In August at DEFCON, the annual hackers' convention in Las Vegas, J. Alex Halderman, a professor of computer science and an expert in cybersecurity, brought along several of his Diebold Accuvote TSX voting machines. The Accuvote is a touch-screen voting device known as a direct-recording electronic voting machine, which, as the name suggests, records votes and stores them on a memory device. Halderman's machines were set up as part of the Voting Village, an area dedicated to the cybersecurity of voting machines, where visitors were asked to cast votes in a mock presidential election between George Washington and Benedict Arnold. "Because this is DEFCON, of course almost everyone thought they were clever and voted for Benedict Arnold," said Halderman. At the end of the mock election, with over 100 votes cast, the machine produced the totals and the winner of the two-man race: the Dark Tangent.
Some voters with disabilities will be able to cast their ballots on smart phones using blockchain technology for the first time in a U.S. election on Tuesday. But while election officials and mobile voting advocates say the technology has the potential to increase access to the ballot box, election technology experts are raising serious security concerns about the idea. The mobile voting system, a collaboration between Boston-based tech company Voatz, nonprofit Tusk Philanthropies and the National Cybersecurity Center, has previously been used for some military and overseas voters during test pilots in West Virginia, Denver and Utah County, Utah. Now, Utah County is expanding its program to include voters with disabilities in its municipal general election as well. The idea, according to Bradley Tusk, the startup consultant and philanthropist who is funding the pilots, is to increase voter turnout.
When news hit this week that West Virginian military members serving abroad will become the first people to vote by phone in a major US election this November, security experts were dismayed. For years, they have warned that all forms of online voting are particularly vulnerable to attacks, and with signs that the midterm elections are already being targeted, they worry this is exactly the wrong time to roll out a new method. Experts who spoke to WIRED doubt that Voatz, the Boston-based startup whose app will run the West Virginia mobile voting, has figured out how to secure online voting when no one else has. At the very least, they are concerned about the lack of transparency. "From what is available publicly about this app, it's no different from sending voting materials over the internet," says Marian Schneider, president of the nonpartisan advocacy group Verified Voting.
If we were to poll the readers of this article, we would likely find that the vast majority of readers -- if not all -- regularly shop online, make banking transactions online, fill out registrations and applications online, pay taxes online and maybe even vote for contestants in reality shows online. Voting online would certainly be a lot more convenient than standing in line on Election Day. Voters could cast their ballots from home or work, and when they had time during the day. It might also increase voter participation in federal, state and local elections, especially among young people. But experts warn that online voting isn't as simple as it sounds.
Government officials, pundits, and citizens alike have often commented about or bemoan the fact that many elections are plagued by low voter turnout. Yes, Blockchain could reverse the course of civilization and upend the world's most powerful companies Businesses often win by centralizing resources and extracting value, and today's governments and financial systems empower them to do it. Meanwhile, voter fraud or other threats to the integrity of elections are an ongoing problem for election officials. Read also: Could blockchain be the missing link in electronic voting? Online voting -- as an alternative to paper ballots or electronic voting machines -- has been suggested as a way to not only boost the number of active voters, but possibly even address election security and integrity issues.