By September 3 2012, the apparently abortive online nominating voting via Americans Elect will have concluded. With hidden votes already happening and the secret ballot done away with, it will be a time for reflection on the future of internet voting. Can a safe, secure and corruption-free system for internet-based democracy actually be built?
Starting September 3 2012, J. Alex Halderman of the University of Michigan will be teaching a free online course on the promise and practical problems with internet voting systems:
This course will provide the technical background and public policy foundation that 21st century citizens need to understand the electronic voting debate. You’ll learn how electronic voting and Internet voting technologies work, why they’re being introduced, and what problems they aim to solve. You’ll also learn about the computer- and Internet-security risks these systems face and the serious vulnerabilities that recent research has demonstrated. We’ll cover widely used safeguards, checks, and balances — and why they are often inadequate. Finally, we’ll see how computer technology has the potential to improve election security, if it’s applied intelligently.
Halderman knows what he’s talking about: in 2010, his UM team hacked the Washington DC online voting system that had proclaimed itself secure, gaining complete control over the entire system without detection in just three days’ time.