Bob Jonkman's thoughts on politics

E-voting Considered Harmful

Posted by Bob Jonkman on January 28th, 2013

Finger pressing on electronic voting screen

Voting Screen

The Waterloo Chronicle reports:

The City of Waterloo is going to investigate the possibility of using Internet and telephone voting in time for the 2014 municipal election.

There is already some concern about e-voting. Waterloo Regional Councillor Jane Mitchell writes My problem with on-line voting is the end of the secret ballot.

One of the principles of our electoral systems is anonymity. Another principle is “One person, one ballot”, or singular voting. Both objectives are reasonably easy to do with paper ballots – hand out one ballot to a voter, then cross that voter’s name off the list. The vote cast is both anonymous and singular.

But when people are allowed to vote anonymously on their home computer there’s no way to determine if they’re voting more than once. So to prevent multiple votes you’d have to track voters with a unique ID; but that can then be correlated with the vote cast, destroying anonymity.

Fundamentally, anonymous and singular voting is not achievable through computerized at-home voting. In a report “Technology and the Voting Process” [1] the conclusion of Elections Canada was that the integrity of electoral process is a cornerstone of our democracy, and a decision to move to electronic voting should not be made lightly, without much more study. “Much more study” has not been done by our municipal government.

And don’t get me started on the number of home computers that are infected with viruses, the number of people that are defrauded through identity theft, and the number of times government loses data from their laptops and thumb drives…


Footnote [1]: pp. 58-60, “Technology and the Voting Process”, KPMG and Sussex
Circle for Elections Canada, 1998.

Voting Screen by DonkeyHotey is used under a CC BYCreative Commons — Attribution 2.0 Generic — CC BY 2.0 license.