Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Councils invited to apply for Internet Voting pilots

It would appear that the Department for Constitutional Tinkering has put out a prospectus to lcoal authorities inviting applicants to join an e-Voting/e-Counting pilot for the May 2007 elections. The scariest thing is that want to use the Internet. According to the prospectus, the proposals for "remote voting", are based on the success of voting on shows like X-Factor and that young people "expect similar processes to be available for statutory elections".

This is a very bad starting assumption to have where matters of security should be paramount. Just because a commercial talent competition uses Internet voting it doesn't necessarily follow that you should use it to decide your Government, even if you do think it will increase turnout. The talent contest can afford for there to be fraud, Government elections cannot.

It's not as if the Internet is some sort of enclosed space. It's not the local school hall with a ballot box. An online polling station is viewable, and accessible, to the entire planet. Anyone can reach it, legitimate user and illegitimate. I can hear the cries coming up now of "there will be safeguards!", "we'll have a firewall!", we shouldn't allow anyone to use those arguments.

There is no such thing as a secure system. Having a polling station on the Internet is analogous to putting a physical polling station in the lawless desert of Afghanistan. It will be exposed to not just those who might seriously want to affect the result but also to every script kiddie and bored hacker in the world who just happens to wander by.

From a purely security driven standpoint it is madness to propose using the Internet for voting in elections. Localised, non-network connected electronic voting is flawed already, but using the Internet takes those flaws to whole other level. I hope it remains just a pilot, but I fear on past experience it will be seized on and touted as a panacea to electoral turnout at the expense of democracy.

13 comments:

Peter Hitchens said...

Forget internet voting, the danger comes from electronic voting as practiced in the USA.
Have a quick google and see just how easy it is to rig a Diebold votng machine.
Thanks to that company we have that inbred, slver spooned ,one eyed chimpanzee as "the leader of the free world"

dizzy said...

You get no argument from me on the dangers of e-voting in general. Internet voting though makes e-voting look safe.

Serf said...

Seeing as there are at least 1 billion prospective Respect voters out there, expect a very strange result :)

Anonymous said...

This is not a good move at all, open to abuse by all and sundry- the old analogy of ' if it ain't broke don't fix it' comes to mind here. We already know that computers and government don't mix.

Ellee said...

I don't see how it can work either, it's so open to abuse.

Ellee said...

P.S. Thought you might like to know that Dell has finally tracked my post about my nightmare laptop, hoping they are sorting it out for me, what do you think? I have posted on it today.

Buster George said...

I set an e-voting pilot scheme up for the local elections in liverpool in 2000.

The logistical problems were massive, handling the inevitible user and hardware issues that arose
were a nightmare.

There was not enough training for the people handling the systems, and what training that was given was on different systems altogether.

Fortunately I was only responsible for the setting up of secure lines and hardware, so I could sit back whilst the brown stuff hit the fan.

The council could claim that the number of voters had increased, but that was about the only possitive thing that came of it.

I would not recomend e-voting for any national elections as the man power to support it would be enormous.

Anonymous said...

Why is it the computer-illiterate place most faith in computers ?

We have diverted the Passport Office budget to Siemens

We have the NHS spraying billions on a disaster exercise including engaging in balance-sheet fraud with iSoft;

We have the ID Card Database disaster up ahead

And now we have the Goofies wanting to vote by Internet and mobile phone without having any idea of how either system works

Rigger Mortice said...

after al the **** ups with the govt and computers you'd have thought they'd have learned their lesson

Anonymous said...

If you can't be bothered to take the few minutes it usually takes and move your ass to go to a polling station, then you should not be allowed to vote in the 1st place.

swan's egg said...

This is frightening and deeply irresponsible and it gets me really furious. It begs all sorts of questions about confidentiality, voter fraud, hacking, etc. What I know about IT you can write on the back of a postage stamp, but even I can see the potential drawbacks, which far outweigh any increase in voter turnout. Look what happened when they slackened up on the postal vote rules! Worryingly, no-one seems concerned about the fiddling that's resulted from that change alone. If I had my way, no-one would be able to have a postal vote unless they were unavoidably out of the country or physically incapable due to ill health of getting to a polling station in person. If they introduce Internet voting and phone voting, then we'll be even closer to a tin-pot banana republic than we already are.

Anonymous said...

move your ass to go to a polling station,

When we had compulsory postal voting in our local elections people were so enthusiastic that even dead people voted and some from as far afield as Pakistan.............turnout was amazing

Average guy on the street said...

I do not support internet voting at all. It is so open to fraud. In my experience, it also takes so long - see outfromthecrowd.blogspot.com/2006/10/odd-happenings-and-encounters.html for more information (though that is probably because I am not very computer literate).