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Risks of Internet Voting in Political Elections

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Risks of Internet Voting in Political Elections

original article written by Net Advisor

DES MOINES, Iowa. A recent article published by Fox News discussed how Democrats are considering the idea of using “Internet balloting” for the 2016 (Presidential) General Election. Republicans are also considering the idea. Some (incorrectly) predicted (PDF) long ago that by now we would already have Internet voting, and they assumed we would have fair and honest people running the system. Political education is also important.

President Kennedy once described what some now call the low-information voter as a security risk for all of us.

“The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.”

John F. Kennedy (D-TX), Speech, May 18, 1963, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn. (Source)

We would all hope the public is well educated about the issues but an entertaining sample of these videos might suggest that may not quite be the case:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rxXhB1J1-UU

More videos: [Video 2][Video 3][Video4].

[1] e-Voting Status

There has been some headway into studying the possibilities of on-line voting. Two issues that have been cited for concern are personal computer security, and the current inability to create an audit trail to validate the votes.

“(a government) study concluded that Internet voting systems cannot currently be audited with a comparable level of confidence in the audit results as those for polling place systems. Malware on voters’ personal computers poses a serious threat that could compromise the secrecy or integrity of voters’ ballots.”

— Source: National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce. (2011 Study PDF, 71pps)

As a risk manager, I would argue the risks are far greater than that, and the public should have a clear understanding of what these risks may entail.

[2] Open Network Risk

Most us should know the Internet is not at all ‘secure.’ It was never designed to be fully secure, it was designed to be an open network where anyone and anything could be posted and exchanged.

[3] Hacker Risk

Hackers are on the Internet like water in the ocean. If major banks can be hacked, the U.S. defense department can be hacked, the U.S. power grid can be hacked, major security software can be hacked, do U.S. officials actually think that there is no way to hack into Internet Balloting?

If a hacker gets into a computer, they can make ANY changes to the system including in this case, changing the votes, deleting votes, and blocking votes from being counted. You could have anonymous foreign hackers including from China and other countries who have ongoing campaigns hacking into U.S. government and business systems.

Let’s say you are a legit voter. You cast your on-line vote from your smart phone, work or home computer. The information is sent through the Internet and hackers electronically monitoring certain voting traffic intercept the vote before it reaches its destination. The hacker has already written a simple program to recast your vote to what they want the ballot to appear to be, and the communication ends up to its destination. This could all be done instantaneously.

To be even more devious, a sophisticated group could try and manipulate the voting records to closely match narrow elections in recent years to make it appear that the election was fair. It’s less likely that a hacker organization would just have all the votes go to one candidate.

That might be a little too obvious, so the hacker spreads out the votes to narrowly show a winner. Naturally the wining party will have no argument with how the entire process was done, so long as their party won the election, right?

The minority party who lost the election, could initiate a legal challenge, however how to you prove to a judge that something you can’t see cheated you? To show that something was hacked requires sophistication in itself and that could take time to verify by independent experts representing of all political parties.

Without proper checks and balances, the hacker could attempt to install a government that the voters really didn’t vote for.

Hacker risk alone is the reason why not to have Internet-based voting.

[4] Non-verified Voter Risk (non-U.S. Citizens)

With more states such as California and New York pushing to issue drivers licenses or identification cards to non-U.S. citizens, Internet voting could be a way for illegals to vote in U.S. elections. What kind of criteria would U.S. officials require to prove that a person voting in an on-line election has the legal right to vote? A valid driver’s license or state ID could not be used as voter identification unless there was a system in place that blocked those who are ineligible to vote.

Who will run computerized spot checks testing known illegals with state ID’s into the system to make sure that 100% of the time, no non-U.S. citizens are counted in U.S. elections?

If one can’t win future elections fairly, then why not just pass a law to make the odds in your favor? The Democrat controlled U.S. Senate is trying to use an immigration bill to increase more Democrat voters in the House of Representatives by 2020.

Clearly the objective has nothing to do with immigration as it does more with stacking the vote.
Speech, May 18, 1963, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.

[5] Non-Verifiable Representatives

There is the risk of organizations voting on other people’s behalf that may not have the capacity to vote. You could have Alzheimer’s patients, other mentally incapacitated people, those hospitalized, the homeless, the advanced age elderly who could all be taken advantage of by political operative groups to vote on behalf of persons who may not be in sound mind to make that decision, or may vote contrary to one’s views. This probably already goes on to some extent, but having the anonymity of the Internet, it would be very difficult to disprove that the person casting the vote wasn’t the real person voting.

[6] Privacy Lost?

With electronic voting, privacy is lost. Aside from the website being able to record every computer’s IP Address from those visiting the website to register and vote. The computer would record the name, address, and some level of identification that will now be stored in the computer’s database of who voted, and what exactly did they vote for. This can be stored and retrieved forever. Private voting records that exercises freedom of expression could now be used against citizens, or future political candidates.

[7] Political Targeting

With the loss of privacy, a collected database of all voting persons and their voting records, the party in power could just secretly decide they wanted to search for a list of everyone who is not in their political party, or their political competition and then target them for political persecution. It’s not like this hasn’t happened before.

There have been Republican AND Democrat President’s who have been associated to abusing the power of their political office to target their political opponents.

There can be direct or indirect involvement, but remember the CEO (aka the President) ultimately gets the blame for failure to supervise, even if they were not directly involved. The following President’s who have been associated directly or indirectly abused this power include:

— Sources: CS Monitor (PDF) and ABC News (PDF)

Nixon Administration Targeted Political Opponents
Former President Richard Nixon used his office to target his political opponents. Watergate wasn’t Nixon’s only scandal. Nixon used the DOJ and the IRS to go after his political enemies. Facing criminal impeachment from office, Nixon was forced to resign the office of the U.S. Presidency, and some forty of Nixon’s associates went to jail.

Obama Administration Targeted Political Opponents
The Obama Administration has used its power of political office to target opposition groups. The Obama Administration used the IRS to target U.S. military veterans, Conservatives, Tea Party, and conservative religious groups, all prior to the 2012 Presidential election. According to a report by CBS News, IRS officials KNEW about the political targeting “as early as 2011.”

“Senior Internal Revenue Service officials knew agents were targeting tea party groups as early as 2011, according to a draft of an inspector general’s report obtained by The Associated Press that seemingly contradicts public statements by the IRS commissioner. “

— Source: CBS News (PDF)

After the 2012 election was over, the IRS ADMITTED that it targeted political opposition groups. The IRS chief resigned but he was retiring from office the following month anyway.

The new IRS chief apologized on behalf of the agency for the political targeting, however an apology doesn’t rectify this abuse of power in attempt to silence, inhibit free speech of political opposition groups guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

— First Amendment, United States Constitution, Adopted 1791. [Source: FindLaw.com]

Ironically, despite IRS emails, (more), former IRS Director of Exempt Organizations, Lois Lerner allegedly tried to coverup what the IRS already admitted its wrongdoing. Both President Barack Obama and White House Press Secretary James Carney have denied that there was any wrongdoing.

Thus far, no one in the Obama Administration has been held responsible for the illegal targeting of political groups. Lois Lerner has been held in Contempt of Congress for “blocking” (or obstructing) Congress’s investigation. This case is ongoing; however allegations of obstruction have also been levied at a leading Democrat member of the investigative committee.

So we have a history, even a current day history of political figures using the power of their office to stifle their political opposition, even when that action is unlawful. The question is, can we trust future political parties from not doing the same, when they, or their political operatives and insiders, may gain access to electronic voting record databases?

[8] “Enemies List”

It was noted that Richard Nixon and Hillary Clinton both kept “enemies list” of their political foes.

Nixon has long since past away and Hillary Clinton is in contemplation of running for office of the president for 2016.

Knowing what we know about current politicians running for office who have a history of political targeting or enemies list(s), and the fact that we have seen leaders abuse the power of office, makes one ask should we even consider trusting these kinds of people in office?

It use to be or should be that the reason why people sought political office was to represent the best efforts for their constituents. Somehow this idea has seemed to have got lost in practice.

As a result of all this fraud, and abuse of power, is creating electronic records of voters, the political affiliations, and how people voted in the past is a benefit for whom? The U.S. has managed to make this all work for the last 238 years without Internet voting, and over a century without computers. It just seems that Internet voting would make the ability to target political opponents easier.

[9] Votes Not Counted, Lost, And Missing Votes

We already have periodic issues of votes being “lost” or not counted or other related issues. Here are some random examples we found.

[10] Who Will Run and Control Internet Voting?

The government’s roll-out of ACA or ObamaCare was a disaster. It was passed by a single political party, and rolled out by a single political party [Report, Point 2]. There was corruption, special favors, non-transparency, more non-transparency, and deception all over the place. Despite knowing it would not work, it was pushed on to the public like bad medicine.

Internet voting should not be passed by a single party, or modeled like an ObamaCare website. Internet voting must be bipartisan with ALL members of the Senate and the House participating. Internet voting must be completely transparent, no backroom deals (buying votes), it must be independently audited by each political party, and it must have integrity. The people of each state should also have a say if their state wants Internet voting.

The ObamaCare system was known to be unsecured, and personal data could be intercepted. Getting 1,000’s or even (allegedly) a half-million or so people on the website at the same time repeatedly crashed the system. Can you imagine if 100 million or more people all voted within hours, days or even weeks of each other? How do we know what votes were counted, which votes went through the system, which were validated, and which ones did not and why?

Next, can you trust a political party in power to create or manage a system that will determine whether or not that party will stay in power or lose their power?

Who is going to put this database together? Who will independently oversee Internet voting, and who will have access to it? And most importantly, how can we be sure that the system is secure both electronic, and from political insiders who may seek to game the system to retain power?

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