Why Internet voting is a terrible idea, explained in small words anyone can understand


#1

[Read the post]


#2

but by cross-referencing your voting history with porn searches we can sell you better insurance policies!


#3

Personally I take my amusement more seriously than your democracy.

I will trade your freedoms for the lolz I could have watching a presidential debate in the age of unsecure electronic voting.

Candidate 493850-AH: My policies to reduce poverty and crime will prevail in this contest. Your status quo serves only a few, and now that Apple, Google and Microsoft have agreed to provide vote-equipped tablets in exchange for ad-space on ballots, I cannot be stopped by the likes of your 1%!!

(the crowd erupts in a swell of triumphant upvotes and likes!1)

Candidate 77294 MArk4: (says nothing, merely stares through Candidate 493850-AH for a moment, then walks away)

(the crowd erupts in a hissing torrent of downvotes and mean tweets)

News Report the next day:

Status Quo Candidate wins again, promises electoral reform to prevent massive botnet voting in next election. Legislation expected to be tabled…sometime after the next election. Google, Apple and Microsoft report record gains as retailers flock to new platforms.

Supporters of Candidate 493850-AH claim confusion as online ballots preceded by ads asking consumers to rank 2 insurance firms by preference, Progressive Insurance and Conservative Mutual. Said one supporter “I just clicked through the ballot without reading it, I though it was just another pop-up listicle ad!”


#4

The fears about rogue apps, platform-level hijacks, or hackerz compromising communication channels sounds really simple-minded (almost dishonestly so). Where’s the mention of cryptographic techniques that voters could use to not only verify their votes were received, but received untampered with?

The discussion of “do we trust the people writing the software we use” is WAY bigger than just voting-related. Hell, why not stoke paranoia about rogue Chinese chip-fabrication labs creating processors that will override software and deliver the votes China wants?


#5

How civilized people vote:


#6

And the winner is… Votie McVoteface.


#7

Obviously people have different opinions on this complicated subject. Let’s take a vote.

DO YOU THINK INTERNET VOTING IS A TERRIBLE IDEA:

_____ YES

_____ NO

Screenshot this comment, draw an X in it using your favorite image editor, and re-upload it to this thread.


#8

Mail-in/absentee voting sure is convenient, but it has one of the same issues as Internet voting, that of not being able to verify the voter’s identity.

Granted, there’s generally no extensive identity verification going on at polling places, so maybe there’s not a significant difference in security. But mailing in someone else’s ballot requires less effort and audacity than voting in person as someone else, so I expect it is a lot more common.


#9

I don’t think most life insurance policies cover autoerotic asphyxiation.


#10

well that’s why you gotta pay more for Republican coverage.


#11

I’m not an expert, so don’t take this as an exhaustive defense of vote-by-mail, but there are more than a few safeguards built in. Obviously there’s nothing stopping me from hijacking a mail truck on Ballot Delivery Day (well, there’s not one single day for that, but there are days where the truck will have more ballots). But that’s not the same as getting away with it. In order to fraudulently vote by mail, you have to be willing and able to do all of the following things:

• steal a ballot without being detected
• hope that the intended recipient doesn’t notice and/or doesn’t care that they received no ballot
• commit a felony (no joke, when you think about it, which a ballot fraudster would have opportunity to do)
• adequately forge the recipient’s personal information in a way that tallies with the state’s records and leaves no tracks to you, and
• in some places, intercept the receipt mailed to voters.

At the end of all that, which is by no means impossible but also not necessarily easy, you’ve netted one extra vote. Which means that even in a very small, very closely contested local election, you’re risking an awful lot for a vanishingly small chance of influencing the outcome.

The only way it really makes sense (not that crimes are always undertaken by sensible people) is if you can steal a LOT of ballots, all at once. E.g., if you are in charge of the mail at a nursing home–and this has happened. But even then you’re leaving giant, incriminating tracks in the metadata and physical evidence. If the “active seniors” floors of Shadyside Acres vote at 55% turnout, but the “critical care” floors are turning out at 90%, and they’re all voting for the same candidate, and the ballots all seem to be marked with the same pen and in similar hands, and if one or more of those voters turns out to be in coma, etc. etc., the dragnet is going to catch you pretty quick. And you’ll still only have netted, what, fifty votes? Carrying it even further, a lot of states require mailed votes to be witnessed by another voter, who signs the ballot envelope and provides his or her information. That’s another loose end that can direct attention to your scheme. And so forth.

You’re right that it’s functionally impossible to construct a system in which everyone eligible can vote but nobody can vote in anyone else’s place. But it turns out it’s incredibly easy to construct a system in which it is so silly to try that virtually nobody does, and virtually none of those people get away with it, and (so far as we know) nobody ever actually profits by it.


#12

Blockchain technology seems like a very good fit for Internet voting… A public record that can’t be tampered with, open source clients that can be compiled by savvy users (or precompiled binaries for the masses). Just a thought anyway…


#13

Yup, and all that effort is wasted anyway, since as a society we, or our powers that be, long ago learned that the best way to steal an election is to buy all available candidates/parties.

Soupear Eafecktive


#14

I’m not familiar enough with blockchain technology - would this be able to both provide a tamper-proof public record, while at the save time preserving the secrecy of the secret ballot?


#15

That’s partly because very few absentee ballots are cast in the first place - if ballots were 100% absentee, you’d see an awful lot more of that kind of business.

Also, the smaller the election area, the more difference a small amount of fraud can make. A nursing home or military base worth of votes is unlikely to decide the POTUS, but it could quite credibly get someone’s brother elected county sheriff.


#16

How civilized people vote:


#17

how civilised people vote:


#18

Actually, it’s “McVoutie”.


#19


#20

I thought he glossed over somewhat what the problems with manual counting are. Why is it inaccurate? How much more inaccurate is it than mechanical vote counting?

I know people like to get their results ASAP, but we seem to manage okay with manual counting in the UK - Voting finishes at 10pm on election day, and we normally know the result by the next morning.