Is the U.S. Ready for Online Voting?

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By Kirsten Salyer

Long lines at many polling sites across the U.S., especially in areas along the East Coast affected by Hurricane Sandy, make it tempting to ask: "Why are we waiting in line when we could be voting online?"

Today's election offers a test: New Jersey announced it would let displaced voters cast their votes by e-mail or fax.

But a broader implementation of online voting still poses too many problems. It may be technically possible, but just because it can be done doesn't mean it should.

As Mashable reports, computer security experts at a Princeton University symposium last week concluded online voting systems can't guarantee ballot security or voter anonymity. Michigan researchers proved the point in 2010 when they hacked into a Washington, D.C.  pilot program designed to enable overseas absentee voters to cast votes via a website. Today, California allows military and other government personnel protected under the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act to cast ballots via e-mail.

Some countries already allow online voting: Estonia launched online voting in 2007, and some European countries and cities in Canada have begun experimenting with online systems. The U.S.'s decentralized election system, in which each state determines its own election laws, makes online voting much more complicated.

New Jersey's e-mail trial provides a taste of what could be. Given all the voting battles taking place on the ground today in Ohio and Florida, perhaps it's best cyber-voting will have to wait for another day. It promises to be just as chaotic.

(Kirsten Salyer is the social media editor for Bloomberg View. Follow her on Twitter.)

Read more breaking commentary from Bloomberg View at the Ticker.

-0- Nov/06/2012 21:47 GMT