Sunday, April 12, 2009

Voting in cyberspace -- Page 1 -- Times Union - Albany NY

Today there's an editorial in the Albany Times Union about the NYC Department of Education's Community and Citywide Education Council elections currently underway on the internet. (Has anyone seen any commentary on this in a NY City paper?) I wrote about this election earlier this week here.

I found this section of the editorial especially interesting. The study referenced echoes the testimony before the Election Advisory Commission from a CIA employee, which I wrote about here.

Voting in cyberspace -- Page 1 -- Times Union - Albany NY: "Studies in recent years have raised plenty of red flags. A 2004 review of the $22 million Secure Electronic Registration and Voting Experiment, conceived by the Department of Defense for military and other overseas voters, raised such major security concerns that it urged the program be scrapped. It warned that using the Internet opened the door to election tampering, vote-buying, viral attacks and privacy violations. Attacks from a lone hacker or an enemy state could result in large-scale voter disenfranchisement, the study warned, and might not even be detected.

Not only is such mischief easy, the study said, but unavoidable under the present structure of the Internet. And, it noted, the temptation to hack into something as sacrosanct as an America election would be huge:

'A U.S. general election offers one of the most tempting targets for cyber-attack in the history of the Internet, whether the attacker's motive is overtly political or simply self-aggrandizement.'"

As someone who tends to err on the side of over-trusting, rather than paranoia, following this election system issue is opening my eyes. I thought of election fraud as a rather local issue, but the CIA and Department of Defense interest underscores its global implications.

The Times Union closes their editorial with this:

So experiments like New York City's are worth close scrutiny. They may point the way to a new frontier. They may reveal the flaws that need to be fixed. Or they may show us that for now, a good old fashioned trip to the polls, or a mailed-in paper ballot, is as high-tech as we want democracy to be.

The issue:

The first all-Internet election, of sorts, is under way.

The Stakes:

We're not ready to toss the voting booths just yet.

I agree.
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