of Defense carried out a successful internet voting trial and the Democratic Party of Arizona did the same for their primary in 2000 (41% of votes were cast on the internet in AZ). • Countries like the UK, France, and Switzerland have also carried out successful trials. • There have not been any documented security problems and evaluation efforts indicated that participants enjoyed the online voting experience. However, they did not boost the turnout that some had hoped for through internet voting.
SERVE • The largest internet voting trial for American voters to have been conducted by the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) • The Secretary of Defense was supposed to carry out an electronic voting demonstration in 2004 in conjunction with state and local election officials. • Intended to determine whether electronic voting technology could improve the voting participation success rate for Uninformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act and assess the potential impact on state and local election administration by having an automated alternative to the conventional by mail absentee registration voting. • It would have allowed for more flexibility in terms of registration, and it also provided identification and authentification enrollment, voter registration and absentee ballot availability notification, absentee ballot delivery and voting, ballot choice confirmation, and voted ballot return. • It consisted of a central server environment that hosted all of the voter functions. • It created several, unique accreditation and certification issues for participating states.
Was SERVE successful? • The security peer review group (SPRG) questioned the usability and the system architecture and the system design requirements. • “The real barrier to success is not a lack of vision, skill, resources, or dedication; it is the fact that given the current Internet and PC security technology, and the goal of a secure all-electronic remote system, the FVAP has taken on an essentially impossible task. There is no good way to build such a voting system without radical change in overall architecture of the Internet and the PC, or some unforeseen security breakthrough.” (Alvarez, 84) • Because of the quote above and transit times, SERVE failed. • The same threats that existed with absentee voting are still present and there was still disenfranchisement.
Benefits • Helps to address the voting needs of special populations such as military, overseas civilians, individuals with disabilities, and other people who have difficulty voting under the current process. • Individuals who cast their ballots using the internet would have the ability to research candidates while simultaneously voting.
More Benefits! • Eliminates long lines • Fewer residual votes • There would be fewer technical failures with voting machines • Can avoid the problem of precincts delivering votes to central locations because it is a central server • Even if there were a hack it wouldn’t be enough to affect the outcome. • It’s impossible to do a massive hack. It would have to be done for every single county in every single state.
What Risks are involved? • Computer viruses (intentional) • Server crashing (unintentional) • Some people don’t have access to the internet (unintentional) • Hacking into servers (intentional) • Security (who can access the data base and the system?) • Budgetary impact (unintentional) • Open door to voter fraud • People who should not be in the system (e.g.. Dead people, felons, cats)
Assessment of Risks • There is currently internet security for online shopping, banking, and many other personal transactions. • The same security could be used to ensure that hacking the voting would be difficult. • Because a massive hack can’t be done, it is a small risk to think that a hack would go so far as to affect an entire election. • (regardless of any voting method, there are always risks involved. It is never 100%)
Mitigation Strategies • In Germany, a phased approach is planned with internet voting to be tested first in non-governmental elections, then local elections with the goal of having an online national election later. • Pilot Testing (mock run) • Parallel testing • Surveys • Voter Interviews • Election Official Interviews • Required reporting • People would have access to internet voting at work, local libraries, schools, town hall, etc. • Costs: everyone would need to own a computer, have access to the internet, of have access to a computer. • Randomly assign passwords • Two kinds of encryption • Two forms of personal identification • Two firewalls
Forensic Data: Alaska • Certain members of the Republican party used Internet voting in 2000 • The vote was conducted by votehere.net and was confined to voters in very remote areas of the state • Approximately 3,500 people were eligible.
Forensic Data: Michigan • In the Michigan Democratic Party presidential caucuses in 2004: it was the largest number of ballots cast over the internet in any internet voting trial in the US • Huge success: high rate of participation, no successful attacks, concerns about security did not seem to bother voters, when compared with problems at voting booths, the problems are equal if not more at the booths. • The only disenfranchisement was in urban areas.
Forensic Data: Arizona • Every Democrat was given an opportunity to cast an internet ballot in the presidential primary of 2000. • Election.com conducted the election and generated the pins for voters. • Approximately 41% of Democrats casts ballots over the internet from remote locations.
Update • Surveys • Benefits outweigh the risks • Have to phase this in • There must be more research done • Have to educate people so they are willing to do it.
Works Cited • Alvarez, Michael R. and Thad E. Hall. Electronic Elections. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008. • “Final Report from the Election Technique 2000 Commission.” Stockholm,Swedish Government (Ministry of Justice) • “Articles on Voting Technology.” http://cs.colgate.edu/faculty/nevison/FSem132/Voting%20Tech%20sources/Articles%20on%20Voting%20Technology.html.