Friday, August 19, 2016
Get Informed about Online Voting Before You Answer the #ERRE Survey
The background paper does not draw upon sufficient evidence, and its "on the one hand, on the other hand" conclusion is weak. See my previous blog post Online voting section of Background Paper 2016-06-E on Electoral Systems.
Before you complete the online voting section of the Electoral Reform survey, I encourage you to review the evidence provided below.
Make It Short
The Canadian government has already been cyberattacked by nation-states, computer security experts warn that online voting is not secure, national security experts warn that online voting is not secure, and online voting won't increase turnout.Here's the evidence:
- Canadian government departments have already been seriously hacked (attacked) by other countries. Departments including the Finance Department, Treasury Board Secretariat and Defence Research and Development Canada (in 2011) and the National Research Council (in 2014) were successfully attacked. These attacks resulted in significant disruption and months worth of technical work in order to recover.
- Canada's Chief Electoral Officer is concerned about "challenges that online voting present for the integrity and secrecy of the vote" and says "caution is needed in moving forward to ensure that Canadians continue to have the same high level of trust in the integrity of elections"
- Internet voting does not appreciably increase turnout, including youth turnout. In general the people who take advantage of voting online are middle-aged voters who would have voted at a polling station anyway. (I realise this may seem counterintuitive, but the evidence shows this again and again, in country after country, including in Canada.)
- The largest US organisation of computer scientists, the ACM, has a consensus recommendation opposing the use of Internet voting: "systems need some means of preserving the ability to audit and/or recount the votes. At the present, paper-based systems provide the best available technology to do this."
- The Australian Parliament, after an extensive inquiry in 2013 specifially about electronic and online voting, with 20 hearings and over 200 submissions, concluded "Australia is not in a position to introduce any large-scale system of electronic voting in the near future without catastrophically compromising our electoral integrity."
- The US Department of Homeland Security recommends against Internet voting: "We believe that online voting, especially online voting in large scale, introduces great risk into the election system by threatening voters’ expectations of confidentiality, accountability and security" says Neil Jenkins, Senior Advisor for Cybersecurity Capabilities and Strategy
- Why Electronic [and Online] Voting is a BAD Idea - an 8 minute video by Tom Scott
- New Brunswick has a reasonably balanced briefing (PDF) available (for its own voting consultation). There are 2 pages on Internet voting; pages 18-19. Vote par Internet - de la page 20 à la page 21 dans « Renforcer la démocratie au Nouveau-Brunswick » (PDF)
I Want To Know More
- Eric Geller has written a comprehensive article about online voting, interviewing many of the experts in the field.
- Andrew Appel has done a 20 minute video explaining the history of voting and the issues with online voting
- J. Alex Halderman has written a comprehensive book chapter (PDF) covering real world security risks with electronic voting and (in section 7.3) Internet voting
- J. Alex Halderman has done a 21 minute video about technical risks associated with Internet voting
- Independent Report on E-voting in Estonia
- Australian Parliamentary Library report from 2012 - e-voting: the promise and the practice, particularly the section International experience with e-voting (this is the kind of report that Canada should have produced, or at least we should have cited this report, along with all of the material I have provided above)
and 6 years worth of material in my Twitter
I'm happy to respond to specific requests for particular evidence related to Internet voting.
Take the Survey
Now that you've had a chance to get a proper briefing with relevant evidence, I encourage you to complete the online survey (
deadline unknown; presumably before deadline October 7, 2016) or use any of the other methods to contribute to the Special Committee on Electoral Reform.
Canadian government departments have been hacked before
- CBC - Foreign hackers attack Canadian government - Finance, Treasury Board Secretariat and Defence Research and Development Canada - Feb 16, 2011
- Reuters - Canada says cyber-attack serious, won't harm budget - Finance Department and Treasury Board [Secretariat] attacked - Feb 17, 2011
- Wikipedia - 2011 Canadian government hackings
- CBC - Chinese cyberattack hits Canada's National Research Council - Jul 29, 2014
- Government of Canada - Statement by the Chief Information Officer for the Government of Canada - Jul 29, 2014
- Globe and Mail - Extensive fallout from Chinese hack of National Research Council - Sep 2, 2016
Quote from the CIO of Canada, July 29, 2014:
Government of Canada computer networks, like those of other governments and the private sector, are under increasing threat of cyber-attack.
Secret Ballot privacy report in the news
It describes how US voters often have to waive (sign away) their right to a secret ballot in order to vote online.
It's being widely reported in the media, including:
- MIT Technology Review - Internet Voting Leaves Out a Cornerstone of Democracy: The Secret Ballot - by Mike Orcutt (@mike_orcutt) - August 18, 2016
- Mother Jones - Voting Should Be Easier—But Not Like This - by AJ Vicens (@AJVicens) - August 18, 2016
- Washington Post - Online voting could be really convenient. But it’s still probably a terrible idea. - by Andrea Peterson (@kansasalps) - August 18, 2016
Wednesday, August 17, 2016
Internet voting video of the week - J. Alex Halderman for Slashdot 2012
Find out more about J. Alex Halderman at https://jhalderm.com/