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Internet Voting Leaves Out a Cornerstone of Democracy: The Secret Ballot

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No more secret ballots?

A recent report found Internet voting invalidates the secrecy of ballots.

Credit: quia

Internet voting invalidates the secrecy of ballots, according to a report from Verified Voting.

The report's authors conclude, "because of current technical challenges and the unique challenge of running public elections, it is impossible to maintain the separation of voters' identities from their votes when Internet voting is used."

Verified Voting president Pamela Smith says when votes are returned through the Internet, it is technically problematic to separate the voter's identity from the vote, as the server has to know that identity to authenticate the voter and record the vote. She notes, "the authentication typically happens at the same time as the voting process" in the systems states are currently using.

Smith says this presents a notable difficultly; an earlier experiment tested giving voters PIN codes, but hackers were able to find those numbers and link them to voters.

The report found 20 states have laws or regulations requiring that voters who return their ballots online also waive their right to a secret ballot. "Almost every state has a requirement that there should be secrecy of the ballot," Smith says.

She notes Internet voting allowances required them to "carve out a special space" that is exempt from that requirement.

From Technology Review
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