E-Voting, as It Takes Hold, Faces Big Risks

By Robert Hertzberg  |  Posted 11-03-2006
With Tuesday's midterm elections nearing, computer experts are sounding an alarm about possible problems with the electronic systems that two in every five voters will be using.

And more recently, there has been criticism of the Defense Department's decision to let some overseas military personnel send in their votes via E-mail.

The Defense Department's program, called the Interim Voting Assistance System, was put together between June 15 and Sept. 1. That is a tight timeframe for a system of such complexity, said Barbara Simons, a former scientist at IBM Research who co-authored a paper criticizing the IVAS system late last month.

While allowing voting over the Internet may seem like a natural way to get younger voters involved, Simons said "there is a fundamental problem" that might not be appreciated by people who have come to regard the Internet as safe for other kinds of transactions, such as buying a book at Amazon.

"That's not a secret transaction—you want Amazon to know who you are," Simons said. By contrast, voting is supposed to be a private affair. "I'm personally offended that people who are fighting and dying for our country are being told they have to give up their right to vote in secret."

Read the full story on Baselinemag.com: E-Voting, As it Takes Hold, Faces Big Risks