Reader – Cannot trust online voting


VotingReaders Ledger – I shop online and I bank online. I am a computer programmer and I work with computers and networking components as well as the internet every day. I love technology and all the things you can do with it. I am not some backward thinking troglodyte who is afraid of new technology and doesn’t know how to turn his computer on. I am what many have called me, a geek.

But the one thing I absolutely will not do is vote online. Why? Because I know what computers can and cannot do and I do not trust them with my vote. I do not trust them handling our elections. There are simply too many ways internet voting systems can fail due to malware (viruses), phishing sites, hacking, vote rigging, or simple glitches.

Online Voting can’t be trusted

voting day in a small town
voting day in a small town (Photo credit: Muffet)

When I shop or bank online a trust is formed between myself and the bank. I know the bank and the bank knows me because when I log in, I identify myself to the bank. If anything happens to my money the bank will reimburse me and use their transaction records to find out where the money went.

During an election, your ballot must remain 100% secret. There must be absolutely nothing linking you to your ballot. So would you bank online if the bank was forbidden from knowing your identity?

Likely not.

It is because of my experience with computers I know there is no way to separate my identity from my digital ballot. When I log into the internet voting system to cast my ballot, I have to provide at the very least some sort of username or PIN number and a password. This proves I must identify myself to the election system.

One of the key principles in any democratic election is that one voter can only cast one ballot.

In order to achieve this electronically, the voting system must keep track of whether or not I cast my ballot or not. The computer system must link my identity to my ballot to ensure I am not able to vote more than once. This proves my identity is linked to the ballot. No longer is my identity kept confidential.

Now what happens if my ballot was changed? What if I marked my online ballot with Candidate A but instead the system switches my vote to Candidate B? How am I ever going to know my ballot was changed? There is no possible way to know this and my vote could have been changed because:

    • A virus infected my computer
    • A glitch occurred in the internet voting system
    • A hacker changed the ballots
    • An employee working for the eVoting company was paid to rig the election
    • I was tricked into logging onto a

fake election

    server instead of the real one
Vote Oregon!
Vote Oregon! (Photo credit: jugbo)

Can’t they do a recount? No! All the ballots are digital. There is no way to perform a recount or independently audit an online election. Think of it this way, if you print a document once, is it going to come out differently the second or third time you print it? No. It will always be the same document. That is, unless someone changes it.

Internet voting should not be trusted. Huntsville, ON realized this after their election suffered significant problems during their 2010 election and have returned to paper ballots (Source:

Internet voting is filled with security risks and problems. France’s first online election system was dubbed “ultra secure” and “fraud-proof” only to be breached, not by hackers, but by journalists (Source:! The NDP leadership convention highlights how internet voting can be disrupted by anyone anywhere (Source: In 2010, the proposed Washington D.C. internet voting system was hacked a mere 2-3 weeks before it was going to be used in an actual election (Source:

Is this really the future of our democracy? We need to be able to trust our democracy. We need to be able to independently audit and verify our elections. We need to be able to trust the vote.

Chris Cates




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