Like many states around the country, the District of Columbia Board of Elections decided to allow military and civilians living abroad to vote (i.e. return voted ballots) over the Internet this November. However, unlike other Internet voting enthusiasts, the Board planned to conduct a pilot test prior to the actual election after which they intended to allow overseas voters to return their voted ballots over the Internet. The test began around the end of September; by early October we learned that a team from the Univ. of Michigan, led by Prof. Alex Halderman, had succeeded in breaking into the test system. The first sign of the break-in was the playing of the Michigan fight song, which began 15 seconds after the voter viewed the vote confirmation page. Further very serious revelations quickly followed, including that the Michigan team could rig every cast vote.
In addition to reviewing the remarkable outcome of the DC Internet pilot, we will discuss ways in which Internet voting differs from e-commerce, analyze the threats to Internet voting, review key studies and reports, describe several elections and pilots held over the Internet, and reflect on the future of Internet voting.
Barbara Simons, an expert on electronic voting, is on the Board of Advisors of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. She was a member of the National Workshop on Internet Voting that was convened at the request of President Clinton and produced a report on Internet Voting in 2001. She also participated on the Security Peer Review Group for the US Department of Defense's Internet voting project (SERVE) and co-authored the report that led to the cancellation of SERVE because of security concerns. Simons co-chaired the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) study of statewide databases of registered voters. She recently co-authored the League of Women Voters report on election auditing. Simons and Doug Jones are co-authoring a book on voting machines.
Simons was President of ACM, the nation's oldest and largest educational and scientific society for computing professionals.