August 19, 2015

Online voting: Wave of the future or a dangerous idea?

Brian LilleyArchive

Some people think on-line voting is a great idea and is the way of the future, but I think it's a dangerous idea.

I provide a few examples to demonstrate why I don't believe we're ever going to be able to make on-line voting as secure and free from fraud and manipulation as the paper ballot process is.

When you consider that Elections Canada can't even figure out who's dead and who's alive, what are the odds that we can protect a country the size of Canada from election fraud and interference once we move to the virtual world? In that world, a country as tech-savvy as the U.S. can't even keep John Kerry's emails safe from the prying eyes of its enemies so let's not add another gateway from which those with ill intentions can enter undetected. 


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commented 2015-08-24 13:28:08 -0400
doesn’t matter anymore as we don’t even demand proof of citizenship to vote.
They whole world as they arrive can vote here in Canada once they have an address and/or drivers licence.
I have to respect for this country anymore as it is going down the sewer for political votes.
commented 2015-08-21 13:33:30 -0400
Anyone remember those whizz-bang handy-dandy electronic self-serve kiosks we used to have in Ontario for doing such mundane tasks as license plate sticker renewal, address changes etc? I loved those things when we had them. Where are they now? Gone. They were hacked and the province actually decided there was NO WAY they could EVER make such a system secure. All scrap metal.
Just because it’s new does not mean that it’s better. There are certain methods of doing things that do not require updating. They work just fine the way they are. Technology is not the answer to everything – in fact, I see it as being our downfall in many ways as time marches on. Information technology in particular.
commented 2015-08-20 14:01:45 -0400
DOUGMCCOMBER commented 5 hours ago
“Even with guaranteed 100% security (a fantasy) online voting would be a huge degradation of democracy. Imagine a patriarch or matriarch forcing a household to vote how they want. Only physical polling stations can prevent that.”

Well, I have to admit I had not considered that angle. I am only looking at it from a technological point of view.
commented 2015-08-20 13:35:49 -0400
I’m all for it, but all in due course. The security concerns that have been expressed are very real, but only very real in the same way that safety was a very real concern back when humans started building machines in which we could fly. There were failures, but we are a persistent species and we pressed forward with tenacity. Now many of us don’t think twice to even risk our lives when boarding a plane.

Along with some other folks I’ve long since believed that the notion of being handed a small HB pencil and a scrap of paper upon which we are permitted to mark an ‘X’ and calling it democracy, in this day and age, is ludicrous.

Being cognisant of the security concern, I’m still in favour of at least pressing forward in the direction towards online voting. Several government websites are already reasonably secure, like those used by individuals to monitor and administer their benefits such as E.I.

As a first step, imagine one website that any of us could log on to (say for example with a combination of Social Insurance number and a password) that listed various current topics and issues, and each person could give each issue a “thumbs up” or a “thumbs down” to whatever is being proposed as the discussion progresses for those topics. As debate continues we could log on and change our vote if we felt inclined to do so.

This would not exactly be a referendum or plebiscite but rather a kind of workplace guide to the people that we hired to run the business of our country. They would be at liberty to be influenced by our wishes, or they could choose to put their career in jeopardy by ignoring our wishes. I call this: Democracy.

My vision could well be the end of political parties. I’m okay with that too. I consider political parties (some more than others) to be breeding grounds of corruption. If some MPs want to form a club and meet after work to talk about stuff amongst themselves that’s their business, so long as they do it on their own time and not on company property.

P.S. (If anyone’s still reading) Doug McComber; I’d be okay giving more voting weight to a household of many over a household of one. In my scenario this would be achieved by giving a “vote” to children of a household and letting their parent/s or guardian/s use it until the children grow old enough to take over that responsibility themselves.
commented 2015-08-20 12:01:17 -0400
Well I humbly disagree with electronic voting

Mainly on the risk arguments.
In a paper system, stuff can happen on a small scale (a ballet box can be “stuffed” at a local station, with agreement of 2 elections people and N monitors. Stuffing ballot boxes at 2000+ stations:, can be done but the footprint of the act is huge and can be detected and dealt with. Hence the Risk is moderate and the effect is low.

However “stuffing” one server/cluster with the results of 2000 local servers can happen with the total number involved people being the same as one ballot box. However large organizations based on secrecy can act as a single person and do. (NSA, et. al)

Risk is moderate and the effect is devastation of the system.

The risk is moderate due to the ability to change the entire election. (enticing target/large payoff for success)

Many organisations/governments will put maximum effort in subverting the system. After seeing the TAO catalog from 2008 I don’t think we can secure anything against a motivated opponent. ( THIS is from 2008 and I don’t think they’ve been drinking and parting since and done nothing ;-) (one could hope I guess)

a Subtle Ogre
commented 2015-08-20 08:41:17 -0400
Even with guaranteed 100% security (a fantasy) online voting would be a huge degradation of democracy. Imagine a patriarch or matriarch forcing a household to vote how they want. Only physical polling stations can prevent that.
commented 2015-08-19 23:08:49 -0400
I value my franchise – for whatever it’s still worth today…
In the future if there are electronics, even and especially electronic vote tabulaters involved in an election I’m participating in I will commit an act of civil disobedience and picket that polling station! – Well, after I contact Canada Elections and Elections BC first to find out what’ll happen to me if I do…
The precedent has already been set in Canada…this had better be nipped in the bud. The worst I’ve seen are all the ‘anomalies’, otherwise known as election fraud, documented in the 2012 US election – unbelievable. As was the MSM for ignoring it!
Here’s one link on the 2012 US election fraud, it’s a long list:
Google something like ‘electronic voting fraud’, ‘652,000 results’.
commented 2015-08-19 18:20:59 -0400
I respectfully submit that the technology exists, with biometrics, encryption, network monitoring, and a variety of other technologies a secure system can be built that can be as secure as a paper system.
commented 2015-08-19 18:19:18 -0400
Well, it appears I am in the minority.

I respectful submit that
commented 2015-08-19 18:14:05 -0400
Some Parties with a real agenda don’t need to fool the voters.
commented 2015-08-19 18:03:48 -0400
Hmmm… the games people play in voting “rigging” in the paper system are well understood. The games played by adjusting the SQL database/logs/data entry forms allows the entire election election to be acquired. (lol might be a fun fight over how gets the last insert/update statement to run and gets all the logs adjusted.

Data in (bio-metrics, secure id) are just the start of the game.
Transmission of the data .
Accounting of the data.
Verification ( logs match the data)

Long story you can
Fool the sensor, you can fool the transmission of the sensor data, you can fool the storage of the data, finally you can fool the interpretation of the data, adjust data after interpretation, well same stuff for electronic elections.

Basically the paper games are rig-able, but with all parties watching in every riding the results should be “ok”, for varying definitions of “ok”. Electronic games the entire system is at play, and secure is just a nice word to say we worked 9-5 on the project and got it into spec before release…. the other side worked 24×7 with 4 shifts to find the 0 days and unexpected holes….oops Green party you say in a landslide….

Stay with paper
commented 2015-08-19 17:46:43 -0400
Rick, for sure we can agree to disagree, but my job is as a network administrator and I develop software for network systems, so I do have some inkling of what I am talking about. ;)
commented 2015-08-19 17:14:19 -0400
Peter. With respect, on this issue we can agree to disagree. The technology is simply not there yet. Perhaps in the 23rd century where “Star Trek” is based. But not now. Regards.
commented 2015-08-19 16:14:13 -0400
Remember the nonsense about Robo-calls and the Main-stream Media ?
Duffy?——What a story for the CBC !
Sad -really, for real Journalists.
commented 2015-08-19 15:26:14 -0400
Rick said, “Nothing on line is 100% secure and open to abuse. … Show up at the polling station, present ID and fill out a ballot is secure providing those running the polling station haven’t been bought off”

Nope. And neither is a voting station free from voter fraud. And can ID faked. Postal workers can be dishonest and open mail.

My point is that an online system can be made as secure as any other method.

The problem is people do not know the technology so they fear it.
commented 2015-08-19 15:19:28 -0400
Nothing on line is 100% secure and open to abuse. Show up at the polling station, present ID and fill out a ballot is secure providing those running the polling station haven’t been bought off. The vulnerabilities of the internet is why lawyers still send property title documents etc by mail. Mail can’t be hacked and the posties are not interested in what is in the envelope.
commented 2015-08-19 15:16:23 -0400
Guy said, "Biometric Verification to ensure you are allowing only one vote from only verified eligible voters is only a small part of the problem. "

Of course, I didn’t make an exhaustive list and a set of conditions in which biometrics would be useful and when not. There are many stages to the verification of voting securely online from the user to the server and all the network technology that lays between, but one of the few things I am very familiar with is networking, servers and security.
commented 2015-08-19 15:07:58 -0400
Sorry Peter, I’m with Vlad on this.

Designing a system with sufficient Biometric Verification to ensure you are allowing only one vote from only verified eligible voters is only a small part of the problem. Gaining and securing the Biometric Data has a number of challenges the most significant is the voters themselves. As we saw and are still seeing with Bill C51 sheople fear privacy abuse especially when the “Progressives” stir up misinformation and disseminate it through the Media Party. In this case, it is not the “Progressive” Parties but ineptitude of bureaucrats that worry me. Some lazy unionized slob is going to force an accommodation for some slothful bureaucrat to have access to information away from the office in some way that is unsecured and then some or all Biometric Data will become accessed and sold to criminals and other malevolent individuals or organizations. This is big business with Black Hat Hackers and there are many examples of how this has happened and will happen in the future.

In situ biological verification has the lowest exposure to meddling and exposure of ID theft.
commented 2015-08-19 14:59:03 -0400
Have any of you REBELS been a DRO deputy returning officer or worked at a polling station. Well I have it`s not hard because there are many checks and balances all parties are allowed to watch the count. The DRO and Polling clerk do the counting and they both have to sign the count sheet they are responsible for the count and the ballot boxes. The small amount of money they are paid for turning up at 7 AM and leaving sometimes after midnight is small compensation for their work.
__________seats for the BLOC PARTY
__________seats for the CONSERVATIVE PARTY
__________seats for the GREEN PARTY
__________seats for the LIBERAL PARTY
__________seats for the NEW DEMOCRATIC PARTY
commented 2015-08-19 14:56:02 -0400
Most of the fear to online voting is due to a lack of understanding of the technology.
commented 2015-08-19 14:55:13 -0400
Mark said, "Online voting gets rid of the paper trail in voting which should never happen. "

No it does not.

1. All activity is logged.
2. All logs are backed up in at least two locations, one off site.
3. Anything that needs to be printed on paper can be automatically or manually.
commented 2015-08-19 14:52:59 -0400
@ Vlad Johnson

And any voting station can be scammed. No system is perfect, but the intrusions can be managed. Fraud can be minimized.
commented 2015-08-19 14:49:59 -0400
Yes…something we ought to be staying away from.
commented 2015-08-19 14:45:42 -0400
commented 2015-08-19 14:43:38 -0400
Online voting gets rid of the paper trail in voting which should never happen. Not to mention that a lot of companies providing online voting manage data outside Canada (US Europe or Asia). It gets us closer to the rules the US has which is an out and out joke.
commented 2015-08-19 14:28:06 -0400
@peter – all technology can be hacked.

Technology is not the answer. Technology just boosts productivity. But technology happens before an audit. Paper voting is audited as it happens. Big difference.
commented 2015-08-19 14:05:02 -0400
Brian, I disagree with you.

From the voter security perspective, with the introduction of biometrics such as face recognition software the security concerns can be virtually eliminated. When various types of biometrics couples with other types of security, the issue of voter fraud online can be virtually eliminated.

From the server end, security can be increased. It just has to be done correctly from the beginning.