Thursday, February 16, 2012

News Hour Internet Voting Story

Have you seen the News Hour Internet voting story?

Internet Voting: Will Democracy or Hackers Win?

They followed the exact storyline set out in my blog posts!
Here they are:
Cyber Bullying in Connecticut: A Lesson in Empathy

West Virginia Secretary of State, Natalie Tennant is the victim!

Also see,
Kelleher’s Account of Cyber Bullying in Connecticut Verified

For more on Tennant:
Internet Voting Profile in Courage: Natalie Tennant

On my continuing debate w/ David Jefferson (leader of the opposition):

My Comments on the News Hour story:

Over all, its a balanced report. But they left out one hugely important FACT - namely, Wagner, Jefferson, Halderman, Rivest et al can't give even one instance of a hacking into an actual Internet vote election. DC was just a very first trial, and it failed. But DC was NOT a real election. All over the world - Norway, Switzerland, Estonia, India, Canada, New South Wales, and other places have had Internet voting election w/o security breeches. Elections Canada, the agency that administers national elections there, has ask the gov to make all national elections online. Tennant's experience shows, along w/ the rest of the world, that Internet voting can be done securely. It will boost turnout, too!

Another thing the News Hour report doesn't tell you is how Internet voting, rightly organized, can neutralize Big Money in all US elections. Yet another is that paper based businesses, like big newspaper corporations, spread false scary stories about supposed Internet voting insecurity. This is the main reason why the USA has almost no Internet voting. If we had it, it could empower the moderate middle class like never before, end elite rule, and stop all partisan bickering in Washington. That is what my book, Internet Voting Now, is all about. But here are a couple of my old blog posts on this:

How Internet Voting Can Support Nonpartisan Politics

US Social Forum

William J. Kelleher, Ph.D.
Political Scientist, author, speaker,
CEO for The Internet Voting Research and Education Fund, a CA Nonprofit Foundation
Twitter: wjkno1

Author of Internet Voting Now!
Kindle edition
In paper

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Oscar Internet Voting Plan Attacked With Scary Stories, But NO SCIENCE!

Here is my Letter to The Guardian Newspaper, which as far as I know was never printed by them.

On Sat, Feb 4, 2012 at 2:48 PM, William J. Kelleher, Ph.D. wrote:

Dear Editor of The Guardian UK:

Your recent article about the plans to have Oscar voting done online falls far below your usual standard of responsible journalism. The article presents several scary stories about what security breaches “could” happen, but offers no FACTS to back up the fear mongering.

Here is one scary story, for starters: “Computer security experts have warned [of] … cyber attacks that could falsify the outcome but remain undetected.” Well, that is scary! But has it ever really happened?

The answer is a big NO! Internet voting has been conducted in Norway, Switzerland, India, Canada, and here in the US in several places, including West Virginia. In every case, technical and political experts, including officials and the public, were satisfied with the integrity of the vote. There were no undetected Leprechauns that snuck in and changed everyone’s vote. In Estonia one voter challenged an election by Internet voting, but the court rejected the claim after studying the evidence.

Mr. Dill, whom you quote as your authority, states a perennial problem for all large voting systems when he says you can’t know if your vote for A was really counted as a vote for B. But this is not just a problem for Internet voting. Unless you can see the raised hands of all the voters in a room, you can never know how, or if, your vote was counted.

In all representative democracies, the voters must rely on their representatives to do a responsible and professional job. That is what has happened in all Internet voting trials around the world – and it will happen in the votes for Oscar, too. Responsible officials can be trusted to pick professional technicians to set up the Internet voting systems. These technicians understand all the security threats Mr. Dill dredges up. They know how to mitigate each threat, and how to protect the integrity of the election.

Unfortunately, the writer of this article seems to have slipped a bit on his journalistic integrity. He fails completely to list all the successful Internet voting projects that I mentioned. Also, in one paragraph we are told that "30" computer scientists signed a letter warning of the dangers of Internet voting for overseas Democrats. Yet the writer then reveals that he told “the Academy's chief operating officer, Ric Robertson, … of the near-total unanimity of computer experts [that Internet voting was insecure].” Give me a break!

How does any credible writer get from “30” to “near-total unanimity”? There must be thousands of computer scientists in the world, and Dill was only able to recruit 30. For every successful Internet voting event, there were dozens of experts who worked on the project, and who knew it could be done. So, no "unanimity" there. I'll bet that NOT ONE of those 30, including Mr. Dill, has ever actually worked at setting up an Internet voting system. So, what do they know? Just a bunch of theoretical scary stories!

Also, the writer of this article made a statement about the hacking incident in Washington, DC which is, at best, misleading. He tells his trusting readers that “overseas voters were invited to vote by internet in a local election in Washington, DC.” Not exactly! The Internet voting system was opened to the public for its first ever test. This was definitely NOT “a local election,” but mere practice several days before the scheduled election. The practice showed that the system wasn't ready to be used; so, it was not used for the real election.

Your readers expect some balance in the articles they read. But they won’t get that unless they read this letter to the Editor.


William J. Kelleher, Ph.D.
Twitter: wjkno1
Author of Internet Voting Now!
On Kindle
And in paper

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Americans Elect Invites Vote Buying & Selling, Rejects Voter Privacy!

AE presents itself as a bold alternative to the two-party system. “Pick a person, not a party,” they say. All you have to do is be a registered voter, and sign up on their website at Then you will be eligible to vote ONLINE for any of the qualified candidates in their primary competition.

Up to this point, the project seems to have some promise as a democratic reform. Any registered voter can participate, no matter what party affiliation, or no party affiliation. Candidates can self-select, or be drafted, and don’t need any campaign contributions to be considered by the voters. Best of all, from my point of view, they are going to use Internet voting.

Unfortunately, the process is far from flawless. As first reported in Rick Hasen’s Election Law blog, the AE vote will NOT BE A SECRET VOTE. According to AE, “Each vote is tied to name. Necessary so we can audit the convention afterwards. This is not a secret vote (like the general election is).”

What are they thinking? Does AE have a public relations Death Wish? Let me try to put this problem in context.

Internet voting is being used all over the world. In Europe, Estonia, Switzerland, and Norway use it. In India, the state of Gujarat uses it (and in a recent election had over 77% turnout). Based on the several successful online votes in Canadian cities, Elections Canada, the agency that runs national elections, has requested that the government make Internet voting its official voting technology. In the USA, Hawaii, Kings County Washington, and West Virginia have used it. Both France and Mexico City are planning to use Internet voting for their overseas voters.

Each of these systems was set up by teams of professional technicians who knew what they were doing, and did it well. No security breaches or hackers changed any votes, or violated the privacy of any voters. These systems were set up to allow voters to log on, have their eligibility verified, and then vote on the secure servers which held the voting website. Separate modules verify the voter’s registration, and keep the record of the vote. Thus, no voter’s privacy is compromised. Also, since there are no records kept of a voter’s name and how he or she voted, no one can prove to a potential vote buyer how he or she voted.

AE declines to use this well tested Internet voting technology. Instead, they use a process that dredges up some of the worst election practices ever used. They reject the principle of voter privacy, and they will keep both an electronic and a paper copy of the voter’s name and vote together. Indeed, these records will be shared with the auditing company they have hired. Untold numbers of people will read these names and votes.

Worse still, I have been told that AE will mail out paper copies of name and vote together to each voter, so that he or she can see how his or her vote was recorded. If so, what a handy receipt this will be for a vote seller to show a vote buyer!

Haven’t the Ackermans ever heard of the “Australian Ballot”? This was once a major reform of election practices in the US. Now AE is going to ignore this reform and thereby invite a resurrection of the very corrupt practices the reform was meant to stop.

AE has a lot of promise as a democratic reform. But once people, who are eager for more democracy, see what they are getting into, who will want to support such stupidity?

There is still time to correct this misguided slipping into the worst of America’s past, when voters had no privacy and votes were bought and sold. True Internet voting is being done around the world. Even the vote for the Oscars in 2013 will be true Internet voting! Hey, AE – lets get with it!

William J. Kelleher, Ph.D.
Political Scientist, author, speaker,
CEO for The Internet Voting Research and Education Fund, a CA Nonprofit Foundation
Twitter: wjkno1

Author of Internet Voting Now!
On Kindle and in paper

For my discussion with Joshua Levine about AE potential PR problems, see this