What Will the Future of Voting in America Look Like?

Thursday, April 24, 2014

A man using an ipad votes during a mock US election vote, spearheaded by the US embassy at a shopping mall in Manila on November 7, 2012. (TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty)

Yesterday, California Representative Eric Swalwell discussed his bill that would give Congress the power to connect remotely—whether members are casting votes or attending committee meetings.

Congressman Swalwell's argument is a simple one: Technology can and should simplify the electoral process in this country. When it comes to voting in America, many of you agree that the system should utilize technology and become more accessible, but for some the thought is a scary one.

What will the future of voting in America look like? Weighing in is Ronald Rivest, a professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT and a faculty member of the Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project


Ronald Rivest

Hosted by:

Todd Zwillich


T.J. Raphael

Comments [8]

RJM from California

Victoria's 15 reasons are excellent but not complete. There is an insidious problem with both internet and mail voting, something that the proponents of these remote voting methods cannot solve. It is this: Without a voting booth to protect you from prying eyes, coercion can turn 'one person, one vote' into 'one person, multiple votes.' That would never happen at my house or yours, but would abusers draw the line at interfering with their victim's right to vote? Big Brother may not be watching you vote on your laptop or mail ballot, but big brother or big momma or big scary neighbor can watch you -- and retaliate if you dare to vote differently or in secret. The only way to guarantee the SECRET in "secret ballot" is to have polling places where the individual's choices are made without *anyone* watching: not government, not family, not neighbors, nobody. Paper ballots by themselves should not be the gold standard; paper ballots cast in private voting booths should be the gold standard. See tinyurl.com/voting-secret.

Apr. 25 2014 05:06 PM


15 Reasons Why Internet Voting Must Be Opposed

Internet voting conceals ALL FOUR essential steps of transparent elections from the public (Who can vote, Who voted, Whether ballots counted are same ones as were cast, Whether the count was accurate), and therefore alters our form of government, violating our inalienable rights and transferring power to insiders (government and vendors).

Internet voting “security” cannot possibly be assured to the public.

Whoever controls the servers controls the election results. Voters will never know whether the tally is accurate.

Internet voting violates voter privacy and the secret ballot. Voters no longer have the security of the polling booth and may be pressured and intimidated by bosses, spouses, or others to vote in particular direction.

Internet voting is not transparent. Looking at a report created by an administrator is NOT the same thing as scrutinizing the original input. Internet voting creates a funnel -- lots of people input information, one person or a very few people control the output.

No security from hackers.

Internet voting companies controlled by foreign corporations. The main company currently doing Internet voting for U.S. jurisdictions, Scytl, houses its server in Spain.

Internet voting destroys the paper ballot and therefore cannot be recounted. The United Nations considers the paper ballot to be the international "Gold Standard" for election integrity.

Internet voting is immune to democratic checks and balances.

Internet voting is NOT the same as online banking. Banks reimburse customers for fraudulent transactions, which happen fairly regularly. However, because the vote is private, you cannot be "reimbursed" for a vote that was stolen, because ballots are anonymous and there is no way to know whose vote is whose.

Internet voting technology is worth big money, and is being pushed by a small handful of private corporations, some already given “preferred status” by the Department of Defense.

Global financial and political interests would be very keen to hack into our Internet elections or own the servers.

Internet elections would become centralized (globally), so no local operation would be needed. Election Day would likely vanish, creating a far more challenging and expensive campaign environment, especially for the grassroots. Thousands of poll workers would lose their positions, and all community oversight would disappear entirely.

No guarantee of increased turn-out. Internet voting is touted as increasing the youth vote, but elections have taken place in the USA, and have resulted in lower than normal turnout. For example, a 2009 Internet election in Hawaii, for an election type that typically was drawing a 25% participation rate, dropped to just 7% participation.

Apr. 25 2014 10:34 AM
FranciL from NYC

I already vote online. As a French citizen living outside France, I receive by regular mail a unique ID, which I use, along with another unique password e-mailed to me a week before the election. With these two, I can go online and vote for my candidate.
Maybe the U.S. voting folks should check out the French system.

Apr. 24 2014 04:01 PM
SWJ from Minnesconsin

Regardless of comments by guest on salability of votes, anyone with a simple phone camera is able to record votes with a paper system (including mail ballots) and electronic system (photograph the monitor). Please put that argument against electronic balloting away!

Apr. 24 2014 03:58 PM
Larry Fisher from Brooklyn, N.Y.

Technology has the ability to make a more democratic world; a future where everybody's vote counts, and yet it will be a battle to make that happen.

Apr. 24 2014 02:38 PM
dael from Ohio

you cannot trace chain of custody with electron and electronic voting no matter what system you have in place. the only way is to hand count paper ballots on local level. All parties approving outcome and adding up totals in public view. What we have now is akin to the battle of Athens, TN (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Athens_(1946)) with nobody challenging the outcome. It is outright theft. Richard Charnin, a great statistician, has crunched the numbers from innumerable elections involving electronic voting and the result is theft time and time again and a red shift.

Apr. 24 2014 01:35 PM
Brendan from Portland, OR

Another guy from Oregon. Vote by mail is a great system here and I can't see it any other way. I get to think through the process and fill it in as I make decisions over a week or two. Never been worried about security, but electronic would be another challenge.

Apr. 24 2014 12:53 PM
ML from Miami FL

Voting over the Internet? Forget about Miami's voting-registered dead! We can get Russian hacker kids to vote. Hey, getting kids to vote is challenge enough. Miami has attempted electronic voting. Even with the amount of money shelled out the machines were unreliable, counting was not real-time, and the interfaces could be tampered with.

Now we just bubble in our choices and it works. People who think voting is a hassle probably forget to lock their doors or leave their personal things for others to take.

Apr. 24 2014 09:59 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.