The Road to California – Part Four

Readers, thank you for joining us for Part Three of Follow My Vote’s Road to California series. Last time, we had a look at some of the efforts our neighbors in Estonia and Norway had taken, and while there has been a moderate amount of success, the processes are still highly flawed and open to scrutiny.

None of these scenarios come even close, though, to being the oddest occurrences in the game. In fact, there have been some problems with online and electronic voting that have just left people flabbergasted. There was the situation that just occurred very recently in Canada, with an entire set of municipal elections stalled due to human error resulting in the misnaming of the files that stored the votes. While it is certainly understandable that human error may occur at any time, for it to happen in a situation as important as this just shows how fragile the system truly happens to be. Or there’s the situation that occurred in Denmark in 2006, where using a process known as Van Eck Phreaking forced officials to ban electronic voting for the time being. This process happens when radio emissions from the voting machine’s monitor are captured, then able to be replicated, to some extent, on a remote monitor. Wij vertrouwen stemcomputersniet” (“We don’t trust voting computers”) was the group that carried out the experiments, and were able to convince voting officials that electronic voting machines simply were not up to the task. Bringing it back to the United States, there were multiple scenarios in the midterm election where, due to “calibration” issues, voters would select a candidate, only to have another candidate chosen.

So as you may be able to ascertain, the online voting game, to this point, has had it’s fair shares of ups, but an oppressive amount of downs. Unfortunately the attitude that has arisen out of these failures isn’t one of, “What can we do to fix these issues and move forward,” but instead a feeling of defeat. There are many among the public who believe that there is just no way, in today’s world, that secure and transparent online voting can exist. Take for example, the word of Ron Rivest, an MIT computer scientist and early pioneer of current cryptography. He, for one, believes that if the resources are available to maintain such secure and transparent results, then they shouldn’t be wasted on voting. Instead, they should be used for the Department of Defense, or the financial industry. Of course, he is correct, to an extent. The cryptographic technology used to aid Follow My Vote’s systems could have ramifications for a variety of fields, true. However, we feel that the timing is appropriate to assist with the voting industry because at the end of the day, this is what the foundation of our country is built on, the ability to choose those who represent us. Also, it is disappointing to see a gentleman, whose entire career is based on forward-thinking be so willing to completely dismiss the idea. Suffice it to say, perhaps he just isn’t willing to think outside of the box on this issue, or he just doesn’t hold voting in as high regard as, well, money or war.

However, we aren’t going to let this negativity slow down what we are trying to achieve. We do, in fact, believe that secure online voting can be done, and in the next post, we’re going to give you some insight into what exactly is allowing us the opportunity to prove ourselves.

~ Brice Moon ~



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