A dozen nations have explored the use of online voting since 2000 and we profile the experience of six countries on this page: Australia, Canada, Estonia, Finland, France and Norway. These examples are often presented as reasons why the United States should be able to deploy Internet voting – “if they are doing it, why aren’t we?” It is worth noting that while some of the countries using the technology believe it has been successfully deployed, this may be due to an abundance of optimism about the challenge of securing such elections. Computer technology lends itself to undetected subversion and where problems have been too obvious to ignore some countries have discontinued piloting or using online voting for the present.
Unsolved problems with internet security make the electronic transmission of voted ballots too vulnerable to attack and too unreliable to be deployed today in our public elections. Beyond the threat of hacking or error, internet voting cannot provide an adequate means of independently verifying vote totals, which will inevitably erode public confidence in the announced results of close or disputed elections. While some promising end-to-end voter verifiable systems are under development, current commercially available technology is untested, proprietary, too vulnerable, and incapable of overcoming these fundamental vulnerabilities.
Post-Implementation Review of the iVote Project (Price Waterhouse Coopers, 2015)
The New South Wales iVote System: Security Failures and Verification Flaws in a Live Online Election (Halderman and Teague, 2015)
Problems with the iVote Internet Voting System (Computing Research and Education Association of Australasia, 2012)
Post Implementation Report (Elections NSW, 2011)
iVote Report (Allen Consulting Group, 2011)
Recommendations Report to the Legislative Assembly (Independent Panel on Internet Voting, BC, 2014)
Security Assessment of Vendor Proposals (City of Toronto, 2014)
Web Accessibility (WGAC 2.0) Evaluation (City of Toronto, 2014)
Status Update – Internet Voting Service for PErsons with Disabilities for the 2014 Municipal Election (City of Toronto, 2014)
Internet Voting for Persons with Disabilities – Demonstration Script (City of Toronto, 2013)
RFP for Internet Voting (City of Toronto, 2013)
Scytl Agreement (City of Toronto, 2014)
Scytl Statement of Work – redacted (City of Leamington, 2014)
Scytl Statement of Work – unredacted (City of Leamington, 2014)
Dominion Statement of Work (City of Brockton, 2014)
Internet Voting Discussion Paper (Elections BC, 2011)
Internet Voting Report (Delvinia, 2004)
A petitioner sued to invalidate the electronic results in the 2011 Estonian election, on the basis that it was possible for a virus to block submission of an Internet vote without the voter’s knowledge, and made a successful demonstration of such a vulnerability to the Court. Nonetheless, because there was no other mechanism to evaluate the reported result, the Court found no evidence that the reported result was inaccurate, and rejected the legal challenge. (There are more interesting legal aspects if you are interested!) The Estonian system also fails to provide for use by voters who speak a language other than Estonian.
Security Analysis of the Estonian Internet Voting System (Halderman, Hursti, Kitcat, et al, 2014)
Report on 2011 Estonian Parliament Elections (Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, 2012)
A “low-effort review of the source code” of Norway’s system was conducted by experts from the Norwegian Computing Center and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, finding even at a rudimentary glance “significant problems with coding style, security and correctness.” We do not know if any mitigating improvements have been made to date, but the problems found had the potential for altered outcomes. In June, 2014 the Norwegian Government announced that it would no longer pursue internet voting pilot projects.
Public Review of E-Voting Source Code (Tapir Akademisk Forlag, 2011)