Editorial: Don’t rush into internet voting in NY

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Categories: Opinion

A lot of good ideas have been bandied about to increase voter turnout in New York.

But while state lawmakers should certainly consider some of those options — including early voting, same-day registration, no-excuse absentee voting and election-day registration — they shouldn’t rush to join 32 other states where internet voting is allowed.

While we perform many important personal and financial functions over the internet these days, the integrity of America’s voting system is too important to risk to hacking, especially when our existing voting systems — including paper ballots and off-line electronic voting machines — have proven over many years to be very secure.

A new report on the dangers of internet voting was issued earlier this month by election-security experts from the National Election Defense Coalition, the R Street Institute, the Association for Computing Machinery US Technology Policy Committee and Common Cause.

The report identified “serious and unaddressed threats” to the integrity of our elections posed by online voting.

The voting continues in some places despite repeated warnings security experts and despite persistent, pernicious threats to disrupt U.S. elections by foreign actors.

“A single hacked ballot can afford entry to and corruption of entire election management systems and thousands or millions of votes,” said Jeremy Epstein, vice chair of the Association for Computing Machinery US Technology Policy Committee. “Every ballot sent over the internet might as well say ‘Please Hack’ in bold letters across the top.”

“We know ballots cast by email and through internet portals creates an attack vector because they can be intercepted and deleted or altered,” added Susannah Goodman, director of election security at Common Cause.

And Paul Rosenzweig of the R Street Institute, called internet voting, “the soft underbelly of election security.”

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Yes, the technology is available to allow citizens the convenience of voting on their smart phones and home computers. And yes, more people would probably vote if they didn’t have to actually leave their homes and offices.

But internet-voting technology is still so vulnerable to hacking that it’s not worth the risk to our electoral system.

New York certainly needs to expand voter access and boost voter turnout.

But right now, at least —and perhaps for the foreseeable future — internet voting shouldn’t be viewed as a viable option.

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