Friday, February 21, 2014

The Political Argument for Internet Voting in California



“California citizens should be online - not in line.” 
CA Secretary of State Bill Jones (Republican) in 2000

                            LET FACTS DISPEL FEAR

In the 1990s CA SoS Bill Jones established The Internet Voting Task Force to study the prospects for Digital Democracy in this state. Based upon the only knowledge they had at that time – the 1990s – the Report concluded, among other things, that there wasn’t enough evidence to know whether elections using Internet voting could be conducted securely.

Since then, elections using Internet voting have been conducted securely over 100 times, around the world. Estonia now conducts elections online regularly. Switzerland has had more than 35 elections and votes on referenda via Internet voting. Norway provided for online voting for its second time in 2013.  Over 40 cities in Canada continue to have voting online. West Virginia provided online voting for its overseas military voters in 2010. These instances, and more, are recounted in the US Elections Assistance Commission (EAC) Report of 2011, at

Not ONE of these elections for public office has had results that were affected by security incidents – not one. We can be sure of this because the local officials, journalists, seasoned election observers, lawyers, judges, voters, even losing candidates agree the results are acceptable.

When set up by pros the security risks can be managed. Pros know the possible attacks, and how to defend against them.

Officials in Gujarat, India reported that during their first online voting trial in 2011, “we fended off 4,000 attempted hackings from Pakistan, Taiwan and even China.”

Internet voting is not like e-commerce. Access to servers is far more restricted. There is no email access. The process is only open for a few days, not 24/7/365.

Tarvis Martens, security specialist for Estonia’s National Election Commission, says that their system is “more secure than Internet banking.” http://t.co/Jh6Onyd

MORE POWER TO THE PEOPLE, LESS POWER TO CORPORATIONS
With candidates holding debates online (and on TV and radio), followed by voting online, the costs of campaigns and elections would drop so far as to be affordable for FULL Public Financing. The need for Big Money Donors could be eliminated. Elected officials would owe their election to the voters only – 100%.

Very soon, legislative out-put would begin meeting the needs of people for livable wages; low cost, or free, public education and health care; and the development of a Garden-like environment. Online registration has resulted in higher voter turnout. Online voting will do the same. No Constitutional Amendment needed.

The Initiative, Referendum, and Recall can follow the same model. E-signatures will give the People the power to put new ideas before all the voters through the Initiative. Online Referendums can be held on proposed legislation and policies. These, and Recalls too, will be cheaper to conduct with online debates followed by Internet voting. Paperless politics are best for the environment.

DIRECT DEMOCRACY in OUR REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT
Very little democracy exists within Districts, as elected representatives go off to distant Capitals to conduct the People’s Business. But now Online Townhall Meetings can be conducted periodically for the constituents in every elected official’s District – local, state, and federal. The People can propose legislation to their representative, and she/he can offer ideas to be discussed and voted on by them.  Such “Constituent Assemblies” can be implemented by requiring candidates to pledge to support the new e-democracy process before they are elected. Each election district can have its own online voting system, rather than a one-size-fits-all system for the whole state, or nation. Competition among vendors will spur the development of products with increasing quality.

Lovers of Democracy Unite! First we need a law from Sacramento permitting each county to try Internet voting as a supplement to its regular process. Then, demand your election officials do it!
******************************
William J. Kelleher, Ph.D.
Political Scientist, author, speaker,
CEO for The Internet Voting Research and Education Fund
Twitter: wjkno1

Author of Internet Voting Now! 
Kindle edition: http://tinyurl.com/IntV-Now

7 comments:

Q said...

I'm with you. Your vote is your choice. Your computer is your voice. with the supreme court's ruling to void individual campaign contributions the people need a stop gap-internet voting. Let's do this what do you need from me?

Q said...

Lets do this.

Jeff Drobman said...

I am the only Secretary of State candidate proposing SECURE ONLINE INTERNET VOTING. that is my main agenda -- to make this a reality in California.

Tom Courbat said...

Drobman knows damn well there is no such thing as “Secure On-Line Internet Voting”. BTW, he was eliminated in his bid for Secretary of State. I confronted him on that statement at the third Secretary of State debate in San Diego and he had to acknowledge there could not be a 100% SECURE Internet Voting system. It simply doesn’t exist. Every computer security scientist of any reputation will tell you Internet Voting CANNOT BE SECURED – witness the Heartbleed Virus – that went undetected for TWO YEARS while hacking any and all SSL (Secure Socket Layer) sites – representing about 60% of all the sites where you purchase products, etc. They were able to seamlessly grab your information including your credit card number, etc. Anyone would be an IDIOT to entrust their VOTE, the very CURRENCY OF DEMOCRACY, to the Internet for crying out loud.

“Internet voting have (sic) been conducted securely over 100 times, around the world.” What a blatant unsubstantiated statement. There is no way to know if ANY Internet voting/election was conducted securely. The best hackers are able to hack in, do whatever they want to do in the way of modifying the vote count, and get out without ever leaving a trace. You are living in a delusionary world if you believe any Internet voting/counting system is secure. Just because no one running the election could detect any breach (or chose not to report one) certainly doesn’t mean one didn’t happen.

“Officials in Gujarat, India reported that during their first online voting trial in 2011, “we fended off 4,000 attempted hackings from Pakistan, Taiwan and even China.”” Hmmm, yes, and what about the other one or ten or one hundred that they couldn’t fend off? It only takes one! Just look the other way, certainly no one could have hacked in successfully.

“Not ONE of these elections for public office has had results that were affected by security incidents – not one. We can be sure of this because the local officials, journalists, seasoned election observers, lawyers, judges, voters, even losing candidates agree the results are acceptable.

When set up by pros the security risks can be managed. Pros know the possible attacks, and how to defend against them.

Yes they said the “results are acceptable” – they DIDN’T say the results were free from security issues – hacking – so you cannot say “…Not ONE …was affected by security incidents.” Perhaps no security incidents were noticed – the mark of a skilled hacker. And “Managing security risks” is NOT the same as eliminating all security risks. Since we hear about major companies and governments being hacked nearly every day, it is totally laughable to say “Pros know the possible attacks, and how to defend against them.”

Tom Courbat said...

BTW, how does one conduct a recount of an Internet-voting election? It’s in the ether folks, you CANNOT conduct a recount. That is, unless you are tracking and recording votes tied directly to Voter A, Voter B, Voter C, etc. If that is the case, then the whole concept of your vote being totally secret is out the window. And how concerning is that? Now your boss or your spouse or your neighbor or your law-enforcement officer can know EXACTLY how you voted. Sorry folks, that’s not the kind of American Democracy I signed up for. If you say I don’t care if these people know how I voted – you’re an idiot! I don’t suppose it mattered that Hitler was able to track how everyone voted – and I’m sure nothing came of those who voted against the Fuher!

And finally, yes, of course we conduct financial transactions over the Internet, so why can’t we VOTE on the Internet? Simple, each financial transaction you conduct over the Internet is tied back to you, so if something goes wrong, you know or are notified and can take corrective action. Your vote CANNOT be tied back to you for reasons just described. So you just cannot know if your vote was tampered with if you vote on the Internet.

It’s really time to move on to other issues. Internet Voting is the most insecure function and therefore the most inappropriate activity ever considered.

Tom Courbat said...

I have posted 2 comments in the last half-hour. I see that "comment moderation has been enabled" (AKA "censoring")so I suspect it is unlikely they will see the light of day on this blog. I hope I am wrong.

Tom Courbat said...

My compliments to the Blog moderator for posting my comments opposing the position taken by the blogger. Thank you for ensuring that both sides of the issue are heard without any censoring. You are a "gentleman and a scholar, and there aren't many of us left" as the saying goes!