Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Geist on e-voting

The ubiquitous Michael Geist had a good article last month, Time To Cast A Vote Against E-Voting

Democracy depends upon a fair, accurate, and transparent electoral process with outcomes that can be independently verified. Conventional voting accomplishes many of these goals - private polling stations enable citizens to cast their votes anonymously, election day scrutineers offer independent oversight, and paper-based ballots provide a verifiable outcome that can be re-counted if necessary.

While technology may someday allow us to replicate these essential features online, many of them are currently absent from Internet voting, which is subject to any number of possible disruptions, including denial of service attacks that shut down the election process, hacks into the election system, or the insertion of computer viruses that tamper with election results.

Electronic voting machines are similarly prone to error. Last year the City of Montreal implemented an electronic voting system that was later characterized as a "debacle" with delays, equipment malfunctions, and erroneous results. The City acknowledged that some of the electronic voting machines were "lemons" - voting too quickly caused the machines to breakdown, while 45,000 ballots were counted twice (an error corrected before the results were announced).

Both Internet and electronic voting are also unable to guarantee independent verification. Unlike paper, electronic votes are subject to manipulation, placing enormous power in the hands of the electronic voting machine companies who must ensure tamper-free results.
The Town of Markham offered Internet Voting for the second time and Internet Voting grew by 48% between the 2003 municipal election and the 2006 election that just took place this week.

Voter authentication was not an issue nor was security. It is time to get past the perception of security and recognize that Internet voting not only works, but people want it.

You can read more about it at http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/November2006/16/c5656.html

Adam Froman
Delvinia Interactive


Time to get the public's media source on this issue ASAP.
As I commented to Michael on his blog (http://www.michaelgeist.ca/content/view/1535/1/#akocomments_comments_start) I am in full agreement that we need to be mindful of concerns about the safety, security and credibility of Internet voting, but disagree that they are barriers to adoption.

I applaud you for your commitment to the integrity of the voting process, but I think that you are fooling yourself if you think that Internet voting is not coming. Where you may think that my company has a vested interest in Internet Voting, we were simply the marketing company hired to increase voter awareness and turnout for the election. We don't benefit directly from municipalities who adopt Internet voting technology, but I am a great supporter of the concept of e-democracy and based upon my experience in the past 2 elections in Markham - it is definitely part of the solution to voter apathy.

You need to recognize that municipalities such as Markham are no less concerned about the integrity of the voting process, they simply live in the real world and recognize that offering Internet voting is clearly a solution for voter apathy.

Adam Froman
Delvinia Interactive
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