NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

The Dangers Of Internet Voting

March 21, 2001

Internet voting might be more convenient and mobile than currently used voting technology, but there are complex security and reliability obstacles that for now impede the Internet's use in public elections, says a report commissioned by the National Science Foundation. It says trials should proceed but remote voting from home or the workplace will not be a viable alternative in the near future.

Internet voting systems fall into three categories:

  • Poll site voting (in which traditional election locations are augmented with Internet technology),
  • Kiosk voting (in which Internet terminals would be placed for convenience at non-traditional sites such as malls),
  • Remote voting (in which citizens could vote from virtually any Internet terminal, including at home or work).

Regarding the feasibility of these options, the report says poll site Internet voting systems could be responsibly deployed within the next several election cycles. But authenticating a voter's identity and preventing on-site coercion of voters are issues related to kiosk voting that still need to be resolved.

Remote Internet voting systems pose significant risk and should not be used in public elections until substantial technical and social science issues are addressed, says the report. And Internet-based voter registration poses significant risk to the integrity of the voting process, and should not be implemented for the foreseeable future.

Source: "Report of the National Workshop on Internet Voting: Issues and Research Agenda," March 2001, Internet Policy Institute.


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