For a feature last week, I talked to a number of election experts and computer security researchers who argued that secure Internet voting isn’t feasible today and probably won’t be for many years to come. A common response to this argument—one that came up in comments to last week’s article—is to compare voting to banking. After all, we regularly use the Internet to move money around the world. Why can’t we use the same techniques to secure online votes?
But voting has some unique requirements that make secure online voting a particularly challenging problem.
Votes are anonymous, banking isn’t
Every electronic transaction in the conventional banking system is tied to a specific sender and recipient who can confirm that a transaction is valid or raise the alarm if it isn’t. Banks count on customers to periodically review their transactions—either online or in paper statements—and notify the bank if fraudulent transactions occur.