Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Slippery Slope as a Scary Story

After posting the report on how satisfied Canadian voters are who have Internet voting, an interesting discussion developed on Linkedin. Some of the most famous anti-Internet voting activists expressed their concern, among other things, about the old “Slippery Slope.” Since it’s a cool day in the Halloween month of October here in LA, I gave my take on the story. Here’s how it goes:

Suppose NIST breaks free from the grip of anti-Internet voting advisors, and gives the EAC and FVAP clear standards for remote Internet voting for overseas military and other UOCAVA voters. Then elections are held. There aren’t any reports of hacking, and 99% of the voters are satisfied with the process.

Along comes Mission Creep. Nut case Secretaries of State, like Natalie Tennant, start offering Internet voting to folks inside the state!

Pretty soon, elections for federal office are held online (this can be done w/o a Constitutional Amendment). Then a Constitutional Amendment becomes ratified providing for electing the US President! Whoa! Now comes what Michael Shamos calls the “Omniscient Hacker.” He may be a teenager in Iran, or a member of the Russian Mafia.

Although there are over 3000 voting jurisdictions in the US, each with its own supposedly secure server, and using different companies, the Omniscient Hacker uses his Bot Network of 1,000,000 PCs to control the vote, and elect a Bad Guy to the White House.

Lock your doors before going to bed tonight!

NIST – National Institute of Standards and Technology
EAC – Election Assistance Commission
FVAP – Federal Voting Assistance Program
UOCAVA - Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act


Anne Wayman said...

I don't know that internet voting would be any worse than the current hackable voting machines so many US venues use today - I'm a Luddite on this one, back to paper.

Anonymous said...

Appreciate your passion and zeal -- as I'm guessing what you want is for (1) Voting to become (more) accessible to all U.S. citizens, and (2) For votes to actually be counted accurately, and (3) to matter.
After seeing documentaries like "Stealing America: Vote by Vote" -- and reviewing the electoral system that gives some states the ability to exert more power and more influence in government than others -- I believe a full-scale audit and rethinking of our system is needed. We do not have a representational democracy. Countries like Australia and even Brazil and Spain are making more inroads. Best wishes and God help us in this endeavor! April

wjk said...

Hi Anonymous!
Re your concern about auditing Internet voting systems, you can find a lot on this blog. Squirrel down to the search box and enter "audit" or "auditing"


Green 3lmo said...

Yes, it is scary indeed. I guess the idea behind internet voting is indeed to have an easy, more accessible and more inclusive voting system.
However, although it might work for overseas troops and other Americans abroad, it won't work as a general system. It would require having an internet connection for everybody, and an elaborated anti-fraud protection, and we all know every system has a bug, so...
Elections to be meaningful should represent the views of all, not just about half of the population. Internet voting is just a smokescreen to avoid a serious reform of the US electoral system. I agree on this with Anounymous. Maybe voting on a saturday or sunday would help, who knows.

wjk said...

Hi Green 3lmo!

The “digital divide” was only a problem in the 1990s. Anyone who isn’t connected can use a dedicated computer in a public building, school, library, or even a secure kiosk in a mall.

Biometric registration will keep voters to the one person one vote rule. This blog is full of discussions about security (two chapters on it in my book).

RE: “Elections to be meaningful should represent the views of all, not just about half of the population. Internet voting is just a smokescreen to avoid a serious reform of the US electoral system.”
Internet voting can be the best thing that ever happened to the 99%. It can break the grip of the two-party system on the US election process. And it can neutralize the power of Big Money in all US elections.
On nonpartisan elections see my blog post:
On neutralizing Big Money see my blog post:

Gary said...

I guess I don't understand why people are opposed to online voting. Can you help me understand why people are so hesitant? It seems like a logical thing to do. Mostly for convenience, but it also seems like you could more accurate results when it is monitored by a computer.

wjk said...

Hi Gary!
Security is the main concern. But folks should know that a company with experience and competent tecnicians can be trusted to set up a system that can manage the security issues. That's what is being done all over the world.
Thanks for the link.