but demand for change seems to be growing. In California, for instance, three ballot measures requiring
internet voting recently have been proposed, and tech
titan Google earlier this year won the rights to a patent
for its voter user-interface project.
PROMISE AND PERILS
;e ;urry of interest—from both national governments and smaller jurisdictions—is easy to
understand. Online voting has the potential to
dramatically increase voter participation. A 2015
report by WebRoots Democracy estimated that
introducing it in the United Kingdom could boost
turnout by up to 9 million voters. It also could make
vote counting more swift and less expensive—
cutting the cost per vote by one third, the report found.
;e promise of internet voting projects is clear.
But so are the perils. “;e reality is that, looking
at the security of today’s online voting systems in
a serious way shows they’re all deeply ;awed,” says
Joseph Kiniry, PhD, principal investigator at IT
security R&D ;rm Galois, Portland, Oregon, USA.
For instance, when security researchers turned
their attention to the iVote system used in last
year’s election in New South Wales, they discovered
Last year, the Australian state of New South
Wales held the largest-ever online election, accept-
ing 280,000 ballots via the internet. In Estonia,
which introduced online voting in 2005 for local
elections, a project team recently created a veri;ca-
tion application to allow voters to snap photos of a
QR code and get instant veri;cation that their vote
reached the government’s server. It’s the only coun-
try in the world that widely relies on internet voting
for legally binding national elections.
“;e level of trust in online voting in Estonia has
always been high, but the National Electoral Committee is regularly looking for projects that can help
make the system better,” says Mike Summers, program manager at Tartu, Estonia-based Smartmatic-Cybernetica Centre of Excellence for Internet Voting,
which helps run Estonia’s online voting systems. Mr.
Summers is based in London, England.
;e scale of the country’s e-voting has attracted
attention from project leaders around the globe as
they hunt for lessons learned to leverage in their own
project plans. Belgium, Norway and Israel have experimented with internet voting. France and the United
States have tested online voting during primary party
elections. ;e U.S. status quo is almost entirely analog,
the security of
in a serious way
—Joseph Kiniry, PhD, Galois,
Portland, Oregon, USA
From grocery shopping to hailing a taxi to paying
bills, everyday tasks can be accomplished online.
Yet almost universally, one activity remains
seemingly stuck in the past: voting.
That’s beginning to change, albeit slowly. Backed
by forward-looking governments that see big civic and cost
benefits, project teams are working to bring voters into the
internet age. Internet voting was first tested in the United States
in 2000, when some military members stationed overseas were
allowed to vote online. Other countries have been launching
trials or creating full-fledged online voting systems ever since.